May 8, 2007
The weakness that I see in this article is that it fails to recognize that not all people define the terms "spiritual " and "religious " for themselves the same way. For some, spirituality may encompass nothing more than the capacity for such things as intuition, empathy, a sense of awe and mystery and to feel the many emotions that we are prone to. For others, it may be a sense of connectedness to a larger consciousness or even a godhead. Ideas about what makes a person "religious " may likewise vary over a sizable range of attributes, beliefs, and activities. I, for instance, meditate regularly, and that helps me to keep my emotional balance, a sense of perspective, and to be fully aware of the more subtle aspects of my whole self. I tend to carry that sense of peace, tranquility, and increased awareness most of the time between meditations as well. I often feel a powerful sense of awe on perceiving the many wonders that abound in our world. Does that make me spiritual? Only by some definitions. Others may require a greater sense of connection with nature or a belief that all or most life has spirit or perhaps some degree of ESP. I have a sense of morality based on the idea that people should be kind to each other and to other living beings as is possible. The full code that derives from that is consistent with many religions' moral codes, so I fit in with most religious groups pretty well. Does that make me religious after the manner of Buddhists or Sikhs or even the Quakers who were early influences. Again, only by the loosest of definitions. Each person who identifies as "spiritual but not religious" gets to decide what that means to them, and that is as it should be. But it does make it hard to draw any statistically valid conclusions or correlations about the group as a whole. (9 hrs ago | post #1)
I rarely answer questions that are obviously intended to begin argumentative dialogues that will be tedious and boring. I'm not here to take tests. If you want to post assertions about those things, post them. Don't pretend to be seeking knowledge from others. Be honest. (10 hrs ago | post #239556)
Every digression towards Hitler that I've seen in this forum has begun with accusations from believers that they are somehow linked to Hitler's horrors. The refutations wind up being lengthy, but that reflects occasionally obsessive thoroughness, not obsession with Hitler himself. I think you actually know this and are trying to perform a sort of literary slight of hand--you ought to as those initial accusations sometimes come from you. I've seen this sort of dishonesty from you before. Busted!!! (20 hrs ago | post #239507)
Close, but no cigar. Science is all about scientists investigating reality, not about people with no scientific training asking scientists to revisit well supported theories simply because they contradict their beliefs. Such questions sometimes arise because new research data demands a second look, but that's something else entirely. Such data and questions come from real scientists doing real research, not from people like you and me. (20 hrs ago | post #239503)
Ah, but you were the one who made the latest turn to Hitler in this discussion. I rarely replay to "Hitler" posts, but here goes: "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited." -Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922 "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.... We need believing people." Adolf Hitler, speech given during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933, 26 April 1933 "Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented for its own destruction." Adolf Hitler, quoted in H. Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction: Hitler Speaks, p. 42, New York: Putnam’s, 1940 "We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit…, We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press.... We want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess...." Adolf Hitler, in a speech given to the Reichstag, March 1936, from M. Hakeem, The Speeches of Adolph Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1, pp. 871-872, London: Oxford University Press, 1942 Thus we see Hitler's crusades against Jews and judaism, secularism, and liberalism, all of which refute your assertion that he was an atheistic secular humanist. He even portrayed his attempt to eradicate the Jewish population as a Christian crusade. He also outlawed atheism and freethinking in 1933 a another forum member pointed out, converting is headquarters to one for promoting religion and an effort to get Germans to return to Christian churches. Let's drop Hitler as a subject and move on to something that actually has contemporary meaning. (20 hrs ago | post #1056)
Making a statement without supporting it and then saying, "Prove me wrong" reflects an incredibly poor grasp of logic. That's not how it works. Until you've presented a compelling case to back up an assertion, all that is needed to refute it is to point out that it has not been demonstrated. My shorthand for that is no QED, which is short for "quod erat demonstrandum, " which translates to "that which was to be shown," and appears at the end of a formal logical defense. "No QED" indicates that the logic required to support and idea is either missing or fatally flawed. It is also my response to ALL posts that end, "Prove me wrong." (Monday | post #1023)
That is true. Reality is independent of human perception of it. It is just as true that belief in deities does not cause them to exist. For many of us, the only way to decide is to look for evidence. Finding none, it is rational to remain skeptical but open to the possibility of finding evidence in the future. It is less rational to believe simply because others do, so statements of belief are unconvincing. Unfortunately, those and a comically large collection of logical fallacies is all that believers have brought to this forum thus far. (Monday | post #1014)
"God is logic" s a remarkable statement. What's more remarkable is beginning a post with it and going on as if it were an established, incontestable fact in a forum in which many regard God's very existence to be questionable at best. I don't blame God for killing children in ancient Egypt because I don't believe that ever happened, nor do I believe in a biblical flood or any drownings that would have resulted. I don't believe that the biblical God ever existed. I have no issue with other people believing things that seem nonsensical to me, but I don't see any reason why I should. I've wasted a lot of time considering the question only at the insistence of those around me--I'd never have come up with such an idea on my own, and that alone is good reason to apply a stringent skepticism to it. Logic does exist. It was created and enhanced by humans as we developed as sentient beings. While the Greeks formalized it and advanced to a level of complexity previously unknown, all human societies use it to some extent. I see no reason to believe that God exists, created logic, or is logic. Saying that He does, did, or is does not make it so. (Sunday Oct 19 | post #239366)
I'm sure we all remember the SML Weekend Update Point/Counterpoint segments in which Dan Aykroyd began almost every rebuttal with, "Jane, you ignorant slut!" That was funny then because it was so outrageous at the time. It also reduced Aykroyd's character's credibility to zero because he was so unlikeably disrespectful of Jane's character and of women in general. I bring this up because Insults Are Easier's nom de plume reminded me of my ongoing unhappiness with one of the major flaws in this forum and of internet discussion in general. It takes a lot of self-discipline to refrain from answering insult with insult, but we are all responsible for setting the general tone of each thread and the forum as a whole with that of our own posts. I've read all manner of excuses for writing posts that begin and end by insulting other participants, but they are all pretty lame. It was funny on SNL because that was fictional parody. It was performed by actors who enjoyed the comedy that they created. It's not funny here because we are real people and the insults trigger real emotions ranging from mere annoyance to real anger and from mild bruises to the ego the genuine hurt. It's easy to put people down for being too thin-skinned, but if those posts did not annoy, anger, bruise, and hurt, the responses wouldn't reflect those emotion as they almost always do. It's also easy to point figurative fingers and think/say, "He/she started it," but even when that's true, which is rare, that's just childish mewling that few of us accept us as parents. Why should do it ourselves? It's been a while since I exhorted my fellow nonbelievers to act as the adults in this forum even when the believers who insist on contending with us try to provoke childish responses, and it will be a while before I do so again. I do hope that at least a few will take it to heart. We could have some interesting and substantive discussions here. Why let childish behavior interfere with that? (Sunday Oct 19 | post #239351)
For me, the meat of this article is in the conclusions at the end: "What, then, is to be done? Here are a few suggestions: One, do not “essentialise” religion. Remember that Gandhi’s Gita and Azad’s Quran do not say the same thing as the Gita of Nathuram Godse and the Quran of Osama bin Laden or “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Like other religions, there is no one Islam; there are many Islams. "Two, look at the history of a religion. Islam is over 1,400 years old. Remember that the Yazidis and Christians being butchered by the barbaric IS used to be free, relatively at least, to practise their faith in that very region for centuries under Muslim rulers. Jews hounded out of Christian Europe found refuge in the Ottoman empire. "Three, beware of “catastrophic” over-generalisatio ns. Yes, al-Baghdadi and Ayman al-Zawahiri are Muslims, but so are Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Malala Yousafzai, and our very own Aamir Khan. "Four, remember that religions do not need reform, their followers do. Liberals must consistently oppose infringements of universal human rights and freedoms anywhere and everywhere. "Five, militant atheism is not the answer to militant Islam. It only helps legitimise the extremists and the Islamophobes. " These points are substantive and deserve discussion. (Saturday Oct 18 | post #1)
It should be noted, by the way, that while we are one of the weakest species physically, that is not true of most primates, most of whom demonstrate strength and agility beyond the capacity of even the greatest human athletes. Wild chimpanzees can break a horse's neck with a single blow--pound for pound, they have at least twice the strength of humans. Studies suggest that it's the result of a balancing act between muscle function and the demands of other organs--our brains use about 20% or our caloric intake. We didn't develop intelligence to compensate for our weakness so much as becoming weaker to support the size and function of our brains. Neat evolutionary trick, that. (Thursday Oct 16 | post #61)
It didn't "come from" anywhere. It is a natural consequence of having a brain that can support such higher functions as complex thought and the ability to learn both from experience and from other humans. Once that crucial threshold was crossed, i.e., we began passing knowledge on to each other and bodies of knowledge began to grow that were common to such groups as families, clans, and tribes, and, eventually, to the bulk of humanity. This is very basic stuff. Why don't you already know about it? (Thursday Oct 16 | post #60)
Understanding relatively is a very recent consequence of having developed as an intelligent species, but beyond that, it has nothing to do with evolution. It is certainly not a survival factor, and raising it as one is nothing but a red herring that is, quite frankly, a reflection of your lack of understanding about all of the matters that you've raised. Responding to you is becoming tedious. (Thursday Oct 16 | post #59)
Failure to refute an idea is only evidence for its truth if it takes the form of a testable hypothesis. Only when such an idea has been extensively and repeatedly tested, always with the same positive results, is there any justification in saying that it should be accepted until a better idea comes along. This is the essential difference between faith and philosophy, on the one hand, and science on the other. (Thursday Oct 16 | post #977)
I think that natural selection gradually increased human intelligence, but that once we developed speech and then writing, our curiosity and creativity eventually drove us to explore every avenue of intellectual advancement. I don't think that natural selection is always driven by simple survival. It also has to do with the procreation. In a population, any genetic traits that make some lines of ancestry procreate and survive at higher rates than others, even if those rates differ only slightly, will cause that trait to become increasingly common over many successive generations, end eventually the gene for that trait will become universal. Obviously, the organic component of intelligence is genetic. Many species have evidence capabilities for problem-solving and learning through experience. I think it's likely that many are also self-aware and have a sense of identity. Many species differentiate between the various members of their own species in their lives, and recent research even shows that wild crows can differentiate between individual members of other species, remembering how they've interacted with them over time. Crows and ravens also perform extremely well in problem-solving experiments. I think that greater intelligence helps individuals to thrive at greater levels than their peers in all species, and I suspect its general level in many species increases over successive generations. We appear to be the most intelligent species. We are not the only one. (Thursday Oct 16 | post #41)
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