November 26th, 2008, 02:15 PM
I like stories
Some parts read like a how-to manual. others are fairly insightful and would shed some points in to a thread such as this.
November 26th, 2008, 02:23 PM
Saturn Comes Back Around
Of course I believe in God.
I also believe that Santa Clause visits every home in the world, all in one night.
November 26th, 2008, 02:37 PM
You mean he doesn't?
The fact is, we all believe in lots of things that have no objective reality outside of our belief. Some just happen to matter more than others. Some are really big things. Ummmm, like God.
November 26th, 2008, 03:16 PM
Of course, I meant 'do battle' in the proverbial sense. I mean challenge them on every level and whenever anyone tries to use faith to compel obedience or direct policy. Confront them. Make them say exactly what they mean. No euphamisms aloud: make them admit that they value death over life.
And I never once mentioned disenfranchising anyone. I call on the faithful to follow their own teachings. To voluntarily give away their possessions. To admit that they're subjects of a fantasy kingdom, not citizens of a democracy (how often do they proclam they're not 'of this world'?) and renounce their citizenship since they can't serve two masters.
If they refuse, call them hypocrites. In both cases, they're claim to earthly power is nullified.
November 26th, 2008, 03:20 PM
and I like to party.
No one is a hypocrite for having religion and belonging to a country. In the Bible, Jesus said give to Caesar that which is Caesar's. Both can be served. I agree with Funk Koo.
November 26th, 2008, 03:28 PM
Saturn Comes Back Around
Has anyone seen "Religulous", the Bill Maher film/documentary that came out a couple months ago? Such a good film, and he raises very good points.
Plus, it's hilarious.
November 26th, 2008, 03:39 PM
Then insist that religious life is separate from political life, make it retreat to the realm of the personal, and stop using faith as a tool to gain power and respect.
And sorry, but they didn't show Religulous in my part of the country. I'll have to rent it.
November 26th, 2008, 03:45 PM
It's a pretty huge generalization that all religious folks are vying for dominion over your country. Sure, a small group of particularly crazy folks are, but the vast majority of the religious folk in most western democracies are pretty centrist in their thinking.
I think more to the point, the government in questions needs to declare, for the record and once and for all, that the government is not now and will never be resonposible for determining and legislating right and wrong. That morality is under the purview of cultural institutions, of which religion is one.
That, I think, would address most of what you might be concerned about.
November 26th, 2008, 03:49 PM
You hit the nail on the head.
November 26th, 2008, 04:09 PM
The bigger issue, and one that keeps religion in business, is that as philosophers, none of us have ever been able to provide an incontrovertible foundation for morality outside of it. Utilitarianism, Nazism, Democracy! All efforts, but all presuppose so much. And though I'm convinced we don't need God to define right and wrong within specific contexts, we can't make truth claims or preach to the masses without some quasi-god to back us up.
So though I totally agree with your sentiments, RAD, we're stuck with God as long as people want to live in civilized societies. It's ironic that civilization seems to need the ethical structure that God bestows upon it, yet it suffers so much from the abuse of the concept at the same time. We don't need to call this thing that grounds our actions 'God', do we? But what's in a name really?
Tell me why murder is wrong? Tell me why incest and pedophilia is wrong? Tell me why lying is wrong? Tell me why rape is wrong? Then lets dissect each of your answers out of our very small societal context, and see where we end up.
November 26th, 2008, 04:24 PM
Societies need God
I'm going to fall back on HL Mencken and reply that when folks say society needs God, what they really mean is that society needs police. I'd agree with that. There have to be folks that enforce the laws, but too many people want to believe the enforcer is an idealized, perfect being since law enforcement officers make mistakes.
Because it's a violation of individual rights and if this democracy was built to stand for anything, it's individual rights.
If humans are going to live in societies (and we will, our personal limitations and social herd instincts won't allow anything else) we've only invented two options: a free society based on safeguarding individual liberties or a totalitarian society based on submission to a romanticised tyrant with the goal of the individual is to perpetuate the collective memes.
Why is slavery and inequality wrong? I'll have to go with the slippery slope argument: take away the rights of one person or group of people and it's easier to take away the rights of others.
November 26th, 2008, 06:17 PM
What makes individual rights the be all and end all? Why not society's rights? The greater good?
I hear you RAD, and my instincts are in agreement. But instincts aren't much more than ingrained habits after all.
The Police can enforce any laws. Society needs laws for its police to enforce, and those laws have to be based upon presuppositions regarding right and wrong.
November 27th, 2008, 02:20 AM
Whose rights, the murdered persons right to life, or the murderer's right to take it??
Originally Posted by RAD
November 27th, 2008, 05:21 AM
I admit it freely – when it comes to philosophy and morality, I make it up as I go along. I guess that’s the lot of the atheist. I have no sacred scrolls to rely upon to guide and determine my thoughts and actions, so I just try to act in the light of that old classic, the golden rule of doing unto others as I would have them do unto me (which was not invented by Jesus, Michael, before you start! ). The Humanist notion of acknowledging the self reflected in the other is also a useful habit of thought and practice. Ultimately, if there is one guiding philosophy I do try to follow, it is the superficially simple and undemanding teaching which I got second- or thirdhand, many years ago; I once read a newspaper column by some intellectual grandee (so long ago I can’t even recall who it was) who mentioned that one of the teachers at his extremely expensive and prestigious private school had told him, in a quiet moment, to disregard all the Christian teaching he was receiving from the school. Quoting some ancient philosopher whom I have never been able to track down, the master told him that there are only two sins – cruelty and cowardice. As the columnist said, that sounds simplistic, but it is actually a demanding and elevating philosophy. Abide by the practice of avoiding cruelty and cowardice, and you will avoid harm to others and to yourself. The latter is an element that Christianity rather lacks, for me. The cringing self-abasement and self-denial of Christianity has never appealed to me.
Gary, after a little thought, my response would be that I can't think of a society which would be organised for The Greater Good which wouldn't end up as a dystopian nightmare. Surely in no time at all, it would become all too easy for those in power to find ways to ensure that The Greater Good and their own ends overlapped more often than not. God knows we have that now, even with our commitment to individual liberties. (Posting from the UK, perhaps I should say former commitment...) I rather think that for a society to work beneficially at all for the majority, it has to paradoxically focus on the rights of the individual.
Rad - sterling posts, sir. Hats off.
November 27th, 2008, 07:21 AM
I like stories
Not exactly. More and more legislation in balanced countries seems to be funneled towards validating and protecting individual rights. While the right\wrong scenario played large parts in the initial definition of those rights, I think the adjustments being made today are more reflective or personal choice.
Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
I agree that most of the original documents concerning the founding of western government have had heavy religious and social influences. I think we have started to move away from that in a lot of cases.
If an act doesn't harm another living creature without consent, it's legal in my mind (with a few exceptions such as a 6 year old willfully dating a 50 year old).