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Old 2009-09-18, 14:37   Link #1841
roriconfan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
I object on two grounds:
- there are too many religions. We don't have that much time to waste.
- it assumes that religion is important in the first place, and that kids have to choose one. I'd rather they stay free to not care about it at all if they're so inclined.
Religion is not a waste of time. I for once found the notions of every religion I read about 10 times more useful in everyday life than all those ridiculous mathematical equasions. When did you ever needed to solve a X34 - Y56 = Z75 in your life? Yet, religions provide interesting notions to improve your way or life or make you smarter by giving you ways to bash them if you don't like them.
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Old 2009-09-18, 14:57   Link #1842
Kafriel
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Religion is most certainly not a waste of time for anyone. If you're caught by surprise, you could believe in anything and submit to a way of life you would normally refuse to follow. If you know enough, you can enrich your life with customs, manners and general knowledge. Maths are useful in their own way too...
Quote:
it assumes that religion is important in the first place, and that kids have to choose one
I was labeled a christian and baptised without being aware of its meaning, I grew up being religiously educated from kindergarden to high school and now it looks too much as a part of me to even begin thinking of life without it. I'm sure this is the case with most people, but I also think it's for the best, sorting out notions like good and evil, fate, etc. would be very hard for young and inexperienced people, so it saves a lot of time there...now, I don't think you have to follow one, but it would be good to know of the rest before taking the path of agnosticism. In my school, the two last years were focused on studying foreign religions (african, indian, asian) as well as various branching religions. Even though we were never told to pick one (you can't really say that in class), we knew what other people believed in and learned about the rituals and taboos of others.
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Old 2009-09-18, 15:00   Link #1843
Vexx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
Religion is not a waste of time. I for once found the notions of every religion I read about 10 times more useful in everyday life than all those ridiculous mathematical equasions. When did you ever needed to solve a X34 - Y56 = Z75 in your life? Yet, religions provide interesting notions to improve your way or life or make you smarter by giving you ways to bash them if you don't like them.
Um.. most of my career has involved solving, programming or simulating various equations. Guess it depends on whether you want to flip burgers or-> run a business, do science, do engineering. Hell, even construction labor requires algebra. Doing your taxes requires algebra....

Teaching a course in comparative religion (major religions) isn't a bad idea if taught from a secular viewpoint. As the Jesuits say, you can't have a discussion if you don't even know the framework your conversation mate works with. However, such a course couldn't possibly take up more than a semester or year. There's enough room in the somewhat wasteful curriculum to add that in with a government civics semester. Of course, I don't think anyone should get out of high school without 4 years of math and 2 years of a foreign language either.... it might make those diplomas worth a bit more than squat in the marketplace.

When I began to find Christianity too inconsistent for my view of reality, I specifically went on a background quest to understand all the world's major (and minor religions). Many of them turned out to be equally inconsistent, aggressive, divisive, etc. One of the first classes I took in college was a 300 level comparative religion course that gave me a good grounding to proceed with. My science/physics background kept leading me back to Buddhism though a fair amount of any school outside of Zen Buddhism incorporates a lot of previous local religions in areas Buddhism moves into (e.g. Tibetan Buddhism). Out of all the older religions I've looked into, folk Shinto has a fairly entertaining metaphorically colorful way of viewing the world. My own keltic/norse ancestry is also entertaining but very morose and dark (which might make sense if you spend part of the year in the dim and dark).

If you view religion/spirituality as a tool/filter with which to view and interact with the world, it can be quite helpful. If you have this One True Way mentality and insist on forcing on others ("convert or die", "even if you don't convert, you can't violate our rules") -- lets just say we're not going to get along well

Last edited by Vexx; 2009-09-18 at 15:11.
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Old 2009-09-18, 15:35   Link #1844
Anh_Minh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
Religion is not a waste of time. I for once found the notions of every religion I read about 10 times more useful in everyday life than all those ridiculous mathematical equasions. When did you ever needed to solve a X34 - Y56 = Z75 in your life?
What Vexx said. Though I'm a bit more confident than he is in the average man's ability to go through life without complex mathematics, I'm even more confident in man's ability to get through life without much knowledge in religion.

Quote:
Yet, religions provide interesting notions to improve your way or life
If I want a self-help book, I can get one. Why should I need religion for that?

Quote:
or make you smarter by giving you ways to bash them if you don't like them.
While arguing religion is entertaining, there are other subjects to argue about.

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Originally Posted by Kafriel View Post
Religion is most certainly not a waste of time for anyone. If you're caught by surprise, you could believe in anything and submit to a way of life you would normally refuse to follow.
You're going to have to expand that point. Is there some correlation between, say, disinterest in religions and membership in Scientology?

Quote:
If you know enough, you can enrich your life with customs, manners and general knowledge. Maths are useful in their own way too...
All religion ever did for me is give me fuel for internet arguments. I do have other hobbies, you know. Not to mention, other things I like to argue about.

Quote:
I was labeled a christian and baptised without being aware of its meaning, I grew up being religiously educated from kindergarden to high school and now it looks too much as a part of me to even begin thinking of life without it. I'm sure this is the case with most people, but I also think it's for the best, sorting out notions like good and evil, fate, etc. would be very hard for young and inexperienced people, so it saves a lot of time there...
What, you think atheists' kids are evil or something? Do you seriously think it's best to teach kids not to do wrong merely because some invisible guy is watching them? What, then, happens when the evidence that no one's watching starts piling on?

Quote:
now, I don't think you have to follow one, but it would be good to know of the rest before taking the path of agnosticism.
And I think it's best that only people with genuine interest on the subject pick something. It's like picking a favorite sports team. You don't have to do that if you don't even like to watch sport. You shouldn't be subjected to hours of rambling on which team has what mascot just so you can decide which one you prefer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
Teaching a course in comparative religion (major religions) isn't a bad idea if taught from a secular viewpoint. As the Jesuits say, you can't have a discussion if you don't even know the framework your conversation mate works with. However, such a course couldn't possibly take up more than a semester or year.
I have no objection to that. For all my barbs about religion, and I think knowing the basic principles are an important part of giving kids culture. It plays a huge role in history. But teaching religions with the express purpose of having kids pick sides? Screw that.
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Old 2009-09-18, 16:49   Link #1845
justsomeguy
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Human accomplishments due to knowledge of science and mathematics:
* engineering and technology (skyscrapers, airplanes, computers, etc)
* vaccines and medicines that save lives

Human accomplishments due to knowledge of religion:
* ?
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Old 2009-09-18, 17:00   Link #1846
Anh_Minh
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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
Human accomplishments due to knowledge of religion:
* ?
A lot of art and science, actually. It provided a pretext to pool resources for enterprises of no immediate uses.

Of course, it did mean some more peasants starved. Can't make an omelet without killing a few peons. And I like to think we don't need that pretext, any more. (Now, if religion supported space and biotech research, I might change my mind about the whole thing...)
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Old 2009-09-18, 17:00   Link #1847
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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
Human accomplishments due to knowledge of religion:
* ?
Some would argue than religion holded together society in the past, somehow imposed a set of common value to their follower
...
in other word maintained order.
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Old 2009-09-18, 17:08   Link #1848
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Originally Posted by ganbaru View Post
Some would argue than religion holded together society in the past, somehow imposed a set of common value to their follower
...
in other word maintained order.
That is correct, but so did absolute monarchs.
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Old 2009-09-18, 17:15   Link #1849
Vexx
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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
That is correct, but so did absolute monarchs.
Tribal/folk/pantheon/animism religions give a tribe/village a bond and a way to understand the world around them (not that they can't be manipulated by the group leaders). State religions are usually primarily tools of control. The Roman Empire is a fine example of that -- including taking a small cult with useful attributes, making it the state religion, and declaring a certain interpretation of its beliefs as "law". Then they went out to snuff any competing religions and used it as control tool during their expansion even long after the original "empire" had fractured.
There's nothing that beats taking what might have initially been a good idea and then warping it into a tool of control and manipulation, especially for aggressive groups.

Another example: Shinto was violated in this way during the Japanese Imperial aggression period - taking what was a localized collection of folk beliefs and stringing them together to justify the Emperor icon for purposes of expansion and control. (yeah, there's much more to it -- but I'm writing a post, not a doctoral thesis.)
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Old 2009-09-18, 18:34   Link #1850
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
That is correct, but so did absolute monarchs.
Even monarchs needed a higher force to excuse their misbehavior. Like the crusades for example. It wasn't about conquering more land. It was God who demanded it. Or the 10 comandments. It wasn't Moses, a simple man who wrote them in order to set some rules for his people. It was God.
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Old 2009-09-18, 20:11   Link #1851
Slice of Life
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
The Roman Empire is a fine example of that -- including taking a small cult with useful attributes, making it the state religion, and declaring a certain interpretation of its beliefs as "law". Then they went out to snuff any competing religions and used it as control tool during their expansion even long after the original "empire" had fractured.
You're probably talking about Christianity but rooting out local cultures (though not necessarily religions in particular) was part of the Roman expansion strategy long before that. Actually, when Christianity became state religion the Empire had been in decline for quite some time already. Nor did Christianity necessarily spread violently. Just think of Ireland which was Christianized without any backup from Roman legions or any invasion force.

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Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
Even monarchs needed a higher force to excuse their misbehavior. Like the crusades for example. It wasn't about conquering more land. It was God who demanded it. Or the 10 comandments. It wasn't Moses, a simple man who wrote them in order to set some rules for his people. It was God.
I was just pointing out that what was an element of order in the past is not necessarily desirable today. But as for your argument, the Chinese Emperors did quite well without an invisible sky god it seems to me.
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Old 2009-09-18, 21:01   Link #1852
Siddyus
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But as for your argument, the Chinese Emperors did quite well without an invisible sky god it seems to me.
Actually they still relied on religion as a tool of control. They had gods, spirits, and demons that pretty much influenced their rule. You can read more about it here

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Even monarchs needed a higher force to excuse their misbehavior. Like the crusades for example. It wasn't about conquering more land. It was God who demanded it. Or the 10 comandments. It wasn't Moses, a simple man who wrote them in order to set some rules for his people. It was God.
Very True. That is why Religion for me is a destructive force to be reckoned with. It causes more trouble than its worth. Especially when being used for reasons such as that.
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Old 2009-09-18, 22:08   Link #1853
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Originally Posted by Siddyus View Post
I guess it is just human nature to be at an eternal conflict against each other. Human emotions and animalistic behaviour we adopted from our ancestors fuels it. Then, religion amplifies it. Millions of jews were killed since the inquisition just because of their religion. So on and so forth...
You've got it. I see a few people claiming that religion alone is responsible for so many deaths and so much conflict, and that we'd all be better off without it. I think that's total rubbish. If religion wasn't around then there'd be something else, I am quite certain.

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Originally Posted by Siddyus View Post
I believe if there wasnt any religion. Human conflict wouldnt be at the same degree we are experiencing right now.

I dont hate religion. Its just that I think it causes more trouble than its worth.
I disagree with your first statement there, and the second is something subjective that nobody can prove or disprove, even if we go through dozens of historical examples. Out of curiosity, what is it that makes you think that without religion, conflict wouldn't be at the same degree as it is now?

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
That is an idealistic view. In reality, if one does not confront the people harassing you and spreading lies, those falsehoods will continue to spread.
Or you could educate people in a non-confrontational manner, or try to persuade them that your views are better if you really care to fight over people's thoughts...

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
Also, how often have you seen atheists confront religious people on the street, compared with the reverse? How many atheist stands have you seen in the streets? (I see crazy evangelists constantly in the subway and sidewalks in NYC. "You're all sinners!" Fuck that, when did I commit any crime?)
This was the point that I made earlier: while you're right that I don't see those atheists shouting in the streets that atheism is great, or that being religious is terrible, if I did then I wouldn't take any more kindly to them than I would to those religious preachers. Both would be a nuisance to me.

For what it's worth, I do not believe that evangelists and other religious missionaries make most of their conversions by going door to door, or shouting in the street. Many charity and support groups (particularly to prisons) are actually backed and run by religious groups. When people are in need, or when they are at their most vulnerable, they are also the easiest to instill with a certain mindset or belief.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
Please provide an example where people like Richard Dawkins advocate violence and extremism.
I think you interpreted the definition differently than I did. Here it is again, with the emphasis on how I read it:
combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods

You're reading the "and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods" as being "and [always] favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods." That last bit isn't absolutely needed for something to fit the definition, but the first part (that I put into bold) is always a part of the definition. I'm not going to argue over definitions, though - read it as you will. That was just an answer to your question of why some people termed it "militant atheism."

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
Just because religion is not involved in all violence is not proof that it has no involvement at all.
Sure. Again, my point is that religion is not the root of all conflicts. It probably doesn't account for that much, either. Throughout ancient history it's been involved in a number of large-scale conflicts, but you're fooling yourself (in a dangerous manner, I think) if you really believe that conflict wouldn't arise if religion didn't exist.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
There would be less rules to distort and warp if laws were based on the desires of actual people who can be held accountable, and not a supreme being who is nowhere to be found.
Well... I disagree. The number of laws in the Bible, as well as the laws themselves, have seemingly been few in number and rather constant compared with the laws of a democratic society such as the United States.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
I am well aware that people will have a sentimental attachment to the land where they were from, regardless of faith. And you are correct in saying that I do not intend to portray religion as the root of all evil; greed, pride, envy, etc are. However, religion provides an unnecessary division among people, and I think we can all acknowledge that whenever we divide people into separate groups, violence is far more likely to occur, and far more likely to escalate into factional warfare rather than stay at the individual level.
People will divide themselves no matter what. Skin color, family clans, the region of the continent that you come from, your profession, what sports team you like, what kinds of food you like, what you major in at school, what school you go to - there are divisions that can be made at virtually all levels of society and life itself. Religion is just one among hundreds if not thousands of division points that people could draw upon, and I do not believe that religion is any more influential than any of those other factors (in the modern world, it's arguably even less influential). If you think otherwise, then you have probably not attached yourself to a "herd" before, or been to a place where people get into a zealous frenzy about something that is entirely unrelated to religion. Religion is most certainly not necessary to turn someone into a modern-day crusader.

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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
But as for your argument, the Chinese Emperors did quite well without an invisible sky god it seems to me.
From what I remember of Chinese history, the Emperor ruled with the Mandate of Heaven. That may not have referred to a single deity, nor did it connect with any centralized (or well-established) religion, but I'd argue that it's most certainly close enough.
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Old 2009-09-18, 22:22   Link #1854
Proto
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Well... I disagree. The number of laws in the Bible, as well as the laws themselves, have seemingly been few in number and rather constant compared with the laws of a democratic society such as the United States.
Really? The ten commandments have come a long way since their inception IMHO. Not to mention they were actually 15.

Now, on a more serious note, the most basic Abrahamic values have remained valid for all this millenia because they represent the most basic rules any society must follow in order not to self destruct. Societies that didn't keep heed to these principles to a reasonable degree didn't survive. It isn't anything complicated there. Our modern laws may have gotten overcomplicated with time, but the basic principles behind the most important laws remain the same.
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Old 2009-09-18, 22:43   Link #1855
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
Or you could educate people in a non-confrontational manner, or try to persuade them that your views are better if you really care to fight over people's thoughts...
And how is this different than what Richard Dawkins does?
Quote:
I think you interpreted the definition differently than I did. Here it is again, with the emphasis on how I read it:
combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods

You're reading the "and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods" as being "and [always] favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods." That last bit isn't absolutely needed for something to fit the definition, but the first part (that I put into bold) is always a part of the definition. I'm not going to argue over definitions, though - read it as you will. That was just an answer to your question of why some people termed it "militant atheism."
My point is that there is a double standard with regards to atheism and religion.
When religious people try to spread their beliefs, you people say, "Oh, that's just what they do."
When atheists write books to try to spread their beliefs, you people say, "ZOMG MILITANT ATHEISTS!"

Quote:
Sure. Again, my point is that religion is not the root of all conflicts. It probably doesn't account for that much, either. Throughout ancient history it's been involved in a number of large-scale conflicts, but you're fooling yourself (in a dangerous manner, I think) if you really believe that conflict wouldn't arise if religion didn't exist.
You're twisting my words. If you actually read my posts, you'll notice that not once did I say that religion caused all conflicts. Those are your words, not mine. However, from your own post here you acknowledge that there will be less conflicts without religion.

Quote:
People will divide themselves no matter what. Skin color, family clans, the region of the continent that you come from, your profession, what sports team you like, what kinds of food you like, what you major in at school, what school you go to - there are divisions that can be made at virtually all levels of society and life itself. Religion is just one among hundreds if not thousands of division points that people could draw upon, and I do not believe that religion is any more influential than any of those other factors (in the modern world, it's arguably even less influential). If you think otherwise, then you have probably not attached yourself to a "herd" before, or been to a place where people get into a zealous frenzy about something that is entirely unrelated to religion. Religion is most certainly not necessary to turn someone into a modern-day crusader.
"Modern-day crusaders" such as the KKK, neo-Nazis, anti-gay rights activists, and Al Qaeda all draw support from religion. (That's not to say I do not acknowledge positive religious institutions such as the many charities, nor the non-religious negative organizations such as PETA.) I have yet to see Yankees fans and Red Sox fans engage in warfare and assassinations.

Quote:
From what I remember of Chinese history, the Emperor ruled with the Mandate of Heaven. That may not have referred to a single deity, nor did it connect with any centralized (or well-established) religion, but I'd argue that it's most certainly close enough.
The Chinese pantheon itself was a huge bureaucracy, complete with servants and secretaries. I don't think that the "Mandate of Heaven" was taken seriously though, because every time there is social unrest and a dynasty collapses, the emperor is seen as having lost his Mandate. Since the Mandate is closely related to the populace's satisfaction, the implication is that people had some control over the gods, hence it's hardly as concrete as the European kingdoms.
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Old 2009-09-19, 00:26   Link #1856
Siddyus
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I disagree with your first statement there, and the second is something subjective that nobody can prove or disprove, even if we go through dozens of historical examples. Out of curiosity, what is it that makes you think that without religion, conflict wouldn't be at the same degree as it is now?
Well, as i've pointed out already. Religion is more trouble than its worth. Sure it brings order to communities. And I cant deny religion's role in cementing our modern society. But as we know it in this world. Nothing can be perfect and though religion strives to be perfect. In the long run it is only causing disorder and chaos for in the end there will be people who would misinterpret doctrines or manipulate them to their own advantage. Pure example of em are the former popes of the medieval ages. Muslim extremists. etc etc...

Think about this. If for example our world right now had no religion. I believe our conflicts would only be limited to conquest wars as what had been happening in the ages past. No one would kill an entire civilization since the god they are worshiping are blasphemous.

Now you would say religion is what gave us morales etc etc That without religion we would be killing ourselves and everybody else. then what about your evolved brain? sure we still have animalistic behaviours left from our transition into a modern humanoid species. I believe humans could function well, without religion. Though I cant deny religion's influence regarding our behavior. But, what I am only saying is. We can stand on our own and be civilized if we wanted to.

Religion has its ups and downs. Religion surely helped us in our lives. But the "side effects" of it outweighs everything good it has done. Caused meaningless deaths. etc etc

I still have a religion. But I dont devote myself to the point that I would shun every muslim I see or force my mates to believe in my religion as the only thing that is worth believing in. I hope many religious zealots out there could be like that someday. A good substitute of totally having no religion.
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Old 2009-09-19, 01:11   Link #1857
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^ Blahblahblah. Religion was most of the times an excuse for people to do what they would do anyway. God(s) is a fine quick explaination / justification for everything. With a few lines everything was excused.

For example, proverbs like "only God knows" or "the Lord moves in mysterious ways" actually translate too "I have no idea what is going on; just shut up and follow the rest". Yet, saying it like that gives you more credit that a "I don't know".

It's like magic versus science. You need to explain how a disruptor fires anti-matter without dissolving itself or causing a nuclear explosion just by passing through the air if you want to make it seem believable. You don't need to explain anything when a wizard casts a disintegrade spell. He just does.
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Old 2009-09-19, 02:27   Link #1858
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Well I'm technically Catholic but hardly a steady practitioner. I think as a whole the heads of almost all organized religions have lost their way. Anymore it's all about telling people how they have to run their lives and how everyone else is wrong. To me it should be about offering guidance and ways to improve yourself and live as a decent person. I mean IMO it's our actions that define us and if there is a God (whatever you call him) I would have to think his ultimate judgment of us is not based on who we sleep with, how we worship, or anything of that nature. But rather did we lead a good life. Did we chose to be kind or harmful to others. As far as I am concerned there is no "right" religion, it's all about what fits you individually best. Plus as long as a religion does not preach harm onto others or take away people's rights and freedoms I don't see it as being bad either. Plus remember "religion" has never done anything wrong. It's people who do wrong and twist religion (whichever specific one it is) and it's teachings to fit their purposes.
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Old 2009-09-19, 03:48   Link #1859
Siddyus
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Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
^ Blahblahblah. Religion was most of the times an excuse for people to do what they would do anyway. God(s) is a fine quick explaination / justification for everything. With a few lines everything was excused.

For example, proverbs like "only God knows" or "the Lord moves in mysterious ways" actually translate too "I have no idea what is going on; just shut up and follow the rest". Yet, saying it like that gives you more credit that a "I don't know".

It's like magic versus science. You need to explain how a disruptor fires anti-matter without dissolving itself or causing a nuclear explosion just by passing through the air if you want to make it seem believable. You don't need to explain anything when a wizard casts a disintegrade spell. He just does.
Blah blah blah.. So to summarize your post. Just be ignorant. Fine then. If you want to be ignorant for the rest of your life so be it. lol
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Old 2009-09-19, 03:57   Link #1860
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^ When the hell did I say that?
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