Senate When is a religion not a religion?

Discussion in 'Community' started by Lowbacca_1977, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I believe that because religion is such a nebulous concept, there can be no restrictions on religious beliefs, only actions. The way things currently stand in the US (and in most parts of the world where there is a separation of church and state) only religious belief is protected and so "actions" will be judged according to the law of the land and any religious motivation cannot be held up as a defence on constitutional grounds. So in your example, you would just have treat the actions of the church members in isolation to their religious beliefs and look at the conduct in terms of whether those actions constitute crimal behaviour. I could belong to a religion which espouses any manner of illegal beliefs, but I should have the freedom to believe what I want, and the state should only sanction me if I manifest those beliefs into actual conduct.

    In this regard, religious groups should be looked at in the same way as bikie gangs, both may subsribe to a way of life which is outside of social norms, but no action should be taken to disband them unless their conduct amounts to criminal or other illegal behaviour.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Jan 12, 2014
  2. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
    Don't you think atheism is a collection of beliefs and world views that relate humanity to existence?
    Moviefan2k4 likes this.
  3. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    No atheism is the absence of belief in a god or gods. Anti-theist positions have been co-opted under the atheism banner, which is wrong, but apart from the absence of belief in a god or gods, atheists really share no specific set of common axiomatic beliefs which unite them.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Jan 12, 2014
  4. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I think this is a pretty good analogy for me to think about this. Framing this in a US context, on one hand, there is the freedom of religion, but there's also the freedom of association. In certain issues like biker gangs, the mafia, etc, the structure has been directly targeted to be taken down because of what its conspiring to do, and in that sort of context, that does seem to make it clearer to me on how the same thing could be done to, say, make an active effort to remove the power currently held by the Church of Scientology based off of the activities it has tried to carry out in the U.S., even though it is a religion as well, without the freedom of religion being a factor at that point.

    It certainly helps as atm I'm trying to weigh my conflicting views between that the government would be very limited on personal matters like religion, and that there should be a way to deal with organizations of any nature that are actively trying to destroy the government and societal institutions and freedoms as a stated or strongly implied platform.

    I'd say it's rather clearly isn't, any more than having the tv off is a channel.
    Last edited by Lowbacca_1977, Jan 12, 2014
  5. timmoishere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    Atheism isn't a belief, either. It's a conclusion that all gods and religions are man-made and have no basis in reality. There's no evidence to support the existence of a god, so there is no reason to believe in one. Same reason why there is no reason to believe werewolves exist either.

    To put it in even simpler terms:

    Bald is not a hair color
    Off is not a TV channel
    Not going skiing is not a hobby
    Last edited by timmoishere, Jan 12, 2014
    Jedi Merkurian likes this.
  6. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
    If atheism isn't a belief, does that mean you don't believe in your conclusion?
  7. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    It seems that atheism is a rejection of all theist religions. It also seems that a religion involves a requirement of a power or powers greater than oneself.

    I'm agnostic; I'm not assuming there is a higher power but I don't reject one outright either, only certain representations of one.

    I don't consider atheism or agnosticism as a "religion." Neither timmo nor I are worshipping or revering anything.
  8. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    again approaching this as a student of anthropology, i think its very tempting to classify atheism or agnosticism as a form of religion (and ive been known to troll more militant atheists than myself in this very way) until you look at it functionally. atheism and agnosticism, for the most part, do not fill the same function in a person's life that religions traditionally do. that's why you really dont see atheist meeting halls or an atheist scripture. evangelical atheists are an odd bird in that they DO seem to take on some aspects of religion in their vehement opposition to it, but i think in practice the vast majority of atheists/agnostic persons simply go about their lives without religion and dont attempt to replace that aspect of their lives with anything. they simply use the secular apparati -- like philosophy, like the PTA, like fiction novels, like science -- that believers also find useful in providing meaning and structure in their lives

    i think when you approach it functionally instead of playing semantic games about the meaning of "belief", you see that in the modern world, the average irreligious person is just that -- a person who goes about their life without needing recourse to the devine on top of all the other structures and institutions that we all (religious and irreligious) use to shape and guide and facilitate our lives
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Jan 12, 2014
  9. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Yeah.... I totally disagree with timmoishere on this. Atheism is lacking a belief about any gods. It's not believing there could not possibly be one. I have no reason to think that there are any gods, but I don't think that is a fully provable conclusion. Agnostic atheism.

    It's not a conclusion, it's that I have no reason to consider the existence of any gods in how I make decisions.

    EDIT: Rogue_Ten's addressed this in a more elegant and generalized fashion, I think. And I'd agree that there is a small portion of atheists that do turn into, if not a religion, then at least an ideology or belief structure, although I'd say that's more properly classified as something like anti-theism, which is a more militant subset of atheism than the average atheist.
    Last edited by Lowbacca_1977, Jan 12, 2014
  10. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    for me and my brand of atheism its very much a matter of not seeing the point. ive listened to the arguments. ive flirted with all sorts of religions, from catholocism and evangelical christianity which were the biggest influence on my view of the spiritual in my early childhood (catholic family, evangelical nanny), to flirting with buddhism in my teens to dating and living with a practicing muslim in my 20s. and ive never found myself able to truly believe in any of these systems. and over the years ive come to realize its because i dont feel that i need any of them. my life feels perfectly fulfilled and happy with the answers (and questions) that the natural and social sciences and philosophy are able to provide to me. that's my atheism

    i think a large component of belief is the conversion experience. if you're a child raised in a religion then maybe it imprints on you young (though honestly in my memories of being a child and my observations of children i find it hard to call it "belief" or "religion" in any meaningful sense before a certain point of development), but i think in people who find religion later on they have to have a need for it. religion has to be there at a time when some system in their life is failing them badly and pick up the slack
  11. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Edit: moving to other thread
    Last edited by Lowbacca_1977, Jan 12, 2014
  12. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    yeah, going back to what i said about children not being truly religious in a meaningful sense, i dont think i could ever be called a "believer" at any point in my life, even though i knew my bible better than any of the other kids in catholic kindergarten/first grade ;)

    my most profound "interactions" with the divine that i can remember from childhood were praying for my dog to come back when he ran away, which i still do in a more generalized way in similar situations now (though now i would call it "hoping")
  13. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    edit. me too, I suppose.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Jan 12, 2014
    Lowbacca_1977 likes this.
  14. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    and its still not a belief in the same way a religion is. humanism is an ideology, like liberalism or conservatism or fascism or socialism or conservationism
  15. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I agree. Responded in other thread as well.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Jan 12, 2014
  16. Barbecue17 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 11, 2013
    star 2
    Starting with looking at the definition of religion by examing the literal meaning of the world, re-ligion means to re-link or to add ligaments. Religion is a series of beliefs that we hold that connect the disparate elements in our lives. Religion steps in and answers those questions that we cannot find an answer to or aren't willing to accept. I think religion is a much broader system than we give it credit for, as I'd would wager that almost all of us have something that we believe to be true that holds elements of our lives together and helps us make sense of the worlds.

    Obviously, most modern definitions of religion seem to incorporate element sof what we would call the divine or supernatural, but I don't think that necessarilly has to be the case. If you've ever experienced a strange coincidence that you felt served a purpose, hold the idea of a soul mate for you, or believe that your life has a purpose, you adhere to some sort of religious belief. That doesn't mean that you necessarilly believe in a deity, but you do have something that you hold belief in that connects elements of your life together and gives them meaning.

    When we talk about religion in the modern context of a sytsematic series of beliefs and practices, we're actually addressing what tends to be referred to as a cult. While cult often has a negative context (it's often used to designate a group who holds beliefs that differ or are a corruption of previously established beliefs) it's true meaning is simply a set of religious beliefs that a group holds in common and directs towards a specific figure, deity, or idea.

    I'd say all cults are religions in a technical sense, but not all religions are cults.

    Of course, if we go by Childen of the Corn and the words of Burt, we find: "Any religion without love and compassion is false! It's a lie!" [face_laugh]
    Sarge likes this.
  17. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    With what you mention about soul mates, coincidences, and having an innate purpose, that sounds to me more like spiritual matters, but not necessarily religious matters as it doesn't seem to have that larger sort of framework attached to it, although I find the first section in particular intriguing and I'm going to have to go do some word origin looking up when I get the chance.
  18. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    I believe in all three but I'm not at all a believer in organized religion.
  19. Sarge Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 1998
    star 4
    I just pulled the Oxford dictionary off the shelf.

    religion: 5. a thing that one is devoted to (football is their religion)

    And as long as I'm looking up words:

    zealot: 1. an uncompromising or extreme partisan; a fanatic

    So, by definition, @timmoishere is a religious fanatic. [face_laugh]

    Don't mind me, timmo, I'm just yanking your chain. [:D]
  20. KED12345 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2012
    star 4
    Arguing that atheism is a religious belief is like saying someone who doesn't watch sports is a sports fan, imo.

    Believe what you want though, I take a more deist approach though as my personal preference.
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.