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Old 2008-04-04, 12:12   Link #781
escimo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
The Origin of Species is hardly a bible. Do people even bother quoting from it any more? Darwin's work is seminal, but it's a starting point, not the end. His ideas have been tinkered with almost out of recognition, added to, and so on. Such is science. People have actually tested the ideas of evolutions, not against old texts, but against the real world. They've refined them, attacked them to keep only the fittest. They continue to do so today.
And that's in no way different from general religious interpretation of the bible. I'm fully aware that it's not considered scientifically viable text but it serves as a basis on a conceptual level. This inevitably affects the interpretation of the available data.
At least evolutionary biology is by definition study of evolution, on a conceptual level pretty much introduced by The Origin of Species. That's why I find it a bit odd that there are so few within the scientific community to even consider whether the concept of evolution through random event may not be viable enough premise that other options need no consideration what so ever.

There are of course some "scientist" that have tried to prove creationism scientifically but that's naturally a dead end if you take biblical story of creation literally.
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Old 2008-04-04, 12:19   Link #782
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i am a Muslim and i agree with 2h-dragon that somethings science can't explain, but it is explained in the Qura'an.

i am not against any other religion, but i only see Islam as the perfect religion and i didn't find any mistake in the holy book nor heard someone says there is a flaw in it.
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Old 2008-04-04, 12:37   Link #783
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Quote:
That's why I find it a bit odd that there are so few within the scientific community to even consider whether the concept of evolution through random event may not be viable enough premise that other options need no consideration what so ever.
You clearly don't understand how science works, or what makes religion so different from science.

Dismissing evolution based on the "low probability of occurrence of random DNA changes" not only shows an ignorance of natural selection, but also an ignorance of probabilistic theory and an ignorance of the overwhelming evidence evolution has in its favor. Repeat after me, science is not a democracy.

Please, do watch the vid I linked to a couple of posts ago. It's a long speech, but you might find some insight as to why is there such a strong consensus on the validity of evolution theory among scientists.
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Old 2008-04-04, 12:55   Link #784
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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
You clearly don't understand how science works, or what makes religion so different from science.
If asking "what if" is no longer a integral part of the very foundation of science, I really don't understand it. And if that's the case I'm extremely happy about it.
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Old 2008-04-04, 14:10   Link #785
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If asking "what if" is no longer a integral part of the very foundation of science, I really don't understand it.
"What if gravity is really coming from invisible gravity hippos, and Newton was wrong all along?"

Posing questions is the core of science. But they need to be relevant questions.
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Old 2008-04-04, 14:34   Link #786
escimo
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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
"What if gravity is really coming from invisible gravity hippos, and Newton was wrong all along?"

Posing questions is the core of science. But they need to be relevant questions.
Well here are some "what if" questions for you.

What if the data supporting evolution would be interpreted differently without evolutionary preconception?
What if the data conflicting with theory of evolution would be relevant if other premise is taken?

God only knows (somehow I found this idiom strangely suitable ) how much conflicting data there is.

These are questions that some are posing within the scientific community but as a result they're pretty much immediately accused of scientific heresy. Which strangely resembles religious approach to things.

Are these really, really questions that can be considered totally irrelevant.

What if that's exactly my issue with this whole thing.

What if she had balls, wouldn't that make her a he?

I think there are two scientifically very irrelevant "what if" questions in this post. I leave it to you to decide which ones.
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Old 2008-04-04, 15:37   Link #787
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I am an atheist and everyone in school hates me for being one and say things like I'm going to burn in hell and someone actually tried to save me once but then lost hope in me. when religion is being talked in front of me i try not to butt in and i always try to respect religion but religion is no good for me
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Old 2008-04-04, 15:39   Link #788
Anh_Minh
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Originally Posted by escimo View Post
And that's in no way different from general religious interpretation of the bible.
Yeah? Then where is the part where they threw away pages of the Bible as wrong? More importantly, where is the part where they added to it?

Quote:
I'm fully aware that it's not considered scientifically viable text but it serves as a basis on a conceptual level.
It serves as more than that. It serves as an absolute truth, which has to be interpreted. Any flaw supposedly doesn't come from the book, but from our interpretation of it. That's nothing like science.

Quote:
This inevitably affects the interpretation of the available data.
At least evolutionary biology is by definition study of evolution, on a conceptual level pretty much introduced by The Origin of Species.
Darwin didn't singlehandedly come up with it. The idea was long in coming, and was floating around at the time. Darwin was just the first to... coalesce it.

Quote:
That's why I find it a bit odd that there are so few within the scientific community to even consider whether the concept of evolution through random event may not be viable enough premise that other options need no consideration what so ever.
Har. The exact mechanisms of Evolution are still researched. How it's not so random. How such and such condition stack the odds in favor of such phenomenon. How this results in that. How some incredibly unlikely event occurred because it was almost certain an unlikely event would occur. (For example, the likelihood for my mother to win the lottery next week? Low. Very low. The likelihood for someone to win the lottery? Pretty high.)

But those are details. The general idea is well accepted because, quite simply, we haven't found a viable alternative. Some other grand theory that'd somehow explain things better, fit with the data more closely, predict events more accurately. It's not for lack of trying. What biologist wouldn't dream of changing the paradigm again? Of being the second coming of Darwin?

But, even if it does occur, it's more likely to be like what Relativity did to Newtownian mechanics. They're not wrong, but they're inaccurate when you go too fast. Just as the Earth is flat provided you don't go too far.

You see, science, by its own admission, is never absolutely true. Just good enough. It's not about being right, it's about being accurate enough within a certain set of conditions.

Quote:
There are of course some "scientist" that have tried to prove creationism scientifically but that's naturally a dead end if you take biblical story of creation literally.
Don't look for excuses. Some "scientists" have tried to prove creationism without the Bible. It was a dead end anyway.


Quote:
Originally Posted by escimo View Post
If asking "what if" is no longer a integral part of the very foundation of science, I really don't understand it. And if that's the case I'm extremely happy about it.
Asking "what if" isn't science. Thinking about "what if" is. And in the case of "what if there's a creator guiding evolution", it's a pretty short thought. "What if... " "Yeah, and? So what?"

If you want a longer thought, you're going to have to present something more solid. You're going to have to explain how your creator does things, how your theory explains things better by describing the observed data more closely (quick question: why does your creator wants us to have appendicitis?) and, more importantly, predicts events more accurately than competing frameworks. If you don't have that, you're just indulging in idle reverie. It's not wrong, but it's not science, either.
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Old 2008-04-04, 17:11   Link #789
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Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
Yeah? Then where is the part where they threw away pages of the Bible as wrong? More importantly, where is the part where they added to it?
You really can't claim that the general interpretation of the bible is very literal within christian community. Can you?

Quote:
It serves as more than that. It serves as an absolute truth, which has to be interpreted. Any flaw supposedly doesn't come from the book, but from our interpretation of it. That's nothing like science.
In this I was referring to The Origin of Species not the bible. Both are seen more as guideline for reasoning and a basic premise. Bible in christianity, The Origin of Species in evolutionary science.

Quote:
Darwin didn't singlehandedly come up with it. The idea was long in coming, and was floating around at the time. Darwin was just the first to... coalesce it.
True enough. But... Well roman's didn't come up with a bible in the 3rd. century, it was long time coming. They were just the first to coalesce it.

Quote:
Har. The exact mechanisms of Evolution are still researched. How it's not so random. How such and such condition stack the odds in favor of such phenomenon. How this results in that. How some incredibly unlikely event occurred because it was almost certain an unlikely event would occur. (For example, the likelihood for my mother to win the lottery next week? Low. Very low. The likelihood for someone to win the lottery? Pretty high.)

But those are details. The general idea is well accepted because, quite simply, we haven't found a viable alternative. Some other grand theory that'd somehow explain things better, fit with the data more closely, predict events more accurately. It's not for lack of trying. What biologist wouldn't dream of changing the paradigm again? Of being the second coming of Darwin?

But, even if it does occur, it's more likely to be like what Relativity did to Newtownian mechanics. They're not wrong, but they're inaccurate when you go too fast. Just as the Earth is flat provided you don't go too far.

You see, science, by its own admission, is never absolutely true. Just good enough. It's not about being right, it's about being accurate enough within a certain set of conditions.
The exact mechanisms of Evolution... Here's a highly unscientific "what if". What if Darwin's theory wouldn't have become a hit? Basically within scientific community there are only two lines of reasoning how human life has come to be, evolution and creationism (and that in it's rather fundamental form). And as creationists are a laughing stock (somewhat rightfully so though) no one dears to oppose the other line of reasoning in fear of losing their face.

Quote:
Don't look for excuses. Some "scientists" have tried to prove creationism without the Bible. It was a dead end anyway.
This I find a bit odd statement. I don't think you can find much other premise to even consider the possibility that the universe was created in 6 days 10000 years ago by a big guy in the sky. You don't have to do any research on how life came to be to discard the whole idea as complete and utter bullshit. Other fields of science have already proven the concept completely impossible.


Quote:
Asking "what if" isn't science. Thinking about "what if" is. And in the case of "what if there's a creator guiding evolution", it's a pretty short thought. "What if... " "Yeah, and? So what?"

If you want a longer thought, you're going to have to present something more solid. You're going to have to explain how your creator does things, how your theory explains things better by describing the observed data more closely (quick question: why does your creator wants us to have appendicitis?) and, more importantly, predicts events more accurately than competing frameworks. If you don't have that, you're just indulging in idle reverie. It's not wrong, but it's not science, either.
The theoretical middle-ground idea about controlled evolution is just something I consider an interesting train of thought. Something to look into? Perhaps not. Something I find plausible? Yes.

The point I feel I've been making over an over and over again is just this.
All research on evolution is based on the premise that human life has evolved from some other form of life. Fine I consider it a plausible option even with some reservations. But what would be the final hypothesis like when these very facts and those that have been discarded as incompatible or irrelevant are studied with another preconception. Or what kind of premise would they produce alone with no preconception what so ever.

I don't feel like being guilty of too much scientific heresy just by asking that. Though I feel that someones are at this very moment lighting up the pyre.
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Old 2008-04-04, 17:17   Link #790
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I'm atheist too. I don't really like to believe in things that I have no proof of ...
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Originally Posted by klowny View Post
when religion is being talked in front of me i try not to butt in and i always try to respect religion but religion is no good for me
Same for me.
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Old 2008-04-04, 17:38   Link #791
Anh_Minh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by escimo View Post
You really can't claim that the general interpretation of the bible is very literal within christian community. Can you?
Depends. Which Christian community? And for that matter, that dodges the point. If it was like a scientific text, no matter how famous and celebrated, it'd be a basis to observe the world. From those observation, we'd refine the text. Say "this bit is wrong", "We need to add this". From those ameliorations to the text, we'd get yet better observations. And so on.

That's not what occurs with the Bible. All you change, all you're allowed to hope to change, lest you be branded a heretic, is the interpretation. You can't say "Nope, observation has proven that Jesus never resurrected. Let's forget about that part".

Quote:
In this I was referring to The Origin of Species not the bible. Both are seen more as guideline for reasoning and a basic premise. Bible in christianity, The Origin of Species in evolutionary science.
And my point is that they're completely different approaches to the truth, unlike what you've been saying.

Without the Bible and what's written in it, there is no Christianty. OTOH, we've completely outgrown The Origin of Species. We've got our own observations, our own interpretations. We've got friggin genetics.

Quote:
True enough. But... Well roman's didn't come up with a bible in the 3rd. century, it was long time coming. They were just the first to coalesce it.
You do know Romans didn't write the OT, don't you?

Anyway, my point was that people don't believe in Evolution just because of a magic book.

Quote:
The exact mechanisms of Evolution... Here's a highly unscientific "what if". What if Darwin's theory wouldn't have become a hit? Basically within scientific community there are only two lines of reasoning how human life has come to be, evolution and creationism (and that in it's rather fundamental form). And as creationists are a laughing stock (somewhat rightfully so though) no one dears to oppose the other line of reasoning in fear of losing their face.
What if? I don't know. For one thing, as I said, he wasn't the only one thinking about it. So, without Darwin, somebody else would have formulated the idea. Or do you want to discount that, too? Then maybe atheists wouldn't be even as numerous as they are now, and we'd still be scratching our heads as to how species happen. Or maybe somebody would have come up with another theory, though what it might be is a mystery. Might as well ask, "what if Newton hadn't discovered the principles of gravity?".


Quote:
This I find a bit odd statement. I don't think you can find much other premise to even consider the possibility that the universe was created in 6 days 10000 years ago by a big guy in the sky. You don't have to do any research on how life came to be to discard the whole idea as complete and utter bullshit. Other fields of science have already proven the concept completely impossible.



The theoretical middle-ground idea about controlled evolution is just something I consider an interesting train of thought. Something to look into? Perhaps not. Something I find plausible? Yes.
That's creationism. And some people have tried to prove it. Or at least prove that Evolution was impossible, without referring to the Bible. My point was, the flaws of that approach go deeper than merely the Bible not having any scientific merit.

Quote:
The point I feel I've been making over an over and over again is just this.
All research on evolution is based on the premise that human life has evolved from some other form of life. Fine I consider it a plausible option even with some reservations. But what would be the final hypothesis like when these very facts and those that have been discarded as incompatible or irrelevant are studied with another preconception. Or what kind of premise would they produce alone with no preconception what so ever.
Without some kind of model, what you call "preconception", you've only got random strings of facts, not science. Oh, of course, maybe you can try to kink those facts and get a model. That's what Darwin did. And we got evolution. If you've got a better idea, do go ahead and say it.
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Old 2008-04-04, 18:04   Link #792
klowny
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religion you really don't need it(unless your a person with no hope left in yourself) and people can never prove that god actually does exist because they are always repeating the same things over and over and over...
you always have to ask question if what your believing is actually true or that your believing a great big lie i know i use to
beside now i can just on the important things like... my life
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Old 2008-04-04, 18:08   Link #793
escimo
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Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
You do know Romans didn't write the OT, don't you?

Anyway, my point was that people don't believe in Evolution just because of a magic book.
Well that was just a feeble attempt to be funny.
Of course romans didn't write the old nor the new testament. Well... Paul the Apostle may have written some of it and he may have been a roman citizen. And on some parts it's quite difficult to tell but for the most, no they didn't. They collected it an compiled it to it's current form.

Quote:
Without some kind of model, what you call "preconception", you've only got random strings of facts, not science. Oh, of course, maybe you can try to kink those facts and get a model. That's what Darwin did. And we got evolution. If you've got a better idea, do go ahead and say it.
Once you've kinked the facts into the model there's no need to question the premise of it, ever? As you said the science has progressed a couple of light-years from Darwin's days. When has it progressed enough to consider questioning the model, that's been conceived in times when only a fragment of the data we have today was available, a viable option?

I may not have a better idea but I'm really eagerly waiting for one to pop up. I don't keep my hopes up though as ones posing them usually run into some quite religious-ish oppression.
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Old 2008-04-04, 18:39   Link #794
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Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
And we run into that language problem again. Something is meant when people say or write "perfect". And something is understood when it's heard or read. And the people who wrote the Bible were... people. Human beings. So, were they wrong when they wrote that God was perfect? Or did they mean that dying of Pontine's tumor was a symptom of perfection? Somehow, I doubt it's the latter.
The Bible wasn't written in English, so the word "perfect" wasn't used, I can guarantee you that. What word was used? This is where the translation gets tricky. I'm telling you that it gets tricky because I've read over parts of the Bible and my father, who speaks Hebrew (it's his first language) remarked that there are multiple ways that some of those words could have been translated. The English version obviously chose one of them. It didn't just choose the word, it chose the phrasing. The example that my father remarked on had an extremely different meaning from what the English sentence was. It was discussing who the Jewish people were - something that's resulted in the death of people and much debate. I believe the English version makes it clear that Jews are Jews, period - one group of people, genetically sealed. If I remember this right the alternate way to translate it is that a true Jew is anyone who has God's virtues - they don't have to be converted, they don't have to be born to a Jewish mother, they don't even have to believe in God. Now, isn't that something amazing? And that's just a single example - who knows how many more exist.

When people think of the Bible, they think of the Christian Bible and they take it very literally. I think that's a mistake. The Bible is seen as the only religious text in Christianity, but I brought up the point that there are many religious texts in Judaism because those texts are often filled with interpretations by various rabbinical figures of what the biblical passages meant or represented.

So you see, your question about "were they wrong when they wrote that God was perfect" isn't something we can really answer. For one, we don't know that they wrote that God was perfect. It was translated that way, but was it translated to English during a time when Christianity was going on about how God was perfection? The second point is what I mentioned before - even if they wrote that God was perfect, is it so horrible that maybe they were wrong, or maybe that was their understanding at the time?

Quote:
Not really. Christian or not, places of worship don't build themselves. Priests don't live off prayer and rainwater. I agree that the "all" is hyperbolic, but that applies to Christians as well.
The purpose of asking for money, or whether money is even asked for or not, makes a great deal of difference.

Let's examine Scientology, for example. You need to pay huge sums of money for the teachings, and the organization (the Church of Scientology) is very, very rich. I would argue that their desire for money is to make a profit, rather than to simply keep the religion going.

What about Christianity during the middle ages? The belief at the time was that you essentially owed the Church money for your sins. The more you paid, the more you were saving yourself; the more wealth you'd have in Heaven. Once again, people were essentially being hassled for money. I'd think that the purpose was to make a profit, but that really depends on what the heads of the Church felt. In modern Christianity there is a donation box or an offering tray that is passed around during services - nobody claims that you'll go to Hell or won't be saved if you don't donate anymore, and the donations now seem to go more toward simply running the services.

What about the Buddhist monks? Even for claiming that the monks don't want anything and should live a simple life, there was a belief among the religious that the more you gave to a temple, the better off you'd be when you were reborn. Who created that concept? The monks lived modestly, but what if the creator of the religion had put that concept there so that people would feel that they had to enrich the lives of these humble monks with all sorts of material goods? As a result, the temples became very rich and lavish with donations - donations from people who felt that they had to make these donations in order for something good to happen to them.

Now turn this over to Judaism. For certain, temples occasionally ask for donations but of the temples I've been to (including one or two in Israel) I've never seen a donation box or plate passed around. Judaism's roots are arguably totally different, as it stems deeply into the culture as well. For this reason I'm incredibly skeptical of many of the other religions. I can appreciate your skepticism as well, but don't group all religions under such thinking just because Christianity does it. These days nobody really enters religion to make tons of money, or to really make money at all (except for the Scientologists and a few other cults) but the roots of why money was asked for are rather important, in my opinion. Christianity's reasons are the most damning, to be certain, but Buddhism's reason isn't much better. I would not be surprised to hear that Judaism has a negative aspect as well, but I do not know of it and as of now I'm confident in stating that any reasons to ask for money are relatively pure, as opposed to being socially manipulative.

Quote:
What I'm attacking is the thought that religion is any way to truly know God. From what I understand, a religion's biggest claim to our loyalties is that it knows God better than we do, and can guide us. But how true is that?
Well now, I agree with you on the idea that a religion claiming to know God perfectly is probably false. Do religions really make that claim, though? Christianity occasionally presents itself in such a way that it seems to know all of the answers, but I think that many of the clergy will admit that there are things we don't understand, writing in the Bible that are debated over, and varying ideas about the religious teachings. Judaism practically admits to it simply by the fact that there are so many documents mulling over what the events meant, what the writings signified.

I've always thought that most religions didn't claim to have all of the answers. Rather, they introduced God and God's teachings, and ideally you'd sort of take it from there. The problem is that many people don't take it from there. They hang on to the words of their local religious authority as if those words were coming from God Himself and don't give it a second thought. Just because those people do such a thing doesn't mean that it's the intent of the religion, though...
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Old 2008-04-04, 18:49   Link #795
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The tangent on evolution is interesting, but it's sort of detracting from the purpose of this thread. Please direct all subsequent arguments regarding it to the Creationism / Intelligent design thread.
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Old 2008-04-04, 19:17   Link #796
Anh_Minh
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
The Bible wasn't written in English, so the word "perfect" wasn't used, I can guarantee you that. What word was used? This is where the translation gets tricky. I'm telling you that it gets tricky because I've read over parts of the Bible and my father, who speaks Hebrew (it's his first language) remarked that there are multiple ways that some of those words could have been translated. The English version obviously chose one of them. It didn't just choose the word, it chose the phrasing. The example that my father remarked on had an extremely different meaning from what the English sentence was. It was discussing who the Jewish people were - something that's resulted in the death of people and much debate. I believe the English version makes it clear that Jews are Jews, period - one group of people, genetically sealed. If I remember this right the alternate way to translate it is that a true Jew is anyone who has God's virtues - they don't have to be converted, they don't have to be born to a Jewish mother, they don't even have to believe in God. Now, isn't that something amazing? And that's just a single example - who knows how many more exist.

When people think of the Bible, they think of the Christian Bible and they take it very literally. I think that's a mistake. The Bible is seen as the only religious text in Christianity, but I brought up the point that there are many religious texts in Judaism because those texts are often filled with interpretations by various rabbinical figures of what the biblical passages meant or represented.

So you see, your question about "were they wrong when they wrote that God was perfect" isn't something we can really answer. For one, we don't know that they wrote that God was perfect. It was translated that way, but was it translated to English during a time when Christianity was going on about how God was perfection? The second point is what I mentioned before - even if they wrote that God was perfect, is it so horrible that maybe they were wrong, or maybe that was their understanding at the time?
Hm. Makes it worse, somehow. If the purpose of religion is to know God, doesn't that mean it's failing rather badly?


Quote:
The purpose of asking for money, or whether money is even asked for or not, makes a great deal of difference.

Let's examine Scientology, for example. You need to pay huge sums of money for the teachings, and the organization (the Church of Scientology) is very, very rich. I would argue that their desire for money is to make a profit, rather than to simply keep the religion going.

What about Christianity during the middle ages? The belief at the time was that you essentially owed the Church money for your sins. The more you paid, the more you were saving yourself; the more wealth you'd have in Heaven. Once again, people were essentially being hassled for money. I'd think that the purpose was to make a profit, but that really depends on what the heads of the Church felt. In modern Christianity there is a donation box or an offering tray that is passed around during services - nobody claims that you'll go to Hell or won't be saved if you don't donate anymore, and the donations now seem to go more toward simply running the services.

What about the Buddhist monks? Even for claiming that the monks don't want anything and should live a simple life, there was a belief among the religious that the more you gave to a temple, the better off you'd be when you were reborn. Who created that concept? The monks lived modestly, but what if the creator of the religion had put that concept there so that people would feel that they had to enrich the lives of these humble monks with all sorts of material goods? As a result, the temples became very rich and lavish with donations - donations from people who felt that they had to make these donations in order for something good to happen to them.

Now turn this over to Judaism. For certain, temples occasionally ask for donations but of the temples I've been to (including one or two in Israel) I've never seen a donation box or plate passed around. Judaism's roots are arguably totally different, as it stems deeply into the culture as well. For this reason I'm incredibly skeptical of many of the other religions. I can appreciate your skepticism as well, but don't group all religions under such thinking just because Christianity does it. These days nobody really enters religion to make tons of money, or to really make money at all (except for the Scientologists and a few other cults) but the roots of why money was asked for are rather important, in my opinion. Christianity's reasons are the most damning, to be certain, but Buddhism's reason isn't much better. I would not be surprised to hear that Judaism has a negative aspect as well, but I do not know of it and as of now I'm confident in stating that any reasons to ask for money are relatively pure, as opposed to being socially manipulative.
Yeah, OK. Maybe some religions aren't that greedy. But money itself isn't what's important, though. I meant it more as "If you don't have any answers, why should we sacrifice - money, time, or even just lifestyle (maybe I like pork, and don't want to fast, ever.) - on the basis of your whims?"


Quote:
Well now, I agree with you on the idea that a religion claiming to know God perfectly is probably false. Do religions really make that claim, though? Christianity occasionally presents itself in such a way that it seems to know all of the answers, but I think that many of the clergy will admit that there are things we don't understand, writing in the Bible that are debated over, and varying ideas about the religious teachings. Judaism practically admits to it simply by the fact that there are so many documents mulling over what the events meant, what the writings signified.

I've always thought that most religions didn't claim to have all of the answers. Rather, they introduced God and God's teachings, and ideally you'd sort of take it from there. The problem is that many people don't take it from there. They hang on to the words of their local religious authority as if those words were coming from God Himself and don't give it a second thought. Just because those people do such a thing doesn't mean that it's the intent of the religion, though...
Yeah, but that doesn't tells us what's so great about those ancient texts. Never mind perfectly, why should we suppose they describe God at all? As opposed to, say, be their times' LotR?

Some Ancient tells us there's only one God, some other tells us there's whole pantheon of them... How do you chose, and why should either of them know what he was talking about?
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Old 2008-04-05, 00:30   Link #797
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
Hm. Makes it worse, somehow. If the purpose of religion is to know God, doesn't that mean it's failing rather badly?
If the purpose of religion is to introduce God, it's doing a fine job I think. I've stated before that I don't believe that religion expects to be able to explain God entirely, but if that were its true purpose, then I agree with you - it's doing a pretty poor job. But again, would you prefer to have no mention of God? A lot of warfare and persecution might have been avoided, but presuming that God really does exist, and God is somewhat like how the texts describe... wouldn't you want to know about it?

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I meant it more as "If you don't have any answers, why should we sacrifice - money, time, or even just lifestyle (maybe I like pork, and don't want to fast, ever.) - on the basis of your whims?"
There are a lot of ways I could answer that.

1) Assuming God does exist, you support these things because these are trying to teach God. If God is the creator of everything then God is almost like a parent to everything. You respect and obey your parents, don't you? (At least to a certain degree) So you respect and obey God. You do what God tells you, and you give money to support endeavors that support God here on Earth.

2) Whether God exists or not, nobody is really deserving of money. People spend money to support what's important to them. Why do we continue to fund cancer research even though many scientists have failed to find a cure? We want that cure, that's why. So you fund your religious centers to support the continued thought ("research" if you want to use the analogous term) of that flavor of religion.

Would you prefer that these religious centers completely close up shop because they don't have all the answers? That religion disappear from the world? Again, in some ways that might be nice, but if God really does exist then that'd be a rather frustrating outcome.

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Yeah, but that doesn't tells us what's so great about those ancient texts. Never mind perfectly, why should we suppose they describe God at all? As opposed to, say, be their times' LotR?
Anything is possible - maybe it is the LoTR of that time. I've heard of a lot of evidence cited that would show that the events detailed weren't fictional, but rather historical. God could have been a fictional addition, of course. I'm not ruling anything out.

The other reason why they're special is based on an assumption we have to make: that people back then weren't any more gullible than they are now (not that it means much; people are pretty darn gullible these days too), and the fact that the Bible has been passed on for generations means that there was something worthwhile in it. This leads to my next response:

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Some Ancient tells us there's only one God, some other tells us there's whole pantheon of them... How do you chose, and why should either of them know what he was talking about?
Let's compare Greek or Roman mythology with the Bible. I'd imagine that some people still believe in, say, the ancient Greek gods, but they must be an extremely slim minority. Why didn't the Bible drift away as well? It wasn't that Christianity edged out the Greek/Roman beliefs. If I remember correctly the beliefs in these entities were fading well before Christianity became popular, to the point where people viewed the Greek gods as stories more than anything.

I believe that Norse mythology had a similar fate, as did Egyptian religion, and there are likely others. As far as I know these beliefs weren't discarded in favor of others, they simply fell out of favor with the population. What kept the beliefs of the Bible going for so long? The reason could lend credibility to what's written in the Bible, depending on what you think.

How do you choose which religion to follow? Well, I don't know - I suppose that according to human psychology you go with what you feel would contribute more to making your life better. This part of the process isn't rational. We can't know which religion is right, or which one knows that they're talking about. Most people probably get the main idea, decide whether it makes sense to them or not, and then go with it. It's been said before and I think we all know it, but religion is faith-based for this reason.

I did have another thought to add as well. I ignored religions that were cast aside in favor of other religions (Christianity, mostly) but why is it that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - three religions that are derived from the same God - are the majority religions? Why is it that despite being so old and even competing with one another, these three have remained throughout time and even become the most widely practiced? Christianity aside, Judaism and Islam didn't really recruit aggressively to their faith, so we can't say that it was because they were just aggressive about getting into people's minds. There are a lot of potential reasons and I don't mean to say that this proves that their beliefs are real while all others are false (after all, Hinduism still exists as well), but it's yet another thing to consider.
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Old 2008-04-05, 02:45   Link #798
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
If the purpose of religion is to introduce God, it's doing a fine job I think. I've stated before that I don't believe that religion expects to be able to explain God entirely, but if that were its true purpose, then I agree with you - it's doing a pretty poor job. But again, would you prefer to have no mention of God? A lot of warfare and persecution might have been avoided, but presuming that God really does exist, and God is somewhat like how the texts describe... wouldn't you want to know about it?
But if all we can know for certain is that, according to texts, God exists, don't you think there's a lot of bloat to religious doctrines?

Is he nice, is he cruel, does he sometimes walk the Earth, does he listen to prayers? What are the limits of his powers, of his knowledge? As far as I see, we don't know and we can't know. Every pronouncement on it will be met with a "we're merely humans. We can't hope to understand. It needs to be interpreted carefully", lest it contradict what we know of the here and now.

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There are a lot of ways I could answer that.

1) Assuming God does exist, you support these things because these are trying to teach God. If God is the creator of everything then God is almost like a parent to everything. You respect and obey your parents, don't you? (At least to a certain degree) So you respect and obey God. You do what God tells you, and you give money to support endeavors that support God here on Earth.
Which brings us back to "Why should we think they know what they are talking about?" Maybe every time we worship him, we piss God off a little more. Who knows?

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2) Whether God exists or not, nobody is really deserving of money. People spend money to support what's important to them. Why do we continue to fund cancer research even though many scientists have failed to find a cure? We want that cure, that's why. So you fund your religious centers to support the continued thought ("research" if you want to use the analogous term) of that flavor of religion.
Research produces visible results, though. We understand cancer now better than we did 20 years ago. Do we understand God better now than we did 2000 years ago? We don't know, and we can't know.

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Would you prefer that these religious centers completely close up shop because they don't have all the answers? That religion disappear from the world? Again, in some ways that might be nice, but if God really does exist then that'd be a rather frustrating outcome.
Frustrating for whom? I don't advocate closing religious centers, as such. People can do what they want. I just don't see what they bring to the table in terms of knowing God. Only more uncheckable guesses.

Quote:
Anything is possible - maybe it is the LoTR of that time. I've heard of a lot of evidence cited that would show that the events detailed weren't fictional, but rather historical. God could have been a fictional addition, of course. I'm not ruling anything out.

The other reason why they're special is based on an assumption we have to make: that people back then weren't any more gullible than they are now (not that it means much; people are pretty darn gullible these days too), and the fact that the Bible has been passed on for generations means that there was something worthwhile in it. This leads to my next response:


Let's compare Greek or Roman mythology with the Bible. I'd imagine that some people still believe in, say, the ancient Greek gods, but they must be an extremely slim minority. Why didn't the Bible drift away as well? It wasn't that Christianity edged out the Greek/Roman beliefs. If I remember correctly the beliefs in these entities were fading well before Christianity became popular, to the point where people viewed the Greek gods as stories more than anything.

I believe that Norse mythology had a similar fate, as did Egyptian religion, and there are likely others. As far as I know these beliefs weren't discarded in favor of others, they simply fell out of favor with the population. What kept the beliefs of the Bible going for so long? The reason could lend credibility to what's written in the Bible, depending on what you think.

How do you choose which religion to follow? Well, I don't know - I suppose that according to human psychology you go with what you feel would contribute more to making your life better. This part of the process isn't rational. We can't know which religion is right, or which one knows that they're talking about. Most people probably get the main idea, decide whether it makes sense to them or not, and then go with it. It's been said before and I think we all know it, but religion is faith-based for this reason.

I did have another thought to add as well. I ignored religions that were cast aside in favor of other religions (Christianity, mostly) but why is it that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - three religions that are derived from the same God - are the majority religions? Why is it that despite being so old and even competing with one another, these three have remained throughout time and even become the most widely practiced? Christianity aside, Judaism and Islam didn't really recruit aggressively to their faith, so we can't say that it was because they were just aggressive about getting into people's minds. There are a lot of potential reasons and I don't mean to say that this proves that their beliefs are real while all others are false (after all, Hinduism still exists as well), but it's yet another thing to consider.
Well, I think religion used to be a good glue for society. And maybe we haven't outgrown it yet, either. So, no I wouldn't say it's completely worthless. And maybe some religions are better than others. Fulfill that part of us that craves for such things better, even if we must be irrational about it.

But in the knowing God department, if all we've got is faith, I don't see how the faith of one man, here and now, is worth less than the faith of thousands centuries ago.
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Old 2008-04-05, 03:59   Link #799
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Old 2008-04-05, 04:12   Link #800
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
But if all we can know for certain is that, according to texts, God exists, don't you think there's a lot of bloat to religious doctrines?

Is he nice, is he cruel, does he sometimes walk the Earth, does he listen to prayers? What are the limits of his powers, of his knowledge? As far as I see, we don't know and we can't know. Every pronouncement on it will be met with a "we're merely humans. We can't hope to understand. It needs to be interpreted carefully", lest it contradict what we know of the here and now.
I suppose that to say that there's bloat to religious doctrines could be a fair statement to make. Then again, a lot of what they wrote about is an attempt to explain God. Perhaps they couldn't sum up God in a few chapters, so what we have are human encounters with God, revelations, and concepts about what God wanted and what we should be doing.

Since I haven't read the Bible through I can't say for certain whether there's anything largely conclusive in there. There are decrees from God (such as 'you shall only worship me as the one true God/you shall not worship false idols') and those would seem to be rather conclusive, but it's always possible that people misunderstood God. We have no way of verifying it, that's true. The only reasoning we can use to say that it's probably true is to look over some of the activities that are detailed back then, when God was seemingly a bit more active in the world than He is now. People who went against what God wanted or said generally suffered. So we can presume that much of what made it into the Bible - at least, the "Old Testament" - is good enough for God.

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Research produces visible results, though. We understand cancer now better than we did 20 years ago. Do we understand God better now than we did 2000 years ago? We don't know, and we can't know.
Perhaps the point of religion is less about understanding God and more about acknowledging God's existence. That research produces viable results is irrelevant to this discussion, and to bring it up is to shift the focus to drawing a comparison between the usefulness of religion vs. science. That wasn't my intent.

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Frustrating for whom? I don't advocate closing religious centers, as such. People can do what they want. I just don't see what they bring to the table in terms of knowing God. Only more uncheckable guesses.
Frustrating to me, for one. It'd be as if we uncovered alien nanotechnology and knew that it worked, but spent a thousand years trying to figure out how to make it work and as a result people lost faith in the claims that this once did work and could do wonderful things, and thus they abandoned it completely. Religion can be a parasite to society in certain forms but overall it isn't a bad thing.

As for what religion brings to the table in terms of knowing God, it brings a unified concept of God. Although I am relatively open to the idea of what God is like, the major religions have largely made up their minds and have based it upon observations from the Bible. None of that will matter to you if you view the Bible as a simple story, of course, and this is where it gets tricky. It's also why I, as someone who doesn't take the Bible literally, do not buy into the views of mainstream religions. However I can appreciate their opinions, as they are populated with people who have dedicated their lives to the study of the Bible and other religious texts.

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Well, I think religion used to be a good glue for society. And maybe we haven't outgrown it yet, either. So, no I wouldn't say it's completely worthless. And maybe some religions are better than others. Fulfill that part of us that craves for such things better, even if we must be irrational about it.


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But in the knowing God department, if all we've got is faith, I don't see how the faith of one man, here and now, is worth less than the faith of thousands centuries ago.
In one sense (assuming God exists), it's worth more because the faith has to be stronger to overcome the skepticism that we have as a result of living in an age of information without any direct actions of God. In another sense (assuming God doesn't exist) it's worth less, because we're being suckered into beliefs that were passed on for generations and we're barely questioning them ("we" as in society - I think that most of us participating in this thread have and are questioning things rather thoroughly).
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