[ExI] Religions and violence.

Jebadiah Moore jebdm at jebdm.net
Thu Aug 12 16:24:29 UTC 2010

On Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 1:51 PM, Sabrina Ballard <
sabrina.ballard at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Again, I cannot speak specifically about anything other than
> Christianity, but I believe the bible mentions somewhere that god
> helps those who help themselves.

Nope, that was Ben Franklin.

> And the "predetermination" notion is
> one that I think is beginning to wane as science becomes more
> prevalent.

I was talking about praying and waiting for healing and that sort of thing.
 There's an old joke--a guy is at home one day when it starts to rain, hard.
 Suddenly there's a flood, and there's water coming in his house.  He climbs
onto his roof and, being a devout believer, starts praying for God to save
him.  As he's doing so, two guys floating on a dinky raft come by and they
ask if he needs help, but he says, "No, God will save me."  Then a group in
a speedboat comes by and they ask if he needs help, but he says, "No, God
will save me."  Then a helicopter comes by and those people ask if he needs
help, but he says, "No, God will save me."  Finally the water gets too high
and he drowns.  He finds himself in heaven, so he goes to see God, and says,
"Hey, God, I was always an extremely devout believer, and I helped lots of
people, and I was really begging for your help down there during the flood.
 Why didn't you save me?"  And God replies, "Didn't you see the boat?"

Besides, I don't think most Western people believe in predetermination.  Too
much love for "free will".  Also, predetermination is rather more scientific
than not, modulo perhaps quantum weirdness.

>  - the belief in heaven for certain people, which I see the "good" purpose
> > of (comforting people as they die or go into a fatal situation), but I
> also
> > see the "bad" purpose of (being able to get people to do things that are
> bad
> > for them here by telling them it will help others later--for example,
> cash
> > for indulgences)
> I don't think that indulgences are used anymore, but I'm not sure. And
> Islam, Judism and Catholisim (don't know about Christianity as a
> whole) all say you must be truely sorry and be working to rid yourself
> of the particular sin in order to be forgiven.

Indulgences aren't usually used anymore.  Other more modern examples include
things like following food purity laws (which can be wasteful), spending
lots of time praying/practicing the religion (which for many people isn't
enjoyable, and which wastes a lot of time), being willing to die for your
religion (whether through martyrdom or suicide bombing), etc.

>  - the belief in hell, used to scare people into acting right (despite
> > dubious values of right, see above), especially children
> Fear of jail is used to scare people, especially children into doing
> what is legal/"right"

Yeah, and I don't think jail is usually a good idea either.  But at least
jail is a real threat, which is rational to respond to, whereas hell is not
(and keeps people in the closet/eating "properly"/stoning witches/etc.).

> But I believe a religion could exist without some of the negative
> framework that you have specified. But I'm nor sure if one actually
> *does*.

The thing is, once you remove ideas of the divine, afterlives, superpowers,
religious laws, etc., it stops looking like a religion.  For instance, take
certain forms of Buddhism, which are often considered to be philosophies
rather than religions.

> As for atheists who don't believe in science--you've obviously not taken
> > many high-level humanities classes.  Those guys hate science, but they're
> So they would discount gravity, evolution, and swear off cell phones
> and electricity? This is what I mean when I say "believing in
> science". I am not nessicarily refering to the scientific method, but
> I realize I should have been more clear.

I wish people would use "science" specifically to refer to the practice of
the scientific method.  Then again, I'm not big on linguistic prescription.

No, these people are happy to enjoy the products of science (which is
equally as valid as voodoo and Scientology), but they don't use the
scientific method and they believe that the scientific method is no more
"valid" (which is their word for their somewhat arbitrary system of
valuation) than, say, rolling a die or reading bones or something.

Jebadiah Moore
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