A Critique of Religion

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

A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on September 10th, 2017, 12:57 am 

A critique of Religion, particularly Islam

Why particularly Islam? Because Islam tells its followers to wage Jihad (war) against the non-believers (of Islam). It also tells them that if they are victorious fighting the non-believers then they can subjugate them and take their possessions and if they die in the fight, they will go to "heaven", where they will get all sorts of goodies, (virgins, boys, wine endless sex etc), and sufficient number of its followers believe its nonsense to carry out these instructions.

A few hours back I chanced on a publication called "AGE OF EARTH AND EVOLUTION – CAN RELIGION AND SCIENCE RECONCILE?" by one Muhammad Nabeel Musharraf, Chief Executive, Australian Islamic Library, where the guy indulges in scientific obfuscation and dishonest apologism for his religion. There doesn't seem to be a direct link to the article it arrived in my Inbox.

I couldn't let it pass, so I wrote a critique:

Muhammad Nabeel Musharraf writes: “The first thing that is required to be clarified before we begin is that there are a lot of aspects of the early history of the universe and the early stages of life that are based on multiple theories which often compete with, and sometimes contradict, each other.”

This is the typical opening gambit of Islamic and religious apologists to defend their religion while attempting to cast doubt about the legitimacy of science. It reveals their fundamental, perhaps willful, ignorance about the nature of science (and religion).

First of all, Scientific theories are explanations of facts. Scientific theories are based on evidence and facts. They start with a collection of observations, evidence and facts and then they seek to explain these facts. The most successful scientific theories are those that explain a lot of facts using very few assumptions. Thus, while there are many different theories about the origins of the Earth, there is absolutely no disagreement about the fact that the Earth is billions of years old.

This fact comes from the evidence of radiometric age-dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the radiometric ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples 1. According to this evidence the age of the Earth has been estimated to be approximately 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years. In 1999, the oldest known rock on Earth was dated to 4.031 ±0.003 billion years, and is part of the Acasta Gneiss of the Slave craton in north western Canada 2. In 2014, researchers have confirmed that a tiny zircon crystal from Australia, is the oldest rock fragment ever found on Earth — 4.375 billion years old, plus or minus 6 million years 3.

The Theory of Evolution explains the fact of the descent of all species from older species back to a common cellular ancestor. This vast evidence comes from fossil evidence, and genetic evidence.

Because scientific theories are explanation of facts, they do not claim to be infallible. They are constantly being tested and validated until a newer and better explanation comes along. They do not claim to be the absolute truth for all time.

As opposed to this religion claims the absolute truth for all time, based not on evidence, but on faith. Take for example the Islamic religion. It was founded by Muhammad, who claimed he wrote the actual words of a God called Allah, through his angel Gabriel, compiled subsequently into a book called the Quran. No one heard these words except Muhammad, so we must take his word for it.

The question we have to ask is - how then do we know it is true? The answer that Muslims give is that the Quran claims that no one can produce a verse like it and that the Quran contains some “miraculous” revelations that the 7th century Muhammad could not have known if it were not from a divine creator.

Only a perfunctory study of the Quran discredits both these claims. The first claim fails on logic as there is no objective test that can test this claim. The second claim also fails. There is nothing in the Quran that can astound the reader about its depth of scientific knowledge.

In fact, the Quran contains a number of scientific errors, the creation of man being only one of them, which points to it being the creation of the 7th century rather than anything containing divine knowledge.
Some of these are pointed out by WikiIslam which writes that:

“A message from an all-knowing being should not contain any errors, mistakes, or information that contradicts known facts about the universe. If even one error exists in the text of Islam's holy book then the claims of divine authorship and infallibility are not true. An objective evaluation of the Qur’an shows that it contains numerous scientific and historical errors and reflects a pre-scientific, 7th century view of the natural world.”4

References:
1. Hedman, Matthew (2007). "9: Meteorites and the Age of the Solar System".
2. Bowring, Samuel A.; Williams, Ian S. (1999). "Priscoan (4.00–4.03 Ga) orthogneisses from northwestern Canada". Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology. 134: 3
3. https://www.livescience.com/43584-earth ... ircon.html
4. http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Scientific_Er ... _the_Quran
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Braininvat on September 10th, 2017, 4:16 pm 

This appears to be a critique of radical Islamic sects, not the religion as a whole. 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 Inquisition, Manifest Destiny, handing out smallpox infected blankets to heathen savages, Mormon polygamy and isolationism, and the VP of the U.S. refusing to eat lunch with any woman who is not his wife because his religion told him it's dangerous. In Myanmar, Buddhists engage in ethnic cleansing. In India, some Hindu sects are still okay with setting the wife on fire.

It's interesting to me that Islam has become the popular scapegoat of everything that's bad about religion.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on September 11th, 2017, 3:18 am 

Braininvat wrote:This appears to be a critique of radical Islamic sects, not the religion as a whole.

No, it is a critique of the religion of Islam. A religion that that specifies that the greatest moral deed its followers can perform is to fight those that do not believe in their religion, kill them, take their property, wives and children and subjugate them, deserves to be criticised.

This is not the views of an extreme, splinter group. This is basic, fundamental Islam. The very core of their beliefs, as laid down in the Quran and the Hadiths. This is reflected in the present-day laws of every Muslim country. In every Muslim country, the non-Muslim is a second-class citizen who does not enjoy the same rights as the Muslim. They are discriminated under the law, whereas we afford them equality under the law.
It seems no different from Christianity and other religions which also have extreme splinter groups that push nonsensical ideas.

This statement is wrong in many ways. Firstly, it wrongly implies that in Christianity and other religions, only extreme splinter groups push nonsensical ideas. That nonsensical ideas are absent from mainstream Christianity and other religions. That is not true. Christianity and other religions are riddled with nonsensical ideas. This stems from the fact religions are the very antithesis of science. They base their beliefs on faith rather than evidence and are thus impervious to falsification.

Secondly, nonsensical ideas are not what I am criticising here. You can believe in the Loch Ness Monster or the Incredible Hulk or waste your time banging your head on the floor praying to some imaginary guy in the sky, or jingling bells in a temple for all I care, but when your religion calls for the violent subjugation of those who do not believe in your religion, I do care, and that religion sets itself apart from all other religions.
They have Jihad, we had the Crusades, the Inquisition, Manifest Destiny, handing out smallpox infected blankets to heathen savages,

Can you point to a teaching of Christ where he calls for handing out smallpox infected blankets to heathen savages? Or some teaching of his that could be interpreted in such a way? “Blessed are the meek” or “the peacemakers” perhaps? What about the crusades? “Turn the other cheek”? or “Put away your sword, those that live by the sword shall die by the sword” maybe?’

You need to brush up on your history. Islamic Jihad has been going on uninterrupted for 14 centuries. The crusades were a belated response to the conquest of Christian lands.

Can I point to a teaching of Muhammad where he says fighting and dying in Jihad for Allah is the greatest and noblest deed a Muslim can perform? Yes, dozens, but a couple are enough – Sahih Bukhari 54:49 “…A man came to Allah's Apostle (SAW) and said, "Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward)." He replied, "I do not find such a deed." ..”

Sahih Bukhari 54:51 “..I heard Allah's Apostle (SAW) saying, "The example of a Mujahid in Allah's Cause - and Allah knows better who really strives in His Cause - is like a person who observes Saum (fasts) and offers Salat (prayer) continuously. Allah guarantees that He will admit the Mujahid in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty."”

Can I point to the Quran where it says this? Yes. Quran Chapter 9 verse 111 “Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties for (the price) that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allah's Cause, so they kill (others) and are killed….”
the VP of the U.S. refusing to eat lunch with any woman who is not his wife because his religion told him it's dangerous.

Now I have seen pictures of him eating with other people’s wives. So maybe you mean he won’t eat with another man’s wife when his wife is not around? That is appalling according to you, but some may say that he is not a creep, having dates with other men’s wives. However, be as it may, it’s not in the same category as the Islamic requirement of lashing the adulteress 100 lashes or stoning her to death.
In Myanmar, Buddhists engage in ethnic cleansing. In India, some Hindu sects are still okay with setting the wife on fire.

Again, neither of these are a requirement of their respective religions.
It's interesting to me that Islam has become the popular scapegoat of everything that's bad about religion.

Do you read the news?
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Infinite_Observer on September 11th, 2017, 6:51 am 

The problem with religion and faith is that it is subject to the individual's interpretation. The quran, bible, torah, were written a very long time ago where the level of scientific knowledge was nowhere near as accurate as it is today, so it does not suprising that either contain incorrect facts in that regard.

The way I view all religions is this: No matter how strange or nonsensical the beliefs and teachings may be, if it leads to someone having a better standard of living and makes them a happier and better person, then who am I to tell that person they are wrong?
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on September 11th, 2017, 7:16 am 

Infinite_Observer wrote:The way I view all religions is this: No matter how strange or nonsensical the beliefs and teachings may be, if it leads to someone having a better standard of living and makes them a happier and better person, then who am I to tell that person they are wrong?

What if a religion leads to a worse standard of living? makes the populace less happy? more miserable? a worse person than they would be without the religion? What if such a religion wants to impose itself on you by force, threats, intimidation?
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Infinite_Observer on September 11th, 2017, 7:27 am 

Then my opinion would be the opposite in that case. My earlier point was just to say that even though a religion might make some ridiculous claims it can also be used as a guide that improves your value of live. Now in the case of islam it seems a large number of them use their religion to justify mass violence which is terrible. I knew a muslim family who were wonderful and the nicest people I ever met, but that may be an exception. I have not met many muslims but from what I see on the media and what history tells me is that it is a very violent religion. I dont mean it to be in any way racist just am opinion based on the facts that I have observed.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on September 11th, 2017, 7:40 am 

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.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Infinite_Observer on September 11th, 2017, 7:47 am 

I dont think it is entirely fair to make such a provocative claim then say you will not post any further. I dont completely disagree with you, but Christianity (I grew up Christian) has done their fair share of evil throught the ages so they could also be said to be just as evil. I think any religion can lead yo violence and evil in the right situations, time, and places. However it does seem in recent history Islam has been the most aggressive of the 3 largest religions.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on September 11th, 2017, 8:02 am 

My claim is not provocative. It is just a statement of fact, as provocative as saying the sun rises from the east. Please don't try and tell me about Christianity. I also grew up as a Christian and was very devout up to my teenage years when I left. I know my Bible backwards. I have also studied other religions and history. Reading the Bible was banned for centuries by the Catholic church. The reformation was launched by the invention of the printing press when the lay people went back to the original teachings of Jesus. This helped our western democracies to evolve. The equivalent reformation of Islam (going back to the original teachings of Muhammad) is Salafi Islam of Saudi Arabia and ISIS or Shia Islam - the Islamic republic of Iran.
The reason I have to leave is for lack of time and I have said essentially what I wanted to say.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 11th, 2017, 12:02 pm 

Judging religion by the fringe crackpots and the worst abuses is no more sane than doing this with science, or drugs, or police, or media, etc... The ability to twist and abuse is a HUMAN problem and characteristic, and using these things to demonize a particular group is the typical behavior of these same bullheaded fanatical crusaders who murder for the sake of their own ideological agenda.

Sticking to the saner objective path of looking at the average membership IN CONTEXT of the rest of humanity and what you generally find is an indeterminate mixed bag of good and bad. To be sure many of us will see things in particular religions which we find rather distasteful though it is difficult both for the membership and those outside to separate the religion from the culture.

In the end, I think the most we can say is that despite what many of the theistic religious may say, belief in God is NOT a solution to human problems! That is one thing which is ABUNDANTLY CLEAR!!! If anything it has its OWN set of problems to go along with whatever help particular people may find in it.

It is my suspicion that what we are dealing with is simply different forms of life, much like different biological species, each with their own uniqueness, with advantages and disadvantages. Those who study them, like the biologist studying different species, see a kind of beauty and fascination in their differentness and it makes them want to handle the difficulties posed by the problems of coexistence with them rather than trying to annihilate them or anything like that.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 11th, 2017, 12:25 pm 

rajnz00 » September 11th, 2017, 2:18 am wrote:This statement is wrong in many ways. Firstly, it wrongly implies that in Christianity and other religions, only extreme splinter groups push nonsensical ideas. That nonsensical ideas are absent from mainstream Christianity and other religions. That is not true. Christianity and other religions are riddled with nonsensical ideas. This stems from the fact religions are the very antithesis of science. They base their beliefs on faith rather than evidence and are thus impervious to falsification.

Incorrect and riddled with your own brand of nonsensical ideas.

People in general are riddled with and push nonsensical ideas and their ways of forming beliefs are in general antithetical to science. Rhetoric is the methodology of most of human civilization. If you are going to make a fair and objective comparison with the scientific community then you should be comparing to them the academic theological community and the result is very different in that case. It is why the official position of most religions are usually much more reasonable, i.e. very much goes along with the conclusions of science.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 11th, 2017, 12:29 pm 

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?
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on September 15th, 2017, 1:43 pm 

For those who do read the news "The BBC understands the device had a timer.
Our security correspondent Frank Gardner said the bomb appeared not to have gone off.
Had it worked as intended, it would have killed everyone around it and maimed everyone in the train carriage for life, he said." http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41278545
The train was packed with commuters. Young mums with their babies. Who would want to do such a heinous act? Why? Ah that's a real mystery for the willfully blind. In science a good explanation is one that explains all the facts/ evidence, with very few assumptions.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby ZTHarris on September 17th, 2017, 2:16 pm 

Religion on its own, in the area I grew up, had very little influence. That is to say: if you were to allow each individual to read a Bible for themselves, they would no doubt have a collection of both altruistic and detrimental character traits. The other scenario is the person who is reading identifying the plethora of contradictions and inconsistencies present and realizing that it's very much fallible.

The problem, to me, is what people are taught by the pastors or clergy that they look to for interpretation and guidance. These people often take their own agenda and endeavor to make verses, passages, etc., have whatever meaning and implications they want them to have. Their personal prejudices, whether from the Bible or from a life experience, heavily influence both which parts of the text they focus on teaching and which parts are not to be mentioned. In my experience those who believe the most of what they hear from a pastor are those who have read the least of the doctrine in question.

In conjunction with the previous point, religion by its most straight forward teachings stifles critical thinking. Combine this with the willingness of people to believe whatever their pastor tells them and any religious person can become more or less ignorant, hateful, violent, than they perhaps would have if left to read and interpret on their own. Religion certainly doesn't hold completely negative and detrimental teachings, but when a select few are allowed to heavily influence the beliefs of many, then there's sure to be copious amounts of ignorance--to say the least.

Make no mistake, however. Religion is only truly valuable to people when it is read with the knowledge that it was written by men. To take religion at face value and attempt to believe it as truth requires a great deal of ignorance of the modern world and its advancements in science. To leave a person to read it thinking that it could very well be God's will is extremely dangerous for a person who would perpetually fail to see otherwise.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 17th, 2017, 7:57 pm 

ZTHarris » September 17th, 2017, 1:16 pm wrote:Religion on its own, in the area I grew up, had very little influence. That is to say: if you were to allow each individual to read a Bible for themselves, they would no doubt have a collection of both altruistic and detrimental character traits. The other scenario is the person who is reading identifying the plethora of contradictions and inconsistencies present and realizing that it's very much fallible.

Yes, and the latter can be either believer or non-believer, though depending on the predominance, power and intolerance of the other type they can be considered trouble makers regardless.

ZTHarris » September 17th, 2017, 1:16 pm wrote:The problem, to me, is what people are taught by the pastors or clergy that they look to for interpretation and guidance. These people often take their own agenda and endeavor to make verses, passages, etc., have whatever meaning and implications they want them to have. Their personal prejudices, whether from the Bible or from a life experience, heavily influence both which parts of the text they focus on teaching and which parts are not to be mentioned. In my experience those who believe the most of what they hear from a pastor are those who have read the least of the doctrine in question.

Indeed, and after years of being told what it says they can become amazingly blind to what is actually in the text.

ZTHarris » September 17th, 2017, 1:16 pm wrote:In conjunction with the previous point, religion by its most straight forward teachings stifles critical thinking. Combine this with the willingness of people to believe whatever their pastor tells them and any religious person can become more or less ignorant, hateful, violent, than they perhaps would have if left to read and interpret on their own. Religion certainly doesn't hold completely negative and detrimental teachings, but when a select few are allowed to heavily influence the beliefs of many, then there's sure to be copious amounts of ignorance--to say the least.

No. If the writers are people, then you are only left with the fact that just like people the text can either encourage critical thinking or stifle it, and which mostly depends on the reader. The words of anybody can be turned into intolerant dogma. Let us consider an example...

A famous saying by Stephen Weinberg: "But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

The truth is that any dogmatic ideological approach to the world will do this. The fact is that the most destructive ideology in the last century was not religious but anti-religious. 94 million people dead because of Marxist Leninism, many of them civilians slaughtered by their own government which simply did not value human life because their ideology taught that religion was a disease, capitalists (business class people) were trash, and all our value as human beings came solely from the ability to work (and for the communist party at that).

I have little doubt that Weinberg would agree to this correction, but that doesn't keep people from using what he said in a dogmatic manner.

ZTHarris » September 17th, 2017, 1:16 pm wrote:Make no mistake, however. Religion is only truly valuable to people when it is read with the knowledge that it was written by men.

No that is not true. I will grant you that it can cause trouble when people do not recognize that some of the things in religious texts come from outdated cultural prejudices, such as some misogynistic and anti-homosexual sentiments attributed to Paul in the Bible, for example. But not only can people recognize this while seeing the Bible as the word of God, but even those who do not can derive considerable value from the text even when they do not understand this.

ZTHarris » September 17th, 2017, 1:16 pm wrote:To take religion at face value and attempt to believe it as truth requires a great deal of ignorance of the modern world and its advancements in science.

"Face value" is not sufficiently discerning of the problem. Stiff-necked childish literalism contrary to the demonstrable facts (let alone contrary to all the textual indicators of symbolism and metaphor) is definitely a problem. It is one which I think Jesus Himself spoke against in Matthew 13. For someone raised in the scientific world view and thus for whom science has become an extension of sight, what they are likely to take away as the face value of the text will be very different. To them taking such phrases as "table of the earth" or "four corners of the earth" to mean that the earth is flat, for example, is rather silly.

ZTHarris » September 17th, 2017, 1:16 pm wrote:To leave a person to read it thinking that it could very well be God's will is extremely dangerous for a person who would perpetually fail to see otherwise.

History simply does not bear this out. Texts completely understood to be written by men have proven to be just as dangerous if not more so than those believed to be written by God. I am sorry but the evidence does not support the claim that people take texts more seriously or uncritically just because they are believe to be written by God. People are just as capable of dismissing and ignoring the contents even when they do believe it is from God. Which they do seems mostly dependent on what they find convenient at the time.

People, frankly, do what they want. And they will use whatever they can to justify doing it. The most you can say is, it is particularly appalling, hypocritical and ultimately embarrassing when people do this with a text which is mostly opposed to how they are using it. When we look at the history of the fourth crusade where people used God as their excuse to march on and slaughter other Christians it is rather appalling. When we look at the Americans resurrecting slavery in the colonies after it was abolished in Europe, the hypocrisy is enormous. And every time Muslims perpetrate attacks on innocent people, it is embarrassing not only to the believers of Islam but to all religious people.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby ZTHarris on September 18th, 2017, 1:14 am 

No, I agree with you on most points. People, with or without religious text, can fall into committing heinous acts. My point was that religious text has hurtful teachings if they are taken literally. While I agree that religion can often stimulate critical thinking with its proverbial and poetic writing, in many segments of the text the reader is encouraged to devalue logic and evidence and adhere to blind faith. This is what I meant by a stifling of critical thinking. I don't think your other statements negate what I stated, and I agree with them. A doctrine doesn't have to be religious for it to be dangerous, but I do think that religious doctrines are dangerous when read by people who are uneducated and prone to believing what they are told simply because someone says it's what god wants.

I think the OP's point is that religious people, in spite of their religious text, can be largely peaceful and compassionate people; however, that does not rescind the actual heinous text that can be found in religious text and that very realistically influences the actions of those who take it literally.

You do have a good point about people ignoring the teaching when convenient, though. I've seen instances of that all my life. Generally, I don't worry about more intelligent people falling prey to religion. And yes, teaching someone something even without god being involved can be just as influential, but I chose to talk about religion because I've acutely experienced it my whole life. That was not to say that religion is the only teaching that is dangerous, assuredly.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 18th, 2017, 3:39 am 

Yeah... I think a lot of people are just tired of religion right now, and all the baggage which has gone along with it for so long. Many have turned to substitutes whether a new thing (like UFOs, and crystals) or reviving a very old thing. I suppose you even can include skepticism as one of the old things. Anyway, swinging back and forth is a recurring pattern and maybe that is even a part how religion is forced to change for the better eventually.

I was raised by extreme liberals and thus with scathing criticisms of the Christian establishment. Perhaps it is an example of my own rebellion that I found something in Christianity worth salvaging. But to be sure it has taken a lot of weeding and revision, and the result is in some ways far from what is usually being "sold," especially in the west. I am not a salesman regardless. I am also quite willing to relegate religion and spirituality to the subjective aspect of life (with diversity being inherent), granting the superior epistemological status to science as more objective.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby ZTHarris on September 18th, 2017, 4:16 am 

I find it very amusing that you would describe your background as scathingly liberal, haha. I grew up around people very much the opposite. I grew up around people who were grossly uneducated. Every issue needed to be met with a solution from the Bible, as if it were the only way to approach any problem. This is my experience and perspective. I've seen people ignore progressive ideas and science because the Bible contradicted it. I've heard of college students from here completely denying evolution because "I didn't come from a monkey." I've heard a great many express their deeply convicted sentiment that homosexuals should not be allowed to marry because it is an abomination to their god. While I'm sure the fundamentalism is much less prevalent in those with better education, it is clear to me to see how religion generally affects people whom are taught from day one that is it literal and whom are rarely, if ever, taught about other philosophies.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on September 18th, 2017, 5:12 am 

ZTHarris wrote:Religion is only truly valuable to people when it is read with the knowledge that it was written by men. To take religion at face value and attempt to believe it as truth requires a great deal of ignorance of the modern world and its advancements in science. To leave a person to read it thinking that it could very well be God's will is extremely dangerous for a person who would perpetually fail to see otherwise.

Are you aware that every Muslim absolutely believes that the Quran is the literal word of God? This is unique to Islam. The author of the Quran is supposed to be God. God speaks in the first person (barring a couple of slip ups). This despite the fact that the Quran is riddled with scientific, logical, historical and mathematical errors.
If you couple this with the fact that it contains over a hundred verses exhorting Muslims to violence against non-believers, you realise the extent of the danger of this religion.

Religion has two major failings 1) it is based on faith which overrides evidence and facts 2) Faith not only trumps evidence and facts, but also reason and logic.

Jesus was a reformer and tried to infuse some logic into the crazy aspects of Judaism. For example, when orthodox Jews criticised him for drawing water from a well on a sabbath, he pointed out that the laws were made for (the benefit of) humans and not humans made for the benefit of the laws. (The sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath). This principle is true not only for religious laws but also for our secular laws. It is often noted that “the law’s an ass”. This is when it contravenes what it was established to do – deliver justice, and instead is demonstrably unjust.

Religion is a belief system, an ideology. Thus socialism, communism, the so-called current western liberalism, are all religious in nature. Hinduism believes that all religions are true. We are like drops of water in a river. Like all rivers run to the sea, so also all religions are different pathways to attain Nirvana, the oneness with the sea, which is God. A pretty cool analogy. The Muslim who kills him, because he truly believes that he is going to heaven because of that, (as the Hindu is an idolater, a terrible sin according to his religion), is on his way to nirvana, just as surely as his victim, who has just been tinkling his bells to arouse his favourite deity. But that’s a belief, not a reflection of reality. Rivers flow downhill because of gravity and seas form at the lowest points of the Earth due to accumulation of water. Rivers do not need different ideologies to flow downhill. Gravity is uniform and universal, unlike religions whose beliefs are as different from each other as tigers and trees.

However, this Hindu belief, that all religions and cultures are the same, and uniformly benign, pervades modern western belief also. There is no evidence to back it up, it’s just a belief. There is plenty of evidence, however, that religions are not either the same, nor uniformly benign.

Running through current western thought is the Christian idea of original sin, guilt and atonement.

In Islam, the worst possible sin is to be a Murtad - a person who was once a Muslim but then becomes an apostate, or traitor. These people have to be killed according to Islam. But who is a true Muslim? Sunnis, 85% of Muslims, claim they are and Shias claim they are and various sects within themselves claim they are. Thus, a Shia is a murtad according to the Sunni and the Sunni is according to the Shia. They both kill each other, with Sunnis generally gaining the upper hand being more numerous. This is trotted forth as a virtue and excuse after every terrorist attack on the west, “but “terrorists” kill other Muslims too”. The Muslims that are killed by “terrorists” are simply Muslims who are considered to be apsotates, and hence non-Muslims, by other Muslims, followers of this holly jolly religion of slaughter.

So Europe is importing the losing sides from internecine strife in failed Islamic states, casting them as victims of western colonialism and hence worthy of our sympathy and wealth. They are carriers of an ideology that despises everything that we are supposed to value – democracy, freedom of speech and expression, equal rights for all. It is the perfect match. Western, leftist liberals think that we owe them, thanks to their beliefs and the Muslim “refugees” think we owe them, thanks to their beliefs. Unemployed and unemployable they are quite happy to demand and eventually fight for supremacy, which they have been led to believe is their right, from childhood.

This is a recipe for disaster, all thanks to faith and beliefs and the abandonment of logic, reason and evidence.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 18th, 2017, 5:24 am 

ZTHarris » September 18th, 2017, 3:16 am wrote:I find it very amusing that you would describe your background as scathingly liberal, haha. I grew up around people very much the opposite. I grew up around people who were grossly uneducated.

LOL And my parent both graduated from college in psychology. I then went on to become obscenely educated myself.

ZTHarris » September 18th, 2017, 3:16 am wrote:Every issue needed to be met with a solution from the Bible, as if it were the only way to approach any problem.

It must make dealing with toilets and light bulbs rather difficult... LOL Hmmm... sound like one of those How many ______ does it take to change a light bulb? jokes.

ZTHarris » September 18th, 2017, 3:16 am wrote:This is my experience and perspective. I've seen people ignore progressive ideas and science because the Bible contradicted it. I've heard of college students from here completely denying evolution because "I didn't come from a monkey."

Right.... they just came from lying thieving adulterous murdering slavers, is all. Pfff... I think I would prefer to come from monkeys, if I had a choice.

ZTHarris » September 18th, 2017, 3:16 am wrote: I've heard a great many express their deeply convicted sentiment that homosexuals should not be allowed to marry because it is an abomination to their god.

No no no no.... It is an abomination to cut your hair. But the Bible doesn't say anything about homosexuals getting married.

ZTHarris » September 18th, 2017, 3:16 am wrote: While I'm sure the fundamentalism is much less prevalent in those with better education, it is clear to me to see how religion generally affects people whom are taught from day one that is it literal and whom are rarely, if ever, taught about other philosophies.

...except... to say they are all evil, of course.

In my case, some of these philosophies, like existentialism were my stepping stones to Christianity.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 18th, 2017, 6:13 am 

rajnz00 » September 18th, 2017, 4:12 am wrote:Religion has two major failings 1) it is based on faith which overrides evidence and facts 2) Faith not only trumps evidence and facts, but also reason and logic.

Incorrect.
1. Not all religions are based on faith.
2. Not all religions based on faith endorse faith with overrides evidence, facts, or logic.

rajnz00 » September 18th, 2017, 4:12 am wrote:Jesus was a reformer and tried to infuse some logic into the crazy aspects of Judaism. For example, when orthodox Jews criticised him for drawing water from a well on a sabbath, he pointed out that the laws were made for (the benefit of) humans and not humans made for the benefit of the laws. (The sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath). This principle is true not only for religious laws but also for our secular laws. It is often noted that “the law’s an ass”. This is when it contravenes what it was established to do – deliver justice, and instead is demonstrably unjust.

Every group has people who go too far with with something. And yes reformers speak out against it. This is routine.

rajnz00 » September 18th, 2017, 4:12 am wrote:Religion is a belief system, an ideology.

Incorrect. Religion is a greatly varied phenomenon of human civilization and it includes religions which do not advocate beliefs at all and some which oppose belief systems of any kind.

Furthermore, most religions are no more an ideology than atheism is an ideology, but particular groups can and have made them (including atheism) into an ideology.

rajnz00 » September 18th, 2017, 4:12 am wrote:Thus socialism, communism, the so-called current western liberalism, are all religious in nature.

Incorrect. Your twisting of terminology in opposition to the consensus on how these words are used is VERY typical of ideology at its worst, however. So Mr. ideologue, outside your abuse of the language, socialism and communism are political and economic theories of social organization which are not religious in any way shape or form. However, like socialism and communism, many religions have been made into an ideology much like yours, cramming a many shaded colorful multidimensional world into black and white one dimensional over-simplifications.

rajnz00 » September 18th, 2017, 4:12 am wrote: Hinduism believes that all religions are true. We are like drops of water in a river. Like all rivers run to the sea, so also all religions are different pathways to attain Nirvana, the oneness with the sea, which is God. A pretty cool analogy.

And yet the hostility and violence of Hindus towards Muslims is hard to equal in all the world.

rajnz00 » September 18th, 2017, 4:12 am wrote:Running through current western thought is the Christian idea of original sin, guilt and atonement.

Yes the barbarians of Europe's dark ages really did a number on these aspects of Christianity, but in the east, Orthodox Christianity understand these quite differently.

rajnz00 » September 18th, 2017, 4:12 am wrote:In Islam, the worst possible sin is to be a Murtad - a person who was once a Muslim but then becomes an apostate, or traitor. These people have to be killed according to Islam. But who is a true Muslim? Sunnis, 85% of Muslims, claim they are and Shias claim they are and various sects within themselves claim they are. Thus, a Shia is a murtad according to the Sunni and the Sunni is according to the Shia. They both kill each other, with Sunnis generally gaining the upper hand being more numerous. This is trotted forth as a virtue and excuse after every terrorist attack on the west, “but “terrorists” kill other Muslims too”. The Muslims that are killed by “terrorists” are simply Muslims who are considered to be apsotates, and hence non-Muslims, by other Muslims, followers of this holly jolly religion of slaughter.

Yeah in Christianity, there is just a threat of torture for eternity in a supposed afterlife - quite an empty threat for unbelievers, if a bit disturbing in its implicit intolerance.

rajnz00 » September 18th, 2017, 4:12 am wrote:So Europe is importing the losing sides from internecine strife in failed Islamic states, casting them as victims of western colonialism and hence worthy of our sympathy and wealth. They are carriers of an ideology that despises everything that we are supposed to value – democracy, freedom of speech and expression, equal rights for all. It is the perfect match. Western, leftist liberals think that we owe them, thanks to their beliefs and the Muslim “refugees” think we owe them, thanks to their beliefs. Unemployed and unemployable they are quite happy to demand and eventually fight for supremacy, which they have been led to believe is their right, from childhood.

Some people have a severe case of hatred for group of other people. No matter what the reasons for this, it is irrational. People don't inherit guilt from being a member of a group any more than they inherit guilt by being descendant of someone.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby rajnz00 on September 19th, 2017, 3:29 am 

mitchellmckain wrote:Some people have a severe case of hatred for group of other people.

Who are these "some people" you are talking about who have a severe case of hatred for "group of other people"? Are they Islamic Caliphate by any chance? Or Al Qaida? Or the Taliban? or Boko Haram? or Abu Sayyaf? or the the dozens of other Islamic Jihadist organisations all over the world?
The "some people" above have demonstrated their hatred for "group of other people" by killing and maiming, enslaving and torturing thousands of "group of other people" all over the world. They have done so in obedience to an ideology they believe implicitly in.
But I know you are not talking about them, instead you are talking about "some people" who criticise the ideology they follow. A person who realises a black mamba or crocodile is dangerous does not necessarily "hate" the animals. I critisise the ideology so I am automatically dubbed a "hater". Muslims say that whenever their religion is criticised and their western useful idiots agree.
No matter what the reasons for this, it is irrational.

No matter what the reasons for criticising the religion, it is irrational? So speaks the most rational of useful idiots
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Braininvat on September 19th, 2017, 10:52 am 

I think we've gone about as far as we can go with this topic. Generally, SPCF discourages attacks on specific ethnic, racial, or religious groups. There are so many incorrect statements about mainstream Islam here that I simply do not have time to go through them. Any statement that begins with "All ____ believe that...." should be taken with a grain of salt. That phrase lies at the core of bigotry and is intellectually dishonest. For example, I have a Muslim friend who most definitely does not believe the Quran is the literal word of God. Any major world religion has a wide gradient of faith and literalness in its interpretations. I suggest learning about them, with an open mind.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 21st, 2017, 9:53 pm 

So...

How many fundamentalist Christians (or Muslims) DOES it take to screw in a light bulb?

I get fifteen by my calculation.

One to look it up in their religious text and go to an expert when he doesn't find anything.

One with a vast seminary (or Hawza) education to find some vague reference to a sphere of light.

One theologian to publish a paper evaluating all the possible acceptable and unacceptable interpretations.

One pastor (or mullah) to translate the text into some impractical advice about light bulbs.

Ten to nod their head at the minister's wisdom and praise the lord (or Muslim equivalent).

And one to finally get tired of all the nonsense and babbling enough to just go get the job done.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby ZTHarris on September 22nd, 2017, 4:33 am 

Grade A stand-up material. *claps*
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 23rd, 2017, 5:27 pm 

It does occur to me to point out a fundamental difference between the Bible and writings such as the Quran and the Book of Mormon. The Bible is clearly a collection of many different writings from many different sources over a long period of time and few of them claim to be dictated directly from a divine source. Both the Quran and the Book of Mormon seem to be a product of a single person which people then claim to have had all the contents dictated directly from an angel.

The result makes it clear that claims about the Bible being "the word of God"have a very different meaning than the claims made for the other two writings mentioned. To be sure this doesn't mean that we don't still have people making absurd claims about inerrancy and infallibility. On that account, it must be admitted that various types of errors are to be found in the Bible, and how anyone can think something infallible can be produced in the highly flawed medium of human language is quite beyond my comprehension.

The most frequent way it is explained is that the Bible is inspired by God. I, however, think this is woefully inadequate, for the idea that God limits His inspiration to this one book is absurd to me. It is my perception that the inspiration of God rains down upon us in a torrent to be found in nearly all writings, movies, etc... Why wouldn't God use every opportunity to communicate whatever He can to us, especially if it is important?

But then you may ask what could possibly be left for the phrase "word of God" to mean? Well there is still the almost literal meaning that God used history and people as his (imperfect) writing instruments to produce the book. And perhaps more importantly there is the issue of proprietary rights. Who has the right to make revisions or dictate what was originally meant by the words? That is where I, at least, find reasonable meaning in the phrase "word of God" used for the Bible. That is at least of some value to put a check on the annoying and dishonest habit many have of replacing the words of the text with their own, presuming to know God's mind better than anyone and being able to say it better than God Himself.

But this still leaves us free to distinguish between what human participants say in the Bible and what God wants to communicate, which like many good authors may not even be the exact same thing to everyone.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby ZTHarris on September 23rd, 2017, 5:50 pm 

What, more specifically, are your beliefs regarding religion?
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby mitchellmckain on September 23rd, 2017, 11:56 pm 

ZTHarris » September 23rd, 2017, 4:50 pm wrote:What, more specifically, are your beliefs regarding religion?


For a specific belief you need to ask a specific question. I have already said a lot of specific things on various topics. Above for example, I say quite a bit concerning my beliefs about the Bible, and in another post of this thread I explained that I relegate religion to the subjective (inherently diverse), giving the superior epistemological status to science as more objective (same for everyone). There are also a lot of other threads in this religion section addressing other issues on the topic of religion.

I am not trying to avoid your question, but you leave me to make a shot in the dark with regards to what you are looking for.

If you are looking for a way of placing me within the belief spectrum of world religions, then I can do that...

You could say that I am a liberal evangelical Christian and thus a protestant according to the 5 solas, but I agree with the Eastern Orthodox on the issues atonement, original sin, and the reason God created. In other words, I don't agree with substitutionary atonement, the inheritance of guilt, or that we exist for the purpose of the glory of God. I am neither Unitarian nor Universalist but Trinitarian, believing that hell is real because I see it on the earth, not as something God has created but something that people create for themselves. I disagree with all five points of TULIP Calvinism, and I am an open theist. I am not anti-pagan (instead celebrating our pagan heritage), but I am strongly anti-Plato and anti-Gnostic and in fact believe that much of Christianity has adopted a NeoPlatonic Gnostic gospel of salvation by works of the mind in believing what they deem is sound doctrine -- and even more legalistic in this than the Pharisees. I know the Bible (the apostle Paul) teaches a bodily resurrection to a spiritual body not a physical body. I believe the Bible also hints at the presence of other people on the earth at the time of Adam and Eve, the story of which is highly suggestive of considerable symbolism, so I have no problem with evolution and am in fact a strong believer in abiogenesis. But none of this means that we are not created by God, for the creation of living things is never a creation by design but by participation in the process of growth and development just as a farmer raises crops, a shepherd cares for sheep, a teacher trains professionals, and a parent brings up a child. I have very little interest in eschatology (prophecy, last days, and such) and do not see any practical value in this aspect of Christianity. Gees... I could go on and on... but perhaps that gives you enough of an intro for you to ask specific questions.

...whew... how is that for a mouthful?
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby ZTHarris on September 24th, 2017, 12:00 am 

That was a good explication of your religious beliefs, I'd say.
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Re: A Critique of Religion

Postby Braininvat on September 25th, 2017, 12:58 pm 

And I appreciate this thread moving away from the broad-spectrum Muslim bashing. I really hate to lock threads.
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