Brontoforumus Archive

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:


This board has been fossilized.
You are reading an archive of Brontoforumus, a.k.a. The Worst Forums Ever, from 2008 to early 2014.  Registration and posting (for most members) has been disabled here to discourage spambots from taking over.  Old members can still log in to view boards, PMs, etc.

The new message board is at http://brontoforum.us.

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 ... 15

Author Topic: Religulous  (Read 20302 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Thad

  • Master of Karate and Friendship for Everyone
  • Admin
  • Tested
  • Karma: -65394
  • Posts: 12111
    • View Profile
    • corporate-sellout.com
Re: Religulous
« Reply #20 on: October 10, 2008, 10:45:54 PM »

I would love it if everyone stopped being religious, but unfortunately the reasons I have a distaste for organised religion are the same reasons I don't feel good about trying to foist my atheism on other folks, regardless of how idiotic I think their stupid backwards beliefs are. Namely, it's none of my fucking business.

I don't give a shit if someone wants to believe in an invisible wizard who lives in the sky and watches you masturbate. Just keep your craziness away from me and I won't tell you about how life is meaningless dust in an endless howling void that will eventually decay into abject nothingness.

But that's the PROBLEM, Ham: they DON'T keep their craziness to themselves.  Evangelicals, by definition, foist their beliefs on everybody else.  We've got a bunch of them running the country, and indeed the world, right now, and it's not a fucking good scene.

One of the central points Maher tries to make in Religulous is that, when the people in charge think the end of the world is coming, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  At best, they'll half-ass any attempts to stop it, and at worst, they'll actively push to bring it about.

Religious views do not exist in a vacuum.  If they did, hey, swell, you guys can believe in your imaginary friends and we'll believe in science and we'll go our separate ways.  But that's not how it works out in the real world.  The people on the fringe of the imaginary-friend crowd are poisoning the air, wiping out entire species at an alarming rate, invading countries that believe in different imaginary friends, controlling women's bodies, killing gays, and, not to put too fine a point on it, some of them have been known to fly planes into buildings.

Now, the vast majority of religious folks are not extremists and don't do those things.  So I'm inclined to agree with you that religion's not the problem per se, rather that the problem is extremism.  But at that point we're debating semantics -- the point is that religion should stay the hell out of government policy, and that if we're going to survive and evolve as a species, we're going to have to acknowledge that evolution EXISTS first.
Logged

sei

  • Tested
  • Karma: 25
  • Posts: 2085
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2008, 12:11:35 AM »

One of the central points Maher tries to make in Religulous is that, when the people in charge think the end of the world is coming, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  At best, they'll half-ass any attempts to stop it, and at worst, they'll actively push to bring it about.
Isn't this basically what Harris says, minus additionally blaming religious moderates for putting up with it?
Logged

François

  • Huh.
  • Tested
  • Karma: 83
  • Posts: 3313
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #22 on: October 11, 2008, 12:14:53 AM »

What Jesus really preached was to put kindness and compassion in your heart, and, when times are difficult, to associate with like-minded people for support and community while you tough it out.

There are people who expected him to kick the Romans' ass and give Hebrews their political independance back. People asked him if they should pay taxes to the Emperor; there's no doubt that these people wanted revolution. I mean, if you stop paying taxes to the Romans, you can't expect them to just go "oh well" and leave. But Jesus said "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar." He didn't stray off-message: the government stuff isn't important. What's important is that kind folk who help each other out will be okay even if the earthly government is rotten. History happens, the ages are born and spent, political systems fall in and out of fashion, but compassion towards your fellow man endures and must prevail. That is Christianity. It doesn't have the monopoly on kindness and compassion, far from it. But those are its essence.

Of course people screw it up. The revolutionaries are still there. They don't want to accept that being kind and compassionate is sometimes really fucking hard. They don't have enough of either to endure adversity. They reject rather than include, condemn rather than forgive. And they feel threatened. And they are threatened, because they don't have what it takes to really last. They form temporary establishments to struggle against other temporary establishments, when they instead should make every effort to better themselves with qualities that will never fall out of favor. They want Christianity to be easy, as easy as toppling a government. But in reality, what Christians must struggle to change is inside of them. The problem comes when some would rather conquer the world than admit it is their own hearts they should conquer first.

So yeah, religion should stay the hell out of government policy. And, at its core, it wants to stay the hell out. The troubles we have come from human cowardice and hypocrisy, and those wouldn't go away even if everyone in the world became atheist overnight.
Logged

Kazz

  • Projekt Direktor
  • Admin
  • Tested
  • Karma: -65475
  • Posts: 6423
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #23 on: October 11, 2008, 12:29:08 AM »

Wait, wait, wait.  I'm pretty sure God said we have to kill all of the gays.  And the Jews.  Who else is around?  The Muslims?  That seems fine too.  Gotta balance out all this loving thy neighbor with just a smidge of hating everybody.
Logged

François

  • Huh.
  • Tested
  • Karma: 83
  • Posts: 3313
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2008, 12:44:07 AM »

That's why I'm a modern Christian and not an ancient Jew. As far as I believe, the Old Testament is baby steps for early civilization. When it says that you shouldn't sell your daughter to foreigners (and implies it's okay to sell your daughter to people you know), we're not quite to the point where you don't sell your daughter at all, but you're beginning to change minds and planting the seeds for a world where you'll one day be able to say it's not okay to sell your kids to anyone and not be outright ignored and mocked. The Old Testament has instances of Hebrews facing divine retribution for attacking specific foreign tribes. Well, saying "you can attack these guys, but not those other guys" is baby steps towards saying "just don't attack anyone at all if you can help it".

But look. That's getting away from what I'm saying here. If people don't fight over religion, they'll fight over race. They'll fight over land. They'll fight over money. The thing is, none of the medals for race, land and money have a reverse side that says "also you should be excellent to each other".

EDIT: And of course, I'm not saying everyone needs religion to tell them to be excellent to each other. But sometimes it helps.

EDIT JOHNSON THE SECOND:
Wait, wait, wait.  I'm pretty sure God said we have to kill all of the gays.  And the Jews.  Who else is around?  The Muslims?  That seems fine too.  Gotta balance out all this loving thy neighbor with just a smidge of hating everybody.

wait what

Oh, you're talking about religions in general, not just the judeo-christian thing. Okay yeah, I have a correction to make. In my posts above I'm talking about Christianity because that's the one I know about. I should have been more precise. Thanks for pointing it out.
Logged

Kashan

  • Tested
  • Karma: 9
  • Posts: 679
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #25 on: October 11, 2008, 01:35:38 AM »

Out of curiosity, how often do those members who are atheist or agnostic actually experience some body personally making an issue of your beliefs? I mean how often does some body try to convert you in an aggressive way?

My main issue with religion is evangelical right wing Christianity and oppressive Muslim regimes, but population wise these groups are a small portion of the religious people on the planet.
Logged

Brentai

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnXYVlPgX_o
  • Admin
  • Tested
  • Karma: -65281
  • Posts: 17524
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #26 on: October 11, 2008, 03:26:20 AM »

The main problem with the evangelicals is that you could take away their Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Shinto or what-have-you and it wouldn't slow them down for a second.  The religion is what they say they are about, but it is not what they are about.  These are people who will latch onto an idea - any idea - to ground themselves in a world they may simply not have the capacity to understand, and from there will attempt to function according to that idea while at the same time trying to force their immediate universe to fit their model of it, first and foremost by coercing any people surrounding them to accept the same model and to eliminate any idea that challenges or contradicts it.  Conformity is all they really care about.  Christianity, while popular in America, could be replaced by Buddhism, Rationalism, Agnosticism or whatever else you prefer, and it would still become something innocently poisonous as more and more people started to use it as their only, inarguable means of understanding the world.
Logged

Mongrel

  • Emoticon Knight-Errant
  • kodePunc Team
  • Tested
  • *
  • Karma: -65340
  • Posts: 17029
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #27 on: October 11, 2008, 05:41:47 AM »

Without agreeing wholesale, I think Zed has a bit of a point. Humans have always struggled to create a society which will function well, something that will ensure a good life and happiness for at least their descendants. At a basic level, this usually involves codifying behaviour and providing carrots and sticks to encourage this.

Religion is just another permutation of this phenomenon. As was the code of Hammurabi, the Magna Carta, the  Constitution of the United States, and untold other attempts at same.

All of these attempts are coloured by their founders personal views, and later on, their followers' views. Some people actively subvert the rules for their gain and the gain of their descendants, but other people change the rules as things move around in an ever-changing world. Humanity has been defined by that eternal struggle, on one hand trying to provide an eternal, immutable set of rules that will bring happiness to all* against the recognition that a single overarching set of rules is a rigid, inflexible thing and needs adjusting.

In the same way that most reasonable modern economists acknowledge that some capitalism and some socialism is necessary, and that a balance between extremes works best, so has human society evolved (so far) to something of a balance between religion and atheism. Since there will always be 'unanswered questions', Religion will always provide some incentives for human behaviour that material government cannot.

Thus we have an uneasy coexistence. A middling balance is vital for a well-moderated, well-functioning society. A large and healthy middle class is the surest sign of a prosperous society, and an open-minded but sometimes spiritual outlook is the surest sign of a healthy society emotionally.

The real challenge will always be the struggle against entropy and the tendency for things to always slide off to extremes. This is made even harder, because you will always need a small amount of the extremes, to avoid blandness and crushing boredom. You always need to have some place to move, be it up or down. It's fight we'll always lose in the end, but it's a good fight well worth fighting all the same.

*one's definitions of 'all' may vary greatly.
Logged

Thad

  • Master of Karate and Friendship for Everyone
  • Admin
  • Tested
  • Karma: -65394
  • Posts: 12111
    • View Profile
    • corporate-sellout.com
Re: Religulous
« Reply #28 on: October 11, 2008, 10:11:22 AM »

One of the central points Maher tries to make in Religulous is that, when the people in charge think the end of the world is coming, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  At best, they'll half-ass any attempts to stop it, and at worst, they'll actively push to bring it about.
Isn't this basically what Harris says, minus additionally blaming religious moderates for putting up with it?

I meant to say Hitchens; I've fixed the original post.

What Jesus really preached was to put kindness and compassion in your heart, and, when times are difficult, to associate with like-minded people for support and community while you tough it out.

Maher acknowledges this (though he also refers to religion as a mental disorder).  Early on, he talks to truckers at a truck-stop church and asks their views and shares his.  They're not receptive and don't seem to actually understand the things he's saying; one of them seems like he's about to threaten physical violence but leaves instead.  The rest, while they don't see eye-to-eye, listen politely; at the end, he says, okay, you've listened to my beliefs, now I'm ready to accept yours; go ahead and pray for me.  And then he thanks them for being Christ-like instead of merely Christian.

Out of curiosity, how often do those members who are atheist or agnostic actually experience some body personally making an issue of your beliefs? I mean how often does some body try to convert you in an aggressive way?

Directly?  Seldom.  The Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses who come to my door are polite and leave when I ask them to.  (I had a couple guys representing something called the Church of God the Mother or somesuch thing drop by the other day; basically they were preaching Christianity with the twist that God has both a male and female aspect.  I chatted with them awhile and found what they had to say interesting; I told them I'm not a believer and they're not going to change that, but I like the idea of emphasizing a feminine nature to God since religion is so commonly used as an excuse for female oppression.)  There HAVE been times when people have been aggressive or gotten in my face -- when I went to the Seal Beach con, I regaled them with the tale of a man bothering my family on that very pier a decade previously and not leaving until Dad threatened to call the police -- but you make a good point, that's not the norm.

That said, someone doesn't have to be directly in front of me being physically aggressive to violate my rights.  As I said, we've got a government full of evangelicals, and their effect on the country and the world is a very negative one.

My main issue with religion is evangelical right wing Christianity and oppressive Muslim regimes, but population wise these groups are a small portion of the religious people on the planet.

Agreed, and that's a point I tried to make earlier.  Moderate religious folks are our natural allies, not our enemies; they want the same things we do.

So yeah, religion should stay the hell out of government policy. And, at its core, it wants to stay the hell out. The troubles we have come from human cowardice and hypocrisy, and those wouldn't go away even if everyone in the world became atheist overnight.

The main problem with the evangelicals is that you could take away their Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Shinto or what-have-you and it wouldn't slow them down for a second.  The religion is what they say they are about, but it is not what they are about.  These are people who will latch onto an idea - any idea - to ground themselves in a world they may simply not have the capacity to understand, and from there will attempt to function according to that idea while at the same time trying to force their immediate universe to fit their model of it, first and foremost by coercing any people surrounding them to accept the same model and to eliminate any idea that challenges or contradicts it.  Conformity is all they really care about.  Christianity, while popular in America, could be replaced by Buddhism, Rationalism, Agnosticism or whatever else you prefer, and it would still become something innocently poisonous as more and more people started to use it as their only, inarguable means of understanding the world.

The real challenge will always be the struggle against entropy and the tendency for things to always slide off to extremes.

But how can you be an extremist if your core belief is "Nothing is certain, and we must remain skeptical of even our most firmly-held beliefs"?

I suppose that's like asking how you can be an extremist if your core belief is "Love thy neighbor."  Somewhere, the message is going to get subverted and the ethical code will no longer be about what it says it is.

I continue to think the answer is better education.  Curiosity, asking "Why?", is part of our fundamental nature as children; that needs to be encouraged, made into a trait that we never lose.
Logged

Mongrel

  • Emoticon Knight-Errant
  • kodePunc Team
  • Tested
  • *
  • Karma: -65340
  • Posts: 17029
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #29 on: October 11, 2008, 11:38:25 AM »

An individual can have moderate and fair-minded core beliefs. I was speaking of the tendency of society in general to slide towards extremes over time.

Of course, everything cycles, so after the slide towards extremes, things will often balance again.
Logged

Kashan

  • Tested
  • Karma: 9
  • Posts: 679
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #30 on: October 11, 2008, 12:05:33 PM »

My personal view is that a direct relationship between the church and state weakens both the religion and the state in almost all cases. The religion end up passe or corrupted. The government ends up with a focus out of whack compared to its actual duties. There's a reason that 1000 year old churches are pulling 20 people a service in Europe. Of course there's a fine line between a large number of religious persons in government acting upon their own beliefs, which I am fine with, and a religious infiltration of government like we've seen over the last 8 years, which I am not fine with. The combination of nationalism and religion is poison, I don't know of any case where it's ever done anything but harm.
Logged

sei

  • Tested
  • Karma: 25
  • Posts: 2085
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #31 on: October 11, 2008, 01:38:20 PM »

Out of curiosity, how often do those members who are atheist or agnostic actually experience some body personally making an issue of your beliefs?
I was told that formal apostacy would get me kicked out of the house.

There's never been any solid conversion attempt on me, unless people not aware of my suspicions ("beliefs") inviting me to some kind of Christian bible study counts.  Or the Jehova's Witnesses on bikes count.  Or the teeny tiny hotel bibles (which I suspect are there for people who need bibles, not to gain new recruits) count.

I'm not sure what the picketing God squads on campus are trying to do.  It seems less like conversion and more like trolling.

Seeing those "designated free speech zone" signs make me giggle every time.
Logged

sei

  • Tested
  • Karma: 25
  • Posts: 2085
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #32 on: October 11, 2008, 02:45:27 PM »

Quote
The combination of nationalism and religion is poison
Seems like the two tend to go hand in hand.  I'm remembering some things wrong, so I'm going to axe this post and make a new one after having had more time to gather passages and thoughts.
Logged

Brentai

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnXYVlPgX_o
  • Admin
  • Tested
  • Karma: -65281
  • Posts: 17524
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #33 on: October 11, 2008, 02:50:00 PM »

Education is nice, but you claim repeatedly that the real big problem is that the zealots are running the country, and for the most part these people do not suffer from a lack of education.  The content of that education is certainly to blame, but now you're entering a dangerous area: if you're going to enforce the teaching of a more open world-view, you're going to have to find a way to force the teachers to instruct their pupils in a manner which they don't personally believe in.  Which is, of course, entirely within the realm of their modus operandi, and is rightly reviled.
Logged

François

  • Huh.
  • Tested
  • Karma: 83
  • Posts: 3313
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #34 on: October 11, 2008, 03:19:15 PM »

Yeah. If you hate zealots for their beliefs, then you share their hate, for they hate you for your beliefs as well. If you hate zealots for their zeal, then you should be careful not to become a zealot yourself, unless you're ready to become what you hate.
Logged

Kazz

  • Projekt Direktor
  • Admin
  • Tested
  • Karma: -65475
  • Posts: 6423
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #35 on: October 11, 2008, 03:20:16 PM »

I'm ready!  I'm ready!  Put me in, coach!
Logged

François

  • Huh.
  • Tested
  • Karma: 83
  • Posts: 3313
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #36 on: October 11, 2008, 03:31:35 PM »

I'm beginning to see a flaw in my assertion.
Logged

Thad

  • Master of Karate and Friendship for Everyone
  • Admin
  • Tested
  • Karma: -65394
  • Posts: 12111
    • View Profile
    • corporate-sellout.com
Re: Religulous
« Reply #37 on: October 11, 2008, 04:19:35 PM »

Education is nice, but you claim repeatedly that the real big problem is that the zealots are running the country, and for the most part these people do not suffer from a lack of education.

I don't know that that's entirely accurate.  Bush went to Yale, sure, but to say he's well-educated is a pretty fucking monumental stretch.  Rove's an avowed atheist, and it's hard for me to picture Cheney as a Bible-thumper.  You start getting into Congress and I'm sure there are lots of folks whose transcript is worse than Bush's.

I suppose what we're looking at is collusion between people who have the same goals for different reasons -- the stupid and the evil, I suppose is one way of putting it.

The content of that education is certainly to blame, but now you're entering a dangerous area: if you're going to enforce the teaching of a more open world-view, you're going to have to find a way to force the teachers to instruct their pupils in a manner which they don't personally believe in.  Which is, of course, entirely within the realm of their modus operandi, and is rightly reviled.

If you don't believe in science, you shouldn't be a science teacher.  If you don't believe in history, you shouldn't be a history teacher.  If you think teaching abstinence will keep teenagers from fucking, you shouldn't be a sex education teacher.

Sometimes it's not a matter of what you believe, it's a matter of what is factually accurate.  Math teachers don't get to say that two plus two is five; science teachers shouldn't get to say that there's controversy within the scientific community as to the validity of evolution.
Logged

Brentai

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnXYVlPgX_o
  • Admin
  • Tested
  • Karma: -65281
  • Posts: 17524
    • View Profile
Re: Religulous
« Reply #38 on: October 11, 2008, 04:41:07 PM »

Well, part of what I'm saying is that fixing education is not going to help a guy like George W. Bush - you can't make him brilliant, he simply will not take that step for himself.

Education doesn't start until about age 5, at which point there are a lot of things about the child that are beginning to set - whether or not they're going to go in with any sort of curiosity, for example, or whether they've been instilled with a drive to succeed rather than just survive and breed.  This comes ultimately from culture, which is a difficult thing to try and control.

Getting back to the matter of the zealous, I really don't believe they need to be swayed as much as you might think.  A lot of people take comfort from their fervent beliefs that would be unattainable any other way.  What needs to be done is to limit their effect on society as a whole, however.  This had largely been happening since... well, the Italian Renaissance, really, but it seems like in recent years the whole world seems to be crawling back into its various shells.  The reasons for that are probably much too complex to be even theorized at by some jerkass on a message board with a clown avatar.
Logged

Thad

  • Master of Karate and Friendship for Everyone
  • Admin
  • Tested
  • Karma: -65394
  • Posts: 12111
    • View Profile
    • corporate-sellout.com
Re: Religulous
« Reply #39 on: October 11, 2008, 04:53:33 PM »

Well, part of what I'm saying is that fixing education is not going to help a guy like George W. Bush - you can't make him brilliant, he simply will not take that step for himself.

Sure, but there are tens of millions of people who that's not true of.  Just because you're never going to convince some people of an argument doesn't mean you shouldn't try to convince ANYONE.

Getting back to the matter of the zealous, I really don't believe they need to be swayed as much as you might think.  A lot of people take comfort from their fervent beliefs that would be unattainable any other way.  What needs to be done is to limit their effect on society as a whole, however.

We live in a democracy.  There are two ways to reduce the influence of zealots in elections: reduce their relative numbers in the population, or reduce their relative voter turnout.  And the thing about the latter is that THEY'RE ZEALOTS; by definition they care more about pushing their agenda than everybody else.

There's also the possibility of putting up barriers to voting, but I find that idea morally reprehensible.
Logged
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 ... 15