if further thought shows that it does not make sense, the stuff ought to be dropped.
I agree. Believers can't win here: if they stick to their obsolete dogma, we accuse them of barbarism. But if they jettison any of their dogma and admit that contemporary believers aren't obliged to think that way, we accuse them of hypocrisy.
It's unclear what we think religious people should be allowed to do, short of abandoning their made-up beliefs and thinking exactly the way we do.
they invented the entire shebang using the power structures and mores of the time and the only way they can hang on to any semblance of credibility in modern civilisations is to dump the more obvious nonsenses as society becomes more educated and less superstitious.
I don't see the process as being that much different than the way Western democracies have become more inclusive of women, or the way African-Americans were enfranchised in the USA. Just because our cultural construct of representative democracy didn't initially include non-landowners or women doesn't mean we should just jettison the entire project.
And it's not like the 20th century shouldn't have put paid to the magical thinking whereby education perfects the human animal. Technological and scientific progress hasn't created utopia either. Let's not trade one set of nonsenses for another.
quote: It's unclear what we think religious people should be allowed to do, short of abandoning their made-up beliefs and thinking exactly the way we do.
Which is, of course, the answer.
My issue with religion is the way it perpetuates bigotry, so I can't complain when religious authorities shed the bigoted parts of their dogmas. It seems your issue with the religious worldview ---even one that moves away from archaic prejudices--- is that it isn't your worldview.
By allowing changes in their core doctrines, the religions are accepting that they are purely parochial and terestrial.
I still don't see why this isn't a good thing. Believers are taking responsibility for their faith, not just toeing the party line. (I'm not really sure limbo qualifies as a core belief of a Catholic or Christian, but I'm neither.)
My problems with the religious world view are too many for this thread but, but you can include beliefs that allow people to victimise others - be it by terrorism or simple discrimination - to the detriment of society as a whole and human personal health and happiness generally.
Okay, but it seems like what you're objecting to is the efforts of faith communities to reexamine beliefs like these and evaluate whether they're relevant to contemporary believers. As I said, I find it more reprehensible when believers try to rationalize the Iron Age bigotry in the scripture of Abrahamic religions rather than to contextualize it as a by-product of the anachronistic attitudes of the people who initially formulated the religious ideas they otherwise find worthwhile.
It doesn't seem like religion is just going to go away, so why wouldn't we welcome efforts to make it more inclusive and humanistic? Do you really think it makes sense to tell Catholics they're not supposed to forgive women who've had abortions, because how else are we going to accuse them of being dogmatic, misogynistic and callous?
I'm pointing out that the process of jetisoning beliefs exposes them to the criticism that they have made ALL of it up.
Humans have culturally constructed many things, like currency systems, nations, forms of art and literature, morality, and even scientific inquiry. Religion is just as "made up" as any of these.
quote:It doesn't seem like religion is just going to go away,
But it is going away - it's in decline across the developed world.
It is? As far as I know, surveys show that more people are identifying as having no religious beliefs. To you, this means that religion is going away?
Magical thinking is so adorable.
they are actually saying that they were wrong about core truths.
Again, I don't think limbo and not-forgiving-abortion-moms qualify as core doctrines of Catholicism or any other religion. It's not like the Pope is saying that God doesn't exist or that Jesus didn't rise from the dead, which are certainly core doctrines.
And this process has been going on for centuries. The doctrine of original sin got shitcanned decades ago. If you're under the impression that all of a sudden, the Catholic Church is cutting loose important parts of its catechism, and that this is a sign that the entire edifice of Catholicism is collapsing, I'd say you haven't been paying attention.
It's my position that the entirety of their - and, as it happens, all - belief systems is a total fabrication.
Next you'll be telling us that money is just pieces of paper. Is nothing real anymore?
Your use of the term 'making it up' is decidedly non-standard.
Well, that's what we get for expecting to see consistency, coherence, or fair-mindedness in what is nothing more than a hate-filled rant. When the message-board atheist allows himself to define what things like religion and faith are, the result is only going to represent his prejudices and not the vast historical construct of religion in all its complex, problematic reality.
If we're looking for something wholly "made up," the New Atheist version of religion sure qualifies.
And just what is that New Atheist version of religion?
From what I've heard, nothing more than a bunch of cheap rhetoric: it's a "fairy tale," it's "superstition," and per Sam Harris, just a set of false beliefs about reality. Dennett traces it back to a faulty agency-detection system. Dawkins, of course, calls it a delusion.
I'm not religious, but I happen to think religion is a much more complicated issue than that. There's a wide range of interpretations in any religion, but we give ourselves license to define it in the way that gives us a rhetorical advantage. Religion, for better or worse, has always been an important way that individuals and communities have defined themselves and their relationship to others. It's not just about scripture, and it's not just about literal beliefs. But the OP just handwaves all that away and defines it as made-up nonsense. Pardon me for thinking that that's a comically inadequate analysis of the phenomenon.
Six days of creation, two conflicting creation myths, both earth and plants created before the sun, Tree of Knowledge with a talking snake, Da FallSM, two versions of a world-wide flood, the exodus, angels singing to Sheppard’s, virgin birth, walking on water, loaves and fishes, resurrection and ascension, tribulation, seven seals, seven trumpets, second coming, Satan escapes. A lot in between each of these and it goes on.
Is any of this NOT made up?
Yeah, I pretty much said that this approach is futile. If your idea is that these things are either literally scientifically true or they're utterly useless, then congratulations, you think like a Christian fundamentalist. I tried to say that the literal truth of these myths is completely beside the point, but that seems to be the only basis that message-board atheists are willing to discuss them.
What these myths mean is more important, and that varies widely throughout faith communities. If we're satisfied with defining all believers as fundies and jihadists, maybe that's because it makes it easier for us to condemn them as barbaric rather than empathize with them.
Religion (like language and similar cultural constructs) is much more about tribal markers, and throughout history it has (unfortunately) made it easier to divide populations along political lines. Trying to reduce this complex set of social conditions to a set of false beliefs is what keeps the internet debate culture afloat, but it doesn't engage with how enmeshed religion is in the fabric of modern civilization.
As far as the religious stories go, the evidence for fairy tale status is quite compelling and as such, yes, they are useless. To think like a fundamentalist requires the fairy tale fantasy. Science is the complete opposite. To show the religious fantasies as hopelessly false is not anything like the fundamentalists insistence on their TRVTH.
The point I was making is that you have the fundamentalist's black-and-white picture of myth: it's either literally True, or it's completely useless. Obviously the fundie believes it's True and you don't. But you both share the unimaginative approach to myth, one that ignores any meaning other than the literal one and lacks any nuance whatsoever.
Some, such as yourself, try to accommodate religion in society by trying to excuse its poisons by pointing up those myths that can teach worthy memes and saying religion does some good for some lost or despondent souls.
That's not really what I'm saying. I'm saying that religion is a vast historical construct that message-board atheists have oversimplified in order to foster debates. I'm a nonbeliever, but I think saying "religion is bad" is just about as silly as saying "language is bad" or "culture is bad." I don't think religion should be immune from criticism; I just think the criticism has to be a lot more informed than what we've come to expect here in the digital sandbox.
But the history of religion, all religion, is one of poisoning relationships between individuals, communities and nations, stifling intellect and advancement and enslaving the mind, the spirit and the soul of all humanity. This far outweighs any good you may see in it.
That religion is so enmeshed in the fabric of modern society is an indictment of religion for the insidious way it poisons the human mind. Activist atheists cannot accommodate anything in religion because despite any good it may do in individual cases religious organizations perpetrate ignorance and bigotry around the world. And, as we have seen in our own country in these modern times, allowing religion to influence public and international policy has been a horridly bloody abomination.
These facts make religion the greatest evil on the world stage today and every effort needs to be made to expunge religion blah blah blah
This is exactly the sort of stale rhetoric that people have come to expect from atheists, and it doesn't reflect well on our level of skepticism or education. It's the Tonka version of history and philosophy, sold to us by scaremongering ideologues who make careers out of debating.
Look, I think there are plenty of aspects of religion that are downright disturbing. There's a religious dimension to the way young men are radicalized in the Middle East. The Catholic Church's admonitions against birth control have killed millions in Africa. Creationism is a conspiracy theory that shouldn't be taught in science classes. However, none of these issues has to do with just believing false things. They're complicated social problems that won't be solved by puerile sloganeering. These things won't go away if we just stereotype and demonize religious believers loud and long. If you want to show what a freethinker you are, quit parroting the cheap generalizations of celebrity atheists.
What nuanced meanings does one give to a talking snake? The facts the snake spoke not withstanding Knowledge is bad?
Wow. Like I said, if you're trying to make it seem like you're no more perceptive or open-minded than a fundie, you're doing a great job. The Eden myth was just about a talking snake and knowledge-is-bad, huh?
Theologians might say that the symbolism of the Eden myth is meant to suggest that once one has knowledge of good and evil, i.e. has developed a moral understanding, one can no longer live in bliss. Ethical awareness means responsibility, and that's where anxiety and dread enter the human condition. I'm not saying this is what the average Christian believes, but there's nothing Christlike about walking across the surface of a metaphor.
Why should we continue to make excuses and accommodations for the demonstrable evil that is religion?
You're just assuming what's supposed to be proven: that religion is bad, based on your generalizations and vapid sloganeering. You aren't engaging with religion, or philosophy, or history. You're just telling us how credulous you are for the scaremongering screeds of Dawkins, Harris, and all the other celebrity authors you mentioned. Anyone who's just as skeptical of the New Atheists as he is of religious fundamentalism has no reason to be convinced.
In other words, it's bad. Bad enough to condemn every human ever conceived from then forward. One could, if it weren't for the evil god myth doing his evil god thing, say that having a moral understanding, an ethical awareness and its attendant responsibility, is a good thing to have in a species of human. I guess you disagree.
Again you've completely missed the point. The development of ethical awareness means the end of a childish state of blissful ignorance. It's not a good thing or a bad thing, it's just the human condition.
No, based upon the history. Well known, well documented, open to everyone not looking for an excuse to perpetuate the crimes against conscience, crimes against humanity. What you sneer at as generalizations and vapid sloganeering are backed by a compelling body of demonstrable fact. You cannot accommodate those away.
You give your cheesy rhetoric far too much credit. You simply blame "religion" for all the bad things in the world and call it " the greatest evil on the world stage today," then pretend that your sloganeering validates itself. Sorry, I'm not that credulous.
Comparing me to a creationist doesn't change the fact that your position is based not on "fact," but on your bigotry and ignorance, and the scaremongering of celebrity ideologues. If you've made a sincere effort to engage with contemporary religious thought, or secular philosophers who discuss the dynamic of religion in modern civilization, it doesn't show.