Communists Against Religion -- Part 14 August 9, 2005 by RedStar2000
Now that we have an entire literary genre -- fantasy -- devoted solely to works of the imagination, one would think that interest in religion would "taper off" a bit...at least on a left message board.
But it doesn't seem to be happening. Not a week passes but that some "fresh" concoction of nonsense is posted as if it were "self-evident truth".
Sometimes, I find myself asking: what did we do to deserve this?
Is it "punishment" for our "sins"? *laughs*
We must tolerate an individual's right to do almost anything. To practice his faith, to love whom he wants, to drink or take drugs. The only freedom that must be denied is the right to infringe on another’s rights. In the case of drugs, it must be proven that it is a sufficient violation of other's rights. Heroine and crack clearly infringe dramatically on our right to safety; their crippling addictiveness sees to that. Yet in the case of marijuana this is not true...
The desire to determine the limits of freedom by the exercise of reason is commendable.
All the more reason, then, for you (and all of us) to exercise our reason in the most rigorous fashion.
In that paragraph you call for freedom "to practice one's faith" -- ignoring the hideous historical track-record of religion -- while whining about "heroin and crack"...two substances that are completely harmless to anyone who doesn't use them or uses them only occasionally.
No heroin user ever burnt a witch; no crack-head ever bombed a women's health clinic.
Religion has been an implacable enemy of both reason and freedom from the get-go...there is no reason to believe that will ever change.
It must be destroyed.
First posted at RevLeft on July 1, 2005
Superstition rears its ugly countenance once more...
To operate from an atheistic perspective requires just as much faith as does a theistic.
No it doesn't. Atheism is a rational conclusion from the complete lack of any reliable evidence in support of theism.
Not believing in any gods is exactly the same as not believing in unicorns.
...there is something that a person of faith would describe as a metaphysical transcendence, and experiential phenomena that they would claim occurs in a sort of communion w/God(s), if you have never experienced this yourself, how can you deny its validity?
Easy. They're nutballs.
A better question would be "do you believe that the Tasmanian Tigers existed?" The reason that this is a better question is that there is remaining evidence that is conducive to the theory. There are historical accounts and skeletal remains. To assume that those skeletal remains were actually part of a real creature is an ontological assumption and a matter of faith.
Yes...we all know that skeletons can sometimes just magically appear without living animals to produce them. *laughs*
The distinction with God is that most faiths espouse that God is non-corporeal, and that the His notable traits are realised on a spiritual plane.
The problem is that "God" won't stay on his "spiritual plane" but rather insists on mucking about with earthly matters...at least this is what the superstitious always tell us.
Very well, where's the earthly evidence for "his" "deeds"?
Have you ever wondered why 90% of all humans ascend to some sort of an image of a higher power?
No. Parental indoctrination and the gullibility of children is a sufficient explanation in itself -- and there are lots of other explanations clamoring for attention as well.
Rather you should ask yourself why the belief in any "gods" at all is perceptibly declining?
Because science works...and superstition doesn't.
If you have never experienced this, then you wouldn't know, would you?
How come I never experienced this? What kind of "god" grants "transcendent experiences" to some and not all?
What kind of shit is that?
And also, how come "God" gives different messages to different people? If the Christian "God" really existed, then everybody would be a Christian, right? Or a Jew. Or a Muslim. Or a whatever.
One of the inescapable logical consequences of the "existence" of "one God" is that there would be only one religion and it would be demonstrably true...everyone would believe and worship the same.
And, of course, everyone would have a "transcendent experience" at least once.
The very fact that this does not happen is a fatal blow to all versions of monotheism -- though not to polytheism, of course.
I speak 3 languages, 1 of them is koine Greek.
Goody for you. But superstitious babble, even in 300 languages, remains superstitious babble.
It is up to an individual to decide if they have a maker beyond this world and whether or not that creator deserves reverence.
Yes, you may believe in the "Great Pumpkin" if you wish.
But do not pretend that this is an "individual decision" taken in isolation from social reality.
Religion has a social role in public life...and that role is always reactionary.
First posted at RevLeft on July 16, 2005
As the more articulate of the superstitious always produce a Noaitic flood of ontological evasions when confronted with simple arguments, here we go again.
Faith is a matter of asserting something as true without absolute evidence.
Not "absolute" evidence...no evidence of any kind that can be independently verified.
Religious claims always boil down to "it's true because I say it's true".
Because you exist in a given place and a given time, your knowledge is finite.
No doubt about it...but I don't need "infinite knowledge" to tell the difference between shit and shoe polish.
All I need to know about "god" is that in the course of three centuries of serious investigation of the universe (science)...not a shred of useful evidence has turned up in favor of the idea.
Nor has negative evidence been lacking...
Strangers' prayers don't help the sick, study finds
The term theory is attached to things like gravity, and magnetic attraction, pressure in fluid systems, friction, etc, because it is too expansive to call it fact.
That's not true. In science, a "theory" is an explanation (or series of connected explanations) for which a considerable amount of very good evidence exists. It is pragmatically treated as "fact" by most scientists.
The "theory of evolution", for example, is regarded as fact by all reputable scientists today.
Out on the "cutting edge" of science are "hypotheses"...proposed coherent explanations for which only a little direct evidence exists or even none at all. Many of those hypotheses will turn out to be inadequate or even just plain wrong...as a consequence of further investigation.
So to conclude "there is no God" is to claim that you have been everywhere, and experienced everything on every level, for all of eternity.
It claims nothing of the sort, as you very well know.
It claims only that human scientific experience up to this point in time is more than adequate to answer that particular question.
Is there a "supernatural realm" that is inhabited by entities that interact with this universe?
For example, scientists were fairly certain that the celacanth was extinct since the end of the cretaceous period.
Yeah, yeah, and they were wrong. Science has been wrong about a whole shit-load of things...as demonstrated by later and better science.
But they've never turned up a unicorn...or a god.
And you, poor sap, are betting that "someday" they will?
Well, someday we might be able to genetically engineer a unicorn species -- if there were some good reason to do that. We've already made "glow-in-the-dark" goldfish...so maybe we'll make unicorns "just for fun".
I can't see any reason to "make a god" though. *laughs*
To say "the big bang happened" is an inductive conclusion, and a matter of faith.
No, it's not "a matter of faith".
What you're doing here is trying to say that "knowledge is not real unless it is known to be always and forever true".
And since that's never the case in the real world, you can just slide in the casual assumption that everything that everybody says about anything is "based on faith".
You are just as aware as I am of the abyss that lies between knowledge of the real world that we rely on in order to live our lives...and the monstrous mythologies of religion.
You are anthropomorphizing a transcendent deity. That is like a bug trying to understand a human.
Bugs do not concern themselves with theological matters.
In fact, bugs do not even have a "sense of understanding".
Irrelevant metaphors do not advance the discussion...or support your "arguments".
Where is the evidence? How about the earth?
But we already know how the earth came into existence and a considerable amount about how it's changed since it was formed.
No trace of "gods" there.
Why would [or] should I assume that 90% of the population are lying about an experience that they are having.
I think it's down to 85% now...but no "mass lie" is required. Most people are superstitious simply because that's the way they've been taught -- and they've simply never had reason to question the matter in a serious way.
Only a small proportion of believers are liars and another small proportion, of course, are simply insane.
Did you notice the last American election?
Yes. Unlike 2000, when Bush stole Florida, in 2004 he added Ohio to his list of stolen states.
Faith is one thing, but keeping African-Americans from voting is the real secret of GOP success.
I think ebb and flow sufficiently answers your question.
At least this is a matter that doesn't require faith to answer. When western Europeans return to the Church, you will be vindicated.
Don't hold your breath.
Maybe God communicates to people in a culturally relative sense.
Yeah...or maybe "he" just gets off on watching humans slaughter each other "in his name".
Or maybe God doesn't exist at all...how's that for an idea?
Also, the idea that it is demonstrably true is an idealistic assumption that you are asserting onto God.
Well, "God" is an idealist concept in the first place...but if we are going to discuss it, why isn't my assertion just as valid as all those other assertions that are made?
What kind of a "God" is deliberately unknowable?
Furthermore, many people claim that their faith is verified through experience, which you say you have never had and so cannot even really talk about.
"God" knows where I live, right? "He's" free to drop by for a chat at any time...though "he" may be less than delighted at the grilling I would give "him".
I think people that claim to have "experienced God" are (1) self-deluded; or (2) con-men.
It is like trying to explain LSD to someone who has never taken it.
Another crappy metaphor. There are many written accounts of what taking LSD is like...beginning with the discoverer of the drug himself. The accounts are all quite similar.
In fact, an interesting difference between taking LSD and "experiencing God" is that everyone who takes LSD will have an identical experience -- even someone who thought LSD was a fake would still have the same experience. Objective reality prevails.
But since I am aware that "God" is a fake, "he" withholds "his" presence from me. Only believers (suckers) need apply.
So you are rejecting monotheism, but not polytheism?
No, I reject them both. But between the two, polytheism makes more sense. If one were so unfortunate as to succumb to theism, polytheism would be the more "quasi-rational" choice.
You have absolutely no clue what drew me to faith or religion, again you are assuming things that you cannot know.
What difference would it make? The most likely assumption is that you had some form of it pounded into your head when you were a helpless kid...and all you can do now is try to find some other form of it that makes you less uncomfortable.
Or, you could suffer from a mental illness of some sort...always a possibility when dealing with the superstitious.
There is a reason that religion has a role in public life, it usually has ethics attached to it.
Does it ever! And a finer collection of sadistic and systematic cruelties cannot be found anywhere!
What is publicly done "in the name of God" would make a simple barbarian blush with shame.
Marxism is reactionary.
You prove my point! But why have you come to this board to plague us with your reactionary crap?
There is human nature at play.
Ain't there always!
What next..."original sin"?
So you are attributing theistic premises to all creator paradigms.
Deism is not a serious religion. A "god" that never interacts with the real universe may as well not exist at all.
The social role of religion is to either preserve an unjust social order or to replace it with one that is even more unjust..."in God's name".
First posted at RevLeft on July 17, 2005
There is no proof there is a god but what right does anyone have to bash a belief that there is more to our universe, that we were put here for a reason?
Because it is a stupid idea.
But, much more importantly, it is a stupid idea that leads to monstrous behavior.
If the gullible and the predatory kept their nutball ideas to themselves, I would have no problem with them...I would simply avoid their company at all costs.
But they don't do that. They sincerely believe that "god intervenes in earthly concerns through them".
Even the most rapacious capitalist knows in the back of his mind that he can't physically swallow "the whole world". He recognizes, at least abstractly, that there are limits.
The serious leader of a thriving godracket has no limits to his ambitions! "With God, all things are possible."
How the fuck does anyone else know what I am thinking?
By what you say and, even more importantly, what you do.
Or do you pretend, like "god", to also be "unknowable"?
As for atheism, I don't think there is much basis for your argument against god. An analogy is like if I like apples, and you like oranges.
Another terrible analogy.
A personal difference in tastes for fruit is not relevant...as it is demonstrably true that both fruits exist.
Moreover, I've never heard of anyone proposing the death penalty for "eating forbidden fruits"...except for, well, you know.
So although you may be correct that there is no god, you cannot be definitely sure of it...
Yes I can...and am.
...and therefore you cannot dismiss a believer's claims...
Yes I can...and do!
A freedom to believe is a freedom that we need. It gives us meaning and a hope for the afterlife. By abolishing religion you abolish hope.
The "hope" that I wish to abolish is fake!
Real hope in real possibilities is infinitely superior.
I'm just making the point that things like these make you wonder and I know that there is no other explanation to his reaction.
Try coincidence...it would be a very strange world indeed if coincidences never occurred.
Once I was at a single-deck blackjack table in Reno and saw the dealer get three straight blackjacks. *ouch!* The odds are about 8,000 to 1 against. But play enough blackjack and you'll see it happen.
Live long enough and you'll see quite a few odd coincidences...and forget all the millions of occasions that coincidences didn't happen.
Do you or do you not believe we have the right to freely congregate?
All depends. You want to do your collective mumbo-jumbo in your basement? Or do you want to construct some towering monstrosity to intimidate the heathen?
The first doesn't bother me (but no kids under 13!). The second is out of the question!
First posted at RevLeft on July 18, 2005
-- emphasis added.
You have no right to tell my children what to think either.
Or what? You'll accuse me of "ideological trespassing" on your "biological property"? *laughs*
Breaking News Bulletin: You don't own your kids!
Nor do you have any fucking right to raise them to "think like you". They are independent human individuals who have the same rights to be told the truth as anyone else.
Try preventing parents from passing on their faith and you'll soon have a bodycount higher than the worst pope.
Maybe, maybe not. We'll see when the time comes.
But face it, the time will come when filling a helpless kid's head with superstitious bullshit will be felony child abuse!
And the sooner the better, say I.
The churches serve a voting centers, community centers, reception halls, they are the congregation points and a valuable contribution to any neighborhood.
What, you think secular community centers are "impossible"?
And this thread is supposed to be about my article; if you want to preach go do it in the anti-religion forum.
You put that crap in your article...and I and anyone else have the right to criticize it.
And redstar, don't you think that it wouldn't matter if kids are raised with the same values as their parents as long as they don't publicly promote their beliefs (i.e. preach)?
No...because kids are intellectually helpless. They tend to believe without questioning anything that adults tell them.
Therefore, it's vital that they be told as much of the truth as they can grasp -- lying to kids is simply unforgivable.
And they will "preach", by the way. Kids are not very socially inhibited. There've already been media reports of kids being sent home from school for telling their classmates that they will "burn in Hell".
First posted at RevLeft on July 18, 2005
If lying to children is unforgivable, on what basis do you believe parents will allow you to tell their children your lies?
And what lies would those be, pray tell?
Oh, that religion is superstitious hokum.
Is that a "lie" or is it the truth?
By the time there is a proletarian revolution, most parents will not be superstitious and will not be lying to their kids (at least not about that).
The parents who still are superstitious are going to find themselves in some deep shit. How deep remains to be seen.
You can say it all you want that there is no god and no greater truth and the universe is nothing, and you can say that you really believe it, but we both know that you cannot believe that 100% doubt free. Why? Because you don't know the universe. No one does. No one knows why we got here and how the big bang came about and all that and therefore you cannot definitely tell me that I have no soul. You and I are still looking at it from the inside out.
I do not assert that our knowledge of the universe is "perfect" or "total".
I am saying that we already know enough to completely rule out the existence of "gods" or, for that matter, "souls".
As far as a coincidence, this was no coincidence.
Yes it was. I think you have to read up on this stuff; you don't seem to grasp that just because something is "highly improbable" that doesn't mean it never happens.
Have you ever picked up a telephone to call someone only to find that you are already connected to that particular person? In other words, they had just called you and you picked up the phone before it had a chance to ring even once.
It's happened to me a couple of times -- they were people I talked to on the phone with some frequency and this very low probability event "happened".
"Psychic connection"? Or just coincidence.
Now you say about the blackjack but imagine having a dream the night before about it, and then having it happen.
Well, I've never had that experience -- dreaming of an event and then seeing it happen.
But look, where do our dreams come from if not from events in our waking lives? I certainly have dreamed of being in a casino, playing blackjack, etc. -- because I used to do a lot of that in my waking hours.
We don't dream of things we know nothing about at all -- we dream of combinations of things that we are already familiar with. I often dream about the material in a book that I was reading before I went to sleep.
People who say "I dreamed of such-and-such" and the next day "it happened" forget both the commonplace content of the event and all the tens of thousands of times they dreamed of an event that didn't happen.
There is more to this life than we can see.
Not really...when you learn how to see clearly.
It might be a more interesting world if all kinds of weird things were going on "behind the scenes" -- you might get seduced by an elf-maid or gored by an angry unicorn.
But, as far as we can tell, what we see is what we get -- the universe is just like it appears to be. No elf-maids, unicorns, devils, angels, gods, etc.
You may find this "boring" -- but others have different reactions. If "what we see is what we get", then that means that the universe is, in principle, knowable. Since we are part of the universe, that means that humans and human societies are also knowable.
And what is knowable can be changed.
...people are still gonna be born and look up at the sky and think "is there something else there?"
Sure they will...only they will be able to go online and find out just exactly what is really known about "what's out there".
There will be lots of interesting surprises...but no gods.
I'll say it again: Religion is about hope, hope for the next life. Whether it is a false hope or not, it's not your call because you have no proof.
Everything we know about human consciousness defines it as the property of a living human brain. When the brain dies, consciousness dies.
There's no such thing as an "afterlife".
It's an oxymoron.
We have a freedom to hope and believe, and you cannot take that away like you can take away capitalism or government.
We cannot, at this point, go inside your skull and run a "cleandisk" program. You and anyone are automatically free to "hope and believe" in anything you like.
But should you bring the matter up in public, consequences will follow...some of them not to your liking.
Just as if you made racist remarks within the hearing of African-Americans.
And I heard most people here look down upon Stalinism and Maoism...
Indeed they do. But that has no effect on the argument-challenged. When they can't think of anything else to say, they can always accuse their adversaries of "Stalinism" or "Maoism".
It makes them feel better about themselves.
First posted at RevLeft on July 18, 2005
The churches are where we will continue to gather because we are the majority, not the lunatic fringe.
You're not the majority in Europe and you won't be in the majority within a half-century in North America.
As a matter of fact, "lunatic fringe" is at least half-right in describing you now -- the "lunatic" part seems to be reasonably accurate.
Architecture and art can be a form of shared, community prayer.
Sorry, but "shared, community prayer" is not on our list of priorities.
As far as I am concerned, churches -- especially the "spectacular" ones -- are monuments to the tyranny of superstition.
Down they must come!
Before the bulldozers of your "dictatorship of the proletariat" could knock down my church, they'd have to roll over my dead body.
That can be arranged.
Why is there this deep fear and paranoia among the far left about religion?
Sounds like every other dictatorship...the dictator knows what's best for me and will make my decisions for me.
I guess I just have to keep repeating myself on this one. The measures I propose to be taken in dealing with superstition will be voted on by workers' assemblies in each part of the revolutionary society...and will not be implemented until they are approved -- probably by a national referendum.
So please knock off the "dictatorship" crap -- unless, of course, you're referring to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
First posted at RevLeft on July 20, 2005
Which is more important to you, achieving socialism or destroying religion?
I think those two objectives are intertwined with one another to such a degree that trying to separate them actually leads to misleading and even harmful conclusions.
What, for example, has been the importance of religion in retarding the development of revolutionary class consciousness? In my opinion, it's been enormous. If you go back to the very beginning of the "cold war", you'll find reactionary ideologues and politicians making the explicit appeal for a crusade against "godless communism".
And when you get right down to it, what is the "war against terrorism" except a thinly-disguised Christian crusade against Islam?
There were, of course, many material reasons for the failures of the 20th century socialist countries. But surely you must have noticed the failure of Leninism to really confront and defeat superstition -- particularly in East Germany and Poland. As a consequence, the Catholic Church in Poland and the Lutheran Church in East Germany played major roles in organizing the restoration of capitalism in those countries.
In the struggle for socialism, religion has been our intransigent enemy everywhere.
How do you propose to struggle for, much less achieve, any kind of socialism while leaving this major foe "unfought"?
First posted at RevLeft on July 22, 2005
quote (C.S. Lewis):
The first is, are all thoughts thus tainted at the source, or only some?
The second is, does the taint invalidate the tainted thought - in the sense of making it untrue - or not?
Sometimes it does; sometimes it doesn't.
If, on the other hand, they say that the taint need not invalidate their thinking, then neither need it invalidate ours. In which case they have saved their own branch, but also saved ours along with it.
Quite so. A motive or complex of motives for a particular thought cannot be used to automatically validate or invalidate the accuracy of that thought.
It can certainly arouse some deep suspicions though. *laughs*
In other words, you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong.
Optional. You can explain why he is wrong first if you like. But you do have to show that he is wrong...unless others have already convincingly done so.
Thus I see my religion dismissed on the grounds that “the comfortable parson had every reason for assuring the nineteenth century worker that poverty would be rewarded in another world.”
Well, that's a true statement. As grounds for dismissing Christianity altogether, it's not very robust.
It is but a "hint" about the social role of any religion.
On the assumption that Christianity is an error, I can see clearly enough that some people would still have a motive for inculcating it.
I'll say! *laughs*
I see it so easily that I can, of course, play the game the other way round, by saying that “the modern man has every reason for trying to convince himself that there are no eternal sanctions behind the morality he is rejecting.”
Indeed! But what reason does "modern man" need beyond the non-existence of "eternal sanctions"?
Where is the evidence that "eternal sanctions" exist?
The alternative then is either sheer self-contradicting idiocy or else some tenacious belief in our power of reasoning, held in the teeth of all the evidence that Bulverists can bring for a “taint” in this or that human reasoner. I am ready to admit, if you like, that this tenacious belief has something transcendental or mystical about it.
Well, I'm not "ready to admit" any such thing.
But can this be done without theism? Does “I know” involve that God exists?
How's that for a "leap of logic"?
At this point, the footing becomes very bad...so follow carefully.
But our thoughts can only be accepted as a genuine insight under certain conditions.
The only condition required is that it be confirmed by experience to be a "genuine" (true) insight.
All beliefs have causes but a distinction must be drawn between (1) ordinary causes and (2) a special kind of cause called “a reason.”
Why? And how did "belief" creep into this discussion?
Causes are mindless events which can produce other results than belief.
Reasons arise from axioms and inferences and affect only beliefs.
This seems to be an entirely arbitrary distinction. I confess I've pretty much lost him at this point.
A belief which can be accounted for entirely in terms of causes is worthless.
Why...if it's true?
Either we can know nothing or thought has reasons only, and no causes.
Demonstrably false! I see a tiger. I use "axioms and inferences" to conclude that it may well decide to dine on my flesh unless I remove myself from its presence. I climb a tree. I yell for help!
Did I think and act from ignorance?
One might argue, Mr. Lewis continued, that reason had developed by natural selection, only those methods of thought which had proved useful surviving. But the theory depends on an inference from usefulness to truth, of which the validity would have to be assumed.
The inference from usefulness to truth is an "assumption"...but an extremely robust one. It doesn't always work -- but its success rate is very high.
I "assume" that if I put fuel in my car that it will run...and if I fail to do so, it will stop running. That's almost always true.
If I "assume" that prayer is a useful substitute for fuel, the car will definitely stop running.
The same argument applies to our values, which are affected by social factors, but if they are caused by them we cannot know that they are right.
And indeed, we don't "know that they are right".
What we can sometimes discover, through reason and evidence, is if our "values" make sense...have an outcome that we collectively regard as desirable.
Neither Will nor Reason is the product of Nature.
That's not only wrong...it's stupid.
Individual brains possess qualities that we label "will" and "reason"...brains that are clearly the product of evolution in nature and which, when dead, cease to display those qualities altogether.
And from a stupid assertion, Lewis descends into mindless babble...
Therefore either I am self-existent (a belief which no one can accept) or I am a colony of some Thought and Will that are self-derived from a self-existent Reason and Goodness outside ourselves, in fact, a Supernatural.
And I am the King of the Walruses, root tooty-toot.
Evidently, then, something beyond Nature exists. Man is on the border line between the Natural and the Supernatural. Material events cannot produce spiritual activity...blah, blah, blah
In the years during and after World War II, C.S. Lewis was one of the first Christian apologists to spot the trend -- religion was "in serious trouble".
Between Auschwitz and Dresden and Hiroshima, the whole idea of a "benevolent deity" suffered massive blows.
It wasn't so much Darwinism or Marxism (much less Freudianism) that initially discredited the mass appeal of Christianity in Europe...it was real life events of unprecedented horror.
Lewis was "good at his job". His tract on pain and suffering was particularly clever -- "God sends us pain and suffering so that we will pay attention to Him".
Or The Screwtape Letters -- where a devil "admits" that pain and suffering is "like the wet sand next to an ocean of heavenly bliss".
But it's all bullshit, of course. And did nothing to inhibit the decline of Christianity in England at all.
First posted at RevLeft on July 29, 2005
Well, the issue of "faith & works" is primarily adhered to by the Catholic Church exclusively. Virtually every other denomination has a different interpretation, one that seems much more congruous with the Bible.
You are entitled to your subjective opinions on such theological nuances...and I take no position on them at all.
Catholicism has many more serious intellectual problems than that of "faith and works".
In that regard, as a person of faith (and again you just assume that I am a Christian), I do not feel like I am better than you. I am a wretch. I do the things that I don't wish to do, and I cannot do the things that I think right. The difference between you, and what a Christian believes that they have is in destination. They believe that they are going to spend an eternity with God, and that you will not.
Most interesting. Why would anyone want to sign up with a religion that emphasized their "wretchedness"?
The latest "great awakening" in the United States (Christian fascism) does just the opposite: their followers display an enormous and even overweening pride in being "chosen by God" to both "rule the world" and "prepare the way for the return of Jesus".
The reason that Catholics reject this view is not that they have a good theological stance to back up their conclusion, but their view of the pope. The Catholics have a completely unbiblically founded belief that the pope has an infallible interpretation of scripture.
Well, that doctrine is historically quite recent -- at least in its official form. I believe it was promulgated by a Vatican Council in the 1870s.
If you accept the legend that the Catholic Church was actually founded by "Jesus" himself ("Thou art Peter", etc.), then this obviously permits a pretty broad latitude for determining policy.
All very ironic in that Eastern Orthodoxy is probably the closest surviving descendant of early Christianity.
The whole nonsense of eating fish on Friday, the purgatory thing (which I think they got from Dante's Divine Comedy), Mary being sinless, the sacraments, etc, etc.
I daresay that many of the "rituals" and "odd beliefs" of Catholicism were borrowed from pagan sources. But the "sinlessness" of Mary is also historically recent and comes from the same council that promulgated papal infallibility.
Also, I'm quite sure that Dante did not "invent purgatory"...though I do not know who did.
Great, use specific examples to attack an ideology.
The arrogant smugness of serious Christians has been an object of repeated complaint for the last two centuries, if not longer.
I am hardly alone in giving voice to this commonplace observation.
First of all, religious people aren't perfect.
That's not what I said.
I said that if they were really onto something that was true, then they would behave better than other people.
And they do not do so...they behave worse.
People of faith (mostly) recognize that there is a force that is from without that is of a sinister nature, and a confession of faith does not give one immunity.
Ah, yes. "The devil made me do it."
People "of faith" will go to considerable lengths to avoid responsibility for their own bad behavior, won't they?
I would guess that you have met some Christians that are very "worldly"; racist, sexually vicarious, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc.
Quite the contrary (except for the racism part...which permeates everything in America).
Christians who smoked, drank, gambled, used drugs, were sexually promiscuous, etc. might make quite tolerable neighbors.
It's the ones who don't do those things that are "Hell on earth"...because they want to stop you from doing them too. And they are not only totally indifferent to the enormous amount of human pain and suffering that result from their efforts, they actually enjoy seeing the "sinners" led off to the dungeons in chains.
Our great "war on drugs" was begun before World War I by people who proposed to "morally uplift America" and is still supported by the same people...after 90 years of complete failure and the wreckage of tens of millions of lives.
It is a problem when they try to force you to suppress those same things that they call temptations, without at least a majority of political support. If they are in the majority, and manage to get leaders elected, you either leave or start a revolution, because this is a democracy.
No, it's not a "democracy". But when it becomes one, there will be little mercy shown to those responsible for all the "laws against sin" and the consequent persecutions.
You have sown the wind...so you know what's coming.
How do you know I am not the son of a preacher?
You have my condolences for your misfortune.
But aren't you old enough by now to "put away childish things"?
...including atheism (which is a faith).
No it isn't...the scientific truth of the matter is that there is no "supernatural realm", much less one that's inhabited.
All rational people who've looked into the matter at all seriously know this.
Calling atheism "a faith" is just a shabby rhetorical gambit that impresses no one but the ignorant.
The case against Christianity is completely different then one against Buddhism, or Hinduism.
The case against all forms of superstition is fundamentally the same: it ain't so.
Only the details vary.
Yes, I think that Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were evil.
Up to you.
I think they were mistaken.
Interesting, are you not familiar with ANY religious reformations?
Moderately. The one that concerns you the most, the "Protestant Reformation", is fairly well documented.
While it contained a small "left wing", its mainstream theologians were just as bad as the most reactionary popes...though admittedly less corrupt.
Protestants persecuted Jews and burned heretics and witches with the same enthusiasm as Catholics. Torture and massacre were routine. The religious wars between Protestants and Catholics are thought to have killed a third of Germany's population...a result very close to the "black plague" of the previous two centuries.
Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot put together were not even in the same league as the "soldiers of Christ".
First posted at RevLeft on August 1, 2005
I really think that when it comes to familiarity with Bible text/doctrine that you are out of your league.
No doubt...I am not, after all, a theologian nor especially well-read in such matters.
I usually consult this site when these controversies arise...
The Skeptic's Annotated Bible
They also have the Qu'ran and The Book of Mormon.
I recommend them highly.
Why? Because people can identify with it. Many people think little of their achievements, or self control. Many people feel extremely burdened by the toils of life, feel trapped by an inescapable loneliness. Many people spend their lives trying to fill a void that seems insatiable, and wind up failing, desperate, and defeated...Jesus is for those people (like other prophets are in other religions) the short rope that might rescue them from their inability to stop themselves.
That sounds, if you'll forgive me, totally wacko...a kind of self-induced psychosis. People can certainly delude themselves into all manner of nonsense...but it does not make it true.
It seems far more reasonable to me to attribute those feelings to the existence of class society itself...which necessarily alienates us from other humans as a matter of self-preservation.
Who can we really trust under capitalism?
So let's make up an imaginary entity that we really can trust???
Just because there has been killing in Jesus' name, does not make those people Christians...
Well, they claim to be...and who are you to say otherwise? From some of your other remarks, it's not even clear to me whether you are a Christian or not...and if you're not, where is your authority to pronounce on their orthodoxy?
As an atheist, it seems to me that Christian fundamentalists are the people who take Christianity with deadly seriousness...they will "save" your "soul" from "Hell" even if they have to kill you to do it.
And I would suspect that every one of them can quote "chapter and verse" from the "Bible" even better than you.
After all, they are professionals. *laughs*
So you are saying that Jesus put his seal of approval on any decision that the Catholic church made after Peter?
No, I am not saying it. Catholics say it.
But, amidst the night and fog of superstition, why isn't that "just as likely" to be "true" as any other religious claim?
Again, I appeal to the concept that humans have a tendency to be dogmatic with their beliefs, religious or not, right or wrong.
This concept came up once before in an exchange I had with an agnostic. The problem is not "dogmatism" in the abstract; it's dogmatism in the service of error.
Is the assertion that 2 + 2 = 4 dogmatic? Sure it is...but it's also true. That is dogmatism "in a good cause".
Scientists can be extremely dogmatic...but provided that their evidence and interpretation withstand the harshest critical examination, their dogmatism was positive in its effects. It hastened the victory of truth over error.
So what's wrong with religious dogmatism? It is dogmatism in service to error...and usually quite brutal dogmatism in service to completely outrageous error as well.
Do you believe in "witches"...and if you do, is it "ok" to burn them?
I am talking about moral subjectivism. What a person defines as "right" to themselves. People, such as you and me, fail on the subjective level.
Here you must speak for yourself. I attribute my own shortcomings to ignorance.
The more I have cultivated the powers of reason, the fewer such errors I have made.
I don't see why anyone couldn't do that...if they wanted to.
Consider Jung's archetypes.
No...he was just as superstitious as any preacher.
First posted at RevLeft on August 1, 2005
The Christians took the concept of "heaven and hell" over from the Jews.
Murky waters here.
There are verses in the OT that suggest a few especially pious prophets were taken up into "Heaven" to live with "Yahweh Himself". Otherwise, there's nothing about an "afterlife" at all...in the canonical texts.
Of course, the Jews wrote some "holy books" that were not accepted into the canon...and some of them are quite colorful and may possibly have included vivid descriptions of an afterlife. There was certainly a current of Jewish opinion by the time of "Jesus" that thought there was an "afterlife".
My understanding is that those Jews who did accept that idea envisioned the pious as going to "Heaven"...but those who weren't didn't go to "Hell", they were sent to "the valley of shadows" -- much like the Greek conception of the afterlife. There were no punishments...just an eternity of boredom.
It is certainly possible that "Jesus" borrowed the idea of "Hell" from a forgotten Jewish sect or a lost "holy book" that didn't make it into the Old Testament. It's even possible that he got the idea from a passing Greek or Persian...or a garbled third-hand account of some kind (since there's no evidence of "Jesus" being able to read).
But one thing is indisputable: "Jesus" embraced the idea of eternal punishment for sin with genuine enthusiasm. He brings it up over and over again. He looks "benign" in comparison to Old Testament prophets -- but that is very misleading. To him, earthly punishments for those who reject him are trivial...he awaits the real fun in "Hell".
One of the great pleasures of "Heaven", according to an early Christian text (3rd century?), is an area where the saved can picnic while looking out over the edge into the fiery pit and being entertained by the writhings and screams of the damned.
The doctrine of "Hell" is deeply entrenched in Christian theology now...inspite of occasional "heresies" that argue that the punishments are really not eternal.
First posted at RevLeft on August 3, 2005
Interestingly enough, quantum physics is more and more starting to prove the theories held by Wiccans. I wish I could explain but I'm not a science person.
Because you're "not a science person", it is easy to "fool you" with a bit of "scientific jargon".
Quantum physics is difficult -- in fact, words "cannot really describe it"...you need some very complicated mathematics to really pin it down.
Consequently, it's pretty easy to manipulate verbal descriptions of quantum mechanics so as to "prove" Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca-ism, or...anything you like.
And people who are "not science people" can easily succumb to what is nothing more than bafflegab...efforts by the unscrupulous to sell books to a gullible public.
There is nothing in quantum physics that "proves" any religious claim whatsoever...or even leaves any room for such claims.
First posted at RevLeft on August 4, 2005
There are certainly instances in which the existence of a supernatural being would greatly help explain the crucial 'why' question that science never answers.
You label these "why" questions "crucial"...but what are they "crucial" to? Just why do the "answers" to those "questions" matter?
In fact, are they semantically real questions at all? That is, they may conform to the grammar of questions in the English language...but do they have any real content?
The question what happens to us after we die? can be rephrased: what form of existence do we have after we have ceased to exist?
Which is not a real question...even though it sounds like one. It contains an internal contradiction that makes it meaningless noise.
I've found, with the help of a very good book, and also in our debate, that science cannot be used to prove or disprove God's existence.
I have no idea what "standard of proof" you are using...but science has been unable to locate any shred of reliable evidence for the supernatural in three centuries of investigation.
That's good enough for me; the supernatural does not exist.
The order of this universe. This planet, the distance from the sun, the fact that if we were a little further we couldn't survive, the fact that if we were a little closer we couldn't survive. Of course, this could simply be 'chance', but damn, are we lucky if that's the case!
Luck had a lot to do with it...but so did the constraints of physics and chemistry.
If this planet had been slightly closer or slightly further away from the sun, then life on this planet would have been different. And if an intelligent life form had arisen, it would no doubt wonder just as much as some humans do "why" it happened to be "perfectly situated" in its "comfort zone".
If you want to speak of "luck", consider the planetary catastrophes that our ancestors managed to survive -- the five or so occasions when 75% to 95% of all life forms died out -- most recently, the asteroid that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs.
The universe is not really very "orderly" at all...it's rather violent and tumultuous on the whole.
We just happen to live in "a quiet neighborhood". *laughs*
The undeniable existence of a Universal Moral Code among human beings.
Fiction. "Moral Codes" are generally "all over the place".
The prohibition of murder has nothing to do with morality at all -- it is a matter of common sense. Any community that does not prohibit and punish murder will be composed only of those willing to live in constant fear of being murdered.
That's not viable...either the prohibition of murder will be invented or that community will go extinct.
...with some help from C. S. Lewis
One of the more clever and imaginative Christian apologists, to be sure. I found his books quite enjoyable reading. Nevertheless, his arguments cannot really withstand critical examination.
First posted at RevLeft on August 5, 2005
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|The legal norms of capitalist elections are such that they become less and less responsive to progressive opinion as time goes on.
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