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Some More Quotes

Entry 1879, on 2017-10-02 at 21:18:26 (Rating 4, Religion)

Occasionally I like to discuss some of my favourite quotes, usually from figures from science, history, philosophy, etc whom I admire to some extent. It has been a while since I did one of these, so let's have a look at a few good quotes I have seen recently...

Here's the first one. Quote 1: "The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion." - Arthur C. Clarke.

I don't think that religion should be totally rejected as a potential source of ideas around morality, in the same way as I would not reject fiction as a source. But the idea that religion is *the* source is absurd, insulting, and dangerous.

It's absurd because all the main religions of the world have been found to be hopelessly inadequate in their truth claims. it is insulting because very moral people can be shut-down just because they don't follow a particular religion. And it's dangerous because people stop thinking about what is really true when they surrender their critical thought processes to a religion.

Additionally, different religions, and even different sects within large religions like Christianity, have quite different ideas on what is moral and what isn't. The fact that many of these groups feel justified in killing each other over these, sometimes quite trivial, differences indicates that their overall claim to be the guardians of moral standards is questionable.

And religions have given support to many ideas in the past that we would now consider immoral, such as slavery, lack of equality for women, rejection of contraception and abortion, and many others. In fact, even today religions have far too much influence and hold back moral progress when they try to impose their doubtful moral standards on both their own members and others.

Just one last point on this before I move on. The tired old strategy the believers use when they say "how can we have morals without a god to impose them" is totally ridiculous. First, morality could easily be seen as an emergent property of the behaviour of a highly social species. Second, if a god created moral standards we would expect them to be more consistent amongst religions and not to change over time. And third, even if a god was required (one isn't) how does this relate to the childish fairy stories which are human religions?

On a related subject, I present quote 2: "So it's not God's fault for all the evil and bad things? Oh really? I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil. I the Lord, do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7)" - Anonymous

This one relates quite well to a recent debate I had on my blog with a religious believer. He thought his god was justified in torturing good people (like me) with eternal torment in Heil just because we couldn't believe in the god's existence. He is a good person, and he didn't like this "fact", but he still insisted on worshipping a god who is clearly immoral and evil.

How anyone could think that any religion which included this disgusting belief has any relevance whatsoever to morality is beyond me. And the fact that it is all fantasy and Hell doesn't exist is irrelevant, because these people would clearly be OK with any real torture for unbelievers as well.

Remember that all of this comes from the New Testament, the alleged teachings of Jesus, who supposedly espoused peace and forgiveness. It might sound very moral on the surface, but dig a bit and it's the same old crap as every other religion.

So having demonstrated how grossly immoral religion is, let's move on to how stupidly fictitious it is as well. Here's quote 3: "Science: Many different people study many different sources and arrive at the same conclusions. Religion: Many different people study the same source and arrive at many different conclusions." - Anonymous.

Of course, this cannot be taken too literally because there are disagreements in science, even over the same data, and there is some degree of agreement amongst religions, but the general principle is sound.

Science tends to converge on an agreed conclusion, but religion tends to split into more divergent ideas. For example, several theories on the origin of our universe have been tested and found lacking until the Big Bang was developed and is now fairly universally accepted. But at the same time religion has split into a number of mutually exclusive, irrational ideas. Even within Christianity there is a range from Biblical literalism to complete acceptance of science, and everything in between. And none of these are really based on any religious evidence, apart from Creationism of course, which is the one most obviously wrong!

Note that the agreed science, such as the Big Bang, is not always the complete truth, but because it is based on real observations it is always a good approximation to reality. Religion on the other hand rarely has any relevance to anything in the real world at all. It is just completely irrelevant as a source of knowledge.

I have a cartoon in my collection showing a man watching TV news with the following caption (AKA quote 4): "Atheists rioted in the streets worldwide today, reacting to a Danish cartoon depicting nobody with a bomb on top of his head."

This is a reference to the Danish Muslim cartoons which caused riots and at least 200 deaths worldwide in 2005. The point is that it takes a strong belief system for people to become so irrationally violent over something so trivial. As an atheist I just have a bit of a laugh at any cartoon mocking atheism, although I might feel compelled to point out why it's wrong.

I know that today most religions might protest any perceived insult, but would not generally indulge in violence. It's usually Islam which uses violence in these situations today, but Christianity was at least as bad in the past. But the point is that if you don't believe in fairy tales you won't feel so inclined towards violence to defend them.

Here's quote 5: "The difference between a cult and a religion: In a cult there is a person at the top who knows it's a scam. In a religion, that person is dead." - Anon

All religions are scams because that is a requirement for a religion to survive. Unless a belief system has a mechanism to ensure its proliferation it will die out. That's why many people compare religion to a virus of the mind. It's like a living organism feeding off a host to ensure its own survival.

Then there's quote 6, which is another cartoon which shows a sign outside of a church with the following text: "Gather together to shout down your doubts. Sunday 10-11."

I really think this is true. Most belief systems require some sort of reinforcement over time to ensure their followers remain loyal. Regular meetings with like-minded people must be a significant element in keeping people trapped.

Finally, here's quote 7. I saw this on Twitter, and it's a tweet from God, who says: "Stop praying. I'm clearly not listening." - God

Now I do have to admit that this probably isn't really God, but he makes a good point I think. I have another quote which says "nothing fails like prayer" and it's true. Imagine all the people in poor countries who have signed up to the religions (especially Christianity) introduced by European invaders over the past few hundred years. These people are often afflicted by natural and man-made disasters and they must offer a lot of prayers for help. And what do they get? Nothing. Or at least nothing beyond what the normal laws of chance would dictate. No, apparently God really isn't listening.

So those are my quotes for this post. They prove nothing in themselves, but I think they are effective ways to communicate the bigger truth behind the simple facades. That truth is that religion is just immoral, irrational BS.

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Comment 32 (4842) by OJB on 2017-10-30 at 22:43:09: (view earlier comments)

Look, it's really simple. The right to marry is something given to heterosexual couples and could be extended to same-sex couples without really incurring any negative outcomes. So why not just do it? The only possible reason I can see is that people might want to preserve existing standards, which are most likely derived from a religious belief.

So getting back to the original question: can you show me anything which credibly suggests that any of the alleged thoughts of Jesus were recorded at the time. Try to answer the question this time.

But religion is all abut cherry picking. How else can there be so many totally conflicting interpretations of the same text? If you can't handle this being applied to your own religion, look at it in regards to a different one. Apparently, Islam is a religion of peace. Most Muslims genuinely believe that, but a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the same text leads to jihadist atrocities.

You denied it was the case and that isn't the same as showing me it wasn't. But let's leave that aside. It's bad form to try to guess another person's motivations anyway.

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Comment 33 (4843) by richard on 2017-11-01 at 11:06:54:

If only it was simple. The question of what decision a governing power should make to extend or deny some apparent rights to individuals, is often not simple. Doesn't it come down to having a longer term view of what makes more sense, than a short term - 'baby see baby want' view?

The classical definition of marriage is not just religiously defined - or even Govt policy defined. Rather it is a 'discovered' naturally occurring feature of reality that (in your world view) is the product of evolution and discoverable by science. To change that definition is to go against both. Why is preserving that already existing standard wrong?

It logicially follows that you cannot extend that particular 'right' to one group of individuals, and then subsequently deny that right to other groups , ones which will produce even greater harm - and btw you haven't demonstrated that no harm is involved with this decision anyway.

All the real practical rights wanted by SS couples are already provided to them. There is nothing they can't do. All they want is the same label - that tries to falsely affirm that the SSM relationship is the same as classical marriage. This is demonstratably false - at least wrt to the only reasons that Govts bother with marriage licences in the first place.

So why isn't it more selfish to continue to demand this label, given the downstream effects to any change that denys the scientific evidence describing what 'marriage' looks like, when they already have every right to celebrate their unique (different) relationship in every way possible?

You are hanging on this 'at the time' as if that is relevant to historical accuracy. Not true. They were recorded at the time, orally - as part of the cultures tradition, and all the Universities I mentioned understand and (generally) agree that the earliest manuscripts were written by either eye witnesses to the events, or those that got it from eye-witnesses, the first within 30 years or so - a time span far earlier than alot of historical records from that period that we don't question at all. Again - use highly qualifed historical scholar Bat Erhman whose other book 'Did Jesus Exist' defends the case that of course he did - and any suggestion to the contrary lacks historical credibility.

That some people can cherry pick is irrelevant. Doesn't mean their view can be 'reasonably defended'. You just admitted that very thing when you said "a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the text leads to Jihadist atrocities'. So better to ask the Muslims how they defend their view that Islam is a religion of peace.

Love that last comment: 'It's bad form to try to guess another person's motivations anyway." Was that by way of an apology? ;)

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Comment 34 (4844) by OJB on 2017-11-01 at 20:07:38:

Standards change over time, generally to more inclusive, fair, and secular views. That's why SSM is now accepted in far more places than in the past. The only parts of the world returning to more regressive, religion-based views are in the Islamic world. Maybe you would prefer we emulate their views more?

We are "discovering" that greater inclusivity is good for society, so social evolution seems to be dictating that SSM is a good idea.

I have referred you to studies showing children of same-sex parents get as good or better outcomes than those of "conventional" families. Also, you are the one making the claim against the default position (that there is no significant difference) so it is really up to you to prove your view.

Yes, practically they have the same rights but surely you can see that the symbolism of being "second best" here is the real problem. In society, labels and symbolism matter.

Interesting that you should mention Bat [sic] Erhman, who from what I understand, claims the Bible is hopelessly unreliable having been re-written for political and theological purposes, as well as being transcribed inaccurately by amateurs. Maybe you agree with me after all?

Of course views based on cherry-picking are difficult to defend. That's why people genuinely seeking the truth look for objective, empirical evidence for any hypothesis they formulate.

Not so much an apology, more an admission it was a pointless exercise since it is difficult to either prove or disprove.

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Comment 35 (4845) by richard on 2017-11-03 at 21:52:35:

Yes - I know that social evolution (engineering) is occurring such that SSM is a foregone conclusion, as will be the logical slope that follows. I agree that SSM couples are generally lovely folks, but I did provide a bona fide example of increased harm risk, in their greatly increased suicide rates. For some inexplicable reason you choose to ignore that.

There is not just a moral judgement here, but with any other form of increased health risk to a child (smoking, or anorexia say - though not being compared to LBTG in any sense other than a verified harm risk btw), while we don't 'criminalise' such behaviour, we don't create public policy to celebrate it and pretend that it has no effect either - not if we care more about our kids that the basic gratifications of our adults, who as you say are really just looking for nothing more than symbolism.

My sincere apologies to Bart. That was not intentional at all. Ha ha. The point is how on earth does Bart decide that it was transcribed inaccurately, without knowing that there is actually a valid reference to judge the inaccuracy by. His whole book commits suicide wrt inaccuracy on that basis, but it shows clearly that even like nearly all historical scholars know that there is no reason to doubt their were ancient texts written close to the time.

So if 'cherry picked views are difficult to defend', you clearly understand the point that the bible (when correctly used) provides reasonably clear views on most moral issues (whether you agree with them or not is a different questions). So just don't cherry pick (unless they are in line with the overall message). Easy enough.

Nice to chat over such things amicably with you. Cheers.

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Comment 36 (4846) by OJB on 2017-11-05 at 20:52:38:

We were discussing same sex marriage but you seem to be quoting figures showing greater suicide rates amongst the LGBTQ community. How does SSM increase the chances of a child having parents who are more likely to commit suicide? Maybe if they felt more included in society (by being allowed something everyone else already has) their suicide rate might be lower? Also, they can adopt kids whether they are married of not, so this is a bit of a non sequitur.

The fact that various texts were translated poorly doesn't mean the first versions were accurate. If I translated the Lord of the Rings badly it would still have been fantasy to start with. You still have showed no evidence at all that records were made at the time.

The Bible provides both clear and contradictory views because you can cherry pick different sections of text to support your view. Each section might be clear (but often isn't) but there is often another, equally clear, section saying something contradictory.

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