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Religion, Atheism, What-Have-You
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WheelsOfConfusion



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sojobo wrote:
WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
Yeah, it is pretty Goddamned stupid to assume that someone is NOT religious if they call themselves "Christian" without adding other qualifiers up-front.

Good thing no one was advocating that, neh? I really hope you aren't intentionally implying that the argument that we shouldn't assume someone is religious is equivalent to the positive declaration that we should assume they are not religious.

I'm saying "we shouldn't assume someone is religious" if they identify themselves only in a religious manner ("I'm a Christian") is totally unreasonable. If someone self-identifies as belonging to a group defined almost exclusively and entirely by religious beliefs, we should assume that they hold those beliefs until and unless they specify otherwise.

Quote:
This isn't true at all. There are a vast array of people who, when asked, call themselves Christian, and who, when asked, will answer that they don't know for sure God really exists.

This is different from holding a positive belief about the existence of God, which is what I'm saying it is safe to assume. Unless someone tells you otherwise directly, identifying as a Christian pretty much means they assert some belief in a god. You know, like a kind of religious faith.

Quote:
You cannot gerrymander your definition to exclude them because you think they don't believe hard enough.

Good thing I'm not doing that. However, if someone wants to say "I'm a Christian and I don't believe in God," I'm going to look at them as though they just told me they're human but have the DNA of a hagfish right up until the moment they specify being a "cultural Christian" or something to that effect. And it would not be presumptuous of me to do so.
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Snorri



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
Sojobo wrote:
WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
Yeah, it is pretty Goddamned stupid to assume that someone is NOT religious if they call themselves "Christian" without adding other qualifiers up-front.

Good thing no one was advocating that, neh? I really hope you aren't intentionally implying that the argument that we shouldn't assume someone is religious is equivalent to the positive declaration that we should assume they are not religious.

I'm saying "we shouldn't assume someone is religious" if they identify themselves only in a religious manner ("I'm a Christian") is totally unreasonable. If someone self-identifies as belonging to a group defined almost exclusively and entirely by religious beliefs, we should assume that they hold those beliefs until and unless they specify otherwise.


Meh, I think that depends on the situation. That is, the extent of the assumption and the conclusions drawn from it should be limited by what is proper to assume anyway.

Like, the phrase "I'm a Christian" does not make you assume that the person is a fundamentalist. Even though a fundie would utter that phrase too. Obviously, you can't assume a lot of things.

(I'm a bit tired, so excuse me if I take a few disjointed thoughts and put them together. )

Let's take Descartes as an example. Now, Descartes would probably say he's a Christian. But his beliefs can not be mocked as "magical sky-man" and more importantly his beliefs aren't obviously wrong. In fact, his justification for belief in God is both compelling and logical. While I ultimately disagree with him I think that dismissing his views is hard and requires very solid reasoning. That shit ain't just an imaginary friend a child might think up.


And really, I'm presenting a very good case for any Christian but I think it's proper to assume such a belief for any person who identifies as Christian. Or you can assume an agnostic belief from a deeply personal reasoning. Whatever. Point is that assuming honesty and good faith is important. Sure I will assume that anyone identifying as Christian is in some way religious but that religiousness could be so that I would be agreeing with them for 99% in their shit.


I mean, suppose that I hold the belief that there is probably a god because of reasons and I observe Christian holidays and rites because of culture. Would I be wrong in describing myself as Christian even though my beliefs say very little?
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well we probably could call you a theist at any rate. Qualifying it beyond that would require more information. The thing is that much of the information is conveyed in the choice of "Christian," which is distinct from other theistic labels because of certain beliefs about a guy named Jesus and the theological implications of that guy. There are a variety of intra-Christian interpretations, but they all revolve around Jesus.
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Sojobo



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
I'm saying "we shouldn't assume someone is religious" if they identify themselves only in a religious manner ("I'm a Christian") is totally unreasonable. If someone self-identifies as belonging to a group defined almost exclusively and entirely by religious beliefs, we should assume that they hold those beliefs until and unless they specify otherwise.

What are "those beliefs" we should assume a person holds when they call themselves a Christian? You have just asserted we should make those assumptions, what are they?

I think I will disagree, but I won't know until I hear them.

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
This is different from holding a positive belief about the existence of God, which is what I'm saying it is safe to assume. Unless someone tells you otherwise directly, identifying as a Christian pretty much means they assert some belief in a god. You know, like a kind of religious faith.

You use phrases like "pretty much means" and "some belief" and "a god" instead of specifying a God. That's a lot of softening all in one sentence. If you just mean to say "most Christians believe in God", then I already agree, and there's no need to be careful about it.

If you are asserting the line without the softening phrases, that identifying as a Christian means they assert that they believe in a particular God, then I think you are wrong. The holding or not-holding of a belief is not binary. There are matters of scepticism and doubt that must be addressed. There are a large number of people who identify as Christian who will tell you they are not sure if they believe in a God. "Agnostic" and "Christian" are not mutually exclusive.

Also, I will probably disagree with your description of the particular God in whom they believe.

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
However, if someone wants to say "I'm a Christian and I don't believe in God," I'm going to look at them as though they just told me they're human but have the DNA of a hagfish right up until the moment they specify being a "cultural Christian" or something to that effect. And it would not be presumptuous of me to do so.

If, however, you asserted that they were wrong, and could not call themselves Christian while not believing in God (which is the context this conversation has grown from), you would be very presumptuous, and should be corrected for it.

Even if you kept it to yourself, I still think it would be presumptuous, it just wouldn't exactly matter.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sojobo wrote:
What are "those beliefs" we should assume a person holds when they call themselves a Christian? You have just asserted we should make those assumptions, what are they?

When someone simply describes themselves as "Christian" and does not elaborate further, we can safely conclude that the believe in some form of God that isn't merely Deist. We can also assume without reasonable fear of mistake that they hold one of several various beliefs about Jesus that implicate him as a central figure in the structure of their beliefs about God. If they don't give a rat's ass about Jesus at all and say that nothing about Jesus or his purported teachings matter to their religious figurings, then they're not Christian. Jesus Christ is literally the definitive characteristic of Christianity that separates it from similar theistic belief systems. It's right there in the name. If you're preparing to throw that out and say that we can't safely assume these things, then you're a very silly person and I'm not going to argue with you anymore.
It may be that the person thinks of themselves, like Dawkins, as a "cultural Christian." That is, they hold no particular beliefs about the existence of God or disbelieve in God, but maintain the social trappings and traditions of Christianity that have pervaded their culture, upbringing, and surroundings. They might decorate Christmas trees and stick painted eggs in funny places during the spring. If so, they onus is absolutely on them to make this clear at some point if they don't want the above assumptions made about themselves. If they want to appropriate the label, then appending the adjectives is their responsibility and not mine.

Quote:
WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
This is different from holding a positive belief about the existence of God, which is what I'm saying it is safe to assume. Unless someone tells you otherwise directly, identifying as a Christian pretty much means they assert some belief in a god. You know, like a kind of religious faith.

You use phrases like "pretty much means" and "some belief" and "a god" instead of specifying a God. That's a lot of softening all in one sentence. If you just mean to say "most Christians believe in God", then I already agree, and there's no need to be careful about it.

Because frankly, recalling all the varieties of Christianity at this hour is a tedium my poor, pony-starved brain is not necessarily up to. Valentinian Gnostics describe "God" and "Jesus" very differently from Eastern Orthodox (I have had the mis/fortune of knowing several Valentinian Gnostics and there was no end of their readiness to tell me all about it). I am trying to be as broad as I can without tripping over my own toes on minutia half-remembered.

Quote:
There are a large number of people who identify as Christian who will tell you they are not sure if they believe in a God. "Agnostic" and "Christian" are not mutually exclusive.

Don't forget that you're talking to probably the first 'fester who self-identified as an agnostic Christian theist here, years before The Great Forum Migration (before even The Greening). "Agnostic" does not necessarily mean what you are using it to mean in these last few posts, which is a kind of certainty of God's existence. Agnosticism really means that a person thinks the truth value of claims about the existence of God are unknown, and may be impossible to know objectively. This does not preclude personal belief (however strong) in the existence of God. Again, this is where "faith" comes in. A person of faith may be fully capable of saying "I accept this whole God thing to be true, but I recognize that there's really not a great case for it; Hell, there might never be! I could be wrong."

Quote:
If, however, you asserted that they were wrong, and could not call themselves Christian while not believing in God (which is the context this conversation has grown from), you would be very presumptuous, and should be corrected for it.

If they said that while calling themselves Christian without any further qualification? Yes, I would say that they are wrong and using the wrong word or phrase to describe themselves. Convince me otherwise.
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Snorri



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
Well we probably could call you a theist at any rate. Qualifying it beyond that would require more information. The thing is that much of the information is conveyed in the choice of "Christian," which is distinct from other theistic labels because of certain beliefs about a guy named Jesus and the theological implications of that guy. There are a variety of intra-Christian interpretations, but they all revolve around Jesus.


I could believe Jesus had some interesting shit to say then. Take away the divinity but keep his teachings and importance. Do that while keeping my religious beliefs as vague as "yo probably there is a God".

I'm not asking whether or not you would label me as such. If you say all Scotsmen must eat Haggis I can't really find fault with that. I'm more interested in whether or not you would fault me for labelling myself as a Christian if I held those beliefs. I would feel it was important to my identity.

I mean, I can easily define Christian as those who believe Jesus created the world in 3 days. Wouldn't really mean much though, right?
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well obviously it's not the haggis-eating that determines a Scotsman, it's whether they would commit violent sex-mania crimes while eating sugared porridge or not.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Snorri wrote:
Let's take Descartes as an example. Now, Descartes would probably say he's a Christian. But his beliefs can not be mocked as "magical sky-man" and more importantly his beliefs aren't obviously wrong. In fact, his justification for belief in God is both compelling and logical.

What? His rationale for the existence of God was that God is too big to have come from his own ideas, and a concept no one now subscribes to (the chain of being), dictates that if God is infinite then He must be more real than Descartes himself, and that being infinite makes him more perfect. His Meditations are awesome right up until he starts talking about God.
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Usagi Miyamoto



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:25 am    Post subject: Haggis is as haggis does. Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
Well obviously it's not the haggis-eating that determines a Scotsman, it's whether they would commit violent sex-mania crimes while eating sugared porridge or not.

No true Scotsman would deign aught but treacle satisfactory. The crimes I cannae speak to, but ye ken the sheep didnae lodge any complaint wi' the polis.
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Arkhron



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to Sinfest: the forum where a topic can have a 20 pages explosion about a sentence in a stand up routine.

Or sentient toasters.

Howdy, I really love this place xD
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Yrvani



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Arkhron wrote:
Yrvani wrote:

Would be applicable if I lived in a country where religion was the norm. I don't. I'm also not religious.


And

Yrvani wrote:
But I think it is time for religious people to speak up a bit. At least where I live we're getting awfully close to down right persecution of anyone who shows the least tendency towards religion, and I think it's wrong


Emphasis are mine, pointing the inconsistency. Are you religious or not?.

And where do you live that atheism is the norm and the religious persons are "awfully close to down right persecution" by atheist?

And sorry, totally applies, comparing your opression as christian in western society with feminist opression is



Sorry, I didn't realise I was on trial here. "We're" as in "we", my society. Not christians. Christians aren't the ones doing the persecuting. And no I'm not comparing anything to feminism, where are you reading that?

Okay. To talk more about "getting close to persecution". Not saying anyone is persecuted, that would be a very bad thing. I'm worrying that we're moving in that direction though.

Mostly the misconceptions and fear is surrounding muslims/islam/arabs/immigrants with various strands connecting the various groups in a neat little net of prejudice. I could link you stuff, but it'd be in Swedish: http://www.dn.se/kultur-noje/basta-beatrice-ask

The article I just linked is mainly about problems with ethnicity. While islam is not as tightly linked to ethnicity as judaism, there is still a percieved connection where I live. It's a fear of the muslim culture, values, religous beliefs, which then gets translated into fear, dismissal and hatred of outer appearance or even just names, as the article linked above points out in connection to CVs.

But, this is not the only problem. Christians also feel the burn a bit. They don't need to worry about the underlaying fear but they do get to hear how stupid, incapable or insecure they are on a regular basis from media, culture and anyone finding out they happen to be religious. This is not as bad as the situation with muslims, but it is certainly something to worry about and try to fix. I had a gathering last night, watched Alain de Botton and his philosphical documentary about Socrates and then after that had some discussions about how we react to religion, smoked pot and watched more philosopy. It was very helpful, I would advice more people to do this.
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Samsally



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't even with this thread.

I wanna comment, but I know I haven't been paying close enough attention to say anything worthwhile.
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Monkey Mcdermott



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah it's kind of blown up since the last time I felt like posting but to address a couple of points.

1. I'm not sure where Shadowcell got the idea that i've ever done anything but argue for the case that if you associate with a group, and that group does horrible shit, and you don't make a point to fight against it in group and publically, you are rightfully associated with the horrible shit your group does. That's the problem with associating with groups.

2. Your religion is not the same as your race. Being mocked for how the genetic lottery fell regarding you is not the same at all as being mocked for believing stupid shit. Homeopathy runs on the same blind belief and the people who swear by it will happily claim that there is plenty of evidence of it working, but it's completely unverifiable and easily chalked up to the placebo effect. Those people get mocked too.

3. The fact that people are REALLY SERIOUS about their faith doesn't give them a free pass for having their silly beliefs challenged and made fun of. Full stop.
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Felgraf



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monkey Mcdermott wrote:
Yeah it's kind of blown up since the last time I felt like posting but to address a couple of points.

1. I'm not sure where Shadowcell got the idea that i've ever done anything but argue for the case that if you associate with a group, and that group does horrible shit, and you don't make a point to fight against it in group and publically, you are rightfully associated with the horrible shit your group does. That's the problem with associating with groups.

2. Your religion is not the same as your race. Being mocked for how the genetic lottery fell regarding you is not the same at all as being mocked for believing stupid shit. Homeopathy runs on the same blind belief and the people who swear by it will happily claim that there is plenty of evidence of it working, but it's completely unverifiable and easily chalked up to the placebo effect. Those people get mocked too.

3. The fact that people are REALLY SERIOUS about their faith doesn't give them a free pass for having their silly beliefs challenged and made fun of. Full stop.


Okay, but I've given examples of how 1) Is not true for all Christians. Indeed, my entry into the thread detail a christian denomination that has, in fact, had advertisements banned from the airwaves because *love and tolerance are too controversial* (Thus, making it... rather hard to publicly spread their message).

Again, I am happy to dig up citations showing that the United Church of Christ isn't just changing to keep up with a more liberal society, but has, inf act, taken liberal and progressive views *when they were fairly unpopular*, but I'm only going to dig up these citations if you're actually interested in it. If you're going to react like a young earth creationist to evidence of evolution, I'm not going to bother.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monkey Mcdermott wrote:
2. Your religion is not the same as your race. Being mocked for how the genetic lottery fell regarding you is not the same at all as being mocked for believing stupid shit. Homeopathy runs on the same blind belief and the people who swear by it will happily claim that there is plenty of evidence of it working, but it's completely unverifiable and easily chalked up to the placebo effect. Those people get mocked too.

But, at least in the case of Jews, your religion and your culture are intertwined. You can be an adherent of Judaism without having been raised in the Jewish culture, and you can be from the Jewish culture without being an adherent of Judaism. Lots of people talk about this, it shouldn't be controversial.

EDIT: although a lot of Jews bristle at the notion of a Jewish race, and were pissed off in 1987 when SCOTUS defined Judaism as a race for the purposes of discrimination. But it's a thorny issue, no matter how you approach it. No one seems satisfied with either defining Judaism as an ethnicity, culture, or a religion alone.
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