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This is a question God

Tell us your stories of churches and religion (or lack thereof). Let the smiting begin!

Question suggested by Supersonic Electronic

(, Thu 19 Mar 2009, 15:00)
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Right then...
...I've been biting my tongue all week, but dammit if religion isn't just so absolutely vile that I just have to rant. This is snipped from the reply that broke the camel's back, wherein preachy atheists sicken non-preachy atheists as much preachy theists.


Religion isn't sweet little old ladies baking cakes to raffle for charity. It's 'owning' your wife, and beating her whenever you please. It's 1000 Africans a day dying of aids, and some little bloke who lives in a palace objecting to them doing something that would save a lot of their lives, because the little house of cards he's built to hide from reality in is too fragile. It's millions of deaths brought about squabbling over whose imaginary friend is better, and which bit of land he said you could live on. It's beating your 4 year old daughter to death when she has an epileptic fit because you think she has an evil spirit inside her.

Well, pardon me for being utterly sickened by it. Pardon me for refusing to just watch something sickening happening without speaking out. Pardon me for thinking that beliefs which can be confirmed by anyone should outweigh beliefs you just happened to find lying around in an old book. Pardon me for not wallowing in intellectual cowardice when faced with difficult questions. Pardon me for thinking "I don't know, yet" is a perfectly valid answer to any question. Pardon me for preaching instead of walking past, pretending not to notice the atrocities in plain view.

The little old ladies with their cakes - they're a veil that is drawn over the above. They're the naive staff in the 'legitimate businesses' laundering the drug money. They're the magnificent achievement of the Volkswagon*.

Fuck religion, fuck defending it as nothing more than a different opinion, and fuck people being indignant at having any of this pointed out to them.

*Godwin's law be damned. If ever there was an exception, religion is it.
(, Mon 23 Mar 2009, 23:14, 31 replies)
*Throws flowers*
(, Mon 23 Mar 2009, 23:30, closed)
i actually applauded
well said!
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 0:02, closed)
I concur and even felt compelled to write my own QOTW reply for once!
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 0:46, closed)
If this doesn't win
I'll be sorely disappointed.

Very well said
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 6:39, closed)
Twat 'em, Barry!
Seriously, woo for that, and I shall be borrowing your 'naive staff' analogy.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 9:29, closed)
By that logic...
Athiesm is starving the Ukraine into submission. It's shipping off millions to Siberia for having an opinion that isn't sanctioned. It's sterilising the underclass as unfit to breed. Atheism is drowning your people because they want a better life. It's taking photographs and interviewing each and every person who goes into that old school and keeping the records, even though they will never come out again. Atheism is forcing people at gunpoint to confess to crimes they never committed live on national TV and then sending them to be re-educated.

Or maybe it was all just people, all along. Maybe the philosophy, whatever it is, is an excuse for acting like people, rather than the reason. Maybe people will find their excuse wherever they look and blaming one excuse over another is just...another excuse.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 10:06, closed)
Weren't those things done by atheists, rather than things done because of atheism? The pope refuses to sanction the use of condoms in Africa because of religion, not for any other reason. Stalin went after anyone who stood against him, regardless of the reason (faith, politics, etc). Quite a large difference there in terms of root causes.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 10:59, closed)
There's little or no difference...
...between "It's for the good of the future state utopia we are trying to create!" and "It's for the good of your immortal soul".

In fact, I'm inclined to think that the only difference is semantic. It's one person thinking they know best for another and using their belief structure to justify their actions - the actual set of beliefs doesn't matter, except in the wording of the excuse.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 11:41, closed)
Yes, they were
It's one of those daft things that doesn't bear scrutiny. See here....

(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 11:42, closed)
It's amazing how many errors they manage to get into Dawkins' introduction
Quite incredible misrepresentation
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 14:07, closed)
Don't you think it's rather simplistic to blame religion as a whole for some of the evils carried out by religious people, in the name of religion? Why not blame political beleifs and systems such as socialism for the actions of twisted men like Stalin? Comparing say, Soviet Russia to the Nicaraguran Sandinistas would be utterly unfair, yet at the heart of the two systems there was a key shared political element. In the same way, comparing the actions of say, a Church of england vicar to some bugshit crazy snakehandler preacher in the deep south merely because they both happen to beleive, in some way in an Abrhamic god is utterly unfair.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 11:00, closed)
I would argue that religion has
caused more wars, murders, oppression of women, blacks, anyone different, etc than any other "cause" including all of the people killed by Hitler and Stalin. Although maybe the crazies just use religion as a tool but it is a good tool which is still being used today.

When people are numbed with religion and a promise of 100 virgins/transparent gold streets/ singing praises to god forever, etc, its amazing the numbers of people they will kill/main/rape/ etc all based on the promise of some books written and edited by many differnet people over a thousand and more years.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 11:35, closed)
And anyway...
Religion played a part in Hitler's thinking, most definitely. Wacky permutations of Christianity, maybe, but nonetheless...
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 11:43, closed)
You aren't comparing like with like
Before, say, the 19th century, there were no alternative philosophical positions to theism (with one or two minor - almost unique - exceptions), and so to say X was the cause (whatever X is) when there are no alternatives to X isn't logically sustainable as an argument against X.

What you have to do when presenting a case is compare alternatives, so my suggestion is compare the effects of theist/non-theist philosophies of life and state. i.e. compare within the last 150 years. Your argument, as is, isn't intellectually sustainable.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 11:46, closed)
Sorry, I am not
a philosopher, just a scientist discussing some simple empirical observations.

I am simplifying things, obviously. However, religion is a tool that has been used continuously in the past and continues to be used today as a tool to justify many things including expansion of empire, taking your neighbor's land/food/wife/etc, killing people who don't look or act like you, etc (the list could go on for page after page).

Whether or not there were non-theist options in the past is immaterial to what I am saying as I am just pointing out how the "love" of God/Peace/etc has been used as an excuse and a way to hypnotize/pull the wool over the eyes/con/ etc so many millions of people to do many bizarre things that mostly end up enriching/benefiting the ruling class. Even the calling of the Judeo-Christian god “Lord” relates more to a feudal society with royalty that has god’s blessing to rule and take from the peasants.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 12:09, closed)
So as a scientist...
...you're only looking at the evidence which supports your theory. Righto.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 12:20, closed)
Not at all
I am just discussing what I am seeing and not presenting a detailed theory. Please feel free to present evidence to the contrary that shows religion has not been the cause of many wars etc.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 12:40, closed)
your basis appears to have shifted
I'm not sure where you're coming from now; your original case was that religius folks caused more atrocities than hitler/stalin etc. I raised the point that you weren't comparing like for like, which is an important consideration in debate. I'll give you a short thought experiment by way of example:

Before a non-religious philosophic standpoint was available, it may safely be stated that 100% of atrocities were carried out by religious people. However, it is not possible to demonstrate that those atrocities were carried out because of religion because there is no null-hypothesis. A null hypothesis to this becomes available with the development of non-theist philosophies, and so scientific method demands that we use for the basis of our study only situations for which a null hypothesis is available - otherwise were are not allowing for the possibility that our hypothesis (namely, that religion is the cause) is incorrect.
That atrocities continued after the development and social implementation of non-thesit philosophies indicates that the pursuit of atrocity is caused by something other than the original hypothesis. I suggest that people do horrid things to each other and then seek excuses (or find excuses to justify their prejudices, which is perhaps more likely). Those excuses have included religion, eugenics, the glory of the people and the state, the inferiority of the other, and many more. However, the excuse is not the cause and blaming it does nothing to understand the problem and instead exascerbates it.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 13:29, closed)
Interesting points but a couple of thoughts on what you say:
I do not agree that there was a time when a non-religious “philosophical” standpoint was not available. There have always been non-religious people. These people have been just as violent as religious people. But this is not what I was talking about

Religion was invented in primitive times to calm fears about death and to explain the unknown. It appears to very quickly have been high-jacked by fanatics and people who used/use religion to gain or justify activities.

I probably shouldn’t have said religion “caused” wars, but should have said people use religion/god to justify wars and other atrocities as you say, and religion has been a primary excuse for these activities throughout history.. As was stated in a response to this thread, even Hitler used his own wacky religious views including the search for the Hoy Grail to justify his Aryan ideas.

It seems that the very existence of religion allows its use as a tool to create/justify the atrocities we have been talking about. That is what I mean when I say religion caused/causes wars etc. You are right when you say people just do bad things, but people also need to justify their actions and without justification may temper their actions. For example, the debate about gay marriage going on where I live now, the primary reason people who are violently against gay marriage give is that it is against God’s will. They can’t give any other reason even when pushed very hard. Without their religion telling them gays are bad, would they still complain about them? Some would, others wouldn’t care. In this case at least in the US, strong religious ties to government and society have kept many people from throwing away their old prejudices. In the EU where religion does not appear to play as much off a controlling role in government and society, people are much more accepting of this what in reality is a non-issue with prejudices kept alive primarily by religion.

Religion has caused a lot of harm. It is also interesting that the philosophies espoused by the Stalinists/Khmer to justify/excuse their actions have similarities to fanatical religious actions with the state or some other entity substituting for god. Really another type of religion but religion as well.

Sorry for the length, I'll shuit up now!
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 14:16, closed)
Well, that's pretty mcuh what I was saying :)
My point exactly; people use excuses. The homosexuality argument is a good example; I think some people have a problem with gays and the fact that it's in Leviticus is just handy for them to justify it. I reckon that those same people eating pork and shellfish, cutting their hair and using pillows is evidence of a single-issue problem here.
There was a fascinating experiment carried out many years ago on race; experimenters set out to deliberately challenge racial assumptions (They're stupid, they come over here and take our jobs, the tribe of Ham justified slavery, etc etc). the idea was to systematically strip away people's assumptions and excuses and the experiment ended with one person, bereft of their safety net of knee jerk apologia, screaming "I just don't like them, okay?!".

Blaming people's belief set or set of excuses for their behaviour will never change their actions - it's been demonstrated often enough. You have to engage with people on their own terms and change is a slow process. I accept it's very easy simply to despise people for reasons of "they think XYZ, the wankers", but if there's one thing the world doesn't need, it's more reasons for people to hate each other. *g*
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 14:41, closed)
Religion in itself is not evil
What is evil, however is when those who want power over others use the excuse of religion to perpetuate atrocities. Religion was, and still is a large part of people's lives, which still holds influence over many people. Therefore, people who want an excuse to exert power over others are going to use it as a tool, or rallying cry against those they wish to opress. In more recent times science and political beleifs have both been used to devestating effect to opress groups of others, you only have to look at the scientific "definitions" of lesser races used by white colonials and the reliance on the perversion of communist political veiws in the USSR. People who wish to have power over others will use any and all means neccisary to gather support to their cause. To blame religion for the fact that it has been corrupted to fit the designs of others is overly simplistic and not particuarly useful.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 14:02, closed)
You could argue that in one sense
it is all religion, just with different gods.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 14:17, closed)
You couldnt realy, no.
Especialy not if someone is arguing the entire "religion is evil" thing again. In my opinion, it's more to do with the beleiver than the beleif system, when someone is so genuinely certain in their mind that they are right about something, whatever that is, then pretty much any action can be justified as "working towards a better society" or "Saving their souls from damnation". The vast majority of religious people are far from the militant wankers who give everyone else a bad name. Mostly they try to live their lives just like everyone else, and to point the finger at them and blame their religion for evil acts makes about as much sense as pointing the finger at me and blaming my poltical veiwpoint of socialism for the stalinist purges.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 14:24, closed)
It's wierd, isn't it?
All these people climaing that religion is responsible for everything bad ever. It's almost like they're believing something without any evidence, but what sort of oaf would do that?
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 15:52, closed)
Thankfuly there hasn't been that much of it on this QOTW
But there's a certain irony in listening to athiests go on about the evils of religion and beleif, while they themselves seem so feverently sure of their personal opinions. Also, it does make me laugh when someone claims all religion is evil or whatever. I've been studying religion as a social aspect on and off for the last 6 years, and I've yet to come across a truly satisfactory definition of a religion.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 16:05, closed)
I'm not a scientist
So fuck religion.

My favourite saying? Where is your god now?
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 13:08, closed)
Wow, the older I get,
the more marxist I become.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 13:26, closed)
The Alternative
was NOT defining things by way of the good/damage that they would do to your Immortal Soul.

For example, if the Crusades were about "Lets go kill 'em all cos they're smelly doo-doo-heads" rather than "Lets go kill 'em all FOR THE GLORY OF GOD" then that's an alternative.

And there have been huge numbers of non-god related alternatives. I mean even "They guy over there said you were clearly a twat" leading to a punching isn't related to religion, though you could do a religious version of "UNBELIEVER!"
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 13:05, closed)
The supposed immigration of people to the Americas for
freedom of religion is also a crock. For example, the "Puritans" in New England wanted freedom to practice their fanatical religious views but god help you if you wanted to pray some other way. They routinely whipped and hanged Unitarians and other heretics, burned "witches" at the stake, passed laws requiring church attendance, etc. Their influence is still felt in the US State of Massachusetts with “blue” laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays. Catholics were also persecuted in the colonies except for Maryland which was set up for them (but later they were persecuted there anyway). If you were Jewish most anywhere you were persecuted.

Ahh, the freedom and peace brought to all of us by organized religion.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 13:17, closed)
Um, it's Volkswagen
otherwise, perfect.
(, Tue 24 Mar 2009, 16:17, closed)

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