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Communists Against Religion -- Part 10 May 20, 2004 by RedStar2000


Same old crapola; you know the drill!


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Once more into the muck, eh?

quote:

Say what you will about Religion, the fact of the matter is everyone has to face up to an unknowable and unanswerable question in this life of creation, where we came from.


An unanswerable question is an oxymoron...not really a question at all!

There's nothing there to face up to.

quote:

...this world is irrational.


No it isn't. It actually operates according to a relatively small list of "laws" involving causes and effects that can be easily demonstrated and many of which can be mathematically modeled with considerable accuracy.

If superstition were "true", then the world would indeed be "irrational"...divine interference could upset any "law" of cause and effect at any time.

quote:

And as I said I have studied satanism (atheism; denial of god)...


Didn't study it very hard, did you? Satanism is a Christian heresy; it simply inverts the Biblical hierarchy of "the other world" so that "Satan is Lord" while "God is evil".

Atheists do not take any of that rubbish seriously...except with regard to its social role, of course.

quote:

Like we didnít have enough theology threads these days. Freak.


I couldn't agree more. Why do so many of these godsuckers come here? Aren't there a veritable horde of religious message boards where they could hang out?

And always the same wretched "arguments"..."peace and love" until they get their grubby paws on some levers of power; then, when they have the chance to really cut loose, look out!

Of course, they claim to "respect the faiths of others". That's why they celebrate Christmas in Mecca and why guys wearing turbans are never hassled in American airports. (!)

quote:

Why does God allow suffering and injustice?

We humans allow most of the suffering and injustice that we encounter.


Do you know what bone cancer is? A rare form of cancer, it is probably the most painful and agonizing death that a human can experience. No human torturer can match it.

Thanks, "God".

And thanks for all the other wonderful illnesses "You" gave us. Along with hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves, droughts and floods and blizzards, etc.

I guess "You" weren't very good at this "world creation" stuff, were "You"?

Perhaps Woody Allen was right when he said that "You" were "an underachiever".

quote:

Just because they are Christian doesn't save them from being jerks.


Does that mean that when we die and "go to Heaven" that we still can't get away from the jerks?

quote:

One of the central ideas of all three religions is fostering the love and respect due to everyone, and a love and desire for peace and harmony with one another and God/Jehovah/Allah (all the same Guy, by the way). That should be the perception we have of each group.


Right up to the point where it's time to cut the cheese -- see which racket gets most of the plunder. Then all that love, respect, peace, and harmony gets locked away and it's time for "Onward Christian (Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, etc.) Soldiers!"

quote:

However turn the spot light on the left, and/or the writings of Marx, and suddenly they no longer become the "WRITINGS" of Marx but instead the eternal infallible "TEACHINGS" of Marx. Come on, people, until you can openly criticise and analyse the words of Marx, you have no right or place to dissemble religion.


Haven't been paying attention to the other forums, have you?

Very well, try this...

On "Dialectics" -- The Heresy Posts (May 8, 2003)

The fact is, we communists criticize our "holy prophets" all the time. A "religious" attitude towards any political figure is regarded as fundamentally anti-communist.

Which it is.
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 12, 2004
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quote:

I was talking about at the very start of creation.


Good grief! Aside from a small number of theoretical cosmologists, who the hell really cares "how we got here".

We're here, dammit, and there's no other option available.

The idea that past or present uncertainties about the origins of the universe "justifies" the erection of an edifice of superstition is just stupid!

quote:

Besides the laws of nature, etc., have changed over the years; what's to stop them changing again?


What are you babbling about here? What laws of nature have "changed"?

quote:

The problem of evil is as old as the hills. I suggest you look at C.S Lewis' book The Problem of Pain...


I've read it. Lewis argues that pain is a "wake-up call" from "God"...he does it to "get us to pay attention" to "Him".

What a sweetie-poo.

Not only do you defend the "existence" of this celestial sadist, but I'll bet you expect us to love "Him".

Fuck you!!!

quote:

Lastly, read the first post of this topic. It's not by anyone religious, is it!


Here is a quote from "that first post"...

quote:

I'm a firm believer that if religion is practiced properly, only good and peace can come of it.


I can't tell from this if he is a believer or not, but he's certainly pro-religious.

quote:

Because you can be left and religious, that's why.


Bah! Humbug!
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 12, 2004
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quote:

I was merely pointing out that whatever you say about religion, be it for or against it, the question as to our creation how everything got started is unanswerable. I don't think any religion is illogical if you look at it this way. We can't possibly begin to understand how anything really came into being, so technically anything's possible.


If I sometimes seem to "twist your words", it's not intentional. I do my best to try to understand what you're getting at...but you make it extremely difficult.

Is the question of the origin of the universe "unanswerable"? Presently, that's true. Will it "always" be true? No one knows.

Does this have anything to do with whether religion is "logical" or "illogical"?

Not that I can see. Religion is not wrong because it is illogical...though existing religions almost always are illogical. In principle, one could construct an entirely "logical" faith -- the problem is that its initial assumptions would have no real world referents.

That's what is wrong with religion; it has no real world referents, no connection with reality at all. It claims that it does...but all the evidence refutes its claims and there is no evidence to support them.

As to your assertion that we "cannot possibly begin to understand how anything really came into being", that's just palpably wrong.

We have a very good, though still incomplete, understanding of the origins of our solar system and of our planet. We have an improving understanding of the origins of species.

Thanks to Marx, we have a pretty good understanding of social forms and how they begin, grow, and decline.

When you assert that "technically anything's possible", you're wrong!

It is definitely impossible, for example, for dead people to "rise from the grave".

But it is certainly possible for people to lie about that.
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 13, 2004
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quote:

You say religion has no connection to reality and that's it; you're not giving me any reason to believe you over them.


I'm not asking you to "believe" me. Try to find a single real-world problem with a religious "explanation" that can be verified.

Investigate the matter thoroughly...as you might if you were going to purchase a new house or car or lend someone a significant amount of money.

I predict you'll come up empty.

quote:

My point was a very simplistic and old as the hills one; I was saying well whatever you believe, the question [of ultimate origins]...is never going to be answered.


And I was saying maybe that's true and maybe it isn't.

It's too soon to tell.

And in any event, so what? It's something that would be interesting to know but has minimal significance for our real lives.

quote:

I did not read most of this thread but I felt the need to reply.

Firstly I am a Christian.

I am a Christian now because I know that God exists, and I know this because when I was about 5 or 6 years old, I had a vision, and also I used to talk in voices (pray in a non-human language as is described in the bible).

And also why do atheists feel the need to belittle the beliefs of any one who has differing views?


You answered your own question. The rule on message boards -- especially this one -- is: say dumb things, get belittled!

What was your imaginary "God" thinking of when he "appeared" to a "five or six-year old child" while overlooking me?

And of what possible use is a prayer in a "non-human" language?

I think it's time for you to grow up and "put away childish things"...like Christianity.

Also, I think it would do you a great deal of good to read all of this thread and a sampling of some of the other threads we've had here on this topic.
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 14, 2004
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quote:

Religion is not necessarily ignorant. If it was, then why has it existed for so long? Why has it controlled so many people? They have to be doing something right.


There are many reasons, of course.

But one of them certainly lies in the realm of what Dwight MacDonald once called "a flexibility of spine & nose for the main chance".

By sucking up to every ruling class, no matter how horrible, religion has usually managed to reinforce its celestial weaponry with real earthly weaponry.

"Onward Christian Soldiers" is more than just a song.
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 15, 2004
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quote:

Has anyone ever bothered to count how many topics there are currently running about Jesus and whether or not he existed or whether he was the son of god? He's talked about on this website almost as much as Che is. So my point is...does it matter what he was? He's obviously made an impact on all of our lives, whether for good or bad. Isn't that alone revolutionary?


I find the frequency of threads on Christianity and religion in general just as puzzling. Back in the 1960s and 70s, I can't recall any discussion of religion of any length among lefties. It was thought to be irrelevant.

I suppose it reflects how reactionary the present period really is -- that even people who desire fundamental social change are still preoccupied with this superstitious nonsense. Superstition thrives, it's said, when a social order is in decay and there's no apparent "real world" alternative.

We know the popular myth -- communism is "dead" -- so what's left for people to choose from?

I disagree, however, that the impact of Jesus has been "revolutionary". Those who take Jesus seriously are almost always furiously reactionary in their social and political views.

After all, by contemporary rational standards, no one from the Roman Empire was "progressive".

Why should Jesus be any different?
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 9, 2004
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quote:

Considered irrelevant at the time yes, quite possibly. But that was because the faith of science and reason could not be discredited, and why would anyone want to? I mean the Jews never questioned their religion, because it adequately explained their world to them in terms that they could accept and understand. So also did science and reason explain the world to dogmatic, militant secularists such as yourself , Mr. Star, in terms they wanted to hear.

You may find Mr. Star that it is quite impossible to defend and legitimise a position of extreme absolutism as you quite obviously do on, well everything. You may also find that contrary to your beliefs, not everything can be defined in a jingoistic, communist vocabulary. Reactionary? maybe just not as conservative and dogmatic as yourself?


Ok, I was going to reply to the ignorant and blatantly stupid remarks and comments in this post, but I think merely reproducing this post and making a comment on it is sufficient...I mean with cretins this overt, who needs criticism?

(I couldn't improve on your wording, sir, but there were errors of grammar and punctuation that I had to correct. I trust you have no objection.)
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 12, 2004
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quote:

How about you explain to me, in logical and rational terms, why science and reason is not just another cultural phenomenon which has passed into folklore and become the religion of the dominant secular culture.


The main difference between "folklore" and science is that science works.

At least most of the time.

And its performance continues to improve with the passing of time.

Superstition, on the other hand, offers "answers" which, at best, only appear to "work" and which never improve over time.

The fact that folklore "satisfies" most of the people most of the time is irrelevant. It is precisely when help is most needed that superstition offers empty words of "consolation" -- while science steps up with real material assistance.

If your child were dying, which would "satisfy" you more? Your favorite prayers and rituals or the life-saving anti-biotic?

I'm certainly willing to concede that too many people do adopt a quasi-religious reverence towards science as an institution. Why else do corporations peddle their shabby crap by having a guy in a white lab coat and horn-rim glasses holding a clipboard stand in front of a camera?

For that matter, why do you think that Christian fundamentalists peddle their shabby crap under the label "creation science"?

It's called the "aura effect". Since we associate science with answers that work, any con that can manage to "appear scientific" has a better chance of fleecing the suckers.

All of this misses the real point of science -- a critical, skeptical approach to reality.

Yet, a "reverence" for science is, at least in one respect, an improvement over all forms of superstition. Even the worst "sucker for science" understands that "the answer" has to work. If it fails, even s/he knows that it ain't science!

quote:

Explain to me, how science and reason can still remain completely credible, when as they, just like the religions you spend much of your time denouncing, contradict, and even go so far as to disprove themselves?


That is precisely the strength of science and reason. In what has been called "the universe of critical discourse", nothing is accepted on faith alone.

All assertions must be supported by evidence and reason; all may be challenged at any time by better evidence and reason.

Yes, particular scientific conclusions have been repeatedly overthrown...and replaced by better conclusions...more accurate representations of reality.

I know of no reason why this process should not continue indefinitely.

Thus the gap between science and superstition continues to grow; science has better and better answers with every passing decade while superstition is no better now than it was 5,000 years ago. It was crap then; it's still crap!

quote:

I mean even your God...*ahem* icon, Mr. Karl Marx said, "religion is the opiate of the masses". So have you ever stopped to think why secular "reasoning" is so popular?


Communists do not regard Marx as either a "god" or an "icon".

Secular reasoning is "popular" because it generates answers that work.
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 13, 2004
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quote:

Try as it may, science and reason cannot explain irrationality, and let's face, the world and the human condition are filled with irrationalities.


I would amend that statement to read: apparent irrationalities.

That which is not yet rationally understood must indeed appear "irrational".

Since the realm of rational understanding is still quite small, the superstitious eagerly rush to provide "supernatural" (irrational) "explanations" for all phenomena of which we remain ignorant. When a rational explanation is actually discovered, they are just as quick to retreat in disarray.

quote:

If I may explain, a basic flaw in science's logic is that, as I stated above, it refuses to recognise that which is not "evident" or "apparently obvious"...


Indeed it does...and I see no reason why we should not all "go and do likewise".

quote:

...however many scientists, and those people who have adopted reason as a pure school of thought labour arduously towards the goal of achieving a point of complete and abject [sic] objectivity, where everything can be explained and understood in completely rational and scientific terms. This point, as you may for yourself reason, does not, and cannot exist.


I'm afraid I do not follow you on the "does not and cannot exist" conclusion.

But suppose you were right about that; what counts in my view is that we constantly get a better and better approximation of that ultimate goal.

The more we can explain and understand everything in rational and scientific terms, the more closely we can make the universe behave as we desire...and the more we are liberated from the caprice of chance or "the Will of the Gods".

A most worthy goal, wouldn't you agree?
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 14, 2004
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quote:

Try as it might, science may never be able to explain humanity...simply because humans are irrational.


It is well you used the word "may" in that sentence, because otherwise your assumption would be that the "irrational" could never be rationally explained.

My assertion is that there's no reason in principle why the irrational cannot be understood rationally...if not now then in the future.

We already know, for example, what portion of the brain appears to be the "locus" of emotions, some of the chemical reactions that appear to be correlated with certain emotions, etc.

Further, in a pragmatic sense, we are already not "prisoners" of our emotions. An angry mammal fights; a frightened mammal flees. We "talk" our way out of trouble or "bluff" our way out of danger.

A match-up between reason and emotion is, under most circumstances, "no contest"...reason wins easily.

quote:

Simply it is not possible, and one of the biggest contradictions of the universe, that beings so irrational as ourselves strive for perfect rational and objective order.


It's a tough challenge; nevertheless I think we humans are equal to the task.

quote:

Perhaps, but this conclusion alludes to a base sense of insecurity and untrusting of your world, and others.


Indeed it does; getting burned out of your apartment will do that to you.

The universe is utterly indifferent to our fate...as are most other members of our species. Did the dinosaurs "deserve" extinction from the meteor that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico? Do the kids in Iraq "deserve" to be literally shredded by the powerful ammunition used by the U.S. imperialist army?

Yes, the world "as it is" is indeed a shithole and clearly unworthy of any kind of "trust" that "things will work out ok on their own".

quote:

As you obviously respect and trust in the words and ideas of your communist forebares...


Not in the sense that you imply. They were people, just like me. Their words are "worthy of trust" only insofar as they actually correspond with reality.

When they said dumb things (things that have been subsequently shown to be false), they are no more worthy of "trust" than anyone who is clearly wrong about anything.

For example, in an effort to prove the "usefulness" of "dialectics", Engels wrote an entire book called Dialectics of Nature. Today, it is nothing but an embarrassment. I think most intelligent communists now realize that "dialectics" was just a 19th century philosophical "fad" without any contemporary relevance at all.

I frankly think that "trust" or "faith" or whatever else you might wish to call it is dangerous. It effectively calls on us to abandon our ability to think rationally and critically about reality -- to imitate the turkey who thinks that every time the farmer approaches, he is going to be fed. He has no idea that one day the farmer will approach him with an ax...and it's the farmer who is going to be fed.

Believers are turkeys.
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 14, 2004
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quote:

I think most would agree that what Jesus did was "revolutionary"...


Perhaps you move in different circles than I do.

I see nothing "revolutionary" in either his purported "teachings" or his purported "deeds".

quote:

Jesus was a revolutionary in the sense that Kerouac, Burroughs, or Joyce were revolutionaries...


You have an extremely elastic definition of what constitutes a "revolutionary". None of these three literary gentlemen made any contribution to revolutionary thought of which I am aware...nor did any of them take part in any kind of political activity.

What makes your comparison even stranger is that "Jesus" was most probably illiterate...at least nothing directly written by him has survived the passage of time. (Yes, I know, we could say the same thing about Socrates.)

quote:

And there should be no judging of the Roman Empire by such standards, as they were non-existent at the time.


Why, then, do we have the argument that "Jesus was a communist" or "Jesus was a revolutionary" constantly inflicted on us on this board?

Those concepts, in their modern sense, didn't exist in Roman times...which never stops people from bringing them up.

quote:

If it is irrational, does that not mean "without internal rationale"?


No, it means "without discernible internal rationale" at this time.

That which we do not rationally understand, we label "irrational". We used to call it "divine".

quote:

Do you mean to say that "might makes right" or "power trumps justice"?


Yes, that's a crudely accurate picture of class society.

quote:

However without a certain base level of trust, of faith, society would not function at all...


Present-day class society does not deserve to "function" and all trust in it (except by the ruling class) is totally misplaced.

The role of "trust" in classless society is a matter to which I have not given much thought...but my "prejudice" is that it ought to be as minimal as possible.

quote:

...reason wins the battles, but not the war.


That's good enough for me. And once we remove religion from public life altogether, the battles will get even easier to win. There may never be a "last irrationalist" but there will be so few and they will be so obscure that the war will have effectively been won.

quote:

If you were being completely rational and objective, you would have no problem whatsoever with Nazis, etc., in society. I think you can understand what I am getting at, and so do not need to elaborate further.


I haven't the slightest idea what you're getting at and you'd better elaborate quite a bit.

Nazism as a philosophy is one of the classic models of organized irrationality; I regard it purely as an enemy to be annihilated.

quote:

When it comes down to it, reason cannot explain why we become besotted with love, our souls are stirred by our natural environs or we are angered by injustice.


We're working on those problems.

quote:

Why do we as humans need to transcend our being? Why not accept emotion, trust and faith as part of your humanity, as part of your nature, and thus as part of yourself?


You forgot greed.

Like the cappies in Opposing Ideologies, you seek refuge in some fixed, eternal "nature" of "humanity" that can "never" be "transcended".

Horsefeathers!

quote:

And redstar, I would much rather be a content and happy turkey, affirmed by my own moral values and beliefs, than an eternal cynic, who would probably end up being killed by some irrational and inexplainable "freak" of nature.


Putting aside speculations about my demise (one godsucker had me dying of a heart attack while sitting on a toilet!), it is interesting how highly you rank "contentment" and "happiness".

You apparently subscribe to the bromide "ignorance is bliss".

Well, perhaps it is. But we "eternal cynics" are not without consolations...once of which is confounding the smugly ignorant with the consequences of their delusions.

What's the inter-faith murder count in your part of the world these days, anyway?
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 15, 2004
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quote:

He wanted equality though for sure...he always hung out with the poor and the social outcasts...but he definitely wanted an egalitarian society.


There's really no Biblical justification for those assertions, except in the sense that he thought that all Jews were equal "in the eyes of the Lord".

You have to remember that "Jesus" was not a "Christian". He was a Jewish reformer who represented the anger of rural Jews against the Temple hierarchy and the bloated pretensions of its various factions.

The earliest Christians -- as described in the "Acts of the Apostles" -- clearly thought of themselves as Jews...they continued to observe all the rites and ceremonies associated with Judaism. Even Saulos (Paulos) on his journeys preached first to the Jews in the various cities he visited.

If "Jesus" had any interest in secular egalitarianism, then why didn't he say so?

Instead, his single bit of secular advice is repeated on every modern tax form: pay your taxes!

Do Christians who practice tax avoidance "burn in Hell"? *Laughs*

quote:

Like many other rationally and scientifically minded people, a "perceived" boundary or obstacle to you must be overcome and transcended. Why? Emotion and irrationality to a certain extent is what makes us human, as much as our opposable thumbs set us apart from other species, so do these factors as well.


No, I think it has been clearly shown that emotions are common to all mammals...not just humans.

With the bare exception of some of our primate cousins and, possibly, the dolphins and whales, irrationality seems to be universal. Only humans seem to be fully capable of rational thought...and it takes considerable effort even for us.

Why should we choose rational thought over emotions and irrationality? Because it is more likely to get us what we want than any other approach.

That is true even if "what we want" is emotional and/or irrational.

quote:

Am I right in guessing that you believe the body/soul [sic] is a somewhat useless inhibitor of the mind?


As the "mind" is a product of a physical body, "useless" would be a poor choice of words.

Nevertheless, the "flesh" does often act as a severe handicap to the "mind" -- try posting a thoughtful reply when you have a serious headache, for example.

Shall we therefore, someday, be "brains in vats" or elaborate computer programs?

I don't know the answer to that one. Things might work out just as well if we were able to ensure, in some fashion presently unknown, "perfectly" healthy bodies throughout our life-spans...bodies that "never" became ill, suffered diseases, felt pain.

Everything that we now do to relieve pain or prevent illness is a step in that direction...but whether the end of that road is achievable cannot be predicted at this time. We don't know enough yet.

quote:

Why...then not transcend your arms and legs?


I "transcend" my arms every time I use a shopping cart to carry a load of groceries that it would be impossible for me to carry without such assistance.

I "transcend" my legs every time I take a bus or a taxi.

If anything, it is "transcending" our "natural limitations" that makes us human...that divides us from all other species (again, with some marginal exceptions among the higher primates).

quote:

The harsh reality is this: I am going to die, I don't know when. I only live this once, so why spend it in cynical seclusion?


I agree that we all "walk in the shadow of death"...though, if you live long enough, death will not seem so bad. Old age is "not much fun", believe me.

But seclusion? When I can exchange ideas with hundreds and thousands of people at the "click of a mouse"? Since I went online, I feel more "connected" to the rest of humanity than at any time in my life since the left upsurge of 1963-1975.

My mind has been "stretched" more in the last two years than in the previous 20!

No one with an internet connection is "secluded" any more...unless they want to be or the power fails.

quote:

Redstar, you seem to be as hard nosed and uncompromising as the Catholic heritage I rejected.


I certainly hope so; I try hard enough!

quote:

Well I ask you where does your faith and belief in the communist system come from? Where is your proof?


The evidence for the possibility of communist society is, admittedly, quite fragmentary. It's found in historical accounts of very brief periods when workers organized themselves to take command of society: the Paris Commune, various parts of Russia in the period 1917-21, portions of Spain controlled by the anarcho-syndicalists from 1936-39, etc.

It's not "much" to go on, granted, but it is real-world experience...historically verifiable.

The principle "rational" argument against communism -- that it "violates" "fundamental aspects" of "human nature" -- strikes me as extraordinarily weak if not downright dishonest. There is, thus far, no scientific knowledge of "human nature" as such; those who pretend otherwise are clearly seeking a pseudo-rational "justification" for the powers that be.

Thus, on balance, it seems to me that the communist hypothesis is very much "worth a try". It may be false -- it may be that humans still have hundreds of thousands of years of evolution ahead of them before they are capable of something you could call civilization without choking on the word. Or communism may be fundamentally impossible for reasons that we simply don't know at this point.

To me, at present, it looks "do-able" and would certainly be a qualitative improvement over the shithole we live in now.

So hell, let's go for it. What do we have to lose?
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 15, 2004
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quote:

...I think the atheists would be better off if they took a lesson in humility. What Iím getting at, is scienceís inability to see the other sideís point of view. Once it became clear that religion wasnít in the least bit scientific that was the end of that, science threw it out like it was a piece of trash.


Why should we humble ourselves before "trash"? In what way would that make us "better off"?

If you kept your garbage in your living space, there'd eventually be no room to live...not to mention the stink and the roaches!

If science took religious "explanations" seriously, then there'd eventually be no room for scientific thought at all...since there are superstitious "explanations" for everything.

Not to mention the stink of incense and the inevitable infestation of priesthoods crawling over every public and private space.

quote:

Itís not so much that they disagree with believers, itís the fact that they are so harsh in their criticisms.


Atheists may be "harsh" in their criticisms of the gullibility of believers -- but nothing matches the treatment of believers by those who believe differently. There's nothing in the history of atheism (not even Stalin!) to match the Crusades, for example.

quote:

However [atheists] completely disregard the fact that not everyone sees the world the same as them, not because they love fairy tales, but because they see a reason to believe in a spiritual realm. Now why they see a reason for it is never quite clear and varies from person to person, but the point is that they do, and they should at least be heard out.


Why? Once someone declares that they believe in a "spiritual realm", for what reason do they deserve "a fair hearing"? A scholar who studies superstitious mythology might be interested in what they have to say; why should anyone else?

Superstitious "world-views" are irrational by definition. Anyone who takes them seriously has failed a crucial test of rational thinking.

quote:

The problem is that they fail to realize the limitations of science. You can not use the scientific method to determine what is truth or what is morally right or wrong.


On the contrary, I can't think of any scientist who has written on this subject who has not "admitted" this "weakness".

There appears to be, thus far, no way to reason from what is in nature to what should be in human relations.

What science can do is tell you (in considerable detail) what the consequences of a particular choice in moral values will be.

If you wish to exterminate the heathen through the use of nuclear weaponry, science will tell you what the consequences of that decision will be. If you think homosexuality is an abomination "in the eyes of God", science will tell you in advance that no matter how vigorously you persecute them, you will never eliminate them.

quote:

This isnít the only problem that science faces; its largest roadblock is the fact that it continually disproves itself.


Science doesn't see this as a "roadblock" but rather as a wide-open freeway. Although we humans would very much like to know "everything" with "absolute certainty", science learned the impossibility of this long before the emergence of quantum physics.

Science strives for the best available approximation of the truth, always conscious of the fact that a good approximation should be and probably will be replaced by a better approximation.

This view is disappointing to those who seek "100% certainty" -- that can't be helped. But it is, to say the least, unfair to accuse science of "arrogance" when scientists themselves freely admit the uncertainties in their conclusions.

What they do say, correctly, is that the certainty of any form of superstitious "explanation" is zero.

quote:

I am only a few million years removed from being a lab experiment; thanks science, youíve effectively cheapened my existence.


Would it make your existence "more expensive" if you got the time-scale right? The oldest fossils are thought to be 3 to 4 billion years old.

More to the point, why should the natural processes that led to life (and ultimately you) have any bearing on the value you place on your existence?

It seems to me that the fact that I exist is sufficient foundation to value myself...without regard to how I came into existence. I am important to myself and to such other humans who may concern themselves with my fate...who cares what others think?

quote:

Even though science can refute creationist attacks, they still do not have any theories which are 100% true.


But they have a great many theories that are 90% or more likely to be true; theories that have accumulated a great deal of evidence in their support and no evidence against them has turned up. This is the kind of "practical certainty" that science does best.

It seems to be the only kind of certainty that humans can attain.

quote:

Despite the tremendous lack of evidence from either side, it really does come down to your personal beliefs.


How can you say this? Science offers an enormous amount of evidence; religion offers none at all!

quote:

The best choice to make in this situation is to be objective, mainly because both sides are so wrapped up in their own dogma that they fail to see the advantages to their opponentís arguments, and the flaws in their own.


What are the "advantages" in religious "arguments"? Your own paper exposes religious "arguments" as nothing more than vigorous assertions unsupported by evidence.

And, as noted above, science does acknowledge its own uncertainties. It is well aware of its "flaws" and ceaselessly tries to correct them.

What more could one ask?

quote:

Instead of trying to see how science and religion can work together, they want to draw battle lines and tear the otherís head off.


Actually, that was tried...in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There were a number of prominent scientists of that era who attempted a scientific investigation of the "supernatural".

They came up with nothing.

There are still occasional efforts made today...often by professional magicians who delight in exposing "mediums" as fraudsters.

But no real, practicing scientist would bother with that crap now. What really drives the superstitious up the wall is not that science tries to "tear religion's head off", but rather that science ignores religion as irrelevant.

That's what the religious really mean when they talk about the "arrogance of science".
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 10, 2004
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quote:

How remaining civil towards the religious, the believers, and the theologians betters you is simple. Mainly because you won't be closed minded, something usually associated with the religious themselves.


Civility is one thing; open-mindedness is quite another.

That is, I could be "polite" and still be utterly close-minded regarding superstition.

The reason that I'm not polite regarding superstition is that I regard it as an enemy of communist revolution...on the same level as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

And a worse enemy at that! Why? Because in struggle against racism, etc., we've already seized the "moral high ground"...those who retain those reactionary ideas are "on the defensive" and "in retreat".

But they have one "fortress" that they can count on...religion. It offers shelter and support for every reactionary idea.

Consider: if someone holds a reactionary idea and publicly advocates it, there will be statements of public outrage and many counter-attacks.

But if they say their reactionary idea is "part of their religion", the counter-attacks become muted and defensive. One cannot be seen to "directly challenge a religious belief" -- that would be "intolerant" and "bigoted".

I don't mind in the least being labeled "intolerant"...and thus I see no reason to pretend to be "polite" to those who adhere to and advocate reactionary ideas.

As to "open-mindedness", how did that come to be considered a "virtue" in and of itself?

Why exactly should one not be "close-minded" to nonsense?

Prior to 1750 or so, almost everything that people thought they "knew" was nonsense. Since then, some sense has entered the world...though not as much as people might think.

I think it would be a "very good thing" if more people would open their minds to sensible ideas and close their minds to nonsense.

Of course, it's not always easy to tell the difference...but since there is still much more nonsense than sense in the world today, a rigorous skepticism is appropriate.

In particular, supernatural "explanations" of anything are clearly ruled out of consideration by any rational person. As all such theories have already proven to be nonsense, it's ridiculous to expend any further mental energy on considering any new ones.

There are times when one should be "close-minded".

quote:

Atheists assuming that the only type of "proof" is scientific proof...


What other kind is there?

Revelation?

quote:

Who knows, perhaps they could finally present you with the evidence you need to finally accept Jesus as your savior.


Not a chance! They've had 2,000 years to come up with something, anything, that made any kind of sense.

A losing streak that long is a pretty definitive refutation.

quote:

I didn't know there was a single test [of rational thinking]....care to let me borrow a practice test? Or perhaps you could tell me some of the questions.


Does the supernatural exist?

Does it interact with the real world?

Do elves exist?

Unicorns?

Gods?

Devils?

Angels?

Ghosts?

Vampires?

Witches?

Does magic work?

Are "flying saucers" really visitors from the stars?

Etc., etc., etc.

A positive answer to any of those questions reveals a serious breakdown in rational thinking...a disconnection from the real world that can, and often does, end in catastrophe.

Such people certainly possess the capacity for rational thought...but, in a crucial way, appear to have lost the ability to utilize it.

What we tend to regard as "harmless delusions" can, in the appropriate circumstances, result in monstrous horrors.

No one laughed when the Grand Inquisitor came to town...and those who could leave did so.

quote:

Problem is the average person is arrogant.


I don't know. An average person "raised in the faith" might appear arrogant about the "truth" of that faith's dogmas...but is that the person or the faith speaking?

"There can be no salvation outside the Catholic Church" says the Baltimore Catachism...which is still, I think, taught to millions of Catholic school-kids.

Can we, in fairness, blame the kids for being "arrogant"?

quote:

Yet both sides wish to believe that they are 100% right.


Yes, science and superstition are mutually exclusive ways of looking at reality. It's strictly an "either/or" choice.

Many people constantly try to weasel on this, saying something like "I'll be scientific in my real world activities but I'll pay my respects to the supernatural on appropriate occasions".

If we measured atheism by the number of people who act "as if" they were atheists in their daily lives, atheism would be the majority view in all of the advanced capitalist countries.

But, alas, ideas trail behind material reality by a good deal sometimes.

quote:

If I view premarital sex as wrong, it doesn't matter that science can prove that relatively nothing can go wrong with safe premarital sex, I'm still going to be of the opinion that you should wait for marriage.


Science will tell you what will happen if you try to implement your moral view as social policy.

Firstly, young people will have sex anyway unless you impose draconian segregation of the sexes...and even that won't always work.

Secondly, young people will likely be ignorant of the consequences of sex...so you will have many additional unwanted pregnancies, forced marriages, etc.

Thirdly, young men will seek sexual release from prostitutes...who, in turn, will be recruited from "fallen women" who were caught having pre-marital sex.

Fourthly, since only females can show visible evidence of "unauthorized sex" (by becoming pregnant), your moral code will be more rigorously applied to women...resulting in their general subjection to male authority and control.

And finally, the repressive efforts necessary to enforce your code will "seep" into other areas of social policy...resulting in a quasi-despotism and possibly even outright fascism.

I think most sociologists would agree with me on these observations...and sociology is only barely a science (thanks to Marx).

quote:

...if you can never get a hold on the absolute truth, then how can you fault someone for believing in a god?


Well, because it's an absolute lie, for one thing.

One thing about these discussions is that it's always assumed that most people "require" some sort of "absolute truths" in order to live -- and if science can't provide them, then religion will.

I question that assumption. I think people have been told that "absolute truths" are "necessary" in order that religion might step forward to "fulfill that need".

I don't think it's a real need at all. Approximate truths that actually are true are superior to "absolute truths" that are obviously false.

quote:

The average person wants to feel secure, which is why they believe that their personal view on the world is 100% correct.


Again, this is speculative. No one, granted, wishes to feel insecure...still, any view of things which breaks down "in the crunch" is hardly going to strengthen "security".

And religion always does break down; it has nothing to say when bad things happen to the faithful except mumbles about "the mysterious ways of the Lord", etc., or sly insinuations that "you're being punished for your sins".

When you stop and think about it, it's really only the immense weight of social tradition that stops every clergyman from being instantly lynched when they utter this kind of crap to the bereaved.

quote:

People who believe that science is the ultimate answer are arrogant.


I don't know what you mean by "ultimate". Science provides the only answers that we can rely on.

quote:

There is something is a little unnerving about being nothing more than a random roll of the die.


Well, if you say so. It doesn't bother me.

quote:

Not to mention it's also a little depressing to think of yourself as little more than 4 dollars worth of amino acids and minerals.


Again, it doesn't bother me. Bottles of chemicals on a shelf can't do what I can do...think rationally and accurately.

quote:

...if the current theories hold true, I'm not all that relevant. I plan to make an impact on the world someday, but looking back on it, I haven't been all that necessary to the world, and neither has anyone else.


If I may offer a suggestion here, I think you (and all humans) should "do the best we can" and let future historians concern themselves with your "impact", if any.

The important thing is to live...to take part in the "great struggles" of our age as best we can. Even at the ends of our lives, it's usually impossible to say what difference we really made; many once "great men" are now utterly forgotten.

No matter what you accomplish or how celebrated you become, you too will be, someday, forgotten. Time is relentless and someday even the great pyramids will be dust.

"Immortal fame" is as empty as the "immortal gods".

quote:

No matter what is proven against the bible, there is not a single solitary way that a Christian will abandon their faith.


Not true. There are quite a few ex-Christians on this board; I think there are some ex-Muslims as well.

I suppose you could say that it's not intellectual criticism of religion by itself that causes people to abandon religion; often real-world events play an important role.

But I suspect that people "quietly" abandon religion all the time. They don't call a press conference or issue a manifesto...they just walk away and never look back.

quote:

However if someone were to refute one of your precious theories, then we need to look for something else.


Well, that's the point, isn't it? My theories aren't "precious". If one of them can be shown to be wrong, then I have no problem at all dumping it...especially if a better theory is readily available.

A theory is a tool...you use it to explain things and plan actions. If I can find a better tool, why should I hang onto an old and less useful one?

People who fall in love with their theories are like people who fall in love with their possessions.

As someone said: "You should not love things that can't love you back."
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 13, 2004
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quote:

Sagan said that 95% of all Americans (and people) are scientifically illiterate.


I don't know if it's that bad, but it is pretty bad.

Still, I think you would find a majority, at least in the advanced capitalist countries, who would "look for" a scientific explanation of some real-world phenomenon rather than jump to a "supernatural" conclusion.

As in the example I gave: most people may not understand the physics of air travel, but they know it's not because "angels" are holding the planes up in the air.

One could say that this is also a kind of "faith"...but that would be misleading. It's not really "faith" if it actually works.
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 14, 2004
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quote:

redstar2000, do you have or have you had a religion?


No to both questions. At the age of five or six, I put the "god hypothesis" to a real-world test: I prayed that some event would not take place (I no longer remember just what I was afraid of). The event nevertheless took place, and I concluded that "god" was just another lie that grown-ups tell kids.

By the age of seven and eight, I was reading "science books for kids" and found them fascinating...here were grown-ups who didn't lie to kids.

My defense of rational thought in general and science in particular has very deep roots.

quote:

Do you have or have you had a world encompassing philosophical viewpoint?


Well, I suppose my personal version of Marxism would come closest to meeting that description...I find that historical materialism is amazingly useful in understanding all sorts of different kinds of problems.

quote:

Yet are either of these two world-views religions? Are they somehow wrong?


I think that when people enter the "left", they often bring "scraps and tatters" of their old "world-views" with them.

A decision not to over-indulge in drugs is just plain common sense; it took me years to learn how to drink alcohol sensibly, get the "buzz", and yet avoid hangovers.

"God" as "programmer" is just a late variant on the old "Newtonian God" as "first cause".

It is, as suggested, an extremely "watered-down" religious view...as it has no consequences and makes no demands on the believer. You can freely act "as if" there was no "god" at all. It's a way to be a "practical atheist" without taking any flak from real believers.

Your view on abortion is more a consequence of patriarchy in general than a specifically religious view. In the "patriarchal paradigm", the principle purpose of women is to bear and raise men's (male) children...anything that interferes with this "purpose" is "unnatural", "wrong", and "evil".

quote:

Would you prefer people like us who have a moral code that is well thought out (along with the world-view that it comes from), or people without one that are only atheists because their parents were and didn't tell them about God.


I would prefer the latter. The reason for that preference is that mental energy consumed in repudiating the gods of institutional religions is better spent on other matters. Someone who is raised with no knowledge of religion can devote their mental energies to real-world questions with possibly fruitful results.

This is not to suggest that I don't respect you and your friend for abandoning the Catholic Church; it's a tough old leech and difficult to completely escape.

How difficult is suggested by your belief that religious views "deserve respect" -- even when they "lose" a believer, they hope that s/he will not become an active opponent and do their best to make sure that doesn't happen.

Perhaps the "final step" for you and your friend is to realize that they do not deserve "respect" but, on the contrary, hated and contempt are their "rightful portions".

Over the entire sordid and bloody history of class society, religion has happily joined with all ruling classes to exploit and terrorize the vast majority of humanity.

They are not worthy of "respect"...or even forgiveness.

quote:

People will attempt to hold onto their irrational faiths as long as they can. As they come to face the truth that the illusion they want to believe in is not true, their psychological need for that illusion is also unmasked with science, and that the existence without the illusions is quite possibly going to break them down mentally.


That seems overly pessimistic. I think "mental breakdowns" as a consequence of the "loss of faith" are statistically pretty rare.

I agree that many people do cling quite tenaciously to religious illusions as long as they "can"...it often takes a combination of atheist criticism and real-world events to break the grip of those illusions. I've read that an enormous number of religious Jews became secularized by the holocaust; a "god" that permitted the holocaust to take place was "unworthy of worship".

But we have quite a few ex-believers on this board; once they got old enough to read the serious criticisms of religious belief, they rejected it as stupid and absurd.

They did not suffer "mental breakdowns" as a result.
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 15, 2004
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quote:

I think those who come to the conclusion that their faith is false usually find a new god to latch onto.


This view suggests that there is some kind of "religious instinct" or "predisposition" to "believe" in supernatural "entities".

If a human is deprived of one set of such beliefs, then s/he will seek out another. If no such set of beliefs exist, s/he will invent them.

The problem with that view is that non-believers in the supernatural become inexplicable. If there's a "religion gene" that is "universal", then how could atheism be possible?

Is there a growing "mutation"...a population of humans lacking the "religion gene" and who are reproducing faster than believing humans?

Does atheism (non-functioning religion gene) confer an evolutionary advantage?

I think a historical materialist explanation makes much more sense.

Humans invented the supernatural to "explain" earthly phenomena that they did not really understand. As real understanding of earthly phenomena grows, the supernatural retreats.

In fact, thoughtful believers now take their last stand at the origins of the universe itself. It's the only place left where "God" "might have been present". If and when a completely materialist explanation for the "big bang" is discovered, the ballgame is over.

Most believers are not "thoughtful" of course; in fact, the gross ignorance of believers has often been shown on this board.

When they "learn better" (possibly from the atheists on this board), I rather doubt that they go looking for a new faith...what would be the point? Once you've learned from one example how to think rationally about religion, you have the tools to criticize any religion.

quote:

You prefer people not to think at all, to those who have thought?


That's not what I said. I prefer that people think about real things.

To take an extreme hypothetical example: suppose some thoughtful and conscientious (not to say obsessive) person wished to learn which religion was "really true". She starts with the earliest recorded religions and carefully examines each and every one of the thousands of religions that humanity has invented...and suffered under. Year after year she labors, studying and rejecting each of them. Finally, she finishes the task...discovering that none of them are true in the least.

She dies a confirmed atheist...at the age of 114!

I think there are better ways to live one's life...and use one's brain.

quote:

What about those who are raised atheist (militant atheist even), and then start to believe in God (even with out the other 'trappings')?


Cynic that I am, I suspect anyone who was "raised atheist" and who then becomes a believer is up to no good...probably planning a career of "fleecing the suckers".

There's money to be made in "being saved".

quote:

I think that anyone who spends time thinking about morality, from whichever initial position, and reading etc....has more respect from me then one who just accepts the position given to them.


Yes, we do respect those who make an effort to think more than those who don't.

But you did ask me which I preferred...and my answer remains the same. I prefer people who are atheist without bothering to think any further about the matter...because it is a waste of time and energy.

Once religion is behind us, we will be able to concentrate more on real problems.

This will be, I strongly suspect, a tremendous improvement over the present situation.
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 15, 2004
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quote:

...but would you be ok with atheist parents telling their children that religion is evil and people who believe it are morons?


That religion has been "evil" historically seems to me to be a simple statement of fact.

To say that people who believe it are "morons" would, I think, encourage a mistaken complacency and even a kind of elitism.

The people who run religion rackets are not "morons"...some of them have been quite intelligent (in the same way that some members of present and past ruling classes have been quite intelligent).

I think it better, if the subject comes up, to tell children that religious people are dangerous and to be avoided if possible. There's no telling what they will do if "God speaks to them".

Ideally, I would have children hear nothing of religion at all before the age of 12 or 13; then they might be exposed to an optional "introductory history of human superstitions" course.

The textbook would consist of a compilation of my posts on the subject. *Laughs*

But, that would be idealist. In fact, as soon as a kid hears about "god", s/he's going to start asking questions and you have to be prepared to answer them truthfully. Since kids like answers that are short and simple, you will have to generalize: "religions are made-up stories about reality" or "religious people like to hurt other people who don't believe their stories are true".

How much further detail you go into depends on the kid.

quote:

So now I ask you, what is wrong with spirituality if it is separate from a religion?


Not a thing. A privately held belief that happens to be wrong is socially harmless (except possibly to the believer).

But there does seem to be a "progression" involved here; the first thing that many people who think they have a "spiritual insight" want to do is start a new religion.

It's a seemingly irresistible temptation.
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First posted at Che-Lives on April 21, 2004
-------------------------------------------------------

quote:

Thatís called brainwashing someone.


quote:

God forbid you should present both sides to the child.


What you fellows seem to want is a "level playing field" on which science and superstition can "fight it out".

Why?

What gives superstition the "right" to even step on that playing field?

In what sense are the "ideas" of the superstitious "legitimate" and "worthy of consideration"?

And, while your at it, tell us which superstitions are "legitimate" and which are not...and on what grounds.

Do Christians and Aztecs and Muslims and Carthaginians and Jews and Nazis all qualify for "equal time"? Zeus and Isis and Wotan and Mithras and Shiva? Shall we study the "holy words" of Brigham Young, David Koresh, the Rev. Moon, and Jim Jones?

"Who are you" to decide which superstitions get to go into the playoffs against science and which do not?

Also, what about the secular irrationalists? Shouldn't they have a chance to be considered too?

Your "sense of fairness" would drown us all in nonsense.
----------------------------------------------------
First posted at Che-Lives on May 7, 2004
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