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WX
08-28-2011, 05:46 AM
A little something to think about.

http://current.com/community/92831935_atheists-supply-less-than-1-of-prison-populations-while-christians-make-up-75.htm

WX
08-28-2011, 05:49 AM
And a little more.http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/657136/dawkins_destroys_perry_on_evolution/

Peerie Maa
08-28-2011, 06:34 AM
From the same source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/the-theological-case-for-evolution/2011/08/23/gIQAdp7rZJ_blog.html

A reasonable voice with a scary message.

WX
08-28-2011, 06:41 AM
From the same source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/the-theological-case-for-evolution/2011/08/23/gIQAdp7rZJ_blog.html

A reasonable voice with a scary message.
The stuff of nightmares.

James McMullen
08-28-2011, 07:38 AM
Knowing that this is our one and only chance to get it right, we also tend to be more motivated and self-reliant.

Paul Pless
08-28-2011, 07:42 AM
So efforts at sending evangelical atheists into large minority communities that support large amounts of drug related crime would be rewarded with at least somewhat reduced incarceration rates then?

Peerie Maa
08-28-2011, 07:48 AM
So efforts at sending evangelical atheists into large minority communities that support large amounts of drug related crime would be rewarded with at least somewhat reduced incarceration rates then?

Try teaching a better science based curriculum: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14683133

Glen Longino
08-28-2011, 07:50 AM
"evangelical atheists"LMAO:D:D:D

skuthorp
08-28-2011, 08:24 AM
"evangelical atheists"LMAO:D:D:D

Yes, I had a grin at that too, but I do know what they mean. I suppose it only matters if you care about the continuation of your own species.

Peerie Maa
08-28-2011, 08:27 AM
Yes, I had a grin at that too, but I do know what they mean. I suppose it only matters if you care about the continuation of your own species.

Although his science is sound, Dawkins is a little over the top with his enthusiasm for evangelical atheism.

Glen Longino
08-28-2011, 08:33 AM
Although his science is sound, Dawkins is a little over the top with his enthusiasm for evangelical atheism.

But he's an army of One.
Then compare him to Rick Perry or the Pope.

Peerie Maa
08-28-2011, 09:13 AM
I was going to say that 'evangelical atheists' was an oxymoron, but I'd admit that there are at least a few individuals who might be described that way.... but I don't think that the vast bulk of atheists and agnostics have the least bit of interest in evangelizing.... after all, the Christian evangelicals are doing it for a reward, aren't they? Good standing in the sight of God? What does an atheist get for spreading the word? :)Truth?
In truth, I am not sure that Dawkins is attacking Faith per se. He is certainly attacking the anti science stance of some of those with Faith, who want to spread ignorance as some sort of Faith based agenda.

Gerarddm
08-28-2011, 09:16 AM
'De debbil made me do it'


;-)

Keith Wilson
08-28-2011, 09:19 AM
Correlation is not causation. Atheists tend on average to be better-educated, wealthier and from higher social classes, all of which correlate with fewer people in jail.

For another more reasonable religious perspective on evolution, check out the Clergy Letter Project and "Evolution Sunday (http://www.theclergyletterproject.org/rel_evol_sun.htm)". The letter has over 12,000 ministers as co-signers.


Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.

We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.

Rich Jones
08-28-2011, 10:22 AM
People who are true atheists tend to put a lot of thought into it before declaring themselves so. The vast majority of Christians, however, are simply born into it, giving it very little thought. Some go on to embrace it and practice Christianity faithfully. Others are lukewarm. Others never practice it nor do they go to church, yet they still identify themselves as Christians. Chances are, this is the group that ends up in prison. Not because they're not good Christians, but because they're lousy people. I don't thing religion has anything to do with it. Some "find" religion in prison. Some falsely as a way to work the system, some truthfully. The question is: how did they define themselves before they were imprisioned? Just because someone says they're a Christian doesn't make it so.
I also tend to agree with the statement that atheists are better educated, have better jobs, etc and are therefore much less likey to end up in prison.
Another thought, if it hasn't been brought up, is that the majority of this country is made up of Christians with very few true atheists. So, of course, the prison population will reflect that.

Nanoose
08-28-2011, 10:55 AM
For another more reasonable religious perspective on evolution...

Also, as I have recommended previously, and as noted in one of the articles above, www.biologos.org (http://www.biologos.org), 'science and faith in dialogue.' (e.g. "The doctrine of creation isn't about how things began, but why things exist"...from the video clip, A Leap of Truth: Evolutionary Creationism.)

Started by Francis Collins, with recognized professional scientists and theologians as contributors.

Nanoose
08-28-2011, 02:20 PM
Some, yes.
Others, no.

John Smith
08-28-2011, 02:28 PM
Does anyone have any evidence to support the myth that religious faith somehow gives one a better idea of right and wrong? Or does faith just tell people they'll be forgiven for doing wrong?

Glen Longino
08-28-2011, 02:34 PM
Delete your post quick, John, before Sam sees it!
Trust me, you'll be sorry if you don't!LOL:D

AndyG
08-28-2011, 03:25 PM
What does an atheist get for spreading the word? :)

The possibility of a saner, more rational world.

Andy

Glen Longino
08-28-2011, 03:35 PM
The possibility of a saner, more rational world.

Andy

Amen!

Peerie Maa
08-28-2011, 03:36 PM
The possibility of a saner, more rational world.

Andy

There will always be a significant number of people with faith, which is why evangelical religions and evangelical atheism will both only achieve partial success.
It will be better to win the argument for a broad education and to support the work of people like the ones that Keith linked to in post #16.

CWSmith
08-28-2011, 03:49 PM
I think I would find it very difficult to be an atheist in prison. Faith is a great comfort in times of stress and pain.

Paul Pless
08-28-2011, 04:10 PM
The possibility of a saner, more rational world.

AndyCouldn't we achieve the same if everyone just became Lutheran?:)

WX
08-28-2011, 04:14 PM
As atheists, we naturally question all illogical beliefs and statements. You are using a link that criticizes Repubs and Perry for religious beliefs. It's exaggerated also. This becomes a political statement simply by ignoring the same curiosities, questions and religion of the Dems and the dem candidate for re-election, Obama. So,


What is it you are giving this Atheist to think about? Atheist and prison populations or the biased political bigotry shown in your second link. If you want to be fair, maybe you should examine the religion of democrats and the Prez.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnwrojhxMFk&NR=1
I have always believed in the separation of powers of state, this includes religion and politics. Religion has no place in politics.

Peerie Maa
08-28-2011, 04:14 PM
Couldn't we achieve the same if everyone just became Lutheran?:)

Weeel, I believe that Luther existed.

AndyG
08-28-2011, 04:28 PM
He's not a made-up super villain from the Superman Myth? |;)

Andy

WX
08-28-2011, 04:36 PM
Then you should not have the number 2 link. A more realistic view in a christian country, Kucinich again:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJtWGNV6wAY
I would vote for him.:D
A perception of the Republican party outside of the US is that it is far more right wing than the Democrats. Anyway I thought it a good example of why church and state should be separate.

skuthorp
08-28-2011, 04:39 PM
Mr Kucinich seems far too rational a person to get elected as POTUS in the present climate.

johnw
08-28-2011, 08:48 PM
From Wikipedia:


A 2004 BBC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC) poll showed the number of people in the US who don't believe in a god to be about 9%.[8] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#cite_note-UK_secular-7) A 2008 Gallup poll (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallup_poll) showed that a smaller 6% of the US population believed that no god or universal spirit exists.[27] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#cite_note-26) The most recent ARIS report, released March 9, 2009, found in 2008, 34.2 million Americans (15.0%) claim no religion, of which 1.6% explicitly describes itself as atheist (0.7%) or agnostic (0.9%), nearly double the previous 2001 ARIS survey figure of 0.9%.[28] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#cite_note-27) The highest occurrence of "nones", according to the 2008 ARIS report, reside in Vermont, with 34% surveyed.[29] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#cite_note-28)

The latest statistics show that a lack of religious identity increased in every US state between 1990 and 2008.[30] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#cite_note-29) However less than 2% of the U.S. population describes itself as atheist.[31] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#cite_note-30)

Atheism is more prevalent in Canada than in the United States, with 19–30% of the population holding an atheistic or agnostic viewpoint.[32] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#cite_note-31) The 2001 Canadian Census states that 16.2% of the population holds no religious affiliation, though exact statistics on atheism are not recorded.[33] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#cite_note-32) In urban centers this figure can be substantially higher; the 2001 census indicated that 42.2% of residents in Vancouver (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Vancouver#Religion) hold "no religious affiliation."[34] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#cite_note-33) A recent survey in 2008 found that 23% of Canadians said they did not believe in a god.[35] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism#cite_note-34)



So in the U.S., less than one percent of the population self-identify as atheists and less than one percent of the prison population self-identify as atheists. Amazing!

On the other hand, those unchurched Canadians seem like they should be a real threat if atheists can't tell right from wrong.

WX
08-28-2011, 08:59 PM
On the other hand, those unchurched Canadians seem like they should be a real threat if atheists can't tell right from wrong.
I have never understood how anybody can think that. One doesn't need religion to know that murder, theft and rape etc are wrong. Yet there are people who believe that atheists are amoral...that's one weird headspace.
Not saying you think that Johnw.:)

skuthorp
08-28-2011, 09:39 PM
From Wikipedia:



So in the U.S., less than one percent of the population self-identify as atheists and less than one percent of the prison population self-identify as atheists. Amazing!

On the other hand, those unchurched Canadians seem like they should be a real threat if atheists can't tell right from wrong.
One percent. So why do some christians and christian churches seem to feel so threatened? There is no sign of an outbreak of common sense in the general population yet is there?

BETTY-B
08-28-2011, 11:12 PM
Mr Kucinich seems far too rational a person to get elected as POTUS in the present climate.

Bingo!

johnw
08-28-2011, 11:24 PM
I have never understood how anybody can think that. One doesn't need religion to know that murder, theft and rape etc are wrong. Yet there are people who believe that atheists are amoral...that's one weird headspace.
Not saying you think that Johnw.:)


Hey, I'm agnostic, my views get both atheists and Christians upset. Ever heard the things Dawkins says about agnostic?

I think in all honesty, religious people feel threatened by those who don't need what they need. The sin they worry about isn't rape or theft, it's atheism. So don't worry, whatever they may say, they're not really worried you might sneak in their house and take their stuff. Being who you are is your sin.

B_B
08-28-2011, 11:40 PM
...So in the U.S., less than one percent of the population self-identify as atheists and less than one percent of the prison population self-identify as atheists. Amazing!

On the other hand, those unchurched Canadians seem like they should be a real threat if atheists can't tell right from wrong.
It would be interesting to see what % of the Canadian prison population profess atheistic ideals. I wonder if it would follow the US lead and reflect the general population or if it would be different (my googlefu failed to provide a quick answer)...

RFNK
08-29-2011, 01:28 AM
Hey, I'm agnostic, my views get both atheists and Christians upset. Ever heard the things Dawkins says about agnostic?

I think in all honesty, religious people feel threatened by those who don't need what they need. The sin they worry about isn't rape or theft, it's atheism. So don't worry, whatever they may say, they're not really worried you might sneak in their house and take their stuff. Being who you are is your sin.

I think agnosticism is the only reasonable position.

Rick

Waddie
08-29-2011, 02:17 AM
Originally posted by johnw;
So in the U.S., less than one percent of the population self-identify as atheists and less than one percent of the prison population self-identify as atheists. Amazing!

So Keith has it right;
Atheists tend on average to be better-educated, wealthier and from higher social classes, all of which correlate with fewer people in jail.

That 1% does seem to be about the percentage of well educated people in the US........:)

If there is no God and therefore there is no promise of heaven, but I need not fear hell, why shouldn't I live a self-centered life? Why obey any rules other than the ones I wish to observe?

regards,
Waddie

skuthorp
08-29-2011, 02:30 AM
Originally posted by johnw;

So Keith has it right;

That 1% does seem to be about the percentage of well educated people in the US........:)

If there is no God and therefore there is no promise of heaven, but I need not fear hell, why shouldn't I live a self-centered life? Why obey any rules other than the ones I wish to observe?

regards,
Waddie
You need money or power to live like that, Putin, the Saudi princes, quite a few 'religious' leaders, various middle eastern dictators did for a long time. Apart from the cash the trick is not to be noticed I think.
But the great apes are a cooperative species, ours more than the others probably. I think that the 'rules' are instinctive and probably religion is a part of that.

WX
08-29-2011, 02:37 AM
If there is no God and therefore there is no promise of heaven, but I need not fear hell, why shouldn't I live a self-centered life? Why obey any rules other than the ones I wish to observe?[/B] ]
Why should it make a difference? And since when has believing in a God stopped someone from breaking any law?

skuthorp
08-29-2011, 02:47 AM
"Why obey any rules other than the ones I wish to observe?"
There's a whole underclass who never get on the gravy train who do not follow this precept, we are lucky that only a few do. I have said for years that if you don't allow people to participate in a society why should they obey that society's rules?

Waddie
08-29-2011, 02:51 AM
[QUOTEIf there is no God and therefore there is no promise of heaven, but I need not fear hell, why shouldn't I live a self-centered life? Why obey any rules other than the ones I wish to observe? ]

Why should it make a difference? And since when has believing in a God stopped someone from breaking any law?

Truly believing in God would tend to restrain many behaviors, while ceasing to believe could be very liberating. But answer the original question if you can--why should a non-believer not lead a self-centered life?

regards,
Waddie

Meli
08-29-2011, 02:57 AM
Someone here said that it requires more thought, reflection ect to be an atheist.
I'll dispute that. I've never believed in any god even as a small child and never given it much thought.
My parents, I later came to realise were much the same, they never talked about it.
I think if you grow up in a community where such things are private (like the UK or Australia) and don't get bombarded with religion at school either, one often comes to the conclusion (and quite young), that the god thing is a collection of stories told to demonstrate a right way of living. Just like The arabian nights stories, African folk tales or any other fairy tale.
Nothing more.

seanz
08-29-2011, 03:02 AM
Truly believing in God would tend to restrain many behaviors, while ceasing to believe could be very liberating. But answer the original question if you can--why should a non-believer not lead a self-centered life?

regards,
Waddie

Restrain many behaviours? How about "Kill the Unbelievers!"? Would it restrain that behaviour?

Meli
08-29-2011, 03:08 AM
Truly believing in God would tend to restrain many behaviors, while ceasing to believe could be very liberating. But answer the original question if you can--why should a non-believer not lead a self-centered life?

regards,
Waddie

Because we have a social contract.
A few years ago, I was driving my ratbag nephew (age about 10) and we passed a car broken down, (RACV in attendance :D)
He yelled "loosers" out of the window. I pulled over and made him apologise or walk home. Then explained that one day he'd do that out in the desert, then break down himself and have the erstwhile "looser" drive off and leave him to his fate.
Random acts of respect and kindness return to the giver ETC :D

Waddie
08-29-2011, 03:08 AM
Restrain many behaviours? How about "Kill the Unbelievers!"? Would it restrain that behaviour?

So you're saying, I guess, that religion hasn't restrained any behaviors. Ok, lets go with that. So, with or without religion, why shouldn't a person live a self-centered life, making up the rules they want to live by, if any, as they go along?

regards,
Waddie

Waddie
08-29-2011, 03:12 AM
Because we have a social contract.
A few years ago, I was driving my ratbag nephew (age about 10) and we passed a car broken down, (RACV in attendance :D)
He yelled "loosers" out of the window. I pulled over and made him apologise or walk home. Then explained that one day he'd do that out in the dessert, then break down himself and have the erstwhile "looser" drive off and leave him to his fate.
Random acts of respect and kindness return to the giver ETC :D

What if I don't believe in this social contract, or worse yet, it offends me as looking like a type of religion based on belief and faith? Your story sounds like "what goes around, comes around". What if my life experience tells me that's not true, just another superstitious belief?

regards,
Waddie

seanz
08-29-2011, 03:20 AM
So you're saying, I guess, that religion hasn't restrained any behaviors. Ok, lets go with that. So, with or without religion, why shouldn't a person live a self-centered life, making up the rules they want to live by, if any, as they go along?

regards,
Waddie

Guess again. :D

Some behaviours aren't restrained by (some) religions, they're exacerbated.

Why shouldn't people make up their own rules to live by?
We all do. But there's no reason (at all) for that to be a self-centered life.

Waddie
08-29-2011, 03:28 AM
Guess again. :D

Some behaviours aren't restrained by (some) religions, they're exacerbated.

Why shouldn't people make up their own rules to live by?
We all do. But there's no reason (at all) for that to be a self-centered life.

Why not? Get real, don't we all live self-centered lives to some degree? What's wrong with going with the idea, even revel in it?

regards,
Waddie

seanz
08-29-2011, 03:32 AM
Not much for the counter-point, are you Waddie?

johnw
08-29-2011, 03:46 AM
Truly believing in God would tend to restrain many behaviors, while ceasing to believe could be very liberating. But answer the original question if you can--why should a non-believer not lead a self-centered life?

regards,
Waddie
Come to that, why should they?

Meli
08-29-2011, 04:01 AM
What if I don't believe in this social contract, or worse yet, it offends me as looking like a type of religion based on belief and faith? Your story sounds like "what goes around, comes around". What if my life experience tells me that's not true, just another superstitious belief?

regards,
Waddie

It's not a matter of whether you believe in the contract, you already operate within it whether you like it or not.
If you don't you get eaten by the sabre tooth tigers.:D

Waddie
08-29-2011, 04:07 AM
It's not a matter of whether you believe in the contract, you already operate within it whether you like it or not.
If you don't you get eaten by the sabre tooth tigers.:D

You would have to explain that a little more. Doesn't a contract require the consent of both parties? And what if I'm not worried about the tigers? :)

regards,
Waddie

Meli
08-29-2011, 04:39 AM
You have given your consent, you pay tax to provide courts and the defence forces and police, you pay rates to pick up the rubbish .
simplify it, homo sapians lived in small groups to survive. Today you can call the tigers the holy church of Darek or Exxon or the media.

Communities vote for governments to control the tigers, It's when communites get lazy about voting the tigers start getting the upper hand.
Religion is unneccessary for social unity but voting(or at least attending a polling booth) should be compulsory.

Meli
08-29-2011, 05:13 AM
Organised religion was used in feudal societies to ensure that the social contract was maintained, but giving vast power to the enforcer, King, or feudal overlord.
It stopped the peasants revolting at the price they paid for limited protection-through fear.
After 950 years or so, the peasants started to get a tad cynical and came up with Democracy, Unions (another social contract) and funny, the church decided that hell fire and brimstone wasn't the smartest way to hang on to their influence, so they pulled out the "you are better than them, baptist/methodist card.

It's all a trick to hang on to power, in cahoots with the money boys, be they King or Exxon I tells Ya :D

skuthorp
08-29-2011, 05:42 AM
With few short term exceptions, religion and the state have been partners over thousands of years. Education, revolutions in computing and communications have eroded this in western states, but the developing world is still mired in the power of superstition harnessed to government.
I make the point that I am not talking about a belief in a god, but the temporal power assumed by religions.

AndyG
08-29-2011, 05:46 AM
I'm sort of agreeing with you, Meli, but my take on Medieval England goes more like this:

Feudal society was governed by the politics of The Sopranos. Nothing more than legally organised protection rackets from king, through barons, knights and so on, down through the social scale to villeins and serfs. Protection was paid for by working on demesne lands, paying taxes and fulfilling feudal duties during times of conflict. This "protection" was material and physical.

Alongside this the church operated a similar system: here the protection was spiritual. The church had its own lands and legal system, expected tithes and support; threatened excommunication to those who disobeyed, and offered the guarantee of everlasting life after death to those who didn't.

Both systems drew in and concentrated great wealth at the top.

The first system was practical - the only way to control a large state. The second system was parasitical.

Andy

Meli
08-29-2011, 05:48 AM
.:D But dont forget that the king was head of the church

skuthorp
08-29-2011, 05:51 AM
And in Britain, with an 'established religion' still has bishops sitting in the House Of Lords. But the power of the Lords has been greatly diminished quite recently I think.

Meli
08-29-2011, 05:55 AM
this holds true of any major state religion, The temple priests of any flavour from ancient Egypt, to Rome, to the Dali lama never seem to be short of a bob or two despite famine, plague or war.

WX
08-29-2011, 06:02 AM
So you're saying, I guess, that religion hasn't restrained any behaviors. Ok, lets go with that. So, with or without religion, why shouldn't a person live a self-centered life, making up the rules they want to live by, if any, as they go along?

regards,
Waddie
Most people do lead a fairly self centred life but they do it via the accepted norms of the society they live. Why do we stick to the correct side of the road when we're driving? The answer is it ensure our best chance of survival.
I'm an atheist, it's the way I think. I go through my life doing my best to understand it and not impede anyone else from doing the same thing if I can help it. 2-3, sometimes 5 days a week I spend in a community centre managing the computer network and teaching people over 50 how to use them. The first bit is as a volunteer, the second bit funds building my boat.
Now would you consider that life amoral?

Paul G.
08-29-2011, 06:15 AM
Truly believing in God would tend to restrain many behaviors, while ceasing to believe could be very liberating. But answer the original question if you can--why should a non-believer not lead a self-centered life?

regards,
Waddie

welcome to 1984

AndyG
08-29-2011, 06:20 AM
.:D But dont forget that the king was head of the church

Not in Medieval times! The Pope was head of the church until 1534.

Andy

Kevin T
08-29-2011, 06:21 AM
So you're saying, I guess, that religion hasn't restrained any behaviors. Ok, lets go with that. So, with or without religion, why shouldn't a person live a self-centered life, making up the rules they want to live by, if any, as they go along?

regards,
Waddie

I think a lot of people do, at least to the extent that it doesn't infringe upon anyone else's ability to exist, and when it does infringe, society at large has the necessary means to isolate the problems that come about with too much self centered behavior.

Meli
08-29-2011, 06:27 AM
Not in Medieval times! The Pope was head of the church until 1534.

Andy

Not quite true, the king was the sort of head admin person. Otherwise how did Henry get to become head? and wasnt Charlemain head of the french catholics or something? But we digress:D

Paul G.
08-29-2011, 06:37 AM
religion is poison for the mind as it is anesthetic for the spirit and chains for women

John Smith
08-29-2011, 06:50 AM
I have never understood how anybody can think that. One doesn't need religion to know that murder, theft and rape etc are wrong. Yet there are people who believe that atheists are amoral...that's one weird headspace.
Not saying you think that Johnw.:)

It is a subterfuge. If they believe they need religion to know right from wrong, it reinforced their reasons for believing. I think the dilemma religious people have with gays is their inability to admit God makes mistakes. They view homosexuality as a mistake, and if people are born that way, He wold have made a mistake, and they cannot believe that.

People believe on faith. There is a reason we don't call it "fact". The primary difference between the atheist and the non atheist is the atheist understands religious beliefs are just that: beliefs. They are not fact. As a society, we accept the concept of "burden of proof". Here it is on the God believers. They cannot prove what they believe.

Over the years, science and religion have disagreed with each other. Science is always proven correct. An honest man would acknowledge this. When one's faith trumps the facts, that man is being dishonest.

Now that Irene has passed, I wonder when someone will tell us it was God punishing us for our behavior. I'd like to have a buck for everytime someone said "Thank God" during yesterday's coverage. Wonder what percentage of people whose lives have been taken or whose homes have been destroyed in this storm were Christians and how many were atheists, and what, if anything, God did to protect anyone.

John Smith
08-29-2011, 06:52 AM
Hey, I'm agnostic, my views get both atheists and Christians upset. Ever heard the things Dawkins says about agnostic?

I think in all honesty, religious people feel threatened by those who don't need what they need. The sin they worry about isn't rape or theft, it's atheism. So don't worry, whatever they may say, they're not really worried you might sneak in their house and take their stuff. Being who you are is your sin.

I'm an irrelevantist. I don't think God matters, whether he exists or not. He obviously has no concern over our affairs.

John Smith
08-29-2011, 06:55 AM
If there is no God and therefore there is no promise of heaven, but I need not fear hell, why shouldn't I live a self-centered life? Why obey any rules other than the ones I wish to observe?[/B] ]
Why should it make a difference? And since when has believing in a God stopped someone from breaking any law?
This gets me back to one of my favorit questions, and the reason I say God gives not a thought to us.

A man takes the witness stand and swears to tell the truth, "...so help me God" then lies. Because of his lies an innocent man is convicted and executed. This proves God either does not exist or does not give a damn.

AndyG
08-29-2011, 06:58 AM
Not quite true.

Really quite true.

"From the time of St Augustine until the 16th century, the Archbishops of Canterbury were in full communion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_communion) with the See of Rome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/See_of_Rome) and thus received the pallium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pallium)." Wikipedia.

The Pope was capo di tutti capi on all spiritual matters.

Much of the friction in Medieval England between church and state (which comes to a head in Henry VIII's reign - and several of his wives' heads, too) is precisely because the Pope and Rome had a say in nominating, electing and recognising English bishops & archbishops.

It's only after the Act of Supremacy that English royalty became the self-declared Supreme Governors of the Church of England.

Andy

John Smith
08-29-2011, 06:59 AM
So you're saying, I guess, that religion hasn't restrained any behaviors. Ok, lets go with that. So, with or without religion, why shouldn't a person live a self-centered life, making up the rules they want to live by, if any, as they go along?

regards,
Waddie
Silly. This is why we have man made laws, police, courts, and prison. When's the last time a speeder was concerned about God hiding behind a billboard? Radar detectors aren't designed to avoid God, but the cops.

Meli
08-29-2011, 07:01 AM
Nah, you have to remember that god is a "big picture" kinda guy. Though apparently omnipresent, he just cant focus on one person at a time. Too bad.
And the really big bad stuff that goes on? well it was punishment and he cant focus on the few good folks in Sodom, because....maybe he was away doing something beautiful with fish and although he's omnipresent .. well he just got a bit distracted Meh

Meli
08-29-2011, 07:04 AM
Really quite true.

"From the time of St Augustine until the 16th century, the Archbishops of Canterbury were in full communion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_communion) with the See of Rome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/See_of_Rome) and thus received the pallium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pallium)." Wikipedia.

The Pope was capo di tutti capi on all spiritual matters.

Much of the friction in Medieval England between church and state (which comes to a head in Henry VIII's reign - and several of his wives' heads, too) is precisely because the Pope and Rome had a say in nominating, electing and recognising English bishops & archbishops.

It's only after the Act of Supremacy that English royalty became the self-declared Supreme Governors of the Church of England.

Andy

So how come god didn't smite him? I'm sure the pope asked really nicely. but.... we digress :D

John Smith
08-29-2011, 07:06 AM
I see, from time to time, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others being interviewed or making speeches. Given their track record, I wonder why anyone is interested in what they think. They've been consistantly wrong.

If we look at modern republicans, starting with Clinton's '93 budget and the doomsday predictions they made concerning it, we see that they have been wrong again and again and again, but their followers continue to think they are the party best qualified to protect our money and our security. The actual record shows just the opposite.

Seems to be the same with religious faith. People believe something and facts to the contrary are simply ignored. The earth is not flat.

Meli
08-29-2011, 07:13 AM
How do you know the earth is not flat? Have you actually seen it's roundness? How do you know there is not a god? have you actually ever seen his absence?? :D

Keith Wilson
08-29-2011, 07:38 AM
If there is no God and therefore there is no promise of heaven, but I need not fear hell, why shouldn't I live a self-centered life? Why obey any rules other than the ones I wish to observe? The obvious response is: That's what we all do. We have no choice. We decide whether or not to believe in the Christian God, or any of the other thousands of Gods that people worship. We decide what we think is right or wrong; we can subscribe to any of the moral codes set down by religions or philosophers, or just go with what's common in our society as most people do, or make up our own. We have free will, or something very like. We decide what we do. It is impossible for us to do otherwise.

Paul Pless
08-29-2011, 07:42 AM
The obvious response is: That's what we all do. We have no choice. I knew we could get this conversation around to Adam Smith eventually. . . .

:D

SamSam
08-29-2011, 09:03 AM
A man takes the witness stand and swears to tell the truth, "...so help me God" then lies. Because of his lies an innocent man is convicted and executed. This proves God either does not exist or does not give a damn.I don't think that's the way it works. The premise of religion is the promise of God that there is a better life after death, that what happens in this world is just a test, paybacks, rewards and punishments will come later in Heaven or Hell, depending.

That is why the basis of religion is faith, belief with no proof. It is the only way religion can work. You can't demand or expect that that lying witness be smote by God right there on the stand in front of everyone because it would never happen and supernatural religion would be shown to be the nonsense that it is.

Waddie
08-29-2011, 10:12 AM
Posted by John Smith;
Silly. This is why we have man made laws, police, courts, and prison. When's the last time a speeder was concerned about God hiding behind a billboard? Radar detectors aren't designed to avoid God, but the cops.

Therefore the only constraint on behavior is the fear of being caught? I am entitled to the pleasure of speeding, while trying to avoid the pain of being caught.

Posted by Keith;
The obvious response is: That's what we all do. We have no choice. We decide whether or not to believe in the Christian God, or any of the other thousands of Gods that people worship. We decide what we think is right or wrong; we can subscribe to any of the moral codes set down by religions or philosophers, or just go with what's common in our society as most people do, or make up our own. We have free will, or something very like. We decide what we do. It is impossible for us to do otherwise.

If each one of us is free to make up our own moral code, then how is it wrong for a person to use every means they have at hand to amass money and power? Are we just being envious of the wealthy, who are entitled to live by their own code, according to their free will and their own values?

regards,
Waddie

Flying Orca
08-29-2011, 10:37 AM
Therefore the only constraint on behavior is the fear of being caught?

For some, I'm sure that's true. We call their type "sociopaths". ;)

For others, it's no great mental feat to recognize and internalize the fact that social contracts (ideally) benefit ourselves as much as they benefit anyone else. How closely we approach that ideal is the precise measure of social justice in our society, I think.

To return to the case of speeding, I know that my society has contracted experts (engineers) to give their opinion on safe driving speeds under ideal conditions; thus I know that if I drive at or below that limit, depending on conditions, I enhance not only my own safety but that of those with whom I share the road. That's why I don't speed.

I leave the extension of this case to other moral and ethical considerations to the reader. :D

Paul Pless
08-29-2011, 10:40 AM
For others, it's no great mental feat to recognize and internalize the fact that social contracts (ideally) benefit ourselves as much as they benefit anyone else. How closely we approach that ideal is the precise measure of social justice in our society, I think.A refreshingly libertarian philosophy. :d

Flying Orca
08-29-2011, 10:42 AM
A refreshingly libertarian philosophy. :d

I'm a closet anarchist; I think eventually humanity will get past the coercive nation state, but it won't happen within my lifetime.

Waddie
08-29-2011, 11:00 AM
For some, I'm sure that's true. We call their type "sociopaths". ;)

For others, it's no great mental feat to recognize and internalize the fact that social contracts (ideally) benefit ourselves as much as they benefit anyone else. How closely we approach that ideal is the precise measure of social justice in our society, I think.

To return to the case of speeding, I know that my society has contracted experts (engineers) to give their opinion on safe driving speeds under ideal conditions; thus I know that if I drive at or below that limit, depending on conditions, I enhance not only my own safety but that of those with whom I share the road. That's why I don't speed.

I leave the extension of this case to other moral and ethical considerations to the reader. :D


We call their type "sociopaths" A subjective, values laden label. Perhaps I would say "free spirit"?


no great mental feat to recognize and internalize the fact that social contracts (ideally) benefit ourselves as much as they benefit anyone else.

That also seems like an act of faith. The whole social contract idea seems like another form of religion. As a scientist, you should be able to PROVE to me that your statement is true. Prove "the fact". Otherwise, it is just opinion, even though widely held.


depending on conditions, I enhance not only my own safety but that of those with whom I share the road.

But if I go just a little faster I get there first, and according to my free will value system, that's all that matters.

regards,
Waddie

Flying Orca
08-29-2011, 12:04 PM
A subjective, values laden label. Perhaps I would say "free spirit"?

Perhaps you would. In that case you would likely be wrong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder). The label is no more subjective or values-laden than any other mental health diagnosis.


That also seems like an act of faith. The whole social contract idea seems like another form of religion. As a scientist, you should be able to PROVE to me that your statement is true. Prove "the fact". Otherwise, it is just opinion, even though widely held.

Proof is for liquor and mathematics, as you would understand if you had a better grasp of science. The evidence for my view is to be found explicitly in game theory, and implicitly in primate social dynamics.


But if I go just a little faster I get there first, and according to my free will value system, that's all that matters.

Right. In other words, the safety of those around you matters less to you than your own perceived convenience. Classic sociopathy.

Waddie
08-29-2011, 12:22 PM
Then, in the final analysis, there are no boundaries placed on my behavior except the ones I place on myself. There is no prove-able "correct choice" as primal behavior varies widely and game theory is not hard science, in fact behavioral values don't lend themselves well to hard science at all, as they are primarily value judgements. And if I choose to be selfish, or take advantage, you might label that behavior sociopathic, while I might consider it to be in my best interests, both of which are merely opinions.

regards,
Waddie

johnw
08-29-2011, 12:32 PM
The obvious response is: That's what we all do. We have no choice. We decide whether or not to believe in the Christian God, or any of the other thousands of Gods that people worship. We decide what we think is right or wrong; we can subscribe to any of the moral codes set down by religions or philosophers, or just go with what's common in our society as most people do, or make up our own. We have free will, or something very like. We decide what we do. It is impossible for us to do otherwise.

I don't buy that at all, and you notice Waddie hasn't answered my question. Why should atheists lead completely selfish lives? They have the same emotions and filial devotions as the rest of humanity. Being a jerk is a completely independent variable, there's nothing in atheism that dictates you should be a jerk.

Karl Marx and Ayn Rand were both atheists, and came to completely different conclusions about how humanity should act, because atheism didn't determine whether they thought selfishness was good.

John Smith
08-29-2011, 12:55 PM
I don't think that's the way it works. The premise of religion is the promise of God that there is a better life after death, that what happens in this world is just a test, paybacks, rewards and punishments will come later in Heaven or Hell, depending.

That is why the basis of religion is faith, belief with no proof. It is the only way religion can work. You can't demand or expect that that lying witness be smote by God right there on the stand in front of everyone because it would never happen and supernatural religion would be shown to be the nonsense that it is.

Who said anything about "smiting"? What I should be able to expect is for God to insure that witness tells the truth during his testimony. It is not the witness's future I am concerned about, but the defendent's. He is not exercising "free wil" to be conviced of a crime he did not committ.

BrianY
08-29-2011, 01:08 PM
If there is no God and therefore there is no promise of heaven, but I need not fear hell, why shouldn't I live a self-centered life? Why obey any rules other than the ones I wish to observe?

The premise of your question is that people with faith do not live self-centered lives and that their choices concerning how to behave, which rules to follow, etc. are not motivated by self-interest.

I totally disagree with that idea.

To a devote Christian, there is a great deal of self-interest in following the rules of behavior and belief outlined in the Bible and/or dictated by his church. Follow those rules and believe as you are told and you will achieve a great reward - eternal life in heaven. Fail to follow those rules and you will be horribly punished. The afterlife is constantly described as a "reward" or "punishment" for how one lived and what one believed. At a very fundamental level, religious faith is all about self-interest.

But what about those folks who go forth to help others, give to charity, etc. becasue of their religious faith? Where is the self-interest in that?

Again, at a fundamental level, this behavoir IS self-centered becasue it is the kind of thing one has to do to receive one's reward in the afterlife. Now religious people probably don't think of it that way, but many of them are aware of this self-interest at some level. Those folks that preach to the heathens and try to convert unbelievers couch their arguments in terms of the self-interest of their targets; Convert and accept Jesus as your saviour and your soul will be saved from dammnation, etc. etc. In other words, they're saying it is in your SELF-INTEREST to believe and behave as I do.

We are all motivated by self-interest and we are all self-centered in that respect. When I as an Agnostic with strong Atheist leanings treat someone with kindness and respect or when I do something nice for a stranger, I am not consciously acting in my own self-interest. I don't conciously decide to be nice because I think I might get something out of it any more than a Christian does. But subconciously, we are both motivated by self-interest - me because I suppose that it's how I would like others to treat me and the Christian because he knows that this sort of thing is required by his faith and he believes that such behavior will lead to his reward in the afterlife.

As for making up the rules as you go along...That's a weak argument. People of faith choose to follow the rules of their particular faiths, but there are very few who follow them to the letter and at all times. Everyone - religious and non-religious - makes choices about what rules they will and won't follow. Catholics get divorces an use birth control, protestants commit adultery, people of all religions fight in wars, tell lies, cheat and steal, etc. etc. even though these things are against the teachings of their faiths. This is exactly the reason why there are some many sub-categories of faiths; religious people choosing what rules to follow, what dogma to belive and what to discard. Atheists do the same things, make the same choices. It's not as if religious people are robots who do not deviate from the rules of their faith while Atheists act without any rules at all. We all pick and choose.

We all make decision about these things based on self-interest. At the most basic and fundamental level, we are all self-centered because we are first and formemost concerned with our own survivial. We understand that we are alive and that we msut do whatever we can to keep ourselves alive. We may choose to give up our lives for others, but that too is in our self-interest. We believe that by doing so, some good will come from our deaths and we benefit from that in some way - The religious martyr will go to heaven, the atheist's loved ones will live on, people will remember us as heroes, etc.

Flying Orca
08-29-2011, 01:10 PM
Then, in the final analysis, there are no boundaries placed on my behavior except the ones I place on myself.

What, no physical barriers, no instincts, nothing but your conscious choices? I don't think so.


There is no prove-able "correct choice" as primal behavior varies widely and game theory is not hard science, in fact behavioral values don't lend themselves well to hard science at all, as they are primarily value judgements.

I hardly know where to start with this, partly because I'm not sure your grammar allows me to understand whatever it is you think you're saying. Hmmm... in no particular order, then:
- Game theory belongs, in fact, to that hardest of sciences, mathematics.
- While there is no "correct" choice in many situations, there are choices with predictable outcomes in most if not all situations. The outcome you prefer is a matter of value; the predictability of outcomes is not, though it may follow a more-or-less "fuzzy" algebra.
- Interestingly, behavioural choices do lend themselves to hard scientific techniques such as fMRI. The results to date indicate that we make many choices before we are conscious of the fact that we have a choice, let alone the fact of having made one.

The implication of this last fact is that what we think of as values are "hard-wired" to a degree; this dovetails nicely with observations from cultural anthropology, primatology, and evolutionary psychology.


And if I choose to be selfish, or take advantage, you might label that behavior sociopathic, while I might consider it to be in my best interests, both of which are merely opinions.

It doesn't have to be one or the other; by definition (not opinion), it's both.

BrianY
08-29-2011, 01:19 PM
Then, in the final analysis, there are no boundaries placed on my behavior except the ones I place on myself. There is no prove-able "correct choice" as primal behavior varies widely and game theory is not hard science, in fact behavioral values don't lend themselves well to hard science at all, as they are primarily value judgements. And if I choose to be selfish, or take advantage, you might label that behavior sociopathic, while I might consider it to be in my best interests, both of which are merely opinions.



Yes. Exactly. And that statement applies equally as well to religous people. Prove to me that the moral positions of the Catholic Church are the "correct choice" and that those of Shiite Islam are not.

There is no "proveable correct choice". There are only personal choices and opinions. It is the consensus on moral opinions and behavior reached by groups of people living together in societies that determines what is "right" and "wrong" within those societies. For example, certian kinds of murder are perectly moral in some societies and completely immoral in others. Of course, each society thinks that the others are wrong, but since there is no way to objectively judge who is right and who is wrong, it all comes down to a matter of opinion.

johnw
08-29-2011, 01:33 PM
Then, in the final analysis, there are no boundaries placed on my behavior except the ones I place on myself. There is no prove-able "correct choice" as primal behavior varies widely and game theory is not hard science, in fact behavioral values don't lend themselves well to hard science at all, as they are primarily value judgements. And if I choose to be selfish, or take advantage, you might label that behavior sociopathic, while I might consider it to be in my best interests, both of which are merely opinions.

regards,
Waddie


A sociopath (same thing as a psychopath, by the way) cannot consult emotions for guidance on what ethical choice to make, so they will likely be aware of the most logical ethical choice even if they choose not to make that choice. The rest of us, Christian or atheist, make choices based as much on empathy and emotion as logic.

A recent study of psychopathy found that they answered questions on morality with greater consistency than non-psychopaths. Those who feel their way to moral choices are less consistent.

http://booksellersvsbestsellers.blogspot.com/2011/08/psychopaths-score-high-on-test-of.html


(http://booksellersvsbestsellers.blogspot.com/2011/08/psychopaths-score-high-on-test-of.html)

BrianY
08-29-2011, 02:21 PM
What if I don't believe in this social contract, or worse yet, it offends me as looking like a type of religion based on belief and faith? Your story sounds like "what goes around, comes around". What if my life experience tells me that's not true, just another superstitious belief?



You have six options:

1) Choose to violate the social contract and potentially suffer the consequences (i.e. go to jail) That's what criminals do
2) Move to a place that shares your values. That's what a lot of immigrants do.
3) Establish your own colony of like-minded people. That's what the Pilgirms did
4) Overthrow the government and establish a new one based on your values. That's what Islamic extremists, Socialists, Communists, deomcrats and other revolutionaries have done/are trying to do
5) Work to persuade your fellow citizens to change the soical contract. That's what our politcal system is for.
6) Do nothing except complain about it on internet forums. That's what most people do.

skuthorp
08-29-2011, 04:33 PM
You have six options:

1) Choose to violate the social contract and potentially suffer the consequences (i.e. go to jail) That's what criminals do
2) Move to a place that shares your values. That's what a lot of immigrants do.
3) Establish your own colony of like-minded people. That's what the Pilgirms did
4) Overthrow the government and establish a new one based on your values. That's what Islamic extremists, Socialists, Communists, deomcrats and other revolutionaries have done/are trying to do
5) Work to persuade your fellow citizens to change the soical contract. That's what our politcal system is for.
6) Do nothing except complain about it on internet forums. That's what most people do.

+1 (my grin emoticons aren't working)

Waddie
08-29-2011, 05:53 PM
You have six options:

1) Choose to violate the social contract and potentially suffer the consequences (i.e. go to jail) That's what criminals do
2) Move to a place that shares your values. That's what a lot of immigrants do.
3) Establish your own colony of like-minded people. That's what the Pilgirms did
4) Overthrow the government and establish a new one based on your values. That's what Islamic extremists, Socialists, Communists, deomcrats and other revolutionaries have done/are trying to do
5) Work to persuade your fellow citizens to change the soical contract. That's what our politcal system is for.
6) Do nothing except complain about it on internet forums. That's what most people do.

Couldn't I violate the social contract in ways that aren't illegal, or even listed in 1 thru 6 ?

Let's say I become quite wealthy but find a legal way to pay no taxes. Have I broken the "social contract" ? Let's say I am self-centered enough that I don't care about the welfare of my fellow citizens, and in fact I know there are enough suckers around that willingly pay taxes that my playing the system won't directly affect anything. Therefore, I reject any social contract being imposed upon me. I will do as I please. Isn't that, then, a value I am entitled to hold?

regards,
Waddie

johnw
08-29-2011, 05:57 PM
Couldn't I violate the social contract in ways that aren't illegal, or even listed in 1 thru 6 ?

Let's say I become quite wealthy but find a legal way to pay no taxes. Have I broken the "social contract" ? Let's say I am self-centered enough that I don't care about the welfare of my fellow citizens, and in fact I know there are enough suckers around that willingly pay taxes that my playing the system won't directly affect anything. Therefore, I reject any social contract being imposed upon me. I will do as I please. Isn't that, then, a value I am entitled to hold?

regards,
Waddie

You still haven't justified your claim that atheists would be inclined to act more selfishly than Christians, which makes your entire line of argument rather pointless.

Waddie
08-29-2011, 06:10 PM
You still haven't justified your claim that atheists would be inclined to act more selfishly than Christians, which makes your entire line of argument rather pointless.

I don't claim that atheists are inclined to act more selfishly than Christians, I simply asked that, for a person who was a truly religious person who rejects their faith, becomes and atheist, and any already real atheist, what is there to restrain their actions, behaviors and values except self interest? Some posters replied that we have a social contract. If I don't believe in God, why should I believe in any contract thought up by man? Am I not, then, liberated by being an atheist? Isn't the advantage of rejecting all supernatural influences that I get to set the rules of the game for myself? As yet, no one has shown me that this is not the case........

regards,
Waddie

Glen Longino
08-29-2011, 06:26 PM
..."If I don't believe in God, why should I believe in any contract thought up by man?"...

You mean the God thought up by man? That imaginary God?
As Sam F would say, "Believe any darn fool thing you want to believe"!:D

Waddie
08-29-2011, 06:29 PM
..."If I don't believe in God, why should I believe in any contract thought up by man?"...

You mean the God thought up by man? That imaginary God?
As Sam F would say, "Believe any darn fool thing you want to believe"!:D

You're right, God is a figment of human imagination...further making my point.....:)

regards,
Waddie

Glen Longino
08-29-2011, 06:35 PM
You're right, God is a figment of human imagination...further making my point.....:)

regards,
Waddie

Ah, that clears it up for me!:)

WX
08-29-2011, 06:52 PM
Couldn't I violate the social contract in ways that aren't illegal, or even listed in 1 thru 6 ?

Let's say I become quite wealthy but find a legal way to pay no taxes. Have I broken the "social contract" ? Let's say I am self-centered enough that I don't care about the welfare of my fellow citizens, and in fact I know there are enough suckers around that willingly pay taxes that my playing the system won't directly affect anything. Therefore, I reject any social contract being imposed upon me. I will do as I please. Isn't that, then, a value I am entitled to hold?

regards,
Waddie
Many people believe that and many of them believe in a God.

WX
08-29-2011, 07:03 PM
I don't claim that atheists are inclined to act more selfishly than Christians, I simply asked that, for a person who was a truly religious person who rejects their faith, becomes and atheist, and any already real atheist, what is there to restrain their actions, behaviors and values except self interest? Some posters replied that we have a social contract. If I don't believe in God, why should I believe in any contract thought up by man? Am I not, then, liberated by being an atheist? Isn't the advantage of rejecting all supernatural influences that I get to set the rules of the game for myself? As yet, no one has shown me that this is not the case........

regards,
Waddie
The majority of people follow the laws because as I have said before it ensures their best chance of survival. Only an idiot would purposely go against the rules of society and drive on the wrong side of the road.
Someone once said there are two types of people. Those that work together with others for the benefit of all and those that work together with others for the benefits to them selves.

Keith Wilson
08-29-2011, 07:32 PM
Originally posted by me:

The obvious response is: That's what we all do. We have no choice. We decide whether or not to believe in the Christian God, or any of the other thousands of Gods that people worship. We decide what we think is right or wrong; we can subscribe to any of the moral codes set down by religions or philosophers, or just go with what's common in our society as most people do, or make up our own. We have free will, or something very like. We decide what we do. It is impossible for us to do otherwise.
Response by JohnW:

I don't buy that at all, and you notice Waddie hasn't answered my question. Why should atheists lead completely selfish lives? They have the same emotions and filial devotions as the rest of humanity. Being a jerk is a completely independent variable, there's nothing in atheism that dictates you should be a jerk. Karl Marx and Ayn Rand were both atheists, and came to completely different conclusions about how humanity should act, because atheism didn't determine whether they thought selfishness was good.John, I think you misunderstood me. I didn't mean "we atheists" (I'm not an atheist, anyway), but "we human beings". We all have to decide what to do - Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, agnostics and everybody else - and "What should I do?" is effectively the same question as "What's right for me to do?" As human beings with something resembling free will, we have no choice in this. We can choose to do what somebody else tells us is right, to follow one religion or another, but all of us are forced to decide.

Leading a purely selfish life is very unpleasant and unsatisfying for almost everyone, whatever their religion or philosophy. Theer appears to be little or no no correlation between religious belief and what almost everybody would call right behavior - maybe a slight negative correlation, actually.

CWSmith
08-29-2011, 07:44 PM
I don't believe that the basic claim that started this thread is correct. It never mentions Muslims. African Americans are vastly over-represented in prisons and they constitute a large fraction of American Muslims. And yet, the quote at the top of this thread never mentions Muslims at all. It can't be right.

This is not an anti-Muslim or anti-black rant. It is simple statistics. There is a large Muslim population in prisons and they are never mentioned in the statistics that claim atheists are only 1%. In what prison in the deep South Bible belt was the survey taken?

Keith Wilson
08-29-2011, 07:49 PM
There is a large Muslim population in prisons and they are never mentioned in the statistics that claim atheists are only 1%Excuse me? Are you saying Muslims are atheists? The central statement of Islamic faith is “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” Not very atheistic, if you ask me.

WX
08-29-2011, 08:25 PM
Excuse me? Are you saying Muslims are atheists? The central statement of Islamic faith is “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” Not very atheistic, if you ask me.

Bit speechless here :D

johnw
08-29-2011, 09:41 PM
I don't claim that atheists are inclined to act more selfishly than Christians, I simply asked that, for a person who was a truly religious person who rejects their faith, becomes and atheist, and any already real atheist, what is there to restrain their actions, behaviors and values except self interest? Some posters replied that we have a social contract. If I don't believe in God, why should I believe in any contract thought up by man? Am I not, then, liberated by being an atheist? Isn't the advantage of rejecting all supernatural influences that I get to set the rules of the game for myself? As yet, no one has shown me that this is not the case........

regards,
Waddie

So if you are not saying they are more inclined to act selfishly, they are more likely to act selfishly because they don't have religious restraints? Have I got that right? Because it sounds like you're saying they are more likely to act selfishly then telling me why, rather than saying they are no more likely to act selfishly. This is a distinction without a difference.

Your assumption is that religion is what keeps people from acting selfishly, which is what I'm asking you to justify. As near as I can tell, that's an independent variable. Atheists have the same moral sense, the same emotional response to people doing bad things. Those who lack such a moral sense (see post 97) may be religious or atheistic.

Atheists have loved ones they wish to protect, a sense of outrage at injustice, and a horror of killing, and are as likely as anyone to act morally because of those human feelings. People who lack such responses are not atheists, they are psychopaths, and are likely to believe what those around them believe.

I think your mistake is that you assume moral behavior is the result of some sort of logical calculus. As the bit I linked to in post 97 points out, if you want logically consistent responses about ethical issues, ask a psychopath. That's because they lack the feelings most of us consult in making moral decisions, so they reason it out in order to pass for normal.

johnw
08-29-2011, 09:43 PM
John, I think you misunderstood me. I didn't mean "we atheists" (I'm not an atheist, anyway), but "we human beings". We all have to decide what to do - Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, agnostics and everybody else - and "What should I do?" is effectively the same question as "What's right for me to do?" As human beings with something resembling free will, we have no choice in this. We can choose to do what somebody else tells us is right, to follow one religion or another, but all of us are forced to decide.

Leading a purely selfish life is very unpleasant and unsatisfying for almost everyone, whatever their religion or philosophy. Theer appears to be little or no no correlation between religious belief and what almost everybody would call right behavior - maybe a slight negative correlation, actually.

Yes, I can see that I misinterpreted what you said. Sorry.

CWSmith
08-29-2011, 09:52 PM
Excuse me? Are you saying Muslims are atheists? The central statement of Islamic faith is “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” Not very atheistic, if you ask me.

Keith, you are normally so bright! I am saying that any survey that breaks down the religious affiliations of prisoners and never mentions Islam is whack! If the implied claim is that there are no Muslims in prison, the statement that only 1% of prisoners are atheists is garbage. The survey is worthless. I can't say it any clearer.

Keith Wilson
08-29-2011, 10:07 PM
OK, I just went back and read the article, which picked a few stats from a larger study, and didn't give a link to the original data. Pretty sloppy. Yeah, you'd think members of the Nation of Islam would show up. Whether the Nation of Islam is really Islamic or a home-grown sect with a similar name, we can leave for another day. Opinions among more orthodox Muslims vary considerably.

However, I think the original point that atheists are underrepresented in prison is quite accurate I expect it has far more to do with education, wealth, and social class then religious belief.

Ian McColgin
08-29-2011, 10:11 PM
I don’t think that Keith’s remark about no Muslims is at all relevant. The book this rather silly article cites was published by Boni and Liveright of New York in 1928. This is well before the excellent work of the Black Muslims in so many prisons. And well before any possible relevance to whatever point the article is trying to make. This is the sort of sloppy “research” that one hopes will be revealed as a “Christian” plant, like a political dirty trick, but it seems it’s just a stupid atheist - they do exist.

Keith Wilson
08-29-2011, 10:14 PM
The book this rather silly article cites was published by Boni and Liveright of New York in 19281928? Lordy. Well, that explains no Nation of Islam, then. You don't find many Lutherans in 1450 either.

CWSmith
08-29-2011, 10:39 PM
I'll agree with the latter part. Sadly, religious faith calls us, but it does not guarantee success. All the great religions call us to be better and offer us a means, but they are easily perverted.

[QUOTE=Ian McColgin;3108262]...The book this rather silly article cites was published by Boni and Liveright of New York in 1928...

Then we have just wasted a lot of electrons over nothing.

johnw
08-29-2011, 10:45 PM
I don’t think that Keith’s remark about no Muslims is at all relevant. The book this rather silly article cites was published by Boni and Liveright of New York in 1928. This is well before the excellent work of the Black Muslims in so many prisons. And well before any possible relevance to whatever point the article is trying to make. This is the sort of sloppy “research” that one hopes will be revealed as a “Christian” plant, like a political dirty trick, but it seems it’s just a stupid atheist - they do exist.

He he! I love it! I was so taken in!

http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?author=Schlapp&title=the+new+criminology&lang=en&submit=Search&new_used=*&destination=us&currency=USD&binding=*&isbn=&keywords=&minprice=&maxprice=&classic=on&mode=advanced&st=sr&ac=qr

WX
08-29-2011, 10:50 PM
Hmm, got me as well.:)

WX
08-29-2011, 10:50 PM
Still, it caused some good discussion here.

Keith Wilson
08-29-2011, 11:03 PM
This is a great example of the reproduction of a meme. The original book was "New Criminology; A Consideration of the Chemical Causes of Abnormal Behavior" by Max Schlapp and Edward Smith, published in 1928. (We can pass over the fact that a book about the chemical causes of behavior from 80 years ago is almost certainly wrong about everything chemical.) Anyway, I Googled on it, and the first five pages are citations on atheist websites within the past couple of years, plus a few Christian websites disagreeing. I'd bet that this otherwise obscure book is being disinterred only because the statistics are congenial to atheists. Who knows how accurate the study was; I'll bet none of those on the first five Google pages ever read it, only passed it on. (The Case of the Creeping Fox Terrier Clone. (http://amasci.com/miscon/myths10.html)) So I looked up Max G. Schlapp, and here's a detailed article on him in the NY Times from 1911 (http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F00D17FF395E13738DDDAA0994D0405B818DF1D3) about the role of women, and another about the "Segregation of Defective Children" (http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F50F12F7355813738DDDA10A94DF405B828DF1D3) from 1912. He was Professor of Neuropathology at the NY Post-Graduate Medical School. By early 21st century standards, he was a genuine crackpot, although probably not at all by the standards of the time. The article's fascinating reading, if only for a window into another world.

A quote from the good Dr. Schlapp:


“The teachings of science are perfectly plain,” Dr. Schlapp told his audience. “Women cannot add to their own task the task of men without bringing about a tremendous upheaval in their characteristics, which nature will not allow. The suffrage movement was probably first started by katabolic women, women who had lost some of their secondary sexual characteristics and had acquired some of men’s. Unfortunately a mental contagion ensued and caused its spread. It has now involved some of the true anabolic women. It has become with them a craze, such as inspired the belief in witchcraft or the submission to the inquisition in the Middle Ages. I may compare the movement to the form of hysteria once prevalent in Europe, known as Tarentism It is likely to spread, and will find its easiest victims among those who have weakened their nervous systems.”

SamSam
08-30-2011, 12:52 AM
Then, in the final analysis, there are no boundaries placed on my behavior except the ones I place on myself. There is no prove-able "correct choice" as primal behavior varies widely and game theory is not hard science, in fact behavioral values don't lend themselves well to hard science at all, as they are primarily value judgements. And if I choose to be selfish, or take advantage, you might label that behavior sociopathic, while I might consider it to be in my best interests, both of which are merely opinions.

regards,
WaddieWell, yeah, that's the way it is. It's simple. If you want to be an a$$hole, go right ahead. But don't be dissin' the social or human contracts because there isn't a God. God's not going to beat you or shoot you or throw you in prison, but men sure will if your game rules violate their expectations of how you should behave.

One of the reasons religion was invented was to control people that didn't know how to control themselves, people who couldn't, on their own, figure out right from wrong and tended to take advantage of others. Evil people.

elf
08-30-2011, 03:17 AM
Bumper sticker seen on car in Maine:

Born right the first time.

Meli
08-30-2011, 03:49 AM
One of the reasons religion was invented was to control people

In a nutshell :D

Peerie Maa
08-30-2011, 04:57 PM
Well, yeah, that's the way it is. It's simple. If you want to be an a$$hole, go right ahead. But don't be dissin' the social or human contracts because there isn't a God. God's not going to beat you or shoot you or throw you in prison, but men sure will if your game rules violate their expectations of how you should behave.

One of the reasons religion was invented was to control people that didn't know how to control themselves, people who couldn't, on their own, figure out right from wrong and tended to take advantage of others. Evil people.


In a nutshell :D

I hate it when people quote out of context. Religion is hard wired into about half of us (60-40, but I cant remember which way round) so religion per se was not "invented". Organised religion is a good way to set and maintain social standards in a society that has not invented a police force, but but is not the only way to achieve this benifit.

wardd
08-30-2011, 05:05 PM
i've read that belief in the unknown/unseen could have survival advantages

mr rabbit sees the bushes move and decides to run without knowing what rustled the bushes

WX
08-30-2011, 06:13 PM
i've read that belief in the unknown/unseen could have survival advantages

mr rabbit sees the bushes move and decides to run without knowing what rustled the bushes
It's called fight or flight.

SamSam
08-31-2011, 11:11 AM
I hate it when people quote out of context. Religion is hard wired into about half of us (60-40, but I cant remember which way round) so religion per se was not "invented". Organised religion is a good way to set and maintain social standards in a society that has not invented a police force, but but is not the only way to achieve this benifit.I'm not sure what it is I supposedly quoted, but if only half of us have religion, it would seem to indicate it's not a hardwired phenomenon. Of course it's not the only way to control the people, but it's close to the most powerful way. It's psychological, not physical, it's less messy and costs a whole lot less than equipping an army and navy. If you beat someone, eventually the wounds heal and the remembrance of pain fades, pain is more or less even tolerable,but if you set up a pie in the sky, and make folks believe their pie in the sky is in danger of being revoked and turned into an everlasting stint in napalm and damnation, why then you have them by the brains, so to speak. It's strength is inverse to ignorance, the less folks know, the more power religion has over them. It's almost self perpetuating, parents indoctrinating their own children from the earliest possible time starting with nightly prayers before bed.

Hardwired. Breathing is hardwired. We don't breathe, we die. Eating is hardwired, quit eating, you die. Sex is hard wired, you don't reproduce, you're extinct. You don't believe in gods? So what? Other humans might disapprove and kill you because of that, but it's not the same as being hardwired with religion. I think using the term 'hardwired' in that context just means the human tendency for religion goes back far enough to where it's not known when it began. It might not have been 'invented' on the spot or overnight as a solution to control, but was quickly recognized that it was an excellent tool for that purpose.

Organized religion...What other kind is there?

skuthorp
08-31-2011, 11:24 AM
I've often wondered if the 'hardwiring' supposedly involved in a tendency to to religion is not that 'addictive gene' that hget's people into booze, tobacco and other drugs? You know, Marx's 'opiate of the masses'.

Flying Orca
08-31-2011, 11:28 AM
In terms of brain function, I think it's more likely to be a combination of an overactive agent-detector and a temporal lobe disposed toward experiences in which the subject feels awe and a connection to something outside the self.

SamSam
08-31-2011, 11:47 AM
Wondering and questioning would seem to be hardwired. Some people need to have an answer. I can easily let the phone ring without picking it up, it is very hard for a lot of people.

John Smith
08-31-2011, 11:49 AM
Wondering and questioning would seem to be hardwired. Some people need to have an answer. I can easily let the phone ring without picking it up, it is very hard for a lot of people.

It's easier today as we can tell whose calling before we answer.

skuthorp
08-31-2011, 11:50 AM
Arguably wondering and questioning was the stimulus that got us where we are and the start of scientific research. It would seem to me that organised religion is the antithesis of wondering and questioning, as most of them prefer their adherents to follow the party line.

pefjr
08-31-2011, 11:59 AM
The earliest evidence of religion dates as far back as Neanderthals and maybe even the prior ancestor, with burial practices. This is said to be a ritual for various reasons, the main one being a fear of the finality of death. The instinct to live is strong. Is that you mean PM, by hard wired? Religion conquers Death. It's an Insurance Policy, guaranteeing not only continued life but a social gathering of love ones. Lots of singing and socializing. Sounds better than just decomposing.

John Smith
08-31-2011, 12:00 PM
Arguably wondering and questioning was the stimulus that got us where we are and the start of scientific research. It would seem to me that organised religion is the antithesis of wondering and questioning, as most of them prefer their adherents to follow the party line.

How often have the religious and scientific communities disagreed with one another? How often has the religious community been proven correct?

Peerie Maa
08-31-2011, 12:49 PM
I'm not sure what it is I supposedly quoted, but if only half of us have religion, it would seem to indicate it's not a hardwired phenomenon. Of course it's not the only way to control the people, but it's close to the most powerful way. It's psychological, not physical, it's less messy and costs a whole lot less than equipping an army and navy. If you beat someone, eventually the wounds heal and the remembrance of pain fades, pain is more or less even tolerable,but if you set up a pie in the sky, and make folks believe their pie in the sky is in danger of being revoked and turned into an everlasting stint in napalm and damnation, why then you have them by the brains, so to speak. It's strength is inverse to ignorance, the less folks know, the more power religion has over them. It's almost self perpetuating, parents indoctrinating their own children from the earliest possible time starting with nightly prayers before bed.

Hardwired. Breathing is hardwired. We don't breathe, we die. Eating is hardwired, quit eating, you die. Sex is hard wired, you don't reproduce, you're extinct. You don't believe in gods? So what? Other humans might disapprove and kill you because of that, but it's not the same as being hardwired with religion. I think using the term 'hardwired' in that context just means the human tendency for religion goes back far enough to where it's not known when it began. It might not have been 'invented' on the spot or overnight as a solution to control, but was quickly recognized that it was an excellent tool for that purpose.

Organized religion...What other kind is there?
It was not you that misquoted, you were the victim of quoting out of context by Meli.
There are lots of different degrees of organisation in Religion. The Catholic and Anglican Church are massively organised. The Society of Friends a lot less so, there will be shamanistic religions and tribal religions whose "organisation" may be limited to one village.


The earliest evidence of religion dates as far back as Neanderthals and maybe even the prior ancestor, with burial practices. This is said to be a ritual for various reasons, the main one being a fear of the finality of death. The instinct to live is strong. Is that you mean PM, by hard wired? Religion conquers Death. It's an Insurance Policy, guaranteeing not only continued life but a social gathering of love ones. Lots of singing and socializing. Sounds better than just decomposing.

By hard wired I mean genetically predisposed to have a faith, derived from research with identical twins. It says nothing about what sort of faith, organised or not, but shows that there will always be a significant proportion of humanity with a hard wired need for religion. Pef's reference to burial practices does confirm that it is an ancient need, going a long way back in our evolution, however that may be reading too much into it. It may simply arise from a need for closure and an appropriate mourning process. I would seem to be of the proportion with no hard wired need for a faith, but I have experienced a need to mourn the loss of loved ones. It is quite likely however that the religion meme evolved out of these needs.

johnw
08-31-2011, 11:51 PM
How often have the religious and scientific communities disagreed with one another? How often has the religious community been proven correct?

Do me a favor, don't ask SamF