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Old 2009-09-19, 06:48   Link #1881
roriconfan
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Originally Posted by Siddyus View Post
Because of our so-called sin. Had Adam and Eve not committed any sin. Then everything would be perfect right now. Thats what I hear from most christians if I ask them the same question.
This is actually a misconception. By eating the fruit of good and evil, Adam and Eve realized the meaning of the terms selfishness and guilt. They were still capable of doing harm (or evil as it is childishly called) but up to that moment they were not aware of that. This is why the church says "ignorance is bliss". I don't agree with that. Better to know than to live in the dark of what your mistakes are. Because mistakes do tend to grow bigger if you neglect them and one day they come and bite you in the ass.
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Old 2009-09-19, 11:04   Link #1882
Kafriel
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Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
If I want a self-help book, I can get one. Why should I need religion for that?
Because it's free and easy to learn :P

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You're going to have to expand that point. Is there some correlation between, say, disinterest in religions and membership in Scientology?
Not caring about official religions doesn't mean you won't be attracted to cults of any kind, that is all.

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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.
It gave me holidays, and in Malaysia, people get privileges and free education based on their religion.
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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?
I am not so naive as to think that people innately know what's good and what's evil, and while saying someone's watching you isn't your kind of a satisfying answer, it is for kids. Distinguishing such vital things as early as possible is critical to people's character development.

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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.
Sports can be shunned away with no harm done, unfortunately the church has power that is hard to escape from.

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But teaching religions with the express purpose of having kids pick sides? Screw that.
Not picking any is also an option.
Well, this looks like the wrong thread for me, but before leaving it for the time I'll get to say this: religion is about having faith, meaning believing something even without proof., so arguing about it logically won't get us anywhere.
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Old 2009-09-19, 13:52   Link #1883
Anh_Minh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kafriel View Post
Because it's free and easy to learn :P
I have better things to do with my time than picking an imaginary friend.


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Not caring about official religions doesn't mean you won't be attracted to cults of any kind, that is all.
You tried to argue that disinterest in religion (not "official" religions, but religions as a whole) made one more vulnerable to bad cults. Again, do you have any argument supporting that?

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It gave me holidays,
Around here, holidays have more to do with "social progress" than religion.

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and in Malaysia, people get privileges and free education based on their religion.
That doesn't tell me I should have a religion. That tells me I shouldn't live in Malaysia.

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I am not so naive as to think that people innately know what's good and what's evil, and while saying someone's watching you isn't your kind of a satisfying answer, it is for kids. Distinguishing such vital things as early as possible is critical to people's character development.
"My parents told me I'd better not" is enough for most kids. If it isn't, try "I'll find out and punish you". If it still isn't enough, sorry. Your child is twisted and adding religion to the mix isn't going to make things better.

I'm not arguing kids should be free to make complex moral decisions. I'm saying religion is unnecessary to the process of teaching them right from wrong.

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Sports can be shunned away with no harm done, unfortunately the church has power that is hard to escape from.
Where you live, maybe. Here, I'll catch more flak for not watching soccer than I will for not going to church.

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Not picking any is also an option.
So is not thinking about it. At all.
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Old 2009-09-19, 13:55   Link #1884
justsomeguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kafriel View Post
It gave me holidays, and in Malaysia, people get privileges and free education based on their religion.
More holidays are always a plus. But can you expand on the Malaysian privileges and education? By that I mean, do different religious groups get different rights?

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I am not so naive as to think that people innately know what's good and what's evil, and while saying someone's watching you isn't your kind of a satisfying answer, it is for kids. Distinguishing such vital things as early as possible is critical to people's character development.
That's a bit too cynical. You do not believe that such feelings as sympathy and empathy (the roots of knowing right and wrong) are innate?

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Not picking any is also an option.
That's usually an overlooked choice.
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Old 2009-09-19, 14:27   Link #1885
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
And how is this different than what Richard Dawkins does?

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!"
I don't know anything about Richard Dawkins, nor was I arguing about him. You asked why people are called militant atheists at all, and I provided the technical definition so that you could see that it can be quite fitting.

I don't decry all atheists as militant. I'm annoyed by the religious preachers who take an in-your-face sort of attitude to things, and I'm equally annoyed by atheists who see fit to belittle others simply because they believe in religion. A double standard certainly exists among certain religious groups, though.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
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.
I do read your posts, thank you. I am taking things to a slight exaggeration in stating whether religion is the root cause of all conflict. However, you're missing my point - I do not acknowledge that there would be less conflict without religion. As I've tried to say repeatedly, religion is one possible aspect of group identification, one possible dividing factor, and it is among thousands of possible others. If it weren't religion, it would be something else.

I could equally turn around and say that without religion, there would have been more conflict. Some influential people have been quite influenced by religion, after all. Who are you to say that without religion, those people wouldn't have taken more violent tendencies? (Or course, who am I to say otherwise - I'm not attempting to argue here that religion has had a net benefit, but just that your statement is pure opinion, cannot be proven, and should not be pushed with the fervor that you are pushing it.)

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
"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.
Sports fans get into physical scuffles and brawls. That's violence and confrontation that, if left unchecked, could most certainly escalate to something greater.

Understand that all of these conflicts come from people identifying with a certain group, and then having that identity become a great part of their lives. Consider gang violence, for example - individuals begin to identify with their group (which can arise from ethnicity, street location, and other factors). Individuals from one group may insult another or feel insulted by another, and soon you have an escalation of violence. If left unchecked, you end up with very serious fighting between rival gangs that can lead to killings. If the on-going conflict and/or gang identity can become widespread enough, then the conflict escalates further.

Going back to the sports fans, are they enthusiastic enough about their identity to possibly go that far? I'd imagine so - I've seen people with the New York Yankees logo tattooed onto their neck. That says to me that they're a very zealous fan and consider it to be quite a big part of their identity. If a group of Yankees fans run into an altercation with a group of Red Sox fans, the sports no longer matter - it then becomes a matter of "your trible" (friendlies) against "the enemy," and if violence enters the confrontation at all, I have no doubt that the zealous would contribute to it.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
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.
In the context of what was being discussed, that doesn't matter. The point was brought up that the Chinese dynasty was able to remain and operate without a belief in God or some godly force, yet the mere existence of the mandate of heaven disproves that. If I remember correctly, you would be right in saying that later in Chinese history (but still during the dynasty period) the mandate of heaven was not taken quite so seriously. However, in order for the concept to have survived as it did, it must have been taken seriously at some point in the dynasty's time. If it were taken lightly the entire time, I have a hard time believing that the concept would have even been formed at all.

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Originally Posted by Siddyus View Post
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...
I don't think that religion claims to be perfect - perhaps some out there do, but none that I can think of. Rather, humans themselves tend to strive for perfection. Many religions teach that perfection is unobtainable, that we will always have flaws to correct, and that we should strive to correct those flaws in the effort to attain perfection (which, again, is unobtainable in this life).

As to misinterpreting doctrines and using doctrines to an individual's advantage, the same could be said for any law. If you're a minimalist when it comes to laws, then I can respect what you're saying: religion imposes just one more set of laws to possibly be twisted and warped. Yet even so, I fail to see why you're singling out religion itself, rather than laws within society.

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Originally Posted by Siddyus View Post
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.
Conquest wars, hmm? Please explain the genocide in Sudan, the Armenian Massacre, and the Holocaust to me, then. Do not be confused by the fact that certain religious groups may have been targeted in some of those examples - the killings in those examples were not religiously motivated, yet their scale puts many religiously-based slaughters to shame. There are more examples like those throughout history, too.

Again, my point is not to say that religion has not been responsible for bad things. It has and currently is. Yet what I'm reading in some of these posts is that things would be oh-so-much-better if religion didn't exist. It seems as though you're ignoring the terrible things that people have been capable of even without religion.

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Originally Posted by Siddyus View Post
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.
I'm not arguing that religion is responsible for our morals, and I'm not sure that I've seen anyone else arguing that, either. It's a point that I'd have to think on. Yet you're also giving our "evolved brain" a bit too much credit, I think. If you haven't noticed, we've been trying to be civilized for a few thousand years now. Our evolved brain allows us to form groups ("super organisms"), which makes success for the individuals within the "super organism" much more likely than were they to fend for themselves.

That's all that there is to it. We form linkages based on traits of commonalities. We are very good at determining common ground and finding divisions. There are examples of this throughout history and in the present day: the Native Americans organized into tribes and occasionally fought with other tribes over territory, yet united when confronted by the European settlers (who were much more different by comparison); in the present day, Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, will threaten and insult each other to no end, yet when confronted with a greater different (say, the Russians or Chinese), we are all united as Americans.

As I've said before, religion is nothing more than another identifier, another hook within which to join a group or form a division. Religion is one among thousands, perhaps millions of such possible divisions. People would form these divisions whether religion existed or not.

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Originally Posted by Siddyus View Post
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
Heh, couldn't you replace "religion" with practically anything and have it be a valid opinion? Well, we're all entitled to our opinions, after all...

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Originally Posted by Cipher View Post
I'm confused, so can everybody kindly answer this question: Can supernatural beings' existence be logically disproved? If so, how?
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Old 2009-09-19, 14:35   Link #1886
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Actually people do know innately what is good and evil in a fundamental sense - it depends on their ability to empathize. Socialization improves empathy. Communal bonds improve empathy and altruism (also innate). It doesn't require religion as a basis. Originally, the gods were simply something to be appeased or honored so the crops would work or the hunt would go well. They weren't involved with "good" or "evil".
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Old 2009-09-19, 15:15   Link #1887
NettoSaito
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Originally Posted by Manifold View Post
I am a Christian. In the sense that I have accepted Christ as my saviour and my Lord, and that I have asked Christ to forgive my (Original) sin(s) and enter my life.
Finally! When I started reading this topic I got scared.

I am christian. I believe in God and I believe that Jesus died on the cross to forgive me of my sins.
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Old 2009-09-19, 15:40   Link #1888
justsomeguy
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
I don't know anything about Richard Dawkins, nor was I arguing about him. You asked why people are called militant atheists at all, and I provided the technical definition so that you could see that it can be quite fitting.

I don't decry all atheists as militant. I'm annoyed by the religious preachers who take an in-your-face sort of attitude to things, and I'm equally annoyed by atheists who see fit to belittle others simply because they believe in religion. A double standard certainly exists among certain religious groups, though.
I know what the definition is, thank you very much. But once again, I have yet to seen actual examples of "militant atheists," while I see preachers on the streets.

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I could equally turn around and say that without religion, there would have been more conflict. Some influential people have been quite influenced by religion, after all. Who are you to say that without religion, those people wouldn't have taken more violent tendencies?
Or maybe they were simply good people at heart, and mistakenly attribute that to religion. As for violent tendencies, religion doesn't suppress that; those with violent tendencies "find God" after they have already been imprisoned for their crimes.

Quote:
Understand that all of these conflicts come from people identifying with a certain group, and then having that identity become a great part of their lives. Consider gang violence, for example - individuals begin to identify with their group (which can arise from ethnicity, street location, and other factors). Individuals from one group may insult another or feel insulted by another, and soon you have an escalation of violence. If left unchecked, you end up with very serious fighting between rival gangs that can lead to killings. If the on-going conflict and/or gang identity can become widespread enough, then the conflict escalates further.
And yet nobody identifies with the largest group there is: humanity itself. There's only a limited number of possible differences among groups of people, and without religion, one source of difference is gone.

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In the context of what was being discussed, that doesn't matter. The point was brought up that the Chinese dynasty was able to remain and operate without a belief in God or some godly force, yet the mere existence of the mandate of heaven disproves that. If I remember correctly, you would be right in saying that later in Chinese history (but still during the dynasty period) the mandate of heaven was not taken quite so seriously. However, in order for the concept to have survived as it did, it must have been taken seriously at some point in the dynasty's time. If it were taken lightly the entire time, I have a hard time believing that the concept would have even been formed at all.
No, I mean that a dynasty has the "Mandate of Heaven" only because they already have the support of the people or army. In other words, the gods give support only to those who already have it. I would also like to point out that Chinese religion is much more casual and much less structured than the monotheistic religions.

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I don't think that religion claims to be perfect - perhaps some out there do, but none that I can think of.
Actually the doctrine of "Papal Infallibility" states that the Pope is always right - in other words, Catholicism is perfect because its leader is never wrong.

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As to misinterpreting doctrines and using doctrines to an individual's advantage, the same could be said for any law. If you're a minimalist when it comes to laws, then I can respect what you're saying: religion imposes just one more set of laws to possibly be twisted and warped. Yet even so, I fail to see why you're singling out religion itself, rather than laws within society.
As I've said, because laws passed by humans can be changed, and the writers of bad laws can be held accountable, while religion, "God's laws," are seen as immutable.

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Conquest wars, hmm? Please explain the genocide in Sudan, the Armenian Massacre, and the Holocaust to me, then. Do not be confused by the fact that certain religious groups may have been targeted in some of those examples - the killings in those examples were not religiously motivated, yet their scale puts many religiously-based slaughters to shame. There are more examples like those throughout history, too.
My intention is not to blame the victim, but I would like to point out that the Holocaust was religiously motivated, and that if religion did not exist Jews would not have been singled out as a group, though the homosexuals, socialists, etc. would still end up in the camps.

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Again, my point is not to say that religion has not been responsible for bad things. It has and currently is. Yet what I'm reading in some of these posts is that things would be oh-so-much-better if religion didn't exist. It seems as though you're ignoring the terrible things that people have been capable of even without religion.
You're contradicting yourself. You admit that religion is responsible for some bad things, yet you do not believe that those specific bad things will disappear without religion?

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As I've said before, religion is nothing more than another identifier, another hook within which to join a group or form a division. Religion is one among thousands, perhaps millions of such possible divisions. People would form these divisions whether religion existed or not.
People will form more divisions with religion.
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Old 2009-09-19, 16:49   Link #1889
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Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
This is actually a misconception. By eating the fruit of good and evil, Adam and Eve realized the meaning of the terms selfishness and guilt. They were still capable of doing harm (or evil as it is childishly called) but up to that moment they were not aware of that. This is why the church says "ignorance is bliss". I don't agree with that. Better to know than to live in the dark of what your mistakes are. Because mistakes do tend to grow bigger if you neglect them and one day they come and bite you in the ass.
That's exactly why I've always believed christianity and several other religions to be acting as a blindfold to hide the truth from you. The Church calls it protection from the evil. I call it deprivation. People were given brains to think for themselves, they were given legs so they could walk on their own. As people, we should learn to judge things by our own values as well as other's rather than be completely reliant on nothing but faith.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
And yet nobody identifies with the largest group there is: humanity itself. There's only a limited number of possible differences among groups of people, and without religion, one source of difference is gone.
Tell that to black slaves that were shipped all around the world to be used as forced labor. Despite the fact they are also humans, they were discriminated because of their skin color, regardless of what their religion was. Many of these black people believe in God as any other white person, yet they were still subject to discrimination. Differences can be made within people without using religion as a basis for determining that difference.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
Actually the doctrine of "Papal Infallibility" states that the Pope is always right - in other words, Catholicism is perfect because its leader is never wrong.
To add to that, I have not known a single Muslim who didn't say the Quran isn't perfect. That's just one example. Religions tend to be built around the pretext that the word of God cannot be questioned due to his perfection.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
People will form more divisions with religion.
And they can do just the same without. Religion isn't always the motive for conflict, and if we existed in a world without religion, humans would've found other ways to preach morals, to let others know what they believe is right and wrong. Such beliefs would've ultimately created groups of people who differentiate due to contrasting opinions and could have also potentially led to conflict.
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Old 2009-09-19, 17:39   Link #1890
Anh_Minh
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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
And yet nobody identifies with the largest group there is: humanity itself. There's only a limited number of possible differences among groups of people, and without religion, one source of difference is gone.
Maybe when aliens come.


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Actually the doctrine of "Papal Infallibility" states that the Pope is always right - in other words, Catholicism is perfect because its leader is never wrong.
No, it doesn't.
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Old 2009-09-19, 18:10   Link #1891
Proto
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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
You're contradicting yourself. You admit that religion is responsible for some bad things, yet you do not believe that those specific bad things will disappear without religion?


People will form more divisions with religion.
The issue here is that religion is just a symptom and not the real problem here. Take religion out and humanity will find another excuses or just recreate it all over again. The issue here is that we are an imperfect gregarious species, religion is just a consequence of that (and of other issues), since in its origin religion often became a synonym for social and racial identity. (which is where the conflict actually originated from).
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Old 2009-09-19, 18:31   Link #1892
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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
I know what the definition is, thank you very much. But once again, I have yet to seen actual examples of "militant atheists," while I see preachers on the streets.
Now we're arguing over experience, which is absolutely pointless. You seem to be very logical, so I'm sure you'd agree that just because you haven't seen any, it doesn't mean that they don't exist. This whole discussion over the terming of "militant atheists" is running nowhere.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
Or maybe they were simply good people at heart, and mistakenly attribute that to religion.
Sure, maybe. I'm not the one claiming that religion is concretely responsible for for anything, whether good or bad. It seems to me that many of the blame placed on religion is pretty unfounded in many of the posts here, however. I don't think one can rule out that religion may have been responsible for some good things, as well.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
As for violent tendencies, religion doesn't suppress that; those with violent tendencies "find God" after they have already been imprisoned for their crimes.
Silly statement, logical fallacy - not all people who commit crimes or end up in prison "find God." Plenty of devout commit no crimes in their lives.

Those who commit crimes and "find God" while in prison may do so because they want to appeal to people and show that they've changed and deserve forgiveness; it could be that they were converted while in prison by those charitable, religion-backed groups that I mentioned to you a few posts ago.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
And yet nobody identifies with the largest group there is: humanity itself. There's only a limited number of possible differences among groups of people, and without religion, one source of difference is gone.
I brought up the examples of division between Native American tribes uniting against European settlers to show that people will ignore smaller differences when greater differences are presented to them. As Anh Minh has mentioned, if and when a non-human race of equal or greater ability than us presents itself, then you may see a bonding among humans for simply being humans. As of now, humanity is taken for granted, just as skin color may have been taken for granted in skin pigment-homogenous societies.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
No, I mean that a dynasty has the "Mandate of Heaven" only because they already have the support of the people or army. In other words, the gods give support only to those who already have it. I would also like to point out that Chinese religion is much more casual and much less structured than the monotheistic religions.
I don't care to argue where Heaven's favor is derived from, the point is that the dynasty's power was backed by a belief that there were greater forces at work. Compare that to our current government, where nobody (except, perhaps, for the overly religious) believes that the government is backed by God, gods, spirits, Heaven, or anything in any form.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
Actually the doctrine of "Papal Infallibility" states that the Pope is always right - in other words, Catholicism is perfect because its leader is never wrong.
Anh Minh addressed this, but I also wanted to clarify that while you're choosing to pick bones with Christianity (or perhaps just Catholicism), I'm talking about religion as a whole. I do not believe that the majority of religions, at least, claim perfection.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
As I've said, because laws passed by humans can be changed, and the writers of bad laws can be held accountable, while religion, "God's laws," are seen as immutable.
God's laws can be interpreted in many different ways, and the men who interpret those laws can be held accountable for their interpretations. There is no difference.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
My intention is not to blame the victim, but I would like to point out that the Holocaust was religiously motivated, and that if religion did not exist Jews would not have been singled out as a group, though the homosexuals, socialists, etc. would still end up in the camps.
What was the religious motivation behind the Holocaust? And be careful when you're discussing the Jews - Jewish identity is both cultural and religious, and it is possible to have the cultural identity without the religious identity.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
You're contradicting yourself. You admit that religion is responsible for some bad things, yet you do not believe that those specific bad things will disappear without religion?
Now you want to get into specifics? Yes, if religion disappeared, some conflicts tied specifically to religion would also disappear. What I am disagreeing with is the idea that conflict as a whole would decrease without religion (I recognize that nobody is saying that conflict would disappear entirely, but people seem to be claiming that there would be less conflict than there currently is without religion). There would likely be just as much conflict even without religion around.

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Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
People will form more divisions with religion.
That's like saying that the desert would be far less desert-like if we removed one grain of sand. Religion provides one aspect of division among many, many, many others. I will not argue against the idea that religion is a point of division - I've said that point myself. I do not believe that humanity would be much more unified without the dividing factor of religion.

Nobody can explicitly prove or disprove that point, yet if you examine cultural and historical examples you will often find that conflict (even on a grand scale) occurred in places where religion did not take hold or reach. That is also the basis of my opinion. If you can think of any examples that would prove otherwise, I'd be very interested in hearing them. Otherwise, I recognize your opinion, and clearly I think you are wrong. We can agree to disagree on this.
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Old 2009-09-19, 19:08   Link #1893
Slice of Life
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Now we're arguing over experience, which is absolutely pointless. You seem to be very logical, so I'm sure you'd agree that just because you haven't seen any, it doesn't mean that they don't exist. This whole discussion over the terming of "militant atheists" is running nowhere.
It seems to me that the problem between the two of you is that you argue theoretically what justsomeguy in turn interprets as an attempt to downplay a situation in the real world that isn't quite as symmetric as your pure logic. It's a bit like saying "Yeah, OK, but women who beat their husband to death are bad too." at a crime scene. Which is certain true - but not exactly the typical case.
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Old 2009-09-19, 19:28   Link #1894
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
Now we're arguing over experience, which is absolutely pointless. You seem to be very logical, so I'm sure you'd agree that just because you haven't seen any, it doesn't mean that they don't exist. This whole discussion over the terming of "militant atheists" is running nowhere.
I have not seen people give any example of militant atheism. Dig up a news story of this, and we'll talk.

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Silly statement, logical fallacy - not all people who commit crimes or end up in prison "find God." Plenty of devout commit no crimes in their lives.
You misunderstand me. I was referring to the many people with violent tendencies first, who end up in prison and find God second, not the other way around.

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Those who commit crimes and "find God" while in prison may do so because they want to appeal to people and show that they've changed and deserve forgiveness; it could be that they were converted while in prison by those charitable, religion-backed groups that I mentioned to you a few posts ago.
Sure, I'll take that. But too bad the religious groups do not intervene before a person with violent tendencies acts, or maybe they did and it was completely ineffective. How do we know that the reform occurs due to finding God, and not the imprisonment itself?

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I brought up the examples of division between Native American tribes uniting against European settlers to show that people will ignore smaller differences when greater differences are presented to them. As Anh Minh has mentioned, if and when a non-human race of equal or greater ability than us presents itself, then you may see a bonding among humans for simply being humans. As of now, humanity is taken for granted, just as skin color may have been taken for granted in skin pigment-homogenous societies.
So in your belief, religion is a "small" difference, and not a "great" one?

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I don't care to argue where Heaven's favor is derived from, the point is that the dynasty's power was backed by a belief that there were greater forces at work. Compare that to our current government, where nobody (except, perhaps, for the overly religious) believes that the government is backed by God, gods, spirits, Heaven, or anything in any form.
The "Under God" seems to imply that the US does indeed have divine favor, and some people believe this. As for China, while people might have believed that "greater forces" were at work, religious belief was not the force holding the country together.

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Anh Minh addressed this, but I also wanted to clarify that while you're choosing to pick bones with Christianity (or perhaps just Catholicism), I'm talking about religion as a whole. I do not believe that the majority of religions, at least, claim perfection.
If the Pope cannot be mistaken when he declares the Church's dogma, that does imply that the Church's teachings are perfect. And any religion that claims devout followers can enter Heaven is declaring that the worshipers have a higher quality than others, else any random guy can go to Heaven.

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God's laws can be interpreted in many different ways, and the men who interpret those laws can be held accountable for their interpretations. There is no difference.
How so? Those who dissent too much or have too creative interpretations are kicked out, the laws themselves are seen as done deals, because they are supposedly declared by God himself. The writers of human laws can be held accountable, but God himself cannot.

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What was the religious motivation behind the Holocaust? And be careful when you're discussing the Jews - Jewish identity is both cultural and religious, and it is possible to have the cultural identity without the religious identity.
Isn't religion the reason why Jews have a separate cultural identity? Or were they originally a completely different tribe than other Middle Easterners? As for the religious motivation, I would say that anti-semitism was actively encouraged in the past by Christianity ("the Jews killed Jesus!"), and that this discrimination was learned and used by the Nazis.

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Now you want to get into specifics? Yes, if religion disappeared, some conflicts tied specifically to religion would also disappear. What I am disagreeing with is the idea that conflict as a whole would decrease without religion (I recognize that nobody is saying that conflict would disappear entirely, but people seem to be claiming that there would be less conflict than there currently is without religion). There would likely be just as much conflict even without religion around.
Since you say some conflicts would disappear, the only logical conclusion is that the total amount of conflict will also decrease, even if only a little bit (assuming that religion never existed in the first place so that anger from the conflicts would not exist). A tiny 1% drop is still a decrease, though I think it would be slightly higher than that. My arguments are based on the idea if religion never existed, not if religion suddenly disappeared today.

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That's like saying that the desert would be far less desert-like if we removed one grain of sand. Religion provides one aspect of division among many, many, many others. I will not argue against the idea that religion is a point of division - I've said that point myself. I do not believe that humanity would be much more unified without the dividing factor of religion.

Nobody can explicitly prove or disprove that point, yet if you examine cultural and historical examples you will often find that conflict (even on a grand scale) occurred in places where religion did not take hold or reach. That is also the basis of my opinion. If you can think of any examples that would prove otherwise, I'd be very interested in hearing them. Otherwise, I recognize your opinion, and clearly I think you are wrong. We can agree to disagree on this.
I am sick of arguing this, because I think you are greatly overestimating my statements about religious conflict. I never did say that the decrease in conflict would be substantial outside of the Crusades, witch hunts, Inquisition, and discrimination against certain groups. As for the desert, if you define the desert solely by the amount of sand it contains, then yes removing one grain would reduce its trait by a small amount.
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Old 2009-09-19, 19:33   Link #1895
justsomeguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
It seems to me that the problem between the two of you is that you argue theoretically what justsomeguy in turn interprets as an attempt to downplay a situation in the real world that isn't quite as symmetric as your pure logic. It's a bit like saying "Yeah, OK, but women who beat their husband to death are bad too." at a crime scene. Which is certain true - but not exactly the typical case.
That seems to be the case. I have no doubt that in a completely atheist-dominated world, those who believe in a creator supreme being would be subject to discrimination. But in the real world, by far it is religious groups discriminating against atheists (even to the point of execution in certain nations), and calling atheists who express their beliefs "militant" is a case of projection and victim-blaming. That was my whole argument from the start, but somehow it escalated into the religious conflict angle.
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Old 2009-09-19, 20:15   Link #1896
Anh_Minh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justsomeguy View Post
If the Pope cannot be mistaken when he declares the Church's dogma, that does imply that the Church's teachings are perfect.
The Pope can be wrong, even about dogma. To be infallible, he has to declare himself so. Which he doesn't do for every little thing.

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How so? Those who dissent too much or have too creative interpretations are kicked out, the laws themselves are seen as done deals, because they are supposedly declared by God himself. The writers of human laws can be held accountable, but God himself cannot.
Those who dissent too much about human laws are called criminals and sent to prison. Divine laws are conveniently ignored when human laws demand it. Just look at wars. Whatever happened to "You shall not kill"?


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Since you say some conflicts would disappear, the only logical conclusion is that the total amount of conflict will also decrease, even if only a little bit (assuming that religion never existed in the first place so that anger from the conflicts would not exist).
Or that the other existing separations would pick up the slack. Or that some new divisions would appear. Who knows?
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Old 2009-09-19, 21:25   Link #1897
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
It seems to me that the problem between the two of you is that you argue theoretically what justsomeguy in turn interprets as an attempt to downplay a situation in the real world that isn't quite as symmetric as your pure logic. It's a bit like saying "Yeah, OK, but women who beat their husband to death are bad too." at a crime scene. Which is certain true - but not exactly the typical case.
It's possible - I may be misinterpreting him. I see him making attacks on religion and making claims that we'd be better off without it in general, without citing specific cases or examples. I respond in the general manner as a result. Perhaps he has some specifics in mind while he writes that are not apparent to me. I don't believe that I'm arguing in pure theory, either. I haven't cited all of the examples I think of, but I have them and just wait for when I can lay the cards on the table in a "final strike" (which also prolongs the argument, but aren't most of us doing this for fun anyway?)

Once again, I'm just very bothered by the thought that someone could reach the conclusion that many conflicts and ills are caused by religion. It is my opinion that religion, as a driving force, is responsible for very little. It has been utilized as a basis for conflict, for certain, but so have many other dividing factors among humans. If it weren't religion, it would have been something else. I'd appreciate hearing confirmation of that, because it would indicate to me that people aren't villifying religion due to a silly expectation that seems to totally ignore social tendencies to uncover divisions.

justsomeguy, I feel that many of your responses to me are ignoring your original statements and points while forming new arguments to my responses to those previous points. Whether this is a debate tactic of yours, whether you're really not attached to your earlier remarks, or whether I'm misunderstanding you, I don't know. Regardless, I'll pass on replying to your responses to me, except for one point:

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Isn't religion the reason why Jews have a separate cultural identity? Or were they originally a completely different tribe than other Middle Easterners? As for the religious motivation, I would say that anti-semitism was actively encouraged in the past by Christianity ("the Jews killed Jesus!"), and that this discrimination was learned and used by the Nazis.
I will profess that I don't know the exact origin of the Jewish culture. Whether it started with the religion, or whether the religion solidified it, I can't say.

The discrimination against the Jews was far more complicated than people thinking that Jews killed Jesus and therefore they must be evil. The Jews were a very cohesive group of people and did not assimilate into their "host societies" in the manner that many other social groups throughout history have (Mongol invaders to China; various immigrant groups to America; and so on). They also tended to be very economically successful, in a time when the common person was rather poor. That made it very easy to envy and despise them (envy from those of lower socioeconomic status directed to those of higher socioeconomic status isn't anything new and continues to this day, as well). There was further suspicion because their culture was different, their appearance tended to be different (Jews were called "blacks" because they had dark features, whereas in certain parts of Europe, blond hair and blue eyes were the norm; the "distinctive Jewish look" was partly also due to the poor social mingling along with some social ostracizing that certain societies engaged in, which caused the Jews to develop a distinct gene pool). Yes, their religion was different, as well, but the point that I hope I am getting across is that there were many, many differences that people had to go off of to see the Jews as outsiders and not like them.

There was a long history of general dislike against the Jews. I've never heard of it as being attributed to Christianity in any of my Jewish history classes, but who knows - maybe I missed that bit. Regardless, all of the differences that I mentioned above, their economic success (and the envy of the common people that came with it), and the general history of dislike against them made them a very ripe target for the Nazis to pick. The Nazis did not make the call against the Jews a religious one. I've actually never heard of the Nazis making mention of Christ's killing, either - if you have a source that says differently, I'd be interested in reading it. Otherwise, the Holocaust was not religiously motivated in the least. Neither were the genocides that I mentioned before (Sudanese genocide, Armenian Massacre... while we're at it I'll add some new ones: the genocide in Kosovo and the genocide against the Iraqi Kurdish population). It's a fact that we have to live with. Yet if we're aware of it, perhaps we can do more to prevent such things from happening in the future.
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Old 2009-09-19, 21:26   Link #1898
justsomeguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anh_Minh View Post
The Pope can be wrong, even about dogma. To be infallible, he has to declare himself so. Which he doesn't do for every little thing.
I'll concede that, since I was under the misconception that everything he said was taken to be correct.

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Those who dissent too much about human laws are called criminals and sent to prison. Divine laws are conveniently ignored when human laws demand it. Just look at wars. Whatever happened to "You shall not kill"?
Which is why my argument was that divine laws were unnecessary as a whole. For the accountability issue I'm referring to discrimination against other beliefs, atheism, and homosexuality. There are many regions where divine law is used as the basis for secular law.

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Or that the other existing separations would pick up the slack. Or that some new divisions would appear. Who knows?
Hypothetical new divisions do not negate the real divisions caused by religion.
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Old 2009-09-19, 21:56   Link #1899
justsomeguy
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
It's possible - I may be misinterpreting him. I see him making attacks on religion and making claims that we'd be better off without it in general, without citing specific cases or examples. I respond in the general manner as a result. Perhaps he has some specifics in mind while he writes that are not apparent to me. I don't believe that I'm arguing in pure theory, either. I haven't cited all of the examples I think of, but I have them and just wait for when I can lay the cards on the table in a "final strike" (which also prolongs the argument, but aren't most of us doing this for fun anyway?)
My original post in this thread was simply pointing out the double standard used against atheist for the word "militant," and not a wholesale condemnation of religion, which I was hoping that the discussion would not slide into. If you have aces up your sleeve, be honest and present them now so we're not arguing in circles.

Quote:
Once again, I'm just very bothered by the thought that someone could reach the conclusion that many conflicts and ills are caused by religion. It is my opinion that religion, as a driving force, is responsible for very little. It has been utilized as a basis for conflict, for certain, but so have many other dividing factors among humans. If it weren't religion, it would have been something else. I'd appreciate hearing confirmation of that, because it would indicate to me that people aren't villifying religion due to a silly expectation that seems to totally ignore social tendencies to uncover divisions.
Just how much religion influenced the actions of historical figures, and how much was merely cynical use of religion as an excuse, is always up for debate. You may believe that it is only a minor basis for conflict among many others, but I believe that it is one of the major methods for manipulating the populace and making excuses for contemptuous actions.

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justsomeguy, I feel that many of your responses to me are ignoring your original statements and points while forming new arguments to my responses to those previous points. Whether this is a debate tactic of yours, whether you're really not attached to your earlier remarks, or whether I'm misunderstanding you, I don't know. Regardless, I'll pass on replying to your responses to me, except for one point:
I'm not attached to this debate at all. Ever since my first post, this has turned into an argument over the definition of "militant," hypothetical conjectures that atheists confront religious people and treat them poorly (still no actual examples!), and examples of actual harm vs hypothetical benefits of religion not existing. If I have contradicted myself anywhere, please quote the offending statements and let me clarify myself. Anyway, if you do admit that religion causes conflict, then our only disagreement is a matter of how much.

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I will profess that I don't know the exact origin of the Jewish culture. Whether it started with the religion, or whether the religion solidified it, I can't say.
That is the main question I have. Note also that it's not just their religion that solidified their culture, but also discrimination from other groups.

Quote:
The discrimination against the Jews was far more complicated than people thinking that Jews killed Jesus and therefore they must be evil. The Jews were a very cohesive group of people and did not assimilate into their "host societies" in the manner that many other social groups throughout history have (Mongol invaders to China; various immigrant groups to America; and so on). They also tended to be very economically successful, in a time when the common person was rather poor. That made it very easy to envy and despise them (envy from those of lower socioeconomic status directed to those of higher socioeconomic status isn't anything new and continues to this day, as well). There was further suspicion because their culture was different, their appearance tended to be different (Jews were called "blacks" because they had dark features, whereas in certain parts of Europe, blond hair and blue eyes were the norm; the "distinctive Jewish look" was partly also due to the poor social mingling along with some social ostracizing that certain societies engaged in, which caused the Jews to develop a distinct gene pool). Yes, their religion was different, as well, but the point that I hope I am getting across is that there were many, many differences that people had to go off of to see the Jews as outsiders and not like them.
Besides their faith and related practices, the only differences that I know of are Middle Eastern appearance and the hook nose. Ironically, their economic success arose from the fact that they were forbidden to own land by the Christian dominance in Europe, and took up business instead.

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There was a long history of general dislike against the Jews. I've never heard of it as being attributed to Christianity in any of my Jewish history classes, but who knows - maybe I missed that bit. Regardless, all of the differences that I mentioned above, their economic success (and the envy of the common people that came with it), and the general history of dislike against them made them a very ripe target for the Nazis to pick. The Nazis did not make the call against the Jews a religious one. I've actually never heard of the Nazis making mention of Christ's killing, either - if you have a source that says differently, I'd be interested in reading it. Otherwise, the Holocaust was not religiously motivated in the least. Neither were the genocides that I mentioned before (Sudanese genocide, Armenian Massacre... while we're at it I'll add some new ones: the genocide in Kosovo and the genocide against the Iraqi Kurdish population). It's a fact that we have to live with. Yet if we're aware of it, perhaps we can do more to prevent such things from happening in the future.
Anti-semitism might not have originated with Christianity, however Christianity continued it, despite Judaism being its parent religion. My argument is that this is why Christians certainly deserve some of the blame. As for Hitler himself, he certainly held religious views against Jews: "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord," from Mein Kampf. In this and other works, he often references God and refers to himself as a Christian. I will not say that he was acting for the Church, but he was certainly influenced by it. Even crazy people get their beliefs from somewhere.

I vaguely remember some source stating that the Jews actually were integrating well into German society (how else will their businesses prosper?) before Naziism, but I cannot confirm that.
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Old 2009-09-19, 22:29   Link #1900
Vexx
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Ahem... the Jewish tribe was once simply one of many in what we now call the Middle East. Most of the tribes fought over resources even then. If you read the mythologic histories of other tribes we can find, they sound just as silly as some of the Old Testament about how wonderful their gods were and how terrible everyone else was.
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