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Author Topic:   Identifying false religions.
Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4407 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


(1)
Message 52 of 479 (564875)
06-13-2010 12:21 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Pauline
06-08-2010 6:29 PM


I would first study the religion and its scriptures if any, then talk to as many number of claimants of the religion as I wish as ask them if following their religion has changed them in anyway for the better.
Sounds reasonable enough to me. Though there will be Christian fundamentalists who will claim that being born-again into hatred of science, homosexuals, liberals, women, non-Christians, other Christian sects (i.e. Catholicism), pro-lifers, feminists, etc, has changed them for the better and got a place for them in heaven. Just speaking for myself, I would not find this persuasive.
I would try to assess if what they claim reflects reality
And how would you determine this?
so I would preferable talk to friends
Whose friends, yours or theirs? And how would they be able to determine what the reality is?
Since religion is about morality
Is it? Is it just there to tell us what's right and wrong? Atheists and agnostics seem to be able to live by morals too. Why do you think this is?
I also think religions that people are willing to give their life for carry special merit.
So suicide bombers are paragons of virtue? That's kinda scary.
Just picking your brains here, since I have not seen anyone else in this thread directly address these statements yet.
Edited by Kitsune, : No reason given.
Edited by Kitsune, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by Pauline, posted 06-08-2010 6:29 PM Pauline has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 53 by Pauline, posted 06-13-2010 11:57 PM Kitsune has replied

Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4407 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 56 of 479 (565005)
06-14-2010 9:57 AM
Reply to: Message 53 by Pauline
06-13-2010 11:57 PM


Hi Dr. Sing, I am still confused about the criteria you are using to evaluate what a "true" religion is.
I agree, religion should not teach people to hate. It does seem ironic that the most fundamentalist Christians are people who seem to think it's OK to hurl abusive vitriol at people they believe are not "saved," such as homosexuals, liberals, etc (see my list above). They claim to me that these people deserve it because they're sinners, they've rejected God, etc. There really is no possibility of rational discussion with them.
If a friend of mine who has problems with a notoriously bad temper confessed to have experienced a change in his temper for the better and attributes it to prayer, then I would talk to him about it. Ask him why he prayed. Ask him what exact happened when he prayed. Ask him why he thinks prayer has changed him etc.
So if your friend was a Buddhist, Hindu or New Ager, you'd still be intrigued enough to look into it? It isn't just Christians who pray.
What I think are moral you might think are immoral and vice versa.
Let's put it this way: neither I nor my non-Christian friends think it's OK to kill, steal, or generally be nasty to people. You will find that most cultures will have these morals no matter what religions they support, because otherwise the cultures would not survive. Human society succeeds through the co-operation of groups. (One thing we could perhaps do with remembering nowadays.)
There seems to be this fear some people have that without religion, we'd all go off the deep end. Personally I would be looking for spirituality through religion, if I decided to join one (which I wouldn't, but I'm being hypothetical) -- something that gave me a sense of a community working for a higher purpose, and that that higher purpose existed. It's interesting that you have not mentioned this at all and have been focusing on how we need religion to tell us what to do.
when people give their lives for the sake of their religion with no earthly benefits to reap then they must seem to live for a higher purpose and I would try to give that purpose special attention in my analysis. That purpose might or might not be valid, but it certainly speaks out loud. If that purpose turns out to be highly invalid and immoral, like Jihad or whatever, then.....its time to wrap this one up and start probing a different religion to find the true one.
Fanatics for any cause, are often willing to die for that cause. It could be a member of a cult, or someone who believes that people should not wear fur. I'm not sure I'd want to walk that minefield in search of any kind of religion. (Of course, my own opinion is that we don't need organised religion anyway; that we can be spiritual beings without it.)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 53 by Pauline, posted 06-13-2010 11:57 PM Pauline has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 59 by Pauline, posted 06-14-2010 9:59 PM Kitsune has replied

Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4407 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 64 of 479 (565148)
06-15-2010 1:45 AM
Reply to: Message 58 by Pauline
06-14-2010 9:23 PM


What I was thinking of when Kitsure mentioned theists hating science, is when people choose to ridicule science when one or more of its theories disagree with what their specific religion claims. Religion does very little to tell us about scientific laws or principles...science is where we get that type of information from. And we should respect that. The reason I do not agree with the ToE, however, is because it does not accurately depict reality, IMO. I may be considered a fool for thinking this, but this is the stance I'll take for now.
The only people in modern times who make statements like your penultimate sentence are people whose religion tells them that the ToE must be wrong. This does not apply to the vast majority of Christians, but to small subsets of Abrahamic religions (and a few others) who fear that the ToE threatens their literal interpretation of their holy book.
You might want to think about what you said above verrrrrry carefully.
Edited by Kitsune, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 58 by Pauline, posted 06-14-2010 9:23 PM Pauline has not replied

Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4407 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 66 of 479 (565157)
06-15-2010 4:38 AM
Reply to: Message 59 by Pauline
06-14-2010 9:59 PM


The question then is, does Christianity encourage hating people? The answer is no. So where are these people who profess to hate certain sects getting their motivation from? Obviously, selfish motives. There is not one verse in the Bible where it says you will hate one another if ou disagree with one another.
Jesus said we should love one another (which is great). But fundamentalists seem to pay the most attention to the Old Testament, where Yaweh destroyed cities and said it was OK for the Israelites to murder, rape and pillage. I remember how Catholics dealt with passages like these when I was growing up: they pretended they didn't exist.
As a skeptic, I would be fair enough to allot equal attention and persual to all religions within reach.
And yet you are a Christian. Living in America, there is a high probability of this. And how did you choose to be Christian? Is your family Christian?
If you live in India you are most likely to be a Hindu. If you live in Iran you are most likely to be a Muslim. Do you not think that family and culture have something to do with it? And can you honestly claim that you learned in detail about other religions and made an educated choice that Christianity was the one for you?
Yes, Rahvin and you make the same point: The most basic human instincts are positively oriented to achieve community- wide harmony. However, we wouldn't exactly define these as "morals" A moral is a command. A command often is a prohibition of something. To not murder because it hurts someone is FAR different from to not murder because it is sin. The former is an instinct, the latter is a moral. This is what I would argue.
Morals
Ethics, the codes, values, principles, and customs of a person or society.
Principles of right conduct.
ethical motive: motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
You define a "moral" as a command or prohibition. Yet rules of law and cultural norms also fit this definition, as do things like "you are not allowed to chew gum in school."
What you leave out is the question of what actually is right and wrong, and who decides. I believe your statement above has got it backward; you seem to think that not murdering someone because it hurts them is instinct. How, exactly? Not wanting to hurt people, and restraining oneself from doing so even when one feels the desire and thinks they could get away with it, would seem to me to be the action of someone who respects other people just for being people. Christians sometimes call this agape.
Restraining oneself just because the God in the sky says "thou shalt not" is on the same level as a small child not doing something because they fear punishment from their parents -- not because they realise it's inherently a wrong thing to do.
A bit of psychology for you. Freud believed that the personality was split into the id, ego and superego. Your id is what drives you to do things that give you pleasure, regardless of the consequences; it's instinctive. Your ego takes stock of reality and puts a check on the id; it's your conscious thought. The superego is your inner sense of how you should behave. It involves conscience but there's more to it than that. As a child, it comes from your internalization of your parents' rules, and what they teach you is right or wrong. They could, for example, teach you that sex before marriage is sinful; so that when you're older and you've perhaps even decided that it's not so sinful after all and would like to try it, you will get feelings of guilt and shame seemingly out of nowhere. Overly critical or overbearing parents can give a child a persecutory superego that will fill them with these feelings all their lives unless they are able to find ways to reprogram their subconscious (which can be done, though often it is not easy).
So we see here that a person's sense of right and wrong is hugely dependent upon the family in which they are raised, and subsequently the culture in which that family lives. You don't need yet another authority figure to tell you what to do and what not to do (the role that most religions fill), because you already know this from your childhood. You also get a sense for what is permissible in your society through its laws. You may also have philosophical or spiritual beliefs about where we came from, where we are going, why we are here and what our inherent nature is, though again these are usually (though not always) adopted without too much question by children from their parents.
People are fully capable of achieving all the virtues that religions espouse, and thinking about philosophical and spiritual issues, without belonging to the institution of a religion. In fact this is the way I see society as heading: away from the comforting blind safety of following the rules of a holy text, and toward a personal type of empowerment in which issues are considered on their individual merits. This is a liberating idea for many but I can also understand how scary it must be for some, because it means taking responsibility for one's thoughts and actions and the uncertainty that can involve.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 59 by Pauline, posted 06-14-2010 9:59 PM Pauline has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 68 by Pauline, posted 06-15-2010 7:15 PM Kitsune has replied

Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4407 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 71 of 479 (565525)
06-17-2010 5:12 PM
Reply to: Message 68 by Pauline
06-15-2010 7:15 PM


Dr. Sing writes:
I don't know what I am going to end up believing. But one thing I do know, I will never be a theistic evolutionist. So for me, it’s either be a Evolutionist/Atheist or Creationist/Christian.
I wonder why it's these two extremes for you, when the vast majority of people in the world happily espouse more moderate views? I am an agnostic evolutionist (though I don't like that phrase because it implies that evolution is a religious belief, when it is in fact a robust scientific theory). I arrived at this position by applying a large degree of reason the way Rahvin explains and also from going by intuition, personal experience and what "speaks" to me (which I'm sure Rahvin would tear down with his invisible unicorn or spaghetti monster or whatever, but these types of epistemological debates have been happening elsewhere on this forum -- you might want to take a look sometime). I don't even like to apply "agnostic" to myself really. I do have spiritual beliefs, which maybe lean more toward pantheism.
Dr. Sing writes:
So, you see inherent contradictions within the teachings of Jesus and the moral behavior of the OT YHWH. You also see contradictions between Jesus' NT teaching and the practical life of many believers. And this is holding you back from being willing to accept Christianity as a valid religion. Yes?
No, for a couple of reasons. First of all, there are many reasons why I can't reconcile the Biblical account of things with reality; and secondly, I don't know what you mean by "valid." Seeing as how a large percentage of the world's population is Christian, it's socially valid. I can't argue with what Jesus preached; anyone who tells us to love each other is OK in my books. So that's valid too. If I were still a Catholic I'd just continue to ignore the nasty stuff in the Old Testament or try to rationalise it away somehow.
Dr. Sing writes:
I could, at best, tell you what I--as a Christian do when faced with such a situation as you (believe me, some of us do think about what we believe) but this hardly would be a generalized solution for your problem. Nevertheless, if it will help you, I will tell you.
You might like to address this in another post and relate it to the topic of identifying false religions. I do not see the subject as a "problem," though you apparently do. And thanks for the offer of "help" but I'm as likely to convert back to Christianity as Rahvin. Sorry.
Dr. Sing writes:
religious matters are better off taken on faith rather than scrutiny.
I think both can, and probably should, apply. You've having a pretty long conversation with Rahvin about this so I won't go over that ground again myself.
Dr. Sing writes:
And I can say that pretty much every other guideline set will most probably have atleast 5 holes in it. What do you then? Abandon your search for religion?
Speaking for myself, I saw the holes and felt I couldn't deny their reality. I took the best of what I discovered from different kinds of spiritual practices and arrived at my own set of beliefs, which I explained at the beginning of this post. You still seem to think that religion and spirituality have to be the same thing. Religion is a social institution, and for much of history it has simply been used to control people. (Good heavens, I'm agreeing with Dawkins; what next.)
You define a "moral" as a command or prohibition.
------------
A command, not necessarily a prohibition.
You're the one who used the word originally.
So who do you think is commanding me not to kill if: a) I am enraged at someone (say I had Adolph Hitler standing in front of me); b) I knew I could kill him without any negative repercussions? There are many Christians, including creationists, who would happily have him put to death for what he'd done, and call it justice. I happen to be against the death penalty for anyone because two wrongs don't make a right, and execution is little more than revenge (plus some other reasons). So you've perhaps got a bit of a conundrum here as to why I, a non-Christian, am against the death penalty, while many Christians fervently support it. Even the US government makes it legal.
Dr. Sing writes:
"Love one another" is as much of a command as is "Thou shalt not steal."
And I make a conscious choice as to whether or not I think that is a good way to live, which I believe requires more maturity and wisdom than someone who does what they are told because they know they'll get punished if they don't. As parents we expect our own children to move beyond that; fundamentalists seem to be extremely hesitant to do so. Like I said, I think it's maybe something to do with needing the comfort and certainty of a higher authority telling someone that they're doing the right thing because figuring it out for themselves requires taking responsibility for one's actions and risking the possibility that they're wrong.
Dr. Sing writes:
Morals are an extension, a reinforcement, of instincts if you would.
I guess you didn't like the Freudian superego stuff in my last post Morals are not instincts because morality requires conscious choice. You sort of shoot this idea down yourself by what you say subsequently, though you do seem to largely be using the terms "right" and "wrong" in a way that suggests we just all know what those mean. I don't think the issue is that clear-cut at all; there could be a whole thread discussing just this point. And . . .
Dr. Sing writes:
Human beings are generally prone to positive instincts. Unless in a fit of rage, or under compulsion, people will not usually resort to killing other people. —This is instinct.
What does this mean, "positive instinct"? Does that mean that the willingness to act aggressively is a "negative" instinct? Seems to be a pretty important one to have in the wild in some situations.
And, people killing each other still seems to be a depressing ubiquitous phenomenon across the world. The genocide of the Native American population was still happening only a few generations ago. The majority of the killers were Christians. I think we would see many more deaths if murdering someone were not against the law. Many of us wouldn't be able to walk the streets at night.
Dr. Sing writes:
But how do you know what is moral and immoral? Your limited knowledge gives birth to your instincts but laws of morality need to come from....a higher moral figure, if there is one.
I think this is nothing more than a rhetorical question for you because you seem to believe that obeying what the Bible says is the only way a person can be moral. I don't agree with this. I explained in my previous post how the superego is formed, and the function it has. I've mentioned that human beings live in groups, and groups can only be successful if the members have some respect for one another and don't indiscriminately hurt each other and destroy trust and relationships. Studies with social animals bear this out; it doesn't just apply to humans. As to the finer details of what is or is not permissible in the society, that is often defined by the culture and its way of life.
Dr. Sing writes:
What about kids born to abusive, alcohol, drug addict parents? Do they not need a moral authority figure?
I don't understand this question. Are you saying that such people cannot teach morals, or that the morals of the society will fail to reach children raised in such families? I would say that it's important to help families in these situations, but throwing Bibles at them would not be on my personal list of approaches. Besides, there are plenty of people who believe themselves to be God-fearing Christians who are abusive, alcohol and drug addicted parents.
Dr. Sing writes:
Furthermore, do individual cultures get to define moral absolutes (assuming there are)?
Well that's begging the question. I don't believe that there are any moral absolutes, and that the best course of action is dependent on the situation.
Dr. Sing writes:
Unless people subject their morality to a higher moral authority, they are most likely to allow themselves slack when defining and practicing morality.
You left your most absurd statement for last, it would seem.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 68 by Pauline, posted 06-15-2010 7:15 PM Pauline has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 76 by Pauline, posted 06-21-2010 4:53 PM Kitsune has not replied

Kitsune
Member (Idle past 4407 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 75 of 479 (565746)
06-20-2010 2:47 AM
Reply to: Message 74 by Pauline
06-19-2010 1:42 PM


Dr. Sing writes:
Take a look at a recent study conducted by Yale University on Morality in babies.
Well that's interesting. I'm all in favour of empirical research marrying up with the psychodynamic theories I am learning on my counselling course. What this looks like to me, is that babies' brains come hard-wired for making choices that favour harmonious group life (I would hesitate to use a judgmental term like morality here), just like they come hard-wired to learn language (according to Noam Chomsky). But just like they need to have the language available to pick up, they also need access to the morality of their caregivers and social group in order to develop that innate ability.
Many developmental psychologists will tell you that the ignorance of human babies extends well into childhood. For many years the conventional view was that young humans take a surprisingly long time to learn basic facts about the physical world (like that objects continue to exist once they are out of sight) and basic facts about people (like that they have beliefs and desires and goals) let alone how long it takes them to learn about morality.
Then these psychologists are puzzlingly unaware of the work done by people like Freud, Klein, Erikson, Bowlby, Winnicott, and all others who have worked in the psychodynamic field. There is definitely a lot going on with babies from the moment they are born, and probably beforehand.
The morality of contemporary humans really does outstrip what evolution could possibly have endowed us with.
Well that's not part of the research, that's just his opinion. Why should anyone declare "this is too complex to have evolved" (the tired old argument from incredulity) when instinct is ubiquitous in living things? And why favour this explanation over the possibility (near certainty, I would say) that we have evolved as social animals, which necessitates that we do not indiscriminately do harmful things like kill each other? It would be interesting to see the results of similar studies on primates.
Edited by Kitsune, : No reason given.
Edited by Kitsune, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 74 by Pauline, posted 06-19-2010 1:42 PM Pauline has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 82 by Pauline, posted 06-23-2010 9:44 AM Kitsune has not replied

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