Senate Atheism 4.0 - Now Discussing: Religiosity and intelligence

Discussion in 'Community' started by Lowbacca_1977, May 18, 2010.

  1. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Well, I'd draw the distinction between religiosity and spirituality. The former is associated with structured, formal religion: the Catholic that goes to Mass, the Orthodox Jew observing the sabbath and eating kosher, etc. But spirituality encompasses anything as vague as the notion that "there's some sort of higher power." When you're speaking about something that nebulous, it's very difficult to tell whether someone holds any such beliefs, and how much it means to them. More pointedly, I think it's quite easy to underestimate.
  2. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Ehh, I'm not sure the general level of civilized behavior I've seen in the barracks after work is compatible with any kind of appeal to morality, be it the Golden Rule or the Ten Commandments. :p
  3. wannasee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2007
    star 4
    I think "no religious preference" would be fine for most atheists, but if they want a box to tick i see no reason not to give it to the them (except for the cost of making new forms).

    Even if the soldier had ticked the atheism box, I still think a chaplain should be sent for every death notification, since atheism doesn't necessarily run in families.

  4. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    The Army makes revisions to all kinds of forms practically daily-and most Army forms are electronic now, so the cost is miniscule. It's not like we have vast warehouses full of boxed-up forms.

    Anyway, there's already an 'other' box on forms that ask you what your religious preference is. There's even space to write. :p
  5. Mustafar_66 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2005
    star 5
    That doesn't really answer my questions though. Firstly whether or not these chaplains have had proper training in dealing with people coping with grief besides stuff from the Bible. Secondly, if indeed the first is true, then why call them chaplains? If they feel that religious advice would be the best course of action then they can provide that, but it shouldn't be the default position.

    Catering to individuals beliefs is all well and good, but why not approach from a secular aspect initially? It would save a whole lot of time and would, I'd argue, be more beneficial.

    I do agree that the reluctance to acknowledge people as atheist (or even not belonging to a religious denomination) is a problem, one which I don't understand. Even in Britain, which is a far more secular country that the United States, when the Leader of the Opposition Ed Milliband announced he was an atheist it was treated as a massive news story, either seen as a cynical ploy to appeal to young voters or seen to impact on his ability to lead the country. I've no idea what it's like for the British Armed Forces, but I imagine that it couldn't be too dissimilar to the American model. Which is a pity, really.
  6. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    That doesn't really answer my questions though. Firstly whether or not these chaplains have had proper training in dealing with people coping with grief besides stuff from the Bible. Secondly, if indeed the first is true, then why call them chaplains? If they feel that religious advice would be the best course of action then they can provide that, but it shouldn't be the default position.

    First part-of course they have. Remember, the military doesn't provide any religious instruction to chaplains at all, as that is already a requirement of their civilian education. Overall, Chaplains are part of the "Military Chaplain Corps," which means they go through a specific chaplain leadership course. Since Chaplains are "non-coms," the first phase teaches general military non-combat skills (map reading, nuclear/chemical protection, field skills, etc...). The 2nd phase focuses on paperwork/writing/military reporting requirements, etc. The last 2 phases focus on specific real world issues like counseling, death notification, helping soldiers deal with stress, etc... Half of the training chaplains undertake focuses on basically being a counselor.

    Second part-because the military is an institution based on lineage and tradition? Why call cavalry, cavalry if no one has rode horses into battle for 70 years? The position of chaplain is instantly recognizable within the military. I think an issue here is that those not in the military consider Chaplains to be "priests in uniform," when this isn't really accurate. There is a religious component and requirement to chaplains of course, but stereotypically, a more accurate description would be to look at chaplains as "Mr Rogers in a military uniform."

    Interestingly, Chaplains themselves are non-combat positions, but chaplain assistants, the enlisted aides for chaplains, are combat positions and carry weapons. I guess chaplain assistants also double as bodyguards for the chaplain.
  7. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Yeah, the chaplain's assistant also doubles as a bodyguard, sort of; don't think I've ever seen a chaplain leave the wire.

  8. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I'm not sure I agree, depending on the meaning of your statement. If there is indeed a notification "team" of several individuals, I don't see how it would be more efficient to exclude someone whose services might be both relevant and wanted for a majority of soldiers. If it is, on the other hand, a single individual, I think you could make a fair argument for someone other than the chaplain.
  9. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Typically it's the highest-ranking officer available and the chaplain.
  10. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I'd recommend you read the links given, as you've created a fake situation where "no religious preference" is an option, but not "atheist", as though that's the problem. Atheist IS a category and military members report facing problems when they try to list themselves as such. This point is not only addressed in the links, its in bold. The "new forms" comment really gives the impression that you're not actually paying attention to the actual discussion/sources.
  11. wannasee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2007
    star 4
    You caught me. I didn't read the links. I just skimmed your post and then read ramza's.

    I do appreciate the way you were able to work so much ********** into a post with a simple correction. Not everyone would choose to do that. Well done.
  12. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Except I still don't think the focus of the problem is linked to atheism per se. 99.9% of the members in the military don't care what religion you are, if it ever comes up in the first place. The problems, as detailed by the bloggers are related more to transitioning from a civilian mindset to a military one. All of the accounts come from MEPS (the in-processing center) or from basic training. These are both important distinctions from actual life in the military.

    1)Depending on the location, the personnel clerks at MEPS see hundreds of people a day. (A place like Butte, Montana would be less, a place like Chicago probably has a couple hundred people a day) It is the fault of the clerk for not knowing the atheist code, but I can guarantee that he didn't care either way. When the Marine recruit said she was an atheist, the clerk probably already knew the code for "NO PREF" and just put that down, or didn't care, or didn't know the difference. Is that a problem? Maybe, but it's an easy one to fix without turning it into a personal crusade.

    2)the issues at boot camp are the result of the entire purpose of basic training. Drill Sgts have the purpose to break individuals down and then building them back up as a team. Any specific recruit isn't going to be allowed to get into a debate over atheism any more than they would be allowed to get into a political debate, or promote that they are a member of the tea party, because again, no one is going to care in that environment.

    In both cases, the solution is extremely easy. All any specific soldier has to do is go down to the S-1 (that's the personnel records section) and change their personnel file. If they are listed as "NO PREF" in basic training, just wait until training is over, and at their first real duty station, it's very easy to correct. Even the links themselves mention this. As for dog tags, just about every military base has an equipment store located right off of post. A soldier could have "JEDI" stamped in their dog tags, and while it wouldn't be official, no one is going to notice or care, unless that soldier walks around waving the tag, and that would get attention based on the behavior, not the tag itself.

    It just seems that the subjects in both accounts were extremely defensive to the point that they were artificially attributing motives where no such motives existed. The person who was visited by a Chaplain seemed to be offended more by the mere presence of the chaplain himself, which I think was born out of ignorance of what a chaplain does. Because the chaplain could have been a valuable asset, and most likely would have been sent even if "atheist" was listed by the deceased soldier. The Marine recruit needs to keep her head focused on where it belongs, which is making it through the first phase of boot camp. Fixing things like religious preference is easy to do after training.
  13. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    [image=http://www.thefastertimes.com/files/2010/09/christopher_hitchens.gif]
    I guess RIP is not entirely appropriate... he'd probably have taken issue with the idea of resting while dead.
    Still; always said when an old cricketer leaves the crease.
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I almost never read Hitchens for his atheism, and I was no fan of some of his political views, but his account of his losing fight with cancer in VF helped me process my own father's earlier battle with thyroid and neck cancer. My father, who lost sixty pounds on the cancer diet, internalized his suffering to such an extent that I rarely understood what he was experiencing. Reading Hitchens on cancer felt like getting a look into my dad's mind, even though it obviously wasn't really that. But I felt my dad and Hitchens were fellow travelers in the way their skeptical and inquiring minds worked through issues. And, to the extent that anyone ever earns their cancer, my father and Hitchens both earned it through a long and dedicated relationship with cigarettes and booze (although my father gave up smoking 20 years ago, it was probably 40 years too late). And Hitchens became relevant again with my wife's breast cancer scare and surgery.

    Anyway, if I could thank Hitchens for his cancer essays I would, and should have while he was still living, though it's too late now.
  15. FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5


    A great and somewhat controvertial mind lost.


  16. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    When I saw this today, I knew I'd have to come in here and make a post about it. I don't suppose a lot of people would understand my respect for Hitchens; most of my friends are Christians and would be confused by my trying to talk about why Christopher Hitchens meant a lot to me. My condolences to the atheist community; you've lost an absolute giant. I agree with the user above who said Hitch would take issue with being told to "rest in peace." He'd wholeheartedly support a toast though (actually, he'd probably just advise that we all get absolutely stinking drunk!)

    Here's my post from the Literary Memorial thread in the Amp; it sums up how I feel about Hitchens, as best as I can even begin to sum it up.

    Atheism has lost an absolute giant. Heck, the world has lost a giant. He was an incredible talent, a massive intellect, a fascinating person. No one could write a polemic like Hitchens and, while I'm a Christian and he was an atheist, there was nothing as satisfying as reading Hitchens taking radical Muslim clerics to task, exposing Christian televangelists as the frauds they often are, rampaging all over the Clintons, or just dealing with any modern stupidity. He was an incredibly exciting writer to read and to read about. The world is definitely less interesting with him gone; remember when he got into a street brawl with some neonazis? That was, what, just a couple of years ago? His passion for actually debating religious issues with religious leaders was a perfect example of how to be strong, fervent and yet avoid bullying or browbeating; and the simple fact is that a lot of the stuff he wrote about, other writers wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. But Hitch always had the nerve; always. Did he go too far? Sure he did, quite often, probably. But what's a provocateur for? People that stir the pot with as much intelligence, passion, fire and wit as Hitchens are rare; rare, hell, if you ask me, they're nonexistent. Nobody could rip something stupid to shreds like Hitchens; no one could say it like him. For years, I've called him my "favorite atheist." I guess it sounds condescending to say it that way, but, believe me, I would never dare condescend to Christopher Hitchens. He's dead now and I'm still alive, but I get the feeling he could still kick my ass if he wanted too.

    A toast, Hitch; even a Christian or two are gonna miss you; hope you don't mind. Your talent and your spirit crossed all kinds of boundaries; you were one of a kind and we're sorry to see you go. Sixty-two years wasn't long enough. You always had more to say; always. And if anybody gleefully tells me they're glad you're burning in hell right now, I'm gonna punch 'em out, okay? Punch 'em right out.
  17. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    :cool: post, Rogue.
    By the way, your presence is required in the '1001 Days That Shaped the World!' thread.
  18. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    You're entirely correct. Shameful lapse in that thread. New post is up now; expect another six month gap before the next one. :p
  19. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    In what sense did Hitchens ever avoid "bullying or brow-beating?" As the line about polemics just a few lines earlier betrays, Hitchens regularly engaged in this sort of behavior. He conflated being a forceful, honest advocate for one's position with being inflammatory. He was a bomb-thrower whose rhetoric about Islam would dove-tail perfectly with the worst from the early Herman Cain campaign and the Tea Party more generally.

    He was undeniably intelligent, a fair writer, and offered good insights at times. But he also had as hysterical a reaction to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as could possibly be imagined. More importantly, he degraded the quality of our national dialogue, offering validation to the tendency to spew vitriol and disdain. I'm sorry he died, but let's try for a slightly more level-headed view of the man.
  20. Mustafar_66 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2005
    star 5
    The key thing about Hitchens' intense dislike of Islam was that he hated the religion itself, not necessarily the people who practiced it. He was able to distinguish between the two, something that the likes of the Tea Party appear unable to do. Furthermore, it's not like this came about solely because of 9/11. The fatwah against Salman Rushdie certainly hardened his stance against Islam over the likes of Anglicanism or Judaism for example, though I'd say his view of Catholicism was just as strong as his views on Islam. He hated fundamentalism in all forms. I don't see what's so bad about being vitriolic towards that.
  21. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I agree completely with J-W on this. It was not clear that Hitchens distinguished very well between Islam as yet another failed religious enterprise and individual Muslims. The effects of advocating the war in Iraq was certainly felt most by individuals on the ground there. Hitchens took the 'sact same low road that the American Christian right took. He got it wrong. His viewpoint was ugly and mired in hatred.
  22. Mustafar_66 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2005
    star 5
    Hitchens' justification for the Iraq War stemmed from his views on Saddam Hussein, whom he despised and wanted removed from power. That, in itself, is certainly not a bad thing. Wanting to get rid of dictators who have gassed their own people, murdered and tortured countless more is a completely understandable point of view and one that I think most people would share. However, he expressed regret for the way that the war was carried out, particularly the torture of people detained under suspicion of being terrorists (undergoing waterboarding himself to prove that it was indeed torture). I can understand disagreeing with him, there are things that I sure as hell don't agree with him on, but his opinions were born out of concern for the Iraqi people.
  23. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Well, to defend my remark about Hitchens not being bullying or browbeating, here's a quote from a rabbi who debated him six times:

    "Christopher Hitchens was that rarest of polemicists?even his disgust had delight. As he pronounced anathemas on you and your kind, the smile peeked out beneath the sneer. His bearing was like Muhammad Ali in the early days: gleeful contempt for the opponent was sort of a game?a high-stakes game, but a game nonetheless. Apart from his occasional abrupt rudeness to a questioner he considered bumptious or untutored, Hitchens threw himself into combat with infectious gusto. Arguing with him did not involve meeting the punch you knew he would throw, but the hopeless task of combating the unexpected uppercut, the stinging apercu offered in his British baritone. Hitchens evoked laughter the way master comedians do, even before speaking. His throat clearing was like the unbuttoning of a stripper?s overcoat, promising delights to come."

    He talks about sharing a car with Hitchens on the way to a debate and having a pleasant two and a half hour conversation about everything from drinks to other writers to personal heroes. I mean, I think of Bill O'Reilly as the kind of person who bullies their antagonists into submission or browbeats them into silence. Think about sharing a car for two and a half hours with Bill O'Reilly; that would be hell entire - you wouldn't be talking about people on the other side from him that he admired or about P.G. Wodehouse. Hitchens could be vicious and cutting; that's what we all loved him for, even those of us who did disagree with him on points (and as a couple of recent posts have pointed out, probably everybody disagreed with him on something; my main point of disagreement happened to be his atheism). But even when he was being incredibly vitriolic, there was never the sense that he was just being obnoxious for the sake of it or being purposely insulting with no point. He was making his points and often with a style of overstatement that was actually intended to evoke humor. Certainly, he could be disdainful, but I never got the sense, even at his most brutal, sarcastic or apoplectic that he was really crossing the line. You watch Bill O'Reilly and sometimes you think the man's actually mentally disturbed; his rage seems very real. Hitchens was always an artist; he was always purposely crafting a moving and exhilarating polemic, not just bellowing in order to shout the other person down. God knows (bahaha, I typed that without even thinking about it) he fell from that ideal, as all people do fall from their personal ideals. But most of the time, his mode was that of an artist using the form of the polemic, not a psycho having a temper tantrum. That's my opinion. Everyone's tolerance for the polemic is different though; I can certainly see how others would perceive him differently. Maybe my view is a little rosy; what can I say . . . I loved the guy.
  24. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    If only they would have been. Hitchens was one of those typical "Westerners" who equate authoritarian regimes with their leaders (even when now dictator has ever survived without larger support) and justified the Iraq War by basically claiming that Saddam Hussein was a bad man. Wars, in reality unlike in rhetoric, are never fought against just one man. Of course Saddam Hussein was a bad man, but he was also just 1 person among the hundreds of thousands who have died.

    Hitchens, like is often the case for these militant "Westerners", could never really come grips with the death toll, or that everyone who has died so far has been a unique human being. To him, the lives of Iraqis were not as important as the lives of "Westerners" or getting rid of Saddam Hussein. He was ready to sacrifice an unlimited number of Iraqis so that the goals he wanted to be reached would be reached, and in that regard he was exactly like Saddam Hussein. Naturally, as a cheerleader-journo, his hands got a far less blood in them.
  25. Mustafar_66 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2005
    star 5
    I'm sorry but that's just nonsense. Wanting to get rid of Hussein (and by extension his government) is not the same as having a careless disregard for the Iraqi people. I honestly don't know where you get this impression that he valued Western lives over those of Iraqis. Western ideals yes, but not lives.