10 things Christians and Atheists can and must agree on.

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Post by Ult_Sm86 » Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:53 pm

Originally posted by Angelique
Heh. Christmas is not even the actual birthday of this "guy who may or may not have existed."

As for being a nerd, there's hope for you. I met a guy one New Year's Eve, and spent a pleasant half hour or so discussing the finer points of Sumerian mythology in comparison and contrast to more modern Western beliefs. Almost ten years to the day later, I still haven't gotten rid of him. ;)
You poor thing. ;-)
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Post by idsunki » Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:41 am

Freak - Mithras did too exist!

As for the article, it certainly could have been written better. It probably won't stand up to harsh scrutiny on either side. That's fine, I was just glad to read something on the topic that encouraged looking at how each side is seen and how each side sees each other.

It's simplistic, like an introduction to the topic. Certainly not the worst thing I've ever read on the subject.
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Post by Ult_Sm86 » Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:08 am

Mithras? The god that the pagans sing to and worship (only the soldiers though) in the Winter King and the other two parts of the Arthur Stories i've read?

MAN! how do these things keep coming up...
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Post by Zazou » Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:11 am

Originally posted by The Drastic Spastic

Rock on dude!!! :D
Thank you. :p
Originally posted by The Drastic Spastic

I disagree 100% that this is an unbiased account. Yeah, yeah, you can't avoid bias in life but he's... okay, number one, he's not a very good writer. This article is in dire need of some tightening up. The webpage formatting is terrible also. It's hard to get through it.
I agree it's not well written, but that's not a huge issue, really. But I certainly agree about the bias; I think the author has cleverly avoided any explicit bias, but there's an awful lot which is taken in assumptions through his arguments.

Yeah! A boob on TV is EXACTLY like someone you are in a relationship with having a gangbang behind your back! Who's laughing in the face of decency now!
I mostly agree on this point. I think the author is essentially making a 'thin end of the wedge' kind of argument; as soon as we allow (horrifying) boobs to slip out on TV, we're headed straight for gangbangs! But the problem with that kind of argument is that you can construct it just as easily for just about any case, even ones we consider moral--so, in essense, it's not a useful tool.

Originally posted by fourpawsonthefloor
I think that you can nit pick the specifics of this article for certain. I DO think that the message of tolerance that he was trying to get out, on BOTH sides of the fence was an admirable one. Unlikely to achieve, as there are people that will always judge, but it was a good message. :)

I'm pretty unconvinced that tolerance is the best solution in this case; yes, an obscenely unpopular view. Coming back to one of the article's point, people with differing religious views ARE similar most of the time, but that does not eliminate the fact that they clearly differ in key areas. For example, Mike Huckabee, a pretty promising republican candidate for the 2008 elections, believes that "homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle". Clearly, in this case, we should not tolerate his opinion, especially because he makes it so public. And, ultimately, if we don't battle retarded viewpoints on some level, society won't progress. Really, the meek will inherit the earth, but only a small 6' x 2' patch.
Originally posted by Angelique

Even lifers in solitary can find ways to organize hits on the outside or kill prison guards. Don't the lives of prison guards hold any value?

If a moral dilemma can be avoided, it's not much of a dilemma, anyway.
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Really? Some idea of predestination tends to follow on from God (omniscient, so knows what we're going to do), and I surely hate that.
I know, people hate if you tell them what they do or not, but: do you really hate this idea? Or are you just plainly annoyed? I mean, I can't talk for you, but if I really hate something, it has to be an activity, not just an idea. Like for example Communism: Like the idea, hate the realization.
I suppose it's really just a terminological distinction over a pretty hypothetical issue, but I think 'hate' is slightly more accurate. I'm not sure why, but I have a strong aversion to the idea that with a sufficient knowledge of natural law, and one hell of a supercomputer, I could predict my entire life from a set of initial conditions. I like that quantum physics, or any non-deterministic theory in physics precludes such a case. I mean, it doesn't allow for any introduction of free will, but I can live with being just a robot so long as I'm not a completely predictable robot!

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Post by idsunki » Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:12 am

Let's see, he was a sun god that was reborn a lot, he was born December 25th in a cave surrounded by shepherds, he required a communion ritual of bread and wine to be saved...

Yeah, there's coincidence and there's coincidence.
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Post by Amamelina » Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:19 am

Originally posted by idsunki
Let's see, he was a sun god that was reborn a lot, he was born December 25th in a cave surrounded by shepherds, he required a communion ritual of bread and wine to be saved...

Yeah, there's coincidence and there's coincidence.
Not to sound like an jerk (cause, I can sound like one), but December 25 according to what calender? The modern calender has been changed and redone over the years to the point where original festival dates have changed. Very few things (excluding the solstice and equinax) have their same place on the modern calender as they did back when they were first celebrated.
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Post by idsunki » Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:36 am

I certainly wasn't meaning to sound like a jerk. Everything I've read on it puts it at December 25th because it was celebrated at the Solstice (or very close to it). Mithraism is just one of the religions that early Christianity borrowed celebrations and traditions from at that time period, though.

But if you want something pretty funny regarding all this at this time of the year, the Bible pretty explicitly states that a good Christian shouldn't put up a Christmas tree (Jeremiah 10:1-5). It's a pretty common theme in religions and societies everywhere - borrow what works and throw away what doesn't.

Back to the article, I'd have to say the hardest thing for me to grasp was that religious fundamentalists (like Bible = literal word of God no arguments and no contradictions anywhere type of fundamentalist) really do believe what they're saying. Like the Earth is 6,000 years old, dinosaurs are just a test of faith, etc. Reading it spelled out plainly that way at least helped out my empathy. It's still hard to understand, but now I believe someone isn't trying to pull an elaborate prank on me.
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Post by Amamelina » Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:47 am

Actually, I didn't think you were sounding like a jerk. I was trying to not be one. I get testy sometimes about religion, and I didn't want to sound snippy. :-) So, no, you didn't sound like a jerk. I normally try to stay out of these kind of talks.

I know a bit about borrowing religion. Every religion on the face of the earth has borrowed from the surrounding cultures. When one culture conquered another, they took aspects of the defeated culture. there is no such thing as a pure religion.

Here's a bit of trivia. Did you know that the Greek myth of the minator was actually a veiled history lesson on the Greeks conquering the Mineons? Or that the Trojen War was rewritten several times as different powers came into play in Greece, so that each upcomoming power looked good (and that the actual war wasn't over a lady, but trade routes).

I'm a foutain of useless facts. :-)
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Post by idsunki » Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:51 am

To be fair about Troy, all the stories could, at the same time, be true. I remember reading an article awhile back where they thought they found the 'real' Troy (maybe, maybe not). But the weird thing was, it was obvious the town had been burnt to the ground. And there was a ruin underneath that town of another city that had been burnt to the ground, and possibly even a third destroyed city under that.

Could be cool if true.
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Post by Amamelina » Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:13 am

Oh, I'm sure there was an actual battle. I learned about it in Greek Mythology (my teacher has made it his life's work to study all about ancient Greece). Troy was located at a very important trading route. I believe it was for grain.
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Post by Ult_Sm86 » Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:48 am

Okay I said some long paragraph about this and it got deleted because I said some bad things that I didn't realize were bad. I'm sorry guys i'm used to being on forums where people are jerks so i'm pre-emptively mean. I keep forgetting you guys are polite around here. I see danger room and I seem to think I have a certain amount more wiggle room then I really do. I'm used to a "Debate Corner" filled with atheists and wanna-be skinheads. (Man did i tear their ears off. The Skin-heads that is.)

My bad. I'm sorry. :blush

Just so we're clear, my only point was that Amamelina is completely correct, Christianity, like every other religion, is completely unoriginal.



[Edited on 19/12/07 by Ult_Sm86]
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Post by Amamelina » Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:53 am

I read your original post, and I didn't think you were being a jerk. However, now you have me blushing.:blush
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Post by Ult_Sm86 » Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:58 am

Well if it got taken by an admin, then it was not appropriate and I understand. It COULD have insighted the wrong kind of debate we have here which is a "clean" one. I will make one extra point about this topic though before I'm off for the night, and that's that I have, for a long time, as in my whole life.... been a Christian. I just (personally) have never agreed with some of the ways people treat their religion. Some use it as a weapon others as a burden. I enjoyed the film "Saved!" because it felt humbling to me, as a christian that is, saying "dude you're not the only one who thinks that, look at these fools, they go to God School and they can't get it right." But you know it's not JUST christianity and it's not ALL christians it's actually a very small amount. People, to me, are naturally good, and you should try and search for that in a person before you start judging someone. They might just have a different layers underneath that...:husk
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Post by fourpawsonthefloor » Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:23 am

Totally. Most people are good, despite what I may say some days when I'm feeling broody.
I'm pretty unconvinced that tolerance is the best solution in this case; yes, an obscenely unpopular view. Coming back to one of the article's point, people with differing religious views ARE similar most of the time, but that does not eliminate the fact that they clearly differ in key areas. For example, Mike Huckabee, a pretty promising republican candidate for the 2008 elections, believes that "homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle". Clearly, in this case, we should not tolerate his opinion, especially because he makes it so public. And, ultimately, if we don't battle retarded viewpoints on some level, society won't progress. Really, the meek will inherit the earth, but only a small 6' x 2' patch.
Hmm. I can understand how you took what I said this way. I don't mean be a doormat. Having tolerance and respect doesn't mean taking abuse or standing by and watching it happens - then you are hardly respecting yourself or the targets of that.

Hatred such as your example doesn't need to be tolerated. Important to note is that its a jerk that is doing that (or a group of jerks). There are Christians that DO accept homosexuality, and there are homosexual Christians. Its not the religion being the jerk. They are just using it as a tool. So...what I meant was in a more general level. We should have tolerance of a more general concept, rather than the whole 'if you aren't religious you aren't moral/if you are religious you are a moron' debacle.
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Post by Ult_Sm86 » Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:17 am

It's the people using it as a tool. Nicely put. As I said before there's people who use it as a weapon and others who treat it like a burden, and regardless of which they do it's annoying and terrible.
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Post by Angelique » Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:49 am

I mostly agree on this point. I think the author is essentially making a 'thin end of the wedge' kind of argument; as soon as we allow (horrifying) boobs to slip out on TV, we're headed straight for gangbangs! But the problem with that kind of argument is that you can construct it just as easily for just about any case, even ones we consider moral--so, in essense, it's not a useful tool.
I think you misunderstood entirely. He was not saying that Nipplegate would lead to a woman cheating on her boyfriend with the Chicago bears. He was instead trying to point out that even people who don't believe in moral absolutes are quite capable of moral outrage. If we really were "nothing but mammals," neither would be any big deal.
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Post by Zazou » Fri Dec 21, 2007 2:55 pm

Originally posted by Angelique

I think you misunderstood entirely. He was not saying that Nipplegate would lead to a woman cheating on her boyfriend with the Chicago bears. He was instead trying to point out that even people who don't believe in moral absolutes are quite capable of moral outrage. If we really were "nothing but mammals," neither would be any big deal.
But we are nothing more than mammals.

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Post by fourpawsonthefloor » Fri Dec 21, 2007 3:39 pm

I want to know what is so bad about being a specialized 'mammal'. You see great acts of compassion from animals all the time, where they are selfless and act in amazingly 'moral' ways. Of course sometimes they eat their young, but still...humans do not have a monopoly on acts of kindness. ;)
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Post by Freak » Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:54 pm

Originally posted by Zazou
But we are nothing more than mammals.
Indeed we are. However, while the mammalia are nothing more than a part of the animal kingdom, this doesn't mean that anyone of us has to act like just an animal.

The point being: One of the favourite points of atheists is that humans are just another kind of animal, and therefore shouldn't "invent" things like gods or devils, or get outraged about seeing a nipple, which is pretty much a common sight among "normal" apes.

What most of them however fail to see is the fact the morals, which are in their definition as unsubstantial as a god, are a distinct human trait which we have developed during our evolution, and modern society would be a hellhole without them.

Maybe the example of the author of that article wasn't the best in that case, since people seem to rather argue about the example than about what it stands for. So I'd like to reinterpret: No matter how hardcore an atheist you are, you will be upset if your significant other cheats on you, although this is a common modus operandi among animals ([scientifical babble]Over the last years, scientists have found out that even the most commonly known examples of lifelong relationships in the animal kingdom involve cheating[/scientifical babble]).

So, in short: Yes, we are only mammals, and therefore animals, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to do better than that. ;)

[Edited on 21/12/07 by Freak]
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Post by Zazou » Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:33 pm

Originally posted by Freak
What most of them however fail to see is the fact the morals, which are in their definition as unsubstantial as a god, are a distinct human trait which we have developed during our evolution, and modern society would be a hellhole without them.
Morality isn't a distinct human trait, though; we're just under the vain delusion that it is. We're also under the worse delusion that our morality develops out of anything more desirable than selfish urges.

And anyway, where did your impression that atheists consider morals "unsubstantial" come from? What substance, in particular, are you looking for?

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Post by Freak » Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:38 pm

Originally posted by Zazou
Morality isn't a distinct human trait, though; we're just under the vain delusion that it is. We're also under the worse delusion that our morality develops out of anything more desirable than selfish urges.

And anyway, where did your impression that atheists consider morals "unsubstantial" come from? What substance, in particular, are you looking for?
Excellent question. The common reasoning for atheists is science (I mainly tend to think they believe in science, therefore not really having no religion, but just having substituted it). Science isn't able to describe morals in any way more than what kind of reaction they cause in the body. Therefore atheists commonly would see morals as something unsubstantial (nothing real, just a glorified explanation for instincts maybe).

And no, you can't define morals by the chemical reactions in the brain, they are just the results, not the reason for morals. Example seeing a starving child: You feel sad because of your morals, there ain't a special enzyme that activates a falling heart and tears on the rare sight of a starving child.

And about morality not only being a distinct human trait, and nothing else than a selfish urge: Both isn't the case.

Morals can't be proven within any animal than the human. They might be a genetic defect or mutation in the end (although I've already said that they aren't that substantial), but you just don't find them anywhere else. We might not be able to describe morals thoroughly, but we are indeed able to see whether an animal acts according to them. And they don't.

Also, morals can't be just a selfish urge basically, since then the concept of optimizing one's bilance would come into it. Selfish means, I want the best for me, and as little as possible from the bad. If I, however, donate money to a good cause, this is something absolutely not optimal. A common point with this would be that the donator would feel good, and therefore receive something for his money, but, if you are honest, would ten bucks equal the little rush you get from donating money to amnesty international? Probably not.

So, to round it up: Science just can't explain everything, every good scientist knows that. And i one thinks differently, he's just another religious extremist, but in a labcoat.
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Post by Zazou » Sat Dec 22, 2007 1:28 am

Well, first off, it would be more accurate, I think, to say that atheists tend to believe in the provable; that which is empirically observable and/or provable. That's similar, but not the same as, "science".

You assert that science cannot "describe" morals, but that's not really what we're discussing. Descriptive ethics is merely a case of observing ethical reactions to situations, and seeing how people respond; that, in itself, is inherently scientific.

What we're concerned with is normative ethics, which discusses what actually is moral.

But first, to your point "there ain't a special enzyme that activates a falling heart and tears on the rare sight of a starving child". Well, enzyme, no; I'm not sure a protein would have much use in such biological processes. But you will clearly get a biological response as a part of sadness. For example, serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of mood, as well as other things--I would assume that some chance in neurotransmitter involvement could be observed in people having an emotional response, as well as differing activity on an fMRI scan.

What do you mean "morals can't be proven within any animal than the human"? How do you prove morality within humans, and how is that proof superior to the proof for morality and altruism which has been observed in apes? As for donating money to a good cause, that clearly makes you feel better about yourself, which is a selfish motive. And if you shout about it, or do it in public (like raising money on the street), there's always the possibility you're doing it as a way to gain social standing by appearing to be more "moral".

And no, science can't explain everything; on the other hand, religion doesn't actually explain anything. Why does science not explaining anything undermine it, anyway? There seems to be a modern trend to invoke a god of the gaps, the idea being something along the lines of... science doesn't explain everything, therefore God explains what science doesn't. It's pointless.

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Post by HoodedMan » Sat Dec 22, 2007 4:10 am

Originally posted by Zazou
But first, to your point "there ain't a special enzyme that activates a falling heart and tears on the rare sight of a starving child". Well, enzyme, no; I'm not sure a protein would have much use in such biological processes. But you will clearly get a biological response as a part of sadness. For example, serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of mood, as well as other things--I would assume that some chance in neurotransmitter involvement could be observed in people having an emotional response, as well as differing activity on an fMRI scan.
Yes, serotinin is involved; norepinephrine is involved; dopamine is inolved; and there is indeed differing activity on an fMRI scan, as there is in any change of emotion, most notably within the hippocampus. Also, actually, an enzyme can be involved. MAO-A is an enzyme that can decreases the concentration of the aforementioned neurotransmitters. For the record. :)

Emotions are at least in part psychiological states. Just thought I'd contribute.
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Post by fourpawsonthefloor » Sat Dec 22, 2007 7:06 am

Be as all that may...what harm (for those who have faith but do not use it in a negative fashion) is faith doing? Even if it is a pure biologic reaction, such as you could compare to a placebo effect, and is all simple biology...its still doing good for them. People with faith often do better health wise, and cope with stressors better. (not always, and I'm too damn lazy to go haul up examples at this instant, but if you haven't seen them and want them, I will go googling).

On the other hand, having endless arguements with them on how its all just a biologic reaction doesn't sway them from that...it often just stresses them out. Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't be entitled to your opinion here or elsewhere, but part of the point of that article was just accepting what each other brought to the table and not having to prove that you are the one with the right answer.

I mean, even if it all is a nice neurochemically induced fairy tale - religion still often does a lot of good, even if some asshats do not use it for such. So live and let live. On the same extent, if someone is being a good person, but belives its all a evolved mechanism to let us function in a social setting - why bible thump? Why can't we just accept that we're both good people with different ideas?

I have faith. It's not a run of the mill faith, and I don't really feel like I fit in with any group of organised religion - usually because there are politics involved that I have no desire to diddle in. I can still be happy with my relationship with God, or whatever you want to call it. (my nice little delusion...what have you. LOL) I don't have anything to prove with it. I believe in science and evolution as well. They don't have to be mutually exclusive.

On a side note those e-mails that I'm getting all the time about 'put the Christ back in Christmas' and all that are driving me nuts. It's just way too 'thrust it down their throats and gag them with it' for me. Honestly, I think that opinion turns more people off than it affirms.

Anyways, everyone continue on. That was just mho. :)

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10 things Christians and Atheists can and must agree on.

Post by JSherlock » Sat Dec 22, 2007 7:31 am

by Paws:

I have faith. It's not a run of the mill faith, and I don't really feel like I fit in with any group of organised religion - usually because there are politics involved that I have no desire to diddle in.
That's how I am. I believe in some things, but not all, and whenever someone starts spouting policies at me, I stop listening, since that's not faith - that's politics.

[Edited on 22/12/2007 by JSherlock]
"... Pirates just kidnapped the bride and everyone is laughing. God I wish I spoke Finnish."
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