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Religious Stuff and Nonsense

As it’s Sunday, I thought I’d take one of my periodical looks at religion.

I wrote here about the possible business opportunities associated with the Rapture.

Of course, missed deadlines for the Rapture are nothing new. Man has been predicting doom since the beginning of time. In 1844 for example there was The Great Disappointment which saw people giving away all their possessions and preparing for the Lord’s return.

And so it was yesterday. It is easy to scoff at these eejits but really, it’s just a demonstration of how easily led human beings can be. I mean Harold Camping isn’t the first man in his 80’s to be literally putting the fear of God into his flock:

 
 
 

A friend of mine on his (private) blog makes the point quite succinctly:

Camping and the Pope agree that Jesus will return – they only argue about the date.

They are agreed that the Bible is holy writ – they disagree on precise interpretation.

They are both agreed that God can and does intervene in human affairs, though neither can offer even a scintilla of objective evidence in support of that belief.

When asked to justify their preposterous beliefs they would both ultimately ascribe them to ‘faith’.  In other words a fervent belief in something for which there is no proof whatsoever.

And those in much more powerful positions than Camping claim to have a hotline to Heaven

Ain’t there a universal truth here? It’s easy to make religious and political statements with no proof to back them up and which fly in the face of all the evidence, if you’re a persuasive talker.

That’s why, whether it’s Harold Camping, The Pope, Ian Paisley, Nick Clegg or Nick Griffin, George Bush or George Galloway, there will always be the sad and gullible who believe their rhetoric.

They will follow an idea, no matter how preposterous, to the extent that they are prepared to give away everything they own in its pursuit.

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14 Responses

  1. “They are both agreed that God can and does intervene in human affairs, though neither can offer even a scintilla of objective evidence in support of that belief.”

    The evidence is there in changed lives of people who once thought like that and now discover Jesus is alive.
    Possibly your author needs to actually investigate such people rather than talk in generalities.

  2. I have no doubt that people are converted to religion, although the trend is overwhelmingly the other way.

    I have no doubt that that can have an effect on their lives and that the effect can be positive, as can any affirmation to live ones life to a set of principles or values.

    However I agree with the author that there is no evidence whatsoever to support the existence of a God or that if he does exist, he intervenes directly in peoples’ lives.

    If that’s generality then so be it.

  3. “They will follow an idea, no matter how preposterous, to the extent that they are prepared to give away everything they own in its pursuit.”

    Does Alex Salmond know about this?

    • I agree, those atheists will follow any absurd belief someone spouts off…..oh wait your not talking about atheists…oh well..if the shoe fits.

      • Well Ben, I never said that you had to be religious to have a crazy theory.

        As for atheists and theories, when it comes to religion, atheists on the whole deal in facts and seek proof.

        • Atheism as a whole is a belief system that ultimately acts on faith – Bigrab, I know that atheists want to give the impression that they deal in facts and seek proof, but they do not really but rather they act on faith – This Harold Camping fool would say the same thing – he deals with the facts…One might then say, ‘He needs to validate his proofs’ – so does the atheist, they cannot proof their belief just as much a Harold Camping can….

  4. Ben, as I see it, atheists don’t really have to prove anything. The onus of proof is on those who follow a religion, whatever that may be.

    Why should I have to disprove the absurd?

    Perhaps the most famous illustration of this is Bertrand Russell’s celestial teapot.

    It is impossible for me to disprove that there is a teapot orbiting the sun.

    The full explanation is here

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_teapot

  5. I understand what you are saying bigrab. I think your first port of call, however, is not to disprove God but to prove atheism (and evolution) is a logical position. I believe there are many questions that the atheist cannot adequately answer. If you wish me to post some so people can help me understand more fully, i am happy to. Bertrand Russell was once asked, ‘If you meet God after you die, what would you say to him to justify your unbelief?’ ‘I will tell Him that He did not give me enough evidence’, Russell proudly replied. The biggest barrier to truth is the presumption we already have it.

  6. But, but…….what need is there to disprove something of which there is no proof? As I tried to say above, that is impossible anyway.

    Which questions would you say an atheist can’t answer Ben? Atheism/science is open to discovery and changing times and attitudes. How about religion? Seems to me it’s still bogged down a bit in medieval superstition.

    You are surely being ironic when you say “The biggest barrier to truth is the presumption we already have it.”

    • I am not asking you to disprove something of which there is no proof. I am asking you to validate your worldview as a logical position. Everyone has a belief. I think it would be a bit inequitable to say you have nothing to prove as an atheist. I am not asking you to disprove the other view. Just look at atheism (and evolution) and ask: Is this position a logical one, if so how?
      In regards to the statement – “The biggest barrier to truth is the presumption we already have it.” notice the personal pronoun ‘we’. Every one presupposes a truth value before interpreting information.
      In regards to atheists not able to answer questions – I will start with one that at least can have a bit of discussion. ‘The laws of logic – do you believe them to be universal or conventions , sociological laws or laws of thought and are laws of logic material or immaterial in nature’. That question, although you can answer, will be interesting to see where it goes.
      What religion and parts of religion is bogged down in medieval superstition? What is an example?
      Thanks for the chat!!

      • I assume, since you don’t reply, that you have no rational reason why you are an atheist. Disappointing, but obvious.

        • I have so many rational reasons that I find myself unable to think where to start…….

          However, a brief summation would be the following:

          1) I have examined the beliefs of Christianity (and some other religions) and found them, on the whole to be quite unbelievable. A few examples would be the virgin birth, the resurrection, a series of miracles with no provenance apparently confined to a time 2,000 years ago. None of it happened!

          2) I find it quite ludicrous that if there were an omniscient omnipotent being, that he/she would be so shallow, vain and insecure to punish people with eternal hellfire were they not to praise and worship the said being. As an aside, what would be the point of this anyway?

          3) I only disbelieve in one more God than you. I am perhaps being presumptuous that you are a Christian, but no ,the argument still holds. There are hundreds, nay thousands of imaginary Gods. Which one you worship tends to be a matter of geographical and cultural chance. God created man? I think not. Man created Gods – thousands of ‘em. It is what he does best.

          4) Medieval superstition? Well religions are so laden with it, it’s an open goal to ask me to highlight it. For example I’ve just been reading about sikhs trashing THEIR OWN community centre in Dudley for selling alcohol and meat at a private party.

          No more bizarre to me than otherwise seemingly intelligent folk believing that peoples’ sexual behaviour is of the remotest interest to the above mentioned superior being, or that the earth is six or ten thousand years old or that Jesus appears miraculously in everything from trees to toast.

          Perhaps the 9/11 attacks where the unfortunate gullible perpetrators were allegedly told that there would be 72 virgins waiting for them in paradise is an extreme example of the kind of superstition that religious people fall for.

          Big lies, little lies – Still lies!

          Perhaps though, the killer is that if you examine what happens when communities and cultures become more educated, there is a correlative reduction in religious belief.

          Does that address your disappointment Ben?

  7. Well, after I read this post, all I can say is Amen. I agree with most of what you say. You did not answer the question still. I did not ask you to criticize the other views as a mean of supporting your view, I could do that and you would not accept it as a valid reason. I will show you….(copy paste)

    However, a brief summation would be the following:
    1) I have examined the beliefs of [Atheism] (and some other religions) and found them, on the whole to be quite unbelievable. A few examples would be [the the world and all that is in it as well as the whole universe and everything in existence started from nothing, morality being a relativity], It didn’t happen that way!!
    2) I find it quite ludicrous that if there were no) omniscient omnipotent being, that (the lack of) he/she would (cause the man) be so shallow, vain and insecure that they would demand there absolutely IS proof of evolution when there is not. As an aside, what would be the point of this anyway except to remove accountability from a creator?
    3) There are hundreds, nay thousands of imaginary Gods. Which one you worship tends to be a matter of geographical and cultural chance (atheism included). God created man? I think so. Man created Gods – thousands of ‘em. It is what he does best. (agree!! – atheism is another one!)
    4) Medieval superstition? Well religions are so laden with it, it’s an open goal to ask me to highlight it. For example I’ve just been reading about sikhs trashing THEIR OWN community centre in Dudley for selling alcohol and meat at a private party.
    No more bizarre to me than otherwise seemingly intelligent folk believing that peoples’ sexual behaviour is of the remotest interest to the above mentioned superior being, or that the (earth is six or ten thousand years old) – [evidence for this is astounding but presuppositions dismiss prior to investigation] or that Jesus appears miraculously in everything from trees to toast.
    Perhaps the 9/11 attacks where the unfortunate gullible perpetrators were allegedly told that there would be 72 virgins waiting for them in paradise is an extreme example of the kind of superstition that religious people fall for. (agree agree agree!!!!)
    Big lies, little lies – Still lies!
    Perhaps though, the killer is that if you examine what happens when communities and cultures become more educated, there is a correlative reduction in religious belief. [because atheism and evolution is the teacher!!]

    As you can see, i can argue the same way and not sustain my position of iota.

    We are both religious – atheism, and Christianity. If I can ask my question another way – what do you believe? – you can’t say nothing, because that is a logical contraction because you believe you believe in nothing…anyway what do you believe? – materialism, naturalism..non physical afterlife…anyway after you have decided what you believe in, i would life you to prove that to be true.
    If you are right, i want to be an atheist.

  8. Ben, nice try but unfortunately it is impossible to argue against the construct you present. I simply disagree with your starting point that atheism is a belief or faith. I disagree strongly that there is no proof of evolution.

    There are of course gaps in that proof but they are becoming fewer. There really has been nothing substantial presented to suppose that Darwin’s theory is wrong in any significant way. Check out the peppered moth as one small example.

    Morality? There are of course certain absolutes which is why the ten commandments, or at least most of them seem to have stood the test of time. In fact they could have been dreamed up and written down by a wise man! It is not difficult to see how these absolutes evolved.

    It’s rotten when someone steals from you, cheats on you, kills someone or covets their neighbour’s ass. That was probably no less true 5,000 years ago than it is now. It’s easy to see how morality would arise from people trying to live in peace with one another. That and the wise ruling the ignorant. Religion was a very handy tool for them.

    That the ancients manipulated their personal view of the world through ‘God’ there can be little doubt. Eating shellfish that had been in the sun probably caused violent illness, even death. It therefore became an abomination to the Lord. Want to burn a live bull? That’s fine the Lord likes that. Working on the sabbath probably would give some an economic advantage – that was sorted by the death penalty. The virulent hatred of homosexuals is perhaps a bit more Freudian but could have happened through child abuse by certain holy men? – I don’t think we can discount that!

    This whole argument is succinctly addressed in the letter “Why can’t I own a Canadian?”

    http://www.humanistsofutah.org/2002/WhyCantIOwnACanadian_10-02.html

    I don’t have all the answers Ben. My ‘belief’ is that the default position should be that there isn’t a superior being. Until some proof or evidence is presented to challenge that I’m happy with my opinions.

    And I’m happy to leave it there.

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