insulting religions

(990 Posts)
IneedAgoldenNickname Mon 07-Jan-13 00:39:04

Hi, I've never posted on this topic before, I tend to hang out in aibu, but don't want to start a bun fight!

So, I am a liberal Christian. I firmly believe that everyone had to right to believe (or not) whatever they want, provided that belief doesn't hurt anyone else.

Earlier today I posted a lighthearted status on Facebook, which had led to me being called mindless, stupid, stuck up, thinking I'm better than everyone else. I've been told God is a c**t (sorry I hate that word so much I won't type it) and that the Bible is only God for loo roll!

I'm just really angry that people think its ok to insult me/my religion like that, when I haven't once preached or insulted others.

Obviously the easy solution would be to delete them off of Facebook, but they are people I get on with other wise.

Don't really know the point of my post, just hoping id feel better writing it down. grin

Tuo Mon 07-Jan-13 00:47:45

I'm sorry you've been so hurt, GoldenNickname. Whatever you wrote (unless it was, in its turn, offensive - which it doesn't sound as if it was), you don't deserve to be on the receiving end of such insults... whether they are directed at you personally or at your beliefs.

There's probably no easy way to deal with this, though, other than to quietly delete the thread without comment, and then stay away from FB for a few days/weeks/as long as you can manage, until you feel 'safer' again.

Oh, and remember the Beatitudes: 'Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account'!

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

deleted203 Mon 07-Jan-13 00:53:59

Completely unnecessary and deeply unpleasant Bunny. I'm not a particular believer in any religion, but I have the manners and the courtesy not to be foul mouthed towards people who are. Like the OP I tend towards believing that people have the right to believe in whatever faith they choose. I think your last statement could be directed at yourself, personally. Insulting other people's religious beliefs simply labels you as narrow minded, prejudiced and bigoted as any religious fanatic, rather than convincing yourself you are some kind of intellectual.

IneedAgoldenNickname Mon 07-Jan-13 00:54:39

Thanks tuo. I was thinking id delete the thread, I deleted some of the more insulting comments, although that led to more insults!

I didn't say anything remotely offensive, I even agreed with some of the comments about the Bible not being 100% true (its failure to mention dinosaurs was bought up more times than I care to remember)

Tuo Mon 07-Jan-13 00:57:30

Just delete the thread, Golden.

And this one too, if you're upset by it.

Bloody hell, Bunny. That was totally uncalled-for.

IneedAgoldenNickname Mon 07-Jan-13 01:02:03

I will do smile

I'm not upset as such, as in I'm not crying, more amazed that in this day and age its seen as ok to be so rude!

I'm not bothered about this thread being here, I'm ignoring bunny's rude post, he/she is proof of the prejudice I am talking about!

Thanks again smile

Why is there this prevailing notion that people who believe deserve exemption from questioning or judgement purely because they believe? In one of a selection of imaginary friends decided solely by the arbitrary geography of where they were born.

Why oh why would being so feeble-minded that you require to base your life on the assumed existence of a monotheistic deity allow you freedom from defending such a choice??

In less enlightened times it was almost understandable.

But now??! In 2013? When we have irrefutable scientific fact to help answer our questions about the universe and our origin, I just can't bring myself to respect a grown adult who still chooses to believe (and worse, forces their atheist at birth children to believe) in laughably contradictory fiction and superstition. And malevolent, corrupt, self-serving institutions which do infinitely more harm than good.

Respect is a privilege, not a right.

LoopsInHoops Mon 07-Jan-13 01:43:42

Sorry, haven't had time to read the whole thread but I do find most religions insulting in some way or another. Sexism and histories of power and control, as well as the wealth often involved is very insulting, especially to those who believe in the deities but suffer from the 'moral' codes.

colditz Mon 07-Jan-13 01:47:41

Referring to someone's chosen deity as something offensive is like showing up at someone's funeral with a sign saying "god hates gays!"

It's about as clever, about as kind, and about as original.

I am an atheist. The goal of my conversations with religious people is to never ever give them any reason to think that their religion has made them better than me, and this means I must behave at least as well as they do, or they ARE better than me.

Assuming you referring to me colditz I guess I'm in the clear as rather than "referring to someone's chosen deity" I'm referring to all chosen deities.

The very fact that each little obedient group of believers/non-thinkers consider themselves the lucky few who have been selected to be puppeteered led by "one true god" while condemning other religions as wrong is an ironic punchline to the joke that is religion.

FelicityWasSanta Mon 07-Jan-13 03:01:17

Blimey Bunny, your posts are so rude.

The OP was looking for some hand holding because people had been rude to her.

You rock up and basically say you deserve it because you're thick and deluded.

Which is a weak argument when lots of well known clever, intellectual types have faith of one variant or another.

Cuddledup Mon 07-Jan-13 08:59:59

Golden Sorry to hear that your FB "friends" have been so offensive. I'm of a similar persuasion as you - live and let live. Re: FB I'd change your "friends" status so they can't see everything you post. Also you could reply to them individually saying you found their opinions offensive, so that they can see they overstepped the boundaries. They probably thought they were being "funny". IF a kid was rude you would tell them they'd overstepped the mark !

Sorry that Bunny has had to come here and be rude, Thank goodness for diversity.
Have a good FB-free day.

colditz Mon 07-Jan-13 10:19:19

Amusing, bunny, that you thought I was talking about you. I really wasn't. I was talking about the offensive and childish people on golden's Facebook.

Like inneedofagoldennickname I have been shocked by the rudeness of the anti theists. There is a bit of wisdom that says 'by their fruits will you know them' and I've found this important when I meet people of faith and no faith. I have been blessed in meeting muslims, hindus, atheists, pagans, wiccans and those searching or indifferent to faith who are kind, generous and loving. We may not agree on faith but we can meet and share and value each other's viewpoints. I've also met Christians and people of other and no faith who are the opposite - judgemental, rude and unkind.

Fruits is a useful measure.

IneedAgoldenNickname Mon 07-Jan-13 13:01:14

Good afternoon all, and thank you for your messages. I deleted the Facebook thread, and no one has mentioned it yet.

The people that have come on here and been rude are just proof of the prejudices I have seen elsewhere.

I have meet people of many religions, and of none. Some, regardless of belief, are lovely non judgemental people. Others are sadly the opposite.

Ibelieve (and indeed hope) that I fall into the first category. If I had posted something like 'God is great and if you don't believe him you will burn in hell' then nasty comments would be fair enough. As I didn't post anything like that (I don't even believe that) the comments were unfair and uncalled for.

I don't have a problem with my belief being questioned either, provided both people stay polite and civil. For example, one of the comments said if there was a God he is a c**t because he allowed 20 children to be shot a week before Christmas. Now had this merely questioned why this happened, if be fine with it. But calling God insulting words, followed by telling me I'm thick, deluded etc was unnecessary.

I just think people should live and let live, although there's no harm in a good religious debate

LoopsInHoops Mon 07-Jan-13 13:05:19

What I don't understand about the 'God is a cunt' thing, is that presumably the people who say that believe there is a cunt?

LoopsInHoops Mon 07-Jan-13 13:05:43

Oh God, a God, not a cunt! Sorry! blush

HecatePropolos Mon 07-Jan-13 13:17:28

I don't see why it's necessary to upset people.

By being rude, sneering or insulting someone for their beliefs - you hurt them. And why is it necessary to do that? To think that someone deserves to be mocked because they believe something that you think is rubbish is horrible. What about basic common decency to fellow human beings?

fair enough, don't share their belief. Think it's a pile of crap. Whatever. but when someone sneers at someone else's faith, they're saying this person, as a human being, is not worth any sort of consideration or respect from me.

I just think that we are all worth some consideration and respect and there's no reason to choose words that may hurt someone, just because you don't share their beliefs.

And yes, it works both ways. Those who preach hatred in the name of god are equally vile.

I don't see why we can't all respect one another and our right to believe whatever we want.

If, for example, I want to believe that the world was sneezed out by a giant goat wink so what? Who am I hurting by the simple fact I believe that? If I want to believe in god - who am I hurting? If I want to believe that we're here by chance and when we die - poooof - who am I hurting?

OTOH. If I laugh, sneer and mock those who believe differently - I'm hurting quite a few!

IneedAgoldenNickname Mon 07-Jan-13 13:18:19

I don't know loops I guess because he said 'if there is a God' he's not admitting here is one iyswim.

But in the large yea, how can you insult something you don't believe in confused

KayHarker Mon 07-Jan-13 15:01:44

as someone who has gone from religious to not I understand the desire to mock. You see something patently unfair and ridiculous, and you want to speak out about it. But in my journey from theist to not, no one who ever mocked me helped me at all, they just make people defensive and cut out the very intellect they are trying to champion. But hey, I guess it feels superior so that's ok.

sieglinde Mon 07-Jan-13 16:59:53

Golden, so sorry you've found the same stuff here. Take out The Science Delusion and give them the LOT.

That fine work confirms two things for me. 1. Many atheists are cram full of SHIT and know NOWT about science and b. they can dish it out but they absolutely can't take it.

And stand up for yourself. Currently, they can rely on us to duck our heads and say humbly that we want to be loving in response. Makes bullying an absolute sinecure for them, and like other bullies they also pretend that it's for our OWN GOOD; they just want to free us from being in any way different from them.

hiddenhome Mon 07-Jan-13 17:35:31

I used to be an atheist. I never felt the need to condemn people for believing. It never tormented or frustrated me that others believed in God. Those who do condemn theists must have real issues because if they truly didn't believe, they wouldn't be so insulting and downright nasty hmm

If you truly don't believe, then just ignore theists, just as I ignore people who wax lyrical about football or darts or anything else I'm not interested in. Condemning people just means you're rattled and it's usually a case of 'the lady does protesteth too much' wink

niminypiminy Mon 07-Jan-13 17:56:13

Currently it's fashionable to be aggressively anti-religion, and the Internet is an ideal way to be as rude and aggressive as you like. Probably very few of the people who feel licensed to behave so vilely through the medium of a computer screen would be anything less than fairly polite in person. (Having said that I've had more than my fair share of arguments with steamed-up atheists - and they are always, always the ones who bring God up.)

When you've finished with The Science Delusion you could have a look at Atheist Delusions by David Bentley Hart, which takes apart all the currently circulating myths about the history of Christianity with laser-like precision and shows they are complete rubbish. You might also want to look at Francis Spufford's Unapologetic which does a brilliant job of showing why faith is more a more grown up response to life than atheism is.

As Sieglinde says, not arguing back fuels bullying behaviour.

sieglinde Mon 07-Jan-13 18:47:11

YY to Unapologetic, and yyyy to Atheist Delusions, too. Further question for convinced atheists - if we really need your help, and you are really so keen to bring us out of the darkness, why are none of you bothering to refute these refutations of your own tin gods? Go on - you know you want to. grin

IneedAgoldenNickname Mon 07-Jan-13 19:28:28

Thanks, I've heard of the science delusion, but not read it. I will look those books out, my vicar probably has copies I can borrow!

One of the people who was rude is my twat of an ex, I expect nothing less from him tbh, which is a shame as both our ds' believe. Incidentally, when we were together he agreed with my live and let live attitude, its only since we split that he's started being so offensive!

Smudging Mon 07-Jan-13 19:31:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hiddenhome Mon 07-Jan-13 19:32:02

Thanks for the book recommendations niminypiminy. I'll look those up smile

Personally, I found that atheism had little to offer apart from an empty nihilistic feeling smile

hiddenhome Mon 07-Jan-13 19:37:00

I think if you examine the actual beliefs that the religions hold Smudging you'll find that the badness is not part of the belief, but rather politics or sometimes culture getting in the way. Man will find a way of creating divisions in whatever name, whether it's religion, communism, fascism, whatever. I have yet to come across a religion that promotes hatred and evil. Hitler hated the Jews, but if Judaism didn't exist, he'd have found something else to focus his hatred on.

firefly11 Mon 07-Jan-13 20:54:02

I believe other people's religious preferences should be respected. I have left several atheist groups on FB in the past because I didn't like the way it was commonplace and accepted to mock and insult religions and their followers. It was even more disturbing to see that when the odd atheist stands up and tried to talk sense about the jeering - in a "come on, why are we mocking ordinary people for their beliefs, surely we're all better than that" way- they get shot down very quickly by the other atheists doing the mocking, told to stop commenting or "take your moral highground/self righteousness out of this discussion", etc. And justify that "it's their prerogative to mock or insult if they like, because religion promotes child abuse, etc." And let's be clear. In many atheist forums, teaching a child that there is God and teaching them to pray equals child abuse. confused

niminypiminy Mon 07-Jan-13 22:26:11

Firefly, I believe you. I think the Internet promotes that kind of effulgent aggression - you see the same kind of thing (jeering and so on) in non-parent forums, indeed in all sorts of places on the interweb.

For the 'teaching a child to pray is child absuse' thing, I think Richard Dawkins is partly to blame, with absurd 'no such thing as a Christian child' nostrum.

NicholasTeakozy Mon 07-Jan-13 22:46:17

I honestly don't understand why any sane woman would be a follower of any of the Abrahamic religions, given their obvious hatred of women.

Disclaimer: I am an atheist male who agrees with contraception and who tries to treat everybody equally.

Really, these people hate you. They will never allow you equality.

Sorry you were treated so rudely OP. I hope you don't think this is meant to be like that. This is me just being confused

hiddenhome Mon 07-Jan-13 23:03:11

Jesus didn't hate women.

IneedAgoldenNickname Mon 07-Jan-13 23:28:43

Jesus definitely didn't hate women confused and some women are revered within christianity (is revered the right word?)

Incidentally I'm as equal as any of the men at the church,( unless I want to become a bishop that is, which I don't)

I also agree with contraception, gay marriage, abortion etc. like I said I'm liberal! I even have children out of wedlock

confuddledDOTcom Tue 08-Jan-13 00:58:01

Winds me up to. A friend was over our house the other week and was going on about when he was at uni and his "born again friend" I made a comment about my mum (trying to subtly remind him who's house he was in) and he said "Yes, but my friend was a born again Christian" and I pointed out that both my granddads are/ were ministers (FCoE and Elim which is how I grew up) and he brushed if off again. A little later on I was talking to another friend who was there (who's from a Methodist family) and saying how I believe in faith over religion and personal beliefs and the first one was telling me to shut up!

I've had those status messages too. I had it on a thread on MN recently where I said that faith is personal and we don't have the right to dictate to other people, someone came back and told me to shut up that people with imaginary friends have no right to tell other people what to do...

I'm so fed up of people thinking it's acceptable to bash Christians! Not just what they say (which I can understand if you feel someone is dictating) but just because they're Christian.

deleted203 Tue 08-Jan-13 03:05:26

confuddled The comment about 'imaginary friends' is not even original. It is a quote from Yasser Arafat who declared that 'fighting a war over religion is like arguing over who's got the best imaginary friend'

That would be Yasser Arafat, Leader of the PLO, responsible for many acts of bombing and terrorism. He ammassed a personal fortune of $1.3 billion dollars despite shocking conditions in Palestine. He spend many years attacking the Israeli nations and in my view is hardly a man one would wish to quote as 'the definitive voice of sage wisdom'.......Try pointing this out to the poster and tell them that it's the very essence of hypocrisy. Despite his imaginary friends Yasser Arafat was a dictator with an appalling human rights record.

sashh Tue 08-Jan-13 05:50:33

I'm not upset as such, as in I'm not crying, more amazed that in this day and age its seen as ok to be so rude!

I'm sorry you are upset OP. However I am glad we live in a world where insulting religeon doesn't lead to people being tortured to death. We used to.

IneedAgoldenNickname Tue 08-Jan-13 06:20:26

Well I'd agree with that sashh! No one should die for their opinions on faith. Thank heavens we live in a more civilised society than our ancestors did.

niminypiminy Tue 08-Jan-13 09:53:23

Well, except, of course, if you happen to be a Christian in one of the countries where Christians are currently persecuted - for example Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt - to name only some of the most well known examples. And a recent international survey reported levels of persecution of religious people rising around the world - most notably, and markedly, in the UK?

niminypiminy Tue 08-Jan-13 09:53:59

(Finger slipped - meant to have a full stop rather than question mark at the end of that.)

pictish Tue 08-Jan-13 10:04:20

It's like Simon Amstell said:

I don’t want to attack religious people. It feels like an unkind thing to do, it just feels too easy, like the battle’s already been won.
Really it just feels rude, like if you’re at a party and you get into a conversation and someone says "Oh I’m a Christian/Muslim/Jew" its very rude there to say, "Oh how ridiculous!"
I feel we have to treat people with kindness and love and respect, in the same way you would treat a child running around saying "I’m a helicopter!" and you can say "Good for you. We're all having fun. I'm a choo choo train."

grin

sieglinde Tue 08-Jan-13 10:04:49

yes, exactly what I was about to say, Niminy. Let's look at China, for example, where you can be a special sort of RC who isn't really RC; where thousands of actual RCs are in jail. I mention this because all your examples are intra-religious conflicts, and China shows why secularism can't resolve the 'problem' of religion in the way fondly imagined by our detractors.

and sashh, who are the 'we' you have in mind? Presumably not the Romans?

Tea, I'm not after equality in matters of religion in the way I would be in secular life. I'm not looking for promotion from God, or equal pay. He values me equally anyway. He values us all equally and also very individually. So what point are you actually trying to make?

saycheeeeeese Tue 08-Jan-13 10:12:31

The bible does mention dinosaurs grin

I dont know why people have to be so bitter about God and the fact that others find hope and strength believing in him, op I understand why you're hurt I would be too.

niminypiminy Tue 08-Jan-13 10:17:40

Pictish, that's a wonderful use of the passive-aggressive smiley. Also, you knew, really, when you quoted that piece, that under its veneer of niceness it was intended to be very insulting.

EllieArroway Tue 08-Jan-13 10:47:50

I think you need to make a distinction between people insulting you and people insulting your religion.

It is not the same thing.

I would and do happy insult religion (all of them). I consider it facile, divisive and based on ignorance and the world would be better off without it.

But that you have the right to your religion goes without question.

EllieArroway Tue 08-Jan-13 10:50:58

The bible does mention dinosaurs

No, it doesn't.

Oh....

grin

Nearly forgot.

saycheeeeeese Tue 08-Jan-13 10:53:34

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

saycheeeeeese Tue 08-Jan-13 10:53:48

*mighty

saycheeeeeese Tue 08-Jan-13 10:54:41

grin

Bloody phone

sieglinde Tue 08-Jan-13 10:57:42

Ellie, religions are made up of people, believers. Why would I not feel insulted if you insulted the RC church? I AM the RC church. This of course doesn't mean that I will agree with every other Catholic on every possible issue, but RC is who I am.

Let's try this composite of the posts above:

"I would and do happily insult humanism. I consider it abysmally ignorant and the refuge of ignorant people who can't be arsed to learn any history and think they are the pinnacle of evolution. The world would be better off without it. But that you have every right to your erroneous, bigoted opinions goes without question. Now, run away and play with your toy train, dear."

See? See why it doesn't work?

EllieArroway Tue 08-Jan-13 10:58:23

The Science Delusion. Hmmm. This is the synopsis on Amazon:

*Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry
The science delusion is the belief that science already understands the nature of reality. The fundamental questions are answered, leaving only the details to be filled in. In this book (published in the US as Science Set Free), Dr Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's most innovative scientists, shows that science is being constricted by assumptions that have hardened into dogmas. The 'scientific worldview' has become a belief system. All reality is material or physical. The world is a machine, made up of dead matter. Nature is purposeless. Consciousness is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. Free will is an illusion. God exists only as an idea in human minds, imprisoned within our skulls*

Sounds marvellous except.....

Science actually doesn't claim to understand the nature of reality.

It most certainly doesn't think all the fundamental questions have been answered.

Science wouldn't work if it was being "constricted by assumptions etc..." Has this "innovative" scientists completely unfamiliar with the scientific method?

If by "scientific worldview" he means people preferring to look at the evidence & draw conclusions from that then that's something to be proud of.

The world is a machine, made up of dead matter. Nature is purposeless. Consciousness is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. Free will is an illusion. God exists only as an idea in human minds, imprisoned within our skulls Probably true. It's certainly what the evidence suggests. So what?

Blimey. The tripe that's put out in support of faith is astonishing.

sieglinde Tue 08-Jan-13 11:28:11

Ellie, blurbs are not books. Why not try the actual text?

Also this is not refutation, even of the blurb. This is contradiction. The kind of irritable contradicition we've already had a bellyful of from the Dawkins charade.

1. In what way does science not claim to understand the nature of reality?

2. Thomas Kuhn showed long ago that the sciences are more constrained by assumptions than any other arena of life. He btw was a scientist. If you knew as much as you would like about scientifc method you would understand its limitations as well as its strengths.

3. And then you add 'Probably true'. On what basis?

Adding 'blimey' and 'tripe' adds insult to complete lack of injury, in the bona fide secularist mode. Insults are not arguments.

sieglinde Tue 08-Jan-13 16:08:17

Oh, look. I wonder what became of Ellie?

I must say this is a repeat experiment for me - so far my hypotheis that militant atheists looove to sling mud, but do a fast runner if asked difficult questions has not been dislodged. So OP, if you want to get rid of your 'friends', ask them some tough questions, ideally about either evolution or cosmology.

EllieArroway Tue 08-Jan-13 16:53:39

Siegende So sorry. I have things to do - work namely. Much I'd love to be the kind of person who hangs around all day, I'm afraid I'm not. Do stop being so childish.

The nature of reality can be defined as "knowing that which is true". There's an awful lot that science does not know, some of those things are rather fundamental.

Now, science takes the view that if we don't know, we don't know.....and it is quite happy to say so. When the evidence and data supports a conclusion then science will make one.

Religion on the other hand is not interested in evidence or proof - it just opens it's mouth and proclaims that it KNOWS the truth. When asked for evidence it piously claims "faith" as the only evidence it needs.

One POV is honest. The other is not.

All humans have biases. The scientific method is specifically designed to bypass this - to rely ONLY on the evidence, which must be repeatable and testable. Does it go wrong? Yes, of course, it's a human endeavour after all - but by and large it works. Look at the world around you if you doubt that. Does religion work? No and it never has.

We could go down the religious route if you like. "Dear God - please get rid of smallpox". Nada. "Let's use science to get rid of smallpox". Result.

The evidence supports the last paragraph. Have you ever bothered with an actual science book?

Blimey and tripe are not insults. Grow up.

EllieArroway Tue 08-Jan-13 17:05:11

I would and do happily insult humanism. I consider it abysmally ignorant and the refuge of ignorant people who can't be arsed to learn any history and think they are the pinnacle of evolution. The world would be better off without it. But that you have every right to your erroneous, bigoted opinions goes without question. Now, run away and play with your toy train, dear.

I wouldn't give a flying shit if you said something like that. I am a grown up, do not demand that the things I believe have to be respected by anyone for any reason.

The difference between what you've said and what I say though, dear, is that you are making personal attacks and I'm not. I discuss the beliefs themselves rather than the people who believe them. Take a leaf out of my book, why don't you?

No, the bible does not discuss dinosaurs or anything else that might actually be real.

pictish Tue 08-Jan-13 17:09:10

Well said Ellie.

Fwiw - I wouldn't give a crap if anyone said that to me either. I'm not that egotistical. I'd just laugh it off, if I bothered to care at all.

niminypiminy Tue 08-Jan-13 17:46:04

I can't see that Sieglinde is doing the swearing on this thread.

Ellie, that sounds like Daniel Dennett or Sam Harris you are quoting. You might like to have a look at David Bentley Hart's review of Daniel Dennett's 'Breaking the Spell' on First Things from Jan 2007 (can't do links on iPad). Hart simply takes apart the Dennett's arguments about the role of religion in human society and the supposed superiority of science. It's a challenging read, and I doubt you'll like it. But if you really don't mind your beliefs being attacked you'll go and do it anyway.

JoTheHot Tue 08-Jan-13 18:40:09

I love the way the anti-science lobby find Kuhn, and feel pleased with themselves knocking science for being saltatory, whilst ignoring the more important point that it's moving forward.

Science has paradigm-shifts; religion doesn't. Reason 31 why science gives us an ever more satisfying understanding of reality than religion.

And in reply to OP, you can't totally distance yourself from what your religion does. If you're part of a lynch mob, you share responsibility for it's actions, even if you think privately that the wrong guy's been lynched. Your religious beliefs, and more specifically your affiliation with mainstream religion, does hurt other people.

niminypiminy Tue 08-Jan-13 19:06:08

If you want to say that, JotheHot, then you won't mind being associated with secularist atrocities in the Soviet Union and China, will you? Millions of people dead - it's all your fault; torture, starvation and systematic psychological degradation in the name of secularism and science - it's in your name.

LeBFG Tue 08-Jan-13 19:17:58

I AM the RC church. This of course doesn't mean that I will agree with every other Catholic on every possible issue, but RC is who I am.

Finally, a religious person who will admit to this. All too often I hear religious people bleating on about how they are liberal, they don't agree with the Pope, that doctrine says x but they believe y...

As far as I'm concerned, if you sign up to a religion, you ARE in some way that religion. If your religion discriminates against gays, you are supporting it. If it suppresses women, you are supporting it. If it advises against contraception, even if you use contraception and approve of it, you are supporting the advice.

Actually religion does have paradigm shifts. David Bosch 1990 'Transforming Mission; Paradigm Shifts in a Theolgoy of Mission' and that work is largely based on Kuhn. That is quite old now.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 08-Jan-13 19:22:30

Nim...political dogmas (such as those operating in soviet union and communist china) are as bad as (bad) religions. Associating secularists in general with communists is odd, since the biggest enemy of communism, the USA, is a secular society.

However....I actually don't buy the guilt-by-association argument in relation to all religious people either. In particular, those religious people who are genuinely against discrimination and privilege. Some do work for change to old structures from within - I never like tarring everyone with the same brush.

JoTheHot Tue 08-Jan-13 19:25:40

What a genius post, niminypiminy. Blaming me for the gulags is like blaming a muslim for killing cathars. You're to blame for stuff done in the name of your own church, not all stuff done by all churchs ever.

amillionyears Tue 08-Jan-13 19:37:01

The bible mentions Behemoth
and Leviathan, sea monster

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behemoth

GrimmaTheNome Tue 08-Jan-13 19:42:16

>The bible mentions Behemoth
>and Leviathan, sea monster

And giants. Any other mythical creatures?

amillionyears Tue 08-Jan-13 19:50:40

The giants seemed to measure about 8 foot 6 inches .I think it specifically says that. So maybe not giants as in 50 feet tall or something.

Some people in the bible see visions, and Revelations mentions all sorts of stuff that is to come one day.

HolofernesesHead Tue 08-Jan-13 19:53:33

Grimma, there's Rahab the sea monster smile (Not to be confused with Rahab the prostitute who features in the book of Joshua and was feted as an exemplar of faith in the letter of James.)

HolofernesesHead Tue 08-Jan-13 20:04:30

GoldenNickname, meant to say before I got carried away with Bible-knowledge pub-quiz trivia wink grin, sorry that your FB people aren't nicer.

IMHO your OP is as much about the perils of FB as it is about religion; I've been so shocked and saddened by the way that otherwise perfectly decent peole have ripped into each other on FB in a way that thye never wuold in RL (unless v. drunk, and even then...) Seriously, FB can really erode communities, and I am v. sceptical about its impact on society. Not to mention the impact on family-tree finding in future generations...it's going to take all the mystique out...

IneedAgoldenNickname Tue 08-Jan-13 20:28:21

Interesting debate occurring here, but I'll be honest, I'm struggling to keep up, my religious knowledge is shockingly bad!

sieglinde based on that fact the people in question didn't know the causes of world war 2, stated that Jesus was killed by dinosaurs, and seemed to misunderstand the very point of hell (saying they'd rather listen to rock music there, than skip round the fields in heaven, thus missing the point that hell doesn't have things you like!) I'm not sure they'd manage questions about anything!

And yes admittedly they were probably joking with the hell and dinosaur comments, but they didn't serve to make them look intelligent!

lebfg I've signed petitions supporting women bishops and gay marriage, so obviously I don't support them. Many others from my church have also signed them, or been involved in campaigns on some level.

holoferneseshead I agree with you re the Facebook thing , in fact I write an essay on the topic at college. However I find that for me personally, it does more good than harm, as I have family across the whole world - and friends who, for the most part, accept my rare likings of religious pages. smile

GrimmaTheNome Tue 08-Jan-13 20:38:27

There's an old adage that for polite dinner conversation, never discuss religion or politics. Perhaps the same applies to FB? (I wouldn't know, don't do it).

Come to MN for that...being personally insulting at least is against the rules here.

HolofernesesHead Tue 08-Jan-13 20:49:27

Hmmm....the toxicity I've seen on FB has nothing to do with either religion or politics, tbh, more just to do with old-fashioned personality clashes or irrational dislikes. I can't get around the notion that until the advent of FB, there was no socially acceptable way for one healthy adult to communicate clearly to another healthy adult 'I don't to be your friend any more.' The bar for inter-personal communications has been lowered with FB, and IMO that's not a good thing.

Talking about religion and /or politics is great fun, as long as you do it with respect for the others involved. Otherwise, what's the point? (Well, on second thoughts, there are many reasons why people want to talk to people they don't repspect about religion and politics...I just don't think they're good reasons...)

IneedAgoldenNickname Tue 08-Jan-13 20:53:50

Maybe the same should apply to Facebook! Although there's nothing wrong with discussion, Just keep it polite and don't insult people. I guess that only works with people who really understand what they are debating though.

ethelb Tue 08-Jan-13 23:20:20

Im sorry to hear that.

It is upsetting when otherwise intelligent people reveal extreme views that they are evangelistic about whether religious or atheist.

One of the things that pisses me off most about evangelistic atheism is that a lot of it is priviledged white men looking for something to complain about and cry victim over. Why?

Avuncular Wed 09-Jan-13 00:02:07

Ah ..... I wondered where you'd all gone ....
Sigh! Can I even be bothered to join? Think I'll sit this one out.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 08:31:12

The bible mentions Behemoth
and Leviathan, sea monster

What's that got to do with anything?

Ellie, that sounds like Daniel Dennett or Sam Harris you are quoting I often quote them, along with Hitchens, Stenger, Dawkins et al. However, I haven't on this post - or anyone else. All my own opinions.

It's impossible to be an evangelical atheist, ethelb. I'm sure that's been pointed out to you before hmm And nobody is crying victim (except Christians perhaps who'd like to be allowed to persecute others when the mood takes them) we'd just rather other people's religious view aren't imposed upon us.

Go on - now call us "shrill" and "strident". You know you want to wink.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 08:31:47

weren't not aren't.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 08:36:19

>The bible mentions Behemoth and Leviathan, sea monster

>What's that got to do with anything?

I assume it related to claims of 'dinosaurs in the bible'. Er, no, made-up or misattributed creatures in the same way that there are 'giants' (whether 8'6" or 50") for which there is not a shred of evidence.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 08:41:27

But if you really don't mind your beliefs being attacked you'll go and do it anyway Seriously? That old chestnut? "Read this book I've recommended. If you don't, it must mean you are too scared to have your beliefs attacked".

Actually, I have better things to do with my time. I have plodded my way through an awful lot of pro-religion, anti-science books and been bored out of my brain. I don't much care whether you think Dennett's ideas have been picked apart....I am not Dennett. I have my own ideas and my own opinions.

And, FWIW, my atheism is not a "belief". It's the absence of one. There's nothing to defend or get "evangelical" about. I have no emotional tie to being an atheist. Show me some evidence and I'll become a theist in a heartbeat. I'm interested in knowing the truth, whatever it happens to be.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 08:44:36

Grimma Yes, I do know that.

But since it actually doesn't mean "dinosaur" then that poster was wrong to bring it up.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 08:46:25

>a lot of it is priviledged white men looking for something to complain about and cry victim over. Why?

Perhaps because if you're not in a privileged modern western culture it would be dangerous or very disadvantageous to even hint at being an atheist? And whereas the same applies to being the wrong religion in some areas, unlike that it doesn't come with any hope of protection or salvation, and no requirement to witness to ones belief.

(I don't think the 'white men' I can think of particularly 'cry victim' anyway)

CoteDAzur Wed 09-Jan-13 08:51:41

The problem with "insulting religions" is that almost any criticism sounds like an insult to the faithful.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 09:00:04

If you want to say that, JotheHot, then you won't mind being associated with secularist atrocities in the Soviet Union and China, will you? Millions of people dead - it's all your fault; torture, starvation and systematic psychological degradation in the name of secularism and science - it's in your name

Er, no. Nice try, but just....no.

Stalin & Mao may have been atheists in that they did not believe in a supernatural deity, but they merely exchanged that sort of religion for another - the enforced worship of the state and themselves. This is a million miles away from the kind of free thinking secularism that exists in this country today.

No one takes action based on things they don't believe in. Neither believed in fairies either - might that have been the reason they committed their atrocities? What they DID believe in was a particular ideology and used murder & torture to achieve their aims.

Well done for not trotting out Hitler, though wink.

Himalaya Wed 09-Jan-13 09:14:42

It sounds like you have not very nice FB friends.

I am an atheist and I don't think religion should get a free pass from robust discussion on the basis that people's feelings might get hurt. But there is a time and a place - I.e. not at weddings and funerals and not on someone's we'll meaning FB post.

I have religious friends who post "thought for the day" type messages and requests for prayers, and spiritual friends who post all kinds of woo, which I just ignore. On the other hand I have religious friends who post more jokey banter with a religious theme, and sometimes I respond in kind.

I guess the point is people should be sensitive *to other people^, not to religions in particular.

HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 09:15:48

That's not really my experience, Cote. I'm a Church of England Christian, so I'm used to hearing my church criticised! smile I'm also at the more liberal end of the C of E, so I'm pretty good at criticising it myself. Insult is a different thing to criticism, and whereas I can see that some (less educated so haven't been trained to think critically?) people might confuse the two, most Christians I know manage to be both faithful and critical. Which, IMO, is a very good thing.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 09:17:55

And, FWIW, my atheism is not a "belief". It's the absence of one. There's nothing to defend or get "evangelical" about.

No, but you can be evangelistic about it.

pictish Wed 09-Jan-13 09:21:55

I agree. I have a few fb friends that are religious, and sometimes they post some awfy tripe pertaining to that, but they are my friends so I ignore it.
It's hard sometimes...especially when it's stuff like 'God makes no mistakes' and that sort of nonsense....because it makes me think of all the dreadful suffering there is, and I can't help but wonder how they square that circle. I suppose they just gloss over it with a bit of 'lalalalalala I can't hear yooouuu'.

It IS irritating, but I am respectful of my friends, if not their silly ideas.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 09:24:59

Depends what you mean by 'evangelistic' I guess. I've never found an atheist on my doorstep or a group of them holding a 'mission' to convert people, or running the equivalent of an Alpha course. grin

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 09:40:23

So let me get this right. It's ok to say that people with religious beliefs should take responsibility for all the awful things that religions are said to have done, but atheists are in no way bound to associate themselves with atrocities committed in the name of atheism. That smacks of 'you can dish it out but you can't take it.'

It's fine if you don't want to read something that might challenge your views. But given that it is a book review, and you could read it in half an hour, not having the time is simply an excuse.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 09:40:45

Depends what you mean by 'evangelistic' I guess. I've never found an atheist on my doorstep or a group of them holding a 'mission' to convert people, or running the equivalent of an Alpha course

^^This.

"Evangelism" means to actively spread information about a particular set of beliefs (specifically Christian ones, actually) with the aim of bringing about conversion.

Atheism is not a belief in it's own right. As I've already said it's a word used to describe the lack of a particular one, and that's all it means.

I suppose you could be militant/evangelical (kind of) about secularism, which IS a belief but I've never seen it happening in practice. Secularism is about equality and the support of all beliefs and none - attempts at conversion would be rather contradictory to the stated aims.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 09:44:11

don't confuse being evangelical and being evangelistic. It's bad greek.

CoteDAzur Wed 09-Jan-13 09:44:40

"atrocities committed in the name of atheism"

What atrocities committed in the name of atheism?

Atheism isn't a political movement so what makes you think that Soviet & Chinese atrocities were committed in the name of atheism and not communism?

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 09:45:06

but atheists are in no way bound to associate themselves with atrocities committed in the name of atheism

As I thought I'd made clear, none of those things were done in the name of atheism. They were done in the name of communism & other ideologies.

It is illogical to do anything because of something you don't believe in.

Mao & Stalin did not believe in leprechauns either. How do you know that these atrocities were not committed, therefore, in the name of aleprechaunism?

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 09:46:22

Oh, ethelb, don't be disingenous. They have the same root meaning and amount to the same thing.

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 09:46:38

I don't know how many times I have heard the canard that atheism is not a belief but the absence of one.

The problem with that is that people who are atheists do have plenty of beliefs. They believe that science is the sole arbiter of truth. They believe that morality can be determined by reference to non-transcendental principles. They believe in the sufficiency of human reason to solve the problems of human life. All those things are beliefs, and it is disingenuous to claim that they are not, and that atheism has no beliefs associated with it.

In fact, the statement that 'I believe there is no god' is of course a statement of belief in itself, and all sorts of other beliefs flow from that.

JakeBullet Wed 09-Jan-13 09:47:12

I am Catholic but not evangelical, I think the Catholic Church could do with a great deal of updating in many areas. I go to church but have never believed in "a man in the sky". For me God (or whatever you want to say) is the all encompassing spiritual power which surrounds us all. I like the Catholic way largely due to the smells and bells....I find I can really make a connection. Most of my friends are either non believers or atheists; they refer to my church going as "Jake and her religious bollocks"grin but I don't mind this...each to their own and all that. I don't share religious statuses on Facebook either.

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 09:48:26

Communism was a political system one of whose central aims was the achievement of a completely secular society, the eradication of the Church and of religious belief, no?

pictish Wed 09-Jan-13 09:49:30

I have never said 'I believe there is no God' - who does?
'I don't believe in God' is what is commonly said isn't it?

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 09:51:34

I do not believe in God = I believe God does not exist.

pictish Wed 09-Jan-13 09:52:58

Saying you don't believe in God is not subscribing to any belief. Don't be silly.

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 09:59:03

Of course it is. If I were to say 'I don't believe in cars' I would be making a strong statement of belief either about the world (that cars do not actually exist) or about my values (I do not like cars). It's a grammatical negative, not an ontological one.

Avuncular Wed 09-Jan-13 10:00:00

Zealously advocating a cause / militant zeal for a cause - of course you can be an evangelistic atheist. Or maybe a 'crusading' one?

DS1 (a lay preacher) recently remarked with amusement that Richard Dawkins is one of the best evangelists Christianity has; He keeps re-iterating a lot of the basic truths of our faith.
He keeps it all in the public eye.
If he wanted Christianity to go away, best thing would be to ignore it?

And while I'm here - correct me if I'm wrong (politely please; I haven't read / heard all his stuff):
1) RD is no doubt an eminent expert in his own field, but is he more than a layman in many of the fields he makes pronouncements / assumptions on?
2) It seems to me that he 'rants' partly because he had a 'religiously damaged' childhood
3) What is his current motivation - cynically one might question whether it isn't now just a lovely 'money-spinner' for him
4) What is RD offering in place of faith in God? The satisfaction of destroying something which helps billions to make sense of life and motivates them to make something sensible a chaotic and sometimes very unpleasant situations?
5) Does he really want the monotheistic religions to go away; they played, and play, a huge part in creating and maintaining the 'civilised' society which provides the freedom to proclaim, debate, question which he is enjoying?

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 10:01:41

I don't know how many times I have heard the canard that atheism is not a belief but the absence of one Yes, because it's true. A quick look in the dictionary would settle that one for you.

The problem with that is that people who are atheists do have plenty of beliefs Yes. So?

They believe that science is the sole arbiter of truth Not all. But there tends to be a general consensus that science is the best way to sort fact from fiction....because it is. How many mysteries have been solved by religion thus far? None. By science? Too countless to mention here.

They believe that morality can be determined by reference to non-transcendental principles. They believe in the sufficiency of human reason to solve the problems of human life What else is there? If you cannot even demonstrate that there's any such thing as "transcendental", then how can you claim that it can answer anything? Human morality is not that hard to figure out, really. It doesn't need reference to any supernatural woo in order to explain it, so why create more mystery where there is none?

All those things are beliefs, and it is disingenuous to claim that they are not, and that atheism has no beliefs associated with it Those things may be beliefs, yes. But they are not actually "atheism" which only means to lack belief in a deity. I know atheists who believe in ghosts & the afterlife, just not god - there aren't many but there are some.

In fact, the statement that 'I believe there is no god' is of course a statement of belief in itself, and all sorts of other beliefs flow from that You are sort of right. The statement "I believe there is no god" is, clearly a belief, and requires evidence to defend it. But that's not what atheism means. "I don't believe in god" is not the same as "I believe there is no god".

I don't believe in aliens - because I have no reason to. I would never say "I believe there are no aliens" because I have no reason for that either.

DadOnIce Wed 09-Jan-13 10:02:00

I think perhaps often people are insulted if their religion is questioned. And I don't mean in a "please explain it to me way - I mean in the same way that one would question any theory for which one has no evidence.

What I don't understand is why the Judeo-Christian God and creation story can't be seen in context as just one of many which human imagination has come up with - given the thousands of other gods and supernatural entities which humanity has believed in throughout the millennia and which have all been shown to be mythical. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the Sun was pushed through the sky by a giant beetle, but we now have enough scientific knowledge to know why this isn't actually true. So why should the currently popular beliefs have any special status? (Obviously when i say "currently" I mean over the last couple of thousand years or so!)

(And when I say I "don't understand" it - just to clarify, as this has been misunderstood in the past - I don't mean "I feel a bit dim and would like it to be explained by someone more intelligent", as in the way I might say to Brian Cox "I don't understand quantum physics, Brian." I mean it as in the way people say "I don't understand why anybody finds Jim Davidson funny", or "I don't understand why anybody watches The Kardashians.")

Avuncular Wed 09-Jan-13 10:02:10

Oops - forgive proof-reading glitch in point 4) please

DadOnIce Wed 09-Jan-13 10:06:17

Avuncular, just to pick up on one point: "[Dawkins] is no doubt an eminent expert in his own field, but is he more than a layman in many of the fields he makes pronouncements / assumptions on?" The problem is that religion steps on "his" territory - evolutionary biology and science in general - so he is perfectly entitled to rebut its claims with fact. Also, one doesn't need to be a qualified theologian to point out that Zeus, Thor, Ra & co. don't actually exist as anything other than imaginative metaphors, so... Neither do you need any special qualifications to point out that tealeaf-reading, astrology, etc. have no basis in fact, and gods just fall into this category.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 10:16:56

As politely as I can, Avuncular:

1) RD is no doubt an eminent expert in his own field, but is he more than a layman in many of the fields he makes pronouncements / assumptions on? What fields? Do you mean theology? I don't accept that discussing religious ideas requires "expertise" of any kind. Theology isn't about facts, it's about what a bunch of people think about something. I'm not sure it can even be described as a "subject" in any meaningful sense of the word.

2) It seems to me that he 'rants' partly because he had a 'religiously damaged' childhood Trying to be nice here - but please don't be so ridiculous. What's a "religiously damaging childhood"? Do you mean when a child is brainwashed into believing what their parents do and told that they're off to hell if they don't? Dawkins had a normal childhood, as far as I know, he was just given the freedom to make up his own mind. Oh - and I keep hearing about these "rants" of Dawkins but have yet to see or hear one. He always strikes me as incredibly polite & calm. Can you link to a YT clip of him "ranting"? I'd be fascinated.

3) What is his current motivation - cynically one might question whether it isn't now just a lovely 'money-spinner' for him Some people actually care about what's true & are distressed by the harm religion is causing. A good enough motivation, I would think.

4) What is RD offering in place of faith in God? The satisfaction of destroying something which helps billions to make sense of life and motivates them to make something sensible a chaotic and sometimes very unpleasant situations? Why should he offer anything? Either god exists or it doesn't. It's hardly the problem of atheists if religious people can't cope with the idea of reality.

5) Does he really want the monotheistic religions to go away; they played, and play, a huge part in creating and maintaining the 'civilised' society which provides the freedom to proclaim, debate, question which he is enjoying? No. The enlightenment & rise of secularism created the civilised society we enjoy today. Prior to that, when religion was in charge, death, murder, disease & inequality were the order of the day. It's called the dark ages for a reason. If you think a theocracy is a grand idea, go and live in Iran.

I have to go to work now.

demisemiquaver Wed 09-Jan-13 10:18:26

religous people who feel superior to those not sharing their beliefs/opinions =non-believers who sneer (and feel superior to) people who believe in a religion : both are probably smug types

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 10:25:40

@demi yes. And it is sad as the OP doesn't appear to be either.

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 10:28:29

Ellie, even if I wasn't a Christian, I'd see your contention that something that doesn't study 'facts' can't be a real subject as an example of the worst kind of philistinism. All sorts of subjects do not study 'facts': philosophy (including philosophy of science), theoretical physics, art, literature, music. I'm doubtful whether history would meet your criterion of fact-based study, based as it is on hearsay, testimony and inference (and showing, as it does, that there is no such thing as an unarguable, objectively true historical fact). Nor would large parts of anthropology, sociology, geography - and so on. Simply because you do not like the subject matter of theology does not mean it is not a subject with a long and rich intellectual tradition.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 10:30:16

Havent got time to read all posts in detail yet. Will need to if I post again.

And cant say I agree with everything Ellie is saying.

But the bit where Ellie disagrees with Niminy
Niminy 09.51am

The bible says in one place
"If you are not for us, you are against us.

And in another it says
"If you are not against us, you are for us"

It took me a while to notice those two different parts of the bible, and even longer to reconcile them.

And they are why it is possible that atheists can still become Christians at some point in their lives.
Ellie imo is in the second category. She may not realise this herself, but perhaps she does, and that is sort of the point she is trying to make. [sorry Ellie if you are a man, I dont know if you are a man or a woman, it doesnt matter for this anyway].

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 10:31:23

Actually, just realised I should not have put that in "" , as I only tend to do that if they are exact quotes.
If anyone wants the exact quotes, I shall set about to find them.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 10:33:37

Would also like to add that Christians all have different personalities, as does the whole world.
Yes, wouldnt it be lovely if all Christians were perfect, but unfortuneately none of us are, and will not have achieved that perfection before we die.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 10:35:28

@niminypiminy as a scientist (and Christian) I am also irritated that people are so defensive about spouting 'views' on something that they have very little actua theoretical groundign in. I studied genetics and evolution at uni and the bollocks that some people who claim to 'believe in evolution' come out with is shocking.

I think theological education and scientific education in this country are quite lacking, which is why theses debates get so heated.

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 10:41:04

DadonIce: perhaps you'd like to try and define what a fact is?

RD is an able populariser of a certain brand of biology. But he is not, and has not been for some decades, a serious research scientist. His ideas about the role of genes have never been accepted by geneticists as a whole, and since the publication of The Selfish Gene, research has moved on.

If he knew anything about theology, which he patently doesn't, he would know that most Christian theologians (and indeed most Christians) don't see any contradiction between natural selection and a belief in God. He would also know that he is much more obsessed by the 'religion/science' conflict than nearly all Christians -- most of whom are more interested in living out the gospel, and trying to put into practice the great commandment - to love your God with all your mind, and heart and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself.

IneedAgoldenNickname Wed 09-Jan-13 10:53:52

Demi I agree that people who think they are better than others, be they religious or atheist, are smug. And as ethelb says I don't think I am better than anyone else, but their posts made it clear they think they are better then me.

I actually rarely like/share/post religious things on Facebook, I 'like' the odd post that pops up if it really 'speaks' to me ^ and^ isn't judgemental (mind you, if it were judgemental I wouldn't agree with it anyway)

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 10:55:21

Very quickly - comparing theoretical physics with theology is....well, words fail me, to be honest.

The study of what some being who no one can demonstrate even exists thinks about how we live etc is not a subject. It's unsupported waffle. I don't accept that it has a "long, intellectual tradition". Long and traditional, maybe....but "intellectual"? hmm

Philosophy is different. It's the father of science. It's where honest enquiry begins.

Art, music & literature actually exist, so can be studied in various ways.

Some aspects of theology are interesting - the study of religions & how they have evolved etc. But given that the word literally means "the study of god" (a being that you have to presuppose even exists before you can demonstrate that it's a subject worth studying) then I don't accept that it's worthy of being compared to theoretical physics, or even philosophy.

And the issue of whether god exists or not is actually scientific, not theological - so the idea that only theologians should discuss it is nonsense.

Will check back later.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 10:57:22

But Ellie, if you lined up someone with a degree in theoretical physics and one with theology they would both be educated to the same level surely?

Many of my friends are American and South African, both countries where Christian belief if a big part of their culture, so I have to put up with a fair amount of religious posts. But I just ignore them, and certainly don't respond rudely or negatively. You can't expect people to just throw off what they were raised to believe and are surrounded by all the time.

So while I wince at their posts, and get a little grumpy about the ones about "lost lives with no purpose" when they refer to unbelievers, I just refrain from comment. My new year's resolution is not to let religious stuff on FB bother me!

Do you sent your FB status updates out to everyone? I have a small group I that get my regular updates. The rest of my friends are more acquaintances and I don't know how they would react to the endless feminist links and posts I make. So I only send them out to people who understand my feelings, or are at least good enough friends not to be rude about it grin. Perhaps you should set up a group to receive your religious posts, excluding the people who were so rude.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 11:16:24

ouch, "lost lives with no purpose", what a rude thing for people to post.
I just think of practically all unbelievers, as potential believers.
I dont use facebook, so dont know how it all works.

Ellie, the study of anything somewhat relies on other peoples povs being correct.

As I have said on MN before, God cannot be proved in a scientific way.
People have to come to God by faith. The definition of faith is believing in something that cannot be proven.
So anyone that is trying to find God by science, will never be able to do it.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 11:17:54

Annie, I think you are handling your friends posts very well.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 11:20:39

what was the status btw OP?

HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 11:22:31
HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 11:25:58
IneedAgoldenNickname Wed 09-Jan-13 12:01:36

I can't remember the exact wording, but something along the lines of 'really enjoying my debate with evangelical Americans' which was in relation to a discussion I was having elsewhere. So the status didn't mention the Bible, or God, or being better than anyone else.

Even weirder then! Perhaps they assumed you were arguing against the evangelists (because let's be honest, some of them are a 'little extreme') and would agree with their viewpoint.

IneedAgoldenNickname Wed 09-Jan-13 12:22:53

I was definitely disagreeing with the evangelicals, they told me I'd burn in hell grin

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 12:31:53

That's really odd. [confusesed]

Though sometimes pointing out that not all Christians are the same as evangelical christians gets people's backs up. grin Becuase then they can't just religion bash as simply!

IneedAgoldenNickname Wed 09-Jan-13 12:36:49

Lol true grin

LeBFG Wed 09-Jan-13 12:44:52

You could probably could get a PhD studying mythical monsters. Doesn't make what is studied true.

I think Ellie is doing a great job with her posts. So I'll just go wtf at the following comment by niminypiminy: RD is an able populariser of a certain brand of biology. But he is not, and has not been for some decades, a serious research scientist. because he's now employed full-time to inform and educate the public. His ideas about the role of genes have never been accepted by geneticists as a whole, and since the publication of The Selfish Gene, research has moved on. Er, where do you get this stuff??

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 12:53:12

The Simonyi Chair of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford has been held by Marcus du Sautoy since 2008. RD is retired from full time employment.

LeBFG Wed 09-Jan-13 12:56:12

OK, was employed until 2008 - that suit you better? Where's all this stuff about the selfish gene having never been accepted by genetists and the research moving on?

Snorbs Wed 09-Jan-13 13:03:31

[Dawkins] would also know that he is much more obsessed by the 'religion/science' conflict than nearly all Christians

You're being a bit parochial about this. In many states in the US the religion/science conflict is huge particularly on the topic of evolution. There are continuing efforts to get "Intelligent Design" (ie Biblical creationism) taught in science classes in US schools alongside evolution as an equally valid theory for the origins of life. I think at least one state (Kentucky) has voted for this. Texas is also a particular hotbed for these attempts as, for good reason or bad, Texas pretty much sets the standard for education books across the entire US.

In Turkey there is a lot of problems with evolution being seen as anti-Islamic and this has been something of an issue in some other Islamic states as well. There have been some attempts in the UK to set up schools (Vardy rings a bell) where creationism is taught in science classes. Teaching of evolution in UK faith-based schools can be very patchy already.

Just because most UK christians don't make a big song and dance about evolution - although even my mum's evangelical church seems to have a broadly anti-evolution stance from what she's said - it doesn't mean it's a complete non-issue.

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 13:04:03

I said, accepted by geneticists as a whole. Its central thesis was, and remains controversial, with geneticists holding different views about it. In the 36 years since it was published you would expect research to have moved on - particularly since in most sciences research moves so quickly that it can be out of date in months.

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 13:07:13

And you might have a look at the section on 'reception' in the Wikipedia article on The Selfish Gene for an account of some of the critics of the book, and some of the ways in which its thesis has been challenged, changed or overtaken.

HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 13:08:15

LeBFG (what a very cool name!) yes, there have been lots of doctorates on mythological sea creatures in the Hebrew Bible. Once you start scratching beneath the surface, it is a really fascinating area of research. And no, none of these (as far as I know) has proven or falsified the historial reality of sea creatures, because (again, as far as I know) the kind of people who do academic research in this kind of area are much more likely to ask questions to do with the rhetoric of mythological creature stories, how they differ across different people-groups, how they develop ove time, what they symbolise, how they fit into (or not) the wider currents in thinking in the cultures of their time. People might try and research archaeological evidence, but tbh I think that most scholars recognise that to be a fool's errand.

The reason I am saying this is because it annoys me when people think of theology / divinity / Religious studies as a Mickey Mouse subject, 'unsupported waffle' as it was called upthread, when actually it's pretty rigorous and at least as hard as any other humanities subject; you'd have to know at least a couple of ancient languages to do a proper study of mythological sea creatures, you's have to be skilled in interpreting ancient literary texts , in understanding ancient cultures' anthropology, history, and lots more too.

I feel strongly that R.E. is taught so badly so much of the time in schools that many 17 yos don't consider it as a worthwhile degree subject, and the pool of applicants for universities to chooes from is to small, so that Religious studies / call it what you will is too often sidelined in universities and eventually squashed out altogether, which is a loss for society. So all of this is completely besides the point of whether God is real or not - it just so happens that I believe both in God, and in Theology etc as an academic discipline!

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 13:09:19

Nim - kind of irrelevant... Steven Jay Gould's 'punctuated equilibrium' hypothesis was also (correct me if I'm wrong) not widely accepted in his field but he could still write interesting books on a range of scientific and other issues.

OT, but it does actually annoy me somewhat that RD didn't seem to devote enough of his energies to the much-needed issue of 'The public understanding of science' while he held that position - I fear he rather contributed to certain people misunderstanding it even more.

DadOnIce Wed 09-Jan-13 13:22:30

Having a PhD or not is a red herring. It's entirely possible for very educated people to believe and do daft things. Being clever doesn't mean you always use your brain all the time. (I'm very highly educated, and yet I enjoy The X-Factor. I know some incredibly intelligent people who are renowned in their fields and yet can't manage simple tasks in other contexts.)

niminypiminy - you asked me if I'd "define what a fact is." Not sure why, but I'll have a go - it's knowledge or experience based on evidence, i.e. not necessarily something which is undisputed (let's face it, some people would argue the Earth is flat and that green is blue just for the hell of it), but something where the weight of evidence is overwhelming and it fits current theories. The fact of the law of gravity, for example.

I'm not sure you have quite correctly represented what I was trying to say about Dawkins. He is, after all, not "just" an evolutionary biologist. His remit goes a bit further. After all, he held a very high-profile position, the Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science (my italics) - and so it is part of his job to ensure people support what they believe to be true by demonstrating suitable evidence.

(Whether evolution and natural selection are compatible with belief in God is something of another red herring - it's compatible, after all, with belief in Thor, Zeus, the Great Green Arkleseizure, or any other fictional deity of your choice.)

HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 13:27:51

I agree entirely, DadonIce, that people who are very intelligent at one thing can be terrible at another. That's how I acount for the absolutely dire philosophical thinking in The God Delusion, tbh. Sorry to have another pop at Dawkins, poor chap - but he does set himself up for it.

Hs anyone read Quentin Skinner on 'the cult of the fact'? Not a religious man as far as I know but an amazingly astute historical / philosophical thinker.

DadOnIce Wed 09-Jan-13 13:34:30

I think most scientists would agree that facts are allowed to be refined when new evidence comes in. The definition I gave above allows for that. It's, kind of, how this Science stuff is meant to work, you know?... (There is even an anecdote in "The God Delusion" which illustrates this - it's about RD being at a conference where an eminent geneticist was delighted to have his theory disproved by a colleague presenting a paper with new evidence.)

How it doesn't work is by asking us to believe random stuff where there is no evidence for it.

The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They alter the facts to fit their theories, rather than their theories to fit the facts.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 13:40:10

I like to see people with Special Needs who believe in God.
Their faith is often very strong.
Delving and analysing much of the bible is certainly not a necessity.

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 13:45:35

I must read Skinner on the cult of the fact - he is a brilliant man.

The point of me asking DadonIce to define a fact is that this is a very slippery concept indeed. We could take your definition 'knowledge or experience based on evidence' and unpack that in all sorts of ways. We might say 'how do we know that the thing we experience is necessarily happening in the world outside our head?', as Decartes did, or we could posit that there are some kinds of knowledge that are innate, or a priori, and some that are created in the mind through an interaction with the world, as Kant did. We could ask how we know what counts as evidence, and how we assess different ways of interpreting evidence.

I could go on. But the point is that the kind of common-sense empiricism that insists that facts are what is supported by the weight of evidence is vulnerable to some of the basic questions about the nature of knowledge that philosophers have been asking for centuries. And these aren't irrelevant, airy-fairy debates - they are questioning how we can know anything for certain, which makes them very basic issues indeed.

So when someone says that science deals with facts, we have to ask ourselves what a fact is - and the answer turns out to be a great deal more uncertain than we thought.

HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 13:52:25

Agree, Millionyears. I don't think for one moment that you need a degree to believe, or for belief to be valid. I think it is up to each person to give the best of themselves in love to God; love the Lord your God with all your mind...but what that means to each person is different.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 13:52:43

Having recently been listening to some lectures on philosophy, some philosophers seem to do some pretty dire (or in some cases plain pointless) philosophical thinking too wink. (Are we allowed to insult philosophies... this notion has set a sort of Pythonesque sketch running in my head ... I'm easily amused sometimes grin)

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 13:59:33

I have heard some of their testimonies.
And they are at least as moving as anyone elses I have heard.

slug Wed 09-Jan-13 14:06:54

Holfernesshead I have one of those type of degrees you linked to (outs self). They teach religions from an anthropological/sociological/historical point of view. At no point are you expected to believe any of it.

In my experience, most of the students who started out on my course with any kind of religious belief were firm atheists by the end. There's nothing like being presented with the stark facts, put in their cultural, historical and political context. It tends to remove the glamour and let you see the vested interests behind.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 14:09:50

To put a scientific slant on this, I have always been surprised that the practice of religious beleif as a human behaviour isn't studied more. It has been a defining aspect of human kind for the vast majority of human existance, but it is barely studied. Just a thought.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 14:16:53

Nim - to be sure, words like 'fact' (or moreso 'truth') need clarity. Subjective and objective - and even 'subjective' realities may also be objectively verifiable ... to take an example I came across recently, some people really can see 'auras'. That doesn't mean that anybody really has an aura in any objective physical sense - another observer or a machine would not detect any photons - but the person doing the looking is experiencing some sort of synaesthesia and it can be experimentally shown that if they say they're seeing blue around another person, they are - something really is happening inside their brain. (not sure I explained that well, something I was reading recently that I thought was kinda cool).

CoteDAzur Wed 09-Jan-13 14:18:51

"I like to see people with Special Needs who believe in God.
Their faith is often very strong."

That is not surprising, assuming that you are talking about cognitive problems rather than a missing foot.

I recently read My Stroke Of Insight, by a brain scientist (woman) who writes about her stroke and subsequent recovery, and what she has learned about the brain and how we think.

She describes waking up one morning with a headache and experiencing a wonderful religious feeling of happiness and being one with the universe. This is the start the stroke, where bleeding takes place in the left hemisphere of her brain. Her recovery and reacquisition of most cognitive skills takes 8 years.

The book is fascinating but to make a long story short, it is not surprising that a feeling of religious peace, zen, confidence in the purpose of it all is common in people with cognitive problems as these are often housed in the left hemisphere.

DadOnIce Wed 09-Jan-13 14:19:21

niminy - all that is probably fair enough, but, (do other people here agree?) we have to have some kind of meaningful, commonly-accepted dictionary definition of "facts", or all discussion about them is meaningless. I could assert that the existence of pink unicorns is a fact. You and I know this isn't true, and you can't disprove it, but that doesn't actually make it true. And where we have gaps in our knowledge - which we can happily accept - that doesn't mean we have to fill them with myths and legends about gods. We can, obviously, and it is great fun and even enriching to our culture to do so, but it doesn't make them any more real. Put another way - what's the justification for believing in gods (and I mean all gods, not just the Judeo-Christian model) as opposed to not doing so?

I can't really get into arguing philosophy, I'm afraid, as I have not studied it. But that doesn't stop me from being pretty confident in my atheism as the existence of omipotent deities - especially one who'd be remotely interested in our little doings on our grain of sand at the edge of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy - is just so ridiculously unlikely. Not impossible - nothing is technically 100% "impossible" if you accept that the universe is infinite - but just very, very unlikely indeed. I take the Occam's Razor position on such things.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 14:19:45

Ethel - ITA - people are beginning to study it, fascinating area indeed. I guess that religious behaviour couldn't begin to be properly studied until there was the possibility of doing so disinterestedly.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 14:23:17

Amillion .......... And they are why it is possible that atheists can still become Christians at some point in their lives
Ellie imo is in the second category. She may not realise this herself, but perhaps she does, and that is sort of the point she is trying to make

The points I am trying to make, Amillion are fairly unambiguous, I would think. I don't believe that your god exists for good and sound reasons. I am not against it any more than I am "against" the Easter Bunny. You do understand that there are actually quite a few people who genuinely do not believe what you do, right? Well, I am one of them. If that changes, you will be the very first to know. But in the meantime, kindly do not presume to know me better than I know myself - you don't.

Holo Your point? It's Oxford & Cambridge so it must be OK? I don't agree. Yes, it's still unsupported waffle.

Theology falls at the first fence - it cannot even manage to prove the existence of the thing it's claiming to be studying. It can say whatever it likes, but there's simply no way to know whether it's correct or not. Theology is lots of people saying what they think is true, and then claiming expertise. They are not expected to actually demonstrate that they're right - but we're just meant to believe them?

Bible studies is a valid subject (the Bible exists, whatever we personally think about it) as is History of Religion etc - but "the study of god" is on a par with the "study of the King of the Fairies".

Amillion (again).......^Ellie, the study of anything somewhat relies on other peoples povs being correct^

^As I have said on MN before, God cannot be proved in a scientific way.
People have to come to God by faith. The definition of faith is believing in something that cannot be proven.
So anyone that is trying to find God by science, will never be able to do it^

Do you realise the degree to which you've contradicted yourself?

Yes, the study of something does rely on other people's POVs being correct. How are you determining whose POV is correct then if you cannot offer any evidence (scientific or otherwise) to determine who, actually is correct (if anyone)?

Speculative things (which god, I'm afraid, is) are interesting to discuss. But 3/4 years of study, letters after your name & automatic respect for your "expertise" for merely speculating? Nah. Sorry.

Buggering off again.

(I'm a laydee, btw, Amillion)

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 14:24:37

Sod it. Italics fail.

HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 14:29:23

Exactly what I'm saying, Ethel! It shuold be studied more.

Slug, well, given that university departments don't do entry and exit polls as to belief (now there's a sociology of religion PhD waiting to happen!), it's a bit lopsided to extraoplate from your cohort any convincing conclusions as to the impact of academic theology on believers. Yes, it's obvious to see how a certain type of fundamentalist faith wouldn't survive, but that's not the whole picture. And yes, I know that students aren't expected to believe any of it! Juts out of interest, and I compltely understand if you don't want to out yourself further, when did you do your degree? And what kind of 'stark facts' were presented to you? I was haing a really interesting conversation about this wih a colleague the other day.

Grimma, which philosophiques are you unimpressed by? Is it their methodologies, or conclusions you find dire? Or both? It seems obvious to me that 'some thinkers are better than others'; reminds me of the Smiths song 'Some girls are bigger than others'....

Susan2kids Wed 09-Jan-13 14:30:58

@IneedaGoldennickname... like most people you seem to be confused if you go and shout someting in public..... which is what you do on facebook. You no longer have the right to be offended by the public reply. The fact is most religions do hurt others, contrary to your claim, although such hypocricy is the staple of most religions......as a 'christian' regardless of your proclaimed 'liberal' status you effectively suggest that other religions are incorrect...this is the same level of insult that you just percieved...in short you have no more right not to be mocked and harangued over your beliefs than does someone who publically professes they have organised their daily lives on the basis of advice given by a lump of mould under the sink.

HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 14:33:23

Ellie, the point which I made very clearly is that, regardless of students' belief, academic theology is a rigorous, worthwhile and intensive subject of study. The course outlines I linked to illustrate that.

If you dismiss it as 'unsupported waffle', well, that's your own unsupported prejudice.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 14:35:40

@susan but OP didn't shout about her religious beleifes. She mentioned a discussion she had had with some people who were religious. And disagreed with them!

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 14:38:48

Holo, I'm afraid they didn't sufficiently stick in my mind to discuss properly.

Ellie...I think 'theology' isn't exactly what you're characterising it as - I expect Slug could clarify what it is and isn't. (Names aren't always accurate - the word 'astrology' should mean what 'astronomy' does for instance.)

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 14:52:31

The role of religious belief in society has been a central concern of anthropology since its inception in the late nineteenth century. Is that what people mean by 'it has barely been studied'. ?

Susan2kids Wed 09-Jan-13 15:01:01

@ethelb She did shout... any comment on facebook goes to all your friends, how often do you stand in a room of over a hundred people and scream so all of them can hear you? You do that they are entitled to comment back. She stated shes a christian...many people find that offensive since it suggests that they are wrong in their own beliefs.... We need to be more aware of what facebook actually is.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 15:02:50

@niminy I mean scientifically. Specifically genetically as there is a lot of interest in behavioural geneticts. We look for the gay gene. We look for the autistic gene. We look for the gene that causes mental illness. But as far as I am aware there are no trails looking for a theist gene.

Maybe I should pitch a thesis!

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 15:08:26

We don't know if she stated that she is a christian in her post. just that she disagreed with some. And I do think that it isn't undreasonable to not be called names for being honest about ones theological position.

Plus I think being offended that someone has a religion that might suggest they are wrong does come under the professional offense taker heading. I hate the term but sorry, it just does!

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 15:11:54

Ellie, I am more than aware that "there are actually quite a few people who do not genuinely believe what you do, right?" !! [would like to say that it is as much what I do as what I say and who I am]
I will try not to "presume to know me better than I know myself".

I dont have letters of any description after my name.
I have never done a study course on it. Nor have huuge numbers of Christians. Those that have studied it, are, I would have thought, huugely in the minority.

And I cannot see any degree to which I have contradicted myself above.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 15:16:28

>But as far as I am aware there are no trails looking for a theist gene

I think I've heard of something along those lines...this is what a search for 'god gene' throws up, no idea if its good science but maybe the sort of thing you mean?

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 15:18:18

It's exactly as I've described it, Grimma.

THEOLOGY
1. The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.
2. A system or school of opinions concerning God and religious questions: Protestant theology; Jewish theology.
3. A course of specialized religious study usually at a college or seminary

As Thomas Paine said: "The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not anything can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing."

I agree with him. That universities shoe horn "History of Religion" etc in with the various courses does not give "theology" a different definition.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 15:18:37

> She stated shes a christian...many people find that offensive since it suggests that they are wrong in their own beliefs

confused In that case any of us stating anything about what we believe is going to be offensive to someone...sorry, that's a very strange position to take.

I don't use FB but it doesn't sound to me like the OP was 'shouting' anything.

LeBFG Wed 09-Jan-13 15:20:13

niminypiminy: And you might have a look at the section on 'reception' in the Wikipedia article on The Selfish Gene for an account of some of the critics of the book, and some of the ways in which its thesis has been challenged, changed or overtaken.

OK, done as asked. Nothing noteworthy. Some mathmatical biologists didn't agree to the extent of RD's book so what. The second bit was about group selection (yawn) everyone keeps trying to jump on that old bandwagon - far from being 'widely accepted'. And the third bit was about little quibbles from a couple of scientists about whether the unit of selection is on the gene or phenotype...this is far from rejecting or rewriting RD's work as phenotypes come from genotypes.

Evolutionary geneticists work (I can guarantee) on the principle that genes are the target of selection and that group selection is, at best, a very weak force.

Nothing about RD's Selfish Gene is remotely controversial. Sorry.

ethelb, there was a Radio 4 debate a long time ago discussing religious IQ and 'a gene for religion' type of thing. I believe there is ongoing research into this - it's nothing new. It appears to be quite important to us humans to believe in something outside of us. We continually search for meaning and sense. Even back in the day when we all thought the Sun god was punishing us by destroying our crops. Perhaps this is a product of a large mind that looks for links between events in order to survive? Or perhaps there is a real evolutionary advantage to believing and genes are directly belie this behaviour? Oops, just found this by typing god gene into google. Quite interesting actually. As others have said, we can induce these states in people with low religious IQs.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 15:21:31

Yes that is the sort of thing I mean. Though I beleive that particular theory has been thrown out by most reputable scientists as the hypothesis itself is a bit wooly.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 15:23:29

>rational inquiry into religious questions
That's not a study of nothing - whether god exists or not, religion does.
I would guess some would say that 'the study of God' also does not necessarily mean such an entity must exist since many and various ideas about god(s) do exist and - for better or worse - have a profound impact on mankind.

Paine may have been right 'as it stands in Christian churches' but that is probably not quite the same thing as a 21st C theology degree.

Susan2kids Wed 09-Jan-13 15:24:31

ethelb...well you can call it professional offence taking but i think you'll find that simply being of a different religion has in fact caused many many wars. This is because people get quite edgy when somoeone appears and basically implies that because of THEIR faith you are wrong, evil and in many cases condemned to hell. Personally pretending religions arent offensive to many people i find to be wilfully ignoring the facts.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 15:25:31

@ethelb but I don't take offense that someone else thinks I'm wrong. I think if I did I would expect to be told to man up.

Susan2kids Wed 09-Jan-13 15:27:49

ethelb - I think its also pretty obvious from the OP that her status update mentioned her religion or there would have been no relevance in the replies she recieved.

IneedAgoldenNickname Wed 09-Jan-13 15:36:54

Susan why do I not have the right to be offended by offensive things? Like being, called thick, stupid or deluded? My status did NOT mention my religion, not sure how its obvious that it did confused

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 15:37:44

Is it 'being of another religion' which causes wars, or is it 'being unable to tolerate different religious beliefs'?

I rather think the latter is a more accurate description.

LeBFG Wed 09-Jan-13 15:48:58

Done some more googling, and found this too. I'm not trying to give these as exemplars of research, ethelb, just that the questions have been asked and some people are trying to answer them. I personally think they will find genetic predispositions for spirituality and the like which people have exploited over time to exert control over others (that's how I really see 'organised' religion).

slug Wed 09-Jan-13 15:58:26

Holo - I was merely pointing out that in my experience as someone who actually has studied, and gained, one of those degrees, that my fellow students went in religious and came out atheist. You come out of these degree programmes with a clear view of religion as a means of social control.

(Outs self even more) I now work in a world class university that has a large Religious Studies department with an international reputation. Faith simply does not come into the academic study except in the form of "The followers of this religion believe this"

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 16:05:11

@lebfg thanks for that. I'll start writing my literature review!

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 16:08:44

@slug that's really interesting.

I did a biology degree and though a lot of people went in as atheists and left as atheists, many became less tub thumping as they actually looked at the complexity of 'creation' (I use the term broadly here) and were quite cross with the 'oh well its evolution innit' nu-atheist set.

sieglinde Wed 09-Jan-13 16:30:48

Going back a loong way now to Ellie - yes, I too work...

Just explain in simple, logical terms why what I said was personal, and what you said wasn't.

Otherwise, all, there's so much to say and no time to say it. Would love to take up the question of what it means to be RC. I am actually willing to bear any insults you wish to level at the church, provided you recognise how bigoted you sound. We RCs of the Isles are pretty used to that. Note that by 'insults' I do not mean rational disagreements.

....though you may also want to bear in mind that you might be wasting your time, since I probably agree with you anyway but am not willing to leave the church because of it. I'm not best placed to defend the church's opposition to gay marriage, though, since I confessedly don't understand it and find it ridiculous. I could have a try on contraception... though even then...

What you might want to try is persuading me and other liberals to leave the church over the issues that seem to you so very important, so much more important than what to me are the fundamentals. Or you could ask us why we don't leave.

Keeping to the latest topic, surely its alleged usefulness as a means of social control has no bearing on whether religion is true or not? Paranoid fear of marijuana might be useful in encouraging alcohol consumption and keeping teens off the streets - doesn't mean it's founded in fact. Conversely, campaigns to improve public health are often founded in fact and are socially useful as well.

JoTheHot Wed 09-Jan-13 17:05:34

sieglinde Your position strikes me as being akin to someone who joins the BNP, whilst saying they don't understand racism. Like a vegetarian who works in an abattoir. Your actions are not consistent with your words. You're being hypocritical.

This is no big deal. I'm a hypocrite. I say I care about the rain forests, but I carry on buying palm oil and soya. I care about the rain forests, but not that much. You care about equality for gays and women, but not that much. Not enough to sacrifice your RC social network.

sieglinde Wed 09-Jan-13 17:53:12

grin wish there was an emoticon for ROTFL. I am the world's LEAST parish person. My family is not RC, and I don't have an RC social network, I'm afraid; would you like to go for double or quits?

I'm not being especially hypocritical, I think. What you mean is that for you gay marriage is more important than everything else. Sorry, but no. One of three things will happen; the RC church will change its mind, or I will change my mind, or the two of us will agree to disagree.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 18:09:15

Naievely perhaps, I didnt realise that religions were used as social control.

I am a Methodist, though I hate that term really. I am a Christian and choose to be a member of the Methodist Church. Quite frankly, if the local one were to close, I am more likely to start attending the next nearest which is Anglican, than attend the next nearest Methodist place.
Nothing against Methodism, just that I care far more about truth [as I see the truth, [which is the truth <stamps feet, joke!>]] than which denomination speaks it.

I dont think the Methodist church has much if any social control at all in this country.
Others may be able to persuade me otherwise on this particular point.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 18:10:26

I think Methodists and methodism is seen as religiously low in religious circles.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 18:19:23

amillion - no, methodism isn't particularly control-freaky. But some religions are/have been very much about social control - most often of women but also of 'lower orders' - varying according to when and where you're talking about. To take an extreme but current example, the case ofMalala Yousafzai - punished by the Taleban for the heinous crime of ' "promoting secularism" by championing girls' education'.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 18:25:17

Oh - and just to be clear, since on these threads people sometimes get the wrong idea - I don't in any way blame other religious groups for the outrages of the Taleban, my assumption is that Malala is herself a Muslim.

niminypiminy Wed 09-Jan-13 18:31:43

JotheHot, what you're not getting is that gay marriage and so forth is not the deal-breaker if you are a Christian - the death and resurrection of Christ is. That is what is at the centre of Christian belief.

Re The Selfish Gene: according to the summary on Wikipedia (which, given that it can be edited by anybody, cannot be taken as an impartial summing up of the debate), 'most modern evolutionary biologists [ie a particular field within biology] accept that the idea is consistent with many processes in evolution [that doesn't mean that they accept that there are no other possible explanations, or that it has all the explanatory power claimed for it]. However, the view that selection on other levels ... seldom opposes selection on genes is more controversial.' I do not think that suggests that that the book has been uncontroversial in the scientific community.

There are several problems with the 'scientific investigations of the role of religion in society'. One is that it treats 'religion' as a unitary, unchanging phenomenon when in fact it is is a rich, heterogeneous and historically complex phenomenon about which it is impossible to make generalisations which do not collapse when confronted with specific cases. Secondly, it ignores the content of religious beliefs and practices, without which they are meaningless. Thirdly, by discounting functionalist explanations based on culture and history, it reduces the rich complexity of human responses to the great issues of life and death to a shallow caricature based on the limited metaphors of genetics.

jjkm Wed 09-Jan-13 18:34:24

sad grimma. How horrible for those girls. I have always been taught that education is not only for secular reasons, but is in some senses a religious pursuit as well.

LeBFG Wed 09-Jan-13 18:40:35

The main churches in the UK have lost their grip on the populace. That's why you get religion-lite stuff going on all the time. Women vicars?? Debates on gays in church and gay marriage?? These would not be entertained in countries where religion had a stronger foot-hold.

I did a biology degree and though a lot of people went in as atheists and left as atheists, many became less tub thumping as they actually looked at the complexity of 'creation' (I use the term broadly here) and were quite cross with the 'oh well its evolution innit' nu-atheist set

I'm laughing at this one. I have only met a handful of biologists who would be cross at 'it's all evolution innit'...the ones that didn't understand the theory to begin with.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 18:43:30

(well obviously its not all evolution, some of it is abiogenesis grin)

LeBFG Wed 09-Jan-13 18:44:05

(pedant)

JoTheHot Wed 09-Jan-13 18:56:00

what you're not getting is that gay marriage and so forth is not the deal-breaker if you are a Christian.

Really no. I fully, totally, 100% get it that equality for gays (and women) is not that important to most christians.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 18:56:30

LeBFG, can you explain further the first paragraph of your 18.40pm post please?
I am not sure I understand it properly.
Surely, for instance, these things are discussed thoroughly in Italy for example?

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 19:02:40

amillion - I think Italy is actually a secular state and its not so much in the grip of the RC church as you may imagine. LeBGF was probably thinking of non-european countries.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 19:07:05

I don't think, Grimma that theology is the study of whether or not god exists. It's about the "nature" of God - therefore presupposing the existence of he/she/it. Most degrees now are Theology & Religion, or & Religious Studies. I disagree with er, your disagreement with me. I think. Sort of wink.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 19:14:25

> It's about the "nature" of God - therefore presupposing the existence of he/she/it.

Not necessarily - any more than students of English Literature need to believe that fictional characters actually exist in order to analyze them (and thereby sometimes learn more about actual human nature)

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 19:17:43

I am actually willing to bear any insults you wish to level at the church, provided you recognise how bigoted you sound

Wonderful. Quote of the day!

So, if anyone wants to discuss the RC church they can't mention:

* the active & continual cover up for paedophiles
* the deliberate lying to vulnerable Africans about condoms
* telling gay teens that they are "disordered", prompting suicide in more than one case
* excommunicating raped children for having life saving abortions

etc....

Objecting to, or even raising these issues would make me a bigot, right?

And, just so you know, I was born into an Irish RC family. None of my wider family (some of who are still practicing Catholics) condone any of the above so I'm not inclined to believe all do. But, according to you, you ARE the Catholic Church - so it seems that you're the person to talk to.

I can't be bothered right now to scroll back to what you said several pages ago, but I will later & address the question you've asked me.

HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 19:24:26

Ellie, you know the difference betweeen critique, argument and insult, don't you? Might help disentangle your post if you apply these categories to the various issues you raise and your respones to them.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 19:24:43

I don't agree with you, Grimma & I think everyone actually knows what theology means. Word semantics bore me. Studying the "nature" of god is not the same as studying the "nature" of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Just isn't.

LeBFG Wed 09-Jan-13 19:26:59

The control-aspect of religion is a well-known and discussed topic. That's their raison d'etre amillionyears (sure you need me to say this?).

“Religion is just mind control.”

How do you convince someone to risk their life in war? Eternity in hell.
How do you convince people to 'donate' to the church? Allow them to pay their way out of pergatory.

I could go on, but this is beyond the scope of this thread.

HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 19:30:34

Ellie, I'm a bit lost as to your point re. the definition (or not, if words bore you) of theoolgy. What are you getting at?

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 19:41:49

Do you count Methodists, baptists, and Salvationarmyists as trying to control the populace?

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 19:46:15

'oh well its evolution innit'

I'm not suggesting thaty hey are denying evolution. It is evolution innit!

It's just the overly simplistic 'evolution' that is promoted as a single theory by a single man (Darwin) by a lot of comediens, commentators etc. 'Cos, hey, we can't expect people to really understand it can we', attitude.

The number of time I have heard the works of Gregor Mendle attributed to Darwin...... Grrr.

In fact I think it happened on a thread the other day on MN! That poster was duley rebuked though tbf.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 19:59:50

Oh well, people who say that certainly are being silly, Ethel! (though I've never heard anyone vaguely a scientist do so)

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 20:04:33

I never said scientist said it, I mean comedians and commentators (I'm thinking Robin Ince, Ricky Gervais et al).

I hate the way that instead of being expected to actually understand a scientific theory, evolution is fed to the public as a little historical story about a man called Darwin who got on a boat.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 20:10:08

Sorry I (and I think LeBGF) misinterpreted your original 'innit' post to mean biology students were doing this.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 20:15:12

No. The biology students (including me!) were annoyed with people saying 'its evolution innit' in an overly simplistic way who didn't really understand the theory. Including some public figures who are atheist tubthumpers, despite being confirmed athists themselves.

Anyway, lets not dreail the thread!

specialsubject Wed 09-Jan-13 20:18:47

given the hugeness of this thread, excuse me if I just express my opinions to the OP's original posting.

1) there's no need for that kind of language in response, whatever you said.
2) the insults to you as a person ARE offensive.
3) if the word 'god' was replaced with the word 'santa' (and the language less ugly) would you be offended? Of course not. god is not a person and cannot be insulted. (disagreeing with this concept causes a lot of trouble)
4) the bible is only words on paper. All such items are usable as loo roll. Some of the concepts expressed in it are very nasty and have no place this side of the dark ages. The idea of 'be nice to each other' (which I think is in there somewhere) is good.

believe away, OP - and so you should, freedom of belief is an essential - but there is no reason why the different opinions of others should offend you. I don't believe, but the fact that you do does not offend me. So why should the opposite apply?

Avuncular Wed 09-Jan-13 20:19:27

For the avoidance of doubt:- Dawkins in his own words from Wiki:

Dawkins describes his childhood as "a normal Anglican upbringing". He was confirmed, and embraced Christianity until his mid-teens, at which point he concluded that the theory of evolution was a better explanation for life's complexity, and ceased believing in a god.

Dawkins states: "the main residual reason why I was religious was from being so impressed with the complexity of life and feeling that it had to have a designer, and I think it was when I realised that Darwinism was a far superior explanation that pulled the rug out from under the argument of design. And that left me with nothing."

There, but for the grace of God, go I IMO is the appropriate phrase.

So - Dawkins is a believer; he believes that Darwinism is a far superior explanation ..... Can someone please explain to me how Darwinian Natural Selection (demonstrated and accepted) ........ thinks ..... no, I'm not even going there; enough creation/evolution threads elsewhere.

All I can say is that up to mid/late teens I had exactly the same experience as RD (except I was in CofS). What put me off church was the fact that in my perception, the women went along to show off their hats and the men to show off their cars; during my first 17 years I never saw any manifestation of what I would call "real Christianity".

I was too young, self - assured and arrogant to have noticed that, without a single evangelistic word being spoken, my own mother was showing it every single day by her patience, life and example. And her support and encouragement to each of us to find our places in life.

I had to do the research to deliver the 'eulogy' at her funeral last year and this brought home just exactly how totally 'Christian' her life had been, despite being totally disabled and rendered speechless by a series of CVAs over several years. Her smile was highly esteemed throughout the Nursing Home.

My big question as a teenager was: what is life?

I still don't know the answer, but I did get an answer to the question of what the absence of life is; my star pupil in my gap-year overseas volunteer year was murdered during an after-school football match. Stabbed to death in an instant with a flick-knife through his heart.

In the country where I was, it was customary to use a glass-topped coffin, at least for significant people. The whole school attended the funeral service and we all had to file past the coffin; there was no escape.

As I passed it I tried to relate the prematurely lifeless upturned chocolate-coloured young face with the joy and enthusiasm of Douglas Hall as I had taught O-Level Physics and Maths classes (I have his photo still).

And a voice said to me very personally - was it from outside or within?:

There you are Mr Clever Scientist: you wanted to know what life is; now you know what a body without life is like. Are you satisfied now?

I'm not upset, but you can perhaps tell that I'm just a little bit cross with all this arguing, necessary though it may be.

I may not be much good at contending for the faith (my reticent Mum IMO was much better at that); but I have, I hope, given a partial and helpful account of the hope which is in me, whether this comes from an experience of God, or just as a random event occurring in a random collection of atomic particles at a random point in space-time.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 20:20:38

These threads always evolve get derailed don't they?

Avuncular Wed 09-Jan-13 20:27:57

Survival of the fittest arguments, I say

Anyway at least it's not a bun fight so far. Thanks everybody. Hope OP feels better now.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 20:32:01

@special I think the distinction between insulting God (how could you he is not a 'thing' and even if you could why would he/she be bothered about a Facebook post) and insulting a person.

I think the two are frequently mixed up by both theists and non-theists. I think the term atheists is actually a bit pointless in this thread as the people posting on the OP's Facebook were being anti-religion and anti-theist, we are merely assuming they are atheists.

I also think that the two can be misconstrued. For example, I am catholic (ish) and whenever this is bought up, often someone launches into an attack on catholicism, religious people etc. When someone is staring at me rather than the group of people we are in talking about how awful 'catholics' are, which is it they are criticising? Me or 'catholics' and the catholic church?

I think that is the crux of the matter here.

IneedAgoldenNickname Wed 09-Jan-13 20:44:09

special in answer to your points, if the word God is replaced with the word Santa then no its not offensive, because I know Santa does not exist, whereas I believe God does. Not as a person, but as something, which to me means he can be insulted.
And of course the Bible, as a book, could be used as loo roll, as could any book. However, the implication was that it was only worth being used as loo roll, not worth reading. Surely of you don't believe the Bible is true, then its nothing more or less than Cinderella or the 3 bears? I personally cannot stand the twilight books, but accept that some people like them and therefore wouldn't suggest they should only be used to wipe your backside.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 20:47:08

I think elthelb makes a valid point.
The only two catholics I know, or know enough to have a long conversation with, both of them do not think much of the Catholic Church.
I wonder how many of them do, either in this country ot others.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 20:49:06

@Ineed I get what you are saying about if you don't beleive the Bible then surely its just the same as any book. I feel the same. However, I am guessing that the people on your FB wall, despite not beleiving in the Bible do beleive that it is not a force for good, so it is not the case that there is an absence of belief. Or they are showing off like a 17 year old in the sixth form common room, either or grin

And a second question, why are you bothered that God can be insulted? It really isn't the same as you being insulted (which you have a right to be pissed off about) or is the issue that you think they were trying to insult you by insulting God?

IneedAgoldenNickname Wed 09-Jan-13 20:53:07

More likely that they were showing off like 17 year old tbh!

I guess insulting God bothers me in the same I'd be upset if someone told me my Mum was a bitch. That's the best way I can think of explaining it, but not sure if its clear confused

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 20:56:53

Yes it does make sense. But do you think they knew (or thought) you would react to it like someone saying your mum is a bitch? ie they knew you would be insulted by association so tried to get a rise out of you?

Or do you not think they really thought through the potential implication of what they were saying to your feelings? Or do you think they don't care? (and that is why you are pissed off)

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 20:59:53

Perfectly clear, Ineed (I'm an atheist, but used to be a Christian). I can only suppose these 'friends' don't have the maturity to think what effect their silly words may have on other people.

EllieArroway Wed 09-Jan-13 21:02:54

Holo Yes, I do. Apparently you don't as I haven't actually insulted anyone on this thread.

I've made myself as clear as I can on the theology issue too. If you don't get it now, you never will. I'm not repeating myself.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 21:06:03

Sometimes I feel forced to write something on MN that I would rather not.
But here goes.
And just saying, not saying it is actually going to happen in the next 50 years or even the next 500 years.

In the bible, it gives a list of how the world is going to end. But it gives the list backwards. So it says something like x is going to happen, And before that w, and before that v and before that u and so on..........all the way back to about n which is the persecution of Christians worldwide.
In other words, that is what it is all going to start with.

Like I said, who knows about the timing, but felt I should mention it.

ethelb Wed 09-Jan-13 21:08:17

I think often one of the reasons people feel ok insulting Christianity far more freely than they do other religions is that people associate other religions with cultural differences and assume that people will consider their religion an integral part of their culture and therefore a part of their personal identity, if you know what I mean. So people don't get as offensive so freely as they acknowlege that they may be insulting the person themselves when they insult the religion.

On the other hand, Christianity is considered an optional extra on top of your cultural background if you are white british, and therefore people don't consider how much someone might consider their christianity part of their personal identity in the same way, and therefore how offensive it may be to some people.

You don't have the right to not be offended, but I do think that a lot of the time people forget how much of an arsehole being pointlessly and willfully offensive to individuals makes you.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 21:15:24

At the time that was written, Christians were being persecuted and (correct me if I'm wrong, Holo or someone) many thought the return of Christ was imminent. Those scriptures have been (mis)-interpreted time and again...never right yet, no reason to suppose they ever will be.

Christians are persecuted in countries around the world in present times. Sometimes by other christians
But in the UK on balance Christians are still privileged not persecuted (except in NI where there's still inter-sectarian persecution sad).

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 21:26:12

Yes, when the bible was written, they did think that the return of Christ was imminent.

Had to have a think about whether Christians in this country are still privileged. I suppose they are, but not sure I can personally think of any concrete examples?

IneedAgoldenNickname Wed 09-Jan-13 21:35:23

Glad that post made sense grin
To be honest, I'm not why they did, but suspect its because they don't care.

amillionyears Wed 09-Jan-13 21:41:50

Do you mean you dont think they are bothered whether you would feel insulted or not?

IneedAgoldenNickname Wed 09-Jan-13 21:57:09

Yes sorry. Not sure why I'm friends with then tbh!

HolofernesesHead Wed 09-Jan-13 22:39:41

Grimma, you're right about the firs Christians expecting the end of time any time now. Some of the later New Testament writings seem to show a growing realisation that 'any time now' might mean 'not for ages' or 'who can say?'

Meandering, evolving religion threads are cool. smile

Snorbs Wed 09-Jan-13 22:43:30

ethelb, I disagree. I think Christianity, and the CofE in particular, comes in for particular criticism in the UK because of its privileged status in society. As a given religion throws its weight around more so it comes in for more criticism. That's just politics.

Eg, my DD's primary school has to, by law, have regular group worship of a "broadly Christian nature". Would I do better criticising (say) Sikhism for this, or the CofE that by virtue of its privileged position helps keep such indefensible laws on the books?

All that being said, the claim that Christianity is being unduly criticised compared to other religions is something I suspect many Muslims would want to have a word with you about.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 22:45:29

>Had to have a think about whether Christians in this country are still privileged. I suppose they are, but not sure I can personally think of any concrete examples

In some areas, if you're looking at school admissions or applying for primary teaching jobs its concrete enough. Its probably human nature to be more aware of privileges that you don't have rather than those you do.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 09-Jan-13 22:52:48

Snorbs - ethel said 'one of the reasons' - I think both your reasons apply. Plus simple familiarity. Eg there was a thread recently - lighthearted, but it could have lead to offence -- on 'Biblical MN' - which would be unlikely to happen for any other scripture because only a small proportion of us have the necessary knowledge.

Avuncular Wed 09-Jan-13 23:45:01

Once upon a time I was the 'church nominee' Governor for a CofE primary school. We had people queuing up to get their children in - people of other faiths and none - though there were plenty of places available in other 'secular' schools. I have heard that it's a common UK phenomenon.

Why would this be, I wonder ???

Avuncular Thu 10-Jan-13 00:02:48

Loo roll

There is a first-hand account (I think in 'The Heavenly Man') of a Chinese Christian who was imprisoned 'for his faith' and given some of the least pleasant jobs to do, like cleaning out the Commandant's latrine. He was of course denied any access to a Bible.

The Commandant, to make a point about his contempt for the Bible, confiscated any copies his officers found, and used them page by page for the most disgusting purpose he could dream up.

The individual pages were in due course retrieved by the cleaner faithfully performing the task assigned to him by the prison authorities, cleaned up, then lovingly secreted away and preserved for their originally intended use .....

'God moves in a mysterious way ....' and, I say, has a sense of humour.

IneedAgoldenNickname Thu 10-Jan-13 00:09:38

Avuncular that's a great account!

Himalaya Thu 10-Jan-13 07:54:39

Avuncular - there are no such thing as secular state schools in the UK.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 10-Jan-13 09:18:57

>Why would this be, I wonder ???
because schools capable of selecting on any criterion have an advantage.

DadOnIce Thu 10-Jan-13 14:35:12

Avuncular - you tell us why you think it is and I'll tell you if I agree.

sieglinde Thu 10-Jan-13 15:27:18

Ellie said, ages ago:

So, if anyone wants to discuss the RC church they can't mention:

* the active & continual cover up for paedophiles
* the deliberate lying to vulnerable Africans about condoms
* telling gay teens that they are "disordered", prompting suicide in more than one case
* excommunicating raped children for having life saving abortions

etc....

Objecting to, or even raising these issues would make me a bigot, right?

And I say:

Wrong. Those issues can be and are critiqued and discussed outside the church and inside it.

What would make you a bigot is assuming that those issues are ALL of the church, mistaking the part for the whole.

I don't stay in the RC church because of those things. I stay in it despite those things. But I do stay in it, because to me the RC church is not primarily a way to thinking about sexuality or gender. It's secularists who see this as its main function and face, not me.

I would by the way take YOU far more seriously if you conflated the RC church with anti-semitism and condoning the Shoah. But you almost never do. It's always about sex.

Avuncular Thu 10-Jan-13 15:29:41

Hi Dad

I really don't know; that's why I asked.

I've heard some interesting views expressed but don't have the time to go researching it thoroughly at the moment. All I know is that parents were really keen to get their kids into 'our' school - though there was a perfectly good 'ordinary' school up the road (which all our 4 DCs had been to). Interestingly, one of DCs teachers was later recruited as HT in the CofE school.

Grimma - don't understand your point; the school I mentioned did not select, as I recall. I think it was first come, first served provided any catchment criteria were met. Probably I was a BAD GOVERNOR not to have been fully au fait.

Himalaya - I meant non-faith, non-anything else. Local Authority? Anyway I realise they are/were all subject to the requirement for 'collective worship' - is that the term?

Getting a bit off-thread. Sorry, OP

DadOnIce Thu 10-Jan-13 15:40:37

I'm guessing it's for one of the usual reasons people over-apply for schools: it has excellent results, or it is outstanding in some other way, or has a good strong ethos/reputation... or a combination of all of the above to some degree. I doubt it has anything to do with the faith component.

EllieArroway Thu 10-Jan-13 15:44:13

Twas you, sieglinde who dramatically declared "I AM the catholic church". Of course this only holds true until we start discussing child rapists, and then you're only PART of it, right?

Oh man......hmm

No, I didn't mention the anti-semitism. To be honest, if I really went to town listing all of the moral failings & crimes of the catholic church I'd be here till next Tuesday.

I think I made it quite clear too that I don't accept that all catholics bear responsibility for the crimes of the church. Nominally (even though I didn't ask to be & apparently I can't be removed) I AM a Roman Catholic.

And yes, it is all about sex, isn't it? The Catholics are utterly obsessed with it.

ethelb Thu 10-Jan-13 15:49:48

And yes, it is all about sex, isn't it? The Catholics are utterly obsessed with it.

Hmm, the only people more obsessed with sex than catholics are the critics of the catholic church imo.

EllieArroway Thu 10-Jan-13 16:00:53

Extraordinary logic, ethelb.

The catholic church causes immense harm with it's medieval attitude to sex. Critics have little option but to discuss the issues it has itself raised. If they weren't telling people what they may or may not do with their own genitals, then we wouldn't need to discuss the matter at all.

EllieArroway Thu 10-Jan-13 16:05:28

*Person A*: Does my hair look OK? What do you think of my hair? Do you like my hair?

*Person B*: Your hair looks fine. Why do you worry about your hair so much?

*Person C*: OMG! What are you asking about my hair for? You're obsessed with my hair!

That's the "logic" you just tried to use, ethelb.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 10-Jan-13 16:42:58

Avuncular - I should have been more specific - its VA schools which do select by religion which are the main issue - loads of those hereabouts. VC faith schools operate same admissions as any other LEA school.

(sorry, in haste without fully reading all posts since mine)

IneedAgoldenNickname Thu 10-Jan-13 17:03:14

Avuncular that's ok, I'm finding the discussions you're all having interesting, I just don't feel knowledgeable enough to join in with them smile

EllieArroway Thu 10-Jan-13 17:15:16

Have you deleted those idiots off FB yet, IneedA? Calling someone a stuck up cow (or whatever devastatingly witty riposte it was) is not actually engaging in debate about beliefs & or religious ideas. If they are too pig ignorant to know that then they are not worth a nanosecond more of your time. IMO.

sieglinde Thu 10-Jan-13 17:16:01

ethelb is right.

ellie, if you could list so many RC crimes, why don't you EVER start with some that aren't about sex? I think it's because you feel personally threatened by RC ideas on sex, and not by e.g. racial hate crimes in the past.

Perhaps while you are making out your list, you might want to look at the huge number of lives saved by the Catholic aid agencies? Whose workers often risk their lives in regions think you may not have visited?

I also did NOT say I'm not somehow connected with and though not directly understandable as responsible for the church's attitudes - just that you rather idiotically assumed, as did others, that I stick to the church because i like its ideas about sex or somehow need them. My point is very simply that I stick to it despite those - to me - minor matters.

Are you for example at all interested in ANY other aspect of Catholic moral theology? In any way? Or in worship, or prayer, or the text of the Bible? Anything?

EllieArroway Thu 10-Jan-13 17:30:07

ethelb is right No, she's not.

ellie, if you could list so many RC crimes, why don't you EVER start with some that aren't about sex? Why does it matter? Really - why? It's like a man in court saying, "But M'Lud, you keep going on about the rape I committed - are you obsessed with sex or something? I'm also a racist, you know...start with that!

I think it's because you feel personally threatened by RC ideas on sex Then you're wrong.

just that you rather idiotically assumed, as did others, that I stick to the church because i like its ideas about sex or somehow need them Show me the quote where I said any such thing, idiotically, or otherwise.

minor matters African's dying of AIDS is a minor matter? Teenagers killing themselves is a minor matter? Gosh.

Are you for example at all interested in ANY other aspect of Catholic moral theology? In any way? Or in worship, or prayer, or the text of the Bible? Anything? Interested? No. Nonsense doesn't interest me. Knowledgeable & aware, yes.

IneedAgoldenNickname Thu 10-Jan-13 17:50:46

I deleted one of them, because his last few statuses have been vile in general, and switched the others to restricted viewing so I can post in peace and they won't know smile

amillionyears Thu 10-Jan-13 18:29:24

From what little I know, sounds like a good plan Ineed.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 10-Jan-13 19:11:16

If outsiders are more interested in various churches attitudes to sex and gender (I'm thinking more of the CofE with its women/gay bishops in the news recently) it may simply be because those are comprehensible issues. They are matters on which secular ethics are fairly clear - gender/orientation discrimination is wrong - similarly with the covering up of child abuse. It happens/has happened in churches other than the RC, in children's homes, hospitals, the BBC - its clearly wrong and in the secular organisations its obvious now that there must be no covering up, no excuses.

Avuncular Thu 10-Jan-13 19:17:19

Dad

sneakily admitting I was kite-flying, but having actually paused for thought now.

I think it's probably because the school atmosphere is often 'nicer' i.e. because the type of children are nicer, because the parents were nicer ... which may go back to the fact that the families tended to have CofE connections in the past.

But I've come across quite a lot of 'nice' Muslim families etc etc.

And I certainly was concerned that as a VC (wot's the other one Grimma?) school there was no particular requirement for the teachers to have a Christian faith of any quality whatsoever. Probably going to get myself into deep water by rambling and over the definition of 'nice' etc ........

Look out for my rant over the difference between being 'religious' and being a 'true follower of Christ' (or indeed The Prophet, probably). Working up to it.

In the mean time, woe betide anyone who has a 'fish' badge on their car yet breaks the speed limit ...........

Too much sherry before tea I fear (is that allowed?)

Desktop computer throwing a wobbly ..... gotta go

DadOnIce Thu 10-Jan-13 19:35:27

Why would having C of E connections necessarily make you "nicer"?

I don't think there should be any faith schools at all. They make about as much sense as schooling according to what football team the parents support.

sieglinde Thu 10-Jan-13 20:14:51

Ellie: minor matters African's dying of AIDS is a minor matter? Teenagers killing themselves is a minor matter? Gosh.

Me; I said 'MINOR TO ME, meaning me personally, meaning that the RC church's sexual teachings do not have a negative impact on me, personally.

I also fail to see why Africans dying of AIDS matter more to you than Africans dying of hunger. There are also fewer of them - 1.8 million (terrible, horrible number, far too many - and even one is too many) in 2010, as opposed to seriously hungry people in Africa alone (276 million in 2010) more than 1 in 5 of whom are children, and also the three million or so per year who die of malaria and of dysentery. ALL OF THESE PEOPLE MATTER, and all of these deaths are preventable. Why do you always focus only on AIDS?

And you are also wrong to suggest that Vatican theology of the body has a large effect on the AIDS death toll. Most HIV enters families in Africa through the husband's extramarital affairs, and there's little reason to suppose that all or even most African men would take precautions in those circumstances. Even if the Vatican changed its condom doctrine overnight, AS IN FACT IT DID, if you'd only noticed, it will/would have far less effect than if drug companies made their perfectly potent HIV treatment drugs available at prices the developing world can afford. Moreover, the HIV rate is actually lower in RC African countries than it is in other countries.

I asked: Are you for example at all interested in ANY other aspect of Catholic moral theology? In any way? Or in worship, or prayer, or the text of the Bible? Anything?

Ellie: (In her usual genial form) Interested? No. Nonsense doesn't interest me. Knowledgeable & aware, yes.

Me: Knowledgeable about theology? Really? Because you only seem interested in discussing sexual politics. Yes, Catholics talk about it, but not anything like as often as you do, or as obsessively.

Your courtroom analogy is bogus, because it begins by assuming rape is the accusation; what if the accusation is race hatred? Then rape becomes irrelevant and racism relevant.

My point is, why do you keep on criticising ONLY sexual politics? Which one of us is that about? Why not have a go at the way we used to kidnap Jewish children and take them into Christian homes, as recently as the 1880s? Go on... And what about our cute way of praying for the 'perfidous Jew' on Good Friday? I think that really stinks. You could have a shot at the Pius X Society particularly. Or the Vatican Red Cross guy who issued fake Red Cross passports to some of the very worst criminals of the Holocaust...

Those are the things that have sometimes made me want to leave the church. They still do, sometimes. But not, I'm afraid, its sexual politics; there are other far more potent causes of misery, injustice and wrong in the world.

EllieArroway Thu 10-Jan-13 21:00:16

Me; I said 'MINOR TO ME, meaning me personally, meaning that the RC church's sexual teachings do not have a negative impact on me, personally I'm alright Jack, eh?

I also fail to see why Africans dying of AIDS matter more to you than Africans dying of hunger When did I say that?

There are also fewer of them - 1.8 million (terrible, horrible number, far too many - and even one is too many) in 2010, as opposed to seriously hungry people in Africa alone (276 million in 2010) more than 1 in 5 of whom are children, and also the three million or so per year who die of malaria and of dysentery. ALL OF THESE PEOPLE MATTER, and all of these deaths are preventable. Why do you always focus only on AIDS?

I had to read this through a couple of times to be sure that you actually said all that. Honestly, sieglinde this is my face right now ------.> shock

Firstly, stop telling me what I ALWAYS do - we have never encountered each other before have we? So how do you know what I ALWAYS do? If by "you" you mean all atheists then you are guilty of exactly the thing you accuse me of - making unwarranted assumptions & generalising.

The problems in Africa are immense and diverse, you are right. ONE of those problems (and I refuse to play the kind of numbers game that you're trying to) is AIDS - and it's serious. The Catholic Church is not to blame for the AIDS epidemic in Africa, let's be clear - but it's certainly not helping is it? Lying to the most vulnerable people on earth that condoms will GIVE YOU AIDS is unforgivable. Absolutely 100% unforgivable. These people do not have access to the kind of information you and I have and have no option but to believe what they are told by people that they trust as they desperately try to protect themselves and their families. On this basis alone the Pope should be arrested for crimes against humanity, in my opinion. He has blood on his hands angry

Yes, maybe more people are dying of other things - but so what? That does not lessen the tragedy one iota for those babies & children who have lost both of their parents to AIDS, does it?

I don't ALWAYS focus on AIDS. This is a discussion about the harm Catholicism is causing and, sorry, whether you like it or you don't, Catholicism is playing a role in that. If it's not - why would I bring it up in the discussion?

Knowledgeable about theology? Really? Because you only seem interested in discussing sexual politics. Yes, Catholics talk about it, but not anything like as often as you do, or as obsessively Yes, really. I've talked about sex & catholicism once on one thread on Mumsnet - and this is "obsessive"? You're starting to sound faintly ridiculous & a little desperate, tbh.

And I am staggered that you would consider the rape of children "sexual politics"!!!

Your courtroom analogy is bogus, because it begins by assuming rape is the accusation; what if the accusation is race hatred? Then rape becomes irrelevant and racism relevant Pardon? It's my analogy and I made it up. Er...the accusation is rape. Trust me!

Yes, Catholicism has a bloody and shameful history (as do all religions). We could sit and go on about that till the cows come home, but I would think it more helpful to address the issues that are actually causing real harm TODAY. And what might they be.......? Yep, ya guessed it! Lying about condoms, trying to prevent life saving abortions, rape of children etc etc. If you can think of a way in which the Catholic Church is directly harming people TODAY that doesn't have a basis in sex, then I'd sure like to hear it.

I am no more obsessed with sex than the average, red-blooded woman (and I have my moments wink) but I don't have anything like the fixation on it that you've decided I do.

And finally - and I will probably get flamed by all sorts of people for this - but frankly, sieglende you are BETTER than the church you subscribe to. You are MORE moral than the people you're supposed to be looking up to. Most catholics are.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 10-Jan-13 22:39:14

>Too much sherry before tea I fear (is that allowed?)

I think wine is the tipple of choice but...not advisable. I think I'll be nice to you and not tear that post to pieces.

sieg... you sound awfully angry with your church. With reason... I'm a bit baffled why you stay with it - there are other ways to be a Christian.

One of my FB friends has posted a picture of a starving African child with some appalling strap-line about how god sees and loves and takes care of everyone. Can she not see the fucking irony of that? A child starving to death, but it's okay because god loves her, and is apparently taking care of her during her short and miserable existence? Grrrr, finding it hard to keep my NY resolution.

Avuncular Thu 10-Jan-13 23:26:42

Grimma quite right - very wise

Save your ammunition for when I'm wobbling along in a straight line - much easier target and I'll try to produce something big enough to hit fair and square

It was less than one glass, officer .... honest

AIBU to be offended that everyone is being so nice to me ; some lovely definitions of nice

Don't answer that ....

Dad I'm inclined to agree with you about faith schools, though I'm not sure what one does if the general population in an area has behaviour patterns which make it difficult for both teachers and the more aspiring pupils. Should like-minded parents club together to form a new school for their children?

We had the opportunity of a 'faith' school, but on principle left our 4 DCs in the main educational streams of the town,
a) so that they were not too sheltered from the kind of rough and tumble to be experienced in the wider world e.g. in employment, MN or even FB, and
b) as a kind of 'leaven' within the schools (not intending to be 'goody goody' here - we just have the hereditary misfortune to be fairly bright as a family).

The teachers generally appreciated it. (Just been making similar point on the 'Public vs Private' thread which is still going strong I think.) Also saved a lot of money we didn't have.

Avuncular Thu 10-Jan-13 23:44:06

Annie
I suppose the line might be something like
well if you see this appalling situation and are stirred to do something about it, then you are actually becoming God's instrument of love to help this child.

Good Samaritan and all that.

(The point Jesus was making in that parable was that the Samaritans were the 'bad guys' ostracised by the mainstream 'church', Pharisees etc, but it was the Samaritan who acted out of compassion and basic human kindness. It was the 'mainstream church' which orchestrated Jesus' murder, partly because he was always taking them to task for their hypocrisy)

Himalaya Fri 11-Jan-13 08:05:42

Avuncular -

I think you are right CoE schools probably do attract more "nice" families (concerned about education, community minded, joiners, volunteering types etc..)

but if you had schools that are particulary welcoming for people with allotments, local government councillors, children who play musical instruments or take drama lessons, parents willing to coach sports or people who have a strong borrowing record at their local library you would also get more "nice" families. If the school is allowed to select and gives priority to families that turn up for some community activity 3 Sundays out of 4 that filters out the most chaotic families.

Religion in this case is just a proxy for "nice". But the thing is state schools are there to educate children from all different backgrounds.

HolofernesesHead Fri 11-Jan-13 09:22:07

Hi Himalaya! [waves]

Just a question for you and others who are interested: what would your ideal be for schools? If you were in charge smile would you want schools to address children's spirituality at all, or leave it out of school life? What would happen in assembly? Would you want any religious people involved in the life of your school? Would you accept any form of funding from religious groups (e.g. proceeeds from the church beetle drive going to your school's building project)? Would you want your governing body to all be non-religious? Would you be happy with, say, a secondary school Christian Union club happening in your school? Just curious, not combative...

Avuncular Fri 11-Jan-13 09:28:32

<Chuckles>

Yes Himalaya I suppose that's pretty near the truth. The CofE school I had in mind didn't actually select so far as I know. Maybe to be 'nice' all you have to do is be sufficiently concerned for the welfare of your chidden that you put some effort into choosing a school for them rather than packing them off into 'the system' and expecting it to get on with the job.

Avuncular Fri 11-Jan-13 09:30:44

chidden - should've gone to specsavers used DCs

Avuncular Fri 11-Jan-13 09:33:38

Oooh Yugh Holo what an excellent question - new thread maybe? smile grin smile flowers

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 09:36:57

It's quite odd that so many 'non-believers' are so evangelical about telling believers that they are stupid and seeking an illusion. Ironic.

I'd suggest folks like Bunny have a quiet word with their own souls and discover what it is that they really want, rather then get busy insulting others.

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 10:01:00

Yes, that's why those pesky atheists keep showing up at your doorstep, trying to convert you into their view of the world.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 10:07:49

maybe they detect that your soul particularly needs saving Cote!!

tbh I can't remember that last time a god-squady knocked on my door. Years ago prob.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 10:09:21

and the pesky atheists sneakily do their evangelising work by the internet.

ethelb Fri 11-Jan-13 10:10:24

@cote I have had one god squad turn up at my door, once in my life. They don't 'keep showing up at your doorstep'.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 10:17:16

Last time this happened iirc it was a Jehovah Witness couple, whilst I had the JCS album playing in the background entirely co-incidentally. They still didn't take the unintended hint.

DadOnIce Fri 11-Jan-13 10:20:02

I think because plenty of us in the UK will, I suspect, have grown up in the Church of England, and quite possibly with church-attending parents and grandparents, it's been a normal part of everyday life for us. It's so ingrained into the cultural (or culturally stereotyped) life of Britain too, especially if, like me, you grew up in a small town or village in the 1970s - church at the centre of the village, carol services, cake-stalls, Cubs/Brownies carrying the banner in church, Sunday school, the smiling vicar cycling along the street... Yes, it's a bit of a John Major "warm beer" vision of British life, but some of it isn't far off for a lot of us of a certain age.

If you had parents who grew up post-war in a small town or village it would have seemed odd not to go to church - it was just what you did. In some small communities that's still the case. It's possible that a lot of people in whom churchgoing is ingrained as a cultural practice (I'm thinking about people like my mother and her friends here) don't actually bother asking themselves any of the philosophical questions about theism versus atheism, have never stopped to ask if there is any evidence for God (it would not occur to them to do so), would never ask why the Judeo-Christian God isn't just one of many which the human imagination has come up with (again, why do so?) and indeed don't even know the Bible all that well. The huge shift away from active belief and participation in worship (as evidenced by the last census), is something which leaves churchgoers of a certain mindset a bit perplexed. Christianity is associated inextricably with rightness, righteousness, law-abiding and goodness - by extension, all that is bad, is wrong, is law-breaking, shows lack of moral fibre, etc. is associated with the decline in religious belief and attendance (even though there is no actual evidence for this being the case).

All this is a roundabout way of saying that Britons of my age and background have grown up with church and the Bible and God and faith schools as part of our cultural fabric, regardless of whether we were actually presented with any choice as to whether to believe in all of it. It's only once you take a step back from it all, and ask yourself whether any of it is actually necessary, or true in any sense beyond an interesting metaphor, that you start to ask yourself certain questions. It can be quite a shocking experience at first, as it feels as if you are actually casting off part of your heritage and cultural identity. But it's the experience I went through at the age of about 24, and it's ultimately been a liberating one.

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 10:20:49

You people are on a thread about religions on a public forum. Of course there will be atheists telling you what they think. This is not atheists "evangelising".

If you don't like being told what they are saying, go to another thread. Or turn off the computer and talk to people in RL.

Avuncular Fri 11-Jan-13 10:22:24

Ethelb suggest you re-read Cotes message, then laugh smile smile

..... most of the 'atheists' I meet are out on the road, 'looking out for no 1'. They're failing miserably: they put the fear of God into me more with every near-miss I encounter

DadOnIce Fri 11-Jan-13 10:22:48

Yes, I agree that these discussions are a bit self-selecting in their catchment. I very rarely (if ever) see threads started by atheists.

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 10:24:06

"most of the 'atheists' I meet are out on the road, 'looking out for no 1'."

"No 1"?

Are you talking about dog pee?

ethelb Fri 11-Jan-13 10:42:22

Yes I have read cotes message. My point was that I think the number of incidences of god squads turning up on peoples' doorsteps is massively overstated.

HolofernesesHead Fri 11-Jan-13 11:04:06

DadonIce, I recognise much in your post, and FWIW I like the fact that in many local areas, the C of E is a benign, happy part of the community. The thing is, from my POV, that your post seems to imply that people who are in the C of E nowadays are there because they haven't thought much, or examined their faith.

This is, to be blunt, inaccurate. I know many adult Christians (not all C of E!) who have thought deeply, pondered and questioned, and remained, or maybe even become convinced of the reality of God. My own church makes a pastime of examining our faith, asking the hard questions, and thinking things through, and it is no exception in doing this. Personally, I think hard about my faith a lot. To me, it's part of discipleship; 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your...mind.' For me, growing into a mature, nuanced and deeply grounded faith has been, and still is, incredibly liberating. So please don't assume that churchgoers are all leading unexamined lives. It's one of those typical things that gets said of Christians (a variation on the 'you're all thickos' argument), and the evidence of many lives simply doesn't bear out the hypothesis.

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 11:08:15

I think CoteDAzur lives in France.
fwiw, in my part of Britain, I would say there has been a marked decrease in the number of so called God squad callers on the doorstep in the last few years.

I personally have no problem with athsiests putting forward their povs. They are just as entitled to their povs as anyone else.

Snorbs Fri 11-Jan-13 11:30:22

would you want schools to address children's spirituality at all, or leave it out of school life?
I think RE lessons are important in a "this is what different people believe (or not)" way. I don't think a school has any business teaching children to pray to a particular god or gods. Teaching of any particular version of religious beliefs should be down to the parents, outside of school hours.

What would happen in assembly?
Talks about important topics, information about what's happening in school, celebrations of achievements, all the usual stuff. Minus prayer.

Would you want any religious people involved in the life of your school?
As long as they keep their religion to themselves then I don't see why they shouldn't have an involvement if there is some benefit to the school. Same goes for anyone.

Would you accept any form of funding from religious groups (e.g. proceeeds from the church beetle drive going to your school's building project)?
If there were no strings attached then fine.

Would you want your governing body to all be non-religious?
Religious belief or non-belief should not be a bar to being a member of a school governing body. As long as they keep their beliefs to themselves.

Would you be happy with, say, a secondary school Christian Union club happening in your school?
If it's a voluntary thing (opt-in, not opt-out) that happens at lunchtime or similar then I would have no issue with that at all if it's what the students wanted. Same goes for Hindu club, Shinto, Humanism etc.

HolofernesesHead Fri 11-Jan-13 11:41:32

Snorbs, thank you for answering. As I said, I'm not being combative, I'm curious to know what peoples' ideals are.

Wrt to qu 1, I didn't mean so much 'what would your R.E. curriculum include?' but rather, 'In what, if any way, would your school seek to recognise or nurture children's spirituality? Would your school consider spirituality to be, in any way, part of its remit in educating children?'

So your assemblies would be information-conveying. Would you try to encourage any kind of community ethos, or recommemd any personal virtues to the children?

Would you allow governors to wear clothes etc. that indicate their religious identity? At what point would you draw the line and say 'You can't say / wear that?' (E.g. if a Christian governor turned up for a meeting on Ash Wednesday with an ash cross on his forehead, if a Muslim governor wanted to wear clothes which indicate religious identity)

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 11:47:54

Holo - I had a secular education. We had 1 hour per week of RE, which was mostly a history of religions thing plus a few prayers. We had assemblies once a week where important school events were announced, medals given out, or just to watch "talent shows" where a few of us would sing, play instruments etc. It was great.

"A child's spirituality" isn't a given thing, and even if some children have this "spirituality", it will not be identical. I find it strange that you assume it to be uniform across hundreds of children and so include it in the school curriculum.

HolofernesesHead Fri 11-Jan-13 11:54:23

I assume nothing, Cote! I'm just asking questions.

Slightly puzzled though; did I read it right that you had a secular education, but you said prayers as part of R.E. lessons?

I'm not thinking so much about the curriculum (Double Maths followed by Spirituality, then Geography), but rather the ethos of schools. For example, if a particular virtue is recommended (e.g. patience), what is going to be the underlying reason to recommend children to be patient? the child's own self-interest, or community cohesion (if everyone were patient in the lunch queue, there'd be no pushing and fighting')? I guess, I probably believe that all educational contexts, religious or not, have philosophies which guide their everyday life. So I am wondering what people here have as their ideal philosophy to shape a learning community.

Snorbs Fri 11-Jan-13 12:03:55

I'm not sure what you mean by "nurture a child's spirituality". Spirituality is a word that is used to cover a lot of subtly (or not so subtly) different things.

You almost seem to be suggesting that spirituality is innate in children and I'm not sure I'd agree with that but it does depend a lot on how you define "spirituality".

HolofernesesHead Fri 11-Jan-13 12:08:04

Well, Ofsted talk about spirituality as part of what constitutes a human being, so I was just thinking of the kind of question that Ofsted asks of schools. Probably, if you were in charge of a school, you'd need to reach your own definition of 'spirituality' which overlaps sufficiently with what Ofsted look for. See here

DadOnIce Fri 11-Jan-13 12:30:45

I wasn't necessarily trying to say that churchgoers don't think and reflect on their experience (although my mother's generation seem just to accept it's "what you do" like putting the bins out, going to the WI and wearing a proper coat). I just wanted to point out how difficult it can be to extricate oneself from the cultural norms of Christianity - if you have always grown up with it, not being religious is the thing that seems odd. Once you have had a bit of distance from it, it is definitely being religious which seems the odd thing. And if you'd never been exposed to it culturally at all, it would seem a quite bizarre concept.

It's not accusing anyone of being "thickos" by any means. I have Christian friends who are highly intelligent and very deep thinkers in all other aspects of their lives, and it is an eternal source of frustration to me that they seem to allow themselves to have a different kind of thought process (more intuitive and "woolly" if you like) when it comes to their faith. The study of science and literature at university level involves an enormous amount of what I'd call healthy scepticism (why does this critic/scientist think this? what are his/her references? what's his/her evidence? etc.). It involves mistrusting your text until you have supporting evidence, and it's a good way of training you to think. I find it frustrating, and can't really understand it, when someone who had the top First in their year and a PhD and works as a university don is capable of the kind of un-thinking which those rather airy concepts "faith" and "spirituality" seem to require. But these things are a lot easier if you have simply grown up with them as the norm.

Mrskbpw Fri 11-Jan-13 12:45:07

I haven't read this whole thread, but wanted to add my opinion anyway.

I think it's unacceptable to abuse someone on facebook for whatever reason and I would never personally abuse someone on facebook or anywhere else because of their religion.

However, I think it's really, really important to question religion. All the time. Question it, challenge it, laugh at it, if necessary. Because people CHOOSE to believe it and if those beliefs are upsetting or offensive or funny, or illogical, or you simply don't agree with them, then I think you should say so. And give the religious person the right to reply. You don't have to agree with each other.

As for the Church of England, I think of course it should be held up to more scrutiny here than other religions because it holds itself up as our national religion. For example, if it stops women or gay men becoming bishops that's a massive issue because it means there are seats in the House of Lords - part of our democracy - that aren't open to women or gay men. Of course we should question this. I feel the same about faith schools, schools that my children aren't welcome at.

But abuse? Nope. Not right.

HolofernesesHead Fri 11-Jan-13 12:57:39

Ah, the hermeneutic of suspicion! grin Have you read Ricoeur? If not, do. It is really worthwhile examining what the hermeneutic of suspicion (which Ricouer affirms as part of learning) is, and how it fits in to how we learn and live. 'We will suspect everything but suspicion itself!' (My words, not his).

I've travelled quite a lot, and I think that's helped me to appreciate English Christianity for what it is. I am very happy to be a member of the Church of England but I realise that, as someone said upthread, there are lots of ways of being Christian, and indeed lots of ways of being. Being mixed-race and brought up in a multicultural area helps! smile

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 13:30:53

" did I read it right that you had a secular education, but you said prayers as part of R.E. lessons? "

Yes, education completely secular, except an hour of RE per week where we learned a few verses of the Quran (as prayers) through the year. We weren't sitting there and reciting prayers, though. Just teacher checking if we have learnt them. Sorry for the confusion.

"if a particular virtue is recommended (e.g. patience), what is going to be the underlying reason to recommend children to be patient? the child's own self-interest, or community cohesion (if everyone were patient in the lunch queue, there'd be no pushing and fighting')?"

Of course kids shouldn't push each other because those are social rules that allow people to live together, not because God ordered children not to push each other.

If you tie moral & behavioural guidance to religion, then you are going to have a tough time getting non-religious students to agree with the necessity of following that guidance.

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 13:33:57

Ofsted’s view of spiritual development is not necessarily religious:

‘Spiritual development relates to that aspect of inner life through which pupils
acquire insights into their personal experience which are of enduring worth. It is
characterised by reflection, the attribution of meaning to experience, valuing a
non-material dimension to life and intimations of an enduring reality. ‘Spiritual’ is
not synonymous with ‘religious’; all areas of the curriculum may contribute to
pupils’ spiritual development.

HolofernesesHead Fri 11-Jan-13 13:40:08

Yes, I know Ofsted's definitions, Cote! smile

I am not tying anything to anything - I am asking what people's ideals are. Let's not make assumptions about me, eh?

DadOnIce Fri 11-Jan-13 13:53:38

So when Christians ask themselves (as I am assured they do) why the Judeo-Christian God isn't just "one of many", and why it isn't just the latest in a long line of deities which the human imagination has managed to invent, and how they can believe in it without any actual evidence for its existence, what answers do they come up with? (Presumably they are answers which allow them to continue believing.)

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 13:57:22

Holo - I don't know why you are getting het up. I didn't know Ofsted's definition and thought people here would be interested to see that they don't mean "religion" when they talk about a child's spirituality.

I wasn't "making any assumptions" and I wish you would stop saying that in every post to me.

Snorbs Fri 11-Jan-13 13:57:24

I think broad-brush "spirituality" stuff can be covered under the PSH&E curriculum. Certainly, what my DCs tell me of PSH&E it sounds pretty similar to Ofsted's outline.

That being said, I suspect that learning to deal with life experience etc is possibly one better done through example over time rather than formal learning. Eg, watching how one's own parents deal with things and approach difficulties is likely to be much more influential than a school setting.

HolofernesesHead Fri 11-Jan-13 13:59:40

Without wishing to be flippant, I'd answer that in one word: Jesus.

I (with most, maybe all Christians) believe that in Jesus, the fulness of God dwells - so to see Jesus, or encounter Jesus in the Bible and in the church, which is his body, is to know who God is.

I'd say that there is truth in all religious traditions, as all traditions seek wisdom - but it is only in Jesus that the fulness of God is made known.

(Am I allowed to say that, or is it offensive proselytsing?)

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 14:12:15

Holo - my answers would be much like Snorbs'. I've PMd you something on collective worship which related to a specific school so didn't want to post publically.

On the 'spirituality' - Ofsted's definition seems reasonable (except not sure what 'intimations of an enduring reality' means. ) - how that translates into action within a school I don't think can be prescribed. In addition, teaching of ethics - rather than specifically religious 'morality' should be included.

What a school should do is provide a wide background of knowledge and an environment in which children can learn to think and develop as individuals - rather than being (to greater or lesser extents) encouraged in one particular religious direction.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 15:28:49

Crumbs Cote, much further up..I was being light-hearted! You unenlightened do suffer, don't you.

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 15:42:29

DadOnIce, are you the poster I talked to on this board a few months ago about science and faith?

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 15:44:14

Pan, are you stirring, or am I misreading you?

DadOnIce Fri 11-Jan-13 15:49:27

million - no, I wasn't here a few months ago. I used to post here under a different name but that was ancient history... more like 3 years ago.

Holfernes - I'm sure you'll understand that doesn't actually mean much to me. I mean, I am happy to accept the evidence for the existence of someone called Jesus Christ as a historical figure, but it is a loooooong way from there to supernatural belief and "worship". Your explanation doesn't make clear why the Christian god needs special pleading.

As to what should be covered in schools: the cultural impact of religion, definitely. Christianity and Islam should no more be ignored than the beliefs of the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Egyptians (as so much of art, music, architecture etc. needs that context) - and also given no more credence. I'm of the "schools should not teach faith but should teach 'about' faith" school.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 15:54:03

>Without wishing to be flippant, I'd answer that in one word: Jesus
But the next generation of monotheists then would say 'Allah'... as I'm sure you know, that's the answer that makes sense to Christians - but doesn't really advance the argument with non-christians.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 15:54:55

>You unenlightened do suffer, don't you.

Oh, are we getting onto Buddhism now? grin

HolofernesesHead Fri 11-Jan-13 15:55:50

Can you explain to me how you understand the phrase 'special pleading' in the context of your sentence, DadonIce?

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 16:02:14

indeed Grimma.

I do like these threads - where minds are changed and all variety of opinion is respected.

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 16:25:15

Hi DadOnIce.
I did talk to another man as it happens, a few months ago about people looking for answers through science.
I told him that God cannot be found in the room marked science.

Faith is believing something that cannot be proven.
I am delighted your friends are doing that.

bible.cc/romans/10-9.htm
Couldnt remember the exact words so have linked it.
That is it. Sounds simple but it isnt.

As to your mother, and without wishing to get personal about your mother, yes, there are some Chrisitians who do seem to go to church because that is the routine they have always done.
But I have talked to some of them I know like that, and you may be surprised to learn just how deep their faith actually is.
Your mum may indeed have a deep faith.

ethelb Fri 11-Jan-13 17:02:51

@elliearrowhead you are on another thread sayign you suggested your son studies philosophy for a-level. You do realise that is part of the study of theology?

DadOnIce Fri 11-Jan-13 17:21:52

"Special pleading" is asking for one thing to be considered differently from others without any actual evidence that it should be. Like saying that Manchester United are the world's best football team, or Ireland are the world's best Eurovision singers, and everyone should just accept that. (An imperfect example, as even those who hate Manchester United or Ireland would have to accede to the physical statistical reality of the number of titles they have won on paper.)

And the problem with saying "god cannot be found in the room labelled science", while it may sound very clever and witty, is that it isn't terribly helpful. It's not that I'm looking for answers "through" science exactly. That would seem to imply that "science" is this Thing apart from the rest of life with its own special rules, like "football" or "chess".

We're still left with the problem that you believe in all of this if you, um, well, if you just do. And it doesn't address my basic frustration. (Obviously atheists' lot would be much simpler if all religious people were basically just a bit dim and credulous, with a hefty dose of fearful, as was the case in medieval times. These things are harder to explain in a post-Enlightenment age.)

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 17:34:55

I have never been called witty before. I dont think I could be witty even if I tried!

I am not sure that Christians are born Christian as such. It has to be learned. And actually much time and effort goes into it unseen.
Your friends will not just have rolled up to you one day and announced they were a Christian. Many years of thought will probably have gone into it.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 17:52:28

>I told him that God cannot be found in the room marked science.

I'd have said that 'the room marked science' contains everything that actually exists. So I'd agree with you - you won't find God there.

HolofernesesHead Fri 11-Jan-13 18:02:04

DadonIce, you seem to imply that I think in right and all other religions are wring. That is very far from what I said.

As for people in the mediaeval period being 'dim and credulous' - words fail me. Except for a few, such as Chaucer and Aquinas and Anselm. If you dismiss an entire 500-odd years' worth of people (how many would that be?) as 'dim and credulous' with absolutely no evidence for this argument, how can I trust you to tell the truth about the way the world is?

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 18:40:25

Grimma grin

DadOnIce Fri 11-Jan-13 19:03:07

My choice of words was maybe a little too provocative. But there is an awful lot of evidence for the vast majority of the common folk believing in such things as the literal existence of heaven and hell, plagues being sent by God, etc., etc. I'm not talking about scholars versed in Latin - we're talking a society with very low literacy rates (between 5% and 20%, depending on where you lived) before the introduction of Arabic numerals and "abacus school". The main educator was the parish priest, who would have schooled the populace in the Seven Deadly Sins and a fear of God.

To put my question another way: do we not agree that the gods of past civilisations (some of whose people were educated and cultured) are now seen as mythical? Thor, Ra, Zeus... You won't find many people who argue for their actual existence in this day and age. So would it not be sensible to conclude that the Judeo-Christian god - when viewed from the perspective of a future historian - will be deemed equally mythical? Is there any reasonable argument to make for this not being the case, given that it's happened with all other deities in human history?...

And I can't really top Grimma's answer to the "room marked science" question. It illustrates perfectly the point that "science" is not a Thing apart from life, but the examination of everything. It's a catch-all name given to a huge range of disciplines - so that, in fact, when people say "science does this" or "science can or can't do this or that", they will usually be only at most partly right.

EllieArroway Fri 11-Jan-13 19:10:52

@elliearrowhead you are on another thread sayign you suggested your son studies philosophy for a-level. You do realise that is part of the study of theology?

No. It's studied alongside theology - as is History of Religion etc. Theology is "the study of the nature of god". There is not actually much to study on this subject, so an overall degree has to cover other things too.

Special Pleading seen in action:

Theist: Everything that exists had a cause. The universe exists, therefore had a cause. We call that cause God, therefore god exists.

Me: Then what caused God?

Theist: God doesn't need a cause. He's always existed.

Me: But according to your logic, God can't exist. Because everything that exists had a cause - but not god. So either god doesn't exist or he had a cause, according to your own argument.

Theist: But god is timeless & not part of the universe so doesn't need a cause.

Me: But by exempting god from your own rules you are violating your premise of "everything that exists has a cause" because, clearly, NOT everything needs a cause. God doesn't. And if not everything needs a cause, why does the universe?

Theist: <tumbleweed> Why do you hate God so much?

That's special pleading. It's violating the logic you are trying to use to prove the existence of god by granting him exemption for no good reason. It's a logical fallacy.

(And sorry - the last line is tongue in cheek, but I do often end up there).

Holo A bit late, I know, but I think the American's have the right idea in theory if not in practice. It's fine to acknowledge the faith of pupils and to give them opportunities to meet for prayer groups, bible studies etc - but no particular religion should play a role in formal school life. So anything that's compulsory for children to attend should not have a religious flavour. RS as a subject is an important one though and deserves to be on the timetable. That's my opinion.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 19:14:49

"I'd have said that 'the room marked science' contains everything that actually exists. So I'd agree with you - you won't find God there. "

Hmmm, do you mean actually exists, in what sense? I'd suggest that the nature of existence is highly contentious. IF you mean by that it's a physics lab in a school, then possibly so. Outside of that the reflection on 'existence' is much more richer and variable.

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 19:18:55

I have no idea what you just said, Pan.

Do explain. How is existence "variable"?

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 19:33:47

Cote - I too sometimes struggle with stuff you post too! It's mostly remarkably narrow.

But briefly, I'd think 'existence' is based primarily on perception and experience. So in a physics lab they deal with, I guess, fairly simple experiments (phosphorous burns in oxygen for eg.) But this doesn't say anything about how people perceive and experience the world beyond those things. How we differently interpret the world, and our role in it.

And more apposite to this thread, how people develop their own souls and have a 'conversation' with it, usually in reflective silence. <at this point I appreciate you will suggest I am talking about an imaginary friend, which is fine.>

Avuncular Fri 11-Jan-13 19:49:35

Back from 2 driving lessons and still alive .... I'll never get through this thread tonight though.

Miracle no 1 : this hasn't yet turned into a 'bun fight'. Well done OP. Thank you everybody.

Ethelb my point was that I think, using irony, Cote was pointing out that you never get atheists trying to 'evangelise' on the doorstep ?

Cote it is a great sadness to me that driving in UK is very much a me first, dog eat dog activity. (There is a car insurance ad you have probably seen which makes the generally-acknowledged point that people driving cars do not in general behave in the slightly more civilised way that they adopt in, say, a supermarket queue.) Defensive Driving could I suppose be redefined as "Looking out for No 2's"

Road users are sometimes 'atheist' in the sense that they ignore the rule/ commandment/ general social principle that we should treat one another in the way that we would like others to treat us. No need to point out that 'Christians' tend to do the same thing. Maybe I'll change my nickname to NotreallyanAngelatall - probably guilty as charged, despite my best efforts!

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 19:57:18

<Avuncular - driving is dog-eat-dog? Well as a cyclist, largely in the week, I've found that drivers are overwhelmingly not like that! Very few cause me hassles, which is odd given my vulnerabilities as a road user. And I don't think it's at all a Christian virtue. Maybe it's the Wiggo effect.grin>

Avuncular Fri 11-Jan-13 19:57:46

Niminy which Skinner please?
Doesn't sound like the "conditioned reflex" one I know.

EllieArroway Fri 11-Jan-13 19:59:12

Road users are sometimes 'atheist' in the sense that they ignore the rule/ commandment/ general social principle that we should treat one another in the way that we would like others to treat us

What are the experiences you've had with atheists that would lead you to say something like that, Avuncular?

Don't worry, I'm not trying to pretend I'm offended or anything, but that's a bit like me saying, "X group of people are sometimes Christian in the sense that they ignore reason, logic and common sense and believe rubbish".

And you wouldn't like that much, would you?

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 20:03:48

Ellie I do admire how above you directed and controlled an entire dialogue with an 'adversary' to prove your own point. As if it proved anything other than your own belief in your view. It was a bit like an Eddie Izzard sketch!

EllieArroway Fri 11-Jan-13 20:06:05

Oh, and btw, ethelb if you come back: What have my son's A'Level choices got to do with anything? There's a vague implication in your apparent need to raise the issue here that it would be hypocritical of him to study something that might be aligned with religion because of how I feel about things hmm. How odd. Yes, it just so happens he wants to be a Physicist - but I'd be just as proud & supportive of him if he were planning to go to seminary. And I mean that. He's his own person.

EllieArroway Fri 11-Jan-13 20:14:10

Ellie I do admire how above you directed and controlled an entire dialogue with an 'adversary' to prove your own point. As if it proved anything other than your own belief in your view. It was a bit like an Eddie Izzard sketch!

Smirk, sneer, whatever makes you happy. This argument is one that I have encountered almost word for word with virtually every Christian I have ever attempted to debate.

Is having a belief in my own view a bad thing? If I didn't believe it, er, it wouldn't be my own view?!

Nice but very silly try.

The imaginary theist above was trying to advance the Cosmological Argument. Google it and read though some of the discussions about it between Christians and atheists. That will prove my point dozens of times over.

I am not new to this, Pan. I suspect you are wink.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 20:14:53

Oh come on Cote! You asked me to explain, which I did and now you've gone all silent! Do I have to now clean the bathroom without your pearls to cogitate on?

In your own time...smile

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 20:20:44

Neither smirking nor sneering. Just analysing. smile One doesn't have to have poured over googly stuff to detect a self-serving element in any argument.wink

fwiw I have nooo interest in 'defending' Christians at all.

ok - hands down the loo time.

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 20:24:33

Pan, are you a Christian?

Avuncular Fri 11-Jan-13 20:29:16

Pan that is the very first time ever I have heard a cyclist saying good things about motorists! smile smile flowers This goes in my "quotes book"!

Ellie - <sigh> I'm just not very good at making myself clear, I fear. I included the term "general social principle" [= 'golden rule'] as an idea which I felt 'all right-thinking people' could sign up to.

IMU, an atheist believes that we are all a product of random activity in a random meaningless universe, and that therefore there is no reason why I should not do anything I like, and certainly no reason why I should keep any societal rules of any kind.

Rather than dismember that paragraph, could someone please step up to the podium and explain to me as succinctly as possible why I should abandon my Christian faith in God, and wholeheartedly embrace 'atheism'?

My faith is (personally I admit - see my earlier post which no-one has picked up on yet) evidence-based, and also gives me a 'unified theory' of Life, the Universe and Everything.

Christianity, to me, gives me a thoroughly positive approach; atheism is so far as I can see all about nots.

Maybe I'm actually thinking about 'Atheistic Humanism'? I don't know.

As usual, I'm a bit confused; but honestly and sincerely.

Can someone (preferably a thoroughly convinced atheist) please explain? I only want to listen and understand; not challenge.

IneedAgoldenNickname Fri 11-Jan-13 20:33:47

I'm delighted that this hasn't turned into a bun fight, and I'm finding it really interesting. I'm going to read some of the books mentioned way up thread and try and gain a better understanding.

Regarding the debate about schools, I think state run, non denominational schools, shouldn't have to have an act of worship. Although this wouldn't work in places where faith schools are the only option.

IneedAgoldenNickname Fri 11-Jan-13 20:40:00

Mrskbpw I agree that religion should be questioned. But laughed at? I disagree. I no more chose to be a Christian than my friend choose to have ginger hair, or my hairdresser chose to be a homosexual. I couldn't stop believing in God in much the same way I couldn't cut my own foot off for no reason. I'm sure people will disagree with that, but that's how faith is for me. smile

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 20:41:38

"Oh come on Cote! You asked me to explain, which I did and now you've gone all silent! "

Err... excuse me for having a life as well as responsibilities like school pick-ups, bathtime, dinner, etc hmm If I knew you were holding your breath for my response, I guess I could have come back sooner. Alternatively, you could get a life

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 20:45:07

Personally I would like Pan to come across a little more lovingly.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 20:49:12

And breathes!!!

Nope. you're right Cote - I have no life right now beyond cleaning the bath. Living in he moment. It's it's turn to have it's soul cleansed.

So. Out with it. I believe the discussion was on the nature of existence?

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 20:55:16

Besides, you didn't explain anything. Not in any way that makes sense, anyway.

"I'd think 'existence' is based primarily on perception and experience.'

That is a strange thought and it is worrying that you seem to think it is a valid one.

Something exists or it doesn't, regardless of whether you perceive/experience it or not. This table exists in front of me whether I perceive it or not. The tree falls on a desert island even if there is a living being there to see & hear it fall or not.

Maybe we are living in a universe that was consciously created by a deity. Or maybe our universe just happened on its own. Your "perception" and experiences have nothing to do with which of these are true.

EllieArroway Fri 11-Jan-13 20:57:20

Oh - analysing? Great analysing skills - no attempt at rebuttal, just a comparison to Eddie Izzard. Did you learn to do that at university?

Anyway - I was explaining something illustratively. It was an example of the kinds of arguments that are called "Special Pleading". The fact that this particular logical fallacy has it's own name does tend to imply, doesn't it, that this kind of debate happens a lot? (Or is that logic lost on you too?)

Avuncular You raise really interesting points and I, for one, would love to properly answer. But I can't right now, so will be back later if that's OK.

Except I will say that no one (as far as I'm aware) thinks you should do anything, least of all "embrace atheism". I'm happy to explain exactly why I'm an atheist and not a theist - and address the issue of why we atheists can still see reasons to be "good" even though we don't believe in god.

I am now off to watch Eastenders on BBCi read Sartre.

insprognito Fri 11-Jan-13 20:58:31

I don't believe in organised religion as this thread is a perfect illustration of how it divides people. I believe in Sceince. We still have much to learn and explain though.
I also believe we are spiritual beings and this part of us transcends the physical matter that science suggests constitutes our whole. I believe I have a soul and that like attracts like, so what comes around goes around. Certain posters on here should bare this in mind. Just sayin' like...

Avuncular Fri 11-Jan-13 21:01:01

..... but Science can very definitely be found in the room marked 'God'

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 21:11:38

Cote - yes, take your point. But, with respect it still sounds like you haven't left the school physics lab. From lots of people's POV existence is a concept of experience and perception - to do with, as I said, how we interpret the world. Yes trees fall, tables exist, but those aren't the game-changing issues that affect people's beliefs and actions, are they?

Ellie - no, the logic is really easy to grasp. But one of the comical gifts of E.I is presenting an argument designed by himself where he takes both positions. It isn't really 'scientific' is it?

Avuncular - well, I do about 100 miles per week in heavy traffic. Most folk are really fine. I think drivers get a bit sick of bikists who are suicide jockeys and weave around and do daft things. <the real threats evidence-based are overwhelmingly 4-wheel drivers, but that's another thread.grin>

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 21:12:06

Avuncular - re "Defensive Driving could I suppose be redefined as "Looking out for No 2's"

Are you talking about dog poo? confused Or does No 1 & No 2 refer to something other than pee & poo?

"Road users are sometimes 'atheist' in the sense that they ignore the rule/ commandment/ general social principle that we should treat one another in the way that we would like others to treat us."

Why on earth would you think atheists don't treat each other with this very basic standard of decent behaviour? I am genuinely surprised why you would think this.

Avuncular Fri 11-Jan-13 21:12:43

Ellie thank you. I can wait. Must also go now - found an infallible cure for MN addiction - DW starting striptease in front of me (Name change now inevitable!)

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 21:16:21

Avuncular - you seem to have some odd ideas about 'atheists'. As as already been said somewhere on this thread, I'm sure, they aren't a homogenous group -they're just anyone who doesn't believe in any deities. The atheists I know are interested in living ethical lives - the Golden rule (or refinements thereof) is widespread through many cultures. While I may think that humankind has risen out of random activity, and that the universe has no inherent purpose or design - we have evolved to be sentient creatures who can create our own meaning and purpose, have developed societal rules and ethics which enable us to live together. Which is wonderful but not miraculous. There is every reason to keep societal rules of the Golden rule variety - its an entirely reasonable thing if you value living in a decent society.

A subset of the atheists I know are Buddhists. Others would identify as humanists. Both very positive worldviews IME. Then again, I found being a Christian a positive experience - until I realised I no longer believed in God which was a bit of a showstopper - which suggests to me that whether or not you have a positive or negative approach to life is mostly about who you are.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 21:17:42

On drivers - I think Avuncular may be using the term 'atheist' when he means 'amoral'. The two have nothing in common except their prefix.

Avuncular Fri 11-Jan-13 21:18:22

Cote what is the logical and reasoned foundation for atheists - or anyone else for that matter - to adopt a basic standard of ordinary decent behaviour towards other people?

Gone ......

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 21:20:02

Pan - re "Cote - yes, [I] take your point."

Good. So you agree with me that existence of something has nothing to do with whether or not you perceive or experience it.

"with respect it still sounds like you haven't left the school physics lab"

Is that how you call rational people? If so, thanks.

"From lots of people's POV existence is a concept of experience and perception"

I remember reading about this in baby development books. Like, when they close their eyes and think mummy is gone.

I'm really worried about you that you would think this is a common understanding for normal people over the age of 1.

"Yes trees fall, tables exist, but those aren't the game-changing issues that affect people's beliefs and actions, are they?"

The importance of something has no relevance to the question of whether or not it exists. Think about it. This plastic bottle has very little importance in my life, it doesn't affect my beliefs and actions. It exists or doesn't, irrespective of whether/how I perceive it. The laws of the country I live in have very significant importance in my life, and definitely affect the way I live. Still, they exist or they don't, irrespective of whether/how I perceive them.

In other words, something isn't more likely to exist because you assign more importance to the idea of it.

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 21:28:16

"what is the logical and reasoned foundation for atheists to adopt a basic standard of ordinary decent behaviour towards other people?"

I want to live in a community with fellow human beings, rather than be alone. This means that I forego the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it, and accept that my freedom ends where another person's begins.

Also, I would like to think that I am a good person, so I don't hurt others and generally treat them the way that I would like them to treat me back. I don't know about heaven and hell, but on this world, you do get treated the way you deserve by people who know you.

I know that I have shortcomings and I have tried over long years to overcome them. Some, I have succeeded with and some I haven't, but I keep trying.

I honestly don't understand why you think any of the above has to be related to belief in a deity and an organised religion.

insprognito Fri 11-Jan-13 21:36:31

But cote I'm sure I read an article in New Scientist about how certain sub atomic particles behave differently when directly observed. The author was talking about how they needed to observe indirectly due to waves becoming particles when exposed to the photons used in looking at them. Or something? I'm not clever enough to explain it in detail but am sure google can.
Anyway this surely proves that perception is not as clear cut as we think. If perception/observation can change the fabric of reality then what else have we still to discover?

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 21:40:38

>..... but Science can very definitely be found in the room marked 'God'
nope. That's just a word trick.

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 22:16:50

"I'm sure I read an article in New Scientist about how certain sub atomic particles behave differently when directly observed"

I knew someone would quote quantum physics grin

You are talking about subatomic particles who are so very small that the instruments we use to view them changes their energy states. Say, you are shining a light on it. The photon you are sending its way will quite possibly interact with it and change its path.

We rely mostly on bouncing stuff off things to perceive them - we bounce sound waves off surfaces to hear, we bounce light (photons) off things to see them. This can cause problems when what we are trying to "see" is so small that it can be affected by the bouncing of these things.

"Anyway this surely proves that perception is not as clear cut as we think."

Without meaning to offend you, all the above example proves is that you haven't spent a few minutes to understand it. Not that there is a problem with the world's understanding of the concept of perception.

Observation doesn't change the fact of something's existence (or not). The mountain exits even if I'm blind and can't perceive it. Alternatively, even if I am delusional and see a mountain where none exists, that doesn't mean there is a mountain there. Existence and perception are two very different things, and they don't necessarily go together.

"If perception/observation can change the fabric of reality then what else have we still to discover?"

That is a complete misunderstanding. As I explained above, observation doesn't change "the fabric of reality".

Anyway, unless you are arguing God is small and insignificant like an electron, I don't see the significance of talking about difficulties of observing sub-atomic particles.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 22:21:46

oh Cote - you seem to be still focussed on what the 1yr old sees, and interprets. Like the school physics lab you've obv never left. I like to think I worry about your development as an adult though naturally I don't because I don't have a link to you but I am sure you're making your own way in life sans a spiritual dimension, which is your choice.

Overall though, I am massively attracted by the practice of self-reflection and the things that you (Cote) and others use to make themselves being a 'better person'. If that results in a 'good outcome' then fine - naming it as being nearer to a perfection (God) then I don't really care for practical purposes.

For me ( no I don't call myself a Christian) it's a pleasant struggle, determining what is part of the physical observances, which is pretty clear ( trees, tables, phosphorous etc) and how I 'better myself' which is largely through contemplation of who I am. I suspect most people do this. They are just put off from calling it 'prayer', or 'spiritual reflection', or 'contemplation'.

DadOnIce Fri 11-Jan-13 22:25:59

"Science can very definitely be found in the room marked 'God' "??

What an odd, puzzling assertion, and which totally ignores so much which has been said and asked on this thread already. Which God? Why? How do you know 'very definitely' ?

As for what is a "logical and reasoned foundation for atheists to adopt a basic standard of ordinary decent behaviour towards other people"... Where do you start? How about wanting to be treated by others the way you treat them, for a start? wanting to live in a civilised society? The underlying implication of the question - that you can't be moral and good without some religious framework or worship of a deity underpinning it, and that atheists are less moral than the religious - is, again, frankly just odd. And demonstrably untrue.

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 22:28:48

Pan, do you do things like, trying to have more patience, be less angry, be kinder to people etc?

sciencelover Fri 11-Jan-13 22:36:11

Speaking of the physics lab....

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/509691/poll-reveals-quantum-physicists-disagreement-about-the-nature-of-reality/

For example, in answer to the question “Do you believe that physical objects have their properties well defined prior to and independent of measurement?”, 48 per cent replied “no”, while 52 per cent replied “yes, in some cases”. A further 3 per cent said “yes in all cases” and 9 per cent were undecided (respondents were able to select more than one answer).

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 22:36:38

amillionyears - well yes, of course. But it's usually much more than that.

Being angry or impatient, or kinder is a judgement. If you are angry/impatient/kinder to people for the right reasons, over the right issues, to the right extent and express these things appropriately then it's healthy to feel those things and express them. That's basic stuff, n'est-ce pas?

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 22:40:56

Perception and thought are part of the fabric of reality.

When you see something, hear something or think about something - anything, including 'spiritual reflection' something really happens in your brain. Chemical changes happen, ions move...real, observable events, which we are just beginning to be able to observe. Buddhist monks are happy to have brain imaging done which shows that meditation has a physical effect on the brain.

If I imagine a unicorn....the unicorn does not exist, but the thought does. Something actually went on in my head when I did that - I don't know what or how - but even the primitive scanners we have now would have detected something.

Way earlier on this thread, in a different context I mentioned how its been scientifically shown that some people really do perceive 'auras' - the aura has no real existence, but the perception of it really does exist.

That's what I meant about everything that exists being 'in the room of science' .

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 22:45:56

Pan - Your replies have very little to do with what I write to you. I actually wonder at this point if you understand my posts at all.

"you seem to be still focussed on what the 1yr old sees, and interprets."

I'm not the one who thinks objects might disappear if she doesn't perceive them. Or come into existence if she thinks she perceives them. That is you.

"Like the school physics lab you've obv never left."

You seem to think that is a clever rebuttal, but it's not. Nobody is in a physics lab, nobody is at school.

And that is all you managed to say in response to my posts. Well, that's a bit sad but I guess not everyone can manage intellectual challenges.

Anyway, have fun believing what you feel determines the existence of stuff smile

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 22:49:55

"When you see something, hear something or think about something - anything, including 'spiritual reflection' something really happens in your brain."

Yes, and?

Of course, stuff happens in your brain when your brain works.

I'm not sure I understand what you are trying to say.

"If I imagine a unicorn....the unicorn does not exist, but the thought does. Something actually went on in my head when I did that"

Again, yes, and? I agree, the thought exists but the unicorn doesn't. So?

Your thought doesn't change the fact that unicorns don't exist. Are you claiming it does?

insprognito Fri 11-Jan-13 22:50:10

'He' may well be small like an electrongrin-all I'm trying to say is that we don't understand everything yet. Why can't you believe in science and the spiritual? I don't have a religion but neither am I an atheist.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 22:55:22

Crumbs Cote - I didn't say anything of those things you attribute to me. At the risk of being personally insulting to you ( which appears to be quite easy unless one is v careful) you present as someone who is v dull in your thinking and intellectual capacity, quite narrow, and prosaic.

It's prob. best if we don't exchange further on this thread? It wouldn't end well and in a deletion. Agree?

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 22:56:33

A God is so insignificant and vulnerable that even a photon can push him around doesn't sound like the deity that all these people are worshipping.

I don't "believe in science" and neither should anyone else.

If one day I see evidence that God exists, I might believe. Until then, I will continue to be mystified at the mass delusion that has so many people behaving in such strange ways.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 22:57:24

Cote - 'Your thought doesn't change the fact that unicorns don't exist. Are you claiming it does? '

good grief, no!
I'm sure what I said was entirely obvious to you - but other posters on this thread seemed to be implying that thoughts and perceptions were somehow 'other' than part of physical reality.

And some people think that because they 'experience' god that has some bearing on whether god exists. It doesn't. The thought has physical reality - that's all.

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 23:00:26

"At the risk of being personally insulting to you ( which appears to be quite easy unless one is v careful) you present as someone who is v dull in your thinking and intellectual capacity, quite narrow, and prosaic."

LOL. Actually it's not easy at all. You just need to actually insult me, like you are doing above.

If I called you dull, stupid, and narrow-minded, you would be up in arms. But you see it fit to call me those things.

But hey ho. Insults are the last refuge of the out-argued, and I hope you find comfort in yours smile

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 23:01:40

Grimma - Sorry I wasn't clear about what you meant. I agree with all you said in that last post.

sciencelover Fri 11-Jan-13 23:03:26

I suppose unicorns could physically exist somewhere in this massive universe. Not exactly relevant to us, however, as they'd be too far away to observe.

Himalaya Fri 11-Jan-13 23:03:38

Holo - I think most community schools and non-exclusive faith schools seek to teach and model a basic "golden rule" approach to ethics and values - treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Beyond that they try to find a balance between fostering community/belonging and children being able to be true to themselves and plough their own furrow.

I'm not sure where spirituality comes into it. I'm not quite sure what it means.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 23:04:18

>Why can't you believe in science and the spiritual? I don't have a religion but neither am I an atheist.

I'm a scientist. I used to be a christian - you can do both with a bit of cognitive dissonance. In general you can be a scientist and be 'spiritual' - that term can mean almost anything. You can be a scientist and a theist. I'm an atheist because I stopped believing there was a god - not sure it was exactly because I was a scientist, though maybe that helped. Lots of people who aren't scientists are atheists. The two things are not as related as tends to be assumed by people on this sort of thread.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 23:04:47

Hmmm Cote- the cheap groundless insults were your domain originally. Though I'll happily end it here. g'night to yourself.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 23:07:10

>I suppose unicorns could physically exist somewhere in this massive universe
yes, but they would/wouldn't whether or not I had/hadn't thought about them so it doesn't really matter. Anyway, I was thinking about invisible pink unicorns grin

sciencelover Fri 11-Jan-13 23:10:43

Invisible pink ones. I think those are mutually exclusive, so I'll vouch for their non-existence smile

What sort of science did you study, grimma (curious)?

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 23:11:22

A very close friend of mine (next door as well) is a big noise in computer sciences. As sharp as a whip and by far the 'cleverest' person I've ever met. He is also incredibly spiritual and v concerned about the health of his soul - not a 'god believer' but sees well beyond the strictures of his 'profession'

We have lots of talks in my kitchen. And oh how we laugh at it all sometimes.smile

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 23:12:00

You see, persoannly for me, I do wonder what sort of person I would be if I wasnt a Christian and didnt think God existed. What would keep me on the straight and narrow so to speak.
I actually think I might not be on the straight and narrow in some instances.

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 23:13:00

You are wrong again, Pan. Yes, you really should leave now and consider not coming back before you look up straw man and ad hominem and understand why they are logical fallacies. Sweet dreams smile

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 23:14:19

Chemistry. The one that never gets hot debates - its physics and biology that have the exciting controversial stuff.

But chemistry is what we think with so maybe not that boring. grin

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 23:14:23

amillionyears - Do you think you would be a "bad" person if you didn't believe in God?

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 23:14:50

oh Cote! Give it up. Purrlease!!grin

CoteDAzur Fri 11-Jan-13 23:15:00

Chemistry gets hot debates. Pop over next time you see a homeopathy thread grin

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 23:17:12

I am not really sure Cote. Not bad bad I dont think.
But I do think I would let loose in some ways.
I am not sure what would keep me reined in.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 23:19:51

Amillion - well, I went from believing to not believing and it didn't turn me into an immoral hedonist. Two things - one is thinking through ethical issues for oneself; the other is common sense ... for instance, I wouldn't be tempted to do drugs because its obvious that the downsides are immense. I wouldn't have an affair because it would hurt DH, DD and myself.

You'd probably find your moral compass was more a part of yourself than due to your religion.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 23:22:30

no homeopathy threads are gud. Seriously. My other neighbour is a practicising homeopath and Buhddist . Cote, you really should meet him.smile. We live on Woo Alley.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 23:22:35

>Chemistry gets hot debates. Pop over next time you see a homeopathy thread

I mean actual chemistry with, y'know, some actual chemical other than water there after the dilutionsgrin.

amillionyears Fri 11-Jan-13 23:25:21

I can think of some things I would do!
But cant write them here, as I keep having to remind myself that this is a public forum!
They probably wouldnt do any harm to anybody else.
Dont know about other things. Perhaps it is best if my thoughts dont go there.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 23:26:50

I wouldn't call either homeopathy or Buddhism woo. The first is a fancified version of the placebo effect. Well, some Buddhists like a bit of woo but the woo isn't an essential part of it, as far as I can make out.

sciencelover Fri 11-Jan-13 23:26:51

If I were an atheist, I'd still keep a lot of what I've learned from religion. I find a lot of the values in religion especially relevant and good.

Grimma, I've done an internet search, and nothing here either. I'll keep it on my mind! For me to witness a mn fight over a chemistry equation and I'm pretty sure my life would be complete.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 11-Jan-13 23:30:47

>Grimma, I've done an internet search, and nothing here either. I'll keep it on my mind! For me to witness a mn fight over a chemistry equation and I'm pretty sure my life would be complete
grin I'll have to try to think of something....don't suppose I can get much interest in a discussion of what is or isn't a hydrogen bond..

anyway, I'm shutting down now. Goodnight all.

Pan Fri 11-Jan-13 23:34:50

Grimma - I know my friend's spiritual practice isn't in any way woo. It's v well founded. I was just teasing Cote. Which was bad of me.

insprognito Fri 11-Jan-13 23:56:47

Well it's been a very interesting thread-(so far). Love to hear different opinions and try to understand why people think as they do. I'm off to bed now to dream about tiny little Gods being discovered at CERN wink

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 00:03:00

*Ellie - no, the logic is really easy to grasp. But one of the comical gifts of E.I is presenting an argument designed by himself where he takes both positions. It isn't really 'scientific' is it?"

Just not getting it, are you, Pan. OK. I won't patronise you by trying to explain it yet again.

Pan Sat 12-Jan-13 00:24:42

No, that's v kind of you, Ellie. And I won't deeply patronise you by pointing up your pretense of a 'special pleading' example is again manufactured by you with no evidence other than your reported experiences of such exchanges, but we'll take them as gospel because you have said they happened.

Whoops!

You haven't advanced any case. Hence, I am gently patronising you, as your original post still stands as nothing more than an E.I sketch. Evidence is wished for. Not just your say so.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sat 12-Jan-13 00:28:11

Thing is, if you announce to a rational person who doesn't yet know you very well that you are religious, that's often insufficient information. If I meet someone who tells me that s/he is a Christian very early on in the conversation then I know that s/he is very keen on his/her imaginary friend and has perhaps only recently been persuaded that the imaginary friend is real - and is probably going to bore me about the wonderfulness of the imaginary friend unless I can deflect the conversation. But the important information, that isn't contained in the declaration that one is brand-loyal to Christian mythology, is about the other stuff (to which the choice of imaginary friend isn't relevant). EG, does 'being a believer' mean 'being nice to other people, ethical in your dealings etc, with a side order of chatting to your imaginary friend and singing songs on Sundays'? Or does it mean misogyny, homophobia, racism, obsession with controlling the sexual behaviour of others and a variety of barking mad flat-earth delusions?

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 01:46:21

Pan

Blimey hmm

Do you understand what is meant by the term "example"?

Do you understand what is meant by the term "illustrative"?

I wasn't offering "evidence" of anything, I was using an example to explain a point. Most 10 year olds would understand the difference.

I think you are confused by the fact that I used myself in the example. Perhaps I should have dumbed down for you and used Person A/Person B, but it truly never occurred to me that I would need to or that anyone could be this dense.

It was an example of the kind of conversation that, if it happened, would involve the use of the term "Special Pleading". So people can see what it means.

If you don't believe I've ever had a conversation like that, fine. I couldn't care less. But it still illustrates, with an example, a use of the SP fallacy.

Which I suspect you've used, which is why you're adopting this ridiculous & unnecessary passive-aggressive attitude, which Amillion has already picked up on.

Dearie, dearie me.

Now - come back at me with another sneery sounding, completely irrelevant comment which I will read politely, which is only fair, but then know that I am done with this.

Pan Sat 12-Jan-13 08:55:27

Ellie - are you always like this? Brittle, unpleasant, tediously repetitive and wildly dilusional ( worse than the god-squaders)? Outside of asking you that, I cba with you. Have a nice one.

Avuncular Sat 12-Jan-13 09:01:07

Cote Heizenberg's Uncertainty Principle rather threw my concept of determinism

CoteDAzur Sat 12-Jan-13 11:26:54

Grimma - I never tire of telling people on those homeopathy about the world actually works, including, yes, real chemistry. It's fun, you should try it one day. It's amazing to see that it's apparently possible to live to childbearing age without such basic grasp on elementary chemistry and physics, let alone biology. A miracle of life smile

CoteDAzur Sat 12-Jan-13 11:27:40

"I can think of some things I would do! But cant write them here, as I keep having to remind myself that this is a public forum!"

Anal sex? grin

CoteDAzur Sat 12-Jan-13 11:29:48

"I was just teasing Cote. Which was bad of me"

Teasing isn't bad, Pan. Calling someone who has just run circles around you in debate narrow minded, stupid, and dull is bad. HTH smile

CoteDAzur Sat 12-Jan-13 11:33:47

Pan - Ellie is making a point. You are refusing to understand it. She is understandably frustrated and that is showing to some degree in her posts.

She wouldn't have to be repetitive if you showed a sign that you understand from time to time.

CoteDAzur Sat 12-Jan-13 11:39:58

Avuncular - Do you really know what that principle says or have you just heard about it and seized it as something to say on these threads?

Because, if you actually knew what it talks about, you would know that it only talks about lack of precision in measurements and doesn't say anything like "we can't really know anything".

Hanikam Sat 12-Jan-13 11:44:42

golden how horrible for you!
Like niminypiminy says the atheist lobby is on a roll, led by the high priest Richard Dawkins.
They seem to feel that all "Godders" are stupid, ignorant and superstitious and what a lot of back slapping they get when they point it out!
Strangely, they seem to believe they are liberal minded (!).
I'm Muslim, and I believe personal faith is your right as a free human being, not something you should be judged for. And as you can imagine, as a Muslim, I am expected to account for every evil act committed by so called Muslims around the world! Long list, unfortunately.

Fact is, power hungry bastards will use any leverage they can to justify their own actions, whether religious, atheist, political....anything.

If someone is atheist, fair play to them. Just don't shove it down my throat and I won't evangelise to you either.

Hanikam Sat 12-Jan-13 11:46:40

Funny how atheists seem to be copying the old-style TV evangelists in their approach!

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sat 12-Jan-13 12:01:20

What the superstitous don't seem to get is that really, for most of us ratiional types, you believing in any old load of bollocks and the imaginary friend of your choice is not the problem, any more than it's of interest or relevance how many sugars you take in your tea, or whether you prefer Olly Murs to Dizzee Rascal. The problem arises when other people's lives are affected by superstitious bullshit - men forbidding women to have life-saving medical procedures because their imaginary friend wouldn't like it. Criticisim of corruption and fraud within the big business superstitons being silenced on grounds of it being 'disrespectful' to challenge them.

Personally I just find it bewildering that any educated, civilised person is capable of believing in gods. In many cases it's harmless enough, makes them happy, doesn't stop them being good company etc. In some cases it makes them tiresome but still no big deal. Again, it's when they start getting or pursuing power over others that they become troublesome.

DadOnIce Sat 12-Jan-13 12:22:35

Is there really an atheist "lobby"? I didn't think it was possible to have a lobby not to believe in something. It's a bit like having a lobby for not supporting any football team. (Although all football teams exist, which makes that another imperfect comparison.)

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 12:23:57

I agree with much of what you have said SolidGold.
Some people who profess to be Christians, use it for their own gain.
There are 2 bits that come to mind in the bible about this.

"Beware of wolves in sheeps clothing".
Genuine Christians themselves can get caught out too. Particularly within their church.

Cant think what the other bit is for now.
Will come back later.

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 12:41:46

Very well said, Solid.

Thank you, Cotes.

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 12:43:14

I'm an atheist and I have a lobby, Dad. It's full of wellies & local newspapers and unopened bills. Does that count?

LeBFG Sat 12-Jan-13 13:20:35

You made me giggle with your post amillionyears. Do you really need a belief in god to enable you to lead a non-debauched life? Sister Emmanuelle wrote in her memoir that she would surely have become a prostitute if she hadn't become a nun. Frankly, a bizarre way of justifying a faith....and remarkably self-serving. Do you also think you believe in god so you can get to heaven?

The atheist movement, if you want to call it that, with RD as a prominent spokeman, is more of a movement against the horrors of organised religion rather than simple individual faith. RD does go on about not encouraging childhood beliefs in Santa for example, but I think the vast majority of atheist protest comes from the desire to see less power in the hands of organised religion.

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 13:32:00

See, I didnt say or mean debauchery.
Though I can see how you might have thought that is what I meant.
But I didnt say it or mean it.

To clear this up, about what I was thinking, I will pm you if that is all right.

I wasnt trying to justify my faith. So not self serving either.

The only bit of that that is right, is that yes, having jolly done an awful lot of work unseen inside of me, yes I intend to claim my prize of Heaven!
And yes, believing in God has that remarkable ending.
And yes,part, about 15% of me,is believing in God so I can go to Heaven I guess. And if that is self serving, so what! I dont see that as a problem.

ethelb Sat 12-Jan-13 13:34:34

I think calling it an atheist lobby is a bit inaccurate (though yes there are a large number of public figures who self-define as an atheist and do make a fairly bid song and dance about their lack of belief, and denying that fact is a bit odd if you haven't been living in a box for the past 10 years @dadonice).

However, I think it is fairer to call them an anti-religion or anti-theist lobby. I think that fewer people would want to define themselves by that as it is sounds too negative.

CoteDAzur Sat 12-Jan-13 13:37:53

The point is that there is no lobby.

I don't think anyone here minds the word "atheist" and we certainly don't think there is anything negative about it.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sat 12-Jan-13 13:38:54

There is a secular lobby, and that's a good thing. Secularism (despite the bullshit put about by both the hard-of-thinking superstitious and those who are making a tidy profit and enjoying a lot of power from peddling superstition) is not about stopping you from talking to your imaginary friend, reading your fairy stories, gathering together with like-minded others to sing and dance or paint yourselves blue or whatever. It's about making sure that everyone is treated equally regardless of any superstitions they may or may not have.
In the UK, Christianity has an unfair privileged status which even some Christians don't approve of. To strip away that extra privilege is not 'persecuting Christianity'.

LeBFG Sat 12-Jan-13 13:42:51

It's not a problem to me amillion, it's a problem I've noted in the past though, getting religious people to admit to the truth. People like to critique atheists for looking out for no. 1 when in fact the same is true for believers. Being selfish is a product of our evolution - it's natural (not necessarily right or desirable though) to put our own needs above those of others.

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 13:47:55

"Love thy neighbour as thyself", most Christians will admit is the hardest part of the bible.

ethelb Sat 12-Jan-13 13:50:24

I mean people wouldn't want to call themselves anti-religion. Obviously the term atheist has no negative connotation to 'right minded people'.

If there is no lobby, who are the people who appear on 9 lessons and carols for atheists, or who sign a group letter to the newpapers over the pope's visit?

I don't think the fact that ther is a secular/anti-religion/atheist lobby is a bad thing. It means the views of that group of people get heard and the priviledged position of some religious groups is curbed. I think the Naitonal Secular Society do a stellar job, personally, but I think it is silly to deny that there is a strong anti-religion lobby.

DadOnIce Sat 12-Jan-13 14:11:46

ethelb - I wasn't denying the existence of such figures, merely their collective power as a "lobby".

ethelb Sat 12-Jan-13 14:13:54

why?

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 14:28:49

ethelb Honestly, I think there is still some (understandable) confusion over the difference between an atheist & a humanist or secularist.

Atheism only means to not have a belief in a god. It's not a belief in itself, merely a response to theism. If you are not a theist then you are, by default, an atheist.

Some atheists choose to become Humanists, which I suppose could be, kind of, described as "lobbyists", or at least they do have campaigns. Not every atheist is a Humanist (although most, if not all Humanists are atheists).

Secularism is even more different. That's all about removing religion from public life. Lots of theists are also secularists, or have secularist ideas, some of which have been expressed on this thread.

niminypiminy Sat 12-Jan-13 14:44:10

The NSS is obviously a lobbying organisation, and the list of prominent supporters listed on its web site includes many equally prominent atheists. There are no prominent people of faith among this list of supporters. Despite its claims to the contrary, it seems clear to me from looking at the material on its web site, that the NSS together with the Humanist Society, and with individual proponents of atheism does indeed constitute an atheist lobby. To claim otherwise is dishonest logic-chopping.

Though there is a difference between humanists, secularists and atheists, in practice I think we will find that the overlap between these three categories is very large. This is particularly true for that group who espouse atheism, humanism or secularism enthusiastically and as a matter of principle. It will be least true for the 'apatheist' (I think this might have been originally Grimma's coinage, whoever's it was, it's brilliant) majority.

I see that SolidGold is behaving in exactly the kind of rude way that the OP was originally complaining of. M

DadOnIce Sat 12-Jan-13 14:44:12

That's, I think, what I was trying to say. You can lobby for public life and society to be secular, but atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods. You can no more lobby for it than you can lobby for people not to have an interest in stamp-collecting.

DadOnIce Sat 12-Jan-13 14:47:55

Atheism is generally a response. In theory as well as in practice. If there has been a perceived "rise" in it then it has been a response to a rise in visible religious evangelising, or the attempts by the religious to get religion to have greater say in people's lives.

I don't believe I have ever, in my life, seen a thread on any internet forum started by an atheist with the aim of "converting" people. I can't recall ever seeing a thread title on the lines of "Why don't you consider becoming an atheist?" It just wouldn't work.

niminypiminy Sat 12-Jan-13 14:56:00

DadonIce if it was true that the rise of atheism was correlated to attempts by religious groups to evangelise or gain more influence, why is it that the rise of atheism has happened at a time of a decline in the influence of religion?

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 14:58:03

There are no prominent people of faith among this list of supporters Probably not. But that's almost certainly because of people misunderstanding the terms, using "secularism" in place of "atheism" and wrongly promoting the idea that secularism & atheism are inter-changeable terms.

I have lost count of the number of Christians, on MN alone, who I have seen expressing the view that religion should play no formal role in public life, and that church & state should be separate entities.

I hardly think preferring to use the correct use of words is "logic chopping".

And I can see nothing rude in Solid's posts.

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 15:03:11

"I hardly think preferring to use the correct use of words is "logic chopping"."

Er.....

Dreadful grammar. Sorry.

DadOnIce Sat 12-Jan-13 15:03:18

But just because there is a decline in the influence of religion (evidence from the census, for example), that doesn't mean its more vocal proponents have got quieter. If anything, the opposite.

That's another useful explanation for why more atheist voices are (perceived to be) being heard - the fact that a religious "lobby" has grown more vocal during a quarter-century when its constituency is shrinking.

It's a bit of a "don't mention the war", "well, you started it" situation...

I'm interested to know what would be an alternative explanation?

niminypiminy Sat 12-Jan-13 15:11:57

Ellie, Christians do have a variety of views on different topics. So some, for example Roman Catholics, would feel for good historical reasons that the existence of an established church was an injustice; others, perhaps those who belong to independent churches, might see schools run by particular denominations as unjust. Some Christians would like to see disestablishment, and some would like to see secular education. But I doubt you would see many Christians signing up for the full agenda of the NSS.

Perhaps you might like to consider that rudeness is in the eye of the beholder. Most people of faith find being told that the living God is 'an imaginary friend' and that their sacred scriptures are 'fairy stories', and that the beliefs which are at the centre of theirlife are 'superstition' to be offensive.

DadOnIce Sat 12-Jan-13 15:15:10

I've seen religious people get offended by the "superstition" thing before. In a technical sense, what would be the distinction between religion and superstition? (Some things used to be very deeply-held, sincere beliefs - fears about witchcraft, for example - and would now be categorised as superstition.)

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sat 12-Jan-13 15:29:33

There's no objective difference between believing in Jesus, Allah, Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy. And the main reason for the decline in religion in developed countries is progress - more people are able to see that the current Big Myth Brands, while they have as much cultural and historical interest as the Greek, Roman, Norse and Celtic myth brands, are no more true than those are. Of course, there's a resurgent lobby made up of dickheads, scam artists, losers and control freaks, all screaming away about how it's 'persecution' for other people to be awarded the same human rights as they have themselves, though they are not, of course, representative of all those people who happen to have an imaginary friend.

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 15:32:13

Perhaps you might like to consider that rudeness is in the eye of the beholder. Most people of faith find being told that the living God is 'an imaginary friend' and that their sacred scriptures are 'fairy stories', and that the beliefs which are at the centre of theirlife are 'superstition' to be offensive

Then that's just tough, isn't it?

Do I think that anyone should be going out of their way to upset people? No. Do I think that the OP was justified in being upset at what was posted on her FB page? Yes.

But, here's the thing.....I DO believe that "the living God" is an imaginary friend. I DO believe the the "scriptures" are fairy tales and that religious belief is nothing more than superstition.

And guess what? I am a) totally entitled to take that view and b) totally entitled to express it. It's your choice as to whether you choose to take offence over my view - personally, I don't know why you care. But the very idea that you think that nobody is allowed to even express such opinions because you personally might get upset about it is quite extraordinarily arrogant.

Be offended by whatever you like, but don't expect anyone else to care. I for one don't.

And if I chose to post unpleasant things on someone else's FB page* with the sole intention of upsetting them, then that would make me an arsehole. But even arseholes are entitled to be arseholes.

*Which I have never done and never would.

niminypiminy Sat 12-Jan-13 15:43:42

I'm about to hide this thread.

You are entitled to say what you like. You are entitled to be as aggressive, arrogant, insulting as you like. That's freedom of speech.

But it's equally my right to call you on it, and to remind you that you are behaving like arseholes. I have not used such aggressive, rude language to you on this thread, and you have repaid courtesy with crude language and crass ignorance.

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 15:44:50

Meh.

Bye.

LeBFG Sat 12-Jan-13 15:52:21

DadonIce - you've just reminded me of a conversation I had with a RC. What's the difference between a religion and a cult? Most religious people I've met are terribly PC about other religions. But don't start trying to compare them with scientology for example....but that's what they all are really. Some bloke says follow me or go to hell. People start following. After a decade, there are a few followers. Give it a few centuries and, if the idea has caught on, you've got yourself a nice, shiny new religion.

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 15:57:54

fwiw, I personally do not feel offended by anything anyone has said to me, or about Christians, on this thread.
[the bit I did have to think about was whether, I think it was DadonIce who said that Christians in the middle ages were dim, something and something].

I think religion has to be discussed, and if Christians get a bit offended along the way, I would rather that, than no religious discussion taking place.

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 16:10:28

"I think religion has to be discussed, and if Christians get a bit offended along the way, I would rather that, than no religious discussion taking place"

Quite right, Amillion. I agree with you completely.

DadOnIce Sat 12-Jan-13 16:27:03

Found this, which is quite interesting. What's this the dictionary definition of? Supersition or religion?

Noun
1. Excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings.
2. A widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice.

ethelb Sat 12-Jan-13 16:56:04

@lebfg I think the difference is transparency actually. And I htink that is a big difference.

If you go into a RC Catholic Church, a mosque or a Gurdwara etc, and ask what they are doing, what their beliefs are and how they practice their religion, you will be told.

If you ask Scientologists (or any other cult) those same questions then you will struggle to get an answer.

Himalaya Sat 12-Jan-13 17:51:23

SGB - there is a difference between father Xmas/tooth fairy and god/Allah though surely?

I mean I know that the £ under my kids pillow and the presents in their stocking are not put there by a supernatural being because I know I went up there and put the presents in.

Whereas people who say they feel a supernatural presence when they pray etc... are not playing out an active deception on themselves.

It's not quite the same kind of thing.

NicholasTeakozy Sat 12-Jan-13 18:51:35

Hanikam Sat 12-Jan-13 11:46:40

Funny how atheists seem to be copying the old-style TV evangelists in their approach!

Are they begging for money which they spend on prostitutes of either gender? confused

NicholasTeakozy Sat 12-Jan-13 19:09:48

I think it's a shame Dawkins is seen as the spokesman for atheism. He doesn't speak for me, he's far too strident. I would much prefer that Hitchens was still alive, his arguments against the Catholic Church were the embodiment of righteous anger. He could also run rings round anybody without personally attacking them, which Dawkins has been guilty of.

LeBFG Sat 12-Jan-13 19:23:12

ethylb - but wasn't christianity seen as a cult in its early days?

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sat 12-Jan-13 19:24:22

HImalaya: But your kids (at least up to a point) believe that a supernatural creature did it. People who 'feel a supernatural presence' might believe that it's actually happening, but they are fooling themselves (partly because they have been told to expect this by the authority figure peddling the particular imaginary friend they are 'feeling'). To a rational outsider, there's no difference between the child believing his/her parents' tales of Father Christmas and the gullible adult believing the witchdoctor/televangelist.

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 19:25:09

Dunno if I agree with you there, Nicholas.

I think that Hitchens was so amazingly erudite & articulate that he could insult someone in such a way that they didn't realise they'd been insulted. Or, he could be very, very unambiguous about it:

* "If you gave Jerry Falwell an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox"

* "He is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.” About George Bush when he was, obvs, Governor of Texas"

And I've truly never understood the "Dawkins is strident" stuff. He's passionate - aren't we all a bit "strident" when we feel strongly about something?

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sat 12-Jan-13 19:28:59

A religion is just a cult that's accrued more power, money and followers over time. L Ron Hubbard was a chancer who got lucky with his daft sci-fi mythology, but the same could be said about whoever invented Christianity, Islam, Judaism and the rest. Inventing a religion is a bit like being a pop star or novelist: plenty of people try, some are a bit better at it than others, but whether you end up becoming a success or disappearing back into obscurity is as much to do with luck as anything else. Scientology is no more or less bullshit than any other superstition: the aggression of its organisers is nothing new apart from their tendency to fight by throwing lawyers at their critics rather than bombs. Give the Hubbardistas a couple of hundred years and they might be just as 'respectable' as Catholics/Hindus/Muslims/whoever else.

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 19:33:08

I think most "outsiders" do know the difference between say
Father Christmas
TV Evangelist
witchdoctor
Toothfairy
Fairies etc

headinhands Sat 12-Jan-13 19:33:42

Himalaya I think the tooth fairy analogy alludes to human penchant for believing the claims of those they see as superior without any evidence.

Avuncular Sat 12-Jan-13 19:43:48

For anyone who was wondering ........
Uncertainty principle

Avuncular Sat 12-Jan-13 19:54:16

Room marked God

No Grimma it was a personal statement of belief.

Simple example - Q why did Newton pursue his search for the laws of the Universe? A IMU because he believed that the world was governed by a set of rules which made it repeatable and predictable.

Now I'm quite prepared to accept an argument that "religion" was just a scaffolding which helped the modern development of science and the resulting technologies etc, but the 'fact' (dare I use that word?) remains that many many investigators and puzzlers were motivated and indeed comforted and inspired by a belief that the God of the new (and old) testaments made the world and continued to regulate its operation. Plenty of them are around today.

BTW did anyone see the ancient-looking 'Prof' that Brian Cox wheeled out to accompany his unveiling of the new stargazing live Herschel reproduction telescope a couple of nights ago. The Prof had on his lapel - prominently displayed on the side facing the camera - a silver Christian Cross.

Why would he do that I wonder?

Gotta go - still got a life - teaching all your (plural) children how to get mobile and stay alive on the road

Avuncular Sat 12-Jan-13 20:12:42

Grimma my last post didn't seem to be posted so it got out of sequence. Sorry.

Ellie I'm stlll hoping for your 'exposition' re being an atheist.

However during the past 24 hours the quality of debate seems to me to have taken a turn for the worse. Pity. I'm planning one last post (pun half-intended) picking up one or two of OPs original points (some of which I have noticed during the thread). Thanks to all for keeping it going civilly for so long. Did you know it runs to about 80 pages?

Before we meet again can I suggest we all read/reread Thomas Dixon: Science And Religion? I've just had a speed read and noticed he deals succinctly with a lot of the issues we've been exploring. Certainly doesn't support all my POVs but it seems to me tries to be balanced.

Would the last person to leave this thread please turn out the lights?

Avuncular Sat 12-Jan-13 20:37:06
IneedAgoldenNickname Sat 12-Jan-13 21:03:05

I'm secretly pleased that this is my longest thread to date, I've never had this many replies before (even though most of them have no direct bearing on my OP) grin

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 21:28:58

grin
That is the nature of a lot of threads, they meander.
I know precious little about FB, so I for one have been unable to keep on topic for long.
Has anyone said anything about you hiding them, or whatever you did?

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sat 12-Jan-13 21:35:35

Look, no one has ever been able to come up with any kind of proper argument as to why their imaginary friend is really real and not just imaginary like all the other imaginary friends. This is, of course, because none of them are real. Mythology is a combination of pre-scientific 'explanations' for things that weren't previously understood, and an excellent tool of social control.

But the superstitious always end up like toddlers, red-faced, stamping and crying, with an argument that consists of nothing more than 'You're being meeeeeeeaaaaan to me, my SPESHYL friend really is real, because I say it is, waaaaaaaaa!'

IneedAgoldenNickname Sat 12-Jan-13 21:40:52

I've enjoyed the discussion even thigh I haven't partaken in it.

They don't know that they can no longer see my statuses so they haven't said anything smile

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 22:11:03

Ineed smile

SolidGold. do you believe in miracles?

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 22:13:08

Do you believe in ghosts,things you cannot see?
Do you always have to see something, to believe in it?
Do you believe someone, for instance, if they say they have a bad back?

EllieArroway Sat 12-Jan-13 22:22:24

Do you believe in ghosts,things you cannot see? Nope.

Do you always have to see something, to believe in it? See it? Not necessarily. But it should be detectable somehow - the wind is detectable, air is detectable & measurable, radio waves etc. There's nothing I believe in that is not detectable.

Do you believe someone, for instance, if they say they have a bad back? Depends. If they are jumping on a trampoline or dancing a jig when they tell me, then probably not. But a person exists, Amillion, you can talk to them & make judgement calls.

juule Sat 12-Jan-13 22:25:35

Ellie do you think there might be things that exist but that we don't have the means to detect them yet?

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 22:31:31

Ah, but how do you know they are telling the truth about their bad back, assuming they are not jumping on a trampoline?
[not at all making aspersions about people with bad backs btw]. That is rather the point really, I believe them, even if I cant actually see it.

This is all something I learnt on MN recently. There was a thread about ghosts, I think it was, and I noticed that a fair number of the same people who said they did not believe in God, were on the thread on ghosts saying they didnt believe in them either.
Which, perhaps naively, massively surprised me. I dont know why exactly, I had somehow thought that if they didnt believe in God, they would definitely believe in ghosts.
So then I realised, I had rather massively missed the point.
That maybe, the same reason they didnt believe in God was the same reason they didnt believe in ghosts.
So it sort of wasnt personal about God
Or have I still got that all wrong?

juule Sat 12-Jan-13 22:37:36

Why would you think someone who didn't believe in god would believe in ghosts?

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 22:41:47

I dont know really. I think I sort of thought that God is one end of the scale, and ghosts are the other. So people not believing in one, were more likely to believe in the other iyswim.

IneedAgoldenNickname Sat 12-Jan-13 22:43:10

My ex doesn't believe in God, (although he always ticks the 'Christian' box on a form because he was christened confused ) but is adamant that vampires, ghosts and werewolves exist.

juule Sat 12-Jan-13 22:43:59

Now I thought they were on the same side of the scale. No real proof for the existence of either.

CoteDAzur Sat 12-Jan-13 22:44:52

What scale is that, amillionyears?

amillionyears Sat 12-Jan-13 22:45:04

Ellie
"There is nothing I believe in that is not detectable"
Does it have to be detectable by you though?
If you have a garden with bulbs in, do you not believe that near springtime, something is happening to them. You do not have to dig them up, because you know that something is happening below ground?
Not sure how much sense I am making. Off to bed for me.

CoteDAzur Sat 12-Jan-13 22:46:05

I'd say the same. Same end of the scale.

The only difference is that with God, much more people tell you that it's real.

Avuncular Sat 12-Jan-13 23:04:46

Apropos ghosts, special friends etc.

Here's a funny thing which happened just today.

We have 40 boxes of books. Moved to our 'retirement' bungalow 2 years ago and things are just getting straight. Downsizing in a big way from 6 bedrooms to 2. Most books on shelves but could only put my hand directly on a few at present. Sympathy, anyone?

Anyway, earlier today it occurred to me that two of the books, the 21 scientists who believe that I posted earlier, and another (can't remember the title) might be of help/interest to the main players, or to 'lurkers'.

DW finally decides how she would like her study to be arranged prior to starting next edition of Parish Magazine. Everything has to be moved. Bookcase unstacked on to floor. New work table to be moved in. Can't because some books are in the way. So we start to move them.

And on the top of the first pile there is that very 'long lost' book. DW hadn't even known I was looking for it.

Not: I saw the book 'by chance' and then thought this is a Sign better post the info - but thought about the book this morning; don't recall specifically praying but certainly concerned to do the right thing about the post; then the book turns up.

If this sort of thing happens once, then yes of course it's 'coincidence'.

But if it keeps happening, what am I to think? It's clearly a real event observed by me (nobody else knew my thoughts), it's not 'psychosomatic' or a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it doesn't prove the existence of God, poltergeists or anything else.

However when I have in my hand a book which says that God will reveal himself to me in various ways, and he then apparently does, is not this important corroborative evidence to me that (in this case) the Bible 'does what it says on the tin' and therefore is a credible source of information about the world I live in?

Does this sort of thing happen to anyone else, and if so what do you make of it?

PS found this FYI religious backgrounds of influential world scientists

EllieArroway Sun 13-Jan-13 00:26:40

Ellie do you think there might be things that exist but that we don't have the means to detect them yet?

Oh yes - absolutely.

But if you're talking about ghosts and stuff, then don't forget that people claim to see them so if they exist then they are detectable. If people can detect them then so should science. And science has tried very, very hard to do so and can't. At all.

That maybe, the same reason they didnt believe in God was the same reason they didnt believe in ghosts
it sort of wasnt personal about God
Or have I still got that all wrong?

You are absolutely, 100%, completely totally right smile

happybubblebrain Sun 13-Jan-13 00:39:58

I've never really understood by people get so offended by the opinions of others. Your beliefs and religion aren't who you are, they are just a tiny part of you. It should be water off a duck's back. If someone started criticising me for being an atheist nothing they could say would offend me. I always love to have a discussion about it, it's always good to have a different point of view and your beliefs should always be open for interrogation.

EllieArroway Sun 13-Jan-13 00:45:12

Ellie
"There is nothing I believe in that is not detectable"
Does it have to be detectable by you though?

No. Science does most of my detecting for me.

Avuncular Anthony Hopkins was once asked to be in a film that was based on a fairly obscure book (can't recall what). The book was out of print so he wrote to the author for a copy. The author said that he'd lost his only copy years ago. AH was on the tube a few days later and someone got off leaving a book behind. You've guessed what book it was, right? But not only that, it had writing on the flyleaf that proved it was the copy that the author had lost years ago.

Even odder - and this one made the news, it was so strange:

An AA man was on a call - his van was parked near a phone box that started to ring. He answered it and it was a girl from his office who started asking him something about his tax or hours (can't recall exactly). He asked her how she'd known the number of the call box and how he'd be there and she sounded confused and said, "But I called your home number, didn't I?" Then she went very quiet for a while and then said, in an apparently very shaky voice, "Fred? It wasn't a telephone number I called at all - it was your employee reference number".

Much less dramatically, my best friend at school and the best friend I later made at college turned out to know each other as they'd lived in the same apartment block in Honk Kong 10 years earlier.

Coincidences happen - some are big, some are small. The only real mystery is why you think the creator of the universe is communicating with you by putting books you've thought about on the top of a pile? I'm sorry and, yes, I know this is going to make you cross - why is he wasting time on stupid stuff like that when he could be ridding the world of child cancer?

EllieArroway Sun 13-Jan-13 00:49:01

Honk Kong?? Erm...Hong Hong.

IneedAgoldenNickname Sun 13-Jan-13 00:54:26

happybubble I don't have a problem with people questioning my faith our why I have it, I get offended by being called thick, deluded, and whatever it wad that they said. I get offended by someone/thing that I believe in being called frankly disgusting names.
I'm glad I you wouldn't be offended by any of these things, I'm obviously too sensitive hmm

EllieArroway Sun 13-Jan-13 00:55:31

Tsk.

HONG BLOODY KONG.

blush

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sun 13-Jan-13 00:57:21

Amillion: do you believe that 'everyone believes in something'? Because that's not true in the least when it comes down to woo-bollocks and stuff for which there is no evidence at all ie gods, ghosts, homeopathy, pixies, astrology. Some gullible or dim people might believe in one or more of these things but plenty of people are aware that they are all just imaginary guff.

IneedAgoldenNickname Sun 13-Jan-13 00:58:18

Lol Ellie I'd like to visit Hong Konk, or Honk Kong, or Honk Konk grin

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sun 13-Jan-13 01:00:33

Avuncular: It's simply coincidence. There's no evidence for it being anything else. People remember coincidences that have some sort of significance and forget all the times that nothing special happens.

EllieArroway Sun 13-Jan-13 01:03:42

I know. They sound like fun places, don't they? grin Now I've got the song from Hong Kong Phooey in my head! Bed I think.

happybubblebrain Sun 13-Jan-13 01:10:36

Sorry, I misunderstood then - the thread is entitled 'insulting religions'. It was the name-calling that bothered you then, not the fact that someone insulted your religion? People usually throw insults around when they're not happy with themselves, try to look at it as their problem. They're probably not happy and want to lash out. It's best just to have sympathy for them. It is hard to not take things personally sometimes though, I agree. But I don't think religon is a deeply personal thing, it's just what you think, you might be wrong or you might be right about it, until proven it's up for debate.

IneedAgoldenNickname Sun 13-Jan-13 01:18:56

Both bothered me, the name calling and insulting my religion. Especially as the Facebook status they were commenting on didn't have anything to do with religion! confused

The title of the thread isn't very good tbh, I couldn't think what to call it.

Had they wanted to debate religion, that would be fine but they didn't, they were just being rude. A misguided attempt at humour I think from some immature people. smile

headinhands Sun 13-Jan-13 08:20:43

Avuncular - a few posts back but you refer to the number of Christian scientists over recent centuries. It got me thinking why god couldn't have used the bible to impart some basic science, maybe he could have explained bacteria and so on. It calls to mind Carl Sagan's observations of people who came to him claiming to be in touch with advanced intelligent aliens. When Sagan asked questions of a philosophical nature he would get plenty of feedback from the 'alien' but his mathematical conundrums would go unanswered. grin

DadOnIce Sun 13-Jan-13 13:21:29

I think there is confusion here between "see", "prove" and "find evidence for". I haven't ever seen an alpha particle, but I am prepared to accept the evidence of those who have demonstrated that they exist, because it is convincing. Same goes for gravity - you can't see it, but you can see the effect. It's "only a theory", to use that horrible creationist expression, but it is one which fits all the facts.

There are things in the world which have not been 100% provenbut which have an enormous body of evidence to back them up. Man-made climate change is one such notion - scientists don't all agree, but the weight of evidence is in favour. Similarly, while you can't prove a negative, there are other things where the weight of evidence is in favour of the negative, e.g. the Loch Ness Monster. Yes, there are a few blurry photos and bits of jerky film and anecdotal testimonies, but when weighed against the extensive 500-sonar-probe search of the Loch which found nothing, it's sensible to assume that Nessie is just an enjoyable bit of folklore. That's no reason to stop people believing in her and using the story to draw people to a beautiful part of Scotland - she many not exist, but she is part of our heritage. It ultimately doesn't do any harm.

We weigh up evidence and use our brains. It's what we as humans are capable of.

DadOnIce Sun 13-Jan-13 13:27:45

There's a very interesting book on coincidences by John Allen Paulos. Makes it clear that they do happen - they may seem unlikely, but they still happen and are only coincidences. The example everyone knows best, I think, is that of a class where two children have the same birthday. It seems unbelievable until you stop and work it out and realise the odds are quite high. It's explained here.

EllieArroway Sun 13-Jan-13 13:36:14

Dark matter is also a good example of things we can't see but are, in some respect, detectable.

Dark matter is, of course, hypothetical and completely undetectable in any physical sense of the word. But something has to account for the fact that 85% of the universe appears to be missing.

So, "dark matter" whatever it turns out to be is not something that can be seen, heard, touched, weighed, measured or contained but it is "detectable" inferentially from it's gravitational effects.

Science has allowed us to "see" with more than just our eyeballs.

CoteDAzur Sun 13-Jan-13 14:54:53

"If this sort of thing happens once, then yes of course it's 'coincidence'.
But if it keeps happening, what am I to think?"

You are supposed to remember something called selective perception, which is also why we are oh so impressed by the one dream that seems to predict what happens the next day, because we don't take into account the millions of other dreams we have had that bore no resemblance to real life events.

You must have looked for many things in your life, which didn't just show up as the topmost item on a box or drawer you opened. You remember the several times this did happen because it is so unusual, and now want to accord a supernatural worth to those because you don't see it in the context of the millions of other things you have looked for that didn't turn up by themselves.

CoteDAzur Sun 13-Jan-13 15:11:31

Avuncular - re "religious backgrounds of influential world scientists"

I don't know why people keep making these lists, especially if they are so clueless as to think Einstein was "Jewish" and Neils Bohr was "Jewish Lutheran", and those are No 2 and No 3 of the list.

Neils Bohr had a religious background but then turned atheist and was quite vocal about it.

Einstein has never come out and said that he is an agnostic, but if you read a bit of what he says, he has at best a "cosmic religious feeling" and only entertains the possibility (not certainty) of a Watchmaker God (who has only set things in motion).

In fact, a a letter written by Einstein leaves no doubt about his thoughts on religion:

" The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

Einstein, who was Jewish and who declined an offer to be the state of Israel's second president, also rejected the idea that the Jews are God's favoured people.

"For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

headinhands Sun 13-Jan-13 15:21:03

I think one of the psychological terms used to explain coincidences is confirmation bias? You see it clearly in the work of mediums and psychics although we all do it.

Avun, if you accept your coincidences as proof of your god meddling in your day to day life then you have to conclude that other people's coincidences are proof of their god/belief system too as they are a universal phenomenon.

amillionyears Sun 13-Jan-13 15:25:53

Will be back when I can.
Been feeling unwell, off and on in the last couple of days.

EllieArroway Sun 13-Jan-13 15:55:52

Sorry to hear that, Amillion. Hope you feel better soon thanks

amillionyears Sun 13-Jan-13 17:42:25

Thanks Ellie.
I am back for a bit hopefully.

Hope I make some sense.

happybubblebrain 00.39am
I think that is the crux of the problem.
What causes offence to some people doesnt cause offence to others.

I am very aware for instance that niminypiminy has left us.
Cant remember who caused her offence, but the same person didnt cause me offence as far as I can remember.
I did read elsewhere on MN that it should depend on whether the person causing offence meant it or not. Not sure whether I agree with that or not. I think I do.
This may be the point at which to comment on SolidGolds post. She reiterated something that DadOnIce partly or did take back. [re the dim and whatever stuff]. She said dim and gullible. I dont know whether she meant me, or all Christians, or Christians in the middle ages. Not sure if she was trying to see how far she could push it, or whether she didnt mean anything by it at all.
And that sort of is another point. A lot of Christians are not doormats, but some definitely, and I have to be careful how to put this, can find themselves in that position. I for one, dont think Christians are expected to be doormats, but neither should they be militant imo.

amillionyears Sun 13-Jan-13 17:45:49

Avuncular, that sort of stuff happens to me often, once a week?

amillionyears Sun 13-Jan-13 17:51:54

I would say, that, when you meet someone face to face, I for one react accordingly. Gentler to a shyer person, more jovial to a jovial person etc.
And make allowances. That is one thing that this internet thing lacks. We are talking online to people we have never met, who come from diverse backgrounds, we have no idea what mood they are currently in, or us for that matter, and all have different ways of conversing.
It would be lovely to try and say speak to Cote[and I only pick Cote because I know she lives in France] one way, and say SolidGold another. But it is nigh on impossible, for me at least, to be able to write like that, and convey everything in just the right way.
I sometimes feel the internet is a bit of a blunt instrument.

amillionyears Sun 13-Jan-13 17:52:31

Will try and tackle the other stuff later, or even tomorrow.