"Acceptable" targets

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Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
"Acceptable" targets

To all of you who know me on this forum, you know that I am a religious/spiritual person. I observe weekly mass as my Catholic upbringing taught me, but personally hold a Gnostic view of the universe. Which, in large part, lends itself to transhumanism for those who know it's tenants.

This is not intended as an inquisition to root out insecurities or an attempt at conversion. Every belief is sacred and has it's share of merits and flaws; and that faith, even the lack of it, inspires such impassioned emotions in humanity is only a testament to how central it is in our hearts.

What I ask for those of us who do not believe in the existence of a greater power is merely out of curiosity, nothing more.

When most people speak against religion, their usual examples are that of Christianity or rarer Judaism. Islam is often cited as the source of suicide bombings, but the actual practice of it is rarely as vilified. Even stranger, older faiths, such as the adherence to the gods of Olympus, whom demanded blood sacrifice; are rarely mentioned. Such "tribal" faiths are usually used as a throwaway line to point out how silly it was to believe the gods as responsible for natural phenomenon. Then however, it's swiftly forgotten to return to the Judeo-Christian practices.

Why is this? Bhuddism, Hinduism, Shinto, Voodoo, and many more are still practiced religions but rarely mentioned as examples against religious thought.

Again, I wish to stress, I'm not trying to accuse anyone of anything, merely trying to understand a way of thinking that's not my own in the hopes of gaining perspective.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
You did a nice dance around

You did a nice dance around the question but not asking it directly.

why do people never cite the ancient religions? simply put they are extinct and the propaganda mills of Christianity Judaism and islam persist to this day in our history texts. How so? the label Mythology.

Voodoo is rarely cited because it is a very small minority in most places and not very visible.

the far eastern religions were always more philosophical in nature and mostly non aggressive in their expansion and i know of no historical precedents where they actively suppressed science or intellectuals in favor of dogma.

look at the demographic for those most outspoken and then look at the demographic for what is the dominant religion there. you will find a correlation with what they cite with their location.

we are all victims of our upbringing

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Further questuoning

Sorry, I didn't mean to dance around anything, I just wanted to state my intentions as clearly as I could.

Well if some of the Eastern faith traditions are less "convert by the sword" does that make them more valid from an atheistic perspective?

What about you personally? I mean, I don't want to speak in generalities here because that's unfair. Especially considering that the only thing all atheists DO have in common is that "there is no God/Higher power." By it's nature, you've all come to your own conclusions by your own experience.

So, regardless of historical precedence, why is it more "okay" to revere the presence of a greater power by one group and not the other? Or is it still not by your definition?

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
It makes them less annoying.

It makes them less annoying. I feel you loose your legitimacy when you start to shove things unwantedly down my throat. atheism has nothing to do with that. I would also say that there are also convert by the sword atheists out there now and in the past.

On personal level I am highly apathetic. Since such questions that religions try to answer to answer can't be empirically proven i don't care about them. If the big 3 are right and there is a mono deity at the end you will meet i will find out eventually. if there is life after death i will find out eventually. I am a very patient man and i am not so insecure as to fear the eventual abyss. On the idea of worship i am vehemently opposed. in my opinion any being that is a deity should not demand i worship and supplicate myself to it. A higher power should be above petty narcissism.

As for dismissing cultural relativism? well than i guess it bogs down to ignorance. I do not dislike the eastern faiths as much as judaism family tree because i am more ignorant of their content and and very limited knowledge on their history outside the broadest of terms.

On a personal level i try to be a better person by not judging that which i am ignorant upon or foreign to me.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Understood

All right, I can understand that. My hope is that you recognize my line of questioning was exactly so that I may become less ignorant myself. My earlier "dancing" as you put was so that I would avoid sounding like I was giving a sermon and more like I was asking from a specific point of view.

It's actually funny that you should come upon one such theme that is often brought up in theological study. Not that why would a perfect God create an imperfect universe, but why would a Perfect Being create a universe at all?

Thank you for your opinion, it is appreciated. :)

For perhaps a bit of helpful context though, many Eastern faiths have major themes about internal perfection. (Meditation, Karma, Enlightenment, Purity etc.) Whereas Christianity, Judaism, and Islam focus more on the external world. Most of them hold that doing good works in service to others is most noble, whereas Bhuddhism and Hinduism are both almost Objectivist in their outlook on the divine. Helping others is part of what you should do, but that's not the goal.

Hope that helps.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
I see why you were dancing

I see why you were dancing now. I put it up as trying to not offend people with your line of question and thus to me it became murky as to what you specifically wanted to ask. the finer points of subtlety are usually lost on me unfortunately and i tend toward the clinically blunt on subjects people find sensitive.

hmm upon that discourse i stumbled across from my own perspective i can see a couple reasons:
If i was the only being in the universe i would enjoy the company of some others even if they can not fully comprehend me. or perhaps i would just set things in motion and see how they played out. Personal example here is my enjoyment of Dwarf Fortress and love of Procedurally generated worlds. If there was an occupation besides game developer that i would love to fulfill it would be that of a world builder. I love drawing topographic maps of fictional land masses down to the most intricate fjord. Although i would probably fall a little flat on designing life forms

And no problem. Despite being a nonbeliever and cynic about organized religion in general i enjoy discussing it as long as the discourse remains rational and tempers stay out the door.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Response

No worries. NLD means sarcasm and double speak often go right over my head, so I understand subtlety being invisible.

It's actually funny you should mention that; one of my favorite quotes is by Nietzsche and it reads thusly:

“Companions the Creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers. Fellow Creators the Creator seeks -- those who write new values on new tablets. Companions the Creator seeks, and fellow harvesters; for everything about Him is ripe for the harvest.”

So my interpretation of God "creating us in His image" is not a statement of the eternal state of things, but rather an open invitation. That is, to BECOME God's "image." Which, as one might infer, transhumanism might fulfill in many ways.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Erulastant Erulastant's picture
Short answer:

Short answer:
Evangelism, Crusades, Imperialism.

Christianity is one of the religions with strong beliefs about evangelism. One of the big tenants (As far as I am aware) is that if you are not a christian, you will wind up in hell or purgatory. So a lot of christians feel they have a moral duty to make more christians and save souls. The abrahamic faiths are really the only theistic religions that have been heavily involved in politics, too. They're a lot more present and inescapable (In western European culture, at least) than other faiths, and they're a lot more willing to interfere in the lives of non-believers than, say, Buddhism. (Here in the US we get religious arguments about banning same-sex marriage or abortions because of some people's Christian beliefs. I have yet to hear of any movement trying to ban the consumption of meat because it violates the Buddhist belief that animals have person souls.)

Imperialism: White Christians like to take over things. So Christianity is pretty widespread. So not only is it more per-capita in-your-face, it has more people to do the evangelizing.

And of course the Crusades. Those were pretty bad. And there is a great deal more visible present-day religious intolerance coming from Abrahamic faiths. Conservative white American christians being islamaphobic, unrest in the middle east being painted as islamic extremism, Israel and Palestine being, ah, Israel and Palestine. When atheists in the west want to talk about how religion is violent, Abrahamic religions give them so much more to talk about than other faiths.

You, too, were made by humans. The methods used were just cruder, imprecise. I guess that explains a lot.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Slight rebuttal

I do not contest that bad has been done in the name of God, especially by the Church. However, I must contest that all Christians believe not being Christian means going to Hell. I actually met someone like that, and while the rest of our conversation was pleasant, the moment she brought up that little number, I suddenly felt like I was yanked back a couple hundred years. (The fact that she was a Creationist as well set off a few alarms in my head.)

What Jesus said was living through Him was the way to Heaven. Most rational Christians interpret this as one does not need to be Christian to be like Christ. Which basically means things like kindness, charity, good will towards others; simple but universal virtues.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Actually, quite the opposite. In many periods of Chinese history, it was the Buddhists who suffered oppression at the hands of the Emperors.

Great cultural emphasis is placed on civic duty in China, far back into their history. Siddhartha taught a religion that held one must detach themselves from the material world. Whenever the monks rose to prominence, the faith was met resistance and sometimes even violence. Not because they were going out and conquering, but because they were staying in their temples, not making money and therefore, not paying taxes.

Actually their is an article pertaining to the involvement of the monks in political affairs written by one.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Religion-cannot-be-separat-by-Ashin-Mettacara-080613-42.html

So if one wishes to speak on the separation of Church and State, one should keep in mind the followers of Buddha as well. If the Church of Europe represents the extreme of theocracy, one could argue the dictorial censorship of an otherwise humanitarian organization represents the opposite extreme.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Killebrew Killebrew's picture
The issues I have, as an

The issues I have, as an atheist, with religion are not their existence. Rather, the issue I have is when someone else's beliefs are being pressed upon me. Which, in my experience and was mentioned above, tends to be done mostly by those of the Abrahamic faiths.

You can see it currently with lots of politics in the US, the far right conservatives have quite a few members that appear to me to be basing their policies solely on their religious beliefs, which in turn becomes policy that affects me as a citizen and resident. Not that I'm saying there are none among the far left, though I don't see that as often. As well, to me it seems that that is something everyone should worry about regardless of religious belief, any steps taken towards theocracy are a step in the wrong direction in my opinion. Religious freedom should be applied across the board, to include lack therein and other religions that don't happen to be the same of those currently in government.

As a note as well, you could technically be a Bhuddist and an atheist since there are sects of Bhuddism that don't believe in any sort of god. As ORCACommander pointed out, a lot of Eastern Faiths are more philosophical in nature than dogmatic like their Western counterparts.

Edit: Fixed the first couple sentences, poorly worded and ended.

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Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Religious study

So from what I gather, the predominate atheist thought isn't that religious belief by itself is bad, but that the lack of faith should be respected just as much as any faith?

If that be the case, I absolutely agree. Religious freedom should include the right to NOT practice as much as much as the right to practice anything.

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Having studied many religions, and with a particular focus on Buddhism, yes it doesn't require the worship of a deity. The Buddha isn't even held on the same level that Muslims hold the Prophet Muhammad, as the Prophet was charged by God and divinely inspired. Siddartha was "just" the founder of the practice and had reached enlightenment.

In fact, those who do worship the Buddha in a messianic sense are actually the splinter groups.

However, if you were to ask most of them if what they practice was religious and spiritual, I guarantee 4 out of 5 of them would say yes. (Or some variation after you translated the koan they just said to you. XD )

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In correlation to the repeated emphasis of Western faiths being "[less] philosophical than dogmatic", yes, both Judaism and Christianity (and ESPECIALLY Islam) the sacred texts do contain many procedures and commandments. However, like any thought system with enough people thinking about it and enough time passing, many interpretations have risen of the words and their meaning. That leads to pondering and meditation, which can lead to philosophical thought.

The famous "Occam's Razor" comes from a Franciscan monk by that name. And Giovanni Mirandola, while not ordained, was still raised Catholic (Represent! m>) and wrote "Oration on the Dignity of Man" a seminal work at the time of the Renaissance that stressed the importance of seeking knowledge. (Or one could say . . . gnosis, if you'll forgive a slight faith plug in of mine.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So I guess my question should now be rephrased as asking if the atheistic thought against a Supreme Intelligence would also include the nature of an immaterial universe? (Souls, karma, "natural laws" that govern the universe like gravity does.)

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
The problem lies with the

The problem lies with the abrahamic, good word by the way stealing it :P, is that it does not really encourage philosophical thought on the material. many a time in history where we have groups saying there is only 1 correct interpretation and all others are false. they called those false ones heresy and wars were waged because of it.

strictly speaking they shouldn't but people fall back into an old psychological rut called the locus of control. In summery it is how much a person feels that it is their own free will that controls their actions and how much it is done by entities or events beyond that control. karma is one of the really popular scapegoats right now to justify scheudenfraude (sp) and "cursing the heavens" when your plans go array because it could never be your fault.

Free will is something i often ponder if we truly have because if entropy is true than what happens now is merely the result of a certain sequence of collisions between particles eons ago. hello causality :P

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Possible

I think I understand. The idea of agency in the greater universe. Again though, that's not unique to atheists.

One of the things people of theistic faiths ask is the difference between God's ultimate plan and free will. How can we have free will if God has a plan for us? That's a gross over simplification, but I think you get my point.

Your conclusion actually sounds quite close to the theme of the second Matrix film, which is all about Choice vs. Causality

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
People complain about what

People complain about what they interact with, be it due to lack of education on the topic or emotional reactions to previous interactions.

No one in the US complains about Jainists blocking the street, Buddhist preachers, stifling Confuscian laws (I know, not a 'religion' per se), Taoist slave classes, etc. because those things really don't exist in the US, except within very small cultural enclaves.

Also part of it is that we consider it okay to criticize ourselves and 'our people'. Usually these complaints are leveled at Christians/Jews from within our own culture, so that's okay. But complaining about an immigrant religion? Well now you're just being rude and ignorant.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Double Standard

Before I say anything else, I understand that you were probably being hyperbolic and don't actually have that mindset.

With that line of thinking though, how can any atheist criticize a Christian or Jewish sect at all, let alone comment on the politically motivated actions of European nobility that took place in conditions radically different than modern times? They aren't anymore a part of that culture than they are the Wiccans.

I can't criticize the actions of an atheist purely from the fact that they are one, I am not one and don't understand the mindset, so therefore I ask questions so I can understand. Same thing for the Jewish culture. Am I gonna hold my neighbors (and close family friends) responsible for nailing Jesus to the cross? Of course not! That would be utterly ridiculous.

They weren't there, and I believe they wouldn't have sent a man who, though he was blasphemous in their eyes, had otherwise done nothing but help the downtrodden.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's actually funny you should mention Confucian law, because I personally think that's a great example of "religion without faith." Confucianism is what happens when a widely practiced system of belief lacks the very core of spirituality.

At least with the rule of the Church, the clergy had to twist the word of God in order to pull the wool over the people's eyes. In Confucianism, they don't even need that pretense, as according to the Confucian hierarchy, the Sovereign IS God.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With all that in mind, what about the recent surge of immigration from Mexico? The overwhelming majority of Mexican-Americans are practicing Catholics. Yet, again, when the criticism of practicing religion comes up, it's never against them.

Why is it okay for the recently immigrated to practice religion, but not the native born?

I wouldn't harp so much on how irrational this all is, human nature and all that, but one of the things atheists most often tout is rationality.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please understand, my examples are likewise meant to be hyperbole. The last thing I want to do is to have my words be taken as an attack on someone's beliefs. Especially against those who have been completely understanding and kind.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Kremlin K.O.A. Kremlin K.O.A.'s picture
Short answer: Rome, The

Short answer: Rome, The British Empire, television, and the internet.

To expand, Christianity went from being a marginalized cult, to being a state religion, due to the choice of a Roman Emperor. This led to it being spread everywhere the Roman Empire was spread. This led to it being the big dog in the kennel.

Later, the British Empire ended up founding the US, Canada, Australia, and many other colonies. This spread Christianity to those places.

Later still, the US ended up in a cultural leadership position just after WW2, around the time television was being introduced. This meant that the US became the primary world provider of movies and television programs.

Shortly after that, the US military unleashed the internet on the world, bringing it very close to a, Civ 5, cultural victory. I.e. the US culture is infecting almost every other culture in the world. Online, english is the default language, and US spelling the default spelling. The majority of net users come from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. This means the British born cultures dominate the place. Of those cultures, the US is on top.

This means we consume American movies, American dramas, American comedies, and the most relevant, American journalism.

American journalism likes to concentrate on the biggest fish. Because of the British birth form, Christianity is the biggest fish, religion wise, in the US. So it is the one the news media will focus on. As a comparison, consider the kind of press newly democratic Iraq can expect over, for example, legalizing child brides... versus how much flack each pedophile priest gets. One will get a minor news story and a few disapproving net discussions over pandering to religious voting blocs, the other will get weeks to months of coverage and outrage.
Why? Because one is distant, and the other is right here. And right here, the big fish, the obvious target, is Christianity.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Exposure

I understand that Christianity is the most widely practiced faith, but I still feel like the true nature of my question has yet to be addressed.

Why do atheists leave other faiths completely alone? If someone told an atheist they practiced the Native American shamanism of their ancestors, a have a strong suspicion that the atheist would be fine with him even visibly practicing his faith, which to my understanding, would otherwise make some uncomfortable. (Completely understandable. "Keep it in Church" and all that.)

In all honesty, is it really the practice of religion or spiritual thought itself, or just the negative policies of certain religious groups that inspires such negative feelings toward faith. And is it truly ALL faiths, or just certain faiths?

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
I think the cultural

I think the cultural consciousness lumps native american shamanism in the mythology category. which makes the majority not take it seriously. and the fact we conquered their lands makes any antagonisement against them a social faux pas.

I really though we addressed the nature of your question. it is pretty much a shouting match. he who is loudest in the room we yell over.

i wish i could be more articulate tonight but am rather exhausted from work.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Enough

No you're right. Although I would say the dismissal of a still practiced religion as "mere myth" is still pretty insulting.

The point I'm trying to make is that according to what I've observed, modern atheistic thought appears to be highly reactionary in nature, to the dominant religious powers. If one makes the claim they do not believe in the divine, should that not be applied equally across all thought systems that acknowledge any form of divinity or spirituality?

Just food for thought at this point. Thank you all for your responses. Your opinions and views are appreciated.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Killebrew Killebrew's picture
I don't know about everyone

I don't know about everyone else that claims to be an atheist, but I don't necessarily see why one can't deny the existence of a divine and not still have some belief in more than the physical world we see every day. The definition of atheism is simply the lack of belief in a deity, though I know many people will also deny the belief in anything spiritual. I thought it had already been pointed out that there are religions that don't have a god, but have a belief in spirituality.

For me, like I said, I have no issue with others practicing their religion, or believing in it, I simply do not like it being forced upon me. And no, someone choosing to say a prayer or anything else isn't forcing it upon me as long as they aren't making me participate, but someone trying to pass laws based in any way shape or form on religious beliefs as well as adding "Under God/In God We Trust" to various things that I will have to deal with on a regular basis, are all forcing it upon me. Perhaps I'm being Americentric here but I am from the US, so forgive me as that's the only culture I have a strong experience with. Here in the US, it's predominately Christianity that does have strong factions forcing it upon others, but if any religion did that I would have an issue with that religion.

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Alkahest Alkahest's picture
Relativism is poop.

Talking about "religion" as a force for good or evil is about as sensible as talking about "ideology" as such, in my opinion. It takes little effort to rank Nazism and Stalinism lower in both utility and truth than liberalism and social democracy, and I fail to see why we should not extend the same judgment to religions. Scientology is a bad religion. Jainism (shameless self-promotion ahoy!) is a good religion. Most other religions fall somewhere in-between, and their value should be up for debate.

President of PETE: People for the Ethical Treatment of Exhumans.

Kremlin K.O.A. Kremlin K.O.A.'s picture
Steel Accord wrote:No you're

Steel Accord wrote:
No you're right. Although I would say the dismissal of a still practiced religion as "mere myth" is still pretty insulting.

The point I'm trying to make is that according to what I've observed, modern atheistic thought appears to be highly reactionary in nature, to the dominant religious powers. If one makes the claim they do not believe in the divine, should that not be applied equally across all thought systems that acknowledge any form of divinity or spirituality?

Just food for thought at this point. Thank you all for your responses. Your opinions and views are appreciated.

Most human behaviour is reactionary. The point of my earlier reply is we react to, and interact with, that which we see most often.
Since Christianity is the big dog in the anglo world, it is the one that athiests encounter most often, and thus target.

Erulastant Erulastant's picture
Kremlin K.O.A. wrote:

Kremlin K.O.A. wrote:

Most human behaviour is reactionary. The point of my earlier reply is we react to, and interact with, that which we see most often.
Since Christianity is the big dog in the anglo world, it is the one that athiests encounter most often, and thus target.

Well, beyond that, christianity in the West demands a reaction in ways that other religions don't. Is it surprising that atheists are most openly and strongly opposed to a religion which has caused, and still causes a great deal of harm?

You, too, were made by humans. The methods used were just cruder, imprecise. I guess that explains a lot.

Undocking Undocking's picture
Because they are nontoxic

Steel Accord wrote:
Why do atheists leave other faiths completely alone?

There are multiple reasons why other religions are left alone by atheists. Buddhism, Jainism and threads of Hinduism are nonthesitic. Baha'i Faith is actively anti-evangelism, and both Baha'i and Sikhism have tenants of human equality and rights regardless of belief. Indigenous cultural religions, such as shaminism and animism, are equally nontoxic.

Steel Accord wrote:
If someone told an atheist they practiced the Native American shamanism of their ancestors, a have a strong suspicion that the atheist would be fine with him even visibly practicing his faith, which to my understanding, would otherwise make some uncomfortable. (Completely understandable. "Keep it in Church" and all that.)

I would be fine with anyone visiably practising rituals of their faith in a communal public space (park, town square, public square). If visiably practising means wearing religious clothing or regalia, then that's fine (no exposing genetalia—chests are not genetalia). For my electives in University, to broaden my ideological horizons, I took First Nations and Inuit languages and understand the world through a different lense. Many of the First Nations and Inuit I spoke to are shamanists or animists, but also athetists. Even I took part in cultural rituals and festivals.

Steel Accord wrote:
In all honesty, is it really the practice of religion or spiritual thought itself, or just the negative policies of certain religious groups that inspires such negative feelings toward faith. And is it truly ALL faiths, or just certain faiths?

For me at least, it is not all religious groups. Through my mother I participated in Christianity when I was younger. I met and have kept relationships with people in that community. Most of the Christians I have met are kind and decent human beings. This is equally true for Jewish and Muslim people I have encountered personally. On the other hand, there are atheists who are wastes of O2. Spirituality and faith are not inheriently toxic.

When religion is used as an excuse or the basis of oppression, intolerance and violence it becomes a problem.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Agreed

But, humor me for a moment here. Let's say Christianity was present, but not as pronounced as it is. Would atheism still target it, switch to another target, or would it spread it's message a little more generally?

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Total agreement

Like any memeplex, religion can be taken too far, or to places it's founders didn't mean for it to go.

But what I'm gathering in general is confirmation from my earlier supposition, that no two atheists have the same specific view on organized religion. Like many theists, how we interpret faith, or the lack of it, is deeply personal.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

bibliophile20 bibliophile20's picture
Steel Accord wrote:But, humor

Steel Accord wrote:
But, humor me for a moment here. Let's say Christianity was present, but not as pronounced as it is. Would atheism still target it, switch to another target, or would it spread it's message a little more generally?

An interesting thought experiment, and one easily confirmed by seeing atheists in other places around the globe, especially in many of the Islamic fundamentalist countries, where apostasy is a capital crime. Atheists continue to speak and speak out, despite the fact that that they are literally risking death by doing so.

However, the fact of the matter is that, simply, in the Western world, where most of the posters on this forum hail from, Christianity is the dominant cultural, social and religious force and thus the primary religion that is resisted against.

Furthermore, especially in the United States, and especially over the last several decades, there has been a resurgence in religious fundamentalism known as "Dominionism", which is a belief system that demands that the United States be transformed from a secular, egalitarian nation, into a religious, explicitly Christian nation. There are numerous, well-funded, well-organized groups who are attempting (with varying degrees of coordination and competition) to fulfill this goal. Given such antics by the fundamentalist branch of Christianity, the pervasive and all-encompassing cultural weight that Christianity has, and the egalitarian, non-discriminatory design of the US Constitution, imagining a world where Christianity is not "as pronounced as it is" is a fond dream for many atheists, but one unlikely to come to pass. But, even if it did come to pass, there would be atheists who would speak out against it, just as there are atheists who speak out against any form of religious belief, and speak out against small religions such as Judaism.

(And I'm not kidding on the Dominionists, either. One group of them has the stated goal of inspiring "a distinctly Christian worldview in every area of law, and particularly in the areas of public policy and religious liberty,” states the Alliance’s public tax filing. “With this ongoing program, it’s [the Alliance’s] goal to train a new generation of lawyers who will rise to positions of influence and leadership as legal scholars, litigators, judges—perhaps even Supreme Court Justices—who will work to ensure that justice is carried out in America’s courtrooms.")

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -Benjamin Franklin

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Thank you

"Ah don't need no conspiracy talk in mah thread!" XD hehehe

No but seriously, thank you for your input.

I will say that the Dominionists already have a lot of what they want. Our founders were a diverse group, but they did identify as various forms of Christian, or at least recognized it as a good source to base law on.

Any further "Christian-izing" would be both overkill and against the Founders wishes, so it's something I would certainly oppose.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

However, I would deposit that, from what I've gathered on this forum and another; there seems to be a school of atheistic thought that seems less "without God" and more simply "Anti-Judeo-Christian." By the factor that the focus is more on the Earthly crimes of Western Churches rather than the global fallacy of deity worshipping organizations.

Would I be wrong in saying that, while obviously not universally true, this is at least a sound assumption?

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
I would paint myself as

I would paint myself as classic Atheist. as in Anti-Theist. Against organized religions. I acknowledge the sense of community they create can be beneficial but in the end they mostly become political power bodies bent only on their own gratification

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Agreed

As do most political forces.

Let me be clear, I'm not trying to be anyone's enemy. My supposition is merely to ascertain motivations. Would you consider yourself, honestly, as against Hinduism, Islam, Shinto, Wicca, and every other deity or deities recognizing tradition?

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
Oh i know you are one of the

Oh i know you are one of the most reasonable i have seen on such a topic and i have greatly enjoyed the conversation.

I fail to see how i can not be without being a hypocrite. But i think it would boil down to structure. traditions do not necessarily mean organized. For back of better term for the moment i think of group worship" when i think of organized and a group being that more than 5 or 6 people. I have very little against people conducting practices on their own.

MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
Depends on what you mean by

Depends on what you mean by against.

If they just want to believe what they like, then I've got no problem with them. If they try and deny others information to force them into believing something, or coerce others into believing it directly, yeah I've got a problem with them.

As to some of your earlier questions; Steel, of course we're against Christianity. Many of us were raised christian, the rest know a bunch of christians. It's the religion that our politicians reference when they do crazy things. It's there, all the time. What the religion is doesn't matter, just its position.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
I see

So, you would prefer a world where religion is completely apolitical. I daresay I too would wish for such a world.

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Of course

"as long as they don't force" well of course. That goes without saying. Any thought or idea should not be spread by coercion.

Would you though, resist Wicca were it in the same position as Christianity?

(Actually that would make a pretty interesting alternate history story! What if Wicca took hold in the early days of colonization and held the equivalent position in the U.S.?)

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

Alkahest Alkahest's picture
Wicca

That would be pretty impressive, considering the fact that Wicca is not even a hundred years old.

President of PETE: People for the Ethical Treatment of Exhumans.

Erulastant Erulastant's picture
Eh, it's not all that

Eh, it's not all that impressive. Time travel's been around forever, or at least it will have been.

You, too, were made by humans. The methods used were just cruder, imprecise. I guess that explains a lot.

Alkahest Alkahest's picture
Exodus 22:18

"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Especially not one with access to closed timelike curves."

It's in the Bible, look it up.

President of PETE: People for the Ethical Treatment of Exhumans.

Erulastant Erulastant's picture
Yes, I'm a heretic. Why do you ask?

Well, my religious stance is that either the Bible (esp. the Old Testament, as I was raised Jewish and never fully read through the new bits) is untrue, or G-d is undeserving of our worship and obedience. So I'll suffer all the witches I damn well please, especially if they'll share with me their secrets and CTCs.

You, too, were made by humans. The methods used were just cruder, imprecise. I guess that explains a lot.

MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
Well, this brings up the

Well, this brings up the 'what is force' issue. If the wiccans were trying to get laws enacted to benefit wiccans, if they were trying to rewrite textbooks to mesh with their beliefs instead of actual research, or they told their kids about how stupid all that science is, you bet I'd be against it.

Undocking Undocking's picture
Steel Accord wrote:But, humor

Steel Accord wrote:
But, humor me for a moment here. Let's say Christianity was present, but not as pronounced as it is. Would atheism still target it, switch to another target, or would it spread it's message a little more generally?

Atheism does not denote any sort of militant anti-thesitic stance where targets must be chosen. Most athesits and non-theists (even theists) I have met are anti-evangelists. As bibliphile, MAD Crab and others mentioned, the hang up that most atheists seem to have is the notion that certain religions (Christianity, Islam, Scientology, certain sects of Judaism) mandate to recruit and aggressively shape the world to fit their ideology. The dogma of Buddhism doesn't force rallies to illegalize omnivore diets and the morality of Wiccans doesn't encourage a campaign for our legal system to be the 161 Ardanes. Individuals can certainly hold their own values and those who follow religions may definitely vote or express ideological views that align with their faith, but plotting to convert nations to Shaira law or become 'Christian' are quite rambunctious enough to piss off more than a few people.

Pyrite Pyrite's picture
It's no skin off of my nose

It's no skin off of my nose if someone wants to believe that invisible dragons live under the floorboards of his house. If that person wants to try to convince me that they exist and is willing to have a civil discussion about it, I would likely point out my own reasons for not finding such claims credible. But ultimately it is not my responsibility to disabuse each person I meet of every silly notion they hold to.

If this person then starts insisting that only the magic of the invisible dragons can be trusted to treat illnesses, that presents a better case for engaging with him to convince him of his error. If he insists only this treatment is acceptable for his children, it becomes a matter of possibly needing to save young lives. If he convinces enough people that the dragons exist to gain power in government and tries to outlaw linoleum because it traps the dragons beneath our floors, it rises to the point of spending money and effort to lobby actively against him.

Lots of people believe silly things. correcting them takes time and effort and risks our relationships. When those beliefs drive people to cause harm, that time, effort, and risk becomes more worthwhile.

'No language is justly studied merely as an aid to other purposes. It will in fact better serve other purposes, philological or historical, when it is studied for love, for itself.' --J.R.R. Tolkien

Moderator Moderator's picture
Because cookies are sometimes

Because cookies are sometimes a good thing to give out: All of you in this thread handled yourselves exactly the right way on a topic that is - without a doubt - very sensitive no matter which way you go about it. Some of you edged a little close to the line but none of you stepped over it or took anything in a personal direction against others in the thread.

So, for future debates / as an example to others: This. Do this.

I do not engage in debate. I do not have a sense of humor.

I am not your enemy. I am not your friend.

Axiomatic Axiomatic's picture
Steel Accord wrote:I

Steel Accord wrote:
I understand that Christianity is the most widely practiced faith, but I still feel like the true nature of my question has yet to be addressed.

Why do atheists leave other faiths completely alone? If someone told an atheist they practiced the Native American shamanism of their ancestors, a have a strong suspicion that the atheist would be fine with him even visibly practicing his faith, which to my understanding, would otherwise make some uncomfortable. (Completely understandable. "Keep it in Church" and all that.)

In all honesty, is it really the practice of religion or spiritual thought itself, or just the negative policies of certain religious groups that inspires such negative feelings toward faith. And is it truly ALL faiths, or just certain faiths?

Christianity is the religion with political power where I live. Hinduism, Wicca, Islam - these don't matter to me because none of them have the ability to add Religious Instruction to the school curriculum, declare what days shops may or may not be open, or otherwise influence the laws of the country.

If I lived in Indonesia, Christianity wouldn't matter to me, and I would criticize Islam instead, or more likely I'd think really mean thoughts about it. But I don't live in Iran, so the oppinions of the Ayatollah don't matter to me in the slightest, whereas the things preached by the local Bishop do, a lot, because his congregation is a major political block.

I mean, when was the last time you saw a Wiccan lobbyist?

(not american)

ASingleCheesecake ASingleCheesecake's picture
To the OP: The answer,

To the OP: The answer, somewhat paradoxically, is because they're culturally-Christian.

Most of the folks talking about atheism online are Westerners of one description or another, and that culture area has been more directly influenced by Christianity than anything else, in terms of its relationship to other cultures and religions. The underlying ethos is basically similar -- other religions are either outright immoral and incorrect, long extinct and irrelevant, or just embarrassingly-recent history that would be better played down and marginalized. Christianity as it's developed in Europe and its Settler offspring cultures is very fixated on the idea of saving the world by spreading its message actively, and conceives of an ideal future in which everyone now more or less subscribes to its tenets. Even the less-aggressively proselytic sects still basically hold to this idea of salvation; maybe they disavow the idea that it's okay to force belief or even be obnoxious about it, but they still tend to look toward an eschatological future in which more or less everyone is a believer. This has gotten yoked to ideas about progress that link that spread to both moral and technological values (which owes a lot to some figures in the early Renaissance, and the origins of the modern nation-state paradigm and subsequent colonial era -- here's a little about that: http://thefrailestthing.com/2012/04/28/revisiting-the-religion-of-technology/).

Organized atheism within Western culture is just the latest re-skin of the same basic outlook, a secular-flavored variation that plays well in certain places. It's rooted in disavowing the previous incarnations and styles itself as a more-valid successor to the cultural mantle (ie, the way Christians tend to view Judaism)...but it papers over the belief contents without really changing the structure.

So, to sum up: they're being parochial and dismissive of outside or bygone religions because they're continuing the family tradition.

On a pragmatic level, and to be slightly more charitable to the individual people involved: most of them are also only really familiar with Christianity in any depth -- they might have a personal interest in something like Buddhism or Taoism, but even that's not a given (Hinduism isn't nearly as sexy in these circles, I've noticed; probably because the main Western demographic to be interested in that is the hippies and New Agers, who are pretty much widely-despised in atheist circles for fairly obvious reasons), and they usually know it more in a remote, bookish, translated sense rather than experientially. It's somewhat common for folks to think they know more about Judaism than they really do, too (both atheist and Christian theist); I often notice that the dismissive "it sounds nice but it's unwieldy and impossible and stifling and insufficient" attitude that believing Christians take towards Judaism is more or less echoed by their secular counterparts.

It would be fascinating cultural cognitive dissonance, if it were coming from any group other than the one that conquered 3/4 of the planet, but instead it's just sort of scary.

(Also note: I am not making a case for Christianity or indeed, any other religion here -- my own beliefs re: ontology and metaphysics accord more with those of the atheists on this thread than they do with the OP.)

I've never had the hand of witty signatures. Just assume what I wrote here is suitably pithy and/or smarmy.

consumerdestroyer consumerdestroyer's picture
Yeah, what ASingleCheesecake

Yeah, what ASingleCheesecake says here is a very apt echo of my own stance on this. Westerners operate with cognitive blinders on about a lot of shit, and "educated, rational" atheist Westerners are really no exception, the blinders just have different decorations on 'em.

My personal stance is more similar to atheism/agnosticism than to theism, to be sure...but that said, as a theological noncognitivist I feel that the vast majority of theists, gnostics, atheists and agnostics all load terms like "deity" and "god/goddess" and "divine" and "holy" and "sacred" with some presumptions/assumptions before agreeing/disagreeing that I can't get behind. That doesn't mean I "target" anything, though. I love all forms of community building, and they're all fundamentally irrational. Partners, biological/adoptive families, chosen families/friends, communities you are geographically within, communities you are ideologically within, whatever, they're all just as "faith-based/belief-based" and "blind" as atheists charge religious/spiritual communities of being, at least in terms of committing to them. And I whole-heartedly believe that communities need to start getting together and dumping the various bosses off their backs, kick unjustified and unjustifiable authority to the curb in all spheres of life. For some people, the idea of God as boss is alien, for some (especially people raised in religious communities that reject aspects of who they are) the idea of God as boss is all they know. But one homo sapiens' limited experience with spiritual thought (in either direction) doesn't mean there isn't an infinity of it out there between the ears and behind the eyes of all those other apes. The stuff that makes you feel connected to other apes is great, and if you require that stuff to be thought of as either true or not true with the switch taped permanently in the on position, then whatever, it's better than being an "educated, rational" IMF banking exec planning the destruction of human community to be a monotheist who wants to "irrationally" spread love to every human being on the planet.

otohime1978 otohime1978's picture
Finally! Someone else who

Finally! Someone else who understands the issues with western, specifically american, atheism.

It's merely Christianity without YHWH.

Almost all atheists in the current generations in the US are ex-christians. Or, they were raised in a heavily predominate christian environment. Christianity beats into its followers heads that there are no other gods, no other religions, only different understandings of the same message, and anything else is automatically false. They lack exposure to alternative ways of thinking. So, when they fall out of the faith because of disagreements with various parts of its dogma or whatever their reasons, they still subconsciously cling to the ignorant belief that there is nothing else.

And, I've found, they tend to still carry that evangelical fervor that once filled them when they were christians. However, instead of being all about Jesus and YHWH, they are all about how everything about religion (specifically their former), is false. And, because of their lack of exposure, automatically assume all religions are the same.

__________________________

Now, my own issues with Abrahamic religions is simple: they take issue with me as a person. They tell me I am wrong, broken, and they tell others that I need to be stoned to death. I cannot abide by a faith that says my friends and I are abhorrent.

That, and, in my opinion, most Christians do not seem to truly understand their faith. They always grow confused when I bring up scripture and Jewish mythology to those trying to preach to me, or explain some of the odder portions of the bible and the mythology behind it before the Roman Catholic Church censored it and changed the canon to further their goals (you can see this in the Tora a lot).

In my honest opinion, the "crazy" fundamentalists of the Abrahamic faiths are not incorrect. They are the only ones who truly understand their religions. And I do not like what they have to say.

[=6][i]...your vision / a homunculus on borrowed time

Katya Bio: http://eclipsephase.com/comment/46253#comment-46253

MAD Crab MAD Crab's picture
http://xkcd.com/774/

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
I think you're both

I think you're both misrepresenting the typical atheistic stance.

The atheistic understanding that religion is false does not automatically make any atheist a better person than any believer. There are plenty of believers who are good people, and there plenty of atheists who are bad people. I doubt you could find anyone who would say that a psychopathic atheist was better for the world than a altruistic, sympathic believer, and in any case that would be a very small minority. The psychopath would have a more rational and correct ontological understanding, but that's not really any comfort to anyone. Even Neil Degrasse Tyson doesn't understand the world well enough to get off the hook for hurting people.

The reason that many atheists have much deeper problems with religion than with other irrational beliefs like tarot reading is that religion often skews believers' moral compasses. If you're a good person but you actually believe that people will burn in hell for eternity if they are homosexual, if girls don't have their clitorises cut off, if they have a blood transfusion, if they use a condom, then you're of course going to want to protect people from that horrible fate. This leads to horrible social oppression, child mutilation, needless death and disease and unnecessary spread of HIV. In this way, religious people who are merely looking to do good will end up doing a lot of harm because of their religion.

That doesn't mean every religious person is a bad person. Some religions might be free of such ideas or even make their followers strong forces of good, and the major religions have many, many followers who adhere to a modern interpretation where they don't hold that sort of medieval beliefs. Confronting your average modern, moderate Christian with the darker passages from the bible is just silly because they don't believe in those.

I've followed the atheistic movement a lot over the past years, and I have seen no indication that religious belief in itself is the main target. It is not. There is very little energy spent railing against that. It is the harmful effects of religion, not religion itself, that is the target. If you take someone like Sam Harris, probably one of the most direct in his critique and outrage, has on numerous occasitions mentioned that he would have no problem* if everyone was Jainist, a religion that has non-violence and equality between lifeforms as the highest goal. Ironically, because he evaluates individual religions on the amount of harm they cause, he's been called things like islamophobe because he doesn't "treat all religions equally".

* I can't remember if he says he has no problem, almost no problem or even think it would be a good thing.

otohime1978 otohime1978's picture
I think you're

I think you're misunderstanding what we are saying. We're not talking about atheism, but rather the manifestation of it in the US. You quote highly educated spoke peoples of atheism... yet they are hardly an average atheist.

Then again, maybe our experiences have been different.

And even then, who is to say what is good and what is bad? Most morality is based on cultural and, by proxy, religious bents. What one may consider normal and common place in one culture could very well be taboo in another.

This is a very complicated issue, ethics.

All I want is to be left alone; and, in my experience, christians and atheists are incapable of doing as such.

[=6][i]...your vision / a homunculus on borrowed time

Katya Bio: http://eclipsephase.com/comment/46253#comment-46253

Urthdigger Urthdigger's picture
One thing I find funny is

One thing I find funny is that it's always the christians who get on people's cases. All those weird laws are the old testament, jewish stuff (and it's been a while since I read leviticus, but isn't that more the laws of the church at the time if anything?)

The message of Christ, where the religion gets its name and symbols, tells us we should not judge others, thay the church is not infallible, that we all sin but it's ok because God loves us and forgives us and will not punish us. I think if more christians took that to heart, the world would be a better place.

otohime1978 otohime1978's picture
Reread the new testament.

Reread the new testament. Not just the first parts, but the whole thing. You'll quickly see that the message changes back towards the old testament memes.

EDIT: not only that, but if it was just about that, then why do they include all the "old, irrelevant stuff," too?

You can't really have one without the other. That's like judeism saying god is happy go lucky, or islam doesn't need the concept of mujahideen.

[=6][i]...your vision / a homunculus on borrowed time

Katya Bio: http://eclipsephase.com/comment/46253#comment-46253

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