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Author Topic: Matt's Atheism, "Religion" and the Bible  (Read 1676 times)
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Matt
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« on: September 23, 2010, 08:48:59 »

At the time of the "crash" I had just introduced this topic with an explanation that I was going to use the last entry by Twist on the pope's declaration about "extreme atheism", as a springboard for some critque of Twist's statements about "religion".  I am reposting Twist's comments and I am going to "attack" the sentiments, not as a personal attack on Twist or his beliefs but rather as though he were speaking as "Everyman Atheist".  In other words he is articulating pretty much the same "argument" I hear over and over from professing non-theists. 

I am then going to do several entries in a row, probably before anyone has an opportunity to respond.  THEREFORE I am asking that, if convenient, you address your reply as "per reply # _____, so that we can follow more specifically which idea you are responding to particularly.

One thing that just came to me today, is that perhaps we are all "barking up the wrong tree" when we discuss what we don't like about religion.  We say it is that we don't want some church leader, or "religion in the name of a god", telling us what to do. But is the real truth that we don't want ANYONE telling us what to do, and "religion" or "religious people" make a good target?
   
Entry 2 (or reply # 1) will be the quote from Twist.  Reply #2 will be my first set of observatinons. (Kind of introductory remarks.)  And reply 3 will be the first of my analytical examination of "Everyman Atheist's" comments suitably interpreted (or misinterpreted) to meet my needs for discussion. 
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2010, 09:10:09 »

From or by Twist, in commenting about the Pope's statement per Extreme atheism and the comments that followed that.

Quote
I think the "uproar" would be more to do with the pope likening atheists to Nazism.

As for the statement that atheists have a truncated vision of man and society, to me is the opposite of logic. The reason being that for the religious everything has been explained and God is always the answer. To those not tied down to religion, nearly anything could potentially be possible and this encourages further investigation to answer all the whys and hows that living in the world throws up. For the religious all the rules are set in stone by the holy book/whatever system of law this means that societies aren't able to change or adapt as quickly as others as any attempt to do so is seen as a sin or blasphemy. Lives and destinies are stifled by rules such as those that suppress women and opportunities, even down to the simple opportunity and encouragement to question and to think. The material world is amazing and it's not all what we can see and touch, a thousand years ago people didn't know about atoms or distant galaxies, or various forces, or any number of things we know today and can appreciate all the more today due to our knowledge of them (or even what still makes us ask how and why). Religion presumes to know all the answers and comes to conclusions before anything has been properly studied, it is not brave enough to say I don't know, but I'd like to find out. Just because people without religion don't believe in God, or an afterlife, doesn't mean they think any less of people or destiny. If anything life itself and humanity should be more important and precious because it's all we have and it's amazing how we have evolved to be able to even think and discuss such things. Just as not believing in santa claus will not automatically make a child behave badly, or any other such supernatural thing. I'm waffling now, but I hope I've made my point
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Twist
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2010, 09:18:20 »

*ahem* Twist is a she!
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Matt
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2010, 09:21:18 »

A few preliminary observations:
One, while we talk about atheism as an ism, as you have pointed out elsewhere, it is not an "Organized" religion per say because there is not a recognised "head" spokesperson as it were. But in as much as it is an "ism" when spoken of as a collective ideology then it is definitely a "worldview" or as the dictionary would say of an ism: "any distinctive but unspecified doctrine or practice of a kind with a name ending with ism."
When I use the term "ideology" then I mean it to be: "A system of ideas or way of thinking , usually relating to politics or society or the conduct of a class or group, and regarded as justifying actions, esp. one that is held implicitly or adopted as a whole and maintained regardless of the course of events."

Secondly,  when you point out that "atheism" is not a "religion" because it speaks of what you don't believe rather than what you do believe, or however you phrased that, it is why I prefer to use the term "non theist" and speak of what the individual "non theist" DOES believe.  Because every non theist IS a believer and conducts his or her life quite rigidly according to their particular belief.  To believe that there is no worthwhile belief to hold to religiously, IS your belief.  It is your FAITH.  And no matter how you come to it, Faith is nothing more or less than what you put your "TRUST" in.  In that sense the "Faith" or the "trust" of the atheist or non theist is absolutely NO different than the "Faith" or "trust" of a theist.  

And perhaps I will head off some argument if I observe, that what atheists, (non theists) seem to mind most about religion is that they seem to think they should impose their particular "religion" on those who don't share their convictions.  With that I would have to agree, but observe this.  If you don't call it Religion, and you call it democracy, or "law and order" or whatever else you want to call it, you are not going to find a society that can function without this idea of "imposed" order.  Communism does it.  The only "system" that would not would be anarchy and that is itself an imposed "disorder".
So what you are demanding is that there be "freedom of religion" which ought to imply freedom to practice "no religion".  And with that I also agree. BUT only if those who have "no religion" allow the freedom to Practice religion.  Which for the most part "non theistic" governments do not allow, for the same reason that the critics direct toward "religions".  It is always a conflict of power.  Who "rules"? .The government or the "church" or temple, or shaman?  
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Matt
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« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2010, 09:22:53 »

PER REPLY # 2


*ahem* Twist is a she!

Sorry. I knew that from an earlier time, didn't I?  Call it a grey moment on my part.  
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« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2010, 09:29:23 »

THIS IS THE FOUNDATIONAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIBLICAL "CHRISTIANITY" AND EVERY RELIGION AND POLITICAL MOVEMENT IN THE WORLD.
 (Apart from the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus, which sets the Christian faith apart from all other systems of the world.)
A follower of Jesus understands two things:
One, the kingdom of heaven/God/ Jesus is NOT of this world.  There was to be no earthly power structure, no organization, and no 'governance' apart from the headship of Jesus.  Every gathering or assembly of believers was autonomous and answered to no-one except Jesus and the local fellowship.
 
The second understanding was that every believer, in following the example of Jesus was to be the servant of all.

The Bible makes no mention of popes, archbishops, canons, and certainly the New Testament has no place for priests or 'special clergy'.  It mentions bishops and deacons, and pastor/teachers, but the bishop was nothing of what we perceive today.  They didn't attire themselves in dresses or special hats.  The word episcopos meant nothing more than a "superintendent" or overseer of LOCAL assemblies. This office he held, not because he was "special" or "ordained" but simply because he had demonstrated particular giftings in administration, or teaching and was always under the collective discipline of the whole body.  To be Biblical, (rather than "religious) we have to go by what the Bible says, not by what 1700 years of tradition has imprinted on our mind as to what particular offices or practices are to be. 
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« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2010, 09:44:50 »

So to the points.

Let me go first to this idea.
Quote
For the religious all the rules are set in stone by the holy book/whatever system of law this means that societies aren't able to change or adapt as quickly as others as any attempt to do so is seen as a sin or blasphemy. Lives and destinies are stifled by rules such as those that suppress women and opportunities, even down to the simple opportunity and encouragement to question and to think.

This is the nature of any "religion" and if not the religion then whatever form of "law" or govenment that governs your own home, or community or country. You may not call the breaking of the rules sin or blasphemy, but you (or your parents) or the community are not going to tolerate a blatant disregard for the "order".  So, let's start by saying that any "religion" or community has a right to draw up its own laws and bylaws and rules.  The point that brings you the Pain, is not that these organizations have rules, it is that they try to impose them on you. BUT if you are not part of that body, are you subject to the rules? And if you are part of the body, and you don't like the rules why would you stay in it?  So in  this aspect, your railing against a religious body that says homosexuality is sin, really should have no concern for you.  If you want to practice homosexual acts and not come under the condemnation of the body that says for its adherents it is sin, then don't belong to that body. 
But if you live in a pluralistic society and it has said practicing homosexual acts are against the law, as is using particular drugs, and you don't think the law is right, you still have a choice.  You can vote to change the law, or you can disobey the law and face the consequences,  or you can leave the country. 
This set of rules that is not able to change or adapt quickly is a truth that is not connected solely to "religion."  It would be equally true under any government whether democratic or communistic or totalitarian by any other name. The government that makes a law that says homosexual acts are illegal is not making the law because of its "religion"  (At least not in North America or the United Kindom) There is no such thing as a "Christian Country."
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« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2010, 09:54:09 »

But you also suggest that:
Quote
The reason being that for the religious everything has been explained and God is always the answer. To those not tied down to religion, nearly anything could potentially be possible and this encourages further investigation to answer all the whys and hows that living in the world throws up. For the religious all the rules are set in stone by the holy book...

Here you mention the God and the holy book and I think you are trying to suggest that that holy book is the Bible and that for someone to suggest that God is the answer is somehow something for which any sensible thinking person should deny.  But I suggest this is because you (non theists) have decided what that must mean to a believer, when you yourself are not a believer and therefore you have no idea what it means to a believer.  In other words quite contrary to your conclusion, I might say whereas the "materialist" is confined to the material world,---what can be seen or handled---, for the believer, simply because he DOES believe in GOD, he can quite literally say "The sky is the limit".  Until the Renaissance, and Humanism, and a form of rationalism became a "god", Science was dominated by Believers simply because they KNEW that the God of Creation had ordered a universe that COULD be observed and with precision. They knew that "laws of nature" could be "discovered" and articulated.  Because they were dealing with that which came as it were out of the "mind" or "Logos" of God, they knew there were no "boundaries" to the realms which they could explore.  While you might call it superstition, alchemy and astrology were in fact part of the "science" or the day.  Not because they were ignorant, but because they were unfettered by "materialism" that said "this can't be so". Therefore they worked tirelessly to find the "key" to the mysteries.  And as they uncovered more "facts" they adjusted the enquiry accordingly. 

Rather they said.  God is in this, anything is possible. God is outside of man, and beyond man's comprehension. Therefore we must always be thinking outside the box, and asking "Physical" and "METAphysical" thoughts.  The materialist on the otherhand can only ask "physical" thoughts.
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2010, 10:08:52 »

Thoughts of Reply 7 continued, or applied to specific area. ie. origins of life.

You (non theist) seem to think only you have the answers, but it is the Old Testament account, committed to writing several thousand years ago and predating any evolutionary thinking that spoke of the whole created universe coming into existence by a spoken "word". (Think "Big Bang"). It was neither "big" nor "bang" but with as definite a "beginning" as if someone said "Yes"... or "Let it be!"  It is the Old Testament that  speaks of vegetation appearing in a fourth era, and marine life or "the Waters bringing forth abundantly the moving creatures and the winged creatures" during the fifth epoch or stage. And then the appearance of creatures that "the earth brought forth", including the appearance of the humanoid into whom God "breathed the breath of man" and he took on the image of God. ie. a sentient being, capable of thought and speech and emotions and all that makes you a human.  It is the Bible that describes man as "adam" or red like clay, whose name we applied to Adam. And you think the Bible limits the scope of our imagination?! I ask you, would any present day "materialist" have ever come up with this descripion BEFORE the 1300's?
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2010, 11:29:57 »

You (non theists) throw in the old worn saw that the Bible has "rules such as those that suppress women and opportunities"  but you can't be talking about the same Bible I read, that mentions Moses' sister as a political leader, or of Deborah, or Esther, or Rahab, or Sarah, and on and on.  And that is just in the Old Testament.  Even when non theists name what they suppose are suppressive acts or inequality issues, they are applying 21st century standards to a culture that is 4000 years and mid eastern removed from today.  So that by comparison to the societies around them the laws that governed the Jewish people are light years in advance.  Compare in fact the laws of the UK and NA of only 100 years ago to today's laws.  (for women).  These laws were not imposed by a "religion".   

No society has the liberty for women that countries, who follow the example of the New Testament, has.  If you talk about specific religions and what they do to suppress women, that is a different matter, because religions are based on "traditions" and prejudices and who knows what else. But the Bible speaks only of liberty.  What the Bible does recognise is definite differences in the sexes, and makes no apology for that.  And in recognising that, it also made sure that the differences were respected and protected.  That is quite different than "suppressing."   


The conclusion to the whole matter of course comes back to this observation that the non-theists, and many who give lip service to the Bible, fail to understand. When the Bible says this or that is a "sin" it is addressed to those who are "believers" and by their own profession have said they want to be under the rules of the God in whom they believe. A "sin" is only a sin to one who believes there is a "lord" or god to whom he must answer. To a non theist, or to a government that imposed a "law" then one who breaks it is only a "law breaker" or a "transgressor" and the issue is not with religion" but with "law" and order. 

In the UK and NA, religions do not make the law of the land.  So far, as democracies, their elected representatives make or change the laws.   
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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2010, 10:24:50 »

Twist:
Thought you might find this English Scientists "lecture" interesting.  It is a little lengthy but his presentation is interesting.  He probably gets a more sympathetic audience among scientists than he does "Christians".  I very much enjoyed his book, Miracles of Exodus, simply because he "thinks outside the box" in a way you seem to think Christians can not, and I propose in a way that Non theists usually do not.

http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/cis/humphreys/Humphreys_lecture.htm
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