Russell's teapot

Obligatory Dawkins link:

If you haven’t read this, it’s good.  Better yet, grab the audiobook and listen to it on a cross-Canada drive :wink:

The Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit is a nice argument:

Great and important question.  There is a lot of truth to your observation.  One of the main reasons religious people are happier (or at least appear happier) is that they have a greater sense of meaning in their life.  I’m speaking in general terms.  They often also have a greater sense of thankfulness or greatfulness for what they have in life.  Happiness is a very interesting topic.  Anyone seriously interested in this topic should research possitive psychology and in particular check out Tal Ben-Shahar.  (His claim to fame is having taught the largest class in the history of Harvard, which happened to be a class on happiness.)  Good stuff.

  Problem is that many people are force fed it, and they are the complete innocent, the christian’s children. I dont care how good their intentions are, a child under the age of ten should not have pictures of a lake of fire full of sinners burning and screaming, and it goes on forever and ever they are told, so you better be good. Nice pictures for a child to have their imagination cooking up for them as they lay in bed at night yeah? It paints a picture of the world in a very specific way, and they will carry those thoughts and ideas with them for the rest of their lives, even if they dont believe it as an adult.
       It is for that reason we are careful what we let our kids learn, what television programs they watch, what type of friends they have, all that shit. We know at that age it shapes part of who they are and become, it is the most impressionable state they will ever be in and the christians capitalize on that, they take full advantage of their vunerability, also known as trust to scare them into it, without the fear of hell you cant hook them, this comming from their mother and/or father they dont have a chance at having a choice, its been made for them.
   My parents raised me as christian and I heard all that shit right up till I was about twelve, they then gave up as I was a hopeless sinner who’s future is in hell, because even at twelve I just couldnt believe all the stories, they are just too far fetched, and no matter how hard I prayed there was nothing there, I suspected nobody else is hearing him either, they are all lying and its all bullshit. I am supposed to believe  there is a jealous, petty, cruel invisible man up in the sky, he made everything including me so he gets to make all the rules cause this is all his stuff, and he is watching to see if you break his rules, if you dont say your sorry and claim him as the ruler of the universe he will hand you over to satan and its off to the lake of fire for ever and ever, and if you disobey mom or dad that’s a sin, and remember what happens to sinners. George Carlin said it best, “its the biggest bullshit story that has ever been told”.
     I am amazed that what are supposed to be intelligent educated adults can believe such rediculas bullshit without any real hard evidence, if you look its not there. I wonder how many christians have heard of horus, born three thousand years before jesus, on dec. 25, from a virgin, three kings see a star in the east and find him, he is teacher at age twelve, baptised at thirty, he performs miracles and healings and has twelve disciples. They follow him untill he is betrayed by one of them and then crucified, he then is buried for three days at which point he is resurrected. Gee where have I heard this story before, wait a minute, horus lived thirty centuries before christ, yet the christians think the bible is a true story of actual events, if they are they were not their jesus’s experiences, the bible’s author’s ripped the story off from horus and who knows where he got it, its still unbelievable. Dont try to tell me just cause its not in schools its all free choice, I would bet the lion’s share of adults in church were indoctrinated as children, they in turn do the same, where is the choice in that? Having a brainwashed in childhood individual make the choice one has to wonder how much free will they were allowed to develop to make the choice, they say they choose when in actuallity it just always was, they always knew it. That isnt choice, its conditioned slavery, anyone else does it they call them cults, go figure. My experience has been the christians wont even listen to the historical facts, they have years invested in the bullshit they arnt about to throw away their investment so they cling to the lie, and why not, there are plenty of others doing it. I agree with Dawkins, religion is like a virus of humanity, there is no benifit, only pain and sickness. To me personally it appears to be fuelling all the intollerance and hate we see in the world, the sooner we are rid of it the better off we will be, remember lennon’s “imagine”?

You pretty much just listed 4 religions.

I think the only reason that Harper met with the Dali Lama was because Harper’s buddy George W met with him, monkey see monkey do.

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Still he took a bigger step than Paul Martin did a few years back so for whatever the reason, he probably deserves credit for that.

Not to mention, that it’s pissed off the Chinese quite nicely.

So all in all, it was his good deed for the day, week maybe the year.

Not sure where the Chinese figure they have a right to tell Canadians who they may or may not meet with…  They don’t own the place yet, just a few mothballed industries here and there… :unamused:

he took a bigger step than Paul Martin did a few years back so for whatever the reason, he probably deserves credit for that.[/quote]

Harper shouldn’t get credit just for doing something that Martin didn’t. It’s like saying someone’s a nice guy for not beating his wife.

uh don’t quite understand the relevance of your analogy, but whatever…

Not going to get into a pissing match over Stephen Harper of all people, suffice to say, he recognized the Dalai Lama on Parliament Hill, which pissed off the Chinese, thus I guess in the world of geo political machinations, for some he did the right thing…  for others he’s just a craven opportunist, whichever is right, I’m pretty sure that the Dalai Lama is appreciative of the support. 

Knives?  I didn’t talk about knives.  The gun analogy might be absurd but it basically fits what you said: 

Let me break it down for you: ( and remember, I said “sounds like” not “is the same as”)

Guns don’t kill people = Religion doesn’t force people.
People kill  people= Fanatics force people.
Responsible gun owners= responsible religious people ( like you might be)

Sure, nobody is forcing me to listen.  But if decisions at the highest levels of government are influenced by faith instead of ethics, common sense and morals, then it affects anyone who doesn’t share that faith.  And as soon as opposition to such influence is mentioned, religious leaders get all upset about it and protests happen.  Go read about creationism vs darwinism in some states for some examples.
In my opinion, the good thing about most widespread religions is that they provide some guidelines to live in human society.  If you take some of those guidelines out ( like the 10 commandments for example) you could end up with a very harsh society where crime and fear rule. ( I know, you can end up with this with religion too( ie: Inquisition) but just bear with me.)
Our species absolutely needed those a long time ago because that’s what made us survive and work towards common goals. 
It would be nice to think that our species is now out of it’s intellectual infancy and is prepared to assume the responsibility of social living without the help of religion.  I haven’t read Dawkins’ book yet but from excerpts, videos and reviews, I think this is probably close to the main idea in his book.  I find this a very hopeful and optimistic view of human beings today.
Alas, there are too many examples in our world of our species being not quite ready for this shift. So as long as religion is helpful in that way, it’s a good thing. 

And as for the Dalai Lama, the man is very special indeed and seems to be providing great wisdom,  but there are two sides to every story:

What I was saying was don’t give someone credit for NOT being a goof (you said that Harper took a bigger step than Martin did a few years back and deserved credit for it). Hence, the analogy: someone shouldn’t be credited for NOT beating his wife, since that is just right and we should expect people to do the right thing, not congratulate them for it.

Update: George Jonas makes the same point in his column in today’s Daily News, saying: “it’s a sad commentary that such a minimal endorsement of the United Nations’ founding principles should be praised instead of taken for granted.”

I see the analogy just fine.  The problem I had was that you then decided to use a straw man attack with your “give everyone a bazooka” comment.  I never said that fundamentalists should be allowed to take over governments.  In fact, I think I made it very clear that political/governmental decisions should never be based on religious doctrine.

You do make a good point about politicians’ decisions based on faith affecting those who don’t share their faith.  I agree that it’s a problem too.  I have a huge problem with decisions such as introducing “Intelligent Design” into public school science curricula, as well as governments pushing “abstinence only” sex education because that’s what they believe is moral.

The problem, however, is that faith tends to shape a person’s morals and ethics to the point where it’s impossible for an individual to tell where one ends and another begins.  I don’t see that as a flaw, but rather as a fact of the influences of their background and upbringing.

Besides, it’s not as if we live in a dictatorship.  We choose our leaders, they’re not chosen for us.  If we don’t like the laws they’re creating, we’re always free to elect new ones.  We also have a non-political court system that is designed to check the constitutionality and legitimacy of any laws passed by parliament.

Is it flawed?  Of course.  Name one human-created system that isn’t.  Hell, I’m just as frustrated as you by some of the boneheaded decisions made south of the border.  I hope to God, in whatever form God may happen to be–that such trends don’t spread North.  But it’s a facile argument to blame religion as the cause.

If you want proof, look at Japan.  Religion plays hardly any role in politics over here.  Or life in general for that matter.  But you should see some of the bullshit that goes on around here.  Like an education system that requires all public school textbooks to be approved by the government.  Result: any history texts that mention things like the Nanjing massacre or the forced suicides in Okinawa or the Korean sex slaves during WW II don’t get approved.

Or look at how the government requires all teachers to stand at attention, face the flag and sing the national anthem during school events, even though there are those who believe that the national anthem is a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression.  The government’s position on this is that personal freedoms are less important than all the teachers showing respect for the country.  Over here, right-wing nationalism seems to be the government’s official religion.

Bottom line: the world is filled to the brim with self-centered, power-hungry megalomaniacs who want nothing more than to push their beliefs on others.  The cause is irrelevant.  If we didn’t have religion, there’d be some other source for their boneheaded decisions.  Religion shouldn’t take the blame for human faults.

So parents don’t have the right to raise their children as they see fit?  If a parent truly believes that sin will cause their children to burn in hell, don’t they have the right to raise their children accordingly?

The picture you paint is a very graphic and gruesome.  I’m sure it was intended as such to try and convince people of your position.  The problem is, it’s a classic example of a false dichotomy: all children with a religious upbringing are raised one way, and all those without are raised another.  You’re trying to paint the picture that all children raised under Christian morals will be controlled by fear.

The problem is, that argument doesn’t wash.  If you want proof, look at me.  I went to a Catholic elementary school for seven years.  They NEVER used fear to keep us in line.  In fact, their tactics were the complete opposite.  We were told that God loves us and wants us to be the best we can be.  We were also taught that as humans, we’re all prone to sin, and it’s hopeless for us to think that we can live our lives without giving in to temptation from time to time.  But through faith in God and following the teachings of Christ, we can stay on the proper path and end up in heaven.

Of course, I don’t think that this is the only way to instill good morals and character in children.  I don’t need God or Christ to tell me what’s right and wrong.  But for some people, it helps.

Besides, the scenario you mentioned isn’t limited to religious upbringing.  It goes on under many guises.  A parent could just as easily manipulate their children by saying “if you do that again, I’m going to stop loving you.”  Or “Do what I say or I’m going to beat the crap out of you.”  Or “If that’s the way you feel, then you’re no child of mine.”  We have a term for that.  It’s called child abuse.  And it’s wrong no matter what the motivation.

Bottom line: Just because there are some parents who take religion to extremes when raising their children doesn’t mean that all parents should be prevented from raising their children according to their beliefs.  You can’t cure the disease by killing the patient.

I hope you don’t think I’m contradicting myself here, but I have to disagree with you here too.  I also hope you don’t mind me using Japan again as an example, but here we go.

Most Japanese people don’t consider themselves religious.  If asked, most would either be unable to tell you what religion they are, or else they’ll say they’re Buddhist, Shintoist, or a combination of the two.  What’s more, they usually only go to a shrine or temple either during New Years (mostly out of tradition) or when there’s something they need to pray for, like a baby’s health or to pass a high school entrance exam.

But Japanese kids are remarkably well-adjusted.  Crime rates in Japan are among the lowest in the industrialized world.  Drugs?  I don’t think I’ve ever met a single person here who’s ever used them.  And while people do tend to drink a lot, they do so in social settings, and it’s extremely rare for them to get abusive or violent while drunk.

True, there are plenty of other social problems Japan has, from misogyny to bullying to karoshi (death from overwork).  But then again, tell me one society that doesn’t have problems.

I guess what I’m trying to say here–what I’ve been trying to say all along, in fact–is that a person can be just as happy and well-adjusted with religion as they can without it.  It’s not a black-and-white issue.  Just like any issue dealing with people, there is a myriad of factors at work in defining character. It’s unfair and simplistic to point to religion, or lack thereof, as the only one.

“reductio ad absurdium”
“false dichotomy”
“straw man”

(Darn!- still thinking aloud  here - Can’t discuss with the guy without having a tab open on wikipedia’s page on fallacies.  There are over 50 of them listed.  I don’t know them all, I’m doomed.  I’ll lose the argument for sure.  Might as well go out in style and resort to Godwin’s law.  Wait, how do I make it not obvious?  Shoot! I can’t!  Oh well!- end of the thinking part)

Hey Stardog,  you’re right! 

( Darn!  I probably committed another fallacy by conceding this way.  Oh well, he’ll point it out if there is one and I will learn another one.) :wink:

Actually, the tab was open to the Skeptic’s Guide’s page on logical fallacies.  I only had 20 of them to choose from, so maybe you had a chance after all! :wink:

And for what it’s worth, I do agree with everything you say about how dangerous it is when people try to turn their personal beliefs into laws.  I’m just not that big a fan of it when people try and pin the blame on religion itself.  It not about the tool, it’s about the person who uses it.

That’s such bullshit. Why don’t you move to the mid-Western US where everyone is a Christian nutjob and nothing bad ever happens.

“Hee-yuck let us go kill some Aaa-rabs 'cause Gawd told us so. And then we’re gonna move into a moo-bile home and sell homemade meth too feed my kids so their sister-mommy won’t complain.”

Yeah, cause the US bible belt is what all of society should look up to! For the most part, the most ignorant, backwards group of folk you can talk to.

What about the Scientologists and all those whack-jobs? Let’s rock some Johova Witnesses and 7th Day Adventists! They’re a real happy bunch cause they’ve been brainwashed into a blissful pool of idiocracy.

Hehe, oh yeah… instead of saying “Christian”, you say “Xitian”… it’s like saying “x-mas” instead of “Christmas”

Crazy xitian fundies…

Fundies say the darndest things!

It’s like, except more depressing.