Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Imaginary Friends - Part 1: Religion and Science.

I'm going to do a two or three-part post presenting my views about, and problems with religion in a cogent fashion. These thoughts have been banging around in my head since before the advent of New Atheism, and I feel it would be useful to get them down, and continue to whittle away.


Religion and science.

Can the two can coexist peacefully in one mind? Something that's always puzzled me. The existence of prominent scientists who claim to be religious (Francis Collins comes to mind) seems to suggest, yes.

But should we accept this? Are science and religion reconcilable?

First, let's examine what I mean by 'religion'. I mean everything from fundamentalist, literalist readings of the Abrahamic religions, to the watered-down 'I believe there is a god [as an individual entity, rather than a vague 'force'] who guided the creation of the universe and is now unconcerned with us'.

Onto science; science is the study of the natural world through rigorous experimentation, the building up and breaking down of hypotheses, the cementing of theories, and most importantly, through strict logic and rationality.

Of course, scientists have got it wrong before, and will probably get it wrong many times in the future. However, the beauty of science lies in the measures and counter-measures taken to ensure that we don't get it wrong. The peer-reviews, the statistical analyses, the re-running of experiments over and over.

Scientists do all they can to make sure they've got it right.

Religion, on the other hand...

Theologians basically trawl through the same ancient books, attempting to interpret and reinterpret the words in ways that make sense within the current society. There are no measures against subjectivity, there is no experimentation, and there is simply no evidence. The best that can be said for religion is 'you can't prove it's not true'.

Given the stark differences in methodology of the two, it's hard to see how one can be a scientist, and religious at the same time.

Some people say that religion and science are two different concepts, seeking to explain two different things. I tend to disagree. Religion often makes claims that fall smack-bang in the arena of science.

The virgin birth, for example. That is a biological claim.
The making of water into wine. A physical claim.
The resurrection of Jesus. A biological claim.
The making of humans from mud/clay. A biological claim.

All that are completely unsupported by science. If a scientist, in a scientific conference, were to make such claims, she/he would be laughed out of the room.. but somehow, when a scientist makes such a claim in general, we are expected to be respectful and understanding.

But okay, let's say that you don't agree with literal readings of the holy books, that you only look to religion for moral guidance.

Well, you couldn't have found a worse guide to morality. The old holy books are chock full of racism, misogyny, slavery, child abuse, animal cruelty, genocide, rape, and any number of horrors you care to imagine.

Now, most people nowadays (in the western world, at least) simply disregard the parts of the bible that display these horrors as 'metaphorical'.

Personally, I fail to see how giving up one's daughters to be raped by a horde of angry men in the stead of a couple of 'angels' is a metaphor for anything but utmost misogyny. Why did Lot not give himself up to be raped and tortured, I wonder? But that's another matter, all I wish to display is that continued human discussion and rationality is a more reliable source of morality than an ancient text.

Here's the main thing that I do not understand. We all have criteria for belief in anything. If I were to go up to somebody and tell them I can fly, they would ask for proof immediately, and dismiss me if I failed to provide any. A sentence like "You just have to have faith that I can!" would earn me some hearty belly-laughs.

This goes for everything in life. If somebody tells you that your mother has died, you'd want proof, you'd demand to know how they know. If somebody tells you your partner is cheating on you, you'd similarly want proof. Saying "have faith" just wouldn't fly in any of these situations, and their claims would be brushed aside with impatience.

An argument I've heard for this is that "Nobody knows how the universe was created, and you can't prove it wasn't god, so my view is just as valid as yours!".

At this juncture, I point out the FSM, the Celestial Teapot, and the Invisible Pink Unicorn. Nobody can 'disprove' any of these, yet is that a good reason to start believing them?

Next up; Agnostics, and my problem with them.


  1. These are very broad, vague, and unsupported claims. Not once did you cite any theoretical or theologian evidence. Do you have a degree in theology, science; or have you really spoken to any expert about either sides of these claims. Bashing religion is just as bad, since it is as bad, as bashing your belief system of how life works or should work. You may have had personal negative experience with a (or many)particular religion(s), but does not mean that a) that religions are bad, b) that they are wrong (for your believe system could be wrong too, heck everyone could be wrong), and/or c)that just because there is 1 or many bad apple(s) in the lot, doesn't truly mean that everyone of a belief system is bad. When you attack a religion you attack everyone that believes in that system. Evolution and the Big Bang Theory are theories, any scientist can and will tell you that they are theories and can not be proven nor disproven; the same is true with god(s) of any religion. Yes there are many bad people, doing things in the name of their religion, but it doesn't mean that that religion is bad, it means that they have a very morbid interpretation of that religion, and other people of that religion do look down on them when this happens. Maybe not in that region, but in other parts of the world, or their neighbors. Furthermore, it is people that do the bad things, not the religion, again, these bad people will do bad things in the name of a religion, but it is bad interpretation of it. And there are many bad people doing bad things to other people not out of the sake of religion. An atheist is just as likely to kill, rape, and do horrible actions to other people as a religious person. It is in people that are to blame; religion though is just too big of a target to not go after though, is it?

  2. I don't see your comment as being very relevant to anything I have said. It's as if you have taken your standard response to standard atheistic arguments, and posted it here.

    a) I have not 'attacked' religion, I don't think. I have given my reasons as to why I don't think it's a worthwhile thing to believe in. By doing this, I am no more "attacking" the religious, than I would be "attacking" Elvis-believers by saying there's no evidence for him still being alive.

    b) I don't feel I need to have a degree in theology to make, what are essentially, common sense arguments. Do I need a degree in FSM to take it apart? Hardly. Further, this is a blog, not a scientific dissertation. If you have objections, feel free to list them, instead of trotting out the overused "You are unqualified!" complaints.

    c)I have not said, in this post, that religion is bad. I have said that looking to ancient books for moral guidance is a patently bad idea, which are two distinct things. Further, I also contend that religious people in general *don't* look to their books for moral guidance, even when they say they do.

    d) I have not said that atheists are inherently better people than the religious, so I don't see what exactly you're talking about with that one.

    e)Finally, yes, religion is a big target, because it has made itself a big target. Thanks for noticing, I guess?

  3. If religion and science can not co-exist or should not co-exist then people are forced to choose one or the other correct? Clearly, religion offers something to the human experience that science does not or scientist, such as Collins, would not continue to believe in it.

    I agree that the way we approach faith and religion is frustrating to the analytical mind. But the truth is that science simply can not address the whole of the human existence in a satisfying way. Religion is in the same catagory as art - it is a means of expression of the soul or the inner person.

    Science can not meet all of the needs in the human experience for expression of the soul and thus people still need and hold on to religion. Forcing people to choose will not be good for the advancement of science and will not be good for the development of religion. Thus, it makes more sense to figure out how they can and should co-exist.

  4. I don't think 'forced' is the right word, but it is less hypocrisy to choose one over the other, I think.

    I think that claim is debateable. Some of the countries reporting the highest proportions of irreligiousness in the world, also report highest levels of happiness. I don't think religion is necessary for everybody, no.

    I would argue that that is the truth. I find science to address human existence satisfactorily enough for my liking, and to the extent which it doesn't, religion is not a satisfying substitute.

    I am not speculating as to what would be good for science, or good for religion. In fact, I don't agree with your claim that a marriage between science and religion would be good for anybody, but that is besides the point.

    All I am saying is that religious belief of any kind ought not to be taken seriously, whether coming from scientists or not, and that science and religion cannot be reconciled.

  5. Wasn't this all there is God Delusion? All you had to add to it was the cute doodle.

  6. Religion is not necessary for everybody. That is true. But neither is science. Many people in the world live without a working knowledge of science and are very happy.

    Science is enough for you to address human existence. But I doubt it addresses every expression of who you are. Poetry, music, art, and religion address and express different parts of what it means to be human than science does.

    The fact that science and religion can be reconciled is evidenced in the people who have done so within themselves. It may not be for you but if others can do so in a way that does not violate their intelectual honesty then clearly it is possible for some and thus possible in general.

  7. I completely back you up on this.. It is up to the believer to provide REAL evidence to back up his claims. And religious believers simply cannot. Because there is none. Keep up the good work, lady.

  8. Yes, my statement was somewhat of a standard statement, but that of one attacking one's belief, which I use to both the religious and atheists. And I mean is (on attacking), that your statements were stereotyping, prejudicial, making-fun-of, and gave no support to the claims you had, which made them even more outrageous and irrelevant. I also agree with Chialphagirl. Both beliefs need and have to coexist. Both beliefs (& yes atheism is a belief) are paranoid about the other, religious think that the atheists are persecuting them, think of them as arrogant, full of themselves, and hateful; atheists also are paranoid by seeing that religion is always at fault for everything that happens in the world and that religious people are stupid, self-righteous, and pigheaded. Both are beliefs, one believing in a god(s) or a supernatural cosmic oneness, the other believes in no god(s). Both go on their own way trying to make sense of this life, this world, and how society should work. There are too many of these posts/threads/blogs/rallies that bash in either side. Why, instead of spreading hate, try educate, not making vague hateful comments about 'religion,' that seem to be 'crap' that any uneducated person can get from the internet, and actually learn about what you are talking about, actually read what the other side 'really' talks about, which is love, compassion, and peace.

  9. Bad ideas; Like I said, this was a consolidation of *my* thoughts. I never completed The God Delusion, and it was about 3 years ago anyway. In any case, there aren't a limitless number of arguments against religion.

    Chia; They may live without a working knowledge of science, but they benefit from science every day. Unless you're talking about developing/third-world countries.. in which case, it's arguable whether they're 'very happy'.

    I don't even know what you mean by 'addresses every expression of who you are'. Truly, I don't. Could you clarify?

    I think those people experience cognitive dissonance, and when they hold science and religion within the same mind, they have compartmentalised the two, not reconciled them. They do not apply the same rationality for the two concepts. And my point is that I don't think they *are* being intellectually honest.

    Sparrow; I'm glad! :D

    Sophist; I don't think they were stereotypical or prejudicial at all. I made efforts to encompass the whole range of religious belief, in fact. Also, I think it's ridiculous that a little mockery is dubbed an "attack". Please grow a thicker skin. Nobody accuses me of "attacking" Elvis believers when I treat their beliefs less-than-seriously. If one wants their beliefs taken seriously, they should be prepared to provide evidence for them, or take the mockery in good spirit.

    I'm curious as to which claims you think need support of any kind beyond common sense.

    No, atheism is not a belief. Atheism is the lack of belief, in the same way that 'not being wiccan' is not a belief in itself, but simply a lack of belief in wicca. The fact that there is a word for atheism shouldn't confuse you into thinking otherwise.

    I actually laughed out loud at the fact that you see ANY PART of what I posted as 'hateful'. THAT is self-righteous and paranoid in the extreme, truly. Please, quote me being hateful, if you would.

    And I'm sorry that your assumptions about me have met with such failure, but the fact is that I HAVE read what the 'other side' really talks about, I have been bombarded by what the other side thinks and talks about for my entire life. I know *exactly* what I am refuting, thanks.

    I have made no arguments saying that religion breeds hatred or anything of the sort, so your entire spiel about "realise that religion is about love and peace!" is entirely misplaced, and shows that instead of reading my post and comprehending it for what it is, you have ascribed all sorts of notions and agendas to it, based on, no doubt, your perception of the atheist argument in general.

    I wish you wouldn't do that.

  10. Too reconcile religion and science is somewhat ludicrous. Given the anti-science stance many religions have. We only have to look at the treatment given to Galileo way back when to ascertain that religion sees enlightenment and progress as a threat. The people, who have 'reconciled' between the two, have simply convinced themselves that the two can coexist.

    When in truth they are mortal enemies. Science represents progress and a better future for humankind. Religion seeks to bind humanity to their sins, too suffer for them, and to restrict progress whenever it has the chance.

    There is no way they could ever coexist harmoniously.

    If you think the best way to prevent the spread of aids is to not use condoms, you are obviously not of sound mind or are able to offer logical solutions to anything that threatens humanity. Religion will not save this world, science will.

  11. I feel sort of alone in my views as I comment here, but I only wanted to say that outside of empirical evidence, I sense the presence of God in my daily life. I pray to him and I know He is there; I don't believe in Him because I claim no one can prove me wrong, as with your example of the baseball. It's not about holding steadfast to way I was raised at all costs. I just know God is there. I don't know how I know. I just know. I sense His creativity in creation, and at times, I think He speaks, quietly, but surely. And the presence of God in my life is an infinitely positive thing.

    Religion is deeply personal and intangible. It's just the nature of the thing. Anyways, I was not offended by your article or anything. Just every now and then I feel inclined to give my piece. You are a very good writer, by the way.

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  13. Hannah; Thankyou for the response, and the compliment.

    I have virtually no problem with people believing whatever it is they feel is right privately. Whether that be god, aliens, ghosts, whatever.

    The problem only arises when the religious seek to legitimise these claims by saying they are rational, or logical, and then seek to legislate based on these views.

    If people freely admitted that their religious belief is just something they feel personally, we wouldn't have a problem. The entire question of the truth of religion comes into play only when religious people seek to evangelise, or pass laws, or harass people based on their religious views.

    Which is pretty much why I very rarely take apart Buddhism, or Hinduism, or Jainism.

  14. Just out of curiosity, I'd like to ask a couple of questions, if that's alright(though I don't often participate in discussions of this nature, so again, I am a bit of a fish out of water but anyways, here goes) -- can you tell me why evangelism (referring to that which is not harassment) upsets you? And also, what legislation are you referring to, the hot button issues of abortion and homosexuality, or is there more? That's all! Looking forward to your answers.

  15. It does not 'upset' me per se, but it is an annoyance. When people come up to you and ask you to believe in this or that, the natural reaction is to go "Why? What proof do you have that this is true?". Hence, the truth of the claim comes into play.

    I am, of course, referring to legislation relating to abortion (and all it entails vis-a-vis other contraceptive measures as well) and homosexuality (big, important issues), as well as things like churches being tax-exempt, religious schools receiving more federal funding than private schools due to the strong lobby.

    In addition, I'm talking about legislation in other countries; blasphemy laws, for example. Laws requiring women to be covered head to toe, laws saying women can't go out without a male escort, laws requiring the stoning of women for adultery. And it doesn't end at ridiculous legislation, either. What about the Pope telling his constituents that condoms make the AIDS problem worse? What about religiously motivated terror attacks? What about young girls having acid splashed in their faces by religious fanatics for daring to go outside without a burkha? What about the genital mutilation of little girls?

    The horrors are endless, and they can be traced to dogma. And religious dogma, in particular, exerts a very strong influence.

  16. Yes, there is a whole lot that is wrong with the world - I would never argue that. Horrifying things happen every day and not near enough people rally to help, not as we should. I merely think these awful things have more to do with the nature of humanity and how people so often spin religion to their own agenda, rather than having to do with the nature of God (though you don't believe in Him) or religion itself. For me, I have to believe in a God to make sense of the world, because in God, I find hope for humanity.

    Anyways, if you haven't guessed, I am a wholehearted Christian. It's been nice speaking with you but I fear I could go on for ages so perhaps I ought to wrap things up pretty soon... :)

  17. Of course they have to do with the nature of humanity. Human nature is what devised religion in my first place, in my view, so we are in agreement there.

    Religion is within human nature, or rather, it's a relic of what our nature used to be pre-Enlightenment. I'm of the opinion that we need to purge it from our collective system in order to be able to make some real progress.

    Which is happening already, LOTS of progress has been made by whittling down religion, by making it less a part of public life in the west, but there's still a way to go.

  18. My apologies, I was angry about something entirely different and was dead tired (also frustrated about so many religious intolerant posts, threads, blogs, sites, etc.,)when I wrote those two posts (as well as the post on your other thread). Western society keeps preaching about being tolerant of everyone, yet in action, they/we're not tolerant of other religions, cultures, and peoples. My statements were out of anger and notice you had nothing 'hateful' in your post. I still hold firm of what I said about how atheism is a belief, but unless you would like to continue that discussion, I'll stop there. What I was trying to say, that we do need to be tolerant of other people. People are people, no matter if they believe in a god or not; and that a person or people will behave inexcusable based on their actions. If we blame religion, or this or that; then they become excuses, instead of the action itself and the person responsible being targeted. Still tired, but had some sleep; and not as @#$% pissed off (hahaha) as I was when I wrote it, so if want you can delete those posts, (I'm a bit ashamed of them now). Sorry again.

  19. Oh that's quite alright, don't worry about it.

    I suppose it would depend on your definition of atheism. I see atheism as simply a lack of belief in god(s). Like I said, would you call your rejection of wicca a *belief* in itself? I doubt it.

    However, if you define atheism as a belief in *no god*, then you may have a point. However, I think the New Atheism movement defines atheism as the former, rather than the latter.

    What I am trying to say is that we should not be so tolerant that we tolerate intolerance. When religions seek to legislate based on their beliefs, that is not something we should tolerate. When religions cause harm to others, we should not tolerate that.

    I am aware that whether religious or not, people will continue to do bad things, but the fact remains that religion very often *makes people do bad things*. We know this, because every terrorist has said that they are doing what they are doing in the name of Allah, because they want to spread Islam and kill the infidels. They say it themselves, why should we not believe them?

    Christian fundies do the same thing. "So and so is against god", etc.

    If these people didn't believe that they would get 72 virgins in heaven, I doubt they would be blowing themselves up. They are informed by their religion, and they tell us so.

  20. Religion doesn't make anyone do anything, if a person believe, they believe and act on how they interpret how they should act. Therefore, it is still there actions. Religion is not an entity, especially if you believe in atheism (~_^), which means it is the actions of either idiots not knowing of their own faith, or people being mislead and having their emotions provoked. Which again, can happen to the religious or non.

  21. Ah, but that's where you're wrong.

    Religions (especially the religions I'm talking about) consist on scripture, which tell followers how to act, how to think, how to behave.

    Also, it's not a question of 'not knowing one's faith'. Often, it's the people who commit the worst atrocities that are sticking tightly to scripture. Moderate versions of the Abrahamic religions often *disregard* parts of scripture that are found to be offensive. Moderates often cherry-pick parts of their religion that they like.

    You can't say that these people are misled or have had their emotions provoked, because their actions are exactly in accordance with what their scriptures require them to do.

    I am aware that dogma can exist in various forms, however today, the most prevalent form is religion, and for that reason, it needs to go. If more forms emerge, we'll tackle them as they come.

  22. Ah but that is where you are wrong, yes the scripture does state on how to behave, but what, at least the Abrahamic scriptures talk about behaving rightly to "your brothers [& sisters]" "to go with Christ" is a statement of to go with peace. There are some scriptures, out of context that are frequently misinterpreted to cause violence or other bad acts. But most scriptures teaches wisdom, patience, and to be peaceful, and more importantly to letting go of control. Killing, raping, etc., people is against these books of these 3 major religions (it actually calls against them). There were times in the older texts that claim there are times to call for violence (the Beatles made a song of that passage), but most true believers actually see that those times are gone and to be peaceful. But again, it is up to the personal interpretations of the scriptures, that cause bad-actions of the ill-educated of these believers. Had a major talk with a Muslim that is ashamed of how her religion is viewed. The same true with many Christians I've talked to. Many true believers go about their lives living in harmony with their community, it is these outspoken uneducated bad-apples that ruin the image of the majority, which is true for any culture, society, group, etc.; that a stereotype and poor education towards against who and what they really are, causes hate, anger, and rejection. I actually have read all of the Torah, Talmud, the Gospels (the New Testament), much of the Quran (not all), some to a lot of the holy scriptures of both Hindu and Buddhism, as well as personal and school education on religions and cultures (not saying you haven't because I don't know you or your education). I didn't find anything that call for these unspeakable crimes against other people; when speaking to people who truly believe in these faiths, they also agree, that there is nothing that state to do harm to people. So again, it is in the interpretations, and what people 'want' to see and hear out of these interpretations. Therefore, it is the person, the person that acts, not the religion.

  23. But that is my point. There can be no such thing as a "true believer", because every single believer thinks that THEY are a true believer. There is no objective mechanism by which to separate 'true believers' from false believers.

    I have read the koran, and I am astounded that you feel that there are no calls for hatred. ALL I saw in those scriptures is "behead the infidels" and variations of this, repeatedly. Now, I don't WANT to see "behead the infidels" in this text, but there it is, plain to see.

    A literal reading of all these books leaves one feeling sick at the amount of violence, sexism and bigotry they contain. Only if you WANT to spin it into something positive, can you then make allowances for "metaphors" and "symbolism" and "oh that text is no longer relevant", etc.

    Also, if your argument is that religion can be twisted into whatever the reader wants, then what, praytell, is its use in the first place, if it is simply something to be molded by the intentions of the reader? How, then, can it be a force for *anything*, whether good or evil? How, then, can one say that it is necessary in the world?

  24. oh there are true believers. You are thinking about a true religion. Every religion believes that the religion is the true religion, that is the point. And there are objective ways to judge between a true and a false, based on their actions.And religion is not something that should be twisted, it just is because of people, human error I believe the scientific term is called. It is in humanity that fails, many religion especially the Abrahamic trio, speak about self sacrifice, self conviction, and personal spiritual war within one-self. I'm not asking you to believe or not, I'm trying to put this in perspective. That religion is a personal conviction, not a group, though many scriptures state that they can find a stronger faith within others that share the same faith. It is within the self that they are suppose to work on, and share (only share) with others. But again, there are some bad apples in the lot. Let's take one of your examples on the scripture issue: "Personally, I fail to see how giving up one's daughters to be raped by a horde of angry men in the stead of a couple of 'angels' is a metaphor for anything but utmost misogyny. Why did Lot not give himself up to be raped and tortured," The thing is the girls (it was 2 daughters) didn't get hurt, before the could (the men didn't want them) the angel or god (depending on the interpretation) punished those evil men; but it was the sacrifice of the father giving his daughter away, an action proving his faith. Now in our time yeah that seems odd, harsh, and evil in it self. But even according to the Christian faith, Jesus is suppose to be the son of god is sacrificed for everyone, Abraham sacrificing his son before god intervened. Again the emphasis on personal sacrificing.

  25. You really write very well :) I am a Hindu and I believe in a Supreme Power. Hinduism is one of the most confusing religions to be a part of as there are so many gods and they all turn out to be the same in the end! I don't have a problem with religion - only when people use religion to defend their senseless views, or when they try to force their views on others.

  26. Firstly, I'm an atheist and have been for all my life, because I've never found enough logic behind the core claims of any religion. That said, I hold that, in daily life, it doesn't matter much what one believes. Sure, some of us have information that is closer to the truth, but that applies to many areas to which we pay less attention. As for actions, I have a relative secular morality. I try to do the best possible thing in every separate situation. That's true about many of my friends who define themselves as religious, too. Even though our core beliefs are different, we'd make similar decisions most of the time. Just as there are religious sociopaths and atheistic sociopaths. My point is, it's much more a matter of interpretation, than source material. Still, I do feel much better about my sanity, believing in evolution rather than creation.

  27. Victoria; I think that's true, to an extent. To a larger extent, however, what people believe influence their behaviours in fundamental ways. If you believe that homosexuals are sinning against god, you're going to behave as such, as we've seen. I could give many other examples, but I think that gets the main point across. Truth is important precisely because it informs peoples' behaviours.

    Cricket; Thankyou! :D
    That, too, is my view. The problem being that religious belief (especially religions that practise proselytizing) is rarely kept private.

    Sophist; You have just said that religious texts are open to personal interpretation, because there is no authority that can objectively interpret them (unless you accept the authority of the vatican, here.. in which case we have bigger problems). If it's all personal interpretation, how can there be 'true' and 'false' believers when they ALL believe they are true believers? Who is authorised to make that distinction?

    The fact that you think giving one's daughters up to be gangraped is moral in any sense of the word astounds me. In what sense is giving your DAUGHTERS up to be gangraped a PERSONAL sacrifice? A PERSONAL sacrifice is giving YOURSELF up to be raped. Unless you agree with the prevailing biblical assumption that women are not be treated as persons, but as property of men.

    There is no question of "in our time" or "in theiur time". These are religious scriptures, revealing the apparent intentions and morals of GOD. If god goes by morals as relative to time period, then in what sense can he be the objective harbinger of morality?!

  28. Again, it was a different time/culture; now yes it would be something that would be appalling. But to the father (of that time/culture), giving one/two of his own (daughter/son/servant/slave)was a sacrifice; the father was trying to protect something he thought to be more 'holy'/'sacred' than he or his family. Furthermore, it was the action of the father (not of god), the angel didn't allow the girls to get hurt, nor did god allow Abraham's son to be killed, though Abraham's god asked Abraham to kill his son, but prevented it, testing Abraham's faith. Which means, that god set up guidelines/laws for the followers to believe, but the followers practice these laws within their time/culture; in perspective, god would only notice the action within their heart, such as the 'sacrifice' of the father based on his time/culture, not the depravity of what would come of the act, which was stopped by god (in many cases god stops the depravity). This is again of the scriptures of the Abrahamic trio.

    My definition of a 'true' believer is that one that act's rightly based on what the scriptures state. Yes, there is room of interpretation, but, there are very strict explicit instructions/guidelines/laws that these scriptures also state to follow. So, if you look it at certain point of view, when learning you learn explicitly and implicitly, same with religion; the religious are learning about their faith explicit in the laws, and implicit within the scriptures, but as well through personal experiences in their lives. Those that take the moral and ethical explicit laws in the scriptures and act as prime 'good' examples of their faith, is what a 'true' believer is. A 'false' believer, is just part of the faith 'just because' or is totally ignorant of their (because they don't learn it or strive to learn it) faith and/or completely neglects what the faith says and do something different. However, again, the religious are human, they fail, stubble, sin, because they're not perfect, but that is part of their faith as well, which teaches to get back on the 'right path.' You can't fault anyone a brief mishap and just state it was their religion (because it was their fault not the religion).

  29. Er, even back then, I'm sure it WAS appalling, to his daughters. Unless you thing gangrape was something women enjoyed back in the day..?

    It was a sacrifice to the extent that it is a sacrifice to give up one's belongings to another. When the 'belonging' is a person, that's not a fucking sacrifice at all. Is it "sacrificial" in any way, if I were to tell a mob that they should feel free to rape my friend? No, a personal sacrifice is when you sacrifice YOURSELF. I can't believe you don't get that.

    You say "in many cases stops th depravity", but in many cases he condones it. Have you actually *read* the bible? Deuteronomy? "Go and take all the virgin women for your own"?!

    Again, that is YOUR definition. There IS no objective definition, because there IS no objective authority. You have been saying all along that scripture is open to personal interpretation, so how can you be sure that YOURS is the right one, and the suicide bombers have the wrong one? You can't.

    I have not said that I fault a religious person a brief mishap and blame it on the religion. I fault religious people *ideologies* that *they tell me* is born of their religion. You have no divine knowledge that can trump their opinion, which is exactly why I say there is no way of separating a "true believer" from a "false" believer.

    The fact of the matter is, when people cling to ideologies out of blind faith, bad shit happens. ESPECIALLY when these ideologies come from texts that are thousands of years old, written by goatherds.

  30. Of course I get that, I am just trying to explain the rational of the father's thinking of that time/culture (which was explained to me by 2 different theologians, which in a way does make a rational sense, if you consider the time/culture). Time/culture does excuse, not just culture, but we know now that this is wrong, we know now many things, they didn't not, and behaved totally different, and knew very little. This is/was just to put things in perspective; not that I totally agree or anything (or would offer my daughter(s) or anything).
    Again, in perspective, when looking back even 5-10 years ago, we ask, both of humanity and ourselves, "what were we thinking?" In a 100 years from now, our decedents will have trouble understanding our rational, why, because it was our rational at that time/culture, not their's. Same is true with our ancestors. Is this an excuse to do what they did now, no, absolutely no. I hope we have 'evolved' from then.
    Of course Abraham's god has condone it, never said he/she didn't, which is the why he/she stops the depravity.
    I'll stop there, I don't we're just going in circles. Thank you for the debate and your time. Still like what most of what you say ;)

  31. Personally, I think that believing in God(s), or any religion, is a way to delude ourselves from reality. I'm not even saying that it's a bad thing though, because I can understand why people would want that. In some cases, religion may be the only stable part of a persons life, and so without it they may feel lost.

    On another note,(maybe irrelevant) it seems that the only people who decide to convert to a religion later in life, after growing up as an atheist, are those who have gone through a particularly difficult time - death, for instance - death is a lot easier to deal with when you believe there is something better waiting for us on the other side. Otherwise, you have been conditioned at birth to believe in a specific religion. Those who have grown up without religion feel no need for it.

    However, it seems almost impossible to live in todays society without the use of science. So which is more important? We do not need ancient books to help us determine what is right and wrong. In fact, isn't that our parents job?

    There are so many different religions out there, that being religious makes less sense than not being so. It just makes me wonder where all of these ideas came from in the first place.

    You probably shouldn't take anything I'm writing seriously, since I don't know even half as much about religion as everyone else who has commented, but isn't religion completely biased in every sense of the word? Weren't the 'holy books' written by only those who could read and write? If so, Then they would have been similar to aristocrats - holding very specific views. Maybe they also had extremely creative imaginations.

  32. You already know my opinion on this, I think - I strictly disregard anything remotely supernatural, even going so far as claiming that there's no such thing as luck and karma (much to the chagrin of anyone who thinks that some metaphysical thing will reward do-gooders and punish wrong-doers).

    Santa Clause, unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters...

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