Club PA 2.0 has arrived! If you'd like to access some extra PA content and help support the forums, check it out at patreon.com/ClubPA
The image size limit has been raised to 1mb! Anything larger than that should be linked to. This is a HARD limit, please do not abuse it.
Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!

The God Debate: Hitchens vs. D'Souza

12346

Posts

  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    You're mischaracterising his argument regarding MLK.

    As I said before:

    "Hitchens doesn't No True Scotsman out of inspirations of positive change. The argument around MLK is not that he wasn't a real religionist, but that there were just as many secular, liberal supporters of the civil rights movement and there was a huge amount of opposition from the religious for religiously supported reasons."

    And the other stuff I said that I forgot to copypasta about how the positive effects are enlightenment morality couched in religious terms.

    He explicitly states that MLK was not "really" a Christian.

    To make a point about how what the bible says and what Christians do and act like sometimes don't match. It's basically the same argument as "hey, why don't you stone people who wear the wrong clothes to death?"

    It would be a No True Scotsman fallacy if that shit wasn't in the bible. What he is saying is that someone is not a true scotsman because he isn't from scotland, which is actually a good point.

    Julius on
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Also, if religion has been used to convince people to adopt the morality of the Enlightenment, how does that then mean that religion in total is a bad thing?

    For the same reason that getting a child to take medicine with a spoonful of sugar doesn't mean eating a spoonful of sugar is healthy.

    So is pairing religious faith with the morality of the Enlightenment a positive thing? If "religion poisons everything," why isn't that morality inherently negated by being promulgated via religious faith?

    Which is the more socially beneficial ideology, a faith-based one that teaches compassion and tolerance or a secular one that teaches intolerance and encourages violence?
    Qingu wrote: »
    Edit: Now that I think about it, the concept of Natural Rights is a prime example of a concept that's not inherently logical or rational (since it pretty much contradicts how almost all animals including primates behave in nature) but yet belief in that concept provides an overall societal benefit.
    I think you are conflating two different meanings/uses of the word "natural" here. Though the philosophers who came up with natural rights did have plenty of problems with how they viewed the "state of nature."

    Except that "Natural Rights" is inherently an unprovable, abstract concept. You can't simply claim that something is inherently untrue because it contradicts an unprovable, abstract concept and still claim that you're in the realm of reason.

    Lawndart on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    The thing with the hindu texts though is that they're much more pick and mix because there's much less of a unified tradition. I tried getting a handle on the whole thing once and it made less and less sense the more I read.
    This is a fair point. And Hindus themselves have historically not treated their texts as "canonical" nearly to the same extent that the monotheists have, and are much more comfortable with contradictions.

    Like "You think Shiva is the Supreme God, I think Vishnu is ... oh well! Have more curry."

    as opposed to

    "You think Christ is God's son but not fully God himself? You must be tortured and possibly killed!"

    Qingu on
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    Qingu wrote: »
    and also because I enjoy appropriating and secularizing religious language.
    Let it go, Indiana.

    I'm not super-opposed to syncretism in the abstract, but this somehow feels dishonest and manipulative. I mean, I can understand the appeal of it; many great movements in history worked because they appropriated religion as window-dressing for secularist/enlightenment ideals. It just feels ... dirty. (Not that I don't like the cut of your jib!)

    I think it would be dishonest if I didn't actually believe it. Of course it's manipulative, I want to be as manipulative as possible. I have no interest in casting haymaker bromides if they don't actually affect anything.
    Yah, ultimately I think there's room for both approaches ("religion is bullshit!" vs "religion and science are expressions of the same truth, which as it happens is basically science") whatever qualms I have with yours.

    Well, I'm very much not religious, as it's commonly thought of. I'd be tentatively in favor of (roughly speaking) calling science a religion and saying it's the one true religion and all the other religions are just appropriating the good shit that science has made. I think that'd be a fun interfaith dialog.

    Loren Michael on
    2ezikn6.jpg
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Tam wrote: »
    Hippies have a boner for Hinduism in general

    I remember getting the impression that that speech was bullshit when I was being read it aloud as a kid, but I got distracted from that train of thought by arrows that turn into millions of arrows and kill entire armies.

    I see a lot of pseudoscience/mystical stuff coming from that direction too. Something about the Nataraja at CERN because it reminded someone of the dance of particles, there's the whole cyclic Universe thing with vast timelines, and unsourced quotes from European physicists (even Einstein) praising the Vedas and Upanishads.

    After embarrassing memories of years of kow-towing to statues, I'm pretty wary of this science connection some of the priests seem to be pushing.
    You were raised Hindu I take it? Man, I'm jealous.

    The Final Fantasy end-boss style archery battles more than make up for any bullshit in Hinduism. :)

    Qingu on
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Julius wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    He explicitly states that MLK was not "really" a Christian.

    To make a point about how what the bible says and what Christians do and act like sometimes don't match. It's basically the same argument as "hey, why don't you stone people who wear the wrong clothes to death?"

    It would be a No True Scotsman fallacy if that shit wasn't in the bible. What he is saying is that someone is not a true scotsman because he isn't from scotland, which is actually a good point.

    Except that logic prevents pretty much every Christian on Earth from "really" being a Christian.

    However, Hitchens doesn't use that logic to declare that Pope isn't "really" a Christian, just the Christians he wants to hand-wave away for being socially or culturally progressive since that contradicts his main thesis.

    Lawndart on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Except that "Natural Rights" is inherently an unprovable, abstract concept. You can't simply claim that something is inherently untrue because it contradicts an unprovable, abstract concept and still claim that you're in the realm of reason.
    It's based on a lot of bullshit, but I'd be curious to see someone try to reformulate it in terms of cultural evolution. I mean, obviously there are societies that survive better than others, for various reasons. I don't think you can draw a straight arrow from this to some idealized set of morals or moral ideas like rights, but I think it could certainly inform moral philosophy, if not act as a starting point.
    So is pairing religious faith with the morality of the Enlightenment a positive thing? If "religion poisons everything," why isn't that morality inherently negated by being promulgated via religious faith?
    Like I said to Loren, I'm torn on this point. It strikes me as manipulative. But I can see the merit in it.

    I don't think it makes the religion itself inherently a good thing. Just a "greater-good" use of it, as a tool.
    Which is the more socially beneficial ideology, a faith-based one that teaches compassion and tolerance or a secular one that teaches intolerance and encourages violence?
    I think you're presenting false dichotomies here. Faith is bad; compassion and tolerance are good. Secularism is good; intolerance and violence are bad. I'm not sure how I would "rank" their respective badness and goodness alone or in combination, but I don't think they need to be combined in that way.

    Qingu on
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Except that "Natural Rights" is inherently an unprovable, abstract concept. You can't simply claim that something is inherently untrue because it contradicts an unprovable, abstract concept and still claim that you're in the realm of reason.
    It's based on a lot of bullshit, but I'd be curious to see someone try to reformulate it in terms of cultural evolution. I mean, obviously there are societies that survive better than others, for various reasons. I don't think you can draw a straight arrow from this to some idealized set of morals or moral ideas like rights, but I think it could certainly inform moral philosophy, if not act as a starting point.

    Oh, I think there's a purely pragmatic way to arrive at the conclusion that adopting the concept of "natural rights" provides an overwhelming amount of benefit to any society.

    Well, assuming everyone agrees on what benefits society, but that's a whole other rabbit hole I don't feel like hurling myself down right at the moment.

    I'd certainly bring up the benefits of "natural rights" as a way to rebut the concept of "might makes right," for example, but that's a far cry from inherently claiming that anything that contradicts "natural rights" is immediately untrue and illogical.
    Qingu wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    So is pairing religious faith with the morality of the Enlightenment a positive thing? If "religion poisons everything," why isn't that morality inherently negated by being promulgated via religious faith?
    Like I said to Loren, I'm torn on this point. It strikes me as manipulative. But I can see the merit in it.

    I don't think it makes the religion itself inherently a good thing. Just a "greater-good" use of it, as a tool.

    That's pretty much where I'm at, personally.

    That's one of the things that irks me about Hitchens, is that rather than admitting even the slightest positive impact religious faith can have socially or culturally he finds ways to make that faith not "really" religious.
    Qingu wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Which is the more socially beneficial ideology, a faith-based one that teaches compassion and tolerance or a secular one that teaches intolerance and encourages violence?
    I think you're presenting false dichotomies here. Faith is bad; compassion and tolerance are good. Secularism is good; intolerance and violence are bad. I'm not sure how I would "rank" their respective badness and goodness alone or in combination, but I don't think they need to be combined in that way.

    Except that I don't find faith to be inherently bad, nor secularism inherently good when divorced from the actual impact of either.

    Lawndart on
  • TamTam Le Buggeur Risible Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    You were raised Hindu I take it? Man, I'm jealous.

    The Final Fantasy end-boss style archery battles more than make up for any bullshit in Hinduism. :)

    haha, yeah, the stories are the very definition of epic

    one small advantage of being raised Hindu in the American South was that I didn't get indoctrinated with bullshit like creationism and there's a certain amount of respectful environmentalism you're taught as well


    I don't know about you guys, but the question of personal morals without god was largely answered for me when I realized the golden rule doesn't need god

    Tam on
  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    He explicitly states that MLK was not "really" a Christian.

    To make a point about how what the bible says and what Christians do and act like sometimes don't match. It's basically the same argument as "hey, why don't you stone people who wear the wrong clothes to death?"

    It would be a No True Scotsman fallacy if that shit wasn't in the bible. What he is saying is that someone is not a true scotsman because he isn't from scotland, which is actually a good point.

    Except that logic prevents pretty much every Christian on Earth from "really" being a Christian.

    However, Hitchens doesn't use that logic to declare that Pope isn't "really" a Christian, just the Christians he wants to hand-wave away for being socially or culturally progressive since that contradicts his main thesis.

    Uhm...I'm pretty sure that Hitchens would be totally on board with saying that almost no Christian really follows the bible completely.

    His point in saying that MLK wasn't really a Christian is that the good done is often because christians and other religious folk ignore the bible. Good work is done despite what the rules say, not because of them.

    Basically, it comes down to decent people just being decent and religion not being the cause of that.

    Julius on
  • agoajagoaj Top Tier No FearRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    More people should be like conservapedia and rewrite the bible to express their own views rather than taking bits and pieces. Of course everyone would end up having their own bible as it's hard to completely agree with such a large body among so many people. Hmm, that could be a good facebook app.
    Stephanie has updated her FaceBible: The Book of Keith
    -And tho was it declaredeth that Keith waseth a bag of many parcels of scum for laying withest Wendy after...

    agoaj on
    qnu0EMk.png
  • AtomikaAtomika Brought to you by Technicolor™ Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Except that I don't find faith to be inherently bad, nor secularism inherently good when divorced from the actual impact of either.

    This biggest fallacy that you keep repeating is the assumption that secularism is the polar opposite of dogmatic faith, thereby giving you room to make constant references to obviously incongruous comparisons between faith systems and things like violent non-deist dictatorships.

    Basically this logic is tantamount to saying that prayer works better than medicine against illness because one time a guy who wasn't a doctor killed someone when they operated on them. It's bogus, and I'm pretty sure you know it.


    The inherent fallacy in most faith doctrines, and surely the one(s) you seem so intent on defending, is that they're so full of both sociopathic instruction and frequent contratdiction that one can hardly ever be truly forthright in following the charge of the holy texts. Specifically, MLK wasn't a very CONSISTENT Christian because quite often in the Bible God or his prophets advocate (or at least passively condone) the practice of slavery, period. Religion, in that context, was little more than a social pretense for action in which a great number of poorly-adherent Christians united for a very secular goal (as well as many secular non-Christians).

    The same goals could be reasoned and met without the trouble of hemhawing around the Church, or using it as a flimsy pretense for action when the logical reasons for action were perfectly obvious without a call to invisible authority.

    Atomika on
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Julius wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    He explicitly states that MLK was not "really" a Christian.

    To make a point about how what the bible says and what Christians do and act like sometimes don't match. It's basically the same argument as "hey, why don't you stone people who wear the wrong clothes to death?"

    It would be a No True Scotsman fallacy if that shit wasn't in the bible. What he is saying is that someone is not a true scotsman because he isn't from scotland, which is actually a good point.

    Except that logic prevents pretty much every Christian on Earth from "really" being a Christian.

    However, Hitchens doesn't use that logic to declare that Pope isn't "really" a Christian, just the Christians he wants to hand-wave away for being socially or culturally progressive since that contradicts his main thesis.

    Uhm...I'm pretty sure that Hitchens would be totally on board with saying that almost no Christian really follows the bible completely.

    His point in saying that MLK wasn't really a Christian is that the good done is often because christians and other religious folk ignore the bible. Good work is done despite what the rules say, not because of them.

    Basically, it comes down to decent people just being decent and religion not being the cause of that.

    So in order to be a "real" Christian you have to follow every single rule in a book that has been translated and retranslated since the Bronze Age?

    Okay, sure. There aren't any Christians. What would you like to call all those people that don't make the cut? Lets make up a new word.

    LoserForHireX on
    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche
  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Julius wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    He explicitly states that MLK was not "really" a Christian.

    To make a point about how what the bible says and what Christians do and act like sometimes don't match. It's basically the same argument as "hey, why don't you stone people who wear the wrong clothes to death?"

    It would be a No True Scotsman fallacy if that shit wasn't in the bible. What he is saying is that someone is not a true scotsman because he isn't from scotland, which is actually a good point.

    Except that logic prevents pretty much every Christian on Earth from "really" being a Christian.

    However, Hitchens doesn't use that logic to declare that Pope isn't "really" a Christian, just the Christians he wants to hand-wave away for being socially or culturally progressive since that contradicts his main thesis.

    Uhm...I'm pretty sure that Hitchens would be totally on board with saying that almost no Christian really follows the bible completely.

    His point in saying that MLK wasn't really a Christian is that the good done is often because christians and other religious folk ignore the bible. Good work is done despite what the rules say, not because of them.

    Basically, it comes down to decent people just being decent and religion not being the cause of that.

    So in order to be a "real" Christian you have to follow every single rule in a book that has been translated and retranslated since the Bronze Age?

    Okay, sure. There aren't any Christians. What would you like to call all those people that don't make the cut? Lets make up a new word.

    How can you be a Christian and not believe the bible? Aren't you really just making your own religion up then?

    override367 on
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Julius wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    He explicitly states that MLK was not "really" a Christian.

    To make a point about how what the bible says and what Christians do and act like sometimes don't match. It's basically the same argument as "hey, why don't you stone people who wear the wrong clothes to death?"

    It would be a No True Scotsman fallacy if that shit wasn't in the bible. What he is saying is that someone is not a true scotsman because he isn't from scotland, which is actually a good point.

    Except that logic prevents pretty much every Christian on Earth from "really" being a Christian.

    However, Hitchens doesn't use that logic to declare that Pope isn't "really" a Christian, just the Christians he wants to hand-wave away for being socially or culturally progressive since that contradicts his main thesis.

    Uhm...I'm pretty sure that Hitchens would be totally on board with saying that almost no Christian really follows the bible completely.

    His point in saying that MLK wasn't really a Christian is that the good done is often because christians and other religious folk ignore the bible. Good work is done despite what the rules say, not because of them.

    Basically, it comes down to decent people just being decent and religion not being the cause of that.

    So in order to be a "real" Christian you have to follow every single rule in a book that has been translated and retranslated since the Bronze Age?

    Okay, sure. There aren't any Christians. What would you like to call all those people that don't make the cut? Lets make up a new word.

    How can you be a Christian and not believe the bible? Aren't you really just making your own religion up then?

    If you mean "believe the Bible" as "holds literally every letter of the Bible to be true" then yes, I guess that you are making up your own religion then. What should we call it though? Bob? Steve? Pickandchoosism? I don't believe so I'm not really committed to any one.

    LoserForHireX on
    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche
  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Well if you don't believe Jesus did what it says he did for the reasons he did, then you kind of by definition aren't a Christian. I'm not sure what that makes you, maybe a pseudo-jew?

    The best explanation I've heard for the old testament is that it's null and void after the moment Jesus died for mankind's sins. That all who came before, even the holy men, were awash with original sin, etc.

    override367 on
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Julius wrote: »
    Uhm...I'm pretty sure that Hitchens would be totally on board with saying that almost no Christian really follows the bible completely.

    His point in saying that MLK wasn't really a Christian is that the good done is often because christians and other religious folk ignore the bible. Good work is done despite what the rules say, not because of them.

    Basically, it comes down to decent people just being decent and religion not being the cause of that.

    Hitchens doesn't just have an issue with religious fundamentalism, he has an issue with religious faith in general. Hence his claim that religion "poisons everything."

    Except that when he can't prove that point he blatantly moves the goalposts. His take on MLK is a perfect example. He cannot find one single example of how MLK or other religious civil rights activists having faith in God negatively impacted the Civil Rights movement. So he claims that MLK wasn't "really" a Christian because he had the audacity to have a different take on the Bible than Hitchens does. Except again, that's not the point. Even if MLK's take on Christianity involved accentuating some aspects of the Bible and ignoring others, it's still a religious faith.

    Also, religious faith can very well be the cause of decent people being decent.

    Lawndart on
  • MyDcmbrMyDcmbr Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Well if you don't believe Jesus did what it says he did for the reasons he did, then you kind of by definition aren't a Christian. I'm not sure what that makes you, maybe a pseudo-jew?

    The best explanation I've heard for the old testament is that it's null and void after the moment Jesus died for mankind's sins. That all who came before, even the holy men, were awash with original sin, etc.

    Oh snap religion thread.

    A relevant quote:
    Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

    The Bible then goes on to list the new Commandments.

    Basically, Jesus is saying "Look, all that stuff before, that's me. From now on here is what you need to do."

    Saying that MLK wasn't a Christian is just a feeble attempt to make all Christians into Crusaders, or the Religious Right (your call on which is worse).

    MyDcmbr on
    Steam
    So we get stiff once in a while. So we have a little fun. What’s wrong with that? This is a free country, isn’t it? I can take my panda any place I want to. And if I wanna buy it a drink, that’s my business.
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Also, religious faith can very well be the cause of decent people being decent.
    Religious faith can also be the cause of otherwise decent people acting like complete shitheads.

    When taken as a whole, it's probably a net zero.

    OptimusZed on
    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. Now With Ninjas!

    They tried to bury us. They didn't know that we were seeds. 2018 Midterms. Get your shit together.
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Also, religious faith can very well be the cause of decent people being decent.
    Religious faith can also be the cause of otherwise decent people acting like complete shitheads.

    When taken as a whole, it's probably a net zero.

    I think it depends on if the person believes in magic and if the person has a morality that is concerned with things other than mental states. If you have the former, their actions are going to be shitty, and if you have the latter, they're going to try to do shitty things.

    Loren Michael on
    2ezikn6.jpg
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Also, religious faith can very well be the cause of decent people being decent.
    Religious faith can also be the cause of otherwise decent people acting like complete shitheads.

    When taken as a whole, it's probably a net zero.

    Yeah, pretty much. I'd even say it's a net negative, yet not as overwhelmingly, totally negative as Hitchens and other atheist activists like to claim.

    Lawndart on
  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Also, religious faith can very well be the cause of decent people being decent.
    Religious faith can also be the cause of otherwise decent people acting like complete shitheads.

    When taken as a whole, it's probably a net zero.

    Being in middle America somewhat warps my views on this. I'm tired of shitty policies that are being touted because they're a dogwhistle to the "good real Americans". Sarah Palin's pseudo religious following irritates me too

    override367 on
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Also, religious faith can very well be the cause of decent people being decent.
    Religious faith can also be the cause of otherwise decent people acting like complete shitheads.

    When taken as a whole, it's probably a net zero.

    Yeah, pretty much. I'd even say it's a net negative, yet not as overwhelmingly, totally negative as Hitchens and other atheist activists like to claim.
    I think that when looked at as organization mechanisms, human religions have been pretty crucial for keeping us moving in some direction approximating forward as a species, in some pretty dark times.

    That's not to say, though, that they haven't outlived their usefulness in this regard. They're just another outdated mode of self-organization, like tribalism and autocracy, that has served its purpose and should be relegated to historical contexts.

    OptimusZed on
    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. Now With Ninjas!

    They tried to bury us. They didn't know that we were seeds. 2018 Midterms. Get your shit together.
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    That's true enough. The social cohesion thing is significant. Ideologies that allow/encourage/cause us to expand our circle of ethical considerations are significant. But yes, outlived its usefulness.

    We just need some poets to make Peter Singer more appealing to people in general.

    Loren Michael on
    2ezikn6.jpg
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    MyDcmbr wrote: »

    A relevant quote:
    Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

    The Bible then goes on to list the new Commandments.
    No it doesn't.

    Jesus gives stricter rules dictating the breaking of existing commandments. You don't just commit adultery by screwing someone, you commit it by thinking about having sex.
    Basically, Jesus is saying "Look, all that stuff before, that's me. From now on here is what you need to do."
    Okay ... I'm not really sure what your point is, though. Jesus certainly doesn't say it would be wrong to follow the Old Testament laws. Some of which, incidentally, happen to command slavery and genocide.
    Saying that MLK wasn't a Christian is just a feeble attempt to make all Christians into Crusaders, or the Religious Right (your call on which is worse).
    MLK, like most Christians today, cherry-picked the fuck out of the Bible.

    Qingu on
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    You're mischaracterising his argument regarding MLK.

    As I said before:

    "Hitchens doesn't No True Scotsman out of inspirations of positive change. The argument around MLK is not that he wasn't a real religionist, but that there were just as many secular, liberal supporters of the civil rights movement and there was a huge amount of opposition from the religious for religiously supported reasons."

    And the other stuff I said that I forgot to copypasta about how the positive effects are enlightenment morality couched in religious terms.

    He explicitly states that MLK was not "really" a Christian. His other arguments about the Civil Rights movement as a whole, most of which I agree with, don't somehow change that.

    Also, if religion has been used to convince people to adopt the morality of the Enlightenment, how does that then mean that religion in total is a bad thing?

    In both cases, he's No True Scotsmanning all over the fucking place, or more accurately claiming that only the most fundamentalist, pre-Enlightenment take on Christianity is "really" Christianity.
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    You're also missing the point about Stalinism. He also wasn't answering the question as explicitly or as well as he could. But still...

    So, what was the point about Stalinism?

    Oh my Josh.

    1) "MLK was not a Christian" is a rhetorical device. He's saying, as has largely been pointed out, that the Bible contains all sorts of fucked up shit, and it's Enlightenment morality, not religion that motivates the civil rights movement. However, IN ADDITION TO THAT, the Bible also explicitly condones slavery (and incidentally a bunch of other heinous shit), and thus:
    Hitchens wrote:
    Fortunately for us, he wasn't really a Christian, because if he had followed the preachments in Exodus about the long march to freedom, he would have invoked the right that the Bible gives to take the land of others, to enslave other tribes, to kill their members, to rape their women, and to destroy them down to their uttermost child.

    As I said, rhetorical device to allow him to talk about the Bible, not about whether MLK was really a Christian by the (touchy-feely, wishy-washy) standards of today.

    2) Religion poisons the morality of the Enlightenment because it actively impedes it all over the shop. People will adopt a certain amount and then say "There, that is enough how things are now, this is what God commanded : No Gay Marriage! No Abortion!". Even if some people have transcended the barbarism of their religion to full adopt Enlightenment ideals, it doesn't change the fact that Religion impeds and perverts the Enlightenment across swathes of the population and has done so since the Enlightenment began.

    3) The point about Stalinism - in addition to the many other arguments that can be marshaled against why Stalinism was not a meaningful example of a secular government in any way - is that the Orthodox church's preaching throughout history, that the Czar is not only almost holy, but also put there by God, prepared the population for the acceptance and adoption of Totalitarianism. Stalin was exploiting the groundwork that the church had laid.

    Apothe0sis on
    Tide goes in. Tide goes out.
    Es-annon NEVA 4GET
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    1) "MLK was not a Christian" is a rhetorical device. He's saying, as has largely been pointed out, that the Bible contains all sorts of fucked up shit, and it's Enlightenment morality, not religion that motivates the civil rights movement. However, IN ADDITION TO THAT, the Bible also explicitly condones slavery (and incidentally a bunch of other heinous shit), and thus:
    Hitchens wrote:
    Fortunately for us, he wasn't really a Christian, because if he had followed the preachments in Exodus about the long march to freedom, he would have invoked the right that the Bible gives to take the land of others, to enslave other tribes, to kill their members, to rape their women, and to destroy them down to their uttermost child.

    As I said, rhetorical device to allow him to talk about the Bible, not about whether MLK was really a Christian by the (touchy-feely, wishy-washy) standards of today.

    Except that it was both Enlightenment morality and religious faith that motivated civil rights activists of faith. It's blatant historical revisionism to suggest otherwise.

    Pointing out that their religious faith involved ignoring certain aspects of the Old Testament is completely besides the point, since every single Christian in history has ignored certain aspects of the Old and New Testaments that they felt conflicted with their faith.
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    2) Religion poisons the morality of the Enlightenment because it actively impedes it all over the shop. People will adopt a certain amount and then say "There, that is enough how things are now, this is what God commanded : No Gay Marriage! No Abortion!". Even if some people have transcended the barbarism of their religion to full adopt Enlightenment ideals, it doesn't change the fact that Religion impeds and perverts the Enlightenment across swathes of the population and has done so since the Enlightenment began.

    Except that both MLK and religious movements like Liberation Theology prove that religious faith can be used to spread the morality of the Enlightenment.

    Even if organized religion has been more of an impediment to adopting Enlightenment morality than a benefit, that's different than claiming, as Hitchens does, that religious faith is a universal evil.
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    3) The point about Stalinism - in addition to the many other arguments that can be marshaled against why Stalinism was not a meaningful example of a secular government in any way - is that the Orthodox church's preaching throughout history, that the Czar is not only almost holy, but also put there by God, prepared the population for the acceptance and adoption of Totalitarianism. Stalin was exploiting the groundwork that the church had laid.

    Or he was exploiting the groundwork that Lenin had laid, but since Hitchens is an unrepentant Leninist/Trotskyite he's never, ever going to admit that.

    I'm also flabbergasted that anyone can claim that Stalinist Russia wasn't a secular government.

    Lawndart on
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Pointing out that their religious faith involved ignoring certain aspects of the Old Testament is completely besides the point, since every single Christian in history has ignored certain aspects of the Old and New Testaments that they felt conflicted with their faith.
    But that's the point, isn't it?

    If your religion is based on a set of writings, and you choose to ignore some of those writings, you're not really practicing your religion anymore. You're following a philosophy that is based on the parts of those writings you like, but I could do that with my old Transformers comic books if I really want to. I can deny the existence of Cybertron and instead focus on other themes, they can pretend there's no reference to the godliness of slavery in the Bible, and we can all be happy. None of us are using the texts religiously, though.

    OptimusZed on
    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. Now With Ninjas!

    They tried to bury us. They didn't know that we were seeds. 2018 Midterms. Get your shit together.
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Pointing out that their religious faith involved ignoring certain aspects of the Old Testament is completely besides the point, since every single Christian in history has ignored certain aspects of the Old and New Testaments that they felt conflicted with their faith.
    But that's the point, isn't it?

    If your religion is based on a set of writings, and you choose to ignore some of those writings, you're not really practicing your religion anymore. You're following a philosophy that is based on the parts of those writings you like, but I could do that with my old Transformers comic books if I really want to. I can deny the existence of Cybertron and instead focus on other themes, they can pretend there's no reference to the godliness of slavery in the Bible, and we can all be happy. None of us are using the texts religiously, though.

    If "religion" is defined as following every single letter on every single page of a holy text, than nobody on Earth practices religion anymore.

    Instead, every single organized religion and every single person of faith ignores some of the writings of their faith. Pointing out that they do so isn't some Earth-shattering "gotcha" moment that renders those religions and/or personal faiths non-existent.

    Because, you know, that's been part of religious belief since the dawn of time.

    Lawndart on
  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Pointing out that their religious faith involved ignoring certain aspects of the Old Testament is completely besides the point, since every single Christian in history has ignored certain aspects of the Old and New Testaments that they felt conflicted with their faith.
    But that's the point, isn't it?

    If your religion is based on a set of writings, and you choose to ignore some of those writings, you're not really practicing your religion anymore. You're following a philosophy that is based on the parts of those writings you like, but I could do that with my old Transformers comic books if I really want to. I can deny the existence of Cybertron and instead focus on other themes, they can pretend there's no reference to the godliness of slavery in the Bible, and we can all be happy. None of us are using the texts religiously, though.

    If "religion" is defined as following every single letter on every single page of a holy text, than nobody on Earth practices religion anymore.

    Instead, every single organized religion and every single person of faith ignores some of the writings of their faith. Pointing out that they do so isn't some Earth-shattering "gotcha" moment that renders those religions and/or personal faiths non-existent.

    Because, you know, that's been part of religious belief since the dawn of time.
    I don't think it's a particularly strong "gotcha", but I do think it's worth pointing out to people who otherwise wouldn't think about it.

    If this thing, whatever it is, defines your beliefs, but you only follow the parts you feel like following, then it doesn't really define anything. It gives you something to point to as a reference, but it isn't actually a definition, it's a prop, and any amount of critical thinking directed at it will show you that.

    OptimusZed on
    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. Now With Ninjas!

    They tried to bury us. They didn't know that we were seeds. 2018 Midterms. Get your shit together.
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    I don't think it's a particularly strong "gotcha", but I do think it's worth pointing out to people who otherwise wouldn't think about it.

    If this thing, whatever it is, defines your beliefs, but you only follow the parts you feel like following, then it doesn't really define anything. It gives you something to point to as a reference, but it isn't actually a definition, it's a prop, and any amount of critical thinking directed at it will show you that.

    That's an argument against, for example, Biblical literalism rather than Christianity as a faith.

    People can and do use the Bible (and other religious texts) as the inspiration for their faith, and tool to help articulate that faith without thinking that the text is inerrant.

    There's a pretty huge and densely populated middle ground between religious faith that requires textual literalism and completely self-defined religious faith that considers any religious texts to simply be props.

    Lawndart on
  • DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    The idea that religion is only correctly practiced when done "literally" out of a religious text is a very strange way of looking at it and doesn't hold up to any meaningful cross-cultural definition of religion.

    I would also argue that it's a very Protestant* approach toward what is and is not the proper way to practice a religion.

    *Not intended as a knock against Protestants.

    Duffel on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    If "religion" is defined as following every single letter on every single page of a holy text, than nobody on Earth practices religion anymore.

    Instead, every single organized religion and every single person of faith ignores some of the writings of their faith. Pointing out that they do so isn't some Earth-shattering "gotcha" moment that renders those religions and/or personal faiths non-existent.

    Because, you know, that's been part of religious belief since the dawn of time.
    Sure. But if this is how we define and think about religion—as the ever-shifting vagaries of individual practice, belief, and non-practice and non-belief, and the associated cherry-picking and syncretism and Christmas-and-Easter-type faith ... it becomes so nebulous that any meaningful discussion is impossible.

    This is why I usually prefer to think about religion in terms of ... what a holy text says. If a person tends to agree with said holy text, they are "religious." If they tend to ignore it, they are "not religious."

    Maybe Hitchens thinks differently, but if this is how he thinks about religion, it certainly makes sense to at least say MLK and enlightened, liberal Christians are "not religious."
    People can and do use the Bible (and other religious texts) as the inspiration for their faith, and tool to help articulate that faith without thinking that the text is inerrant.
    They tend to do so pretty haphazardly and with great intellectual dishonesty. "Cherry-picking" is a good term for it. I have yet to see a meaningful criteria for the Christians you're talking about to decide which passages to follow and which passages to ignore, other than "do these passages conflict with whatever secular morals and science?"

    Qingu on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Duffel wrote: »
    The idea that religion is only correctly practiced when done "literally" out of a religious text is a very strange way of looking at it and doesn't hold up to any meaningful cross-cultural definition of religion.

    I would also argue that it's a very Protestant* approach toward what is and is not the proper way to practice a religion.

    *Not intended as a knock against Protestants.
    It doesn't have anything to do with "correct." It's just a way of framing the topic of discussion.

    Like I said, religion can mean anything. I think defining a religious text as the central unifying focus of a religion is useful.

    And while I'd agree with you that there are certainly exceptions—we can probably broaden this idea to "religious text and religious traditions"—I think it actually holds up pretty well cross-culturally. Catholicism was never complete divorced from the text of the Bible. Judaism certainly is not. And fidelity to the Quran has defined "true Islam" as strongly, if not more, than fidelity to the Bible has for Protestantism.

    The non-Abrahamic religions are a little more complicated, but I think they, too, would understand someone as "more religious" if they more strictly followed the teachings and traditions—if not the actual Vedas and Upanishads—of a sect.

    Qingu on
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lawndart wrote: »
    Instead, every single organized religion and every single person of faith ignores some of the writings of their faith. Pointing out that they do so isn't some Earth-shattering "gotcha" moment that renders those religions and/or personal faiths non-existent.

    Okay I'll take a swing at trying to explain this MLK thingy.
    The bible condones slavery.
    Enlightenment thought condemns slavery.
    So when Christians say they are against slavery, because of reasons of faith, they are mistaken. They are actually against it because of enlightenment thought.
    Its not a matter of cherry-picking, like say ignoring the rule about blended fabrics is.

    A Christian can truthfully claim: 'they are against killing because of their religion'; "Though shalt not kill".
    A Christian can NOT truthfully claim: 'they are against the repression of women because of their religion', as the bible is horrible to most of the women in it.
    Thruthful: I am against usury interest rates because of my religion
    unTruthful: I am against the idea of the Sun orbiting the Earth because of my religion

    So when the religious make claims like GoodPerson fought against BadThing because of their religion, they are often mistaken. They actually fought against BadThing because of enlightenment thought on the subject, because if it wasn't for the enlightenment thought their religion would still be in support of BadThing. Which means the arbiter of morality/their actions is not their good actions is not faith, but rational thought.

    tinwhiskers on
    How do you spell Justice?B D S Non-Violent Resistance to Israel Apartheid & Occupation.
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    @Lawndart, you are not religious, right?

    I think that this is really what bothers me about your approach to religion (and also Loren's). Earlier, I had compared the "goodness" of religion to the sugar you feed a child to make him take his medicine, and you seemed to agree with this ... and like I said, I can see the merit of this view, so I hope this doesn't sound too judgmental.

    But can't you see how this comes off as condescending towards religious people? I mean, another way to put your view is: "Religion is bullshit, but it can be wielded to manipulate people who don't know any better to do some social good." Doesn't it matter to you that, you know, the central claims of religions are false? Doesn't it feel like manipulation to just sweep that under the rug so as to better lead the "children" to our leftist social utopia?

    Edit: I totally agree with timwhiskers. I also think it's possible for people to misidentify themselves as "religious," especially when there is social pressure to appear religious.

    Qingu on
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I think I may have miscommunicated something, as I don't see how that criticism is relevant to my views.

    Loren Michael on
    2ezikn6.jpg
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I think I may have miscommunicated something, as I don't see how that criticism is relevant to my views.
    Possibly; I had gotten the impression that you supported dressing up essentially secular, scientific speculation about the nature of the universe in religious terms so as to better appeal to the types of people who believe things you think are bullshit.

    Edit: nevermind, you're right. Attempts at syncretism is a separate issue.

    Qingu on
  • DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Qingu wrote: »
    Duffel wrote: »
    The idea that religion is only correctly practiced when done "literally" out of a religious text is a very strange way of looking at it and doesn't hold up to any meaningful cross-cultural definition of religion.

    I would also argue that it's a very Protestant* approach toward what is and is not the proper way to practice a religion.

    *Not intended as a knock against Protestants.
    It doesn't have anything to do with "correct." It's just a way of framing the topic of discussion.

    Like I said, religion can mean anything. I think defining a religious text as the central unifying focus of a religion is useful.

    And while I'd agree with you that there are certainly exceptions—we can probably broaden this idea to "religious text and religious traditions"—I think it actually holds up pretty well cross-culturally. Catholicism was never complete divorced from the text of the Bible. Judaism certainly is not. And fidelity to the Quran has defined "true Islam" as strongly, if not more, than fidelity to the Bible has for Protestantism.

    The non-Abrahamic religions are a little more complicated, but I think they, too, would understand someone as "more religious" if they more strictly followed the teachings and traditions—if not the actual Vedas and Upanishads—of a sect.

    But then you have religions which have no written texts at all, religions which are primarily transferred through oral transmission, religions which have no didactic "tenets" like the OT Laws but still have stipulations on actions, religions with multiple or additional received texts (IE: Shakers, Mormons, maybe even Christianity in general, although its had more time to develop), schismatic and syncretic groups...

    "Religion" simply isn't a subject that you can pin down and dissect like we would a lab insect. A single religion could be said to be the sum total of the actions and beliefs of all those who claimed to practice that religion throughout its history, but even that is a bad definition because some practitioners will claim that others have it wrong. It is an inherently nebulous topic.

    When you get down to it, strict adherence to a given religious text usually has little relation to how a given religion is practiced by its members in the real world. Even attempts at this - for instance, Hasidim - are colored by cultural and individual variation.

    And, for that matter, the sort of "direct" practice we're talking about (A bad term, but I don't really like "literal" because it's got some connotations in this field) is impossible even for a scholar. Does it mean that true practice for a modern-day Christian is impossible because they don't understand the connotations of 1st-century Koine? I'm not convinced that most religious texts were even meant to be used in this sort of didactic sense. The majority of the NT is composed of personal correspondence to a pretty diverse group of people over several decades/~ a century. The OT was composed by multiple authors over several centuries, and has lots of poetry, historical texts, and other things which I'm not sure were meant to be approached directly. Even legal texts are inherently dicey - look at rabbinic literature.

    I just don't think this is a useful way to approach the question of religion. Judging it by the way people actually practice is the only way that makes sense to me, as opposed to looking for some blueprint from which things are "really" supposed to be done.

    tl;dr - working specifically with texts might be useful for debate but I don't think such a view accurately reflects reality, and may be impossible to reconcile with human behavior.

    Duffel on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    @Duffel, I don't disagree with you; I just don't really see a more useful alternative.

    I think political parties are a useful comparison. Being a "Republican" has meant very different things over the years. To the extent that Republicans have had a "text" (their party platform) many people who ID as republicans would disagree with a lot of it. Also, that platform itself has shifted quite a bit over time. In some cases IDing as a Republican reflects reflexive cultural or social attitudes more than any actual, conscious belief in the platform.*

    However, at a certain point, you have to have words that mean things. So, if someone today is pro-choice, anti-war, pro-social safety nets, and voted for Obama, but still somehow claims to be a "Republican," I feel pretty confident telling this person that they are full of shit and would be better off just saying they're a Democrat.

    Religions are a bit more complicated than political parties, but I feel like the same approach ought to apply. If someone believes the Bible is wrong on nearly every single claim about reality and morality it makes, doesn't believe Jesus came back from the dead, and only ID's as a Christian because she "likes Jesus' philosophy" in the way that you might sort of like Kant or Hume's philosophy, I feel pretty comfortable saying she is "not religious," if not outright disputing her ID as Christian.

    *the same would apply to Democrats to ... don't mean to single out republicans.

    Qingu on
Sign In or Register to comment.