Atheists on belief threads. Why?

(411 Posts)
DioneTheDiabolist Thu 21-Mar-13 22:55:59

While there are sometimes interesting threads where atheists and believers discuss and debate religion, it seems to me that increasingly atheists only come onto threads here to poopoo or disrespect the beliefs of others.

Am I right about this and if not then what is the reasoning behind the posts where atheists call the beliefs of others rubbish etc?

Tortington Thu 21-Mar-13 22:58:35

mumsnet is a huge power trip

people with knowledge to impart have power

athiests can crack on with themselves - becuase you can't prove faith...becuase erm...

hold on

just...a...minute....it's FAITH

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Because being a deluded believer does not give you the right to cosy little 'believers only' threads.

Because it's hard to stand back and not comment when you find a subject so completely ridiculous and objectionable as I find religion.

Because we all have a right to say anything we like on any thread we choose.

Take your pick.

SwedishEdith Thu 21-Mar-13 23:05:21

It's probably just too defficult to resist sometimes.

SwedishEdith Thu 21-Mar-13 23:05:57

Defficult? Wonder what they believe? confused

The problem with most atheists I've come across is that they can't seem to make a point without using insults, sarcasm and ridiculing to make it.

They also seem to think they have a God given right (wink) to ram their non-beliefs down people's throats while crying out about believers trying to ram their beliefs down people's throats.

It's the sneery bully boy language and hypocrisy that I can't deal with. That's why I don't discuss religion with them.

HarrietSchulenberg Thu 21-Mar-13 23:13:14

Oddly enough, Walter, those are exactly the traits I find in "believers". Which is why I avoid faith threads: you just can't reason with some people wink .

No you can't Harriet! smile

CardinalRichelieu Thu 21-Mar-13 23:17:25

I agree. I am currently hovering somewhere between atheism and faith, not sure which side I'm going to come down on (was atheist, am not baptised or anything) But I don't understand atheists coming on to threads where people are trying to work out a point of doctrine or something which is intrinsic to Christianity and just going 'but it isn't true'. For a start it is philosophically unsound, and is also a bit pointless. It's sort of like going on to a thread where someone is talking about which crime novel to read and saying 'all crime novels are shit, you should read something by P G Wodehouse, or contributing to a conversation about what to do with kids all day as a sahm by saying 'you are stupid to be sahm, get a job.' It's not that you don't have a right to contribute, but it's not very constructive, it's annoying and it's not going to achieve anything.

It's different where the thread is a genuine debate about whether God exists or about whether organised religion is a good thing.

WhatKindofFool Thu 21-Mar-13 23:19:32

Because, It is a quick and easy way for someone to make themselves feel superior (in their minds). It is free too and requires no qualifications, knowledge or experience. wink

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CardinalRichelieu Thu 21-Mar-13 23:58:25

I think the difference is that faith and religion are more complicated, and often people have been on quite a journey to come to the realisation that there is or may be a God and that Christianity works for them before they start a thread.

So at the moment, I'm trying to work these things out for myself. I've been mulling it over for maybe a couple of years, read a few books, and letting things chime with what I learned during my degree (History and Philosophy). As yet, I do not 'believe' as such, but I think religion can be valuable in real terms (even if there is no God) can be very psychologically healthy. It can also be deployed in a very disturbing, destructive way but isn't that true of anything which has power?

I have come to the conclusion that it is more likely than not that there is a God, although I know I will never have all the answers. So if I'm asking a question about something very specific, I'm not really interested in someone saying 'yes but it's not real'. I've kind of got past that stage. Responses like that also bring the risk of the whole thread descending into an A level philosophy class, when actually OP wanted to know what others think about a very particular situation. The main problem is that the terms of reference can be very different.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 00:10:14

Because people use the title atheist when they actually mean anti-religion.

Someone who is simply atheist has nothing to gain from posting on a theology thread. Someone who is anti-religion can make them selves feel superior by coming on to a thread like that.

Pan Fri 22-Mar-13 00:16:29

yes agree with ethelb. It would be like a non-dog owner posting about dog ownership. [disclaimer - not the perfect analogy]

It does get a bit tedious, esp. at the time of a new Pope.

And they always seem to be preoccupied by sex. Odd.

Knowsabitabouteducation Fri 22-Mar-13 04:29:37

I think "atheists" come here because they have faith the size of a mustard seed.

They protest too much grin

Mondrian Fri 22-Mar-13 05:00:52

It's just a sign of change in "belief landscape". One side represents the history, the other the future. One side tries to defend the respect they once had while the other is trying to drive the new message home. In simple terms think bantering in Utd vs City of 90's era.

DaemonPantalaemon Fri 22-Mar-13 05:08:14

Surely, if your faith is THAT strong, it will not take a couple of Mumsnet atheists to make you doubt it? Why do you think your God needs defending from attack?

BelfastBloke Fri 22-Mar-13 05:59:27

Hang on, which one's City and which one's Utd?

Nobody said god needs defending from attack. But really, the atheists lying in wait to pounce on a thread and go on about delusions and fairy tales gets irritating, not least because it's so utterly tedious.

And the smugness makes me want to tear my eyeballs out! Not because they make me doubt or believe anything differently, but because they're so annoying!

Also, what Ethel said.

Startail Fri 22-Mar-13 08:08:58

I try very very hard to resist going anywhere near faith board, because I realise is deeply offensive telling you it's a pile of rubbish. However, it is tempting <childish>

But why is it so tempting? That's the part I don't understand!

I wouldn't go on a thread about non-belief and insult all of the posters so why do atheists find it so difficult not to extend the same common courtesy?

CoteDAzur Fri 22-Mar-13 08:14:18

It depends on what you think constitutes "poopoo and disrespect", I suppose.

Ime, pretty much anything you say that points out the inconsistencies and irrational tidbits in their belief system will be perceived as "disrespect", presumably because respect = never questioning anything in their world.

CoteDAzur Fri 22-Mar-13 08:17:38

Cardinal - re "It's sort of like going on to a thread where someone is talking about which crime novel to read and saying 'all crime novels are shit'"

Actually, it's like going on a thread where someone is talking about which formula to use and saying "Formula is shit. Here are all the reasons why breast milk is better".

MissAnnersley Fri 22-Mar-13 08:17:38

I don't understand why it is tempting either.

CoteDAzur Fri 22-Mar-13 08:20:24

It is tempting because there is always the hope that they might eventually start questioning their conditioning beliefs themselves.

But why is it any of your business Cote? Genuine question.

msrisotto Fri 22-Mar-13 08:22:41

"I think the difference is that faith and religion are more complicated,"

Well that may be why you find it annoying that atheists come on threads and challenge your beliefs, but for atheists, religion really has no special status and is open for challenge just like a scientific hypothesis.

Think of it this way, if you saw a thread where people were arguing the finer points of alien culture, you may find yourself compelled to present alternatives.

I am an atheist but don't generally find myself in this section.

CoteDAzur Fri 22-Mar-13 08:25:37

I'm not sure what you mean, Walter.

All topics on MN are everyone's "business". I come and post on this topic as I go and post on Sleep or Baby Names.

What seems to be the problem?

Because they think they're clever (written as an atheist myself). And they think it makes them look intellectual.

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 08:28:45

"And the smugness makes me want to tear my eyeballs out! Not because they make me doubt or believe anything differently, but because they're so annoying! "

Hang on- are Christians calling atheists smug???????grin

I wouldn't go on a prayer thread, obviously. But I am endlessly fascinated by belief and faith and non belief and philosophy, so I love talking about it and debating it.

And any thread where Christians talk about how they are persecuted in Britain today is a bit of a red rag to me. And how it it absolutely fine for there to be Church schools, and obligatory Christian worship in a state schools. That makes me a bit cross.

It always makes me side with the believers. grin

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 08:32:53

I think as well, the fact that Christianity has a privileged place in society is a problem. If it was just a matter of what individuals believed, then it is none of my business, although I enjoy discussing complex and difficult stuff like that. But it isn't a matter of what individuals believe- it impacts on all our lives, whether we want it to or not.

ubik Fri 22-Mar-13 08:34:39

I'm an atheist and don't tend to post on those boards. Sometimes faith issues come up on the more general threads and I will post.

There are times when I am just shock at the intricacies of Catholicism fir example, how these rules are formulated based on supernatural, medieval beliefs, and people take them seriously! As an atheist I marvel at all this.

I also find it confusing when, for example, there are threads about homophobia in religious faith - Catholicism + Islam - but posters all deny that they believe this...and you wonder why some rules are followed and others are not - surely God is in charge and you have to follow the rules.

I'm not a fan of the sneering Dawkins style attitude though, I find it arrogant and irritating and I don't like rudeness.

DomesticCEO Fri 22-Mar-13 08:35:20

Walter, maybe because many atheists would like to see a world free of religion and all the division, intolerance and bigotry that comes with it?

I don't know this is the answer, just guessing!

Arcticwaffle Fri 22-Mar-13 08:43:04

I'm a card carrying Dawkins-style atheist but I used to post on religion threads, though not so much lately. I grew up in an evangelical Christian household, as a teenager I was a keen Christian, and really, after 20 years of that I feel I do know an awful lot about Christianity.

Plus I feel angry at the effect, very negative in my view, that this had on me and many of my peers. In that sense I think that religion matters. I wish there had been more atheists engaging in debate with me when I was young. Growing up there were lots of people being actively Christian but the atheists I knew tended to keep quiet. And I think that's problematic, children and young people are often taught about religion but they don't always hear the counter-arguments from adults they respect.

Cote I'm not talking about specifically posting on MN.

You said you hoped that conditioned believers would eventually change their views and I wonder why their beliefs have anything to do with you.

I think it's important that I state here and now I have no problem with theological debate. I think it's important and interesting and certainly it's not for me to have a problem with it anyway!

But I gathered OP was talking about threads where believers are supporting each other and along comes the atheist full of self-importance and self-appointed superiority to slag everyone off. That's what annoys me.

I've said it a thousand times in rl. I believe what I believe. For my own personal reasons. I don't shove my beliefs down anyone's throat (though I'm oft accused of it simply by believing in god, without ever having actually said anything), so I don't see why I can't be extended the same courtesy.

It's not the matrix. I don't need my mind to be freed. I've come to my own conclusions as a reasonably intelligent adult and I don't want or need to be brow beaten into thinking anything different!

BinarySolo Fri 22-Mar-13 08:56:14

I'm not an atheist but I am fairly anti religion. That's my choice and I respect other people's choices just as I'd like them to respect mine. I was on a thread about Catholic priests which was very interesting, and more so because posters seem genuinely interested in debating rather than having a religious bun fight.

Some of the anti religion posting on religious threads is a but like trolling really. I wouldn't disrespect someone's belief to their face so why do it over the Internet. I think I act on here as tho I'm not anonymous and that I will only behave as I would in rl. So I'd steer clear of religion rather than posting my negative viewpoint.

GotMyGoat Fri 22-Mar-13 08:58:17

I just thought I'd point out that forums, like mumsnet, are the only spaces it is ok for atheists to discuss their 'beliefs'.

In daily life its not acceptable, although its fine for religious people to openly talk about their beliefs, and try and convert others.

ubik Fri 22-Mar-13 08:59:18

In terms religion being complicated...how about science?

One if the difficulties (and pleasures) of atheism is that when your daughter asks you 'mummy who was the first person?' Yu can't just say God made Adam and then Eve from Adam's rib' You have to go into evolution. Same as 'why is the sky blue' you can't just say 'because God liked the colour,' you have explain about photons.

My children really like astronomy - we like to find Jupiter and sometimes we see Andromeda which is 2.5million light years away, the furthest object that can be seen with the naked eye. And you are seeing it as it was 2.5m years ago, so you are actually travelling back through time when you look at it.
Mind blowing.

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 09:16:29

"I've said it a thousand times in rl. I believe what I believe. For my own personal reasons. I don't shove my beliefs down anyone's throat (though I'm oft accused of it simply by believing in god, without ever having actually said anything), so I don't see why I can't be extended the same courtesy."

Absolutely you can be- so long as you don't expect special treatment, or say that you are being persecuted when the special treatment you used to receive is withdrawn!

I've personally never received special treatment in my life due to religion.

But I can see why it is unjust if people do.

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 09:23:57

Yes you have. There are Bishops automatically in the House of Lords. Which means that all laws passed in this country have been run past Christians first, which is particularly problematic when it comes to social and scientific policy. children at state school are obliged to take part in "broadly Christian worship" every day. RE is compulsory throughout school.

For example.

hermioneweasley Fri 22-Mar-13 09:33:12

Waltermitty - I am atheist and I don't go on "believer" threads to sneer. There are lots of atheists who don't so it's a poor conclusion to say that is how all atheists behave. Would you like me to judge all people of faith by those who picket the annual Pride marches and hurl abuse?

Where there is a discussion about why you do or don't believe or similar I might join in.

I completely agree with seeker's points about the privileged role Christianity has in our society. To quote Daniel Radcliffe "I am an atheist, and a militant one when religion starts to impact on legislation"

That's why I didn't say all atheists hermione

Seeker, I'm not in the uk.

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 09:47:55

Actually, I think there is only one prominent poster who posts the way you are saying "atheists" do.

I know that I have been accused of Christiian bashing for expressing even the mildest criticism of the Christian church.

GetOeuf Fri 22-Mar-13 09:55:18

I am an atheist, but I am find religion threads fascinating, and like to understand about people's beliefs.

I am not anti-religion at all, but am very anti established religion.

But then to answer the OPs question, I think the good thing about MN is that everyone with all sorts of opinions answer all types of threads. I often post on threads I know bugger all about. You can't stop that.

Shakey1500 Fri 22-Mar-13 09:57:28

Never the twain shall meet when it comes to people who have faith in a religion/God/A God and atheists. It will always be the same.

Aside from the fact that it's a public forum and people are free to post whatever/wherever they choose, I find it fascinating.

I'm an atheist and post on religious threads sometimes. Because I like to question people's beliefs/faiths. It's interesting. Some posters are of the professionally offended brigade, others are extremely kind and post interesting viewpoints without being horrible or worked up into a religious frenzy. And that is what makes it stimulating.

Who knows, I may be converted one day grin

greengoose Fri 22-Mar-13 09:59:47

I never post on these threads....
But.. The posters who say that Christians do not trample into the lives of non believers, this is just not true! In my village there is one school, it's C of E. I won't send my kids to this school, so they have to travel, which costs us lots. (most other village schools are C of E). Also our house is on land contained in the parish boundary, this means the committee has say over planning permission, which means, because they are very strict compared to the council over the bridge, we cannot extend our house, so we have to think about how we will all fit. We also have to pay a special insurance, because through some ancient law we are libel if the church roof falls in, and would have to pay out. (the church doesn't own our house, we do).
When my daughter died, we had to have her cremated, as there is no non religious place nearby where we could bury her, although that would have been my choice. At the crematorium I had to argue over my daughters little coffin to remove the cross from the table she had to be put on, as the staff at the crem were christian volunteers from the church, and did not want it moved.
That's without getting into the (extremely painful) times people of faith asked if we prayed for our daughter while she was sick, or other comments too difficult to write). This is no less wrong than a Christian having to use Muslim ways and places to say goodbye, surely?

Please don't tell me your beliefs don't impact on my life, they do. And on the lives of my children. And I find them no more real than a belief in elves or hobgoblins. I don't get into religious argument, but to me it is no more real than that, if it was someone, a state, a school, a group who believed in goblins who were dictating anyone's life in this way it would be ludicrous and wrong, you have to see as an atheist, this is how I feel. I would be happier if we could all have our thoughts, and that they did not trample the lives and choices of others, but that is not how it is. And (although I am fearful enough of the rath this provokes) this makes me ANGRY. Surely that is understandable?

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Fri 22-Mar-13 10:10:10

greengoose I'm so sorry for your loss. That was a heartbreaking story.

I am also an atheist. I agree with you and do wish religious people would realise that offering religious comfort to an atheist is at best meaningless and can sometimes be quite hurtful.

TheJoeufulPuddlejumper Fri 22-Mar-13 10:10:54

I'm an atheist (of the live and let live variety rather than the Dawkins variety) and I find religion and theology fascinating. I read a lot of threads in this section but tend to post only if I have a question or think I have a genuine contribution to make to the thread.

I strongly dislike atheists who sneer at people of faith, but then I also strongly dislike people of faith who sneer at atheists.

FloatyBeatie Fri 22-Mar-13 10:11:18

I'm an atheist and I used to come on religion threads to have lovely discussions with people of faith, from which I learned a lot.

Unfortunately I also learned from some other atheists a lot about just how arrogant and ignorant their loudly touted disdain for religion is, and how willing they are to attack caricatures of faith, or the stupidest and wickedest variations of faith, instead of engaging with faith at its best.

In fact it was the joint power of Richard Dawkins and Mumsnet combined that made me ashamed to be an atheist and so forced me to rein back and revise some of my own thoughtless dislike of religion.

I wouldn't go onto a thread for prayer, or a daily gratitude style of thread, because those seem best left respectfully to practitioners of faith. And I'm reluctant these days to go on more discursive threads precisely because of the dulness of the same old static atheist hostility that just reiterates anger and has nothing much else to say.

nenevomito Fri 22-Mar-13 10:12:49

I'm an atheist. However, I studied Theology and Philosophy of religion and view religion as an academic subject to be studied and debated. I will discuss religion and my point of view is just as valid on spirituality threads as someone who has faith.

The problem with faith is that you can't argue against it, any more than you can argue with someone who believes they are being controlled by aliens. It is the reality that the person lives with so to them that is all the proof they need. It doesn't have anything to do with being rational or logic, and any discourse about the validity of the belief is seen as an attack.

My advice is to enjoy the debate and stop getting fraught with people who do not agree with you posting their opinions on a thread. By saying "they want to make themselves feel superior" you are resorting to a very simplistic way of shutting down any view that disagrees with your own.

TheJoeufulPuddlejumper Fri 22-Mar-13 10:14:32

I disagree WhenShe, I think people offering to pray for me mean it kindly. To me it's no different to someone saying "I'll be thinking of you" and that's not meaningless. I do understand why others think differently.

nenevomito Fri 22-Mar-13 10:15:14

Also, regardless of whether you are an atheist or a religious believer, there are people on both sides who can be pleasant or unpleasant. Such is life and its hardly limited to this one topic.

greengoose I am so very sorry to hear of your loss.

I am also very sorry that Christians made you feel worse at that terrible time.

I am a Christian. I hope that I never add to anyone's burdens by making thoughtless comments or making life harder than it already is.

Thank you for sharing your story. It does help to remind us, Christian or other religion/belief or faith or none, that sometimes our actions and words can be very insensitive.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:16:42

I never go on threads which are clearly for believers...."Please pray for whatever". I do go on threads where questions are being asked.

Are you seriously suggesting that only answers that support the beliefs of the person asking are acceptable?

FloatyBeatie Fri 22-Mar-13 10:17:24

I agree, Joyful. It's just a different language of love and concern. Of course it can be used in a passive-agressive way. But then so can secular expressions of goodwill.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Fri 22-Mar-13 10:19:28

joyful I agree that when someone says they will be praying for you it is best just to take it that they mean I'll be thinking of you.

I try to take it in the spirit it is meant but often I just think - what the hell do you think that will achieve. It would be like someone saying it will all be ok because I've put £1 in a wishing well for you.

dawntigga Fri 22-Mar-13 10:19:44

Could it be the threads you are talking about aren't I believe this but nobody else has to threads? Or are they I believe this and it's terrible other people are allowed to be different threads? IME atheists are very good at questioning what you think if you suggest that yours is the only way.

PaganAndProudAlthoughYouBelieveWhateverYouLikeTiggaxx

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:22:15

I'd also like to point out, knowing perfectly well that I'm probably the most outspoken atheist on these threads, that I have never sneered at anyone. I have never called anyone stupid or thick. I have addressed the beliefs & justifications for those beliefs only - in return I've been called all sorts of names.

If something is wrong, stupid and illogical then there's no reason why that shouldn't be pointed out.

ouryve Fri 22-Mar-13 10:25:15

I'm an atheist and really can't be arsed discussing it. Religion/faith is simply something that's not in my life and I don't need to substitute for it. I can't speak for all atheists, though. Others may want to make their thoughts heard. Others may be exploring what they do believe. There is as much of a continuum amongst those of us who have no faith as there is amongst those of you who do.

I don't appreciate generalised sneering at atheists as if we're a homogeneous group with a hive mind any more than Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Pagans or anyone else would appreciate it applied to them, tyvm. OP, I know this isn't you, but there's plenty of it in this thread. Respect needs to go both ways, no?

FloatyBeatie Fri 22-Mar-13 10:26:13

There's a nice piece here about atheism that is positive and empathetic towards religion, by the late US philosopher Ronald Dworkin.

If something is wrong, stupid and illogical then there's no reason why that shouldn't be pointed out.

Rude, sneery and nasty. Perfect example of the type of atheist I was talking about. And the reason I don't engage in religious discussions because, quite frankly, it's akin to trolling and I don't feed trolls.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:29:16

You're perfectly right, Walter - that makes LOADS more sense. Someone says X is true when it's not. But we can't say it's not because that's unfair on believers - it's sneery to point out logical failures hmm

I think accommodationists annoy me more than believers.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:33:32

And the reason I don't engage in religious discussions because, quite frankly, it's akin to trolling and I don't feed trolls

Someone says something you don't personally agree with - so they are "trolling"?

Grow up.

How is it rude, sneery and nasty walter?

You can believe what you like but the fact is that atheists have science, logic and reason in their debating arsenal. Believers have faith. Blind faith.

And that's why they get so prickly and defensive so quickly. Because in the age we live in, with all the knowledge we have there is simply no reason to believe in mythical divinities.

Rather than ignoring trolls your response sounds more like the online equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and singing la la la loudly when you don't like what you hearing.

EllieArroway Fri 22-Mar-13 10:35:58

"There, there.......please don't be horrible to people with faith by pointing out that they don't understand science when they talk about the BB or evolution. That would hurt their little feelings".

Gross and patronising.

nenevomito Fri 22-Mar-13 10:36:56

Walter how would you view the statement "I believe religion is illogical and that there are no rational arguments to back up the faith of a beliver."

babyheave I would say that is absolutely your prerogative and you are as entitled not to believe as anyone else is to believe.

We can agree to disagree and remain civil and adult about it.

Your arsenal of debate has no place in the type of thread OP was talking about, which renders your rants a little pointless here don't you think bunny?

TheJoeufulPuddlejumper Fri 22-Mar-13 10:41:08

Ellie what's an accommodationist?

nenevomito Fri 22-Mar-13 10:46:20

An accommodationist is someone who doesn't believe themselves, but won't argue about faith with a beliver in case it upsets them.

TheJoeufulPuddlejumper Fri 22-Mar-13 10:50:31

Ah, thank you. I'll happily argue about it if the believer wants a debate (I have spent some very interesting evenings having these discussions with friends) but don't try to convert anyone to my way of thinking. smile

ubik Fri 22-Mar-13 10:59:56

"accomodationist"?

you see this is the sort of rhetoric that pisses me off about some atheists. Same as " religious apologist" which also pisses me off.

I have some good friends who are church going committed Christians whom i respect greatly, they are good company and contribute to society etc etc There is no way I would challenge them on their beliefs unless they brought it up.I don't want to upset them, and we never discuss it.

BUT I will challenge aspects of religion which i find abhorrent online - the treatment of women and homosexuals for one. On a discussion forum this stuff is fair game. In the context of personal relationships - with people you know, like and respect - confronting these uncomfortable subjects is far more problematic.

FloatyBeatie Fri 22-Mar-13 11:02:40

There's an analogy with the problem that affects some of the conversation on feminist threads. If people start a discussion from within a religious viewpoint, about some nuances of faith, and someone who is an atheist enters the discussion simply to challenge the religious viewpoint on which the discussion is premised, it is very like the cases where someone who is not a feminist derails a discussion from within a feminist framework of some particular nuance or implication of feminism. It is tiresome to have to keep on readdressing the grounds of your feminism/faith in discussions which were established for something different.

Of course there are also other discussions in which atheism versus faith is the topic, just as there should be discussions on the feminist board in which feminism and non-feminism engage. But there is a time and a place. It is simply rude and derailing to turn a thread around to faith versus atheism if it is a discussion about a particular issue within religion.

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 11:52:09

Walter, maybe because many atheists would like to see a world free of religion and all the division, intolerance and bigotry that comes with it?

Just remind me please. Were the 1st and 2nd world wars all about religion. (I know what happened to the Jews in the 2nd world war but were the wars ALL about religion?)

Did the Germans bomb our cities because of religion?

If there was no religion, mankind would live in peace. Right?

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 12:07:48

But to get back to the OP, I agree with Floaty

marjproops Fri 22-Mar-13 12:19:57

I always wonder how when people who say they dont believe/want to believe seem to know all about what the Bible says and what Christians are supposed to be like? and they're looking for ways to catch a Christian out if a Christian says the 'slightest' thing wrong in their eyes? Christians are human with human failings and virtues same as everyone else.

Thing is at the end of the day, we need to RESPECT each others beliefs/non-beliefs. we may not ACCEPT them, but RESPECT them.

I had a friend who was of another 'ilk' and she kept making a million digs at me about my beliefs, one day I decided to make a 'slight' dig at hers (as a test) and she blew up at me.

I said 'why are you so quick to talk to me about your beliefs yet you're not willing to hear mine?' she actually apologised and we're still friends. we agree to disagree and not let that come between out friendship.

i mean, Cliff Richard is a Christian, Hank Marvin a JW. Theyve been best frinds for years and dont let their slight difference of opinion come between them (as far as I see).

unfortunately there will always be the 'lunatic fringe/fanatic' in ALL groups of people and unfortunately everyone is is guilty by association.

therefeore :

are ALL muslims terrorists?
ALL christians deluded bible freaks?
ALL teenagers knife-weilding hoodies?
ALL old people grumpy old .....

by all means its good to have discussions and ask question but be prepared for the answer (wether you agree or not) if you're asking someones opinion without running anyone down.

smile

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 22-Mar-13 12:33:35

There is a huge difference between posting a different opinion, debating and sneering. I love the debating threads.

Ellie, where does the quote in your 10:35 post come from? I don't think I have seen anything like that here.

MostlyLovingLurchers Fri 22-Mar-13 12:45:22

I post quite a lot in this section. This section is not just religion - it is also philosophy and spirituality and it is perfectly possible to be interested in any of these areas without having a faith. I don't post on threads where it is clear that the posters are not after a debate but want to share their experiences - the religious chat threads for eg, or currently a woo thread where they have asked not to have to defend their beliefs, and that has been respected.

Otherwise, in an open forum, anyone is free to express their opinion. I have no interest in hurting peoples feelings, but i am not going to leave unchallenged something i disagree with because it is a matter of faith (any faith). I have some views that others will think are nonsense and when i post about them i expect to be challenged - this is healthy and helps me look at what i believe more critically than i might otherwise. There are no end of faith forums out there if you only want to encounter like-minded people.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 13:02:10

From a believer's point of view - Believers feel the same love for God that the atheists feel for their partners and children, so it is extremely hurtful when some of the atheists denigrate the believers, but I don't expect they're even aware of this.

I have yet to encounter any aggressive believers on this site (maybe I missed their posts though) who are as dismissive, sarcastic or condescending in the same way that some of the atheists are.

It is an open site and anybody is entitled to post on any of the threads available, but it does sometimes feel that some of the atheists just enjoy taking the piss out of the believers because we can't prove that what we believe is true. What we do feel is love though and to have that denigrated isn't the best feeling out there.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 22-Mar-13 13:04:43

Bunny, what do you mean by blind faith?

hermioneweasley Fri 22-Mar-13 13:09:25

What sort of comments do the believers find offensive/denigrating?

Likening the being you believe in to Thor, Zeus, apollo? The phrase "imaginary friend"? "giant sky pixie "?

Or would it have to get personal - implying that believers must be stupid in some way?

"Bunny, what do you mean by blind faith?"

Sigh. There is no scientific evidence of God. Not one solitary piece of evidence.

Believing in something which cannot be proved = blind faith.

greencolorpack Fri 22-Mar-13 13:14:51

I have debated religion for years and find that often people come on shouting and deriding beliefs as a means of getting attention. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Last time I got into an argument with an angry sneery atheist I asked him why he posted like that. He was a young man from a Christian home and his father had died and he was hurting because of it. As soon as I treated his grief with respect we got on absolutely fine and had a polite discussion.

In religious discussions, 99 per cent of interaction is based on people projecting their own ideas onto the person they are debating with. It takes a lot of work to get through other peoples prejudices. But sometimes it is worthwhile. The nature of religious debates online is fascinating to me, more fascinating than most evangelising now (as everything has been said, over and over ad nauseam).

Sunnywithshowers Fri 22-Mar-13 13:19:49

I'm an atheist and occasionally come in this section out of interest, but rarely comment. Despite my personal lack of belief Christianity (in particular) has a huge influence on the UK and it's interesting. I like reading the debates.

I've also posted on the gratitude thread. Unlike some other posters I don't feel grateful 'to' a deity for good things in my life, but I can still acknowledge my gratitude.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 22-Mar-13 13:20:11

I find calling or insinuating stupidity is offensive and denigrating. The imaginary friend thing is just that.

greencolorpack Fri 22-Mar-13 13:23:31

Dione you could ignore the posters who say that. I have often found you can control the tone of debate by simply ignoring bad behaviour. There are usually enou polite posters about that you can engage in the debates without having to take insults.

ubik Fri 22-Mar-13 13:26:56

I remember reading an interesting article by Sam Harris explaining what religious faith feels like to atheists. He used the example of the log fire.

A log fire in your home is a lovely thing, all humans love to sit round an open fire on a cold night, it exudes warmth and comfort at a primal level. Scientific evidence shows log fires are extremely bad for you, they aggravate asthma, give off harmful gases, you really shouldn't have one in your home. Yet so many atheists will not listen, persist in having open fires because it feels so nice.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 22-Mar-13 13:28:10

Bunny, are you something only exists if there is scientific evidence? Also, what is the difference between faith and blind faith?

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 13:58:01

As an atheist, I sometimes post on debate threads (as opposed to prayer threads) for the following reasons:

a) the culture of religion is so prevalent that it does impact on my daily life despite the fact I do not follow any of them;

b) when the question is asked "does this bit of doctrine mean X or Y?" it is a perfectly valid response to say "it only means what you believe it to mean- it has no external reality that makes either answer 'right' or 'wrong'";

c) it is my sincerely held view that there would be less conflict, bigotry and oppression in the world if everyone accepted b) to be true. Whilst I am never going to change the whole world to my viewpoint, I think it is valid and worthwhile to try to make a few incremental changes, one person at a time.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 14:05:36

Thistledew b) is moral relativism. Atheism is the absence of belief. It may, but does not necessarily follow.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 14:14:52

I disagree strongly that "atheism is the absence of belief". It is the belief in the absence of a deity, which in itself is a belief of sorts.

I'm afraid I don't follow the rest of the point you are trying to make.

InSearchOfPerfection Fri 22-Mar-13 14:19:45

There is no scientific evidence of God. Not one solitary piece of evidence.

Believing in something which cannot be proved = blind faith.

No, believing in something that can not be proven IS faith.
It's not blind because that means you haven';t open your eyes and if you did then you would know. And also that you are at the very least naive and a bit simple to keep your eyes shut (and not see the light).
And it's not false because it hasn't been proven yet as long as the opposite hasn't been proven as such (eg God doesn't exist).
So on a 'scientific' pov the only thing we can say is 'I don't know'.

The reality is that LOTS of things around us haven't been 'proven' incl and especially in science. But we accept them with FAITH.

For example, geometry principles (such as 2 lines cross on only one point) are exactly that. Faith or the acceptance that the paradigm as the truth. It looks like it's working well like this and we accept (but can't prove it!).

but, this isn't the truth because we live on earth so 2 lines on earth will cross more than once (there is some other type of geometry that actually talk about geometry on a sphere).

So who is accepting thing with 'blind faith'? religious people, scientists, all of us?

I actually think that we all do accept lots of things in FAITH. Some of them have nothing to do with religion and others do.
But no one should be feeling superior because they are using scientific evidence for the simple reason that science IS based on faith (or so called definitions) too.

Well, some threads in this section are open discussions so of interest to believers and rational people as well. Threads which are about specifics of one mythology or sharing rituals or whatever - i leave those alone, same as I leave the dogs/cats/chickens topics alone, because they are of no interest or relevance to me.

Discussing religions from a political viewpoint is something worth doing though. SOmeone upthread demanded that their beliefs be respected. Well, no. I agree that everyone's right to believe nonsense should be respected. You can believe whatever crap you like, that's your problem. You're not entitled to insist that other people take your silly stories and imaginary friends seriously, though. What most people resent about mythology and superstition is the way believers insist on having special privileges for themselves and their imaginary friends, and that's what rational people are objecting to.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 14:26:27

@thistledew fair enough. My point is that being an atheist doesnt mean you are a moral relativist. And vice versa. I thought you were suggesting they were the same thing in your post. Op wasnt talking about moral relativism, she was talking about atheism.

Annunziata Fri 22-Mar-13 14:26:48

There was a terrible thread a while ago asking for prayers for a sick child, someone came on to say praying was a load of nonsense or whatever. I was really shocked. I expect sneery, horrible attitudes to stay out of those threads and I don't think that that is demanding special treatment.

Any other thread is fair go.

marissab Fri 22-Mar-13 14:34:22

It's ok. Christians often feel they have to jump in on threads about paganism too. Everyone is at it. When i am discussing my beliefs on pagan threads, i just sigh when i see someone on there calling me a satanist or likining witchcraft to occultism. Theres a thread further down about waybaloo on ceebeebies and someone has said that it's feeding witchcraft and the occult in to childrens minds. They'll become sick and ill and it's the devils work. what???? Rubbish. there are people of all beliefs who like to bereate others. Can't we all agree to disagree?

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 14:48:47

Ethelb- my post was not about moral relativism but about the precedence that people of faith often seem to demand for their beliefs over the beliefs of people who do not believe.

To give a more detailed example:

A Christian might say "This passage in the Bible means that God tells us that X is true". The inference is that because their view of X is backed up by God, then their view should carry more weight than the view of the atheist who says that X is not true at all. It is perfectly valid for the atheist to say that there is no god, therefore the truth of X is solely your opinion, and your opinion carries no greater weight than does mine. It is just your opinion, no more no less.

This becomes important when, for example, the Christian is saying "being gay is wrong". It becomes harder to defend an irrational, illogical and bigoted view when you take away the answer of "because God says so" to the question "why do you actually believe that?"

SGB do you really find it so difficult to make your point without using words like nonsense?

It's goady and unnecessary.

It's worth mentioning that believing in god is not necessarily the same as believing the teaching of certain religions.

For example; I believe in god. I don't believe in a god that persecutes homosexuality. I don't believe in a god that thinks women are inferior and should be treated as such.

I believe that the men who developed these religions made those stipulations for their own benefit and the benefit of their churches as organisations.

Believing in god is not the same as subscribing to an organised religion.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 14:59:33

A belief in God does, in my view, entail a belief in a deistic being. My personal philosophy is that there is a connection between all living things. I could call that connection 'God' if I wanted, but that would be to remove the concept of God so far from the way in which it is commonly understood that it would render the definition meaningless.

nenevomito Fri 22-Mar-13 14:59:55

Scientists don't go "I have a theory and I'll accept it on faith. They say, "I have a theory and I will test it to see if it is true." If the tests throw up results that disprove their theory, they will look again at the starting point and then keep investigating."

Faith is "there is no proof for what I believe and no test that can be run to prove or disprove it."

Trying to say that faith and science are alike is akin to saying that fish and rocks are the same.

I know it has been addressed but, tbh, I still don't understand why some atheists are so interested in disproving god or trying to change people's minds about god.

It doesn't bother me if Joe Bloggs doesn't believe. Why should it bother him if I do?!

Thing is, to the rational mind there is no difference at all between people who believe in Jesus, Allah, Buddha, or fairies, ghosts, pixies and homeopathy. It's all rubbish, and belief in it may well be an unimportant quirk in a person (on the same level as preferring tea to coffee, or crime fiction to poetry). It's just that people who believe in some types of rubbish feel and behave as though their particular brand of rubbish gives them rights over other people. That's why it's important to keep pointing out that the nonsense you believe in is your problem and no one else's.

Waltermitty - is Joe Bloggs telling you who you can have sex with, what you can eat, where you can go, what you can read or listen to? The problem I have with the superstitious is their sense of entitlement to control the lives of others on the grounds of what they think their imaginary friend wants.

hermioneweasley Fri 22-Mar-13 15:24:50

SGB you put the arguments very well

Well, no.

But then neither do I!

I couldn't give a hairy donkey's testicle what you eat or who you sleep with.

But then it's much more convenient to lump all believers into the same category. Judge them, insult them, patronise them or attempt to, than to acknowledge that belief in a deity can exist in a decent, rational, non-judgemental person.

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 15:30:36

SGB We ALL want to control the lives of others - that is why we are entitled to vote for the MPs/Councillors/School Governers, that best match our own personal beliefs, wherever those beliefs originate from.

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 15:33:41

SGB - "It's just that people who believe in some types of rubbish feel and behave as though their particular brand of rubbish gives them rights over other people"

Perhaps I might think what you think is important for society is rubbish too. Perhaps atheists shouldn't be allowed to vote because I might just disagree with what they think. In fact, how dare atheists contribute to decision making in this society. They are all so WRONG.

Do you get my point?

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 15:42:29

There is no harm in a person of religion believing in God. There is harm when they believe that that god dictates how people should live their lives, and that people who don't live their lives in that way are 'wrong'. It's not the belief in god per se that most atheists find objectionable (they may find it irrational, but not objectionable), but the belief that god has opinions that other people should abide by.

And there's no harm in atheists who don't believe in god.

But there is harm in the ones who mock and ridicule and who appear comocompletely unable to make a point without resorting to utter childishness and insults.

*completely! Bloody tablet!

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 15:54:41

So where do you get your opinions about what other people should abide by? Why is the source of your opinions superior to an opinion that is influenced by religion? Just because it is your view that God does not exist, does not mean that your view is superior to the view that God does exist (although I understand why you think your view is superior). It is just your view. We live in a democracy so everyone should have their say.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 16:05:10

Yes, I have zero interest in fashion, or in horses or chickens or dogs, and they don't impact upon my life (well, apart from all the dogshit on the pavement around here, but there's only so many times you can mention that, and they're bound to say they're already trying to do something about that). So I don't post on those sections. Same with mainly male forums which have sections about cars or football. But it is helpful to join in discussions about religion, because it's not like a harmless little club which just wants to get on with what it's doing. It wants to take an interest in aspects of my life, and my children's - people have already cited all the obvious and valid examples of this. When people are debating points of theology, it isn't actually unhelpful to come along and explain that, in fact, you're talking about stuff which doesn't exist. It's a contribution to the debate. In the spirit of the Enlightenment, if you like...

It's actually very important for atheists to keep framing the debate at every opportunity. If this doesn't happen, it's very easy for it to be presented as a very simplistic "you're for God or against him" argument. One of the many important points made by atheists is that it isn't just about this god and his followers. You may as well be talking about Thor, or Zeus. There are thousands of gods. The same arguments apply. The Egyptians used to believe that the sun was pushed through the sky by a giant beetle - no doubt people who didn't subscribe to this superstition (if there were any) were treated with the same mixture of puzzlement, amusement and pity with which atheists are often regarded by Christians these days. In two thousand years, something else even more ridiculous will have come along and everyone will look back on Christianity and its god as a cultural phenomenon unique to a particular time and place (if history is any good guide)... And atheists need to reiterate their points, otherwise posters will keep getting away with borderline-offensive nonsense like saying that people are only atheists because they hate God, or are angry at God because they've had a bereavement, or because they don't "understand" faith, or that they have a small "grain of faith" hmm.

In 115 messages, not one Christian has said anything of that sort, Dad.

I'm beggining to think the atheists believein mythical posters.

hermioneweasley Fri 22-Mar-13 16:21:03

But is it ridiculing to say "there is no proof for what you believe in and so for me it is on a par with believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden or having an imaginary friend"? Is that ridiculing/offensive?

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 16:24:45

It seems to me that Dad does not believe in democracy.

Views and values permeate society and we cannot agree with them all. What is an impingement for one person will be a benefit for someone else. We can't have everything our own way. Religion is just part of the way that the society we live in is structured. You might not like church schools for example, but they are normally over-subscribed because lots of other people DO like them.

If it doesn't suit you, it doesn't mean that it is wrong. You just don't like something that other people like.

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 16:25:27

hermione Yes, because it is your choice of pejorative language.

hermioneweasley Fri 22-Mar-13 16:26:03

Whatkindof - I am sure someone will put this more eloquently, but I am afraid that saying that belief in something for which there is no proof or evidence is as legitimate as someone choosing not to believe due to the total lack of evidence is poor logic to my mind.

To misquote Bertrand Russell, if I insist there's a tea pot orbiting the earth then the onus is on me to prove it. And as long as I keep it to myself it does o harm, but as soon as insist that other people's lives are impacted by it and their children should be taught about it, other people would be within their rights to say "no, the teapot things your belief but don't impose it n me"

LizzyDay Fri 22-Mar-13 16:26:33

"We live in a democracy so everyone should have their say."

Exactly - no one should have special privileges just because of their beliefs - such as first dibs on local state school places for example.

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 16:30:21

I have no problem with people choosing not to believe and I would not ridicule anyone for that.

Where I live, there is no worship or promotion of any particular religion in secular schools. I assumed that was a national picture.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 16:31:23

waltermitty - oh, this is a comparatively tame thread compared to many others.
However, read some of the early comments again.

I'm not quite sure why whatkindoffool, if she is referring to me, thinks I "do not believe in democracy". Seems something of a non-sequitur based on my above post. Surely my post shows exactly the opposite?

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 16:32:35

Lizzy I don't know about CofE schools but Catholic state schools are heavily funded by the Catholic Diocese. They are not truly state in the same was as a community school.

Most of you seem to have a problem with the influence of organised religion over non-religious issues. Well, I do too.

So where does the need for derogatory language come from?

It's perfectly possible to express your views on this without inferring that faith equals stupidity.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 16:38:16

The burden of "proof" is on the person making the extraordinary claim. Nobody can prove anything "doesn't exist". But what you can do is weigh up the evidence and present it, and make a decision based on how much or how little there is on each side. This seems an eminently reasonable way of going about life to me, and surely not anything which would cause anyone to get in a tizzy. And yet, oddly, it does.

For example, there is evidence both for and against the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, but on balance - even though I can't ever prove, beyond all doubt, that it doesn't exist - the evidence for is sketchy and largely discredited, while the evidence against is solid, extensive and researched with good solid scientific method. It therefore seems grown-up and sensible to go about my life in the assumption that the Loch Ness Monster is just an enjoyable legend and cultural phenomenon. (Thankfully, nobody is trying to tell me I should believe in Her to improve my life, or attempting to have Nessie Studies taken seriously as a doctrine in schools and universities.)

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 22-Mar-13 16:38:56

SGB, are you saying that believers do not have rational minds?

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 16:42:15

OK, the actual quote I was thinking of from above was "atheists come here because they have faith the size of a mustard seed." To be honest, I'm not quite sure what that poster was saying. I suspect very little.

There is no burden of proof, leastways there shouldn't be.

Believers, quite simply, don't have to prove anything.

Who are we answerable to? Who should I have to prove it to?

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 16:47:15

Russell's teapot (mentioned above) is a great example to think about, because the whole idea sounds so utterly absurd. Most of us have grown up with religion around us, so the idea of it being in our lives has become normalised, in a sort of religious Stockholm Syndrome. The Teapot is one good way of trying to make the religious realise how daft their beliefs could actually sound to someone not already steeped in them. Others I've seen used are the Spaghetti Monster and the Invisible Pink Unicorn - theists tend to roll their eyes in exasperation whenever these are mentioned.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 16:49:05

"Burden of proof" is not my phrase. It's just one which is commonly used. It means that, if you want something to be believed, you must at least offer some evidence for it - otherwise we could all go round believing any wild nonsense we wanted to. There would no longer be any distinction between what is real and what is not.

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 16:52:33

But we don't need atheists to believe what we do, therefore we do not need to prove anything.

WowOoo Fri 22-Mar-13 16:56:45

I usually stay away from belief threads because I am an atheist.

Also have plenty of respect for people who believe in God.
Some part of me thinks 'they cannot have thought this through very well' or 'how on earth can they believe this?'

But, I have to remind myself that I have some very intelligent, entirely rational and lovely friends and colleagues that happen to be Christian,Muslim or Jewish.

But religious attitudes to homosexuality, women and a whole load of other problems that religion and religious bigotry seems to have caused really get me down.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 16:56:56

In a sense you're right, I agree, in that there's no rule or law which says you have to provide evidence for it, or else. It's just that, if people are going to go around saying things are true, they generally have a bit more credibility if they can offer a bit of evidence. Otherwise, there's no distinction between a religious belief and, say, "Lord of the Rings".

Although, of course, some Christians would argue that getting as many non-Christians as possible to believe what they do is precisely the point. Isn't it called "evangelising"?

Well you can believe whatever you want to.

You're doing it right now, believing in nothing! wink As is your right.

Once again, a complete lack of ability to discuss without thinly veiled insults. I don't get it. It's unnecessarily antagonistic, or it would be if us pesky Christians were easily antagonised.

hermioneweasley Fri 22-Mar-13 16:58:27

Whatkindof - you may not be trying to get other to believe what you do or impose your beliefs on others, but there are countless examples of people using their faith to do just that. Seeker has explained the UK situation with regards to Christianity. Therefore when people are asking for special privileges because of their faith, many atheists feel justified in pointing out that there is no rational basis for this.

FWIW I do not believe that faith = stupid. I know many extremely clever people who have faith. I admit I don't understand it, but I have a wealth of evidence to say that smart people can also believe in gods.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 17:00:43

Show me the insults? I'm baffled. Why are the religious so easily insulted? can't their supposedly strong faith take a bit of rational questioning?

My point is that a belief in no gods (not the same thing at all as "believing in nothing") is the default position - or would be, were most of us not culturally conditioned to it from a young age. And it's the one consistent with all the evidence.

But I usually give up on these threads, because arguing logically with the religious is like trying to knit fog.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 17:04:05

The fact that some very clever people are deeply, irrationally superstitious is one thing which does vex me on a regular basis. I know full well that the last Archbishop of Canterbury, for example, was a very bright chap and spoke sixteen languages or whatever. I know people with PhDs who believe in gods. It does worry me a bit, but I rationalise it as I know people use different parts of their brains for different things. I'm quite clever myself (he added modestly), but I enjoy mindless pap like "The X-Factor" and so on. I don't actually use my university education for that.

HolofernesesHead Fri 22-Mar-13 17:11:06

I think that this section is for anyone who wants it. I'd be completely against any form of vetting people's beliefs before they were allowed to post. And, tbh, I've had some good, enjoyable and educative discussions with atheists on here, so IMO that's a good thing. We can be very good at PARD here, and it's great when we are.

The 'fairies at the bottom of the garden / imaginary friend / nonsense / irrational / Thor / Zeus / take your pick, you know the drill...' stuff is a bit tiresome, though. I try to filter it out. Often it seems to signify that the people who say things like that aren't really interested in trying to understand any other point of view, but rather, to vent. Which might be okay, maybe. But let's take these phrases for what they are - rhetorical flourishes, not serious points to be addressed.

I find DadonIce's 'burden of proof' argument (and yes, I know it's not your phrase) fascinating from a philosophical point of view.

Nonsense, fairy tales, irrational superstition are, imo, unnecessarily antagonistic in these types of discussion.
But do continue. I'm sure it makes you feel vastly superior. I'll respectfully disagre with some people's self-appointed superiority.

To be unable to accept someone's beliefs without worrying about them, or believing that they only think that way due to conditioning, shows a distinct lack of emotional intelligence IMO.

LizzyDay Fri 22-Mar-13 17:15:05

"I don't know about CofE schools but Catholic state schools are heavily funded by the Catholic Diocese. They are not truly state in the same was as a community school."

They aren't heavily funded, the Catholic Church contributes 10% of capital costs to a Catholic state school in England - the other 90% comes from the taxpayer. I think 100% of the running costs are paid for by the taxpayer, but am willing to be corrected on that.

This BBC article about academy status is interesting - the Chief Executive of the Catholic Education Service Oona Stannard warns against Catholic schools going for academy status, and admits that the 10% the church contributes is very valuable in terms of control over which pupils they admit, who they employ etc.

Ms Stannard warned: "The funding opportunities may initially seem attractive to schools but remember there is, as yet, little precise detail on this and the payment of our 10% to capital costs at present buys our sector a degree of valuable independence along the lines of "he who pays the piper calls the tune".

Given that she is talking about a school which is 90% funded by the taxpayer, and which discriminates against pupils on the basis of religion, is this not a blatant example of religious privilege?

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 17:25:34

As I said. Knitting fog. I would invite people to look at my posts and waltermitty's and decide who is being the insulting one here...

My point about cultural conditioning (totally missed, but I shouldn't be surprised about this any more), is that anyone who was born in/has grown up in the UK in the 20th century - and I obviously include myself in this - has grown up with the influence of either the Church of England or the Catholic Church all around them, so culturally it is all perfectly normal. I don't actually have a problem with this. I enjoy looking around churches in the way I enjoy looking around all old buildings, and i can enjoy singing a good carol as I would any good folk-song. But if you had grown up on some remote island with no religion in your life, and you were suddenly told all about it, it would seem odd. That's why Russell's Teapot is so useful as a philosophical concept - it helps us gain some perspective.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 17:28:25

Holoferneseshead - we'll agree to disagree about the "imaginary friend" stuff because for me it serves the same purpose as stuff like Russell's Teapot, but I can see it's not the kind of language everyone is comfortable with. On the "burden of proof" thing, do you agree that this rests with the person making the extraordinary claim and that scepticism is the default position (well, isn't always, but perhaps should be)?

woozlebear Fri 22-Mar-13 17:29:21

I'm an atheist and although I've never been on a Beliefs thread at all, I can't see how you can possibly think that non-believers have less right to / reason for posting on there.

Absence of belief in something doesn't equate to absence of opinion about it. There's not a person in the world who doesn't have an opinion on religious belief, just as everyone has an opinion on, say, the death penalty, democracy, ghosts, extra terrestrial life or any other abstract concept.

On that point, despite the impression given by the extreme favour (ie legal protection) granted to religion-derived opinions in most societies, there's no logical reason why non-religious personal beliefs deserve any less accomodation. Ultimately, it's all just stuff a person happens to think. How come it gets more weight when a book that sort of vaguely backs some of it up? Why not the same protection for vegetarians, say (I'm not one, btw). It's to prove exactly this point that all those people put Jedi on the census. If enough other people all think something, that something is deserving of as much respect and allowances as any 'religious' belief, legally and morally.

It's convenient isn't it? I'm not supposed to upset believers by disagreeing with them, I'm supposed to leave them alone in their little belief bubble, but yet they seem to feel quite free to invade my world through the media, ads etc to disagree with my opinions about, say abortion, or homosexuality. Not to mention the parliamentary lobbying all over the world to try to practically influence EVERYONE's world in respect of abortion, contraception etc.

So yeah, in light of all that, I think if I wanted to come on a belief thread and tell people I think they'd got it all wrong I'd be perfectly entitled to.

Actually, yours aren't the only posts referring to conditioning.

Thinly veiled insults are still insults.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 17:31:58

As I say, "faith", from what we're told about it, ought to be up to a bit of robust argument... But go ahead and take offence at the slightest thing, because I'm sure that will really help to progress the argument.

niminypiminy Fri 22-Mar-13 17:34:05

As other Christians have said, I'm happy to debate, and think of it as a whetstone for my ideas. I find the whole 'pink teapots/sky fairies/imaginary friend' rhetoric tiresome. I also find it tiresome when people come out with the same old hoary criticisms of theism and expect believers either never to have heard them before, or to reel in shock at them.

I find it interesting that there is so much aggression, so much rudeness. I wonder what's getting people's goat so much about God that it brings out such astonishing levels of verbal violence.

There are things that my co-religionists do that are insensitive, and uncaring, and discriminatory. That's bad, no question about it. But which of us can truly say that we have never acted in a way that we should be ashamed of? Who would like to cast that first stone? I know I couldn't.

As to the power that Christianity has, the usual subjects that come up are faith schools (which are there because the church was the first organisation to start up schools for the poor, and remain because no government has bothered to abolish them, and are a problem largely because of successive governments' choice agenda in education), and bishops in the House of Lords (again, a historical legacy, which no government has abolished because it would mean unpicking the whole of constitutional law since the settlement of 1788, which no government has the time to do). These things have their pros and cons, but they don't seem to me to make a decisive contribution to questions about whether God exists, or whether religion is a good thing. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

I'm not offended, that doesn't mean that what you're saying isn't offensive, just that I don't care about your opinion.

There is no argument to progress. Have you read the op?

hermioneweasley Fri 22-Mar-13 17:38:35

Waltermitty - I think this illustrates the different perspectives perfectly. I can only speak for myself when i say that I am not trying to be antagonistic or offensive when I talk about Zeus/imaginary friends/teapots - it is an attempt to give an example and is neutral. Because you do have faith then you find it offensive to have your deity compared to an imaginary friend.

For me an analogy would be someone trying to sell a treasured possession for over the odds and someone saying "but it's just an old book". "yes, but I loved it and it has meaning and worth to me so I think other people should value it".

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 17:40:41

Of course I read the OP - that's why I came here. Others have too. Woozlebear has just summed up better than I could exactly why there is an argument, and why it is important to come here and talk about it.

It seems a little arrogant to say that you don't care what I think and that my requirement for evidence of faith-based claim is irrelevant. It's almost dangerous, in fact. Recent history shows us exactly what people with a zealous religious belief think they can do when they don't have to justify it.

woozlebear Fri 22-Mar-13 17:40:58

I find the whole 'pink teapots/sky fairies/imaginary friend' rhetoric tiresome. I also find it tiresome when people come out with the same old hoary criticisms of theism and expect believers either never to have heard them before, or to reel in shock at them

Similarly I find the same old defences of belief 'tiresome', and the same old allegedly clinching arguments frustrating. I feel much about the Ontological Argument as you feel about the teapot I imagine.

I wonder what's getting people's goat so much about God that it brings out such astonishing levels of verbal violence.

How about homophobia, abortion legislation, the influence of religion on mainstream education, and the way society is structured to give a random belief that is 'religious' precedence over a random belief that is, well, just a random belief. Those get my goat, although I have not partaken of any verbal violence.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 17:43:11

niminy - I suspect the reason people come out with the "same old hoary criticisms" is that they have never, ever been adequately refuted. There's no requirement to present new arguments if the old ones are still watertight - that would just be re-inventing the wheel. (And, boring as it may be, it is important to keep re-iterating that no adequate answers have been given. I suppose this is what FAQs are for.)

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 17:43:49

@woozlebear but people of faith dont tend to flame 'atheist threads' with those arguments. Those arguments are generally demanded of them.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 17:45:39

@woozlebear it is quite offensive for someone to accuse you of being personally responsible for the quirks if the british democratic system when you dont know me from adam (so to speak)

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 17:45:42

Are there any "atheist threads" here? It would seem odd to start one. I've been here a while under various names and I don't remember ever seeing one.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 17:49:09

@dadonice no. That is my point. These boring, tiered arguments are only rolled out in response to boring, tiered arguments.

Arrogant or not, I don't care. Nor do I have to explain myself to you or anybody.

I wonder when I became zealously religious.

As I said upthread, adhering to organised religion is not the same as believing I'm god woozle and people who believe in god are not individually responsible for the official party line of the catholic curch (for example) on issues like abortion and same sex relationships.

Furthermore, as ethel said, I have rarely seen believers storm an atheist thread and snidely disparage everything and everyone on there.

woozlebear Fri 22-Mar-13 17:49:50

ethelb Apologies if I'm misunderstanding you, but how is it relevant whether believers flame atherist threads with those arguments, or not? The context in which arguments are wheeled out doesn't make them any less tiresome or frustrating. Whether the context is rude and inappropriate is the subject of this thread and a different, albeit related, matter. The tiresomeness of the arguments themselves is a stand-alone point, and I maintain they are very tiresome.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 17:51:58

So why ask the question if you know you arent going to like the answer?

*IN god.

I don't think I'm god.

woozlebear Fri 22-Mar-13 17:53:44

@woozlebear it is quite offensive for someone to accuse you of being personally responsible for the quirks if the british democratic system when you dont know me from adam (so to speak)

hmm Where have I held ANYONE personally responsible for this, let alone you (who I have only personally responded to in one post, not on this point)? My comments are clearly about believers collectively.

niminypiminy Fri 22-Mar-13 17:56:11

DadonIce, perfectly happy to have a go at a philosophical discussion. Be my guest to start one.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 17:56:21

If it isnt targetted at beleivers on MN then what is the point of doing it? Serious q.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 17:57:30

To be honest, I have been on here before under other names and tried, and got nowhere - so I will politely decline niminy's kind offer.

woozlebear Fri 22-Mar-13 18:05:56

ethelb The point of my posts in general is, as you suggest, to refute some of the arguments of believers in this thread. BUT any reference to 'believers' in points within those posts I mean believers in general. Collectively. No targeting of MN believers, or you, or anyone. Just believers in general.

Why would you interpret comments clearly about believers in general as being a personal comment about you when the post in question is not even in response to a post of yours or in any way connected to you other than it being on a thread you're on? That's a serious question too, because it looks like a quite cheap attempt at discrediting someone's arguments, not by debating with them but by playing the 'taking it personally and being offended' card.

sunshine401 Fri 22-Mar-13 18:06:55

It is fine people having different views. When people start stating what someone else believes is a big pile of crap and so on, that is where it is over the line. You can have a view without being nasty about another's.

WhatKindofFool Fri 22-Mar-13 18:23:30

What is the problem with faith schools giving preference to people of the faith? Surely, an atheist would not want a faith education for their child so it shouldn't matter anyway. There are plenty of non faith schools.

ivykaty44 Fri 22-Mar-13 18:25:52

I wonder what's getting people's goat so much about God that it brings out such astonishing levels of verbal violence.

How about homophobia, abortion legislation, the influence of religion on mainstream education, and the way society is structured to give a random belief that is 'religious' precedence over a random belief that is, well, just a random belief. Those get my goat, although I have not partaken of any verbal violence.

I agree with this, and I suppose can sadly understand why this statement has caused offense sad

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 18:28:13

It's well seen throughout MN that the hostile, disparaging, contemptuous comments almost always come from atheists hmm Before I believed, I didn't have the least inclination to behave like that towards believers, so I can only think that they do it to be perverse or to provoke an argument hmm

tuffie Fri 22-Mar-13 18:30:49

It is good to see some atheists on here agreeing with the OP.
I am a now a Christian but rarely post on these threads as it usually descends into the old unoriginal "it's a load of rubbish" .
I always say "yes it may well be a load of rubbish, but after much thought and studying, I personally now believe (note I use the word "believe", not "know"), and if it is a load of rubbish then my life has been much more fulfilling and happier for having held that belief.

hermioneweasley Fri 22-Mar-13 18:35:05

Whatkindof - there are lots of places where the nearest school is a faith school. Travelling t another (even if you can get in) is expensive and inconvenient. And faith schools are hugely taxpayer funded, so why shouldn't people be able to send their kids to the local school? Why should local children be deprioritised and discriminated against in a state funded school?

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 18:42:27

Because it was about believers on MN. You may pretend its not. Pretend it is some unidentifiable group (but what would be the point?). But the fact is you were responding to a question about why it is ok to criticise the beliefs of believers on MN.

And if you were not talking about beleivers on MN, then your claim that your choice to criticise the beleif of believers on MN is valid because someone, somewhere has victimised you, is an odd argument.

ubik Fri 22-Mar-13 19:16:58

To me, belief is just such an odd thing. As other atheists have said, it's strange that people believe in guff like transubstantiation or purgatory or hell for that matter. To an atheist it just doesn't make sense and I like these threads because I am trying to make sense of it.

I get very angry about some aspects of religion though and will categorically state that some of it is a pile of crap. Compelling women to cover themselves from head to toe, denying them contraception, hiding physical and sexual abuse, treating homosexuality as shameful, that is all religious crap.

I can't accept that some people cannot be priests or bishops because they possess a vagina. I cannot accept a deity who thinks that is ok. I can't accept an organisation which thinks women are not just as worthy as men.

I cannot accept a deity who thinks that is ok

No deity I know of thinks that's ok. That's why I said up thread that I think a lot of issues stem from the stances of organised religions as opposed to God IYSWIM.

I'm a god awful catholic (excuse the pun) but I believe in a god that accepts everyone as equals.

There are no non-faith schools in the UK. Every school is compelled by law to have a daily 'act of worship which must be broadly Christian in nature.' Is it really so hard to understand why rational people resent their DC being made to talk to someone else's imaginary friend every morning?

Also: quite a lot of people believe that the Earth is really under the control of disguised lizard creatures, and that Prince Philip is one of these lizard creatures, and that wearing a tinfoil hat will stop him getting you. (am roughly paraphrasing the Illuminati belief system here.) These are sincerely held beliefs. The same could be said of astrology, ghosts, pixies etc. So why don't schools start the day by reading the kids their horoscopes? Or fitting them with tinfoil hats for the school trip to Buckingham Palace?

Christians, in particular, insist not only that their mythology is the truest one (as do all the others who believe in different mythologies) but the ones on MN seem to have trouble understanding why people object to any mythology being imposed on the rational by force of law. There is no good reason at all for one brand of bullshit to be given more privilege than any other, and the best option is for it to remain a private matter with no unelected, specially-privileged power over others.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 19:50:57

"I have rarely seen believers storm an atheist thread and snidely disparage everything and everyone on there."

Um, that would be because there are no "atheist threads". Why would anyone start a thread about not believing in something?

I didn't say you were being zealous, waltermittysmissus (is this wilful misunderstanding a trait of yours? I'm starting to think it is) - I was pointing out that thinking you don't have to justify belief can lead down that path. Very dangerous.

tuffie Fri 22-Mar-13 19:52:09

Just off to church for an uplifting Lent service.
Then out to the wine bar for a drink with some of my lovely atheist friends with whom I can have a rational discussion on all subjects including my faith if it comes up. No mention of lizards or teapots - unless we are discussing nature or favourite beverages.
I respect them, they respect me, just as it should be. Night all.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 19:55:12

OK, serious question for the Christians on here. You've seen what's happened to other belief systems in the past. In general, nobody believes in the Roman gods, the Greek gods, the Egyptian gods, the Viking gods, etc. any more. But they did, very passionately and very powerfully, to the point where they ruled their lives and thoughts and it would just have seemed bizarre not to. Do you not ever consider this a lesson from history, and think it likely that the three most currently fashionable biggie monotheist belief systems will go the same way? In two thousand years, do you think there will be anyone left who actually believes in the Christian god, or will it be seen as an interesting piece of mythology and a cultural phenomenon like Zeus, Thor, etc?

greencolorpack Fri 22-Mar-13 20:03:00

DadonIce, Christianity has lasted two thousand years because it works. It has the transforming and radical power to change people's lives. It has done for generations so it's highly unlikely to die out. Also Christians have a responsibility to try to raise their children in the faith and so it doesn't die out.

It's not about how passionately or powerfully you believe, it's about what you put your faith in. Maybe the Egyptians saw through their tinpot Gods cos those gods had no power to answer prayer, no power to do anything much at all. Whereas my God is an awesome God.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 20:07:06

OK, thanks. But a lot of that sounds like waffle to me, and a lot of it would have applied to previous religions too. Ancient cultures believed in their gods just as strongly as you believe in yours. We have no reason to think otherwise.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 20:09:31

walter - genuine question - the Christians who do believe that god tells them that homosexuality is wrong or that women are inferior do hold those beliefs sincerely. Do you believe that they believe in a different god to you? Or that they don't have a genuine belief in god? If the latter, do you believe that those people would be seen by god as the same as non-believers, or would he accept them as Christians?

And can anyone tell me if they have ever met anyone who believes in a god, but disagrees with their god's morality (eg believes that their god hates gays, but themselves have no problem with them)? Or does everyone believe that their own view of morality perfectly matches the one their god promotes?

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 20:09:40

Could you give an example of how the Christian god has "answered prayer", and I mean one which demonstrates that it was actually him doing it and not just some piece of randomness, a coincidence, or something which would have happened anyway? Then could you give an example of something you prayed for which did not come true, and speculate as to why one did and the other didn't? Thanking you in anticipation.

specialsubject Fri 22-Mar-13 20:12:22

to paraphrase someone: beliefs do not deserve respect. I think your belief in any supernatural being is obviously pure fantasy. BUT believers deserve respect; if you want to pray, believe, sing songs, dress up, reenact things then go ahead.

AS LONG AS it does not hurt or restrict anyone else. Including your children. I think that attending religious services should be only for adults, same as voting and other decisions that are deemed to need maturity.

on with the fireproof knickers...

I have never simultaneously hmm'd and grin'd so much in my life as I just did at greencolourpack.

Delusion at it's absolute worst.

greencolorpack Fri 22-Mar-13 20:18:01

DadonIce, no not really. I can't prove that prayer works.

Nobody can be argued into believing in God. If you want to believe in God then do some research. If you don't want to then don't. Sorry of I was waffling. I know it might be thought of as true for other religions. I can't explain why Islam thrives so much. But there you go. Being a Christian doesn't magically give you all the answers.

greencolorpack Fri 22-Mar-13 20:19:37

Bunny that's not very nice.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 20:25:17

Oh, not expecting "magical" answers, just some sot of logical consistency. If this was the first time I'd ever heard about this God guy, I'd be thinking he didn't sound very nice - he sounds like some kind of power-tripping genie who every so often gives you three wishes then refuses to grant two of them.

I've done research, that's the problem - and all the responses people give about their faith and about god boil down to one, simple, irreconcilable problem for me. I have never heard anything about any god which makes it in any way distinct from a fictional, mythological or imaginary being.

marjproops Fri 22-Mar-13 20:25:21

dadonice You are asking so called genuine questions then mocking the answer. methinks you are just goading and please stop it now, its all getting very tiresome this 'my bikes better than your bike' type thing.

can we respect each others views and stop being so pedantic?

this is getting out of hand now.

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 20:26:42

But if you say that god has "the power to answer prayer", you must surely have one or two examples to illustrate this?

greencolorpack Fri 22-Mar-13 20:30:30

I have millions of examples but I've noticed after about two posts that you are out to put a "kick me" sign on my back and you're trying to get me to post about my most personal vulnerable moments in life when God was there for me. Put yourself in my shoes, would you bother having that conversation? You dont understand God, I get it. mazel tov. Peace out etc.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:31:14

You know fine well that if anybody comes on this thread and explains how their prayer was answered, you will also find reasons why what they asked for was given to them by circumstances hmm

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 20:34:17

I do find it very frustrating that it seems to en impossible to chqllenge or question Christianity without being accused of being agressive, rude and Christiqn bashing. And that so much energy is expended on this "flaming by atheists" that is supposed to go on.

I am an athiwt. To me, believing in God is exactly the same as be living in fairies, or homeopathy or Zeus. Is that an offnsive thing to say? I don't think it is- but I am sure that others will. So what words can I use to express my point of view?

Oh, and nobody has to defend thier belief if they don't want to. But if you make categoric statements like "God answers prayers" then surely you can expect to be asked to produce evidence?

DadOnIce Fri 22-Mar-13 20:34:47

Sorry, that wasn't what I was after doing at all. Blimey. I just wanted evidence for the claim, that's all. Not wanting to pry into anything personal.

'I've been told the "you don't understand god" thing before and (a) it's highly patronising and (b) indicative of the lack of any good arguments. A shame.

Anyway, I think the OP has been given enough answers to her question to be going on with, so I don't think I need trouble anyone any more.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:35:41

tbh, I'm quite happy believing in something that may not be true if it means that I'm a more pleasant, tolerant person, than not believing in it and coming across as being a mean minded, arrogant, intolerant pedant who gets their kicks by taking the piss out of others.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 20:36:45

If good and surprising things happen to non-Christians if they pray or even just really hope for them, does that mean that they happen by circumstance, or does it mean that god answers your prayers/greatest hopes regardless of what you believe in?

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 20:37:30

Bunny chill out.

Dadonice im christian and I dont think Christianity will necessarily exist forever. I think it will only last as long as people want a religion that preaches the laity can have a personal relationship with god, and a relugion that anyone can join.

My understanding is that that is why christianity became more popular than the 'old pagan' Gods. Though of course many of the most popular aspects of the old religions were absorbed. The same may happen to Christianity in the future.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 20:38:50

Amen hiddenhome!

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 20:40:55

"tbh, I'm quite happy believing in something that may not be true if it means that I'm a more pleasant, tolerant person, than not believing in it and coming across as being a mean minded, arrogant, intolerant pedant who gets their kicks by taking the piss out of others."

This is the sort of thing I mean. You just can't challenge or question- or this is the sort of thing that comes your way.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 20:41:08

Seeker it depends what your opinion on people who beleive in Zeus and faeries is? grin

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:42:08

Yes, but you are like that seeker hmm

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 20:42:52

What do you mean?

greencolorpack Fri 22-Mar-13 20:44:06

seeker, the thing is I know you don't believe me, but if you (and by you I mean atheists) are going to ask why people believe I will do my best to answer from my point of view. I know your point of you, I am at peace with it, I don't demand evidence from you for your non belief in God. But you seem to think I can't open my mouth without a massive treasure trove of "evidence" that you will accept. You won't accept any! I don't know what you think this "acceptable evidence" would look like, what have I got other than words on a screen? There's nothing I could say that would make you say "wow some great evidence there, where do I sign up to Christianty?". You know? It's laughable. I don't come here all aggressive looking to fight and argue and defend myself, this is just not the time and place for that.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:47:34

Well, you all know that none of us can provide proof. You just come on here to goad people. If I told you that your love for your family was a load of deluded shite you would feel that was rude and dismissive.

None of you are bothered about having a discussion about this, but just continue to come up with the same old bingo phrases and to feel superior because we can't provide double blind tested scientific research studies.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:49:05

I listed the bingo phrases on the Pope thread the other day in case you're interested hmm

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 20:49:59

Good to see the atheists have!5 for a monopoly on being rude and agressive........hmm

For th recover, I have never posted anything half as offensive as the last few posts.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:50:10

Oh, and it's very likely that your love for your family doesn't actually exist in any meaningful way, it's just synapses after all.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 20:50:36

The trouble is that implicit in the statement that you believe in a god that dictates a moral code is the statement that you believe that your moral code is superior to that of people who do not hold such beliefs- else what would be the point in belief in god if he can't get it any more 'right' than any human being?

The promotion of your belief is therefore a statement of superiority over people who don't hold those beliefs. This is offensive to people who don't hold those beliefs, and for logical, rational reasons, feel that their own moral code is at least equal to that of believers.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:51:01

Right seeker you don't have the monopoly. I'm just demonstrating how it feels. Call it an experiment if you like smile

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 20:51:33

I would say that the difference is that my family exists.....but I presume that would be "goady"...........

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:53:12

So, you're feeling inferior Thistledew? grin You don't like it because you think that we think we're better and have a more robust moral code than non believers.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:55:03

Yes, your family exists, but emotions are an illusion, therefore your love for them is an illusion and doesn't exist in any concrete form. You can demonstrate love of course, but you can't prove that it exists any more than I can prove that Jesus is present in weekly Mass, even though I feel the same love that you do.

greencolorpack Fri 22-Mar-13 20:55:06

Thistledew, that's a big assumption, that I think I am superior to others or that I'm itching to make everyone live by my moral code. I hope that people become Christians because that way they will experience Gods perfect love, I don't want them to be "good people" and I don't want to force my rigid moral code on other people.

It amuses me when people have to attack believers on the basis that we are a bunch of Hitlers and Mugabes trying to dictate terms to others. You don't even know me, to paraphrase the erudite Katie Price.

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 20:55:28

You do reqlize that you are just making yourself look defensive and a little bit silly, don't you, hiddenhome. Which is a shame for those of us who enjoy a discussion.

Interesting, being rude. I'v NC done it before. Don't care for it much, I have to say.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:57:03

defensive? Oh, no, surely not. I have no reason to be defensive smile You ask for explanations.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 20:57:52

and there you are being patronising again hmm 'enjoy a discussion'?

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 20:58:13

"Yes, your family exists, but emotions are an illusion, therefore your love for them is an illusion and doesn't exist in any concrete form. You can demonstrate love of course, but you can't prove that it exists any more than I can prove that Jesus is present in weekly Mass, even though I feel the same love that you do."

Of course you can't prove that love exists.. I don't think any atheists would deny that people of faith have genuine feelings of love and awe and all th rest. It's not th existence of the "feelings that is at issue.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 20:58:43

@thistledew true for some unpleasant theists. But lets not pretend some people arent suggesting they are superior by realising there is no God.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 21:00:29

I am feeling the superiority on this thread grin

You speak with an authority you don't have thistle.

I don't think I'm superior in any way to any person. Do you think everyone posting on here could claim the same? I don't think so. I think some posters feel vastly superior. It's a horrible trait and I'm glad I don't share it.

You asked me up thread about my god. I don't claim to be any sort of expert on god or Christianity, I can only tell you my reality.

I don't believe my that my god is different to anyone else's. I come from a very diversified family. Most are lapsed Catholics. A couple would probably be deemed staunch. Some are atheist/agnostic.

I have, amongst my family and friends gay people who are kind, respectful, upstanding people who go to mass every week and do their best to follow the teaching of the church. Except, of course, they're gay.

The church tries to tell me that being gay is wrong. I simply don't believe it. They try to tell me not to use contraception, but I do. They try to tell me abortion is wrong. I don't think it is, especially in certain circumstances.

Throughout the history of the church it's leaders have made decisions primarily for the good of themselves and the financial good of the church. I think some of its teachings are outdated and prejudiced.

I think the handling of the sex abuse scandal was one of the most horrific things I will ever hear.

I am very vocal about the above when it's called for.

God didn't teach lack of compassion. Understanding, love and forgiveness is what he preached.

The Catholicism by men has lost sight of a lot of that. It's sad. It's why I don't go to mass. But they are not acting, IMO, on behalf of god. And certainly not in the way He intended.

Perhaps they are misguided. I think they're mercenary. The new pope will do a lot of good. He's a good man who has spoken out against homophobia and misogyny. I have high hopes for him.

The people who agree with every teaching of the Church: I disagree with them. But I never disrespect them and as much as it saddens me, they have a right to follow the letter of the church and I have the right not to.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 22-Mar-13 21:09:53

waltermitty - Have you considered converting to CofE? I have no axe to grind for them, just you seem stuck as a... I don't know, 'dissenting Catholic'? when other religions are available.
And being part of a church is good for you, I hear. Fellowship and support and that.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 21:11:22

So if Christians don't believe that the moral code dictated by their god is superior to anything man made, then the benefit of believing in god is for the benefit of receiving preferential treatment his love, which can't be experienced by non-believers, or followers of other religions?

He's not a very powerful or wise god is he if he can't come up with a superior moral code than can humankind, is he?

Thanks Boulevard. Tbh I haven't really looked into converting. I'm ever so slightly too radical for them I think wink

For now, I'm happy to have a personal relationship with god with no restrictions put on it!

Maybe he was too preoccupied with creating the universe.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 21:16:23

walter - do you not think that saying that people who hold different beliefs about their god to you do so for mercenary reasons rather than your own genuinely held beliefs is not a statement of superiority? Or is it just as valid to hold views for wholly self-serving reasons as it is to hold them because you feel it is a just and proper way to lead your life?

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 21:18:17

Hidden - It appears to me that you are deliberately misunderstanding me as an attempt to belittle the point I am trying to make. Did you mean it to come across in that way?

I believe church leaders are mercenary thistle. As in, the people who are I charge so to speak!

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 21:23:01

Thistle christianity preaches that humans have morality and a conscience as they were made in the image of god. That is ALL humans though surely.

Do you not think it is a bit ironic that you are defending offence taking by atheists. Why are they allowed to take offense.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 21:23:26

walter - another genuine question - how do you deal with the possibility that you might be wrong? That when you meet your maker he might actually turn around and say "Yep, those mid-western evangelicals are right, I really do hate gays. You haven't followed what I have said at all" (to give an extreme example).

Is that a possibility that worries you at all or are you confident that you properly understand him (and the extremists are just wrong).

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 21:26:56

God doesn't hate anyone. You would need to read The Gospels in order to find out what Christians believe.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 21:28:07

ethelb - it is up to each individual how they respond to comments that denigrate their beliefs. I was just pointing out that it is not just the atheists who are guilty of making statements that are capable of giving offence.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 21:31:29

Hidden- it is lovely that you believe that the gospels tell you that. That is a 'good' belief to have. However, there are people who profess to share your faith who would disagree with you. They hold their beliefs that god does hate gays with just the same sincerity that you hold your beliefs.

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 21:32:27

Sorry, that sounded a bit patronising. I just meant that it was a positive thing to believe.

That's a good question! Not one I've thought much about tbh.

I guess it comes down to faith once again. I have faith that God is good. It doesn't make sense to atheists. I don't blame you. I just don't require proof and I just believe.

That belief has gotten me through some terrible times. I prayed. And maybe those prayers did nothing 'scientifically' but for me they did something. They helped.

And I believe God was there and lent me some strength to get through it. And if I got to heaven and God was a raging homophobe I'd like to think I would be brave enough to challenge Him on it! wink

But, in the same way that atheists can't believe in an all powerful deity, I can't believe in one so cruel as to be homophobic!

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 21:42:24

If anyone within a church hates anybody - gay people or whomever - they aren't keeping to the two great commandments and they'll be judged just as we all are smile

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 22-Mar-13 21:42:40

You've raised an interesting point there, hidden, I wonder what a religion would look like if it was based only on the four gospels, no more no less...?

So you wouldn't have all the Leviticus stuff about prawns and gays, and you wouldn't have all the St Paul stuff that has shaped current Christianity; you'd just have the parables and the sermon on the mount. And the whole salvation thing of course.

As I say, interesting.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 22-Mar-13 21:43:36

(X-post - was talking about your 21:26 post)

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 21:44:31

Sometimes I could gladly do without the St Paul stuff grin I personally think that he's responsible for quite a few of these current arguments sad

Atropos Fri 22-Mar-13 21:44:31

You cannot monitor a thread and decide to censure it. So get over it.

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 21:50:04

The Jefferson Bible is just the gospels with all the supernatural and miraculous bits taken out. You could have a look at that. It is just the philosophy.

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 21:55:17

I have a Catholic Bible with extra books in, as if the usual NT doesn't have enough in it grin It sits and my shelf and dares me to read it shock

CheerfulYank Fri 22-Mar-13 21:58:38

I do get a bit irritated when people want to "free me from my conditioning". I never was conditioned, at all. I am the only religious person in my family.

Not my current family; my DH is quite religious. But my parents have never attended church. I remember being shocked as a child (about 10 or 11) when my father mentioned praying about something. I genuinely did not know he believed. As I've gotten older I've realized from casual remarks that he and my mother both believe in some kind of afterlife. My brother is an atheist and delights in telling me how stupid I am.

But I have always believed, even when I had no name or words for religion. So no, not conditioned.

CheerfulYank Fri 22-Mar-13 22:00:10

There is a movement here in the States called "the Red Letter Christians" who base their beliefs only from the recorded words of Jesus. I like them. smile

ethelb Fri 22-Mar-13 22:01:50

Agreed. It is very arrogent.

I also think you can condition someone to be an atheist.

seeker Fri 22-Mar-13 22:05:14

"The Jefferson Bible is just the gospels with all the supernatural and miraculous bits taken out. You could have a look at that. It is just the philosophy."

But surely that's only 5 words?

hiddenhome Fri 22-Mar-13 22:05:20

That sounds interesting CheerfulYank. I'll do a search.

Now this is something that puzzles me about some people - Waltermitty, perhaps you can explain? The basics of the Christian belief system are that there is a paternal god whose son was called Jesus and was also a god. There are an awful lot of different interpretations of the rest of it (eg Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses etc etc etc as well as all the smaller scale groupings.) If you were brought up in one of these, erm, teams or flavours but have started to disagree with a chunk of that specific version (eg, you were raised Jehovah's Witness but don't have an issue with blood donation, or raised Catholic and don't actually hate women) why don't you just pick another team within the league to sign up to? Or if you have a firm belief that there is some sort of Higher Being out there or a 'need for spirituality' but no time for the particular myth system you grew up with, why opt for another one? I do have a bit of a problem with people defending and sticking with institutions that have proved themselves over and over again to be bigoted, corrupt and unpleasant by saying oh well, I don't support the bad stuff they did, just the good stuff.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 22-Mar-13 22:10:15

Y'see, holding my hands up here, I am an atheist, but I have an interest in the history and evolution of religion. And I like thinking about the what-if's. But I had never heard of the Jefferson bible so ta for that ethelb. Shame it never formed the basis of a religion in its own right, really.

But I don't really see why I can't come on suitable religious style threads and make intelligent [ahem] comments? In a mostly polite way? Just cause I lack the faith?

Thistledew Fri 22-Mar-13 22:18:03

Is the point not that we are all a product of our 'conditioning' - the things we have read, the things we have heard, the experiences we have had?

No two Christians believe exactly the same - there are as many different versions of Christian belief as there are things that atheists believe. There are just as many versions of what god is and his nature.

Each of our beliefs is wholly our own, and doesn't have any higher authority than the beliefs of anyone else.

CheerfulYank Fri 22-Mar-13 22:21:20

But I'm not bothered by people saying it's all nonsense or fairy tales or "if I said I had elves at the bottom of the garden" or flying spaghetti monsters or what have you.

It always reminds me of the quote (it's attributed to Lincoln but may be apocryphal) where he asked someone "if you call a sheep's tail its leg, how many legs does a sheep have?" The person answered "five" and Lincoln responded "No, four. Calling a sheep's tail its leg doesn't make it so."

Someone can call my beliefs nonsense all they want, it doesn't mean they are.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 22-Mar-13 22:27:03

SGB's point is kind of what I was thinking about before: as an outsider, the difference between the various Christian factions doesn't look that big, but people don't move that freely between them, it seems.
So someone will explain their philosophy to you, and say they're a Catholic for example, whereas on paper they'd be liberal CofE; someone will say they're a non-church-going Christian when actually their beliefs are more akin to Buddhism, and so on. We need a religious equivalent of the Political Compass test!

But I guess it's a bigger thing to change religion from your cultural background than it is politics? (unless you happen to be born a Thatcher or a Benn or something)

niminypiminy Fri 22-Mar-13 22:39:26

I think my answer to the questions posed by SGB lies in her phrasing. I don't think of them as myth systems. I think of Christianity as the truth. As I've said before on this board, God is beyond complete human comprehension, but we have glimpses of him in the various religions. I believe that Christianity has more glimpses than other faiths, and more of the truth. But they all know something about what God is.

So it is not simply a case of discarding a myth-system that I happen not to like very much for another one, as I might pick up or discard a magazine or novel. Instead, being part of the church is being part of Christ's body on earth, a body that is trying to embody the truth of God in an imperfect, temporal, human way.

Like any institution, any particular kind of Christian church has its flaws, blind spots, and broken bits. Whether you stay in any one bit is about weighing the ways it represents the truth of God against the ways it fails or betrays that truth. For some people the issue of sexual freedom will be that tipping point, whilst others will weigh that against the profound truths the church teaches about sacrificial love. Leaving a denomination can be agonising, because it isn't simply a consumer decision but involves deep commitments of the intellect and the emotions.

And for the record, I was brought up as a staunch atheist, and have only ever attended a church of my own volition and by my own decision. I came to faith as part of a long process that involved my intellect as much as my emotions, and was both about experience and the assent of reason.

I wouldn't pick another branch of Christianity because each one has it's issues and parts that I couldn't or wouldn't subscribe to.

Organised religion just doesn't do it for me as much as for others.

That's why I've been banging on so much about their being a difference between having issues with a religion and having issues with those who believe in god.

I've been raised catholic. It has it's positives, for me. But the negatives are huge and it's just not for me. Maybe, in the future, I'll look into other faiths. For now I'm happy to say that I believe in god and his greatness but I think there are massive faults within the religions man has built throughout the ages.

I can only speak for myself though. My mother despairs of me!

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 22-Mar-13 23:23:02

"Leaving a denomination can be agonising, because it isn't simply a consumer decision but involves deep commitments of the intellect and the emotions."

On one level, I can see where you're coming from with that, but on another (as a product of a very Protestant upbringing!) - surely a church is just people? Flawed and mistaken in the normal human way? And actually your 'deep commitment' shouldn't be to the church, but to God?

I suppose what I'm trying to say, is your relationship with your concept of God should be what it is - you should let that find its natural level - and then you should find a church to fit your spirituality. Rather than it going the other way around and ending up a bad fit for you. (when I say 'you', I mean 'one' here, not addressing it to anyone in particular!)

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 22-Mar-13 23:35:17

waltermitty, I'd think that the vast majority of atheists would have no problem with someone who quietly believes in a personal god. It's just, once organised religion comes into it, and we start going down the, 'you can't go to that school/watch that film/abolish that ancient law' road, then us atheists start getting all prickly and militant. And sarcastic.

DH would describe himself as CofE, but the god he believes in is such a wooly liberal non-interventionist, that his 'Christianity' is barely distinguishable from my 'atheism' and we generally seem to rub along quite nicely.

DH would describe himself as CofE, but the god he believes in is such a wooly liberal non-interventionist, that his 'Christianity' is barely distinguishable from my 'atheism' and we generally seem to rub along quite nicely.

This is exactly like atheist DH and I! grin

niminypiminy Sat 23-Mar-13 00:00:30

Boulevard, when you suggest that 'you should find a church to fit your spirituality rather than the other way around', that is what I would think of as reducing it to a consumer decision. Of course, I can simply walk into any church and join in with what's going on -- and it's good to do that. We can all learn from doing new things.

But the real growth, the real spiritual development, comes from sticking with one thing and working on the difficult bits. I'd say it was a bit like serial monogamy vs marriage. Serial monogamy is all very well, if what you want is novelty and variety, and if your solution to all difficulties is to change partners. Marriage can be very unhappy, and I would bet that even in the most successful marriage, there are times of boredom, and dissatisfaction, and deep unhappiness. There can come times when staying in a marriage is intolerable. But marriage can also be the source of some of the deepest human relationships we can have. (By the way, when I say marriage, I mean a committed, exclusive relationship between two people.)

The analogy isn't perfect. But while it is fine for people to believe in God as a private matter, for Christians an essential part of our belief is that we come together for the sacrament of the Eucharist, the sacred meal that joins us into one body -- that is what the church is. And it may well be that for many of us, the meal we share is more important than the things that the Church says that we disagree with -- and goodness knows, I have never met a Christian who didn't have some disagreements with the church of which s/he was a member.

It has been wonderful reading all the comments on here today, in fact it has quite stopped me getting any work done!

Very well said * niminypiminy*.

I have certainly moved church when I felt it was right to do so and stayed even though I did not agree with all beliefs in a particular church, because I felt it was right to do so.

But moving denomination is not just a matter or picking another group. For example Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe Jesus is God and do not consider themselves Christians. There are quite a few groups around the edges of mainstream Christianity where people would not usually consider joining and vice versa, but certainly among mainstream protestant denominations there can be quite a bit of ebb and flow.

Being part of a church is about being part of a body of people, and it is actually quite painful sometimes to leave. Sometimes people feel it is right to stay. Which is why people stay even when they sometimes disagree with things because they feel it is right to do so. If all the women who wanted to be ordained had simply moved to the Methodists or Baptists from the C of E in the 80s I do wonder if we would have women ordained in the C of E now. And likes wise as we wait for women bishops to come in, if all those aspiring women bishops became Methodists then I do wonder if we would ever have women bishops.

I am aware that some are offended by 'negative' terms used to describe religion, and I can certainly see why. I am not offended generally though, it just seems odd to refer to God as someone's imaginarily friend, when clearly this is so far from the reality for most people of faith! And faith isa part of the lives of all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, like falling in love with someone when you don't know how it will all work out!

And I can totally understand why atheists are sometimes offended by Christians and people of faith, and why they feel so saddened by some of the things that do affect people's lives.

I think it does call for some tolerance, so it is always nice to see that being given, I know for my part there seem to be discussion threads on here where people give their views etc but there are also other times when people ask a very specific question about a specific religion or denomination or situation and then someone pops up and says something really out of place in that it is nothing to do with the thing mentioned and is simply (in my humble opinion) ‘slagging off’ religion in general! So to me it is a bit like someone popping onto cookery thread and answering a question about a Victoria sponge with some info on global warming!

Oh, Ninnypinny I was referring to your earlier post and just cross posted with you and totally agree with you again! Spooky! I must go off to bed. Been reading this thread off and on all day!

Gingerdodger Sat 23-Mar-13 09:11:10

I think the issue of which denomination is interesting . I say this as a Catholic who openly disagrees with some of what the church hierarchy believe. For me the key issue is the core of what I view to be my Christianity with a Catholic basis.

The core of this belief is, I believe, expressed in the creed through which I can state my beliefs without reservation. I appreciate that the creed, or a version of it, is common to many Christian churches so this is the root belief of my Christianity.

I think the thing that roots me in the Catholic faith is my belief in the holy eucharist which I do see as becoming the body and blood of Jesus in more than a symbolic way. This is hugely important to me personally and is why I remain a Catholic rather than heading for the C of E or methodism etc even though some of their outward beliefs may accord more.

The next bit will sound bonkers to anyone without faith but I have asked the question, through prayer, why I am called to be, not only a Christian, but also a Catholic and I genuinely believe that I got the answer back that the RC church needs women like me who are prepared to openly practise their faith but also to be clear about which parts of the church need to move forward and for the church to concentrate on key messages of love and caring for people rather than endless arguments over marriage, homosexuality etc etc.

I like niminy's analogy of a marriage. I love my husband deeply but some of his habits irritate me and some of his friends piss me right off but that doesn't affect the core of our marriage based on love.

To answer the exam question: atheists on faith threads doesn't overly bother me personally as I feel that I can extract what I need to and leave others to their own opinions. It's interesting to see how others view things generally. I think some posters across the whole of Mumsnet do like to express themselves in particularly strident ways and I think this must be upsetting for those seeking support but, hopefully, there are enough there expressing support for the posters to outweigh this.

Shutting up now and doing to make a cup of tea!

ivykaty44 Sat 23-Mar-13 09:56:45

what i find odd is that religious people will want people who don't believe to be tolerant of their religions. But are not concerned with the bigotry of these same religions and don't seem to want to stamp it out but let it continue and accept that some parts of their religions will just have to be like that.

like in this marriage analogy i couldn't put up with a dh who was loving and caring but was also a bigot, he may be a loving father but why would I want him to instill in my children his bigotry ways, which is what he would do if I were to marry and have children with him.

Gingerdodger Sat 23-Mar-13 10:28:36

Well I can't speak for others but I don't just accept that the church cannot move forward and change but I remain part of it because I can continue to express my views and remain part of it.

The way I see it my faith is like a marriage and I am comfortable with my personal relationship with God. The church is like a wider family and friends. I can't agree with them all, some of them I completely disagree with, this can include the most senior members but it doesn't stop me loving my husband or being a part of the family. I just have to be honest about what I believe and trying to live my life according to my conscience as best I can and hopefully influencing others by example and discussion. I won't do that by leaving the family.

I can appreciate that leaving your particular gang/tribe can be distressing, and the analogy with marriage is quite a good one. Particularly as heteromonogamy is as much a social construct as religion is, and many people live happily without engaging in it (or in either, for that matter). So if you (generic 'you') married a man who was lovely in some ways but awful in others, there would probably come a point at which you couldn't stay with him any longer - whether that would be the point at which he beat you, abused the DC, robbed a bank or voted Tory would depend on a variety of factors. Leaving one marriage might mean you later entered into another, but it might also mean that you decided to stay single and wondered why you'd ever been so hung up on sticking to heteromonogamy. Those of you who are loyal to particular sects with acknowledged nasty sides may find that you have a quit point somewhere: again whether that leads you to abandon the whole silly business, or to have another go with a new 'partner' would remain to be seen.

Another analogy might be political groups: some people who had been longterm members of the SWP recently walked out due to the organisation's condoning of rape and sexual assault; some of them might give up activisim altogether, others join different groups, but all of them would have had to make that decision as to whether they could continue trying to change the bad stuff about the organisation from the inside, or whether it was time to cut loose.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 10:31:45

I find the denomination thing interesting. For example, I know, both in real life and on here,people who say they are Roman Catholics, but when you say "but what about......" they say "oh, I don't agree with/believe in that bit" It would be possible to say, and I'm sure people are going to, that that is none of my business, and faith is a personal matter. The problem is though, that the Catholic Church has huge power in the world, and some of that power is very damaging. People who choose to disregard the bits they don't like while still identifying themselves as Catholics are endorsing and supporting the control the Church has over others. An individual can decide personally to use contraception, or have an abortion, for example, but doing so whie continuing to support the Catholic Church denies other women the same choices.

Also, niminy, the fact that you think your brand of guff is true doesn't make it so. Nor does it actually matter what you believe, that's your business. Other people only object when you start impinging on their lives with your mythologies.

niminypiminy Sat 23-Mar-13 10:44:49

With all due respect, SGB, the fact that you think it is guff doesn't make it so either.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 10:51:17

It's your truth, niminy and SGB's guff.

Which is fine, so long as it has no impact on anyone's lives except yours. The trouble is that religion has a massive impact on the lives of others whether they want it to or not.

headinhands Sat 23-Mar-13 10:54:59

Ginger - the problem with your analogy is that every christian in your church and the wider world claims to be married to the same person, yet this same person is telling different people different things. WHY? Why would you do that? Why would you say to spouse A 'I support such and such' then turn around to spouse B and say 'that thing that spouse A supports really upsets me'.

ivykaty44 Sat 23-Mar-13 10:55:08

you can express your views but how long will you be ignored?

Gingerdodger Sat 23-Mar-13 11:01:16

Certainly if a husband in the marriage analogy was violent or bad in some way then I would leave but the analogy asserts that my husband is perfect (just like my real life one ahem.grin). Its the wider family which is flawed. As I said above my core beliefs remain firmly Christian and Catholic. There seems to be, sometimes, an emphasis on beliefs which are not core (the church doesn't always help itself in this regard either).

Seeker I hear what you are saying about supporting the church but I choose to remain within it because I believe that gives me most influence. I agree it's a balance but for me personally the positives of remaining within the church far outweigh the negatives and I have a genuine belief th
at my faith has called me to remain in the
church.

The church is also full of ordinary, practising Christians who are full of love and compassion and my life is enriched every day by my faith.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 11:06:19

"The church is also full of ordinary, practising Christians who are full of love and compassion and my life is enriched every day by my faith."

Absolutely. But the hierarchy is so hideous. How is it possible to ignore that?

Gingerdodger Sat 23-Mar-13 11:17:56

Well the hierarchy isn't completely hideous to me. It is flawed and I believe it needs to change but not everything about it is 'hideous'.

Also the church isn't only the hierarchy hideous, flawed, perfect or otherwise.

MadHairDay Sat 23-Mar-13 11:33:39

Wrt to the original question, I am pleased that here on MN there can be discussions between people of completely polarised opinions. I choose to hang out here, rather than a more niche Christian website, precisely because I appreciate this side of it, and find the debate invigorating and challenging. Discussions I have had here with atheists have been some of the most helpful to me in terms of my faith that I can think of - they keep me reading, keep me engaging, keep me real, I think.

I guess there's a tipping point when it comes to threads such as prayer threads, and when it comes to personal attack. I've very rarely seen personal attack on these threads. Attack on faith, yes, but that's very different. I can quite happily cope with any spaghetti monster rhetoric you care to throw in my direction, but would find it upsetting if the attack was against me personally. I can think of only one time this has happened, and Mn deleted it rather quickly iirc. I think somebody called me a thick bigot. grin OK, well.

So, I'll happily carry on in such discussions. While the teapot analogy et al can become somewhat jaded, I'm sure my arguments become equally so to those of no faith. It's whether we can carry on talking to each other in mutual respect of persons, if not ideas, that is the main question to me.

If not, I tend to bow out.

DadOnIce Sat 23-Mar-13 11:34:53

I have the same problem as the one seeker expressed yesterday - that the best way to explain what atheism is is, indeed, to compare god with other things which are equally unbelievable. And this means using comparisons like The Teapot, the Pink Unicorn, and, yes, Zeus and Thor and all that lot, and "imaginary friend". It really is that unreal - it really is that unlikely. We don't necessarily say these things to be provocative or rhetorical. I think it is important to say these things, no matter how spiky they may appear - otherwise the argument can become portrayed as a falsely simplistic dichotomy (you either "believe in God", because you "understand" or "have a relationship" with god, or you "don't believe in God", because you don't "understand" or have this "relationship").

It's also very hard to avoid what can become a tit-for-tat exchange of "your saying it's real doesn't make it so", versus "your saying it's guff doesn't make it so." This is another false dichotomy. There is the small matter of evidence, which is on the side of the unbelievers, and of scepticism being the default setting. Believers don't like this, but it is the only standpoint with philosophical integrity. If someone tells you something is true, do you just accept it on trust? Of course not. You ask for evidence.

niminypiminy Sat 23-Mar-13 11:37:59

There have been terrible, corrupt, morally bankrupt parliamentarians. Does that mean that parliament is itself a terrible, corrupt, morally bankrupt institution? Does it mean (and this is a close analogy with what people are saying about religion) that democracy is a terrible, corrupt, morally bankrupt idea?

MadHairDay Sat 23-Mar-13 11:39:28

And wrt denominations - interesting topic. I've always thought I sit quite lightly to 'belonging to a denomination'- I enjoy visiting churches of all flavours except ultra conservative and get a lot out of the differing emphases. However, saying that, I'm quite a C of E at heart, depending on the individual church, of course. I think niminy has put it very well. We need to weigh up our own church in terms of how it does things. There will always be difficulties in any church, as in any institution. I think that we need to be willing to engage with any problems, to change from within, if you like - to challenge unhealthy practise and to uphold the good.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 11:46:54

"Well the hierarchy isn't completely hideous to me. It is flawed and I believe it needs to change but not everything about it is 'hideous'.

Also the church isn't only the hierarchy hideous, flawed, perfect or otherwise."

Of course it isn't- lift the lid on any major institution and you'll discover it's rotten to the core. But the church is, as far as I know, the only one that claimed to be the moral arbiter of society. And which surely should, shouldn't it? have higher standards than Tesco.

Which bits of the hierarchy aren't hideous, by the way?

MadHairDay Sat 23-Mar-13 12:03:01

Are you talking the hierarchy of the Catholic Church seeker, or hierarchy of churches in general? I can't comment about the catholic church, but in terms of the Anglican church, yes, there is rotten wood, and yes, there are bits I question. But by and large, I have a lot of respect for most bishops/clergy etc, although by no means all, and certainly by no means all in the wider Anglican communion.

Gingerdodger Sat 23-Mar-13 12:34:55

Hideous suggests that everything about everyone within the 'hierarchy' is abhorrent. I don't believe this, like MHD there are many individuals I have respect for - I don't necessarily agree with them on everything but that doesn't make them, or the entire institution, hideous in every way.

There have been hideous things done in the name of various religions (not least under the auspices of the RC church) I agree. These cannot and should not be defended. However, again, I do not see that this those religious groupings should disband. Far better that they face the truth and move forward. I agree that the catholic church has had mixed success with this. It's got a long way to go but that shouldn't stop us continuing to push forward and if that causes debate within that's only to the good as far as I can see.

Again that debate has a long way to go.

I get a lot of support though my church as do millions of other people. It isn't hideous to me and it enriches my life in so many ways. I also see, first hand, that the work of the church is not just confined to supporting it's own.

Perfect it isn't, hideous it isn't either.

I think this is the same for many Christians and other people of Faith.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 12:41:08

That's why I made a clear distinction between the members of the Church and the hierarchy.

I think that while the "few rotten apples" argument is sometimes valid, there comes a point where the whole barrel is contaminated- even the few good apples are so tainted by association that the only way they could maintain any integrity is by getting out of the barrel completely. (May have stretched that analogy a little far!)

I think that is the state the Catholic Church is in now.

I'm talking about the Catholic Church, by the way because it is the one I know best. I am not either excusing or condemning other denominations. Although I do think that lifting the lid on any institution would reveal some very nasty things.

Niminy: OK, so you believe your guff. I accept you believe it and support your right to do so. But why should I treat the guff you believe in any differently than the equally sincerely held beliefs of other people, eg that the earth is flat, that there are fairies at the bottom of their garden, that homeopathy works, or that aliens have built a base underneath the desert sands? They're all equally silly things to believe in, and respecting people's right to believe them doesn't oblige the rest of us to take any one of the beliefs any more seriously than the rest.

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 16:33:32

@seeker why is it that you know more about the catholic church than any other denomination?

ivykaty44 Sat 23-Mar-13 16:40:14

but can you understand that to me as a none beleiver I find the wider family - in your analogy - biogoted and having comitted awful crimes I find it really unpleasant and wonder why you assosiate yourself with these people, becasue that is what I see you doing.

What you seem to my mind is that you cherry pick the nice parts of your religion and take the nice bits

I still though am left feeling confused as this to me shows the religion you belong to or follow that they are ok to do these awful things as there followers will ignore the bits they don't agree with and in effect santuntion there actions

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 17:01:55

Ethelb- why do you ask?

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 17:15:25

Actually, ethelb- I know why you ask. And I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not lapsed! I was brought up in a catholic country and have many catholic family members. And I've read a lot about it.

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 17:18:17

I just want to know. A lot of people (in RL, not just on MN) often criticise the Catholic Church (for some good reasons if I am honest) and then follow it up by claiming that they are only talking about the Catholic Church as it is the only one they know about, and that they actually feel that way about organised religion. I think to make the point that they aren't just bigotted against the Catholic Church.

But it is odd that it is the case that they know more about Catholicism, when we live in an Anglican country. The number of Catholics in this country is pretty small.

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 17:18:58

That's very presumptuous, I didn't think you were lapsed.

Gingerdodger Sat 23-Mar-13 18:30:07

I can appreciate that it is confusing for others to understand how I reconcile my personal beliefs with those which others see to be a central part if church teaching.

However, for me it is quite simple. As a Catholic Christian I am called to follow my conscience. The core part of my faith is expressed through the creed which I have no issue with stating as my belief. I believe that receiving the eucharist is central to my christian faith, hence I am a Catholic.

The rest is between me and God.

DomesticCEO Sat 23-Mar-13 18:33:26

Ethelb, I think that's because the CofE tends to be a more liberal religion than Catholicism - many of the Catholic religion's ideas are so abhorrent (views on abortion, homosexuality, contraception in developing countries, rape, etc, etc) to people like me that we tend to read alot more about it and therefore may have stronger views on it than we do on the CofE.

I have an IVF baby for example and know that the Catholic church does not support IVF.

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 18:40:53

@domesticceo but orthodox judaism and islam don't really approve of IVF babies either do they?

Neither support abortion or homosexuality and don't suggest women use contraception with gay abandon either. (I don't know what you mean by views on rape?).

I'm not suggesting that their aren't people in those religions who feel those doctrines are abhorrent, but why aren't they discussed as much as Catholicism?

I honestly don't think I would be as peeved off the next time someone launches into an 'I hate catholics rant' at the next dinner party if they were to criticise other religions as freely (this has frequently happened with an orthodox jewish person or muslim sat next to me, giving me pitying looks btw wink.

DomesticCEO Sat 23-Mar-13 18:45:50

Judaism rarely gets discussed in this country, except in relation to Israel - and Islam is villified (IMO) far more than Catholicism now, but for much more general reasons.

I don't hate Catholics (some of my best friends are Catholics wink) but I find the hierarchy of the Catholic church abhorrent. And their behaviour over the paedophilia scandal has disgraced them beyond belief (pardon the pun).

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 18:50:04

@domesticceo but where are all the threads about Islam. I can think of a couple where someone who is not muslim has started up a thread criticising it, but no where near the number criticising Catholicism. Why is that, when it is vilified more? (i'm not denying that Muslims do get a very hard time in the UK, but when people talk about how much they hate organised religion, it is always, always Catholicism, despite being in an Anglican country).

Plus why do you find the hierarchy of the catholic church abhorrent? Do you find all hierarchies abbhorent?

Or do you mean the people in the upper echelons of the RC Church? In which case fair enough.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 18:59:43

I am happy to criticise any organised religion- I am an equal opportunities atheist! However, I don't actually know enough about any non Christian religion to challenge it knowledgeably.

I am very much opposed to the established church in the UK- as a British person, it is the one that imposes itself most on my personal life. My beef about the Catholic Church is much more political- it has such a pernicious effect on the lives of so many.

I have noticed before a tendency in Catholics to see persecution when what is actually happening is a spotlight being turned on wrongdoing and wrong thinking.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 19:00:46

"Plus why do you find the hierarchy of the catholic church abhorrent? Do you find all hierarchies abbhorent? "

I find any hierarchy which systematically covered up the abuse of children abhorrent.

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 19:06:24

@seeker it is clear you have a good understanding of the Catholic church, but why do you think other people do it? (I'm not saying I don't think some of the criticism is valid, just overly narrow imo)

And with regards to heirarchies that cover up child abuse, what about the bbc? orthodox jewish communities in the UK? When did you last comment on a thread about those?

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 19:08:58

@seeker plus you say you grew up in a catholic country so experienced it first hand, most people in the uK haven't though.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 19:09:25

If there were threads about either of those institutions that I was interested in commenting on (I have commented on BBC ones) then I would. I'm not sure I get your point- you're not, surely, saying that the a Catholic Church is being unfairly singled out when it comes to child abuse?

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 19:17:14

No I am not saying that, I am saying it is odd that it gets so much more attention than other institutions who do the same thing. That is not the same as claiming it has been unfairly singled out.

ivykaty44 Sat 23-Mar-13 19:23:07

thanks ginger for appreciating I don't understand why you do this, unfortunatley I don't understand your answer, it isn't simple to me and I don't actually understand what you mean by creed or the rest of the sentance - so it fails to answer anything. Not being funny in anyway it is just simply not something I know about.

Hopefully though it explains to you how I see religion and people that then follow a particular religion.

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 19:25:27

@ivy why are you debating Catholicism when you don't understand that answer. It is quite basic theology.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 19:37:40

Well, obviously a church caught out in condoning/concealing child abuse is going to get more attention- churches are supposed to be "better" than secular organizations. We're supposed to be able to trust priests- they have a very special place in society. Unlike disc jockeys.........

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 19:48:27

@seeker I have to disagree with you on that point (which you do seem very hung up on) about catholic priests being considered "better" than those in secular organisations in UK society.

I think the only way they may be seen as better is in that they have given themselves to public service, but I don't hink the 'next person' would see them as any "better" than a doctor, priest or charity worker actually. So your argument doesn't really stand I'm afraid.

The UK public do not consider Catholic priests better, in fact I would argue they have been viewed with suspicion since the reformation. They may have been considered 'better' by some catholics, but that is no different to how an anglican priest, imam, or rabbi may be viewed by their 'flock'.

ivykaty44 Sat 23-Mar-13 20:00:00

i wasn't debating catholic religion, the other person was ginger

I explained why and how I saw something - it is ginger that is catholic

it is basic theology - do people have to understand theology before they can post on this thread then?

Gingerdodger Sat 23-Mar-13 20:01:46

Sorry ivykaty it's easy to forget that not everyone knows the full text of the mass - although a recent translation of the mass meant loads of Catholics were stumbling over them too smile.

I guess that doesn't help to eradicate misunderstandings as I think people hear much more about views expressed on controversial issues rather than the central tenets of the faith.

This is a link to the words of the mass and if you scroll down the words for both the Nicene and Apostles creed are there. We recite them in mass and they summarise the central beliefs of Christians, well at least those of a Catholic persuasion anyway.
catholic-resources.org/ChurchDocs/Mass-RM3.htm

The Eucharist is Holy Communion. Catholics believe this becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ and it probably the single most important part of being a Catholic rather than say C of E. Taking the Eucharist strengthens our faith and it is amazing in a way I struggle to explain if I am honest.

Other Christians believe communion is more symbolic. No less right but a different approach but it is a key reason why I am, and remain, Catholic rather than any other denomination.

This is why the stuff I don't like does not cause me to leave the RC church. To me it is not a central part of the faith and I believe that I am far more use in the church than out of it in terms of challenging things I find prejudiced or wrong.

I hope that explains a bit.

cjel Sat 23-Mar-13 20:05:26

I haven't read all this OP but my understanding is that everyone has a belief system even if it is atheism. that is what they believe.

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 20:08:08

@ivykaty It is odd to accuse someone of picking and choosing bits from their religion when you have no basic understanding of that religion. What exactly, are your opinions based on?

Surely a negative opinion of someone, based on no factual knowledge of the situation is bigotry pure and simple.

ivykaty44 Sat 23-Mar-13 20:09:00

thanks I have come across heretics before so understand that, not heard it in the words you gave though,

so if I have it right you stay within this religion due to the holy communion being important as it is different in other religions and you don't feel you would get the same feeling?

Gingerdodger Sat 23-Mar-13 20:22:04

ivykaty I am not sure where the heretic bit came from. This would be an old catholic vs protestant debate but I think you will find us all to be much more accepting of each other generally these days `grin - just accept that we have different approaches and perspectives.

But yes the reason I am a Catholic Christian is down to the eucharist. It's stronger than just a 'feeling' that I couldn't get anywhere else though. It's more akin to not eating or being separated for over from my children, absolutely fundamental to me but really hard to explain to others.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 20:22:17

The difference between the church and any oher big corporation is that the church sets itself in judgement over others and as a moral arbiter of society. As such it should be above reproach. And it isn't.

ivykaty44 Sat 23-Mar-13 20:34:53

ginger thank you for your time and trouble to explain why you do what you do and not take offense by anything I have posted. It makes me see from a different angle. smile

Can I also ask did you choose to be a catholic or where you brought up a catholic and do you think it makes a difference?

ethelb Sat 23-Mar-13 20:50:24

@seeker but you don't accept it's authority so why are you bothered?

Plus the idea that someone who is judgemental should be beyond reproach is not necessarily a given. Do you feel the same way about journalists for example?

Thing is, the eucharist stuff is unimportant, irrelevant mythological blah to other people. The Catholic Church's power to deny women access to healthcare, to deny gay people the right to live free of discrimination, to condone and support the child abusers on its staff, that's why people despise the Catholic Church and find it hard to accept that anyone could continue to be loyal to it.

niminypiminy Sat 23-Mar-13 22:35:47

Thing is, you're not interested in why anybody is a Roman Catholic, because you already know what you think about it. You know what you think is important, and what is unimportant. You know what you think is true and what you think is rubbish. I don't really see that there is any point in anybody trying to explain their point of view to you.

But guess what, that doesn't make you enlightened. It makes you a bigot.

I'm not an RC, and hold no brief for defending the Roman Catholic Church. But the bigotry I see around, the anti-Catholic prejudice makes me feel sick.

Gingerdodger Sat 23-Mar-13 22:44:02

ivykaty no problem. Thanks for listening.

My journey to where I am now has been by quite a scenic route. I was baptised Catholic aged about 6 weeks but as my family were not particularly practising at that time for all sorts of reasons, I became closer to the church over many years and was actually not confirmed until I was an adult.

I am not sure what difference that makes as I can only speak from my own experience but, although in many ways I wish I had become closer sooner, I have had lots of opportunities to explore my faith as an adult and long may I continue to do so.

The mystery of the eucharist may seem an unimportant myth to some people but it isn't to me and I can only explain what I believe to be right. Other people will reach their own conclusions.

seeker Sat 23-Mar-13 23:04:39

"@seeker but you don't accept it's authority so why are you bothered?

Plus the idea that someone who is judgemental should be beyond reproach is not necessarily a given. Do you feel the same way about journalists for example?"

Because I care very much about the influence the church had has on other people in the world.

And one of the functions of the church is to be a moral touchstone to it's followers. Nobody expects that of journalists.

niminypiminy Sun 24-Mar-13 06:54:47

I too care very much about the influence the church has had in the world. Let's look at the historical record shall we? Here are some examples:

Hospitals: these are a Christian invention, and originate in the specifically Christian practice of caring for the indigent, sick and hungry. The Christian practice of establishing hospitals was without precedent in the ancient world.

Universities: are another specifically Christian invention, again without precedent in the ancient world.

Individual rights: are a direct descendent of the Christian conviction that each person is uniquely loved and valuable in God's eyes. Without Christianity, the idea of the unique individual with inalienable rights could not have developed from the ideas current in the ancient world.

Universal education: could not have happened unless Christians had established schools that were free of charge for the poor. No such idea had been thought of until the Church did it.

The Welfare State: has its origins in the Christian practice of charity - unknown before Christianity- and in the importance given by Christians to caring for the poor. Again, this would not have developed as a practice from the ideas of virtue current in the ancient world.

There are more, but those will do for starters. It's all very well to talk about the damage the Church has done -- and I freely admit that the Church has done some terrible things (though some of the terrible things it has said to have done it hasn't -- see witch burning, for example). But it's also important to set that beside what is good in our world that is a direct result of the activity of the Church.

sashh Sun 24-Mar-13 07:01:07

I come on because I am interested in how people of faith view things because of that faith. I'm interested in diversity and culture.

Hence the smallpox thread.

Also I'm a teacher and I teach people from many different backgrounds so I do try to find out about the beliefs / mores of my students.

I find many posts by crescentmoon interesting and with clear explanations.

seeker Sun 24-Mar-13 07:03:34

Niminy- I think a Muslim reading your post might have a few comments on your last post! Or an Ancient Greek. Or a Roman.

Thistledew Sun 24-Mar-13 07:18:45

It is not bigoted to say that the real world impact of supporting an institution that abuses individuals is more important than the performance of a ritual that is founded in myth and superstition.

I really don't think much of any god that would be pleased that someone continued to perform a ritual which in order to do so they had ignore and give tacit support to an institution that makes the lives of thousands of people more difficult than they need to be. And as there is no god, that ritual is performed solely for the benefit of the person participating in it.

Gingerdodger Sun 24-Mar-13 07:58:43

niminy some great examples of how Christianity has contributed in a very positive way to society. If they are not unique to Christianity who cares? It didn't make them any less important to those who benefited.

I realise that my views are not going to alter the minds of many people, I don't expect them too but I am happy to explain my reasons.

I still reiterate that it is better, for me, to remain within an organisation and debate and discuss the best ways to ensure that it is 'a church for the poor' to quote Pope Francis (I take poor to mean not just poverty but those who are needy in any way).

I am up now to go to early morning mass for Passion Sunday. Coming into Holy Week (the week between Passion or Palm Sunday) there will be so many opportunities to reflect on the humble things Jesus did, his teachings about love and to think about how to apply these better within my own life and to act on this. Millions of other Christians will be doing the same (not that this just happens in Holy Week).

This are the central teachings of Christianity and I cannot help but see the positives these bring.

seeker Sun 24-Mar-13 08:12:51

The trouble is that many of the things that niminy says are just not true. No universities, charity or hospitals before Christianity? Really? No individual rights? No education? All these things are more than 2000 years old!

Of course the church has done good things- nobody denies that. But the bad is so very bad- the damage being done in sub Saharan Africa by the church's stance on condom use for example...why are people skirting around this point?

Niminy that last post is utterly ridiculous. The Christian involvement in the institutions you mention is only 'Christian' because that's what there was at the time, that was the ruling body. And like Seeker says; Romans, Ancient Greece, the rest of the world...

Humans do generally like to help others, especially those less fortunate. And through different periods of time the good things have been done for different reasons. Why people still feel they need some supernatural label to do good things for I have no idea. Why not just get on and do the nice things you want to do?

Everything else religion is is a complete waste. You can live a good life without wasting so much time.

juule Sun 24-Mar-13 08:23:19

I second seeker's post
"Niminy- I think a Muslim reading your post might have a few comments on your last post! Or an Ancient Greek. Or a Roman."

Ginger "If they are not unique to Christianity who cares?"
People should care when false claims are being made.

Ginger illustrates my point perfectly. All those millions of man hours sitting around thinking about being good and doing good. They all leave mass feeling all warm and fuzzy but actually they've just wasted all that time.

NicholasTeakozy Sun 24-Mar-13 08:40:31

"When I do good things I feel good: when I do bad things I feel bad. That is my religion." Attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

"I'm often asked how come I don't rape and murder without instruction from God. I always answer that I do rape and murder all I want, which is none. If you need a God to tell you how to act, then it's not religion you lack but moral empathy". Penn Jillette.

"Religion poisons everything". Christopher Hitchens.

"Try not to be a cunt today". NicholasTeakozy.

Brilliant quotes. I shall use them. Thank you.

Gingerdodger Sun 24-Mar-13 10:28:01

Getting to grips I really do not believe my post does illustrate your post perfectly as you have missed out the part that is not only about reflecting on the teachings but also the key words 'and to act on this'.

So it isn't about just sitting around getting a warm, fuzzy feeling but taking action too. I am not going to get into giving you a list of examples of these actions as these are between those individuals and / or groups and God. Yes, many of those people would do good acts anyway just because they are lovely, kind people. It doesn't make it any less in Jesus's name.

The warm, fuzzy feeling often eludes me to be honest as I feel like I can never do enough.

I have been reflecting on the posts of seeker and whilst I do not share her despair over the construct of the Catholic Church it has made me think about how else I can play my part more in the development and progress of the church; so there is my challenge to think about this during Holy Week and what I, personally, need to do.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 11:42:19

Does anyone here genuinely believe that without Christianity we wouldn't have hospitals, education and state benefits? That's the stupidest thing I've read all day.

Next thing will be someone trying to claim that God invented morality which would explain why before Moses jogged up a mountain and chiselled some rocks all the humans were just running around coveting things, killing each other and worshipping false idols all over the place..... Thank God THAT all got sorted out!

Niminy: your brand of superstition is no more or less ridiculous than the people who believe in aliens, fairies or astrology. It's the power the organisation awards itself or is allowed to wield that's the problem. My contempt for Catholicism is to do with its power over the lives of women and children and the harm it does them. Same as my contempt for Islam is about the harm done to women and children, I don't give a toss about the finer points of its mythologies.

CheerfulYank Sun 24-Mar-13 12:28:13

Well...just straight believing in a deity is somewhat different to elves at the bottom of the garden, et al.

I'm not one of them (I'm a Christian, to the disgust of many grin), but there are people who believe in a god without any detail.

A dwarf in a teapot is a very specific thing. Zeus is a very specific thing. A creative sentient force isn't.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 12:44:40

"A creative sentient force isn't."

I'd argue that it is, just because you can't attribute a physical thing to it.

Besides, the point of the teapot argument is that you can't prove it any more than you can prove a god, thus there's no more reason to think that it exists.

The purpose is to demonstrate how stupid the whole concept sounds.

seeker Sun 24-Mar-13 12:52:06

Why is believing in a creative, sentient but invisible and undetectable force different from believing in an invisible, undetectable but creative and sentient pink unicorn in my garage?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 13:02:21

"Why is believing in a creative, sentient but invisible and undetectable force different from believing in an invisible, undetectable but creative and sentient pink unicorn in my garage?"

I don't have a garage, so I'll have to keep my Unicorn in the garden, do you think it will be ok there?

Cheerfulyank: you just believe in a single imaginary friend rather than a race of them. Can't see the difference myself.

ivykaty44 Sun 24-Mar-13 13:48:11

The Welfare State: has its origins in the Christian practice of charity

the last word should read tax - not charity

CheerfulYank Sun 24-Mar-13 14:36:47

Yes, I believe in a specific god. I meant people who don't. But I can't explain what I mean any more clearly right now because I have pregnancy brain and no coffee. blush

The whole "people used to believe in Zeus" thing has never really held much weight with me. I used to work with a kid who, when asked about his day, would say things like "I couldn't sleep, and then I got up and ate toast, and then I went to the circus and they let me ride an elephant, and it almost stepped on a baby but I saved it..." The only true thing being that he had toast for breakfast. It was still true, though. Many lies or misconceptions about a thing do not mean that there is no truth to any of it. (And I've just come over all nostalgic now...I sure miss that kid. smile)

There have been millions of failed hypotheses in science, many things people believed to be facts that weren't. It doesn't make science itself untrue. For me, lots of misconceptions about religion don't disprove God.

DadOnIce Sun 24-Mar-13 14:41:06

The difference, I suppose, is that "science" isn't one single thing which people can assign as true or untrue - it's always been developing and growing. The theory which fits the facts as they were known at the time is the accepted one, until new evidence comes to light. That's a good thing, and it is the way science is supposed to work. Religion, though, sticks to the same old ideas despite evidence being offered to the contrary.

CheerfulYank Sun 24-Mar-13 15:09:48

Of course religion develops and grows and involves new ideas. If it didn't we'd all still be worshipping the sun.

DadOnIce Sun 24-Mar-13 15:23:12

But believers in "god" still stick to believing in it, despite the balance of evidence being totally the other way... But yes, of course people have believed in different things in different eras. People used to worship the sun. Quite. We think that's a bit silly now. In the year 4000, people are quite likely to be saying, "they used to worship this thing called 'god' which they thought answered all their prayers." Precisely the point I was making many posts above.

CheerfulYank Sun 24-Mar-13 16:26:11

Nah, it'll just be some other form then. smile

DadOnIce Sun 24-Mar-13 17:11:17

Some other form of religion, probably, yes. But unlikely to resemble the Christian god. People will probably always need something supernatural to believe in - I can accept that. But there won't be any more evidence for it than there is fr the current crop.

niminypiminy Sun 24-Mar-13 17:41:46

(Sorry not to have been back sooner, it's been a busy day.)

Although people may believe that hospitals, universities, schools and individual rights have nothing to do with Christianity, they are in fact wrong, and displaying their lack of historical knowledge. Hospitals were a Christian invention. The early church was notorious for caring for the sick and poor -- and not just Christians, but also pagans. Whatever their merits, the societies of the ancient world set little value on ordinary lives and on caring for the poor or sick. It is possible that hospitals would have happened anyway, but it would have needed a radically different set of values from the ones commonly held in the ancient world to give people the idea of starting them. In practice, that radical set of ideas was Christianity.

The same is true of universities, which were an outgrowth of medieval Christianity's reverence for learning.

Individual rights are valued in the societies that once constituted Christendom, and were thought of there, because Judaism, and after it Christianity, alone of all major systems of thought, believed that each human being was uniquely beloved and valued by God. From that insight, the Western idea of the individual developed, and from that the idea of individual rights.

Charity was a central principle of Christianity: as believers sought to live out the Gospel, they developed the Jewish principle of aiding the poor and the stranger into the Christian virtue of 'caritas', or love between oneself and one's neighbour. The laws which led to the formation of the welfare state (the Elizabethan poor laws, and then the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, and finally the establishment of the welfare state in 1945) were a direct development of medieval practices of charity, in which the poor and disabled were aided by the rest of society.

CheerfulYank Sun 24-Mar-13 17:46:49

I don't know. The Christian God (as in, Abraham's god) has been worshipped for nearly that long already, hasn't It?

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 17:53:15

I chuckled when I read that the early Christians were notorious for helping the sick and poor. What other heinous crimes were they guilty of? grin

niminypiminy Sun 24-Mar-13 18:05:03

The (pagan) emperor Julian wrote to a pagan priest 'It is a disgrace that these impious Galileans [ie Christians] care not only for their own poor but for ours as well.'

Thistledew Sun 24-Mar-13 18:05:57

niminy - would you care to quote your sources?

Even Wikipedia gives info on institutions dedicated to the care of the sick in Ancient Greece, Egypt and the Roman Empire. India and Sri Lanka both have documented examples that pre-date Christianity by nearly half a millennia.

According to this site the three earliest universities in the modern form were in Morocco, Egypt and what is now Iran, and were connected to the teaching of Islam. That is to ignore the centres of learning so popular with the ancient Greeks.

It is possible to create a connection between the welfare state and the concept of charity in Christianity, documents in my family that were written by one of the people responsible for the formation of the Welfare State commented at the time that the best way to promote it would be to promote the philosophy of reincarnation- ie help out the poor because you never know if you might come back poor yourself in another life.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 18:20:59

How do you explain hospitals and schools in non-Christian countries? Did the Christians pop in, set them up and run away again?

niminypiminy Sun 24-Mar-13 18:21:41

The first public hospital dedicated to the care of the sick was opened by a Roman Christian woman in the third century (away from the book but will look it up and give a reference later). While it's true that Islam established centres of learning based around mosques, the university in the form that we know it was a Christian invention. That might be an interesting document, but the fact remains that charity and welfare are essentially Christian ideas.

seeker Sun 24-Mar-13 18:30:12

Niminy- I'm sorry, but, honestly, that's not true. You really can't say that there hve only been hospitals, universities, charity and a sense of self for the past 2000 years!

niminypiminy Sun 24-Mar-13 18:41:36

Sorry, Seeker, but it is.

I've had a look at the wiki article now. The Greek asklepion was not a hospital in the sense that we understand it at all, and certainly would not have treated slaves and non-citizens. The Sri Lankan example is fascinating, and I would certainly like to know more about that. The example from India dates from 400 CE, which is after Christianity reached India. The article casts some doubt on to what extent the Roman building remains that have previously been identified as valetudinaria can be considered so, and what precisely their function was. The examples of early hospitals in the Islamic world were set up by or with assistance from Christians. The article notes that it was Christianity that drove the expansion of medical care and the widespread esablishment of hospitals.

Thistledew Sun 24-Mar-13 19:08:06

From the Wikipedia page:

The Romans constructed buildings called valetudinaria for the care of sick slaves, gladiators, and soldiers around 100 B.C.

Sure, these institutions were promoted and furthered by the spread of Christianity, but it is simply wrong to say they didn't exist in any form before Christianity came along.

Of course, there are some institutions that were Christian concepts, such as the institutions of the Evangelical Rescue Movement which led to the Magdalene Laundries.

WhatKindofFool Sun 24-Mar-13 19:11:04

Dad Where is the evidence that God does not exist? Surely, no one can prove it either way?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 19:16:18

"Dad Where is the evidence that God does not exist? Surely, no one can prove it either way?"

And if you can't prove the existence of something, the logical stance to take is to assume it doesn't exist until proven otherwise. Especially when the thing you can't prove the existence of has no way of being measured, so it may as well not be there even if it DOES exist!

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 19:20:50

Apple spread the use of the touch screen mobile phone, but they sure as hell didn't come up with the idea and if they hadn't been around, we'd still have them now (possibly a few years later than we did, for argument's sake) and they'd probably be pretty similar. I simply don't accept that Christianity is the only reason we have hospitals and schools. If the Muslims had Christian help, then they must have wanted to set them up, they perhaps just didn't have enough experience or expertise and some Christians popped up who did, so they used them, no harm in standing on the shoulders of (the somewhat metaphorical) giants.