Tuesday, December 10, 2013

You can make all the statements you want, but if you don't back them up...

This is a re "print" of a conversation yesterday. As always, I'm very frustrated by the very slippery nature of "religious" people, who have so many interesting opinions but will not back those up and worse, slide away from any question put to them via any manner of logical fallacy.

The person in question did not return to this conversation but posted the following, interesting retrospective of it on their own site (in quotes). I note the person accuses me of saying "all religious people are idiots." I did not, nor did any of the other commenters, so I have asked the person in question for a public apology on that account. 

"Recently, someone posted a comment calling all religious people idiots. I jumped right in, because I find religious and political debates hilarious. (HOUSTON, we already have a problem here. "Hilarious," is not a great starting point if someone intends to engage in a discussion of this sort. Secondly, this person accused me of something I did not write)

People get all fired up and irrational. Arguments from the other side aren't even considered, just summarily dismissed as people wait for their turn to spew practiced points. (Well that's fairly pejorative.... )

But this one left a sour taste in my mouth, and I realized why. 
Religion isn't the evil that plagues humanity as this person suggested, it's intolerance. 
(The funny part of this being religions are, by definition, intolerant of other paradigms, given followers are always on the job of making converts; indeed, as it relates to christianity and islam, followers are required by their "gods" through their "holy" texts, to be always on the job.... )
Any time you get a group of people who think they are better than another group, you're going to have problems. Nazi-sized problems. 
(Wow. Ok, so this writer has made a logical fallacy here of assuming the people writing opinions or citing facts she does not like or agree with 'think they're better than another group'.... )

This person praised pioneers in science for their imagination and curiosity while summarily deriding others for having the gall to wonder if there is a greater power in the universe. 
(I did NO such thing and this person, a journalist, knows better and has trampled on their journalistic ethics by making that statement)

Yes, bad things have been done by religious people. Religion has been used as a tool to control uneducated masses. But bad things have been done by non-religious folk as well, 
(however NOT in the name of atheism or humanism or secularism) and other tools have been used to influence people. We could point fingers and cite examples all day and never get anywhere. 

Life is short, and it is often hard. A little love, no matter what one chooses to believe about our minute existence here on earth, would go a long way. 
That's all. "
(Such a nice sentiment from someone who as twice attributed statements to me when I made no such statements, and who is calling for tolerance, but cannot tolerate challenges to whatever they think they "believe." I will state here too, there is a huge, chasmic difference between tolerating something or someone, and accepting)

This is the article I originally commented on:

Pastors at some Pentecostal churches in Kenya are conducting prayer services to “cure” patients infected with HIV, confiscating their anti-retroviral drugs and charging a fee for their healing prayers. The new trend is especially worrisome as patients may...
TS Equally idiotic is the stance that religion has never helped anyone. Religion is a power much  guns, it all depends on who is wielding it. In the right hands, religion can inspire greatness, love, selflessness, but in the wrong hands can bring suffering and death.

TS The irony is that those HIV drugs were probably paid for by a Christian aid group (Unsubstantiated statement)

ME How does religion help anyone? Also, guns are real. (Unanswered question 1.)

SM Gives them false hope.

AW Every sane person on the planet knows right from wrong without needing a religion to tell them. It's a natural instinct of all animals and probably the only remaining animal instinct in humans that is beneficial. In many cases religion only alters and blurs what is right and wrong. Killing is wrong, but killing in the name of god is acceptable?? Many religions enforce these altered ideas of right and wrong with blind faith and self-righteous attitudes, which in turn, creates more problems pertaining to ethics and morals. I firmly believe the most ethical and moral human beings are the ones who know right from wrong and also have no affiliation to any religion.

ME Sing it, Sistah!
There is not a single good thing done by any religious person or motivated by any religious group that could not have been done without religion. Not a single good deed in the world ever needed a god to make it happen, because humans are not robots. 

Religion is NOT a force for good in any logical sense if only for the reason it convinces good people they cannot be good without the slave master's threats of hell. AND, if a person is only good because they are motivated by the (false) reward of heaven, they are an opportunist, not a good person.

TS Ha ha Julie, religion IS real, I think it's God you don't believe in... And whether you to believe it or not, we all have our own religion (a system of beliefs and rituals) whether its consumerism, atheism or Christianity. To name a few. (Tara is engaging in another logical fallacy here, this time the fallacy called "Bandwagon.")
And you're right, there's not a single thing done by a religious person that couldn't have been done by someone else. But it sure as hell doesn't happen very often. 
(Here, again, Tara has made a statement but provides no support for it whatsoever. Research clearly shows her statement to be untrue and unfounded)
And humans aren't robots? Have you seen any Black Friday videos. I'd say that's some pretty scientific evidence right there. 
And lastly, if you don't believe in organized religion or wing nuts telling people what to believe, why are you so fervently attacking other people's ideologies?
I mean, I don't wrap a scarf around my head everyday but if it makes someone feel even a bit better about this cruel world we live in, dear God, just give it to them. 
I totally condone homeless people drinking too 

SM "And you're right, there's not a single thing done by a religious person that couldn't have been done by someone else. But it sure as hell doesn't happen very often." You are kidding me right? I know 100's of people who do random acts of kindness on a daily basis and it has nothing to do with their religion. Wow. I do know dozens of kind religious people too. The two are not mutually exclusive. That said, some of the worst cases of unkindness I've witnessed come from those 'godfearing religious folk'. Mega hypocrites.

ME You're right, I don't "believe" in god(s). If there is no evidence, there's nothing to "believe" in, and once there's evidence, one doesn't believe, one knows. 

But just so we're clear here, WHICH god are you suggesting I don't believe in?
(Tara never answered this question and never clarified her position on god(s))

There have been about 4000 gods dreamed up by humans. There is not a shred of evidence for any of them, but I'm always interested in what evidence people believe they have. 

I disagree very, very strongly with your comment, "... there's not a single thing done by a religious person that couldn't have been done by someone else. But it sure as hell doesn't happen very often." This is decidedly NOT fact. Medecins sans frontiers is an entirely secular organisation; Steven Lewis's organisation, also secular; CFI international, secular; Planned Parenthood, secular; all the "sans frontiers" organisations are secular; and joe buddy down the street, who buys coffee for the people in line behind him/her, usually secular. 

I'm "attacking" ideologies that have shown themselves, time and time again, to be despicable and criminal, and which hide abusers and liars and couch that in terms of "god wants it this way." 
(I would like to point out and make it VERY clear I am not, have not and do not attach PEOPLE; I do, however, challenged ideologies and I do appreciate when people who hold those ideologies support and substantiate them)

Religion does NOT make people feel better about living in this world. It gives them false hope, which is bad, and convinces them they are "sinners" and are faulty, and THAT is criminal.

It is fascinating how often (AKA almost always) the religious ignore atrocities committed in the name of their religion or their god and committed by their leaders, and fall into the trap of false pleadings or special knowledge or straw man arguments, rather than just say, "THAT is horrifying," which should be the response to the story above. It is HORRIFYING.

TS OoooWeee! Kicked a hornets nest 
Julie, does it matter which god, lol? I should've put an s after god. My point was that religion is very real and you don't have to believe in gods to have strange ideas floating around in your noggin.
(This is an interesting turn of point of view, as it quite contradicts Tara's earlier stance)

 ME And just to insult an ideology even further, the Catholic church - the POPE himself - went on Twitter and asked for donations for the victims of Haiyan and that MONEY, which could have gone directly to very, very needy people, was used to purchase rosaries and bibles. PLASTIC BEADS and fairy stories. Seriously. 

Can you imagine what might have happened if that idiot had appealed to people to send dollars rather than contribute to the purchase of useless baubles that did NOTHING for the people and a LOT for enriching the vatican, via the profits that organisation makes through production of said plastic crap. 

There was a second organisation, also catholic, that used $3000 to also buy rosaries, which they also sent to the Philippines. THAT is CRIMINAL behaviour. 

Whereas, many, many secular and humanist organisations sent funds - useable stuff, money is - to aid organisations (Also secular) to help those people begin rebuilding. 

Elsewhere in Africa, children are being thrown out of their communities when they are accused as witches. Seriously. These heavily religious communities are tossing away their children. In other communities, albino children are also discarded and very often mutilated, because the religious leaders say those children are witches and the communities are so brainwashed by their religion and their "leaders" they treat their children  trash AND they countenance those children being tortured and often murdered. Who looks after those kids??? A SECULAR organisation that rescues them. SECULAR. NON-religious.

Who is looking after boys who are mutilated through circumcision rites? SECULAR organisations that pick up after the witch doctors who cut these boys up and "pray" over them, while their wounds are festering,. and when their "prayers" come to nothing, they throw these sick children into the streets, where secular doctors and nurses help them.

TS And whether you need a bible or a joint or even just a coffee to get you through the day, take it. Life is short. (This logical fallacy is called "appeal to emotion" and it serves to distract from the main argument, which, in this case, is the realities of religion as it relates to atrocities, which Tara is ignoring by her statement here)

ME Ok. Let's take on this one statement. "Religion is real." Substantiation please

SM  Sadly religion is real - even though the Gods aren't. And the amount of brainwashing and mistreatment of people at the hands of those religions is ridiculous. The sooner religion leaves society, the better.

ME ^ True.

TS Yup, SM, that's what I meant. Even if you don't believe in god, you can't argue that some people do and that belief is real.  John believes that windex cures herpes. Is that true? No. But is it true that John believes this? Yes.

TS And all the crap you pointed out that religious people have done, I could point out an equal amount of crap that non-religious people have done. (We're back to this premise that evil exists but that evil is committed in the name of religion by the religious, whereas, unless the person is insane and believes themselves to be 'god,' non-religious people do NOT commit crimes or atrocities in the name of any dogma or philosophy. This is a critical distinction)

TS Just as true is SM's comment that non-religious ppl do good stuff too.

ME Which is why atrocities continue to happen - because there are not more people like SM, AW and me, who "attack" ideologies that are CLEARLY dangerous, damaging and in far too many cases, murderous.

Yes, you CAN point out that all humans have the capacity for great good and great evil. 

You cannot, however, in any circumstance, show where atrocities are committed in the NAME of atheism, whereas there are centuries and centuries worth committed in the name of religion and gods.

TS This is fun, isn't it? 
Don't lie, you totally got fired up about this. You're going to remember this discussion long after you forget how to make wasabi peas or that your cousin got her braces off or any other post today.

ME I take any opportunity to expose religions for being as close to terrorism as they are, without co-opting the actual term.

TS Well, we'll have to disagree. I think religion is great 90% of the time. (And again, TS has provided no logical reason for this, and has ignored all the verifiable, obvious reasons religions are NOT great)

TS "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."
Dalai Lama

ME Ok, Show your work. Show me one single instance where religion has done something NO other philosophy could have accomplished. (TS at no point took me up on this)

As much as I appreciate the Dalai Lama, and appreciate the sweetness of that sentiment, it isn't accurate. Religion is defined as a set of codes and behaviours, expectations and dogmas. Kindness is decidedly outside the realm of "religion" and needs no religion to exist. Kindness is an innate human drive and has absolutely nothing to do with religion, and in demonstrable fact, there are hundreds and thousands of cases where kindness has been much trampled by the expectations of religion. 

Case in point the couples - plural - who are on trial for murder, some for the second and third times - for having caused their children to suffer horribly and to have allowed those children to die rather than seek out a doctor. Kindness went to hell in those situations. Atheist/humanists/secularists/brights do NOT allow their children to die because they default to muttering into the air. There is naught kind about religions that instil the means of overriding kindness and no person ever needed religion to be kind and moral. Ever. Not once in all of 14 billion years of this planet's history.

ME AND the story above is another case in point, where kindness - the provision of life-saving, family-saving drugs was destroyed thanks to religion overriding pure human kindness and caring.

TS I don't think this argument really has to do with religion. There are good people and there are bad people. There are smart people and there are stupid people. 
When you have a bad, smart person, they will use whatever tool is at their disposal to gain power. Sadly, religion is often one of those tools. 

But many good people have also used religion as a tool. You can't blame evil on religion anymore than religious people can blame evil on the devil. Google it, scientists have long shown that some animals are vicious for no reason. That "animals know what's right" statement is ridiculous. Some baboon species in the wild kill for the fun of it. 

At the end of the day, religion is just a set of codes, invented back when people didn't know shit about shit, to help people live together and maybe enjoy life and maybe not stress out if your one shot at life is pure misery.

(OK, so, why, in a post-modern civilization - and I'm speaking here of Canada, the UK, USA, Germany, etc, not of middle-eastern, theocracies, do we still rely on what this person admits here was devised when "people didn't know shit about shit?)

Speak out against evil people, I'll join you. 
Speak out against religion, and I'm not with you. 
(Ah. I see. Censorship where it relates to a subject this person doesn't have fully in hand and doesn't want to be challenged on. Very religious). 
I'm all for hope. Even if its false. 
(Let me redact this: "I'm all for false hope." Really??)

AW Religion is the poison that plagues mankind! Simply created by man, to control man. There was a time when the church ruled all; it was called the dark ages. Humans are fools to believe that religion isn't a means of control by the elite! It is science which moves mankind forward. Absolutely un a religion which essence is not to question laws, thus not revealing secrets of nature, not gaining this kind of knowledge.

Today it is accepted that it wasn't prayers, nor miracles that helped mankind achieve great discoveries and so increase advancement progress of our society. It was human curiosity and ability to solve mysteries of nature; mathematics, physics, biology and many other areas of science. I stand by my views that the decisions of these crackpot preachers to preach end enforce their "religion" over the use of medicine is a decision to do nothing at all

TS And you're a fool if you think getting rid of religion is going to solve anything. 
How biased do you think our laws are to the elite?
 I said, smart, bad people will use any tool they can to maintain power. Take away religion and they'll find another tool. 
PS no one is arguing about the crackpot preachers. Even religious people think they are stupid. Even the crackpot preachers don't believe their own shit. But they know how to make money.

TS  JC, first of all thank you SO much for brightening an otherwise boring day of work. I love this. Any time you want to debate, please pick me. 

ME Just to get me through the rest of my shift: one instance where religion did something no other philosophy could have is its given us a reason not to kill each other. (TS ignores this fact, being yes, humans commit atrocities; however, humanists, secularist, atheists do NOT commit atrocities in the name of any god, dogma or philosophy. They also totally ignore the FACT that christianity and Islam DO countenance murder)

AW I had an interesting discussion with somebody once on the same subject or rather in his words, the "problem" of what should replace religion once we get rid of it. I wondered what "problem" he was referring to. After all, when you visit countries in Europe you don't see a pressing need to come up with some institutions that replace religion. 

SM Here's a list of good things that religion provides (according to my friend): hope, love, beauty, joy, and moral teamwork. These are the things we get from organised religion. Really? I haven't noticed that these things are missing in the lives of my atheist friends. Nor have I noticed that the people of Denmark or Belgium are loveless, joyless and incapable of moral teamwork. 

AW In the 'cancer analogy' - when you cure cancer, do you replace the tumour with another one? Why do we have to replace religion with anything? Everything can be found in secular or atheist societies and individuals! 

This has been an interesting debate but I will leave it there for tonight.

Take a look at this article:

Irish biopsychologist Dr Nigel Barber's contentious book proposes the market for formal religion is being squeezed by modern substitutes such as sports and entertainment - especially in more developed countries.

ME @Tara: WHEN did RELIGION give anyone the reason not to kill others???

Let's analyse: the New Testament is based on the bloody torture and death of it's key character, not to mention the deaths of many others.

The Old Testament is nothing but a litany of the Abrahamic god either killing its "created" beings, threatening them with death or ordering them to kill neighbouring tribes - women and children included, except for the virgins, which they were to keep as "spoils."

In REAL life, there's not a mentally-stable human around who doesn't know not to kill other people. NOBODY needs religion to tell them that. Humans are social animals and innately know collaboration is a better means to the end than killing whatever is in the way. RELIGION, however, very much supports the idea of killing, mostly because the main invisible characters function on the "Do what I say or I kill you," premise.

So please explain to me how religion has "given us a reason not to kill each other," when reality says exactly the opposite. See 9/11 and every other terrorist act in the last 2000 years for record. #inquisition #crusades #bombingsandshootingsofdoctors#rapeandkillingofgaypeople #tortureanddeathofsickchildren #sparetherod....

TS Hehehe well, many religions state that killing other people is bad. And those religious rules trickled down to the current laws we have today. From an educated, scientific point of view, killing people would be great for our planet as a whole  (without religion we can do away with the ridiculous notion that we are in any way different or more important than animals) but selectively killing people with certain genes would be awesome for our species as a whole.
(Gotta say, I'm pretty stunned by this statement. This writer ignores the most staunch proponents of the death penalty are the most religious; the most staunch supporters of slavery -which is biblical, and never repudiated anywhere in the bible, by the way- were the religious)

TS And @AW, I think you misread. There is no problem of finding something to replace religion with. If we did away with religion today, people would find another way of controlling the masses the very next day. Same thing vice versa, ie the Roman Empire making the quick shift to Catholicism. (The Roman Empire did not make "a quick shift to catholicism." The Roman Empire co opted the many disparate "pagan" religions, took from them interesting parts i.e. the winter holiday celebration, co-opted some of those old religions' gods - i.e. Horus, Mithras, etc, etc - combined them into one - "jesus" and gave that character a life and a past, also based on those old religions).

This conversation ended here but picked up with TS alleging on her page, I had called all religious people idiots. 

I think religions are idiotic, untenable, and illogical and do not and cannot pass the evidence test in any respect. I have good friends and family members who are very religious and, as much as I cannot comprehend how, in a post-modern, science-based civilisation, they are still religious, it is what it is. Dispensing with religion frees one from the tyranny of the invisible man, from overriding one's natural morality and frees one to think - because accepting myths of boats containing all the worlds animals floating about for a year, and a whole tribe of people wandering for 40 years but leaving no trace whatsoever, is not thinking. It is the antithesis of thinking.