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: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #21

Post by achilles12604 »

Confused wrote:
achilles12604 wrote:
Confused wrote:
achilles12604 wrote: Now considering that human nature is to want to help, but to fail most of the time due to selfish nature, and that the organizations which really do break this tendency and give deeply of themselves are Christian (in general), I'd say that Otseng has a very valid point that religion can be used to control the masses into doing great and wonderful things which otherwise would go directly against their nature.
Not trying to ignore the rest of you post, but rather address it in pieces with what I felt was the most interesting first. If you agree that religion can control the masses into doing great and wonderful things which otherwise would go directly against their nature, could we not say the reverse is true? Is not self preservation and procreation 2 of the fundamental drives in life? The suicide bombers not only cast away self preservation, but procreation as well. All for the control of their religion. They are not seen as religious nuts. In their culture, by their religion, they are seen as martyrs who will ascend directly to heaven for their sacrifice in their "war" on the evil infidels.

I have to err on the side of caution and say that anything that can cause greater harm than good isn't a positive result. Despite whether atrocities were done by atheists or by theists, the fact remains, they were done as a result of religious dogma. Religious control. Hitler saw the Jews as subversives, undesirables, as unworthy as a person in a vegetative state that contributes nothing to society by drains societies resources. He saw them as "Christ-killers". His "ethnic cleansing" is no different than Rwanda, China, Holy Wars, Iraq, etc... It is all done either in favor or against religious dogma. Why. Why have it at all if it does more harm than good. Tell me, how many homeless will sleep in the streets tonight with no food to fill their stomachs? Yet how many tax dollars will be wasted by tax breaks to religious organizations, by grants to religious institutions to carry out their "abstinence" program that has never really been that effective to begin with? Could these tax dollars not be more beneficially spent on better education, assistance to the middle and lower classes that fall through the cracks leading to the homelessness etc..?
It seems to me you are saying here that if something has the potential of doing evil, we should avoid it.


Are you really sure you want to go there?




Gunpowder
Medicine
Technology
Pro-creation




Pretty much everything has the potential to result in harm when used inappropriately. So why should we control and avoid religion as Dawkins suggests while ignoring all the secular things which have the potential to do harm?
Recall, I work in medicine. The benefits must outweigh the risks. Does religion? IMHO it does not. Despite which side is doing the harm, it is still all done under the guise of religious motivation.
This might be a good thread. I'll make one. Good vs Evil : Which has the church done more?

what of my evaluation of mankind in general? I missed a reply to that part.
It is a first class human tragedy that people of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace, show little of that belief in actual practice.

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Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #22

Post by McCulloch »

achilles12604 wrote:Perhaps you would be kind enough to provide us a list of purely secularly founded organizations assisting mankind? I know there are some out there. According to Dawkins, if religion has either no or a negative impact, then proportionally the non-theist organizations should number the same, or more.
Perhaps not. For the centuries when the social assumption was that the only form of altruism was religion, those individuals who wished to be altruistic, regardless of their own personal faith, would work through religious organizations. I know of no explicitly non-theist organizations working to better humanity. This is perhaps because non-theists, in contrast to theists and in contrast to Jesus' teachings on the subject, do not do good in the name of non-theism.

How many people working for Habitat for Humanity, for instance, are doing it because they are religiously motivated and how many help just because they want to help.
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 #23

Post by Confused »

achilles12604 wrote:
Confused wrote:
achilles12604 wrote: It has been pointed out by non-theists on this forum many times that Religion in general is a very effective tool for controlling the masses. With this in mind, compare the impact and numbers of people, driven solely by their belief that God is telling them to do certain things via their religion, to what people would voluntarily do without any provocation at all.
Ok, waiting for you to provide statistics on the motivations and impacts of peoples actions in a comparison between those religiously motivated by those secular motivations or by those who just did it out of kindness (humanity)
Well Otseng provided quite a list of religious organizations. I know from debating this before that the list he provided only scratched the surface of those in existence.

Perhaps you would be kind enough to provide us a list of purely secularly founded organizations assisting mankind? I know there are some out there. According to Dawkins, if religion has either no or a negative impact, then proportionally the non-theist organizations should number the same, or more.
From the following website:
http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml9553.htm
Atheist Centre of India
The Atheist Centre was founded in 1940 by the Gora family, who were associated with Ghandi and the nationalist movement for freedom. They provide counseling, are fighting against the caste system and for the abolition of child marriages, helping ex-prostitutes, and protecting widows from inhumane customs. They also dispell superstitions by scientific demonstrations, and are asked to calm witchcraft hysterias. They provide sex education and family planning, are carrying on a rural development program, and have a center for free cornea grafting operations which is giving sight to the blind.
http://www.positiveatheism.org/tocindia.htm

Atheist Charity
This is a new, small charity run by atheist volunteers. They currently give money to other charities for the poor, are involved in forming a non-discriminatory alternative to the Boy Scouts, and later will start natural disaster relief projects.
http://www.atheistcharity.org

EARTHWARD, Inc.
Earth’s Atheist Resistance To Holy Wars And Religious Devastation gives humanitarian aid to victims of religiously motivated violence. I’m chair and co-founder.
http://earthward.net

Humanitas
Dutch organization for social care an community development, based upon humanistic principles with projects in the fields of child-care, elderly homes, support for the homeless, care for the disabled, visiting and empowering the lonely, and grief counseling.
http://www.humanitas.nl

Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries
Hivos is an organisation working to promote: democracy; economic development; cultural development; human rights, including equal rights for women, in the developing countries of Africa, Asia, Latin-America and South-east Europe. It also combats poverty and the spread of AIDS in those areas.
http://www.hivos.nl/

From this site:
http://www.atheists.org/nogodblog/index ... ll_to_help
Call to Action from American Atheists

"All we have is each other..."

AMERICAN ATHEISTS urges all fellow nonbelievers to contribute to the
rescue and other humanitarian efforts in the devastating wake of
Hurricane Katrina.

A number of secular, non-religious aid organizations are active in
this relief campaign. They do not incorporate a religious message in
their operations, discriminate on the basis of religion, nor do they
proselytize to those vulnerable people currently in need.

AMERICAN NATIONAL RED CROSS (Founded by Deist-Unitarian Clara
Barton) http://www.redcross.org

UNITED WAY OF AMERICA
http://www.unitedway.org

NETWORK FOR GOOD (has numerous listings for helping groups, both
religious and secular) http://www.networkforgood.org

HUMANE SOCEITY OF THE UNITED STATES! (Our winged and four-legged
friends need help, too!) http://www.hsus.org

Is that good enough for starters?




achilles12604 wrote:
Confused wrote:
achilles12604 wrote:This is speculation, however my observations of humanity in general is that we are lazy, selfish and always looking to make OUR existence better and easier. In general people feel some minor obligation to help someone in need, but this desire to help is countered by a much stronger desire not stay their personal course and not inconvenience themselves.

I provide for evidence the many people on the streets carrying signs. A good number of these people have signs reading "will work for food" and "need work" and other such phrases. However, I very rarely see these people offered work by the passing cars. In general they are given a couple bucks and then the car leaves.

Why? - Because in my opinion, to take the time to acquire work for the man (using man just for simplicity sake), then actually get him to go to the work you set up (because MOST of the people holding those signs have no intention of working but want to appear as though they are trying to work but just need a little help) is far more work and time than the average person is willing to commit to these people. Human nature is to want to help, but to want our lives to remain in order more. Thus we compromise. We give what we can without exerting ourselves any more then is the bear minimum to satisfy our conscious.
I think I have to disagree with your initial statement, rendering the remainder moot. I think people are generally good people who would rather help than hinder. I also think that humanity can find enough good in itself that it need not require any external motivation to sustain it. I don't dispute that there are exceptions. I don't even dispute that the exceptions are not in vast quantities, but I would consider your task hard pressed for you to provide validation that the majority of people are as you claim them to be.

I think it is sad that anyone can see these as the predominate traits of humanity.
Well I guess that we are forced to agree to disagree then because just as my opinions are based on my experiences, so yours are based on yours. My experiences have led me to believe that in general people are selfish and lazy. They care about themselves and what they want first and no one else really matters until their needs are fulfilled.

Ironically, there might not be anything abnormal about this behavior. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs doesn't even allow for FAMILY until the third level. Others are even further up the scale.

Is it so unlikely that my observations of a selfish society are correct? Obviously I'm not the first to make this observation.
If we are to base it on life experiences, then I can easily say that I see people give selflessly. I do it every day. You do it every day. Do you think that if you lacked religion, you would be lazy and selfish. Maslows hierarchy of needs are about as outdated as the levels of reincarnation. Society is to complex and diverse to still hold to these basic levels. However, I won't discount that psychologists still favor them. But I do agree, we will have to agree to disagree on our view of mankinds nature. I don't discount some of man is that way, but not all, not even the majority, but that is only IMHO.
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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benefits of religion

Post #24

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:Recall, I work in medicine. The benefits must outweigh the risks. Does religion? IMHO it does not. Despite which side is doing the harm, it is still all done under the guise of religious motivation.
And in my opinion, the benefits of religion outweighs the risks. I had only listed some of the major philanthropic organizations, there are many more such religious organizations.

Also, there are many other benefits beyond being philanthropic in nature:
- Provides hope, forgiveness, meaning
- Offers ways to cope with life's trials
- Provides guidance on how to live life
- Fosters community
- Provides a support network
- Instant identification with others and provides a common ground
- Opportunity to fellowship on a regular basis
- Sharing meals together
- Activities for kids, adults, seniors
- Offers regular teachings and encouragement
- Marital and family counseling
- Marriage ceremonies
- Funeral ceremonies
- Birth ceremonies
- Holidays (Christmas, Easter)
- Inspiration for art, music, literature

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Re: benefits of religion

Post #25

Post by McCulloch »

My comments in blue.
otseng wrote:Also, there are many other benefits [to religion] beyond being philanthropic in nature:
  • Provides hope, forgiveness, meaning
    False hope, or at perhaps hope based on insufficient evidence. Not real forgiveness, that the persons you have wronged have forgiven you, but a feeling of forgiveness from an invisible sky-father.
  • Offers ways to cope with life's trials
  • Provides guidance on how to live life
    Based on a collection of ancient myths not relevant to the modern world.
  • Fosters community
    A sense of separateness, a sense of division, us and them.
  • Provides a support network
  • Instant identification with others and provides a common ground
  • Opportunity to fellowship on a regular basis
    Just like a pub, without the beer.
  • Sharing meals together
  • Activities for kids, adults, seniors
  • Offers regular teachings and encouragement
    The teaching is not based on objective truth but on religious doctrines. For real teachings, one would be better off at a university, college or even the public library.
  • Marital and family counseling
  • Marriage ceremonies
  • Funeral ceremonies
  • Birth ceremonies
  • Holidays (Christmas, Easter)
    We're doing our best to secularize those. ;)
  • Inspiration for art, music, literature
    As do all of humanity's myths.
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: benefits of religion

Post #26

Post by otseng »

McCulloch wrote:Opportunity to fellowship on a regular basis
Just like a pub, without the beer.
That's because Christians favor wine over beer. :drunk:

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Post #27

Post by QED »

For me the most interesting part of chapter 10 is when Dawkins questions whether "believers" really believe all the stuff they say they believe:
p356 wrote:Polls suggest that approximately 95 per cent of the population
of the United States believe they will survive their own death. I can't
help wondering how many people who claim such belief really, in
their heart of hearts, hold it. If they were truly sincere, shouldn't
they all behave like the Abbot of Ampleforth? When Cardinal Basil
Hume told him that he was dying, the abbot was delighted for him:
'Congratulations! That's brilliant news. I wish I was coming with
you.'155 The abbot, it seems, really was a sincere believer. But it is
precisely because it is so rare and unexpected that his story catches
our attention, almost provokes our amusement - in a fashion
reminiscent of the cartoon of a young woman carrying a 'Make
love not war' banner, stark naked, and with a bystander exclaiming,
'Now that's what I call sincerity!' Why don't all Christians and
Muslims say something like the abbot when they hear that a friend
is dying? When a devout woman is told by the doctor that she has
only months to live, why doesn't she beam with excited anticipation,
as if she has just won a holiday in the Seychelles? 'I can't
wait!' Why don't faithful visitors at her bedside shower her with
messages for those that have gone before? 'Do give my love to
Uncle Robert when you see him . . .'
Why don't religious people talk like that when in the presence of
the dying? Could it be that they don't really believe all that stuff
they pretend to believe?
It reminds me of the remarkable levels of child sex-abuse perpetrated by the Catholic priesthood the world over. Of all people, these individuals don't look as though they really expect judgment in another existence.

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Post #28

Post by otseng »

In the case of Christians that are dying, there is a mixture of both grief and hope. It is entirely normal and expected for people to grieve during death. To somehow expect Christians to not grieve during death is not realistic.

In the case of sexual abuses, the simple answer is that people do not always do what they know to be right. Also, the Christian doctrine is that we are all sin-prone, even if someone is a priest. Nobody is immune from sinning.

As someone once said, "The flesh of the godliest saint is no more dependable than that of the vilest sinner."

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Post #29

Post by QED »

otseng wrote:In the case of Christians that are dying, there is a mixture of both grief and hope. It is entirely normal and expected for people to grieve during death. To somehow expect Christians to not grieve during death is not realistic.
That's not the expectation. Of course there's a loss, but according to the faith it's not a total loss -- huge gains are sometimes anticipated. And what about message forwarding? I too find it quite remarkable that the actual behaviour of people is consistent with total finalism.
otseng wrote:In the case of sexual abuses, the simple answer is that people do not always do what they know to be right. Also, the Christian doctrine is that we are all sin-prone, even if someone is a priest. Nobody is immune from sinning.

As someone once said, "The flesh of the godliest saint is no more dependable than that of the vilest sinner."
Exactly! Once again the actual behaviour of people is consistent with total finalism, and inconsistent with a firm belief in judgment in some afterlife. One has to wonder if the average non-believers conduct might be better than the average "godly saint" on account of caring more about being judged in this life than the promised next.

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Post #30

Post by Cathar1950 »

QED wrote:
otseng wrote:In the case of Christians that are dying, there is a mixture of both grief and hope. It is entirely normal and expected for people to grieve during death. To somehow expect Christians to not grieve during death is not realistic.
That's not the expectation. Of course there's a loss, but according to the faith it's not a total loss -- huge gains are sometimes anticipated. And what about message forwarding? I too find it quite remarkable that the actual behavior of people is consistent with total finalism.
otseng wrote:In the case of sexual abuses, the simple answer is that people do not always do what they know to be right. Also, the Christian doctrine is that we are all sin-prone, even if someone is a priest. Nobody is immune from sinning.

As someone once said, "The flesh of the godliest saint is no more dependable than that of the vilest sinner."
Exactly! Once again the actual behavior of people is consistent with total finalism, and inconsistent with a firm belief in judgment in some afterlife. One has to wonder if the average non-believers conduct might be better than the average "godly saint" on account of caring more about being judged in this life than the promised next.
It does present a "putting it off" attitude as well as "It will be all right" response even if it is true by default. I mean even if there is nothing and all is meaningless
It seem common sense would at least live here now.
It seems to me that even a godless, meaningless existence is worth it, if we live, then to a fatalistic doomsday scenario for everyone, after it is over and a hope for continuing doesn't matter.
"I choose life" might be one of the only things that sounds reasonable. Morality and affection happens when we extend that feeling beyond.

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