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Atheists... Your life is pointless

 
 
wmwcjr
 
  0  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 07:51 pm
@Frank Apisa,
http://static.tumblr.com/dxnfrl5/twwlyqt2z/10.2.jpg

Crying or Very sad
XXSpadeMasterXX
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2013 07:52 pm
@wmwcjr,
Hey Hey mate!!!!!!!!!!
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 03:20 am
I'm going to touch on a couple of subjects here. The first is the relationship of gods or a god to humanity. The Judeo-christian concept is a rather naïve one--that god has created a vast cosmos simply to provide a place for humans, whose purpose is to worship him. That's a rather puerile notion. Also, that this god has nothing better to to than to poke his nose into the private lives of everyone--who they're having sex with, what they're eating--things like that.

Not all religions have seen the relationship of gods to man in the same way. Both the Norse and the ancient Greeks saw the gods as essentially uninterested in human activities. Humans were just one of many classes of beings in the world, and not central to anything other than human considerations. The Norse felt that if one were sufficiently bold and courageous, one might attract the favorable attention of a god like Odin or Thor, who might then favor one's enterprise. They saw humans as only providing entertainment for the gods, if the gods took notice at all, and acted on the principle that if you put on a good show, the gods might show their appreciation. Otherwise, they saw the gods as having lives of their own, into which human affairs did not enter.

The Greeks had a similar notion, although i don't think they necessarily acted to attempt to attract the favorable attention of gods who might then aid them. The Iliad is interesting because Hera is trying to take a petty revenge on Zeus for his philandering, and both of them take sides in human affairs solely for the purpose of getting at one another indirectly. Later manifestations of theism among the Greeks, say within the last 2700 or 2800 years, were of a rather sad bunch of deities who, like the god of the Hebrews, took an unhealthy interest in the morality of human behavior.

Even among theists in the contemporary world, not everyone is a devotee (or slave) or the concepts of organized religions. There are many people who have articulated the notion of an absent creator. This is a god who has made the cosmos, but who has "left," or at any event, has no interest in human affairs. I find this much the more plausible version of a god. Why would a being so powerful and intelligent need or want our worship, or have any interest in the endless melodrama of our day-to-day lives?

*************************************************

The other subject is, itself, two-fold. That humans serve a purpose, and that there is no morality without gods or a god.

In the Judeo-christian tradition, humans are here to worship the big sky daddy, that is their "purpose." To my mind, it is rather silly to think that a being considered to be all-knowing and all-powerful wants or needs the glorification (the rather paltry glorification) offered by beings so puny in comparison. It's a puerile notion, too. An adolescent, unsure about how he or she will be received socially may want the reassurance of adulation--it's a bit much to suggest that this omnipotent and omniscient being would need or want that.

In fact, life does not need to be justified by such a purpose. Life is its own justification. We live, we can act, we don't need to justify these self-evident facts.

As for morality, i'll start by pointing out something i've said many times around here, and have said since long before people blathered online. The want of religion never made a good man bad, nor has religion ever made a bad man good. Being a member of an organized religion does not guarantee the good behavior of people, and someone even with only a passing familiarity with history can see that organized religion does not keep men honest nor unfailingly engender compassion and consideration.

As for what would motivate the non-religious to act in what one could call a moral manner, what comes immediately to my mind is enlightened self-interest. That would be the "you scratch my back and i'll scratch yours" school of thought. In American urban culture it is referred to as "what comes around, goes around." Simply put, i make my surroundings, including the people in them, as reasonably comfortable as i can, so they will be comfortable for me.

It is more complex than that, though. The social contract and cooperation dictate "moral" behavior. The social contract, when observed by the majority of members of society, makes society both a safer and a more rewarding place for all members, including those who sneer at the idea and who simply take advantage without any more participation than they have to do. Cooperation ought to be obvious, too. If six people engage in an enterprise as individuals, they will have a certain production, which we can call X. If those six people pool their resources and efforts, they have a high likelihood of a production which is greater than the sum of their individual efforts, X+, or X++.

So, not only does participation in religion NOT guarantee good behavior on the part of individuals, it is not necessary to justify good behavior.
spendius
 
  2  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 04:56 am
@Setanta,
That's naive and puerile Setanta. Goodstyle.

Quote:
It is more complex than that, though.


Is that irony or sarcasm?
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 05:33 am
@MattDavis,
MattDavis wrote:
I might recommend Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis for example.
He has a particularly clever way of dealing with the problem of suffering as well.


If you're into CS Lewis, may I recommend Planet Narnia by Michael Ward. He claims to have found the third meaning in the Narnia books, the second being the obvious analogy with Christianity. Ward claims that each book represents one of the planets as a Medieval scholar would understand it. Lewis was an expert on Medieval Literature/History after all.

In this, both the moon and sun are classed as planets, and the Earth is not.

The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe-Jupiter
Prince Caspian -Mars
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader- Sun
The Silver Chair- Moon
The Magicians Nephew- Mercury
The Horse And His boy- Venus
The Last Battle- Saturn

Oh, and Happy Birthday Btw.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 07:35 am
@reasoning logic,
Along those lines, RL...

...from the very beginning the tempter seems to be more honest and more concerned with the human predicament.

In Genesis, the serpent, which seems to be an incarnation of
The Evil One...was more honest with Eve...the god, it can be argued, lied to them. And the god wanted to stay superior to them, for no particular reason given...and the serpent wanted the two humans to be equals to the god and its fellow gods.

The god put Adam and Eve in the absurdly tempting place...and allowed the great tempter to be there with them...a kind of god-sting. The god set them up for defeat..the serpent taught them how to advance.

Neither the god nor the serpent particularly appeal to me...but of the two, the god seemed to be the lesser being. And the rest of the book seems to bear that out.
Falco
 
  2  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 08:05 am
@Frank Apisa,
You're taking an allegorical story which is supposed to symbolize something about human nature to something literal?
Going along with the story, I think even if they didn't eat the apple or the snake wasn't there in the garden to tempt them, present day life would be the same - difference being that there would another allegory to convey the same message.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 08:30 am
@Falco,
I understand...and truly, I am not taking the story literally...or seriously for that matter. I am just talking about the content of the story.

The story certainly seems to be one of many creation myths.

Whoever made it up did consider the character of both the god and the tempter...and made them do what they did.

Interesting thinking on their part. The entire story is very...interesting.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 08:34 am
@Frank Apisa,
Frank Apisa wrote:
The god put Adam and Eve in the absurdly tempting place...and allowed the great tempter to be there with them...a kind of god-sting. The god set them up for defeat..the serpent taught them how to advance.


Just like Pandora's Box. The main message seems to be that we were living in paradise until women fucked everything up. That feeling manifests itself today in the hostility towards women priests articulated by the most fundamentalist types of Christian.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 11:41 am
@Setanta,
Excellent post, Set, and I agree. Good and bad people don't need religion to prove their morals, and religion has no effect.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 11:49 am
@cicerone imposter,
Thanks, Boss . . . the sad thing is that needs to be said again, and again, and again . . .
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 11:51 am
@Setanta,
I know that too!
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 12:19 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
. Good and bad people don't need religion to prove their morals,


So some say. Others say it's fear of the law or disesteem in the peer group masquerading as morality. Proclaiming morality lets you off admitting those fears.

The trouble is that the law and social standards are based upon religion.

Roman triumphs paraded the looted valuables of defeated tribes to great public acclaim. Shrunken skulls hanging upon breech-cloth waistbands have also been a mark of superiority. Scalps also.

Even today the predatory beast or bird signifies approval.

You're indulging a twee affectation c.i. As usual. Pure sophistry.
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 01:00 pm
@izzythepush,
Quote:
If you're into CS Lewis, may I recommend Planet Narnia by Michael Ward. He claims to have found the third meaning in the Narnia books, the second being the obvious analogy with Christianity. Ward claims that each book represents one of the planets as a Medieval scholar would understand it. Lewis was an expert on Medieval Literature/History after all.

Sounds intriguing. Very Happy I think I'll check it out.
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 01:05 pm
@Setanta,
Thanks Set that was a lotta post.
I couldn't quite tell from it, though, if you think that religions have a social utility.
I don't mean to be asking if you approve of religions, I mean do you think that they serve any purpose to a society.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 01:11 pm
@MattDavis,
Sure religions have social utilty, whether intended or not. In some cases, religion is a part of the power structure (as in, established religions), and there the intent is social control. Sometimes, there is an unintentional effect, though. Someone started a thread today about Christian literature as a genre. I've got a post there, a part of which might explain that second case. I'll go get it.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 01:35 pm
Setanta wrote:
When John Wesley stood on a hill in southern England and preached to a crowd of thousands, strong men, ignorant men (although not necessarily unintelligent men), who worked hard and lead hard lives, wept openly at the vision of redemption he painted for them. Their "betters" considered them peasants, but that didn't alter that they were aware of the essential injustices in their lives, and Wesley's vision gave them hope of a better place to which they might aspire, without reference to those "betters" who profited from their lives of unrelenting toil.


The social effect here, not intended by Wesley, was to allay the resentment of those working class men and women who knew their lives were hard so that lives of a privileged few might be easy, even luxurious. Wesley's intent was to provide people with an opportunity to develop their faith in god, and to lead better lives, even without benefit of clergy. Wesley studied for Anglican holy orders (Oxford?), but he and his fellows began setting about to reform their own lives, on the principle that you cannot reform others until you have reformed yourself. He and his fellows were derided by other students for the methodical way in which they proceeded to analyze their lives and to reform them. They were called Methodists as a slur, but Wesley wore the name like a badge of honor.

The Methodists are not the only heritors of Wesley's evangelism. Many of the sects of today which are indiscriminately called fundamentalists are actually charismatic or neo-charismatic sects whose origins can be traced directly to Wesley and George Whitefield. The Anglican church had a modified Arminian doctrine and Wesley and Whitefield carried the notion further (you can look up Arminianism if you want, but you don't need to). The strong dissenter churches of the day were largely Calvinist, and Calvinism involves predestination and election (election meaning only a privileged few are going to heaven). Wesley and those who followed in the path of Wesley and Whitefield believed that salvation was open to everyone, and that it was a matter of faith, and living one's life so as to attain a state of grace, and that a modest state of grace is sufficient. It was a much gentler view than that of the stern Calvinists (such as Presbyterians and Congregationalists--the Congregationalists are the direct descendants of the Puritans).

So, although neither Wesley nor Whitefield intended it, the vast and quickly spreading evangelical movement they put in motion affected all levels of society. Not only were the laboring poor given a hope for the future which no previous organized religion had given them, and in language they could understand (Wesley and Whitefield were "open air" preachers, and spoke to men in women in their own, everyday language)--but evangelism began to spread in the wealthy middle class, and although to a much lesser extent, even into the aristocracy. The effect was profound. When, a few generations after Wesley began his open air preaching career, William Wilberforce began his campaign to end the slave trade and to abolish slavery in the British Empire, he was able to use the considerable political power of the evangelicals, present in all religions in England (except, perhaps the Catholics--who nevertheless were not unaffected by evangelicalism).

Religion is and always has been a powerful social force. Whether or not it has been cynically manipulated by powerful men, or used as a flail by men of religious conviction who thought they had a right to order people's lives is immaterial. As the example of Wesley shows, it can have far-reaching effects when the intent is benign, as well.
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 02:04 pm
@Setanta,
I appreciate your mention of the 'elect'.
I think it might also deserve mention the connection between 'free will' and 'fatalism' that is a part of many of the Methodist denominations that sprung from this era.

Is your view that religions teachers always have an "agenda".
To put it differently, do you think the teacher has drank the cool-aid?
If we grant Marx that religion is the opiate of the masses, does the opiate always come from a dealer, and is that dealer also on the opium?

Can religions emerge "organically", or are they always in some sense developed by an elite (or striving to be elite) subgroup in a society?
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 02:10 pm
@MattDavis,
Not necessarily. I believe that Wesley and Whitefield genuinely believed what they preached, and their only "agenda" was to lead people to salvation through a personal relationship with god. They believed that any man or woman of faith who had sufficient grace was a fit candidate to preach their message of hope to other people. That, of course, was anathema to the established church.

Whether it was John Calvin, John Knox, George Fox, John Wesley or George Whitefield, and whether or not we are content with their doctrines or the consequences of their preaching, these men were "organically" (a poor term) creating new religions, and they were not only not a part of a power elite, but were often at odds with established power.
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2013 02:16 pm
@Setanta,
I agree with organic as a poor term. I was avoiding "emergent behavior of a system", because I am not sure how familiar others might be with the concept.

Do you think it is possible for a religion to be sociologically benign?
 

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