A Critique of Religion

Theology, Religious Studies, religion, god, faith and other topics of a spiritual nature.

Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 25th, 2017, 7:09 pm 

On that note I decided to investigate the various religious positions on original sin.

The general idea is that the first human ancestors sinned against God and from that we have an inheritance of some kind which separates us from God. Sin in general is viewed as something which separates us from God, so the question is how much of this is inherited and how much is a consequence of our own actions.

Islam explicitly denies the whole idea of inherited sin, and also believe that Adam and Eve were forgiven.

Judaism is divided on the issue but generally teach that we are born without sin. However, many do think that the sin of Adam brought death into the world.

The Mormons generally believe that Adam and Eve made the right choice to live a mortal life apart from God in which to be tested. They deny that we are born with any culpability and it is only our own deeds which we are responsible for.

Protestants including Jehovah Witnesses generally teach that we have inherited from Adam and Eve a corruption of human nature that both gives us an inclination towards evil and makes us worthy of damnation from birth.

The Catholic Catechism teaches that the sin of Adam and Eve weakened human nature and gave us an inclination towards sin, but no guilt for their sin.

The Eastern Orthodox also deny that inherited original sin is a matter of culpability but more a matter of consequences of what Adam and Eve did. But they are divided on whether this an alteration of human nature or a matter of change in our environment which makes us more susceptible to wrong doing.

In my case, I deny that sin in general should be thought of as some kind of crime against God, but instead believe sin to consist of bad habits which damage and destroy human potentiality and free will -- i.e. habits which are self-destructive. Such bad habits are not inherited at birth but are transmitted and learned by example and via human communication. Thus you can classify this as generally fitting in with the Eastern Orthodox idea of it being due to an environmental influence.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Don Juan on September 26th, 2017, 1:25 pm 

The first sin was committed by Adam by not keeping God's Word and Command, according to the Bible. So then sin is committed when one deviates from the Word of God. There are two important considerations then: What is the Word of God and is man deviating from It.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 27th, 2017, 3:45 am 

Don Juan » September 26th, 2017, 12:25 pm wrote:The first sin was committed by Adam by not keeping God's Word and Command, according to the Bible. So then sin is committed when one deviates from the Word of God. There are two important considerations then: What is the Word of God and is man deviating from It.


Obedience theology is quite useful to religions who worship power and control and thus have this as their purpose. But these manipulative power mongering religions have little to recommend themselves to mature intelligent human beings.

But for those who worship a God of love and life, and thus have these as the purpose of their religion and spirituality, it isn't about obedience. Thus they will look at the story of Adam and Eve and see something quite different. Making mistakes is how we learn. This is not to say that commandments and obedience have no proper role in our development. It is in fact an important step for transitioning to being responsible for our own survival. For the infant we simply put dangerous things out of their reach, but that must eventually come to an end. And how do we get them to the point of being careful with dangerous things themselves? We do it by giving them a commandment such as "Don't play in the street or you will die" or "Don't play with matches or you will kill us all." Then we can only hope that mistakes in such things are instructive without killing anybody.

With this understanding, what are we then to take away from the story we read in Genesis of Adam and Eve. Well, then we know it far more important to see if they learn from their mistake rather than whether they make any. And then we cannot help but notice that what we get from Adam and Eve after their act of disobedience is nothing but lame excuses -- blaming everyone but themselves, which practically spits on any love we might hope to see for either God or each other. "It was that woman YOU gave me." (I cannot help but notice the similarity of this attitude by Adam and Eve with the attitude of the people we find in our prisons. Everything which happened to them is everyone's fault but their own -- they even blame their victims for what they have done.) And HOW can they learn from their mistakes when they do not even admit that they have made any?

Thus the sin which a religion of love and life is likely to see are the bad habits of Adam and Eve which not only prevent them from learning (the task of life itself) but also poison any love they might have for each other. And then we might ask, what can possible separate us from such a God of love and life? After all, what sort of parent kicks their children out of the house to make them fend for themselves? (If the story is just about obedience then this is difficult to fathom and one might be easily inclined to despise such a supposed deity as monstrous. But the truth is, what is monstrous are just these religions whose only purpose is to grasp for power and control over other people.) There is only one possible answer -- only ONE thing which can possibly separate a parent from the children he/she loves, and that is if their own presence in the life of their children is doing them harm.

What harm? Well, think about what this habit of blaming everyone but themselves for their own mistakes is going to do to their relationship with an all-knowing all-powerful God? It transforms Him from the perfect teacher into the perfect scapegoat. So what does God do? He insists that they take full responsibility for their own lives and face the consequences of all their own choices. It is the only logical way to fight this self destructive anti-life habit they have indulged in.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Don Juan on September 27th, 2017, 1:37 pm 

mitchellmckain » September 27th, 2017, 9:45 am wrote:Obedience theology is quite useful to religions who worship power and control and thus have this as their purpose. But these manipulative power mongering religions have little to recommend themselves to mature intelligent human beings.


Obedience theology was out of my mind, but then of course you are free to view on that angle and have you arguments develop from it. I am however looking into Biblical thoughts and passages and trying to understand what they mean as constrained by Biblical context. Yes, the Bible implies a God of power, but also implies God of righteousness and love, we cannot discount these when we are talking of the Bible. On this reason, we cannot narrow our views to a lateral angle and see only those that to us have lesser value while neglecting our obligation to broaden our understanding of what is Biblically written trying to figure out what is really communicated, and stay reasonable. We can however dig into the basal angle and try to understand the Word of God through Which God caused the ordered complexity that produced us and within which our potentiality and freewill depend, and as one may reflect that the issue regarding sin is more than bad habits, instead it is one's continuous fight for order in nature and righteousness in God.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 27th, 2017, 2:45 pm 

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 12:37 pm wrote:I am however looking into Biblical thoughts and passages and trying to understand what they mean as constrained by Biblical context.

I, however, make no such absurd pretense that any such constraints exist in the Bible. The only real constraints are in the mind and purpose of the reader. Those who seek to create a religion for the purpose of power and controlling people are going to read something different in the Bible than those who seek to create a religion for the purpose of love and life. The former will use the God of the Old Testament as their lens for understanding the Bible and the latter will make Jesus the lens through which it is understood.

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 12:37 pm wrote:Yes, the Bible implies a God of power, but also implies God of righteousness and love, we cannot discount these when we are talking of the Bible.

The Bible is a four dimensional embodiment of the word of God not a thesis written by a singular theologian in a singular period and culture (thus the big difference from the Quran and the book of Mormon). It tells a story of a developing relationship and we see reflected in it the fact that relationships and the roles of those in it change over time according to the needs of the people involved. The needs of an infant are different from the needs of a toddler which are different from the needs of a teenager and adult.

The "do what I say because I say it" mentality of the parent taking care of a toddler may be well suited to religions seeking power and control over others. But a religion seeking maturity and responsibility in the pursuit of love and life is naturally going to focus on a much later stage of the parenting process.

Having talked about an all-powerful God in my post above, I am hardly denying that God has power without equal. That is not the problem. The problem is our obsession with power and trying to solve problems with brute force when what we should be doing is seeking after other attributes of God such as wisdom and love. We would also do well to understand that what defines us are not the things we have by nature but those we have by choice. God is all powerful by nature, but what He chooses is love and life. Power and knowledge are things He can set aside in order to become a helpless human infant, while love and life is what He embraces so that He would do such a thing.

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 12:37 pm wrote:On this reason, we cannot narrow our views to a lateral angle and see only those that to us have lesser value while neglecting our obligation to broaden our understanding of what is Biblically written trying to figure out what is really communicated, and stay reasonable.

On the contrary, we most certainly can stand up to the manipulative power obsessed religions who seek to demolish human rationality and responsibility in their grasp for power and control. We know better than to buy into the rhetoric which seeks to railroad us into a childish mentality with their tunnel vision focus upon the earliest parts of the Biblical story. The four dimensional view IS the broad all inclusive understanding of the Bible which puts all the parts into proper perspective instead of letting one part dominate and undermine other parts in order to fit a self-serving agenda.

The pretense of objectivity in matters of religion and spirituality is nothing but deception. There is no possible objectivity in such matters, for these are the very essence of the subjective elements of human life in which a diversity of human thought is unavoidable. And are we to buy into the nonsense of power obsessed religions which push the idea that such diversity has nothing to do with God? Nothing could be further from the truth. The testimony of the entire universe from subatomic particles, to the 400,000 species of beetles, to the endless variety of stars in the sky is that diversity is the most consistent methodology of God.

And what about the Bible in this? Do we buy into the misuse of Paul's words that God is not a God of confusion, when this is clearly not what Paul was talking about at all? No we do not. For all we have to do is look up the story in Genesis chapter 11 to see that confusion and diversity is exactly how God has dealt with human beings when it is needed. Who divided mankind into diversity of thought and culture? Was it sinful human beings or God? According to the Bible, it was God Himself!

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 12:37 pm wrote:
We can however dig into the basal angle and try to understand the Word of God who have caused the ordered complexity that produced us and within which our potentiality and freewill depend, and as one may reflect that the issue regarding sin is more than bad habits, instead it is one's continuous fight for order in nature and righteousness in God.

This sounds good on the face of it. But many people put a good face one what is eventually seen to have a nasty agenda. Therefore, I invite you to expand upon this to see where this is really leading before I pass any judgments.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Don Juan on September 27th, 2017, 5:15 pm 

mitchellmckain wrote:I, however, make no such absurd pretense that any such constraints exist in the Bible. The only real constraints are in the mind and purpose of the reader. Those who seek to create a religion for the purpose of power and controlling people are going to read something different in the Bible than those who seek to create a religion for the purpose of love and life. The former will use the God of the Old Testament as their lens for understanding the Bible and the latter will make Jesus the lens through which it is understood.


If that is true, then I can take your words as having no such constraints and its only in the mind and purpose of your readers. Possibly then, I could ramble your words and letters and there will be no constraints what so ever, but only in the mind and purpose of your readers.


The Bible is a four dimensional embodiment of the word of God not a thesis written by a singular theologian in a singular period and culture (thus the big difference from the Quran and the book of Mormon). It tells a story of a developing relationship and we see reflected in it the fact that relationships and the roles of those in it change over time according to the needs of the people involved. The needs of an infant are different from the needs of a toddler which are different from the needs of a teenager and adult.

The "do what I say because I say it" mentality of the parent taking care of a toddler may be well suited to religions seeking power and control over others. But a religion seeking maturity and responsibility in the pursuit of love and life is naturally going to focus on a much later stage of the parenting process.

Having talked about an all-powerful God in my post above, I am hardly denying that God has power without equal. That is not the problem. The problem is our obsession with power and trying to solve problems with brute force when what we should be doing is seeking after other attributes of God such as wisdom and love. We would also do well to understand that what defines us are not the things we have by nature but those we have by choice. God is all powerful by nature, but what He chooses is love and life. Power and knowledge are things He can set aside in order to become a helpless human infant, while love and life is what He embraces so that He would do such a thing.


Choice is only a part of what defines us. What defines us is a whole, individual-within-an-environment, from what influences you outside to what influences you inside. As for me, the problems rest in ambiguity and uncertainty and our struggle for clarity and order. I do not know what would happen to a map if there is no territory or consideration of constraints in the territory. I consider love, but I consider also the kind of love that rests in the basic principle of understanding. I consider understanding, but also consider understanding that rests in order. I consider order, and that kind that rests in the Word of God. The Word of God is different from the word of man, for that of man came from his bounded rationality. Yes, God is all powerful and God loves mankind, but all these rest on His righteousness. Righteousness is never set aside in God's love, but it is its foundation.


On the contrary, we most certainly can stand up to the manipulative power obsessed religions who seek to demolish human rationality and responsibility in their grasp for power and control. We know better than to buy into the rhetoric which seeks to railroad us into a childish mentality with their tunnel vision focus upon the earliest parts of the Biblical story. The four dimensional view IS the broad all inclusive understanding of the Bible which puts all the parts into proper perspective instead of letting one part dominate and undermine other parts in order to fit a self-serving agenda.


I am critical of religions, but I am also critical of myself. I must not fool myself, and I am the easiest person to fool. I have a share of perspective, but it would be much better to expand my bounded rationality. I might fall into my own rhetoric, into my own map, believing it is the only map. But then, there is a territory that we can check the correctness of our map. The structure of the territory must not be neglected, because about which our mind has to be faithful.

The pretense of objectivity in matters of religion and spirituality is nothing but deception. There is no possible objectivity in such matters, for these are the very essence of the subjective elements of human life in which a diversity of human thought is unavoidable. And are we to buy into the nonsense of power obsessed religions which push the idea that such diversity has nothing to do with God? Nothing could be further from the truth. The testimony of the entire universe from subatomic particles, to the 400,000 species of beetles, to the endless variety of stars in the sky is that diversity is the most consistent methodology of God.


Your subjectivity rests upon your existence in this world. Your existence rest upon the laws of this universe. There can be so many possibilities, but this universe has its own path, and you have yours whether you like it or not. So then, there can be so many perspectives, but we are looking for those that are faithful to the territory. You argument cannot stand because I will apply your principle to your very own argument - are your arguments have objectivity or subjectivity or both, etc etc. If you believe it is deception to try objectively, then I must treat your argument as personal to you alone and is subjective. Then how are your arguments become different from those whom you are critical about if they too are subjective incapable of settling into some form of objectivity (well in your ideas of subjectivity and objectivity)?

And what about the Bible in this? Do we buy into the misuse of Paul's words that God is not a God of confusion, when this is clearly not what Paul was talking about at all? No we do not. For all we have to do is look up the story in Genesis chapter 11 to see that confusion and diversity is exactly how God has dealt with human beings when it is needed. Who divided mankind into diversity of thought and culture? Was it sinful human beings or God? According to the Bible, it was God Himself!


What kind of misuse? Would you specify? Do you understand the context why God confused the language of mankind? Did you not read what God said to Noah and how the people of the earth transgressed after? Do you understand the context why Paul said those words to the Corinthian Christians? More than confusion and diversity, both have something to do with God's Words, and each have their specific contexts.

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 12:37 pm wrote:
This sounds good on the face of it. But many people put a good face one what is eventually seen to have a nasty agenda. Therefore, I invite you to expand upon this to see where this is really leading before I pass any judgments.


We can begin with that sin committed by man in the Garden of Eden. I wonder how you understand the passage and why we have of different stand about it. Have you read the chapter? Genesis 3. In your understanding of the passage, what was the sin and how it is significant?
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 27th, 2017, 9:32 pm 

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 4:15 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain wrote:I, however, make no such absurd pretense that any such constraints exist in the Bible. The only real constraints are in the mind and purpose of the reader. Those who seek to create a religion for the purpose of power and controlling people are going to read something different in the Bible than those who seek to create a religion for the purpose of love and life. The former will use the God of the Old Testament as their lens for understanding the Bible and the latter will make Jesus the lens through which it is understood.


If that is true, then I can take your words as having no such constraints and its only in the mind and purpose of your readers. Possibly then, I could ramble your words and letters and there will be no constraints what so ever, but only in the mind and purpose of your readers.

Exactly the kind of reaction I would expect from those whose only use for religion is power over others. If the Bible is not about making people do what they want then they cannot see the point of it. It is typical that they would see anything which removes the facility for controlling others as self defeating. But for those interested in love and life the reaction is a sigh of relief as they see the potential for harm and abuse removed from it.

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 4:15 pm wrote:Choice is only a part of what defines us. What defines us is a whole, individual-within-an-environment, from what influences you outside to what influences you inside. As for me, the problems rest in ambiguity and uncertainty and our struggle for clarity and order. I do not know what would happen to a map if there is no territory or consideration of constraints in the territory.

No. Choice is the WHOLE of what defines us. People look at a person entering the room and in second they have boxed the person by such things as race, gender, social status, nationality, culture, and other physical/mental capabilities thinking that such things sum them up. Such is the superficiality of sinful human beings. But these things they have by nature are nothing but circumstance. Who they are is found in what they have chosen to do with what they have been given.

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 4:15 pm wrote:I consider love, but I consider also the kind of love that rests in the basic principle of understanding. I consider understanding, but also consider understanding that rests in order. I consider order, and that kind that rests in the Word of God. The Word of God is different from the word of man, for that of man came from his bounded rationality. Yes, God is all powerful and God loves mankind, but all these rest on His righteousness. Righteousness is never set aside in God's love, but it is its foundation.

Yes, when it comes to love, we must indeed ask about the kind of love we are talking about. That is correct. For the fact that something is love does not make it good and right. Love can be very twisted. To be sure, Bonnie and Clyde (as one example of many similar couples and families) loved each other, but that love does even begin to redeem all the evil things they did.

But the exact same thing can be said of righteousness. Many criminals, even serial killers, have a code of conduct by which they live. But if you want a religion which serves the purpose of power and control over people, then have to have some justification for telling people what to do and thus you make it all about obedience to some code of righteousness which you choose to invent. And since you want your own hands on the reigns of this power over others then your invented morality must be an authoritarian one rather than founded on anything solid like sound reasoning. But a morality founded upon divine dictation is just as relative and arbitrary and one founded upon dictation by society, only in this case individuals are free to claim they speak for God and wield this power apart from any social contract.

To fight such abuses, we can therefore ground our standard of morality (and therefore define a love which is good and right) in something a little more solid. And this is why I speak of a God of love and life. God says, "I set before you life and death, therefore choose life." Instead of seeing this as some kind of threat as the power religions do, we can see it instead through the lens of Jesus, who says, "I came so that you may have life and have it more abundantly." Of course the manipulative power religions simply turn this into one of the future rewards they promise for obedience. But the kind of religion of which I speak which cares nothing for power, these words of the Bible are about life in the here and now. After all, when Jesus said, "let the dead bury their own dead," we see that Jesus perceived that people were going through their lives like the living dead, walking and breathing but without the things which make life worthwhile.

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 4:15 pm wrote:
On the contrary, we most certainly can stand up to the manipulative power obsessed religions who seek to demolish human rationality and responsibility in their grasp for power and control. We know better than to buy into the rhetoric which seeks to railroad us into a childish mentality with their tunnel vision focus upon the earliest parts of the Biblical story. The four dimensional view IS the broad all inclusive understanding of the Bible which puts all the parts into proper perspective instead of letting one part dominate and undermine other parts in order to fit a self-serving agenda.


I am critical of religions, but I am also critical of myself. I must not fool myself, and I am the easiest person to fool. I have a share of perspective, but it would be much better to expand my bounded rationality. I might fall into my own rhetoric, into my own map, believing it is the only map. But then, there is a territory that we can check the correctness of our map. The structure of the territory must not be neglected, because about which our mind has to be faithful.

But one does not have to limit oneself by submission to a power seeking religion. Instead one can accept the limitations inherent in the subjective nature of ones religious beliefs. This way you listen to everyone instead of just listening to those you have accepted as having authority over you. Replacing your own personal map with the one dictated by some religion only means you have substituted one legalism for another. A gospel of salvation by the grace of God doesn't allow such idols.

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 4:15 pm wrote:
The pretense of objectivity in matters of religion and spirituality is nothing but deception. There is no possible objectivity in such matters, for these are the very essence of the subjective elements of human life in which a diversity of human thought is unavoidable. And are we to buy into the nonsense of power obsessed religions which push the idea that such diversity has nothing to do with God? Nothing could be further from the truth. The testimony of the entire universe from subatomic particles, to the 400,000 species of beetles, to the endless variety of stars in the sky is that diversity is the most consistent methodology of God.


Your subjectivity rests upon your existence in this world. Your existence rest upon the laws of this universe. There can be so many possibilities, but this universe has its own path, and you have yours whether you like it or not. So then, there can be so many perspectives, but we are looking for those that are faithful to the territory. You argument cannot stand because I will apply your principle to your very own argument - are your arguments have objectivity or subjectivity or both, etc etc. If you believe it is deception to try objectively, then I must treat your argument as personal to you alone and is subjective. Then how are your arguments become different from those whom you are critical about if they too are subjective incapable of settling into some form of objectivity (well in your ideas of subjectivity and objectivity)?

And once again we see the typical response of power obsessed religion. Religions seeking power cannot stand to admit to the inherent subjectivity of religion and spirituality because they have no use for freedom and choice but only for obedience to their dictates. But I have no interest in power and see religions seeking power as only an evil to be defeated. Therefore I have no problems whatsoever with the full and honest admission of the complete subjectivity in the only kind of religion which is of any value to mature intelligent human beings.

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 4:15 pm wrote:
And what about the Bible in this? Do we buy into the misuse of Paul's words that God is not a God of confusion, when this is clearly not what Paul was talking about at all? No we do not.

What kind of misuse? Would you specify?

Religions obsessed with power want everyone to obey their dictates and to ignore all the other religions out there. So they will say this diversity of religions is not the will of God. And they quote Paul, "God is not a God of confusion" as this were supporting their claim. But it does not. Paul was speaking of a religious service and problem of everyone speaking all at once and out of turn. The Revised Standard version thus translates this differently as "God is not a God of disorder but of peace", which makes better sense in the context.

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 4:15 pm wrote:
For all we have to do is look up the story in Genesis chapter 11 to see that confusion and diversity is exactly how God has dealt with human beings when it is needed. Who divided mankind into diversity of thought and culture? Was it sinful human beings or God? According to the Bible, it was God Himself!


Do you understand the context why God confused the language of mankind? Did you not read what God said to Noah and how the people of the earth transgressed after? Do you understand the context why Paul said those words to the Corinthian Christians? More than confusion and diversity, both have something to do with God's Words, and each have their specific contexts.

Yes, I most certainly do understand why God did this. It is because mankind united in a society of evil is a mankind without hope. It is why God had no choice but to destroy the world with a flood in order for there to be any hope for mankind. Thus the moment they began to build a singular world culture just like they had before the flood, God put a stop to it. Even though it opened us up to the evils of war, God turned to his usual method of diversity seen throughout the universe so that mankind would have freedom to change for the better. It put limits on how bad human culture could become not only because people could vote with their feet but because if a nation wasted too much of its human potential then it would be unable to compete with other nations.

Don Juan » September 27th, 2017, 12:37 pm wrote:
This sounds good on the face of it. But many people put a good face one what is eventually seen to have a nasty agenda. Therefore, I invite you to expand upon this to see where this is really leading before I pass any judgments.

We can begin with that sin committed by man in the Garden of Eden. I wonder how you understand the passage and why we have of different stand about it. Have you read the chapter? Genesis 3. In your understanding of the passage, what was the sin and how it is significant?

But I already spoke of this above in my first response to you and you appear to have ignored that portion of my post entirely.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Don Juan on September 28th, 2017, 11:42 pm 

mitchellmckain » September 28th, 2017, 3:32 am wrote:Exactly the kind of reaction I would expect from those whose only use for religion is power over others. If the Bible is not about making people do what they want then they cannot see the point of it. It is typical that they would see anything which removes the facility for controlling others as self defeating. But for those interested in love and life the reaction is a sigh of relief as they see the potential for harm and abuse removed from it.


I don’t think so. Again, I can use the same words to your arguments: typical reaction of a person who presupposes a hammer solution every time a nail is present. We are not yet into much detail and you are immediately into ‘obedience theology’, into ‘manipulative power mongering religions’ with substantial development of your metaphysics. Well I am not into that part of your thoughts in my first post, it is yours. I have made you aware of that. I am into analyzing Biblical passages regardless of what it is called or leading to in someone’s perspective. When one discusses Bible verses and the Word of God, and deviation from It is mentioned, it does not necessary follow that it is about ‘obedience theology’. It could also be an inquiry about Biblical meaning or something else. So then, aware or not, your strategy does not work with me. You cannot put my argument somewhere in your map and assume it is from that part that you can easily twist in your favour.

But then, I believe I have to change gear, and explore your thoughts. You seem to have a lot of stock of ideas about what you are saying ‘manipulative power mongering religions.’ Your words opened a vast potential of information about you and your presuppositions, they tell something about your own world.

No. Choice is the WHOLE of what defines us. People look at a person entering the room and in second they have boxed the person by such things as race, gender, social status, nationality, culture, and other physical/mental capabilities thinking that such things sum them up. Such is the superficiality of sinful human beings. But these things they have by nature are nothing but circumstance. Who they are is found in what they have chosen to do with what they have been given.


I don’t think so. You cannot NOT have context or environment within and without, and the character of which would be unique to you, and your choices are only part of your being you-in-that-context. You have looked into my first post and you have in a way boxed it as something related to ‘manipulative power mongering religions.’ But that isn’t the whole that defines you. There is more to that. There is more to these discourses you are posting - the uniqueness of you is more than that.

The rest of your arguments I can begin to explore with questions. They appeared understandable on the surface but still vague because there are lots of presuppositions in them that need to be brought into the open. So I’ll prepare my questions and post them later.

But I already spoke of this above in my first response to you and you appear to have ignored that portion of my post entirely.


They are vague relevant to the verses. Here’s my view, especially of Genesis 3:17 :

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife , and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;


God gave clear command to Adam (Genesis 2: 16-17) before He made Eve, but then Adam listened to his wife instead of keeping God’s word, and as a consequence have eaten from the tree. The first sin then that was committed by the first man in the Bible was listening to his wife instead of listening to the Word of God or keeping it relevant to a command given by God.

In your thoughts, this can be leading to what you call ‘obedience religion.’ In my thoughts, this is leading to an inquiry about what is the meaning of sin in Biblical terms.
Last edited by Don Juan on September 28th, 2017, 11:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby ZTHarris on September 28th, 2017, 11:45 pm 

I just want to note that I find it highly entertaining and thought provoking to watch the two of you argue your points. Do continue explicating your thoughts.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 29th, 2017, 2:20 am 

ZTHarris » September 28th, 2017, 10:45 pm wrote:I just want to note that I find it highly entertaining and thought provoking to watch the two of you argue your points. Do continue explicating your thoughts.


And yet it is obvious we are headed for a dead end in the discussion. He has stated his position and that he will not change his mind. I have stated my position and that I will not change mind either. The purpose and value that we see in religion and the Bible is fundamentally different and thus we have no interest in what the other person is saying.

He would have us believe that the meaning is in the words of the Bible independent of any agenda he has, I know this to be nonsense. The meaning is given to the words by those who read it. We see this fact in the stories of the Bible themselves. Take John chapter 6. Those in the crowd (full of zealots) were only interested in the ability of Jesus to feed people food and becoming a king who could lead an army against Rome. But Jesus' purpose was entirely different. So, once Jesus started speaking of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, it made no sense to the crowd in terms of the value and purpose which they sought in His words. So they abandoned Him.

Don Juan » September 28th, 2017, 10:42 pm wrote:Here’s my view, especially of Genesis 3:17 :

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife , and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;


God gave clear command to Adam (Genesis 2: 16-17) before He made Eve, but then Adam listened to his wife instead of keeping God’s word, and as a consequence have eaten from the tree. The first sin then that was committed by the first man in the Bible was listening to his wife instead of listening to the Word of God or keeping it relevant to a command given by God.

In your thoughts, this can be leading to what you call ‘obedience religion.’ In my thoughts, this is leading to an inquiry about what is the meaning of sin in Biblical terms.


Genesis 3:17-19 wrote:“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread"


From this Don only takes that God gave Adam and Eve a commandment and that listening to anything other than the commandment leads to disaster. It is all that interests him because giving commandments and making people listen only to their commandments and nobody else is the purpose and value he has for religion.

I have taken the same section of the Bible and given an analysis in terms of the love of a parent for their child and how the parent seeks to help the child learn and grow for the betterment of the child's life. It explains why such commands are needed, while leading us away from the absurd expectation that human beings should make no mistakes but rather that they should learn from their mistakes. It elucidates the kind of bad habits that keep us from learning from our mistakes and shows how the God's response to the situation is exactly what a parent needs to do in order to combat such a habit. This not only explains much more of the story than he has done but is more importantly seeing an entirely different purpose and value in religion which is the nurture of love and life rather than grasping for power over people.

The issue according to Don is the meaning of the word "sin," and his agenda is to use the passage in Genesis to prove that according to the Bible it means disobedience. But the inadequacy of this definition is obvious to the whole world, for we have an endless number of people claiming to speak for God and demanding our obedience to what they say are the commandments of God. Any rational person can thus see the complete poverty of such a definition... UNLESS your objective is to support a religion seeking after power and control over other people. I have no such interest, so before I could find ANY value in the Bible and Christianity I had to find a definition of "sin" without this failing.

The simple fact is that the Bible says many many things about sin. To be sure it is connected to the law. But then Jesus says that the whole point of the law was all about love. And Paul teaches us that the law is ultimately a dead end -- from which we can only expect death. As Christians we are called to faith rather than legalism, for while the law can only give us death, faith can give us life. Indeed it is clear that if we are looking for love and life then these are to be found in faith rather than legalism. Does this mean "sin" has become meaningless? That would not be consistent with the words of Jesus and Paul. It only that a definition of "sin" founded upon the law is inadequate.

Jesus looks at the laws such as "thou shalt not kill" and then tells us that the sin pointed to by this law means we shouldn't even be angry or call someone a fool. Now legalists have no problem with just turning this into and even more impossible set of laws, but with all that Jesus said this makes no sense at all. The point is that sin is NOT about disobedience to some law about the things we do which do us harm. It isn't just killing people which does damage to us but even anger and calling someone a fool is destructive to our essence because it inhibits our ability to love and live to our fullest potential.

Another very helpful thing said about sin by Jesus and Paul and it is that sin bring death. It is even said to be like a dog going back to its own vomit. Thus it is something which some part of us recognized as no good and which should be expelled from our lives. And yet we go back to it even so. That is the description of a bad habit. That the habit brings death is what makes it a bad habit. Not only is this a meaning for the word sin which a rational person can get a handle on, but it pulls the word "sin" away from the power manipulations of religion. Since it is not about disobedience then their claims to speak for God have no relevance anymore. We can investigate for ourselves what habits hurt us and which habits do not. And that is a scary thing indeed for these power religions for it sucks all the assumption of authority right out from under them. And thus those looking for love and life in religion will instead rejoice and celebrate.


P.S. While I am at it, I might as well expand upon my analysis of the story and explain even more. One of the very troubling things about the story for many people is the idea that evil comes from seeking knowledge about good and evil. How can that possibly be a bad thing. Teaching us to understand the difference between good and evil is one of the few good things that people can see in religion. Well.... the names of two trees in the garden of Eden shout symbolism more than anything else in the Bible. Must we really believe in magical fruit which gives knowledge simply by eating it? Do we really see an increase of understanding of good and evil in Adam and Eve as a result of eating this fruit. We do not. We see shame and fear -- sure -- no need for a magical fruit to explain that. Therefore, I see no reason to believe in such an absurd idea. We do not get any knowledge from eating a fruit, let alone an understanding of good and evil. Sometimes literalism like this is just plain childish. A real knowledge of good and evil is only going to come with time, experience, and according to the belief of religious people by pursuing a relationship with God. But there is something that people have often taken as a poor substitute and that is "authority." We can superficially be like God if we are put in a position to dictate to others the difference between good and evil. That is something that many of the worst dictators in history have acquired and THAT is not a good thing at all! Thus I believe that the two trees are symbolic and they represent things in human life. And while one of them can give us true wisdom like a fountain of life, the other can only gives us the appearance of this by putting us in a position of authority to teach good and evil even if we really do not understand this at all.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Don Juan on September 29th, 2017, 3:07 am 

mitchellmckain wrote:And yet it is obvious we are headed for a dead end in the discussion. He has stated his position and that he will not change his mind. I have stated my position and that I will not change mind either. The purpose and value that we see in religion and the Bible is fundamentally different and thus we have no interest in what the other person is saying.


Changing one's mind isn't the aim at this stage, but locating the part from which we are beginning in the discourse. I was saying we are coming from different angles, you from obedience religion and mine from Biblical content inquiry. I have no intent or plan of championing what you are calling obedience religion and it was out of my mind. What I am interested about is the Biblical meaning of 'sin' and 'original sin' and their implications on this thread. Well I can be interested in yours, because as I have said, I am preparing questions.

He would have us believe that the meaning is in the words of the Bible independent of any agenda he has, I know this to be nonsense. The meaning is given to the words by those who read it. We see this fact in the stories of the Bible themselves. Take John chapter 6. Those in the crowd (full of zealots) were only interested in the ability of Jesus to feed people food and becoming a king who could lead an army against Rome. But Jesus' purpose was entirely different. So, once Jesus started speaking of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, it made no sense to the crowd in terms of the value and purpose which they sought in His words. So they abandoned Him.


We haven't yet launched into a longer discourse and you have already judged basing on few arguments. You have employed incomplete, distorted and generalized position on some of the basic premises regarding communication via written text, and that is what makes me beginning to be interested about the way you reason. I do believe that there is a kind of order in the authors creating a kind of order into a book which is transformed into a kind of order into the reader. There is a flow of information, from authors to books to the readers, so that not all of the influences in the construction of meaning is in in the reader.

From this Don only takes that God gave Adam and Eve a commandment and that listening to anything other than the commandment leads to disaster. It is all that interests him because giving commandments and making people listen only to their commandments and nobody else is the purpose and value he has for religion.


What?! ....ONLY takes...? ....listening to ANYTHING? ...It is ALL that interests me...? Are you even aware about how much you are distorting and generalizing what you are reading?

I have taken the same section of the Bible and given an analysis in terms of the love of a parent for their child and how the parent seeks to help the child learn and grow for the betterment of the child's life.


You haven't done that explicitly...where in the passage would you find that, or show specifically how you derived that from the passages in Genesis 3? Are you taking an extrinsic meaning (coming from you) and imposing it into the text? I was avoiding my own opinion about the text as much as possible by trying to analyze its meaning about transgression and sin. Of course this cannot be done with perfection, but I need to move around the immediate context of the text before I move even beyond, that is, employing a bigger context that is provided by my education.

The issue according to Don is the meaning of the word "sin," and his agenda is to use the passage in Genesis to prove that according to the Bible it means disobedience. But the inadequacy of this definition is obvious to the whole world, for we have an endless number of people claiming to speak for God and demanding our obedience to what they say are the commandments of God. Any rational person can thus see the complete poverty of such a definition... UNLESS your objective is to support a religion seeking after power and control over other people. I have no such interest, so before I could find ANY value in the Bible and Christianity I had to find a definition of "sin" without this failing.


You are fast. I am at the first stage of my inquiry and you already gone long a roller coaster ride into your mental park. You are immediately leaving the text.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby ZTHarris on September 29th, 2017, 3:15 am 

@mitchellmckain

I have to say that you're one of the few people I've ever encountered who makes appealing points about the value of religion. Religion is so disgustingly barbaric to me when the typical person whom I've known all my life tries to employ it in an endeavor to control thoughts or dictate behavior. It is fairly clear through reading what you have written that you deeply disapprove of the slave-mentality religion that you'd find indigenous to my area. Even though I have no interest in reconciling religion with science or other fundamental problems it poses, pertaining of course to a theistic god, I very much respect your opinions. If religious people I knew were more like you I wouldn't have such disdain for them generally. Which isn't to say that I immediately dislike religious folk, but it usually doesn't take long for them to show me that they have little interest in being civil to anyone with opposing views, That, and it's very easy as well as pitiable to sense the overwhelming fear that many of them have of the skewed hell and brimstone that most modern, western Christian churches preach.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 29th, 2017, 6:18 am 

Don Juan » September 29th, 2017, 2:07 am wrote:We haven't yet launched into a longer discourse and you have already judged basing on few arguments. You have employed incomplete, distorted and generalized position on some of the basic premises regarding communication via written text, and that is what makes me beginning to be interested about the way you reason. I do believe that there is a kind of order in the authors creating a kind of order into a book which is transformed into a kind of order into the reader. There is a flow of information, from authors to books to the readers, so that not all of the influences in the construction of meaning is in in the reader.

Yes and no. It is certainly the case that a human author intends to either communicate something or provoke thought about something. While the latter is usually successful the former is much more tenuous. To accomplish the former the author has to rely upon commonalities of premise and meaning. This is difficult enough when the reader shares the same language, culture, and worldview. None of this commonality exists in the case of the Bible, and all the attempts I have seen to reconstruct the original thoughts of the author only gives the reader even more latitude for projecting onto the author what he wants the author to have meant.

When the author is divine (i.e. omniscient), the barriers may vanish but then so does the validity of the assumption that what the author intends for us to understand in our language, culture, and worldview is the same as for those of the original language, culture, and worldview.

Don Juan » September 29th, 2017, 2:07 am wrote:
From this Don only takes that God gave Adam and Eve a commandment and that listening to anything other than the commandment leads to disaster. It is all that interests him because giving commandments and making people listen only to their commandments and nobody else is the purpose and value he has for religion.

What?! ....ONLY takes...? ....listening to ANYTHING? ...It is ALL that interests me...? Are you even aware about how much you are distorting and generalizing what you are reading?

Yeah... I should say this a little differently. Such as...

From this Don only takes that God gave Adam and Eve a commandment and that listening to anything other than the commandment leads to disaster. We, of course, do not know his motivation for this, but if we follow the principle that what something can be used for reflects the most likely purpose, then it leads us to conclude that the most likely origin for this pattern of thinking is the purpose of giving commandments and making people listen to their commandments and nobody else. And thus this is most likely purpose of the religion which follows this way of thinking.

It is like looking at a hammer and concluding that those who made this thing did not have playing the violin in mind when they did it. It may seem presumptuous to think you can know what was in their mind, but the fact is that the thing itself speaks volumes about the purpose of those who made it.

Don Juan » September 29th, 2017, 2:07 am wrote:
I have taken the same section of the Bible and given an analysis in terms of the love of a parent for their child and how the parent seeks to help the child learn and grow for the betterment of the child's life.

You haven't done that explicitly...where in the passage would you find that, or show specifically how you derived that from the passages in Genesis 3? Are you taking an extrinsic meaning (coming from you) and imposing it into the text?

No more than you are. Nowhere in the explicit text is it giving a definition of sin. The text is telling a story. That is all. Both of us are attaching meaning to this like the presumption that somehow this story is of significance to our lives in the here and now.

Don Juan » September 29th, 2017, 2:07 am wrote:I was avoiding my own opinion about the text as much as possible by trying to analyze its meaning about transgression and sin. Of course this cannot be done with perfection, but I need to move around the immediate context of the text before I move even beyond, that is, employing a bigger context that is provided by my education.

Nonsense. There is nothing objective about the topic or the meanings we are giving the text. I am quite capable of discussing the text apart from attaching any meaning to it in a larger context, but that is not something you have tried to do at all. You might find a discussion of the text like that in the work of an academic scholar. But from the very beginning you haven't done anything like that.

Here is a sample of how that is done...

Genesis 3:17 begins the third portion of what is commonly referred to as the curse (this word being used in both verse 14 and 17). It addresses Adam, just as the first two portions address the serpent and Eve, respectively. These two verses (14 and 17) also, unlike the one addressing Eve, also give a reason why this curse is being given to them. It should be noted that these reasons are taken largely from the words of Adam and Eve themselves, and it makes almost no effort to explain why these "curses" and not something else.

Don Juan » September 29th, 2017, 2:07 am wrote:
The issue according to Don is the meaning of the word "sin," and his agenda is to use the passage in Genesis to prove that according to the Bible it means disobedience. But the inadequacy of this definition is obvious to the whole world, for we have an endless number of people claiming to speak for God and demanding our obedience to what they say are the commandments of God. Any rational person can thus see the complete poverty of such a definition... UNLESS your objective is to support a religion seeking after power and control over other people. I have no such interest, so before I could find ANY value in the Bible and Christianity I had to find a definition of "sin" without this failing.


You are fast. I am at the first stage of my inquiry and you already gone long a roller coaster ride into your mental park. You are immediately leaving the text.

Picking out smaller portions of the text which fits your definition of the word "sin" does not in any way mean that you are leaving the text any less than I am.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 29th, 2017, 1:43 pm 

I thought about continuing what I started at the top of the page on the topic of atonement. But since that isn't one which is so amenable to a comparative religion approach and we have already stretch the coverage of this thread to the breaking point, I decide to do that in a different thread.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Don Juan on September 30th, 2017, 3:11 am 

mitchellmckain » September 29th, 2017, 12:18 pm wrote:Yes and no. It is certainly the case that a human author intends to either communicate something or provoke thought about something. While the latter is usually successful the former is much more tenuous. To accomplish the former the author has to rely upon commonalities of premise and meaning. This is difficult enough when the reader shares the same language, culture, and worldview. None of this commonality exists in the case of the Bible, and all the attempts I have seen to reconstruct the original thoughts of the author only gives the reader even more latitude for projecting onto the author what he wants the author to have meant.


You seem to be saying that when you read a word in context, say 'listen', there will be no way to trace the meaning of that according to the context of the Bible whatsoever, so when a moron at the present day would like to interpret it as 'eat' basing from dreams and experience at the present, that is justified. The question there is NONE of commonality? NONE WHATSOEVER? So if you now happen to notice that I am not only looking at your content, I am also trying to notice your form of reasoning. On these grounds, I believe you are generalizing too much here. We cannot have our inquiry of the Bible to be immediately symbolic or metaphorical, we need at least three layers: physical, perceptual, metaphorical or symbolic. Arguments become nonsensical relative to Biblical text when the foundation of concepts faithful to it are not established. Of course even if our interpretation is only metaphorical based on our modern perception, it can have sense according to our accepted logic. We can always have the right answers for the irrelevant questions. But then, no matter how beautiful one's explanation is, no matter how good one is about it, no matter how many following is earned, no matter how logical it is, no matter how many admirers of it maybe, if it does not rest on the faithful concepts of its reference material that will serve as foundation for understanding it, the explanation is irrelevant. That is what I see in your discourse, as if you have eaten a bad fruit and you have a diarrhea of concepts that looks logical and acceptable but irrelevant in crucial concepts when we check on Biblical context. Well you can say that my arguments could be constipated, but I prefer on inquiring first on the foundation myself, before I believe the diarrhea of concepts of someone else.

When the author is divine (i.e. omniscient), the barriers may vanish but then so does the validity of the assumption that what the author intends for us to understand in our language, culture, and worldview is the same as for those of the original language, culture, and worldview.


You seem to be implying that the Bible has no organization nor order whatsoever. Where did you get your meaning of the 'original sin' - your bases, could you expound on this concept step by step with bases so I can look on them in the net.

Don Juan » September 29th, 2017, 2:07 am wrote:
Yeah... I should say this a little differently. Such as...


A LITTLE differently? You mean you haven't realized how HUGE can be the change when one over-generalize or distort?

From this Don only takes that God gave Adam and Eve a commandment and that listening to anything other than the commandment leads to disaster.


Is that true based on the verse? Listening to what is specifically opposite to what was commanded, not to anything. Are you not still aware of a pattern that has been repeating here?

We, of course, do not know his motivation for this, but if we follow the principle that what something can be used for reflects the most likely purpose, then it leads us to conclude that the most likely origin for this pattern of thinking is the purpose of giving commandments and making people listen to their commandments and nobody else. And thus this is most likely purpose of the religion which follows this way of thinking.


Who's 'THEIR' specifically? Who's 'his' and who's 'we'?

It is like looking at a hammer and concluding that those who made this thing did not have playing the violin in mind when they did it. It may seem presumptuous to think you can know what was in their mind, but the fact is that the thing itself speaks volumes about the purpose of those who made it.


The point is understanding the text within its boundaries as much as possible first before launching into inquiries of greater contexts beyond the text for greater understanding and revisions.

No more than you are. Nowhere in the explicit text is it giving a definition of sin. The text is telling a story. That is all. Both of us are attaching meaning to this like the presumption that somehow this story is of significance to our lives in the here and now.


You seem to be saying that the story has no meaning and that the rest of the book collection is irrelevant to it. My first post has also many presuppositions, and I can expound it, point by point. I can prepare, based on my analysis of Biblical texts. The foundations of the concept of sin has something to do with listening and righteousness, I am still exploring of course, but I can post here what I have found so far.

Nonsense. There is nothing objective about the topic or the meanings we are giving the text. I am quite capable of discussing the text apart from attaching any meaning to it in a larger context, but that is not something you have tried to do at all. You might find a discussion of the text like that in the work of an academic scholar. But from the very beginning you haven't done anything like that.


NOTHING objective? NOTHING whatsoever? You mean that if someone reads 'NOTHING' another would read it 'VOMITING' and still another will read it 'DIARRHEA' and still another would read it 'CONSTIPATION'? I am not an academic scholar, I am a reader. My task is to understand the text before I judge it. So then, I would not engage immediately into a diarrhea of concepts criticizing it basing on my own concepts and experience. I will take the hard way of understanding the text itself, what it is trying to convey with minimal imposition from my part.

Here is a sample of how that is done...

Genesis 3:17 begins the third portion of what is commonly referred to as the curse (this word being used in both verse 14 and 17). It addresses Adam, just as the first two portions address the serpent and Eve, respectively. These two verses (14 and 17) also, unlike the one addressing Eve, also give a reason why this curse is being given to them. It should be noted that these reasons are taken largely from the words of Adam and Eve themselves, and it makes almost no effort to explain why these "curses" and not something else.


Well you could take the verse on that side, but you have to note the details. Notice that God curse the ground because of Adam, why? Because Adam listened to Eve relevant to what God has commanded.

Picking out smaller portions of the text which fits your definition of the word "sin" does not in any way mean that you are leaving the text any less than I am.


No, I am staying on the text, in fact I cited to you the text, where you have failed before. Even in that little portion I did not leave the text. But of course I have presuppositions, the meaning of transgression, the common meaning of sin in Biblical terms, the meaning of righteousness, etc etc. All of these are on the background, but these meanings tries to be faithful with Biblical terms. I can post them here later.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 30th, 2017, 4:27 am 

Don Juan » September 30th, 2017, 2:11 am wrote:The point is understanding the text within its boundaries as much as possible first before launching into inquiries of greater contexts beyond the text for greater understanding and revisions.

Your imaginary boundaries are a product of your theology which is a product of a religion with the purpose of power and control. Therefore I will throw these toxic boundaries into a hazardous waste disposal.

Don Juan » September 30th, 2017, 2:11 am wrote:
No more than you are. Nowhere in the explicit text is it giving a definition of sin. The text is telling a story. That is all. Both of us are attaching meaning to this like the presumption that somehow this story is of significance to our lives in the here and now.

You seem to be saying that the story has no meaning and that the rest of the book collection is irrelevant to it. My first post has also many presuppositions, and I can expound it, point by point. I can prepare, based on my analysis of Biblical texts. The foundations of the concept of sin has something to do with listening and righteousness, I am still exploring of course, but I can post here what I have found so far.

Since it is obvious that I see plenty of meaning in the story, this here is just more evidence for what I have been saying all along. Only someone for whom power and control is the only value they can see in religion would think I am saying the story has no meaning. I would indeed yank all its utility for manipulation and control right out from under all the worshipers of power. Thus, I would only rejoice that they would find my exposition meaningless.

Don Juan » September 30th, 2017, 2:11 am wrote:
Nonsense. There is nothing objective about the topic or the meanings we are giving the text. I am quite capable of discussing the text apart from attaching any meaning to it in a larger context, but that is not something you have tried to do at all. You might find a discussion of the text like that in the work of an academic scholar. But from the very beginning you haven't done anything like that.


NOTHING objective? NOTHING whatsoever? You mean that if someone reads 'NOTHING' another would read it 'VOMITING' and still another will read it 'DIARRHEA' and still another would read it 'CONSTIPATION'?

I did not know that for you the Bible is all about vomitting, diarrhea, and constipation. For me it is about something quite different. And frankly, the fact that you think this is what the Bible is about only underlines the completely subjective nature of your reading of it.

Don Juan » September 30th, 2017, 2:11 am wrote: I am not an academic scholar, I am a reader. My task is to understand the text before I judge it.

Which means you not only lack the training to read the text objectively but also without any awareness of all premises of your language, culture, and worldview -- not only completely subjective but utterly blind to that subjectivity. Just because you have made yourself blind and insensate to your own diarrhea doesn't mean other people cannot see and smell it all around you.

Don Juan » September 30th, 2017, 2:11 am wrote:
Picking out smaller portions of the text which fits your definition of the word "sin" does not in any way mean that you are leaving the text any less than I am.

No, I am staying on the text, in fact I cited to you the text, where you have failed before. Even in that little portion I did not leave the text.

You leave the text the moment you make this into a definition of sin. There is no mention of sin in the first three chapters of Genesis and certainly no discussion of what the word "sin" means.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Don Juan on September 30th, 2017, 10:40 am 

mitchellmckain wrote:Your imaginary boundaries are a product of your theology which is a product of a religion with the purpose of power and control. Therefore I will throw these toxic boundaries into a hazardous waste disposal.


By all means, it's going there anyway and it has been pre-decided in your map - not my concepts - those are purely mine, you can only throw yours of course. I have nothing to do with that perspective of yours regarding power and control. You have it in your mind and you are the creator of it - so by all means, by all means, and by all means, throw those toxic boundaries you created yourself into the hazardous waste disposal of your thoughts, and be sure to have a way of making them disappear or that pit of toxic will stay there in you.

Don Juan » September 30th, 2017, 2:11 am wrote:Since it is obvious that I see plenty of meaning in the story, this here is just more evidence for what I have been saying all along. Only someone for whom power and control is the only value they can see in religion would think I am saying the story has no meaning. I would indeed yank all its utility for manipulation and control right out from under all the worshipers of power. Thus, I would only rejoice that they would find my exposition meaningless.


You seem to be going against natural tendencies and that can be detrimental for your sanity. The Bible's message is to seek for understanding and understanding follows a certain path - the universe has it, and everyone's life has it, but the mind has the ability to confuse itself. As it said, let the blind lead the blind until both of them fall into the cliff. By all means, you are free, go ahead.

Nonsense. There is nothing objective about the topic or the meanings we are giving the text. I am quite capable of discussing the text apart from attaching any meaning to it in a larger context, but that is not something you have tried to do at all. You might find a discussion of the text like that in the work of an academic scholar. But from the very beginning you haven't done anything like that.


What topic, we are talking about birthdays, did you not remember? Birthday? We are talking about Love in the Zoos? Love in the Zoos, you're kidding me, we are talking about mountains. You seem to be implying these in your argument. The error in your arguments is that it cannot hold when applied to your own arguments. Your arguments break down at that point. By pushing your own content in your arguments, you lose your own credibility - the very context strip your arguments of credibility.
I did not know that for you the Bible is all about vomitting, diarrhea, and constipation. For me it is about something quite different. And frankly, the fact that you think this is what the Bible is about only underlines the completely subjective nature of your reading of it.


I did not know you will be confused with metaphors, read what I posted again. It's about your content applied to your argument metaphorically by testing them to Biblical inquiry. Your arguments cannot maintain integrity in itself, neither it demonstrated understanding the Biblical context and it has become like a sudden rush of diarrheal concepts. You did it often, get back on how you made arguments and see for yourself what you did.

Which means you not only lack the training to read the text objectively but also without any awareness of all premises of your language, culture, and worldview -- not only completely subjective but utterly blind to that subjectivity. Just because you have made yourself blind and insensate to your own diarrhea doesn't mean other people cannot see and smell it all around you.


What do you know about objectivity relevant to Biblical text? Is it not you who is discounting it from reading of Biblical text? I am a molecular biologist by training, and I know what objective means. You advocate a subjective point of view regarding Biblical references and religion.

Don Juan » September 30th, 2017, 2:11 am wrote:You leave the text the moment you make this into a definition of sin. There is no mention of sin in the first three chapters of Genesis and certainly no discussion of what the word "sin" means.


False. Do you even understand what a term is. If I say: a word or phrase used to describe a thing or to express a concept, especially in a particular kind of language or branch of study - what do I mean? where is the word 'term' there in the second sentence? When I analyze your arguments, I am looking for concepts, terms, proposition and arguments BEYOND the words, sentences and paragraphs. I find them unfaithful to Biblical context, and so how a differ from yours. My goodness, you are like my PCR results when I began my year a long time ago, aaargggh, what a tough troubleshooting and still bad results!!!!....but of course, I am the only one to blame for the results - and these arguments are feedback to me, and so I can always raise my hands up, and off you go. I have to bless you anyway. I'll have my own way and path, and maybe someday we meet again in some topics in these forums, and well, I just hope, it would again turn out bad so I can learn more.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 30th, 2017, 12:48 pm 

And here is the dead end I predicted -- where communication has completely broken down. He can pretend it is about the methodology and the tools. But as I said before, the purpose can be seen in the tools from the very beginning. It is not that you cannot play a violin with a hammer. I am sure than to you can find a way to do so. But when you are interested in a different kind of music then there is no reason to put up with such restrictions.

Because love and life are the value I seek from religion rather than power and control, I am unwilling overlook some of the basic facts about human life and development. We learn by making mistakes. This is a fact. Someone with anything like a parental attitude certainly does not sever a relationship because the children make a mistake. That may indeed come from a power obsessed, angry, self-absorbed, manipulative, unforgiving, vindictive, controlling, jealous, sadistic, glory seeker, and so if you are willing to worship such a demon then that might be an explanation you are willing to accept. I am not!

Wisdom is on the side of seeking knowledge and understanding about good and evil not in avoiding it in favor of blind obedience. Neither love nor wisdom deals with mistakes by blaming everyone but yourselves. These are facts you cannot ignore when your objective is love and life, and I can only imagine someone obsessed with power and control being able to do so. Thus it seems to me this story is ferreting out what it is that you are looking for and whatever it is, you will find it, or maybe that is just human nature and this is what will happen no matter what the story may be.

ZTHarris » September 29th, 2017, 2:15 am wrote:@mitchellmckain

I have to say that you're one of the few people I've ever encountered who makes appealing points about the value of religion. Religion is so disgustingly barbaric to me when the typical person whom I've known all my life tries to employ it in an endeavor to control thoughts or dictate behavior. It is fairly clear through reading what you have written that you deeply disapprove of the slave-mentality religion that you'd find indigenous to my area. Even though I have no interest in reconciling religion with science or other fundamental problems it poses, pertaining of course to a theistic god, I very much respect your opinions. If religious people I knew were more like you I wouldn't have such disdain for them generally. Which isn't to say that I immediately dislike religious folk, but it usually doesn't take long for them to show me that they have little interest in being civil to anyone with opposing views, That, and it's very easy as well as pitiable to sense the overwhelming fear that many of them have of the skewed hell and brimstone that most modern, western Christian churches preach.

And thus this points to where it comes from. For too many of the religious, their perspective comes from certain things taken for granted, such as the idea we should believe whatever the Bible says no matter how contrary it is to what our experience of life tells us. Mine comes from looking at the Bible and Christianity questioning whether I could find anything of value in any of it at all. I came to the conclusion that I could see something of value in it, BUT ONLY IF...
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby ZTHarris on September 30th, 2017, 4:54 pm 

I enjoy reading your arguments. I've never encountered someone so willing to look at the positive aspects of the Bible and condemn the negative aspects. In addition, and most importantly, you compound said willingness with the encouragement to think for oneself when reading biblical text. In that way, it's far more likely that people can glean valuable lessons from the Bible and not have their opinions controlled by those who seek to use the Bible for a malicious agenda.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 30th, 2017, 6:36 pm 

ZTHarris » September 30th, 2017, 3:54 pm wrote:I enjoy reading your arguments. I've never encountered someone so willing to look at the positive aspects of the Bible and condemn the negative aspects. In addition, and most importantly, you compound said willingness with the encouragement to think for oneself when reading biblical text. In that way, it's far more likely that people can glean valuable lessons from the Bible and not have their opinions controlled by those who seek to use the Bible for a malicious agenda.


To be fair... it is very rarely an intentional malicious agenda. It is kind of the same thing with most conspiracy theories. The way things often so conveniently serve selfish interests makes it hard to believe it is all just a coincidence, and yet the only conspiracy which is usually needed is just a conspiracy of human greed. In this case it is just a human obsession with power and control which is quite visible in the character of the god they worship even when you don't see it in their own personality and behavior. Thus you know this motivation is there in the historical origins of their thinking and traditions, whether they are aware of it or not.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on September 30th, 2017, 9:00 pm 

Don Juan » September 30th, 2017, 3:11 am wrote: I am critical of religions, but I am also critical of myself. I must not fool myself,

But that is what followers of all religions do. Fool themselves. They abandon reason after some time. Your discussion will get nowhere. You are arguing with a person who has said earlier in this thread "No matter what the reasons for this, it is irrational." Reasons against a position he holds are irrational. He does not understand the concept of rationality.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on September 30th, 2017, 9:28 pm 

Braininvat » September 19th, 2017, 10:52 am wrote:Generally, SPCF discourages attacks on specific ethnic, racial, or religious groups. ...I appreciate this thread moving away from the broad-spectrum Muslim bashing.

Muslims and Islam are not interchangeable. My criticism is about Islam, which is an ideology, a religion, not an ethnic, racial, or religious group. The criticism of Islam alone, among all religions, seems to be discouraged, if not forbidden, by you, quite in keeping with the laws of Muslim countries.

I talked briefly about Hinduism, which was met with the response “… the hostility and violence of Hindus towards Muslims is hard to equal in all the world.” Now this was an attack not on the religion but on an ethnic, and racial group, without a murmur of protest, instead with a thumbs up. Quite an extraordinary and emphatic slur, without a shred of evidence being put forward. As absurd a statement as saying "all Americans are racist"

What about Buddhists, Hindus and Christians? (These are ethnic and racial groups rather than Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, which are religions). No problem there. You waded in with gusto. “In Myanmar, Buddhists engage in ethnic cleansing. In India, some Hindu sects are still okay with setting the wife on fire.”

Some your logic and reasoning seems questionable. “It seems no different from Christianity and other religions which also have extreme splinter groups that push nonsensical ideas. They have Jihad, we had the Crusades…” The Crusades, correct me if I am wrong, was not at the bidding of an “extreme splinter group” but by the Pope himself, the head of the Roman Catholics. They are hardly an “extreme splinter group”, though I agree that ultimately all religions, not just extreme splinter groups, push nonsensical ideas.
There are so many incorrect statements about mainstream Islam here that I simply do not have time to go through them

Why not, then, point out just one of them? Surely you should not let my incorrect statements about mainstream Islam get away without being corrected?

The only one you seem to have challenged is my statement that “every Muslim absolutely believes that the Quran is the literal word of God”. You imply that this is a grave insult to all Muslims, rather than a core belief of Islam and indeed would greatly offend Muslims if you were to deny it, as you have.

But what evidence do I have for this statement (Aside from my personal history)?:
One of the six articles of Muslim faith, is that the Quran is the pre-existent, perfect word of Allah.

“The Qurʾānic corpus, composed in an early form of Classical Arabic, is traditionally believed to be a literal transcript of God’s speech and to constitute the earthly reproduction of an uncreated and eternal heavenly original, according to the general view referred to in the Qurʾān itself as “the well-preserved tablet” (al-lawḥ al-mahfūẓ; Qurʾān 85:22).” https://www.britannica.com/topic/Quran

“What is the Quran? Miracle of Allah and Final Testament to Humankind. The Quran represents the fountainhead of Divine guidance for every Muslim. Its revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his practical implementation of the revelation, completed God’s blessing for humanity, in providing us with a belief and value system that is valid for all times.” https://www.whyislam.org/submission/the ... the-quran/ Also http://www.islam-guide.com/ch3-7.htm

For example, I have a Muslim friend who most definitely does not believe the Quran is the literal word of God.

Does this “Muslim” friend reflect the beliefs of mainstream Islam, or indeed even a small splinter group? If so what are they?

I also have several “Muslim” friends who also “most definitely do not believe the Quran is the literal word of God”. Surprise, they are not Muslims. They are ex-Muslims.

Why not call your Muslim friend on here to chat with us on this forum? I and probably others would love to chat with him. He seems to be a most reasonable guy. I assure you I will be most respectful and curious to know about his beliefs.
I really hate to lock threads

There is a "but" in there somewhere.

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathise."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 30th, 2017, 11:44 pm 

rajnz00 » September 30th, 2017, 8:00 pm wrote:
Don Juan » September 30th, 2017, 3:11 am wrote: I am critical of religions, but I am also critical of myself. I must not fool myself,

But that is what followers of all religions do. Fool themselves. They abandon reason after some time. Your discussion will get nowhere. You are arguing with a person who has said earlier in this thread "No matter what the reasons for this, it is irrational." Reasons against a position he holds are irrational. He does not understand the concept of rationality.


What nonsense. It is not a position which I said is irrational but the hatred of a group which I said is irrational. This was obvious to everyone but you. Like I said, guilt is no more inherited by being a member of a group any more than it is inherited by being the descendant of someone. Responsibility, however, is another matter. Both the group and descendant do bear some responsibility to fix wrongs which were done. This is because of everything else which is inherited: power, resources, and other advantages. You cannot take these without the responsibilities which go with them.

rajnz00 » September 30th, 2017, 8:28 pm wrote:
I really hate to lock threads

There is a "but" in there somewhere.


But... hate mongering is not acceptable to a group supporting the ideals of freedom and tolerance. Not everything -- not all religion, not all philosophies, and not all rhetoric -- is compatible with a free society. Intolerance is not compatible with tolerance, so it is not logical to extend tolerance to include tolerating intolerance. This is precise why I agreed with you on the one issue from the previous page.

rajnz00 » September 11th, 2017, 6:40 am wrote:The great strength that we have in our western civilisation and our western democracies, which is also the strength of science, springs from the freedom to criticise. The freedom to criticise religion and our leaders. Despotism and the loss of freedom springs from the outlawing of criticism. The criticism of Islam is forbidden in Islam and incorporated into laws in Muslim countries. If you do, their blasphemy laws punish you with imprisonment or even death. It is the same for apostasy laws if a Muslim wants to leave Islam.
This will be my last post on this subject. I've said what I wanted to say and do not want to waste more time on this. If you cannot see the evil of this religion from this then you are willfully shutting your eyes to the obvious.
This is a legitimate concern. It must be accepted as a fact that not all religions are compatible with the ideals of a free society. And if a religion is not willing to coexist, and that includes enduring the criticism of others, then what choice do the rest of us have when deciding whether we can coexist with them?


But your with me or against me attitude typical of uncompromising ideology has red flags going up all over the place! You are the one demanding absolute agreement with everything you say taking offense at any disagreement whatsoever. And this is not the first time you have used this tactic of throwing false accusations to hide the fact that the only one really doing such things is yourself.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Don Juan on October 1st, 2017, 9:05 am 

mitchellmckain wrote:And here is the dead end I predicted -- where communication has completely broken down. He can pretend it is about the methodology and the tools. But as I said before, the purpose can be seen in the tools from the very beginning. It is not that you cannot play a violin with a hammer. I am sure than to you can find a way to do so. But when you are interested in a different kind of music then there is no reason to put up with such restrictions.


As you predicted. What kind of prediction? The kind you have direct influence and have ready answer for, as you boxed an instance by referring and framing into your own map which has all the pre-decided network of ideas in place? The network is so well placed that you can immediately go into a diarrhea of concepts. The question there is, are you even aware that you maybe falling into a self-fulfilling prophecy? And as you said, the purpose can be seen in the tools from the very beginning IN YOUR MIND who provides the meaning AS YOU HAVE SAID. You are talking of power and control in the way you want to use them but did not realize that the same manipulation emerges in your own very arguments. Aren't you using the same power, control and manipulation by framing my first comment into the box of your obedience religion and executing that concept of yours to its knees? As I have said, I notice patterns and notice your pattern - it will not work with me. Since your arguments lack faithfulness to the common reference of the field you are criticizing, you failed to demonstrate understanding of it, and by using lots of abductive reasoning (which are meant to be tested and updated upon common grounds and references) without testing and updating them, you are falling into grave distortions, generalizations and deletions. You seem to display a behavior similar to a manipulative, charismatic narcissism capable of subtle and appealing manipulations underneath your arguments.

Because love and life are the value I seek from religion rather than power and control, I am unwilling overlook some of the basic facts about human life and development. We learn by making mistakes. This is a fact. Someone with anything like a parental attitude certainly does not sever a relationship because the children make a mistake. That may indeed come from a power obsessed, angry, self-absorbed, manipulative, unforgiving, vindictive, controlling, jealous, sadistic, glory seeker, and so if you are willing to worship such a demon then that might be an explanation you are willing to accept. I am not!


So this is not power obsessed, angry, self-absorbed, manipulative, unforgiving, vindictive, contolling, jealous, sadistic, glory seeker etc etc. Read your arguments again and SEE these underneath. You are practicing the very things you criticize.

Wisdom is on the side of seeking knowledge and understanding about good and evil not in avoiding it in favor of blind obedience. Neither love nor wisdom deals with mistakes by blaming everyone but yourselves. These are facts you cannot ignore when your objective is love and life, and I can only imagine someone obsessed with power and control being able to do so. Thus it seems to me this story is ferreting out what it is that you are looking for and whatever it is, you will find it, or maybe that is just human nature and this is what will happen no matter what the story may be.


I cannot be blind to your contentions. The reason I am encouraging the debate to go into a common reference to reflect upon its meaning. You have demonstrated your lack of critical awareness of terms, propositions and arguments, and that is dangerous for someone who have unconscious tendencies to use abductive reasoning.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Don Juan on October 1st, 2017, 9:11 am 

rajnz00 » October 1st, 2017, 3:00 am wrote:
Don Juan » September 30th, 2017, 3:11 am wrote: I am critical of religions, but I am also critical of myself. I must not fool myself,

But that is what followers of all religions do. Fool themselves. They abandon reason after some time. Your discussion will get nowhere. You are arguing with a person who has said earlier in this thread "No matter what the reasons for this, it is irrational." Reasons against a position he holds are irrational. He does not understand the concept of rationality.


ALL religions? Whose 'they' specifically? How did you know specifically that my discussion will get nowhere? Are you fortune teller?
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on October 1st, 2017, 9:34 am 

Don Juan wrote:Are you fortune teller?

Yep. Pretty much like Newton who predicted the return of Halley's comet. The application of logic and reason to observations.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on October 1st, 2017, 12:56 pm 

rajnz00 » October 1st, 2017, 8:34 am wrote:
Don Juan wrote:Are you fortune teller?

Yep. Pretty much like Newton who predicted the return of Halley's comet. The application of logic and reason to observations.


The difference between the honest inquiry of science and your pseudo-science (rhetoric pretending to be science) and is that science tests its hypotheses rather than simply looking for evidence to support it and it is founded on objective observations (written procedures which produce the same results regardless of belief) not on personal judgments from subjective beliefs.

Science has the superior epistemological status because of this difference, but ideologues not wanting to accept a diversity of opinion on subjective matters but seeking to push their rhetoric whether for the purpose of power or hate will run roughshod over this difference with science so they can pretend to objectivity when they have none. A free society recognizes the limits of what can be established objectively and upholds the principles of tolerance with regards to things which cannot.

Thus I make no pretense to objectivity whatsoever in my religious opinions and I not only accept the inherent diversity of understanding on such matters but celebrate it as an asset to human civilization. Atheists, pagans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Humanists, Wiccans, Jews, Bahai, Sikhs, and those who believe in fairies, ghosts, psychics, angels, healing crystals, demons, and UFOs all stand on equal ground with Christianity as far as I am concerned. Rationality is not measured by their beliefs on such matters. I will, however, judge individual beliefs on the grounds of logical coherence, consistency with the findings of science, and compatibility with the ideals of a free society.

When it comes to deciding upon your own personal beliefs, personal experience and feelings, pragmatic and abductive reasoning, analogy and metaphor, dreams and revelations, even values and personal taste are all valid reasons for a decision. Life presents us with a deluge of possible ways to spend our time and energy and we have to make choices about what interests us mostly without much room for exhaustive analysis. And why should we not use whatever reasons work for us because it is our life to live?
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on October 1st, 2017, 3:44 pm 

mitchellmckain wrote:The difference between the honest inquiry of science and your pseudo-science (rhetoric pretending to be science) and is that science tests its hypotheses ... blah blah..

“and is”? you mean “is”. You should really be more careful with your grammar.

There is no Earth-shaking scientific theory involved here. Just simple observations of your conversation, with Don Juan, and common sense. My hypothesis is that your conversation will go nowhere. It will be vindicated if it goes nowhere (else I’ll revise it). No need for that lengthy pontificating discourse.
I will, however, judge individual beliefs on the grounds of logical coherence, consistency with the findings of science, and compatibility with the ideals of a free society.

Talking about “honest inquiry” how have you honestly inquired into the making of heaven and Earth in 7 days and 7 nights? The creation of Adam and Eve? The parting of the Red Sea? The Sun being made to stand still? Jonah being swallowed by a whale? Or the miracles of Jesus for that matter?
And why should we not use whatever reasons work for us because it is our life to live?

That is precisely what I have argued from the beginning. You can believe what you like, provided your beliefs do not lead to action that affect other people’s lives.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on October 1st, 2017, 3:48 pm 

that should be "You can believe what you like, provided your beliefs do not lead to action that affect other people’s lives adversely"
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on October 1st, 2017, 4:42 pm 

rajnz00 » October 1st, 2017, 2:44 pm wrote:
I will, however, judge individual beliefs on the grounds of logical coherence, consistency with the findings of science, and compatibility with the ideals of a free society.

Talking about “honest inquiry” how have you honestly inquired into the making of heaven and Earth in 7 days and 7 nights? The creation of Adam and Eve? The parting of the Red Sea? The Sun being made to stand still? Jonah being swallowed by a whale? Or the miracles of Jesus for that matter?

The honest inquiry I was talking about was scientific method and I have made it abundantly clear that religious belief is not in that category any more than any of the other non-science activities of human life. Thus I have said over and over again I make no pretense to objectivity or science when it comes to religious belief. There are numerous subjective choices involved like the choice to value love and life rather than power and control.

But it is true that in my own subjective decisions with regards to religion, the scientific worldview is a filter through which I will read the Bible. So no I do not believe in any creation of the Earth in 7 days, the creation of Adam and Eve as magical golems of dust and bone, nor do I believe in any miracles as a violation of the laws of nature. Explanation for such content of the Bible vary from literary licence and hyperbole to events with a scientific explanation.

rajnz00 » October 1st, 2017, 2:44 pm wrote:
And why should we not use whatever reasons work for us because it is our life to live?

That is precisely what I have argued from the beginning. You can believe what you like, provided your beliefs do not lead to action that affect other people’s lives.

And that is why supported you on one of your objections with regards to Islam but opposed you with regards to your hate mongering generalizations to demonize a whole group of people. The former was a legitimate concern but the latter is an example of personal belief and rhetoric which adversely affects other people's lives in a way which is not justified.
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