Religion - is one better than another?

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Message 1454453 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 12:24:20 UTC

IF there is a boss of the heavens, which some people call God,and there is a boss of the underworld, who some call Satan or the Devil. Isn't he also a "god", if so, then that would make two gods, wouldn't it?

Nope!

In traditional Christian understanding of the holy Hebrew scriptures, the Torah, Satan is a synonym for the Devil. For most Christians, he is believed to be an angel who rebelled against God, and also the one who spoke through the serpent and seduced Eve into disobeying God's command. His ultimate goal is to lead people away from the love of God, to lead them to fallacies which God opposes.


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Message 1454461 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 13:00:10 UTC - in response to Message 1454432.  
Last modified: 16 Dec 2013, 13:15:48 UTC

Considering there's no evidence for the spiritual realm, I wouldn't go to a priest for spiritual advice either.

Yes, because you operate under the assumption that the spiritual realm doesn't exist or at least has no significance on the way you live your life. You don't need spiritual advice in that case. The people that reached a different conclusion might not see it that way.


I don't assume the spiritual doesn't exist. I presume it doesn't exist because I see no reason for it. The only reason why others think the spiritual realm exists is because the "myth" is perpetuated through generations.

What about teaching you that homosexuality is wrong? What about teaching you that stoning to death disbelievers and disobedient children is acceptable? What about teaching you that you must follow a specific path in order to get into a "mythical" place where all you'll feel is love and be re-united with those you love?

In the 14 years I went to church not once was I told that homosexuality was wrong or that we should stone disbelievers, or even that you should follow a specific path towards heaven.


Sure, not in church. What about fellow church-goers? What about the religious community that speaks outside of church? Or are you suggesting that if it's not taught in church, it's not on the church even though it is in their "good book"?

Religion teaches you whatever lesson you want it to teach. Sadly, yes that has resulted in a number of bigots using religion to justify their intolerance towards all those who are different from them. Though honestly, bigots will be bigots, with or without religion. Bigotry and intolerance are just part of the human condition and religion is just one of the many ways which are used to justify it. Make no mistake though, those people could equally well use sports or political ideology as justification for their intolerance. This is not a thing you can pin solely on religion.


This I will agree on.

And rather than to keep using the extremist few percent of any given religion as the baseline of what religion supposedly represents or teaches, I'd look to what the vast majority of moderate believers say their religion is about.


Whenever I talk to the vast majority of religious believers on the topic of homosexuality, it's always the same: "love the sinner, hate the sin". It's that kind of non-sense that is just plain wrong as well. Whenever I talk to the majority of religious believers about Atheism, they become annoyed and agitated and state that it is better to believe in something than nothing at all. The general feeling I get is that they really dislike Atheism and Atheists. (BTW, I keep my Atheist association very private in my everyday life. It is only here where I talk about such things.)

What? The teaching is a lie? So you say that the teachings of JC of peace and love are lies? Because that are the teachings, and they are wrapped in a nice story that is meant to illustrate the teaching. But because that's not historically accurate, the whole teaching of peace and love is also nonsense?


If the story is passed off as truth when it is not, then the lesson itself loses all meaning. Why should I believe the lesson is true if one attempts to tell me the events are true as well? I'd rather learn about peace and love through a fictional movie that at least I know isn't being passed off as truth than to learn it from a book that teaches lies and nonsense.

Well, you said I misunderstood Atheism. In return I think you misunderstand what religion and faith are meant to do for people.


No, I quite understand. Again, I was that good little Catholic that believed everything I was told about the Bible because it was just something you did, and you trusted those who told you. I simply think the passing off of lies, sorry "myth" as truth is wrong.

Religion is supposed to instill good morals and preach kindness. Religion is supposed to teach forgiveness and mercy. It also teaches blind obedience, illogical personal sacrifice, and suspension of critical thinking.
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Message 1454483 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 14:12:44 UTC - in response to Message 1454461.  
Last modified: 16 Dec 2013, 14:15:44 UTC

I don't assume the spiritual doesn't exist. I presume it doesn't exist because I see no reason for it. The only reason why others think the spiritual realm exists is because the "myth" is perpetuated through generations.

The only reason? That is a rather bold claim. It might very well be that people assume or presume its existence because they see reason to do so.

Sure, not in church. What about fellow church-goers? What about the religious community that speaks outside of church? Or are you suggesting that if it's not taught in church, it's not on the church even though it is in their "good book"?

Ah, collective responsibility. Well, I can see the argument there, and I don't necessarily disagree with it. Just remember its a double edged sword. For example, it could be used to hold you responsible for every Iraqi that died during the second Gulf War. Or hold you responsible for the existence of one of the worst prison regimes in the world. Do you find such an argument convincing?


Whenever I talk to the vast majority of religious believers on the topic of homosexuality, it's always the same: "love the sinner, hate the sin". It's that kind of non-sense that is just plain wrong as well. Whenever I talk to the majority of religious believers about Atheism, they become annoyed and agitated and state that it is better to believe in something than nothing at all. The general feeling I get is that they really dislike Atheism and Atheists.

I have to admit a cultural bias here. Coming from one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to things like gay rights and civil liberties I do not recognize the things you say. Aside from maybe a tiny minority of people here, the vast majority, including the church, are absolutely fine with homosexuality. Aside from that, the vast majority of people here are also Atheist, so again, if you tell people you are an atheist at worst you get an apathetic shrug. I suppose this is still very different in the US, given that when it comes to social issues like this, the US is lagging behind about 30-50 years to us.


If the story is passed off as truth when it is not, then the lesson itself loses all meaning. Why should I believe the lesson is true if one attempts to tell me the events are true as well? I'd rather learn about peace and love through a fictional movie that at least I know isn't being passed off as truth than to learn it from a book that teaches lies and nonsense.

I think we should agree to disagree here. If you want to discard the message because you dislike the way the message is delivered, that is your business. If others can still value the message, regardless of the way its brought to them, all the more power to them. And I think most people are perfectly capable of separating the message from the story, regardless of whether they are told the story was true or not.


It also teaches blind obedience, illogical personal sacrifice, and suspension of critical thinking.

This I find interesting. I see this argument so often coming from Atheists that I'm starting to wonder if there aren't any social scientists among you. Has it not occurred that those three things happen like ALL THE TIME, and are not just exclusive to religion? Lets start with illogical personal sacrifice. Well, that is not so much taught behavior as it is part of standard human behavior. Humans are illogical and irrational, even though we like to think we are not. The fact is that as soon as we join a social group and strongly identify with said social group, be it family, group of friends, sports team, military unit, nation and indeed religion, we begin to make irrational sacrifices. We begin to risk our lives, our wealth and our time to pursue irrational objectives. We stand up for our family, friends and brothers in arms and faith even if we can't win. The military even gives you shiny medals if the sacrifice you made is illogical enough.

Suspension of critical thinking also is rampant in all levels of society. We are unconsciously extremely biased in favor of the social groups we join while we hold an extreme bias against everyone who falls outside that bias, and almost no one ever questions this. Sure, religion makes you believe in things like God or an afterlife, while there is no proof for it. But think what identifying as an American does to your critical thinking. How many Americans aren't there that honestly believe that America is the most awesome country in the world, even though there is plenty of data that suggest America is anything but awesome. How many Americans still uphold the myth of the American dream, where hard work results in greater prosperity, when the facts quite clearly state that this is utter nonsense? Religion is far from the only social group people join that suspends critical thinking.

And finally, blind obedience isn't really taught, its more like the standard norm everyone is born with. There is about a 65% chance that your standard response to a figure of authority is unquestioning obedience. You might protest a bit, but in the end, you will follow orders from those who you perceive as having authority. Only about 1/3 of the human race is capable of questioning orders and then not follow them if they find them reprehensible. It be interesting to find out if there is a significant difference in education and parenting background between the 2/3's that follow orders and the 1/3 that doesn't. In any case, you can accuse religion of not challenging the norm. But again, most social groups and human institutions do not challenge this. The military relies on peoples obedience to authority, government bureaucracies also have not much use for people who question their jobs to much, most social groups have very little tolerance for people who constantly question the alpha's of the group. Just look at the cliques in high school, how often do you see those clique's tolerate the constant questioning of authority of one of their members and how often is it perceived as an attack on their authority?

So once again, it shows that religion at its worst is little more than just another human institution and social group.
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Message 1454490 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 14:55:47 UTC - in response to Message 1454483.  
Last modified: 16 Dec 2013, 15:14:16 UTC

I don't assume the spiritual doesn't exist. I presume it doesn't exist because I see no reason for it. The only reason why others think the spiritual realm exists is because the "myth" is perpetuated through generations.

The only reason? That is a rather bold claim. It might very well be that people assume or presume its existence because they see reason to do so.


Yes, the only reason. Well that and a natural affinity for believing in things without digging further into them to have a better understanding about an unknown phenomenon.

Sure, not in church. What about fellow church-goers? What about the religious community that speaks outside of church? Or are you suggesting that if it's not taught in church, it's not on the church even though it is in their "good book"?

Ah, collective responsibility. Well, I can see the argument there, and I don't necessarily disagree with it. Just remember its a double edged sword. For example, it could be used to hold you responsible for every Iraqi that died during the second Gulf War. Or hold you responsible for the existence of one of the worst prison regimes in the world. Do you find such an argument convincing?


If I were espousing the benefits of the war in Iraq or Gulf War, then yes, I would find the argument convincing. You're using collective responsibility in an overbroad sense. I'm specifically referring to those who advocate such things, not holding everyone responsible for which they should bear no responsibility.

Whenever I talk to the vast majority of religious believers on the topic of homosexuality, it's always the same: "love the sinner, hate the sin". It's that kind of non-sense that is just plain wrong as well. Whenever I talk to the majority of religious believers about Atheism, they become annoyed and agitated and state that it is better to believe in something than nothing at all. The general feeling I get is that they really dislike Atheism and Atheists.

I have to admit a cultural bias here. Coming from one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to things like gay rights and civil liberties I do not recognize the things you say. Aside from maybe a tiny minority of people here, the vast majority, including the church, are absolutely fine with homosexuality. Aside from that, the vast majority of people here are also Atheist, so again, if you tell people you are an atheist at worst you get an apathetic shrug. I suppose this is still very different in the US, given that when it comes to social issues like this, the US is lagging behind about 30-50 years to us.


This I can find some common ground with you in that the religious ferver in the US is quite high, and I can only speak from my personal experiences with the religious here in the states. If this is the reason for a 'skewed' viewpoint you believe me to have, then I can buy into that reasoning.

If the story is passed off as truth when it is not, then the lesson itself loses all meaning. Why should I believe the lesson is true if one attempts to tell me the events are true as well? I'd rather learn about peace and love through a fictional movie that at least I know isn't being passed off as truth than to learn it from a book that teaches lies and nonsense.

I think we should agree to disagree here. If you want to discard the message because you dislike the way the message is delivered, that is your business. If others can still value the message, regardless of the way its brought to them, all the more power to them. And I think most people are perfectly capable of separating the message from the story, regardless of whether they are told the story was true or not.


Hmmm... I thought you said people shouldn't simply agree to disagree for the sake of rolling over and agreeing with the other person?

I would agree with your assertion that most people are able to separate the message from the story if I saw a reason to believe that. However, that is not what I see here in the States.

It also teaches blind obedience, illogical personal sacrifice, and suspension of critical thinking.

This I find interesting. I see this argument so often coming from Atheists that I'm starting to wonder if there aren't any social scientists among you. Has it not occurred that those three things happen like ALL THE TIME, and are not just exclusive to religion?


So as long as other groups are doing it, I should accept it as OK for religion to do?

So once again, it shows that religion at its worst is little more than just another human institution and social group.


What makes you think I don't find those other human institutions and social groups just as incorrect for advocating such things?
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Message 1454498 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 15:38:14 UTC - in response to Message 1454490.  

Hmmm... I thought you said people shouldn't simply agree to disagree for the sake of rolling over and agreeing with the other person?

No I said people shouldn't agree for the sake of agreeing. Here I'm simply acknowledging that we go in two different directions that will never cross. You think that if a good lessons is wrapped in a bad story, the lesson is worthless, and I fundamentally disagree with you on that. I respect your viewpoint, but I do not see myself coming around to it, so why bother continuing the discussion about it?

So as long as other groups are doing it, I should accept it as OK for religion to do?

No. But it shows that religion is far from unique in doing these things. And its hardly fair to single out one thing and blame it for doing certain things when literally everyone else does it as well, including yourself. Its the pot calling the kettle black. Or he who is without sin cast the first stone.

What makes you think I don't find those other human institutions and social groups just as incorrect for advocating such things?

You find the human condition incorrect? Hardly any of these things happen on a conscious level. I know most people aren't even aware of the fact that when asked they will follow orders without question. And I doubt most people are aware of the things they willingly suspend their critical thinking for, or their overall degree of irrational behavior. Its not really fair to criticize people on this.
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Message 1454501 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 15:41:26 UTC - in response to Message 1454498.  
Last modified: 16 Dec 2013, 15:44:28 UTC

So as long as other groups are doing it, I should accept it as OK for religion to do?

No. But it shows that religion is far from unique in doing these things. And its hardly fair to single out one thing and blame it for doing certain things when literally everyone else does it as well, including yourself. Its the pot calling the kettle black. Or he who is without sin cast the first stone.


Can you prove that I do any of this?

What makes you think I don't find those other human institutions and social groups just as incorrect for advocating such things?

You find the human condition incorrect? Hardly any of these things happen on a conscious level. I know most people aren't even aware of the fact that when asked they will follow orders without question. And I doubt most people are aware of the things they willingly suspend their critical thinking for, or their overall degree of irrational behavior. Its not really fair to criticize people on this.


No, I do not find the human condition incorrect. I find the encouragement of such traits incorrect, hence why I criticize the advocation of such things.
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Message 1454507 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 16:18:45 UTC

With all religions there is a simple answer. When the dead come back to tell us....

"Look guys, you've all got it wrong, there really is an afterlife and it's glorious"

...in the meantime, it's a godsend/curse/cashcow - godsend for those who want to believe that there is something better ahead so that they can accept their life - A curse for those who don't believe and hate religion constantly thrown in their face and a cashcow for those who realise this and just thinking of $$$$$$, an example of one is Discovery.org
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Message 1454508 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 16:19:41 UTC - in response to Message 1454501.  

Can you prove that I do any of this?

I'm going to assume you are a mentally healthy human being. That means you have this thing called 'empathy'. Empathy means you engage in irrational behavior towards the social groups you identify with and are a member off. I cannot tell the extend of your irrationality, though the stronger empathy you feel, the more irrational you will act toward that person. Aside from that, like all human beings, you have your own biases towards people or groups of people. What those biases are, and to what extend you act on them, I cannot tell. Aside from that, if you honestly believe that for example your economic behavior is 'rational' you are fooling yourself. Companies spend fortunes on ways to trick you into buying their stuff and they are generally quite good at it.

Your unquestioning obedience I can only guess at. As I said before, there is a rough 65% chance that you will obey when given an order. I'm sure you are aware of the Milgram experiments and its results. Granted, this is the only one of the three that you might not have.

As for your suspension of critical thinking, well, I assume you have favorites. A favorite color, a favorite tv show, a favorite family member, a favorite politician, a favorite music band or singer. Really the moment you have a favorite of anything, you will suspend your critical thinking regarding that topic or person to certain degree. You can't have favorites if you would apply strict critical thinking on everything in your life. And everyone has a favorite something.

No, I do not find the human condition incorrect. I find the encouragement of such traits incorrect, hence why I criticize the advocation of such things.

Never heard of Atheists criticizing the army for training soldiers to obey orders and not question them. Actually, apart from maybe hippies, I've never heard of people criticizing the army for doing that. After all, the army would not function if soldiers were constantly criticizing their orders and disobeying them. The same is true for bureaucracies, they work because what people do there is following the rules, day in and day out. And as a result, a bureaucracy adds much needed stability to any organization. And even less people criticize people for having preferences and not applying critical thinking in every aspect of their life. Logically really because life would be pretty miserable if no could have preferences.

And imagine what humanity would result in if everyone was only rational. The worst atrocities could be inflicted upon one another because rationality demanded that they did so. Already we see economic rationality turning people against the poor, solely on the basis of their perceived lack of economic worth.
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Message 1454513 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 16:39:06 UTC - in response to Message 1454508.  
Last modified: 16 Dec 2013, 17:13:46 UTC

Can you prove that I do any of this?

I'm going to assume you are a mentally healthy human being. That means you have this thing called 'empathy'. Empathy means you engage in irrational behavior towards the social groups you identify with and are a member off. I cannot tell the extend of your irrationality, though the stronger empathy you feel, the more irrational you will act toward that person. Aside from that, like all human beings, you have your own biases towards people or groups of people. What those biases are, and to what extend you act on them, I cannot tell.


I do have empathy, but I do not allow a bias for a particular group to suspend any criticism or critical thinking of that group if I believe it warrants it. I keep myself from joining social groups so as to avoid any irrational bias, including those I might identify with. This is also true for family, friends, country, and Atheism. I also disagree with your assertion that empathy means you engage in irrational behavior. Empathy quite literally means you can attempt to put yourself in another's shoes to see what they're thinking or feeling, even if you've never experienced such a thing yourself, but this does not automatically translate into engaging in anything that would result in irrational behavior.

Aside from that, if you honestly believe that for example your economic behavior is 'rational' you are fooling yourself. Companies spend fortunes on ways to trick you into buying their stuff and they are generally quite good at it.


I avoid all marketing. I fast forward through commercials. I tell all sales people 'no thanks' until I've done my research on the facts. If you believe that I'm fooling myself, then I suggest you try to understand that not everyone fits neatly inside a social box or label, and not everyone falls for tricky marketing.

Your unquestioning obedience I can only guess at. As I said before, there is a rough 65% chance that you will obey when given an order. I'm sure you are aware of the Milgram experiments and its results. Granted, this is the only one of the three that you might not have.


I assure you I fall outside that 65% chance. I might obey an order, but not unquestioningly. I need to know why I'm doing something before I do it. If I disagree with the why, I will not do it, even if it means social pressure that attempt so force me to do it. And if I am forced to cave due to social pressure, I tend to resent those that apply their force of will over me.

As for your suspension of critical thinking, well, I assume you have favorites. A favorite color, a favorite tv show, a favorite family member, a favorite politician, a favorite music band or singer. Really the moment you have a favorite of anything, you will suspend your critical thinking regarding that topic or person to certain degree. You can't have favorites if you would apply strict critical thinking on everything in your life. And everyone has a favorite something.


Then it seems we have a different idea of what a favorite is. While I may call things "favorite", I do not allow for a suspension of critical thinking. I often agree with legitimate criticisms of whatever that 'favorite' item is. In fact, the discussions I enjoy most are critiques of 'favorites' of mine. It would seem your views of humanity are also overbroad in your expectation of the human condition.

No, I do not find the human condition incorrect. I find the encouragement of such traits incorrect, hence why I criticize the advocation of such things.

Never heard of Atheists criticizing the army for training soldiers to obey orders and not question them. Actually, apart from maybe hippies, I've never heard of people criticizing the army for doing that. After all, the army would not function if soldiers were constantly criticizing their orders and disobeying them. The same is true for bureaucracies, they work because what people do there is following the rules, day in and day out. And as a result, a bureaucracy adds much needed stability to any organization. And even less people criticize people for having preferences and not applying critical thinking in every aspect of their life. Logically really because life would be pretty miserable if no could have preferences.


While I respect the army for fighting for my rights, I often find the unquestioning obedience of a solder worrisome. I believe most every conflict can be resolved through diplomacy rather than force, with a few exceptions. But I do not believe forcing soldiers to do things against their will is for the better of anyone.

And imagine what humanity would result in if everyone was only rational. The worst atrocities could be inflicted upon one another because rationality demanded that they did so. Already we see economic rationality turning people against the poor, solely on the basis of their perceived lack of economic worth.


I'm not sure you and I have the same view of rationality.
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Message 1454527 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 17:08:49 UTC - in response to Message 1454435.  
Last modified: 16 Dec 2013, 17:09:35 UTC

It seems that no religion is better than others when it comes to human rights.

Human rights are a western invention, solidly grounded in the Christian-enlightenment tradition.

..and there was me thinking they were grounded in Magna Carta and a King not wanting to lose his head.

Name the year and somebody will find a faith that was killing off the heathens and or infidels. Or those of the same faith.

Just because two warring parties are of a different religion does not mean that religion plays a significant role in the conflict. In fact, the idea that religion is the root cause for a lot of conflict is historically inaccurate. Yes, in some conflicts religion was a leading role, but in most conflicts it had nothing to do with it.

I disagree. People won't kill unless they can dehumanise the enemy. Hating another person's religion is an excellent way to do this. Religion may not be the reason that the leaders take people to war, but it is the reason the soldiers will fight and keep on fighting.


If this a power struggle between good and evil, Why must we pay the price?

Good and evil are human constructs. There is no objective good nor evil in this world. Hitler thought he was totally doing the world a favor when he began murdering off the Jews, gypsies and gays. Communist movements responsible for the killing of countless millions of people thought that by doing so, they would create a fair and just society, convinced that the good they would achieve would outweigh the deaths of all the people they killed. While it happens good and evil are just propaganda phrases employed by both sides on a conflict to justify their own actions while denouncing the other party. And after the conflict, the victor gets to decide who was good and who wasn't.

But I'm sure this has been argued many times before.
[/quote]
So if good and evil are human constructs, why is god not a human construct?

I am not seeing any consistency here. I can assume then that your god is not good nor evil, so what the point in it?
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Message 1454530 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 17:11:04 UTC - in response to Message 1454527.  

I am not seeing any consistency here. I can assume then that your god is not good nor evil, so what the point in it?


Now that is a very good question and one I would like to see answered.

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Message 1454538 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 17:23:51 UTC - in response to Message 1454513.  

I do have empathy, but I do not allow a bias for a particular group to suspend any criticism or critical thinking of that group if I believe it warrants it. I keep myself from joining social groups so as to avoid any irrational bias, including those I might identify with. This is also true for family, friends, country, and Atheism.

Uhuh, this is what everyone says. This only means you are not even aware of your own biases. Everyone has them, it comes with being a human. Your brain is just build that way.

I avoid all marketing. I fast forward through commercials. I tell all sales people 'no thanks' until I've done my research on the facts.

Perhaps for your more expensive sales. But do you apply the same amount of scrutiny when you go out shopping for groceries? And do you buy everything online or do you visit physical stores as well? Because its impossible to avoid marketing inside a store. The very layout of for example a grocery store is marketing. The way products are presented is marketing. Even the packages of products are marketing. Really, there is so much marketing going on, at so many levels its impossible to avoid all marketing.


I assure you I fall outside that 65% chance. I might obey an order, but not unquestioningly.

No, 65% does what they are ordered to do, they might complain, but they will continue obeying. The other 35% walk away. And everyone always claims to be like the 35%, but science showed us otherwise. But sure, there is a a 1 in 3 chance that you would also walk away once you are uncomfortable with the orders you are given.


Then it seems we have a different idea of what a favorite is. While I may call things "favorite", I do not allow for a suspension of critical thinking. I often agree with legitimate criticisms of whatever that 'favorite' item is. In fact, the discussions I enjoy most are critiques of 'favorites' of mine.

Look, if you are truly critical when it comes to your 'favorites' you would act upon criticisms, and they would no longer be your favorites. Even so, there are things that you like but that cannot be properly critiqued. Things like your favorite color or something.


While I respect the army for fighting for my rights, I often find the unquestioning obedience of a solder worrisome. I believe most every conflict can be resolved through diplomacy rather than force, with a few exceptions. But I do not believe forcing soldiers to do things against their will is for the better of anyone.

Regardless of what you think of the use of military force in politics, this is purely on the functioning of the army itself. Armies cannot function if individual soldiers are to overly critical on their orders, as it would undermine discipline and eventually morale.

I'm not sure you and I have the same view of rationality.

The holocaust is the most vivid example of a rational atrocity. Of course, the starting point is something we find irrational, but that is because we both live in fairly tolerant democratic regimes. We have been raised with the idea that one should respect other people and that life is 'sacred' (a rather irrational notion really). But, our notions of morality and ethics are culturally biased and very subjective.

Anyways, once you would accept that Nazi's starting point that the Jews, Gypsies and gays need to go, you will see that the Nazi policy regarding the Jews was terrifyingly rational. During the 30's, when the war hadn't started yet, Jews were just strongly discouraged to remain in Germany, the principle aim of the Germans at that point was not to exterminate them all. They just wanted them out of Germany. But as the war began, the Nazi's conquered territory where the German Jews had fled too and where the original Jews had never left. Given that the conquered territory was now also considered part of Germany, the Jewish problem was still not solved. So, a more long term permanent solution was to be found, and that eventually evolved into the systematic extermination of all Jews in Europe. Alternatives were considered, such as sending them all to Madagascar, but given German resources at that time, such a plan was deemed to difficult. The reason the Germans went for systematic extermination was that given Germany's situation and their stated objective, killing millions of people was simply the most cost effective, efficient method that was available to them.

One can further see this in the way the Germans set about this. No random eruptions of violence, no, specially designated units following the main armies, rounding up Jews and killing them in neatly orchestrated mass executions. This proved to be to much of a psychological burden on the troops, so more efficient ways were sought. First, gas vans, relieving soldiers of their individual responsibility for killing people. One put them in the truck, the other just pressed a button and 30 minutes later you had a truck full of dead people. Far less personal than aiming a gun and pulling a trigger.

But the scale proved to be to big for gas vans, so they started with the destruction camps. A whole bureaucracy was put in place in order to make sure the trains delivering the wagons full of people operated on schedule, again all according to bureaucratic rationality. This was simply a more cost effective and efficient way of achieving the stated goal. The camps itself were also designed with rationality in mind. In order to keep people calm, they were told to take a shower, they were even given bits of soap and they were told they were going to be doing hard labor. They locked them in the showers and flipped a switch. 20 minutes later you had a room full of dead people. Their possessions were carefully sorted, their hair was shaven and used to make clothing, and the bodies were stripped of jewels and other valuable items and the bodies were cremated. Everything was logged and filed.

The SS was by all accounts a very rational organization. They punished camp leaders who didn't work efficiently or camp guards that were sadistic and cruel towards their prisoners. The Holocaust was industrialized murder and operated under industrial rationality. The only reason we aren't doing it right now is because we think life is sacred and are principally against murdering groups of people. But for that we have no real rational grounds, or at least, those grounds aren't any more rational than the grounds on which the Nazis based their hatred for those who died in the holocaust.

See what I mean?
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Message 1454545 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 17:36:05 UTC - in response to Message 1454527.  

..and there was me thinking they were grounded in Magna Carta and a King not wanting to lose his head.

The Magna Carta is a western invention. But that is not what human rights are based on. If you look at what human rights claim, you'll see they have very much in common with what the French enlightenment philosophers came up with.

I disagree. People won't kill unless they can dehumanise the enemy. Hating another person's religion is an excellent way to do this. Religion may not be the reason that the leaders take people to war, but it is the reason the soldiers will fight and keep on fighting.

Turns out that telling people your piece of real estate is better than the other guys piece of real estate is an excellent reason for lots of people to wage war on the other guy.

Also, most countries today use professional armies. They are trained to kill when ordered to do so, they no longer need to dehumanize people by using religion. Telling people that killing is just part of the job also works fine.

Sure, religion can be used to dehumanize, and has been used to dehumanize in some cases. But to say that they are the root cause for the majority of conflicts is just not true, and even as a way to dehumanize the other its not been used that often.


So if good and evil are human constructs, why is god not a human construct?

I am not seeing any consistency here. I can assume then that your god is not good nor evil, so what the point in it?

The point of God? An afterlife. A sense of mystery. A fun thing to think about. Something to give you comfort in times of need. A reason for hope. A reason to argue against Atheists :P All of the above.

Really, good and evil were never on my list of things that were supposed to give God a point.
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Message 1454546 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 17:36:34 UTC - in response to Message 1454538.  
Last modified: 16 Dec 2013, 17:40:04 UTC

I do have empathy, but I do not allow a bias for a particular group to suspend any criticism or critical thinking of that group if I believe it warrants it. I keep myself from joining social groups so as to avoid any irrational bias, including those I might identify with. This is also true for family, friends, country, and Atheism.

Uhuh, this is what everyone says. This only means you are not even aware of your own biases. Everyone has them, it comes with being a human. Your brain is just build that way.


And this is what all psychologists and sociologists state when they believe the world fits neatly into their studies. I would urge you to resist putting me in those metaphorical boxes until after you've met me or know me better.

I avoid all marketing. I fast forward through commercials. I tell all sales people 'no thanks' until I've done my research on the facts.

Perhaps for your more expensive sales. But do you apply the same amount of scrutiny when you go out shopping for groceries? And do you buy everything online or do you visit physical stores as well? Because its impossible to avoid marketing inside a store. The very layout of for example a grocery store is marketing. The way products are presented is marketing. Even the packages of products are marketing. Really, there is so much marketing going on, at so many levels its impossible to avoid all marketing.


Yes, in fact I do apply the same amount of scrutiny to grocery shopping. I visit physical stores, and having worked retail in my early years, I'm quite aware of the type of visual advertising and marketing that goes on. I assure you there are ways of ignoring them if you're aware of them.

I assure you I fall outside that 65% chance. I might obey an order, but not unquestioningly.

No, 65% does what they are ordered to do, they might complain, but they will continue obeying. The other 35% walk away. And everyone always claims to be like the 35%, but science showed us otherwise. But sure, there is a a 1 in 3 chance that you would also walk away once you are uncomfortable with the orders you are given.


And of course you know me well enough to know which group I belong to, right? Talk about making bold statements.

Then it seems we have a different idea of what a favorite is. While I may call things "favorite", I do not allow for a suspension of critical thinking. I often agree with legitimate criticisms of whatever that 'favorite' item is. In fact, the discussions I enjoy most are critiques of 'favorites' of mine.

Look, if you are truly critical when it comes to your 'favorites' you would act upon criticisms, and they would no longer be your favorites. Even so, there are things that you like but that cannot be properly critiqued. Things like your favorite color or something.


I find this logic troublesome at best, and outright false at worst. It is possible to have a favorite and critique it too. That one accepts criticisms of favorites does not automatically translate into that item no longer being a favorite. All it takes is the acceptance that said favorite is a bias and a personal view, but that does not mean I cannot accept those criticisms and still retain a 'favorite'.

While I respect the army for fighting for my rights, I often find the unquestioning obedience of a solder worrisome. I believe most every conflict can be resolved through diplomacy rather than force, with a few exceptions. But I do not believe forcing soldiers to do things against their will is for the better of anyone.

Regardless of what you think of the use of military force in politics, this is purely on the functioning of the army itself. Armies cannot function if individual soldiers are to overly critical on their orders, as it would undermine discipline and eventually morale.


Agreed. And I think that would be a good thing. We need more of that happening so we can avoid pointless wars.

I'm not sure you and I have the same view of rationality.

The holocaust is the most vivid example of a rational atrocity.


I'm going to go ahead and invoke Godwin's Law.

Of course, the starting point is something we find irrational, but that is because we both live in fairly tolerant democratic regimes. We have been raised with the idea that one should respect other people and that life is 'sacred' (a rather irrational notion really). But, our notions of morality and ethics are culturally biased and very subjective.


I don't see how respect for life is irrational. I do agree that our notions of morality and ethics are engrained within our cultures, and that they are subjective. That's about the extent of our agreement in this paragraph.

See what I mean?


No, not in the least. But I do find it very telling how you view rationalism and that you also compare it with Nazi-ism.
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Message 1454552 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 17:53:53 UTC - in response to Message 1454546.  

And this is what all psychologists and sociologists state when they believe the world fits neatly into their studies. I would urge you to resist putting me in those metaphorical boxes until after you've met me or know me better.

No, because there are countless ways to have biases and countless subjects on which you can apply those biases. To say that all humans have biases is no more putting you in a box than when I say that all humans are mortal.


Yes, in fact I do apply the same amount of scrutiny to grocery shopping. I visit physical stores, and having worked retail in my early years, I'm quite aware of the type of visual advertising and marketing that goes on. I assure you there are ways of ignoring them if you're aware of them.

Well, there is your irrationality. You put an unhealthy amount of effort into being rational, even going so far as to expend significant doses of time and effort into grocery shopping when you could have done something more productive with that time.

And of course you know me well enough to know which group I belong to, right? Talk about making bold statements.

Pretty sure I said this was the one thing where you could actually be different by belonging to the 35% group. To be clear, I have no idea what you would do, we'd have to run the experiment to see. Though now that I've mentioned Milgram I doubt the experiment would still work.


I'm going to go ahead and invoke Godwin's Law.

I know, I know, I hate the example as well. Its just the best example there is of a 'rational' genocide. In that sense it was rather unique, given that since then there has never been such a destruction of human life in such an industrial manner.

I don't see how respect for life is irrational. I do agree that our notions of morality and ethics are engrained within our cultures, and that they are subjective. That's about the extent of our agreement in this paragraph.

Even our respect for life is rather limited and only applies to human beings. Most of us have no qualms with eating cow or pork and they are treated anything but respectful. So why are humans special? Because we are the same species? Well that is a rather arbitrary reason. And for example the Nazis would not have even agreed that humans or gay people are members of the same species as they were. You know, being Ubermenschen and all.

No, not in the least. But I do find it very telling how you view rationalism and that you also compare it with Nazi-ism.

To bad, there have been quite a few papers written on how the holocaust and the modernity are linked in more than just the time in which it happened.

And please, do not mistake this example as any form of approval on what happened during the holocaust or what the Nazis did. I personally find them utter scumbags and the I consider the holocaust the worst crime of the past century.
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Message 1454556 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 18:05:12 UTC - in response to Message 1454552.  

And this is what all psychologists and sociologists state when they believe the world fits neatly into their studies. I would urge you to resist putting me in those metaphorical boxes until after you've met me or know me better.

No, because there are countless ways to have biases and countless subjects on which you can apply those biases. To say that all humans have biases is no more putting you in a box than when I say that all humans are mortal.


I never argued against biases. I argued that it was still possible to retain critical thinking in the face of those biases.

Yes, in fact I do apply the same amount of scrutiny to grocery shopping. I visit physical stores, and having worked retail in my early years, I'm quite aware of the type of visual advertising and marketing that goes on. I assure you there are ways of ignoring them if you're aware of them.

Well, there is your irrationality. You put an unhealthy amount of effort into being rational, even going so far as to expend significant doses of time and effort into grocery shopping when you could have done something more productive with that time.


Hardly. Once I've done my research on a product I'm going to buy, I don't need to do that research over and over again.

I'm going to go ahead and invoke Godwin's Law.

I know, I know, I hate the example as well. Its just the best example there is of a 'rational' genocide. In that sense it was rather unique, given that since then there has never been such a destruction of human life in such an industrial manner.


And if I do not accept any genocide as rational? Genocide done in an efficient and methodical manner does not necessarily make it rational.

I don't see how respect for life is irrational. I do agree that our notions of morality and ethics are engrained within our cultures, and that they are subjective. That's about the extent of our agreement in this paragraph.

Even our respect for life is rather limited and only applies to human beings. Most of us have no qualms with eating cow or pork and they are treated anything but respectful. So why are humans special? Because we are the same species? Well that is a rather arbitrary reason.


I'm not sure eating animals is directly comparable to disrespecting them. I eat animal simply because it tastes good. If I had to kill an animal myself, I would immediately cease eating animal meat.

No, not in the least. But I do find it very telling how you view rationalism and that you also compare it with Nazi-ism.

To bad, there have been quite a few papers written on how the holocaust and the modernity are linked in more than just the time in which it happened.


Who asserts those papers are correct in their conclusions that the Nazi form of "rationalism" (and I use that term very loosely in this context) is the result of pure unadulterated rationalism?

And please, do not mistake this example as any form of approval on what happened during the holocaust or what the Nazis did. I personally find them utter scumbags and the I consider the holocaust the worst crime of the past century.


I do not mistake your argument as approval for what the Nazis did. I merely find it highly questionable that you would find it agreeable that what the Nazis did was anything close to resembling rationality.
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Message 1454578 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 19:31:18 UTC - in response to Message 1454545.  

..and there was me thinking they were grounded in Magna Carta and a King not wanting to lose his head.

The Magna Carta is a western invention. But that is not what human rights are based on. If you look at what human rights claim, you'll see they have very much in common with what the French enlightenment philosophers came up with.

The idea of human rights predate the French Philosophers. The Magna Carta was the first time in the west that any rights of people were formalised...and like all rights they weren't handed out by some benign people in charge. They certainly weren't driven by the Church at the time.

I disagree. People won't kill unless they can dehumanise the enemy. Hating another person's religion is an excellent way to do this. Religion may not be the reason that the leaders take people to war, but it is the reason the soldiers will fight and keep on fighting.

Turns out that telling people your piece of real estate is better than the other guys piece of real estate is an excellent reason for lots of people to wage war on the other guy.

Actually no. Most people will not go and fight to take someone's land. In modern democracies the people that do need to have the will of the people on their side. Bush would not have had the support of the American people for his war on Iraq if him and Blair hadn't forged proof of WMDs, a threat that the people swallowed because they were led to believe that the Muslims were coming to get them. At the time (and still today) the American people can't tell the difference between Muslim and Terrorist. This was deliberately done by the elites because I really doubt the American people would have sent their son's to die to the rallying cry of "help us get rich with their oil!"

Also, most countries today use professional armies. They are trained to kill when ordered to do so, they no longer need to dehumanize people by using religion. Telling people that killing is just part of the job also works fine.

Solidiers are still trained to dehumanise their enemy. Religion is one tool that is used. However, like I said, wars today cannot be fought by a democratic country without the consent of the people.

Sure, religion can be used to dehumanize, and has been used to dehumanize in some cases. But to say that they are the root cause for the majority of conflicts is just not true, and even as a way to dehumanize the other its not been used that often.

I totally disagree with this statement. Find me a war where religion hasn't played a part and I'll find you 10 where it has.


So if good and evil are human constructs, why is god not a human construct?

I am not seeing any consistency here. I can assume then that your god is not good nor evil, so what the point in it?

The point of God? An afterlife. A sense of mystery. A fun thing to think about. Something to give you comfort in times of need. A reason for hope. A reason to argue against Atheists :P All of the above.

If your god is indifferent why would that suggest there even is an afterlife? and it sounds like it could be indifferent too. It might be really horrid.

Really, good and evil were never on my list of things that were supposed to give God a point.

Then what does god do? Is he/she just some sort of weird voyeur who gets off on our suffering? Are we just gods entertainment?
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Message 1454580 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 19:35:20 UTC - in response to Message 1454556.  

...
And please, do not mistake this example as any form of approval on what happened during the holocaust or what the Nazis did. I personally find them utter scumbags and the I consider the holocaust the worst crime of the past century.


I do not mistake your argument as approval for what the Nazis did. I merely find it highly questionable that you would find it agreeable that what the Nazis did was anything close to resembling rationality.

I find it strange that it is being used as an argument to show that religion doesn't play a part in wars. After all the Nazi's gained power by playing on the ancient hatreds between the Christians and the Jews (the Jews killed Jesus remember). They then scapegoated the Jews which led to the German people going along with their persecution. The Catholic Church stood by and did nothing to save the Jews even though they knew what was going on.
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Message 1454600 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 20:35:18 UTC - in response to Message 1454556.  

And if I do not accept any genocide as rational? Genocide done in an efficient and methodical manner does not necessarily make it rational.

In which case you would be proving my earlier point that your biases interfere with your ability to think critically. The history is as it is, the Nazis specifically picked killing people as their policy because from their point of view, it was the most cost effective and efficient method of achieving their stated objective. That objective may be considered irrational, and most certainly is immoral and unethical in the extreme, but that does not change the fact that somewhere in Germany, a bunch of policy makers came together, analysed the situation and calculated that the best option was mass murder. Had mass deportation been easier, they would have gone for that.

That is what rationality is capable of when it becomes completely detached from empathy and sympathy for those who are affected by it.



I'm not sure eating animals is directly comparable to disrespecting them. I eat animal simply because it tastes good. If I had to kill an animal myself, I would immediately cease eating animal meat.

No, but the way we treat animals before we turn them into a hamburger is anything but respectful. Cramped into tiny spaces, pumped full of antibiotics, force fed, all done in such a way to achieve the most efficient and cost effective way of turning a baby cow in a delicious steak. Hence, our unconditional respect for life only extends to humans. After that our respect for life depends on how cute that particular animal looks on youtube video's. We treat cats as little celebrities and we treat cows, pigs and chickens as meat-in-waiting.


Who asserts those papers are correct in their conclusions that the Nazi form of "rationalism" (and I use that term very loosely in this context) is the result of pure unadulterated rationalism?

Its an argument based on historical facts. They made coats from the hairs of their victims. Visit Auschwitz and see the mountains of hair that were left behind. They had special crews slam out the golden fillings people had in their teeth. They basically stripped bodies from anything that could be reused. That is about as rational as one can get.

Again, it was very clear that the decision to exterminate was the result of a group of policy makers weighing the pros and cons of each option they had, and then simply concluded that the pros of extermination outweighed the cons more so than with all the other alternatives. Its completely ruthless, completely immoral and unethical, but its also rational in its pursuit to reach a stated goal in a as efficient as possible way.

I do not mistake your argument as approval for what the Nazis did. I merely find it highly questionable that you would find it agreeable that what the Nazis did was anything close to resembling rationality.

Just because I'm disgusted by what they did doesn't mean I can deny the facts. Maybe you should visit Auschwitz yourself one day, maybe you will see what I mean for yourself.
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Message 1454601 - Posted: 16 Dec 2013, 20:38:48 UTC
Last modified: 16 Dec 2013, 20:44:58 UTC

rigghhttt once again we get into the Catholic church and its magical power to persuade madmen to see the error of their ways. So a madman is going to bend to the will of the Pope. Hmmmmmm I'm thinking not.

a little light reading on Catholic treatment in Nazi Germany

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Nazi_Germany

It seems that Catholics were left out of favor. How pray tell how would German Catholics proceed since they were already in low standing
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