The Non-Religious Perspective (and Q&A)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Kessel Runner, Aug 5, 2002.

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  1. Face Loran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 21, 1999
    star 4
    Just bringing this thread up to ask if anyone here has read Dan Barker's Losing Faith in Faith, and if you have, would you recommend it? I've read a few reviews that piqued my interest, and I'm trying to decide if I should pick it up or not.
  2. cydonia Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2001
    star 5
    Excellent book. I can't recommend it enough.
    Of course i had to buy it online, good luck finding it in the bookstore.
  3. Face Loran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 21, 1999
    star 4
    Excellent, thanks Cydonia. I was planning on ordering through Amazon anyway.
  4. Mauler_II Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2002
    star 3
    Great book. I still use it as a "reference" tool at times.

    There is another one I read I think by the same author - "Thee book your church doesn't want you to read". Along the same lines as "Losing Faith in Faith".
  5. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    I wanted to reintroduce a topic BithySith brought up in the old thread - one that got lost amidst some of the squabbling. Her question was basically: why is it that Christianity and Islam seem to have so much more trouble with wars and violence in the name of religion than religions like Hindu and Buddhisim? Please note: I seriously doubt Yahweh and Allah endorse much of the violence committed in their name, as it's frequently economic warfare conveniently disguised as religious ideology. But still, one must ask why we don't hear about people blowing up embassies in the name of Buddha. It would seem some religions are easier to twist and distort into excuses for violence than others.

    The Islamic tendency toward violence is well-reflected in the Middle Eastern terrorism that's been going on for decades, and examples of the Christian propensity for wars fought in "God's" name would include Christian Europeans slaughtering the natives of the Americas, Hitler attempting to "purge" the world of Jews and other undesirables, and the bizarre wars in the Slavic region (Bosnia) that date back to an argument over whether the bread and wine in a communion ceremony literally transmogrify into the blood and flesh of Christ or not (that's what I was taught by a Slavics studies professor, anyway - I'm sure there are other valid views).

    Neither Bithy nor I were suggesting that Christianity and Islam are inferior to other religions because of this, so please, no accusations of "bashing". What we were curious about is: what is it in Christianity and Islam that seems to better lend itself to violence and warfare that can be conveniently attributed to "serving" one's god?

    My feeling on this is that it's the duality of Islam and Christianity that makes them a bit easier for people to conveniently distort. Duality, meaning that everything is either/or - you're good or evil, things are good or evil, events are generated by good or evil sources, etc.... after a while the idea that "I'm good and people who believe differently are evil" seems to make sense. Now, in properly taught Christianity (and, I presume, Islam), even if this IS true, you are no one's judge/jury/executioner, so you still shouldn't feel you have any right to kill or injure others over their beliefs. But obviously, a lot of people ignore that fact.

    I've sen Buddhists part ways over arguments just as silly as the tramsmogrification one, which proves they're not anymore enlightened than Christians who split churches for similar reasons. Yet the teachings of Buddhism don't seem to lend themselves to violence so much.

    Any thoughts?
  6. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    Yes, Buddhism definitely seems a lot more peaceful than Islam or Christianity. A question I have for those learned in Asian history: Did Buddhists ever invade another country or commit genocide in the name of their religion?
  7. emilsson Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6
    Sri Lanka suffers from violence related to Buddhist fundamentalism. After the the independence the majority in Sri Lanka, called Sinhala buddhists, have oppressed the minority known as Tamils. The Tamils can be divided into two groups, one that is Hindu and one that is Muslim. It's the first one that is involved in most conflicts.

    Both hinduism and buddhism have blood on their hands. They too have their share of fanatics.
  8. cydonia Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2001
    star 5
    Three cheers for fundamentalist extremism! Hip hip hooray!.....
  9. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Emilsson, do you think the violence of Christians and Islams is equal (or close enough) to that of Buddhist/Hindus to make this discussion point invalid? Feel free to say so - if the point I raised is baseless, I'll be happy to drop it.

    Then we can discuss, as Cy pointed out, the many joys of living around religious fundamentalists of ANY belief system. Including, IMHO, dogmatic scientists, dogmatic political fanatics, dogmatic celebrity gosssip believers..... there are zealots everywhere. Hell, when I wanted to get into film a few years before the SW prequels came out, I quickly got the message that I would NOT be allowed to think SW was worthy of critical acclaim, that I HAD to believe Spielberg and Hitchcock were fabulously talented, and that certain actors are simply bad rather than utilizing an unusual acting style. And now you know why I didn't stay in film back then. I don't take very well to party lines, I'm afraid.

    Of course, it's all horsepoop. As soon as Lucas got a Thalberg award (however THAT happened!) and the prequels came out, now suddenly the old SW trilogy has well-developed characters, amazing classic stories, good comraderie between the main actors, etc. Before that, the party line was "no character development, terrible acting, bad writing". Any deviation resulted in not being allowed into film school.

    Oh, by the way, for anyone interested in my personal career development, you are now talking to a professional writer. I'm getting paid to do a writing job - not much, but it still counts. :D
  10. emilsson Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6
    As I understand from my studies, the cause does not really lie in religion but in what colonialism and imperialism have left behind. That goes for Islam, buddhism and hinduism. I'm not sure how Christian fundamentalism fits into this except in one way.

    All seem to long for a distant, better society. They all try to go back to the fundament, the base of the faith and calling themselves ancient when in fact they are a modern phenomena.

    As to your point, it's true that if one would count numbers Christian fundamentalism has more blood on their hands than any other. I responded to the idea that there was no such thing as fundamentalism in Asian religions.
  11. cydonia Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2001
    star 5
    Congratulations treecave! :) :) :) :)

  12. Master-Aries Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2002
    star 1
    To answer the question earlier posted by TC I have to say that convenience has always been the stand point of most that support some form of religion.

    In most religions there is good as well as evil, this is my point with out some form of motivation most find it difficult to support. It is not that difficult to muster support regarding the opposing religion, in that the opposition is evil hence Waringin factions and, yes as CY so eloquently put hooray for fanaticism.

    The mind set of most that have faith systems need some form of overall support and sense of purpose for continuing of their respective faiths.

    The issue has now being compounded by the Americans attempt to put forth a non hostile face on the build up to the war on Iraq. They have commissioned a company to launch adds depicting good life for Muslims in USA, in this case a passive non ? aggressive stance. In the end the Americans win either way if people accept these adds to being the truth they have succeeded, if there is opposition, those individuals or countries that oppose will been seen as ?un American? ?un democratic? and support Terrorists.

    I believe it is a way of trying to accurately gauge the response of the masses in ?non political? way. If it succeeds or not we will have to see, but again religion, of if you want to cut out religion, a group against a group, is being used to support the overall picture of the Americans trying to gain support for their controlling of the middle east.

    The most unfortunate issue is this, that the masses allow their respective governments to use what ever methods deemed necessary in the political aspirations of the government. To what end, we can only hazard a guess and, if we know what of it, what can be done to stop the progression of violence that will engulf the region, and I believe the United States itself, this is a dangerous game that can easily backfire.

    There is another aspect to take into consideration in that do the people want this conflict do they need an excuse to imbue and sanctify their respective faiths, in the world as a whole people are becoming increasingly selfish. They may be using and supporting this latest attack on the opposing faith in order to bolster their political and religious point of view.

    Therefore I can see no way out but war, because the people want it, even if they do not see the overall ramifications.

    Sincerely

    Master-Aries
    (MA)
  13. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    I responded to the idea that there was no such thing as fundamentalism in Asian religions.

    I certainly didn't mean to imply there wasn't fundamentalism. Thanks for clearing it up. As I said, dogma, zealotry and fundamentalism can pervade such things as industries, studies (science or history, for example), etc.

    In the end the Americans win either way if people accept these adds to being the truth they have succeeded, if there is opposition, those individuals or countries that oppose will been seen as ?un American? ?un democratic? and support Terrorists.

    This is a great example of duality - you're either "for" or "against" the US - there is no middle ground. It's as if by saying you're not crazy about American culture, for example, you're condoning violent action against Americans. Very ridiculous way to look at things.

    Of course, the supreme irony in this "war" against Iraq is George W. Bush of all people in the world taking issue with someone else being a religious extremist while he has abused his office to support the extreme religious wing of his political party. I know that statement will tick someone off, but I'm still ticked off that Bush isn't in jail for DUI, so I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.
  14. cydonia Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2001
    star 5
  15. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Well, sorry if I offended. I really didn't think my statement was all THAT upsetting.... I mean, a lot of people voted for him because they're rather fundamentalist and were hoping he was too, so to those people I would think my statement could be seen as an unintended compliment. As for those who voted for him for non-religious reasons, I've heard many express disappointment in how religiously oriented some of his moves have been since he took office.

    All I'm saying is that someone who caters to Christian fundamentalists has no business criticizing Islamic fundamentalists, i.e. the Taliban. Now, I've no problem with Bush cricizing the Taliban for supporting bin Laden - that's nothing to do with religion, it's just aiding and abetting a mass killer, and anyone who's never slaughtered a few thousand people has a right to criticize that, for goodness' sake. But as for fundamentalism..... well, let's face it - the Taliban uses religion to confuse their people into thinking that being oppressed is a good thing. A very strong argument can be made that Republicans use religion exactly the same way, and Democrats use the religion of "championing the underdog" to create exactly the same confusion. I mean, heck, no one was better at confusing the issue than Clinton.

    Folks on the boards who think I'm just an evil Bush-hater don't realize that back when Clinton was in office, I had severe criticisms of him, too (it's just his term is irrelevant now, so I don't bring it up often). A lot of people thought he was really fighting for the people - I think the Family Medical Leave Act and NAFTA were two of the worst laws he ever championed, and they were both disguised as "we're doing this for you, you wonderful Middle Class". Everyone thought there was such an economic boom under his reign - now we know it was mostly just fudged numbers. But that's probably true of every boom.

    So my apologies if anyone feels I'm "Bush-bashing". I really have come to loathe all American politics in the last few years.
  16. cydonia Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2001
    star 5
    Well, i voted for Bush for non religious reasons, and i am annoyed by the religious angle he has. I just don't think that religion is ALL he has to offer, but i'm becoming a libertarian anyway. ;)
  17. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    No, I didn't mean to imply he's done nothing but the religious stuff; I just think it's funny he doesn't sem to see the religious zealot mentality in his own nation and his own religion. Reminds me of that Bible verse about not pestering your brother about the speck in his eye until you've pulled the log out of yours. I can't remember what the heck that's supposed to mean literally, but metaphorically, it's referring to being more concerned about correcting your own wrongs than other people's. And THAT is the essential point religious zealots TEND to miss - they focus on wiping out the opposition, as if they themselves are perfect.

    And this is where I've gotten into trouble on these boards before - my suggestions that Christians, like any other group, should focus on being the best they can be rather than on making others conform unwillingly (and therefore meaninglessly) to their standards is interpreted as "bashing" by those who are in denial that they are hypocrites.
  18. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
  19. Face Loran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 21, 1999
    star 4
    "So are they just trying to make people feel guilty or get emotional, or am I missing something?"

    I don't think it's an attempt at a guilt trip or anything like that. It's just an appeal to christians to choose their vehicles more responsibly, as the person they've chosen to worship would have (supposedly).

    While I'm not a big fan of presuming to know what Jesus, God, or any other diety would've thought about something (seems kind of arrogant to me), I'm glad the power and money and influence the Church wields is being used for something genuinely good for all people involved, not just Christians. Religion is a tool often abused or overlooked.
  20. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    I agree with your last statements, Face. But the fact remains that, by all accounts, Jesus avoided the closest thing to automated transportation available in his day - riding on an animal. He almost always walked - I was taught this was one of his ways of keeping himself humble. So it's a bit ironic that they ask you to imagine what he would have driven, because the only Biblical answer you can give is "that's a trick question - he would have walked!"

    I guess this is a point only someone familiar with the Bible would be confused by.... but shouldn't all Christians be familiar with the Bible? I would love to talk to some Christians who noted that the reference was a bit odd and get their views. I mean, they could easily just say, "Let's not be selfish, and take good care of God's creation" without adding in "what would Jesus drive?" But that's the name of the website, so I guess they somehow read the same Bible I did and came to the conclusion Jesus would have driven some sort of fuel-efficient vehicle.
  21. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    Very good point there TC. Unfortunately I think not enough people, Christians and non-C's alike really know the Bible that well (myself included).

    Whether you believe it or not, there is no denying that its influence on the world has shaped our society global history.
  22. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    I don?t know if this is the best place to ask this question, so if it is not, could someone point me in a good direction?

    But I have a religious question.

    First off, I think that believing in something you know is true as not really possible. If I see a person walking down the street, it is kind of stupid to say "I believe that that person exists" when all the evidence tells you that the person truly does exist. In a way, it does not take a whole lot to know a person exists in a somewhat literal sense, and if you know that they do exist, you can?t really believe that they exist. It is pointless and sort of a wrong way to think. To believe to not know something to me. I almost see it as doublethink to believe and know at the same time.

    As such, would people who have had visions of God have faith, which I see as a belief? To them, they know God exists, and therefore, can?t just believe. The question can be extended to people in holy books who have conversed with God (or someone close enough to God); would they have faith?

    If no, is it because I am missing something, or is it that you can believe and know something at the same time and still make sense? Or do I have a point?
  23. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Enforcer, fascinating thoughts there. I think someone who had a vision of God would doubt this vision they "know" to be true and still have to make a conscious choice to "believe", and here's why:

    Proof only comes to us through perception, and perception can be very deceptive, so we doubt our senses when we see something unusual and there's no one around to back us up. I mean, if you saw an elephant on the mall escalator and no one else was reacting to the elephant, you'd question your own perception. Likewise, if you saw God's face floating down the escalator, you'd doubt that, too.

    Of course, MY problem with this is I doubt believe every person I see is a real person. I mean, I have no proof that someone I see once on a bus is real, and has a lifespan of several decades complete with personal experiences. I feel I AM choosing to believe in such a person's existence, and generally I don't. Just yesterday, I came up with a theory that there are only really - I dunno, maybe a few million real people, and all the rest are holograms. :D I'm only half-joking - I was looking for some rational explanation for how Los Angelenos so frequently see the same complete strangers over and over in a town of 4 milliion people and uncountable tourists. This is a phenomenon I've discussed with several people who live here, and we've all independently noticed it - and it didn't happen in smaller towns we've lived in.
  24. cydonia Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2001
    star 5
    Well jesus could teleport himself all over the universe, i doubt he would need a car. Or a boat for that matter, what with his walking on water and all.
  25. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    My logic was that if we knew there was a God, then there would be no point of religion, and I just thought about that. Why would there be no point? Because our knowlege would get in the way of our beliefe. So if there is enough evidence presented to a person for them to know there is a God, they dont have the faith that religion requires. So for people who have been convinced by visions and many in the bible did not have faith, or so my logic goes.

    (When I say 'our beliefe' I dont mean to imply that you or I believe in a God...if you do, good, if you dont good, but I am not implying anything by saying 'our.')
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