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Religion, Atheism, What-Have-You
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Monkey Mcdermott



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dogen wrote:
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.


Atheists celebrate christmas often too, They don't call themselves christian for doing so. There's a bit of a blurry line with judaism given the whole your mother was so you are aspect of it. That's why I have tried to specify religious people. If you're some agnostic or atheist who chooses to call yourself christian, or muslim, or whatever it doesn't suddenly change the definition of the term just because you've decided to co-opt it to mean something that it doesn't or hasn't. Just like if I decided to refer to myself as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, people would not be amiss in assuming I was a white supremacist, even though I'm not. I'm definitely a white guy. The fact that I have a shaved head and longish goatee certainly would reinforce a stereotype.
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Samsally



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monkey Mcdermott wrote:
The fact that I have a shaved head and longish goatee certainly would reinforce a stereotype.

This 100% does not fit my previous mental image of you.

Once again this thread gives me something unexpected and I swan out without comment elsewhere. Wheeeeee.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right, but Christmas is both a religious and secular holiday, and the Aryan nation doesn't have a cultural history spanning thousands of years. What I'm saying is that being Jewish is unique, and thus comparisons to calling yourself Christian or Muslim are inadequate. The accepted definition of being a Jew - according to Jews, cultural scholars, etc - includes both a culture and a religion. If one is an American Christian, for instance, we're probably right to assume they're a person of the Christian religion of the American culture. If you're an American Jew, however, you have two cultures - American and Jewish. You may or may not also be of the Jewish faith. And to Jews this is not unusual - and it is not a co-opting of the term, it's what being a Jew means. If you told a Christian that you were an atheist Christian I imagine most of them would find that odd, because Christianity does not have a cultural component as deeply engrained in it as Judaism does. That's a dramatic simplification, but hopefully it gets at the heart of it. It explains why people like Amstell refer to themselves as Jews (culturally) even as they mock religious people. Read the links I provided. It's a complex issue.

This doesn't seem at all weird to me, probably because I grew up in South Florida where there's a large Jewish community, and I'm continually surprised that people don't seem to get it.
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fritterdonut



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dogen wrote:
when SCOTUS defined Judaism as a race for the purposes of discrimination


So does this mean all that time I've been correcting people that it's not racist, it's anti-semitic because Judaism is a religion, not a race, I've been incorrect?
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fritterdonut wrote:
Dogen wrote:
when SCOTUS defined Judaism as a race for the purposes of discrimination


So does this mean all that time I've been correcting people that it's not racist, it's anti-semitic because Judaism is a religion, not a race, I've been incorrect?

No. The reason that many Jews were upset by the ruling is that they don't believe Judaism is a race, but a culture borne of membership in one of the pre-Hellenistic tribes. SCOTUS just saw fit to define them as a race anyway, in order to make them a protected class under the law. It's also a thorny issue because Nazis viewed Jews as a distinct race, so it carries a negative connotation.
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Snorri



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dogen wrote:
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.


nah blood, that's not really what he said. He argues that given that you can doubt everything and that you exist (because who else does the doubting?) there must be a concept of knowing. Surely you can't know that you don't really know things unless you have a concept of knowing. And such a concept can not come from within for the obvious reason that if it did you wouldn't be doubting.

So it comes from without. And it comes from a source that must know, which means the source is all-knowing because otherwise knowledge still doesn't work.

And so on and so on. Point being, that shit wasn't dumb.
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Yrvani



Joined: 01 Apr 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dogen wrote:
find that odd, because Christianity does not have a cultural component as deeply engrained in it as Judaism does.


I call homeblindedness. It is not as conformative, no, but it is certainly very pervasive in most western culture.
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Heretical Rants



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Generic Yuletide-like Holidayô
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Snorri wrote:
nah blood, that's not really what he said. He argues that given that you can doubt everything and that you exist (because who else does the doubting?) there must be a concept of knowing. Surely you can't know that you don't really know things unless you have a concept of knowing. And such a concept can not come from within for the obvious reason that if it did you wouldn't be doubting.

So it comes from without. And it comes from a source that must know, which means the source is all-knowing because otherwise knowledge still doesn't work.

And so on and so on. Point being, that shit wasn't dumb.

But what denies the possibility that knowing comes from an omnipotent Evil Genius is the great chain of being. It was a popular belief at the time (Descartes was certainly not the only one who used it) that held that perfection was a linear chain that started with God, as the fullest and most perfect, and worked its way down through angels to men and animals and even minerals (metals were less perfect that gemstones, etc). A perfect universe must be complete, and thus must contain all levels of imperfection, but just as ideas cannot be any more perfect than the thing they represent, if you can have the idea of an infinite being without it being simply the negation of finite beings (i.e., a thing which is not finite) then it must represent something real which is infinite. If we accept this - and Descartes did - then anything which is infinite is perfect and therefore must also be good.

Here's a philosopher talking about it. Here's another. And another.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yrvani wrote:
Dogen wrote:
find that odd, because Christianity does not have a cultural component as deeply engrained in it as Judaism does.


I call homeblindedness. It is not as conformative, no, but it is certainly very pervasive in most western culture.

Well, seeing as I've supported my position with at least moderately authoritative sources, you'll forgive me if your "nuh uh" isn't very persuasive. If you can find me some evidence, though, I'll check it out.
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Yrvani



Joined: 01 Apr 2013
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dogen wrote:
Yrvani wrote:
Dogen wrote:
find that odd, because Christianity does not have a cultural component as deeply engrained in it as Judaism does.


I call homeblindedness. It is not as conformative, no, but it is certainly very pervasive in most western culture.

Well, seeing as I've supported my position with at least moderately authoritative sources, you'll forgive me if your "nuh uh" isn't very persuasive. If you can find me some evidence, though, I'll check it out.


Christmas, thanksgiving, easter, language and expressions, Sundays, a lot of lingering morals stemming from the ten commandments and Jesus' life (ranging from relatively good and very bad ones).. it infiltrates most areas of western society, ranging from the thought worlds through language to the ritualistic holidays.

It varies depending on what country or even specific part of countries you look at, here other holidays would be more important.

Christianity adapts a lot. It loves sinking it's teeth into a culture, assimiliate it and twist it right. That doesn't mean you can say it's not a massive, huge part of our societies, it's just an oftentimes very camouflaged one. Being part of these cultures, having grown up with them, also makes it very hard to seperate christian cultural phenomena in your own world.
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Sojobo



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
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.

I have known people who did not believe in God, and did not believe there was anything divine about Jesus, but who still considered his example and teaching inspiring enough that they did what they could to model their lives on him. When such people call themselves Christian, I will consider it legitimate. Perhaps this category of person is too small a percentage of the whole to be a concern when making assumptions, but if it were just a numbers game, we wouldn't need to be so careful about describing these assumptions, because we could just ignore all the outliers and have an easier task.

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
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.

Agreed. Having to do with Jesus was the only trait I thought you could assume, as I said to mouse earlier. I am probably a very silly person anyway, though.

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
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.

If instead of "maintaining trappings" we refer to devotion to and observance of religious practices, there is a use of "Christian" which is religious rather than cultural, but still does not necessitate belief. If I was immersed in Catholicism, mass every week, holidays, rituals, considered the transforming value of the tradition and community valuable, but didn't think God really existed, I would still call myself a religious Catholic rather than a cultural one, and would be very irritated with you for telling me I couldn't.

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
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.

Cool. Again, this sort of thing was much of my argument to mouse. I agree completely that the wide variety of beliefs gathered under the word "Christian" makes it very hard to describe without excluding legitimate users of it.

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
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).

I'd only been lurking for a little before the Migration, and never went back to read through the archives. Never having known, I could not have forgotten.

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
"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.

Your use of the term is more correct and more precise. I will hold myself to that use for the rest of the conversation. I think most people use it to mean something along the lines of "not sure if they believe", which is how I meant to use it here. If there is a better terminology for discussion of the strength or confidence in a belief, I would be very happy to learn it.

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
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."

This is close to the kind of person I am describing. I would say that acceptance of a truth is not the same as belief in a truth, and one can accept a Christian truth without believing in it, and it is correct for such a person to call themselves a Christian.

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
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.

I'm not going to make a very good start on this. It took me ten hours today to achieve a state of breathing through my nose, because my sinuses are just that fucked, so I'm tired and headachey. I would like to ask a couple of epistemological-type questions about your definitions before I try, though. I can't know how to try to convince you if I don't know why your definitions are what they are.

So, where does your definition of Christian come from? Is it an organically built totality of ways you've heard it used? Is it a sort of sum or greatest common factor of the beliefs of all churches you've known/studied? Is it rooted in your interpretations of scripture? I feel confident that it is not a majority definition, because most people's input is based on too many misconceptions, but is it basically a compilation of ideas from the majority of opinions you've read from those you've considered well-educated about Christianity?

I do not have a good definition. I think too many people have used it in too many ways, and for much too long, for any definition to be authoritative. I see little choice other than to leave it as people who self-identify as Christians.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yrvani wrote:
Christmas, thanksgiving, easter, language and expressions, Sundays, a lot of lingering morals stemming from the ten commandments and Jesus' life (ranging from relatively good and very bad ones).. it infiltrates most areas of western society, ranging from the thought worlds through language to the ritualistic holidays.

It varies depending on what country or even specific part of countries you look at, here other holidays would be more important.

Christianity adapts a lot. It loves sinking it's teeth into a culture, assimiliate it and twist it right. That doesn't mean you can say it's not a massive, huge part of our societies, it's just an oftentimes very camouflaged one. Being part of these cultures, having grown up with them, also makes it very hard to seperate christian cultural phenomena in your own world.

Right. So, again, the position I've staked out (tentatively, because I'm not a theologian) is that Jews and cultural scholars tell me that there is a Jewish culture that is distinct from whatever other cultural influences may exist. So, yes, Christianity is deeply rooted in Western civilization, but that just tells us that we've codified many of our religious beliefs, not that there is a distinct Christian culture apart from, say American or Swedish culture.

But again, this issue is extremely complex (as any two intermingling ideas necessarily will be), and when you drill down on any one item you can find similarities between religions. I'm just telling you what Jews and a variety of academics believe. I've got no horse in this race. Razz
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Yrvani



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dogen wrote:
So, yes, Christianity is deeply rooted in Western civilization, but that just tells us that we've codified many of our religious beliefs, not that there is a distinct Christian culture apart from, say American or Swedish culture.

But again, this issue is extremely complex (as any two intermingling ideas necessarily will be), and when you drill down on any one item you can find similarities between religions. I'm just telling you what Jews and a variety of academics believe. I've got no horse in this race. Razz


I'd say that on top of that you have multiple christian cultures, more pronounced the closer you get to the various churches. It is most certainly complex, but also indeed very different from Judaism. I would agree that there is little homogenous christian culture apart from Jesus, Christmas and Sundays, but there is definitely plenty of culture separatable from belief.
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Snorri



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dogen wrote:
Snorri wrote:
nah blood, that's not really what he said. He argues that given that you can doubt everything and that you exist (because who else does the doubting?) there must be a concept of knowing. Surely you can't know that you don't really know things unless you have a concept of knowing. And such a concept can not come from within for the obvious reason that if it did you wouldn't be doubting.

So it comes from without. And it comes from a source that must know, which means the source is all-knowing because otherwise knowledge still doesn't work.

And so on and so on. Point being, that shit wasn't dumb.

But what denies the possibility that knowing comes from an omnipotent Evil Genius is the great chain of being. It was a popular belief at the time (Descartes was certainly not the only one who used it) that held that perfection was a linear chain that started with God, as the fullest and most perfect, and worked its way down through angels to men and animals and even minerals (metals were less perfect that gemstones, etc). A perfect universe must be complete, and thus must contain all levels of imperfection, but just as ideas cannot be any more perfect than the thing they represent, if you can have the idea of an infinite being without it being simply the negation of finite beings (i.e., a thing which is not finite) then it must represent something real which is infinite. If we accept this - and Descartes did - then anything which is infinite is perfect and therefore must also be good.

Here's a philosopher talking about it. Here's another. And another.


Well Descartes basically holds true the idea that perfection is good, yes. The chain of being isn't all that relevant other than that. You basically only need the idea of God to prove God. There must be a perfect being for us to be able to know that we are imperfect.

The Evil Genius goes away because God exists, as God wouldn't let him do that shit.
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