Bort - 2013-06-10 What a prick, that Dawkins. Completely insufferable and disrespectful. I can't imagine where he learned such abominable manners.
I'm going to give the Muslim dude a possible pass on that "six days" thing, though. If you grew up Catholic, there's a very good chance you learned a scientific explanation of the world's creation; Catholics don't get hung up on Old Testament literalism. (Now the body and blood of Christ, though: literal as fuck.) It may be that Islam is much the same way, where some things are more literal than others, depending upon whom you're talking to.
StanleyPain - 2013-06-10 Yes, if only people with irrational beliefs that frequently involve intolerance were treated with more tolerance, things would be better everywhere.
takewithfood - 2013-06-10 I struggle to maintain at least a display of respect for people of faith. I try very hard to make the distinction that being stupid in one area does not mean you're stupid in all areas, and to treat people with respect even if I don't respect their faith at all.
But holy fuck it's hard sometimes, and Richard Dawkins does a better job here than I probably would.
Bort - 2013-06-10 I grew up Catholic, and it was a basic concept in my home that people have different religious beliefs, so don't assume that your beliefs are theirs. And you'd be surprised how easily religion and science can get along, if you allow religion just a little bit of wiggle room: religion covers how you should live and what happens after you die, science covers the universe and natural laws that govern the universe. As for whether Mohammed had a winged horse that carried him into the sky*, it's not even an important question, so take it as figurative, or allegorical, or however you like. Even take it as literal, so long as you understand that horses don't have wings and aren't going to sprout them any time soon. Whatever you believe, though, that's your business and you don't make it anyone else's.
Unfortunately, the past 30 years or so have seen a serious uptick in religious intolerance. Oh well, at least the kids are rejecting it; young people have no use for Culture Wars, and are more inclined to use religion as a source of hope than hate.
*: I wish the Muslim had said "well of COURSE Mohammed flew up in the sky on his winged horse, where else would it have gone with wings? What, did you expect the winged horse to take him under the ocean? He'd probably use a fish for that, don'tcha think?"
takewithfood - 2013-06-10 Religion doesn't cover how you should live - or at least it shouldn't. The people who seriously look to religion for moral guidance look like the Taliban and the Westborough Baptist Church. Everyone else uses their instincts, conscience, empathy, and logic to determine which parts of religions scripture are good and worth following, and which are obviously barbaric and evil and worth discarding. So why bother with belief or scripture at all if you're capable of making moral decisions for yourself?
I get that scripture poses food for thought, but just about any story book will do that, with no religious strings attached. It's your mind that does the actual moral work in figuring out what is the best way to live. Scripture deserves no special credit; it's just literature.
As for what happens after you die, how does one know which version of the afterlife to believe in without any evidence to back it up? Why put more stock into, say, a Catholic version of the afterlife than some bullshit you make up on your own? How is it not obviously just a lie you tell yourself to feel better about uncertainty?
Religion is a source for false, arbitrary hope. That may still be worth something, but let's at least be clear on that much.
Bort - 2013-06-10 Yes yes, I get it, you have no use for religion, and you get along just fine without it.
"The people who seriously look to religion for moral guidance look like the Taliban and the Westborough Baptist Church."
Or Martin Luther King Jr or Stephen Colbert, to name a couple in the other direction.
takewithfood - 2013-06-10 I'm not just saying that I get along fine without religion - I'm saying that religion is complete bullshit and I think Richard Dawkins seems to say it with with more tact than I ever could.
I think people who think he's rude are just accustomed to the unwritten rule that you simply don't criticize religious belief. I feel like that's some arrangement that religious people keep between themselves; sort of an "I won't call you on your bullshit if you don't call me on mine" sort of deal. But I don't get anything out of that rule, so I don't play by it.
takewithfood - 2013-06-10 And the other thing I was driving at, that I'd really rather not turn into its own discussion, is that even Martin Luther King Jr and Stephen Colbert pick and choose which rules to follow and which to ignore; I don't recall either of them stoning adulterers, and I'm pretty sure I've seen them in mixed fibers, for example (tired examples, I know, but still fitting). You decide for yourself how to live; religion doesn't deserve any special credit.
(I really don't know what sort of grammar or punctuation to use when speaking about the actions of two people when one of them is dead and the other is, to my knowledge, still alive.)
Bort - 2013-06-10 I'm really not sure what more to say; you're certainly not obligated to understand the religious mind, and it's clear you're pretty happy not to. But then you can't really get convincingly perplexed that you don't understand.
Maybe this will help: religion isn't a rational process, but it's one that clicks for a lot of people for whatever reasons. Then again, there are all sorts of non-rational processes in people's lives; there's no rational reason for most of us to own cats or dogs either, and yet many of us do.
What we're seeing with American fundamentalism unfortunately has more to do with primate tribal instincts finding expression in the modern world than filling a God-shaped hole in one's mind. So the biggest driving forces are finding enemies to pit their tribe against. As it works out the right wing American tribe is religious, but they could just as easily have been atheist -- and for that I cite Christopher Hitchens himself, supporter of the Iraq War because he was glad for any massive effort to kill Muslims. Ideology and hatred trumping all logic and empathy ... religion certainly doesn't hold the trademark.
Meerkat - 2013-06-10 Religion can help you to cope with tragedy, it can inspire you to create great art and music, it can be a source of comfort in hard times.
But what it can't do is make you stop being a dick.
Meerkat - 2013-06-10 I guess what I'm trying to say there is it can ease the pain of misfortune.
Also, it can soften the blows of an uncaring world.
But you can still pray to Jesus and then go shoot someone.
Old_Zircon - 2013-06-10 I think the experience of the numinous is a very fundamental part of the human nervous system, and that while the religions and cults and ridiculous new age beliefs and idiosyncratic delusions that we derive from it are fiction, it's still absolutely central to what being human is.
takewithfood - 2013-06-10 I don't understand the religious mind in the same way that I don't understand how targeted individuals think, or why people who listen to Alex Jones believe that everything that ever goes wrong ever is somehow a false flag attack. These are all delusions to me, and seem more or less equal. I'd like to understand, but I can't, and I don't even know where to start.
I have so many questions, but this seems like a terrible place to get into it.
I'm not sure that's entirely true, for all the times you have called religion "bullshit" and said that it has no value. Again, you're not obligated to think much of religion, but you can't really be that contemptuous of religion while also being curious and open-minded.
Let's look at it from the perspective of straight delusion: our poorly-configured ape brains with several overlapping layers of gooey hardware are capable of generating a variety of hallucinated sensations, such as unity and empathy with others (and even the very universe), or the presence of other people who aren't actually there. Now add in some other tendencies such as a wish for ultimate justice and mercy, or the continued existence of those who have died, or a desire to have some influence over a cruel and uncaring world, and your brain may respond to all of that by filling in an unseen yet all-powerful benevolent force. That's one way to arrive at "God". And note that, if that's where you are, even knowing that it's very likely a delusion doesn't change the reality that God fits the God-shaped hole in your brain.
I like to imagine that there is such a thing as mature, introspective theological or metaphysical pursuit, that starts from the proposition of "if there is an overarching benevolent force in the world then I should attempt to fill whatever role is proper for me". But at the same time there is also childish, impulsive, and destructive religion in the world. In that scheme of things God is basically Santa, except that Santa is simply about giving you presents you clearly deserve, while God is about helping you get what you want AND providing all the justification you need to get it by shady means. I can't imagine you need much help imagining such a thing.
takewithfood - 2013-06-10 I sincerely would like to be able to fly like Superman, too, but I haven't made any progress there, either. What I'm saying is that it's total bullshit to me, but I'd like to understand how people can believe it.
It isn't about open-mindedness. If I told you I was actually a velociraptor, I don't think it would be fair to call you closed-minded for not entertaining the idea. I just can't see a significant difference between "this guy on PoeTV is a velociraptor" and "Jesus was the son of god" in terms of credibility. Am I closed minded for thinking the Matrix was only a movie, or that no pig has ever built a brick house? There has to be some reasonable evidence for me to close my mind against for me to be closed-minded towards something.
I'm just trying to understand how people can sincerely believe in something so far fetched; I'm not trying to actually believe it myself. I don't think I can believe it myself anymore than you can convince yourself that I'm a velociraptor without any evidence.
"Let's look at it from the perspective of straight delusion: our poorly-configured ape brains with several overlapping layers of gooey hardware are capable of generating a variety of hallucinated sensations, such as unity and empathy with others (and even the very universe), or the presence of other people who aren't actually there. Now add in some other tendencies such as a wish for ultimate justice and mercy, or the continued existence of those who have died, or a desire to have some influence over a cruel and uncaring world, and your brain may respond to all of that by filling in an unseen yet all-powerful benevolent force. That's one way to arrive at "God". And note that, if that's where you are, even knowing that it's very likely a delusion doesn't change the reality that God fits the God-shaped hole in your brain."
You had me until that last sentence. I don't know what that means. I have no such God-shaped hole in my brain.
My best guess is that you're talking about the longing for answers to questions which don't have easy answers, like where did the universe come from, or what is consciousness - am I roughly on the right track there? Or do you mean something else?
takewithfood - 2013-06-10 Thanks for being so patient with me, by the way. I feel like I'm getting more out of this discussion than you are at this point.
Bort - 2013-06-11 If I'm making any sort of sense to you, I'm glad!
"You had me until that last sentence. I don't know what that means. I have no such God-shaped hole in my brain."
And that's probably the difference -- you don't have that hole, therefore your brain doesn't need to fill it, and additionally you can't imagine a person needing to fill that hole.
I talk a lot about how the right wing operates on primate tribal principles -- strengthen the tribe, repel outsiders, support the alpha males, keep lower-status members in line. I always feel kind of dumb talking about that because it sounds like something a college sophomore might come up with to look bright. But that is the only model by which I can understand the GOP; I don't hear those tribal drums beating (nor do most people on the left), but I can left to conclude people on the right do ... and talking to recovering conservatives has convinced me that they used to hear those tribal drums. So the tribal model is mostly an abstraction to me, and I can't really feel it the way other people do ... likewise, you may be "cursed" to simply never feel the place for a God in your world.
"My best guess is that you're talking about the longing for answers to questions which don't have easy answers, like where did the universe come from, or what is consciousness - am I roughly on the right track there? Or do you mean something else?"
It's much more visceral. To me, and I suppose to most religious folks, it feels like there needs ot be some overarching order beyond it all, and one that is tied to consciousness. It's quite possibly a trick of my poorly-designed meat-computer (haha, "designed") and I know that, but nonetheless that's what it feels like.
Where did the universe come from? I don't know and it doesn't really matter to me. It matters to creationists, though, because they have turned religion into a torturous ideological loyalty test where they need to support every last detail or else be traitors to the tribe.
takewithfood - 2013-06-11 Yeah, I definitely don't have a god-shaped hole by that definition. I'm glad you realize that it's probably delusion, though.
I do experience some things which seem to be a result of shortcuts in the brain's design. I anthropomorphize inanimate objects, for example - more than most people seem to. While grocery shopping, if I pick up a loaf of bread, then see another bag of bread that looks better, I actually feel a little guilty for switching up, as though I'm some shallow asshole who only cares about size and perfect crust-colour, and I'm abandoning someone; it's that "picked last at dodgeball" empathy, but it's being triggered for an object that almost certainly lacks the capacity to give a shit what I think of it. I'm forced to experience that without any consultation of my higher brain functions: whatever is going on in my brain when I think about putting back the less appetizing loaf, it skips the conscious parts of my brain that would shoot the notion down as silliness.
But that's all that seems to be going on, here, and I'm easily able to reflect on what I just felt and apply reason and logic in hindsight. It seems to me that the religious most often don't, and that is what baffles, fascinates, and frustrates me.
I guess what I'm saying is that it isn't the urge to believe in god that I don't understand - I don't experience it, but I've had irrational thoughts and experienced hallucinations, too - it's the blatant inability of most religious folk to consciously apply the most basic logic to their beliefs. Especially when they go beyond just "I must fill this god-shaped hole" to "I believe God turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt".
How do you go from "I think there's someone out there" to "this book says his name is Jehovah and he made the earth in 7 days because why the fuck not, and he made Even from Adam's rib and there was a talking snake and.." etc etc. That is absolute nonsense and I expect any sane, conscious adult to be able to instantly tell the difference. It's painfully, obviously nonsense. It's the stupidest shit I've ever heard.
How does belief go beyond just a phantom sense that God exists, to very specific beliefs about supernatural events that are clearly nothing more than ancient fairy tales? How do people know what to have faith in, and how can they experience any certainty not only in an absence of evidence, but in the face of so much evidence to the contrary? Why do they remain loyal to one doctrine when each doctrine is no more or less believable? How do they not fall for absolutely every lie they ever hear? That blows my mind. To me, it looks like the very height of gullibility and stupidity, and that's why I struggle to maintain respect for people who stand by their faith. Kids get a pass, as they're still collecting data, but adults should know better.
Bort - 2013-06-11 I mentioned Colbert and King Jr before. How seriously do you think they take the talking snake? I would bet anything they see the story as possibly instructive, clearly a relic of earlier times, and a part of the religious tradition but not a literally true tale. (Colbert is Catholic, by the way, and the Catholic Church has long held that evolution is real, and that the Bible's tales can provide spiritual guidance but should not be confused with a science book.)
I've also mentioned people who use religion as a point of tribal orthodoxy. What do you suppose their opinions are about, say, death panels or Obama's birth certificate or global warming? Those are people who will believe anything, not on the basis of plausibility, but on convenience. (You'll get Christopher Hitchens tagging along too.)
I agree that any adult should consider the truth important, and if you believe there's a God, you should be honest enough to concede that you can't rationally back it up. Maybe it's just synapses in your brain, but then again, what isn't?
takewithfood - 2013-06-11 They may or may not have believed in the Garden of Eden, but surely they believed in *something* out of the Bible; frankly, many Baptists and Catholics believe in original sin, which is tied to the Eden myth. Surely, at the very least, they must believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, that he died on the cross for some divine purpose, or something to that effect.
And it's all obviously nonsense. At least it should be obvious, but for so many people it isn't, and I find that utterly fascinating, and often quite frustrating. If someone is capable of looking at the story of Noah's Ark and deciding that it's too far fetched, why would they be caught up in belief in anything in the Bible? It's all more or less equally absurd.
Bort - 2013-06-11 There's a religious school of thought that various people independently stumble onto, that there is trajectory to the Bible, and just because Biblical writings stopped accruing 1700 years ago doesn't mean that religious thought should. There are Biblical interpretations and reinterpretations, there are new traditions and new works, there are even rejections of doctrine simply because doctrine as formally codified doesn't make sense. Theodicy isn't just an epic Greek poem. And as to the notion of hell, our local Catholic priest once said in a sermon: "I believe in hell. I don't believe anyone's there, but I believe in hell."
So in a nutshell, people can be invested in one major religion or another -- quite possibly out of a sense that, if it's been around for 2000 years, rejecting it out of hand would be rash -- while still recognizing the contradictions and straying from doctrine where necessary to resolve them.
Perhaps you want to Google for "spiritual but not religious" as well. A lot of people reject the major religions because they have become too doctrine-heavy, preserving only very basic concepts like there is a God, we are called on to be benevolent, and so forth. (On my non-atheist days, this is where I tend to land.)
So in short, there are an awful lot of religious people who are perfectly aware that their religion doesn't make sense, and they take what measures are necessary for it to make sense. Then there are those who can't imagine their religion NOT making sense and they are the ones who believe that, if the earth is older than 6000 years, life has no meaning. So there are all kinds at work here. Now's a good time to remind you of what I said ages ago, that religion isn't a rational process -- it speaks to some part of you (well not you specifically), so you work with it as best you can. Where it contradicts itself you try to fix the contradictions, where it speaks of iron-age miracles you accept or reject them as you see fit; but in the end it's never going to be logical.
takewithfood - 2013-06-13 Well, it seems like we're mostly on the same page if we agree that religion is irrational. I'm still not clear why you feel Dawkins was being disrespectful, but I don't really care that much at this point. I'm mostly just happy to have had such a pleasant conversation on this topic. Thank you for that.
Bort - 2013-06-29 I was being sarcastic about the "disrespectful". Dawkins' reputation among the religiously butthurt is that he is a snide, prissy, arrogant asshole, but in everything I've seen him in, he's patient and he chooses his words carefully. His only mistake (if you want to call it that) is that he doesn't give religion any weight comparable to that he gives to science.
Jet Bin Fever - 2013-06-10 I wish this were the full thing and not edited. Some of the cuts were very out of place. Still, 5 stars for reminding me about the winged horse thing.
bac - 2013-06-11 No doubt. A meth addicted adhd sufferer wouldn't have edited this video more poorly.
Cena_mark - 2013-06-10 What about Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy? What a mean man saying they don't exist.