The God Delusion - Chapter 10

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otseng
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The God Delusion - Chapter 10

Post #1

Post by otseng »

Dawkins states on page 353, "majority of atheists I know disguise their atheism behind a pious facade. They do not believe in anything supernatural themselves, but retain a vague soft spot for irrational beliefs."

From your experience, would you agree with this statement?

McCulloch's question:
Even with all of its flaws, does religion serve a useful and needed purpose in society?

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 10

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otseng wrote:Dawkins states on page 353, "majority of atheists I know disguise their atheism behind a pious facade. They do not believe in anything supernatural themselves, but retain a vague soft spot for irrational beliefs."

From your experience, would you agree with this statement?
Certainly yes. So many times our thoughts converge on some idea that seems to make so much sense that we are tempted into adopting it without the usual vetting process. This has been documented as a necessarily evolved expedient along the lines of the military adage that "any decision in battle is better than no decision". If we consider the familiar concept of the "weakness of the flesh" then I would suggest that the adoption of certain religious beliefs could be thought of in similar terms as the "weakness of mind". I hope I don't get a ticket for saying this, it just seems like an appropriate analogy.

Many times I have gravitated towards grand schemes that seem to unfold from the world of scientific enquiry, but if they are held at arm's length, it is often the case that another one comes along to supplant them later on. They are all tempting -- but they can't all be right. I sometimes wonder how it would be to pick one at random and immerse myself in belief -- but I get the same kind of protection system cut-in that keeps me from experimenting with drugs.

Let me make it clear that I don't mean to imply that all theists are weak-minded crack addicts, I only use this kind of language as an analogy to the intellectual processes that are involved in forming our personal world-views. Having used this kind of terminology I hope that rather than generate any offence, it might be used in turn to help me understand something that has so far eluded me.

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 10

Post #3

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:Dawkins states on page 353, "majority of atheists I know disguise their atheism behind a pious facade. They do not believe in anything supernatural themselves, but retain a vague soft spot for irrational beliefs."

From your experience, would you agree with this statement?
I think to a certain extent, yes, this would be true. It is easy for one to want to accept a belief that gives the illusion of peace and harmony without scrutinizing it thoroughly. If one opts to only listen to sermons given by some of the more enthusiastic preachers who only preach the optimistic portions of scripture about peace, love, harmony, eternal life, a sense of belonging, a sense of forgiveness despite the sin, then it is easy to harbor a soft spot for such beliefs, even if deep down, one know they are irrational because they ignore the same source that depicts infanticide, eternal damnation, born a sinner, etc... There are times in our lives that we all want to hold on to an irrational belief. There are times when I want to believe that my son will wake up tomorrow and be "normal". That he will be that one in a million case that actually becomes independent and a productive member of society. It is hope. It is irrational. But it is hope nonetheless.
McCulloch wrote: Even with all of its flaws, does religion serve a useful and needed purpose in society?
I think it might serve a purpose in so much as it gives meaning to some peoples lives. However, I don't think it is necessarily a needed purpose. If religion was to disappear from society tomorrow, I have no doubt that mankind would find some other belief or ideology to give meaning and purpose to their life.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

twobitsmedia

Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 10

Post #4

Post by twobitsmedia »

Confused wrote: I have no doubt that mankind would find some other belief or ideology to give meaning and purpose to their life.
Outside of religion, philosophy and science...what else is there?

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 10

Post #5

Post by Confused »

twobitsmedia wrote:
Confused wrote: I have no doubt that mankind would find some other belief or ideology to give meaning and purpose to their life.
Outside of religion, philosophy and science...what else is there?
Why can one not have purpose and meaning in their lives simply because they are alive? Why can one not find meaning in life by simply living life? Why does a purpose have to be something higher than humanity? Why can humanity not simply be the purpose?
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

twobitsmedia

Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 10

Post #6

Post by twobitsmedia »

Confused wrote:
twobitsmedia wrote:
Confused wrote: I have no doubt that mankind would find some other belief or ideology to give meaning and purpose to their life.
Outside of religion, philosophy and science...what else is there?
Why can one not have purpose and meaning in their lives simply because they are alive? Why can one not find meaning in life by simply living life? Why does a purpose have to be something higher than humanity? Why can humanity not simply be the purpose?
I suppose one could create "meaning," but "I am therefore I am" just has an empty ring to me. I think of the three, religion is the only one that reaches higher than humanity as a rule. Science and philosophy both tend to look at humanity. (with some exceptions) . I find that if I aim at nothing, that I always hit it. So I tend to try and be a bit goal oriented and it aids in creating purpose.

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 10

Post #7

Post by Confused »

twobitsmedia wrote:
Confused wrote:
twobitsmedia wrote:
Confused wrote: I have no doubt that mankind would find some other belief or ideology to give meaning and purpose to their life.
Outside of religion, philosophy and science...what else is there?
Why can one not have purpose and meaning in their lives simply because they are alive? Why can one not find meaning in life by simply living life? Why does a purpose have to be something higher than humanity? Why can humanity not simply be the purpose?
I suppose one could create "meaning," but "I am therefore I am" just has an empty ring to me. I think of the three, religion is the only one that reaches higher than humanity as a rule. Science and philosophy both tend to look at humanity. (with some exceptions) . I find that if I aim at nothing, that I always hit it. So I tend to try and be a bit goal oriented and it aids in creating purpose.
Why do we need to go higher than humanity? If an asteroid was on a course to impact earth, would we look to God to change its path or science/technology? A purpose need not have to go higher than humanity. In the grand scheme of things, is there any proof that there is anything higher? We know the earth has been hit by an asteroid before. We know it led to the ice ages that wiped out more species than exist today. If something higher than man existed, tell me, why did it not prevent such a catastrophe?

I don't advocate going aimless through life. I advocate aiming for what is real and you will find that life gives itself meaning. If one thinks that something higher than humanity will grant them purpose, what is the point in seeking it out?
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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religious philanthropic organizations

Post #8

Post by otseng »

Even with all of its flaws, does religion serve a useful and needed purpose in society?
Yes. Religious organizations play a significant part in philanthropic activities.

Here are some religious philanthropic organizations:

Alcoholics Anonymous
http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

Bread for the World
http://www.bread.org/
Bread for the World is a nationwide Christian movement that seeks justice for the world's hungry people by lobbying our nation's decision makers.

Catholic Relief Services
http://www.crs.org/
Our mission is to assist the poor and disadvantaged, leveraging the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to alleviate human suffering, promote development of all people, and to foster charity and justice throughout the world.

Christian Aid
http://www.christian-aid.org.uk/
We work through local organisations to deliver direct, practical benefits, and we campaign to challenge the causes of poverty.

Christian Blind Mission International
http://www.cbmiusa.org
Christian Blind Mission International (CBMI) is the oldest and largest ministry with the primary purpose of improving the quality of life for the blind and disabled living in the world's most disadvantaged societies.

Compassion International
http://www.compassion.com
Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, physical, economic and social poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

Feed the Children
http://www.feedthechildren.org
Feed The Children is a Christian, international, nonprofit relief organization with headquarters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, that delivers food, medicine, clothing and other necessities to individuals, children and families who lack these essentials due to famine, war, poverty, or natural disaster.

Habitat for Humanity
http://www.habitat.org
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness worldwide and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat is founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, decent, affordable place to live in dignity and safety.

Missionaries of Charity
http://www.mcpriests.com
The religious community of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers was founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta with Fr. Joseph Langford in 1984, to combine the beauty of the Missionaries of Charity vocation with the grace of the ministerial priesthood.

Salvation Army
http://www1.salvationarmy.org
The Salvation Army is an integral part of the Christian Church, although distinctive in government and practice. The Army’s doctrine follows the mainstream of Christian belief and its articles of faith emphasise God’s saving purposes. Its objects are ‘the advancement of the Christian religion… of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole.

Samaritan's Purse
http://www.samaritanspurse.org/
For over 35 years, Samaritan's Purse has done our utmost to follow Christ's command by going to the aid of the world's poor, sick, and suffering.

World Relief
http://www.worldrelief.org/
We believe showing suffering people that Christians care and that the Church wants to make a lasting impact on their lives is a powerful expression of our faith and love for God.World Relief empowers, equips and strengthens churches to serve their communities, enabling them to act as beacons of hope to their people and to spread the life-changing power of Jesus Christ . Church-centered, grassroots initiatives tackle entrenched and intertwined problems of poverty – and people experience transformation in their lives, in their families, in their churches, and in their communities.

World Vision
http://www.worldvision.org/
World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty.

YMCA
http://www.ymca.net/
Together, the nation's 2,617 YMCAs are the largest not-for-profit community service organization in America, working to meet the health and human service needs of 20.2 million men, women and children in 10,000 communities in the United States. YMCAs are at the heart of community life across the country: 42 million families and 72 million households are located within three miles of a YMCA.

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Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #9

Post by McCulloch »

Even with all of its flaws, does religion serve a useful and needed purpose in society?
otseng wrote:Yes. Religious organizations play a significant part in philanthropic activities.

Here are some religious philanthropic organizations:
But the question remains unanswered would some of these organizations have arisen without religion. Were the good people who started and contributed to these organizations drawn to religion because that is how they though good things should be done or did they do good things because of their religious conversion?
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #10

Post by otseng »

McCulloch wrote:But the question remains unanswered would some of these organizations have arisen without religion. Were the good people who started and contributed to these organizations drawn to religion because that is how they though good things should be done or did they do good things because of their religious conversion?
I think it's immaterial and would only be speculation. The question is simply "does religion serve a useful and needed purpose in society?" And I've presented evidence of religious organizations that provide useful and needed contributions to society. If religion does not provide any useful contribution, then no such organizations would exist.

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