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Arthmoor
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I have a favourite saying' date=' "It's not religion that starts wars, it's atheism". The reason I say that is that no one starts a fight over what they believe, they start one because they can't accapt what someone else believes. Decrying religion as having cause, "much harm" is to miss the point - it isn't the religion that is the problem, it is the way people deal with other people. When two oposing groups, religious, political, whatever, can't agree on something and can't live with the other belief they fight until only one group is left standing....At least religions groups people together in a common community and stop everybody from fighting everyone all the time.[/quote']Whoa, whoa. Hold up. Atheism starts wars? As in, the lack of belief in any gods at all? Like all wars ever? 'cause I'm going to have to go with a big no on that one.I take the point you're making here, but your terminology is wildly off-base (and perhaps offensive, if you want to go that far).Leaving aside the at times internecine, at times partially external conflict that were the Inquisitions, there are a couple of points to be made in opposition here.1. Offloading all of the blame over who started killing who onto what the other guy thinks is, I think, a bit reductionist, perhaps, insofar as your own religion has a certain amount of choice to make as to relationships. The Nicene Creed, for example, or the whole "There is no god but God..." bit from Islam would seem to me to be wholly different approaches to the world than, say, Taoism.The point being, I think, that what you believe explicitly informs what you think of what those other heathens believe and your approach as to killing them, not killing them, or sending them cupcakes.2. While religion may or may not be the entire problem in and of itself, religion certainly has its part to play. I don't want to boil this down too far, but while it's true that it's possible to see the First Crusade as an expression of various political and social pressures within Europe (rise of Papal authority, overpopulation of knights, trade issues, &c, &c), it likewise seems true to me that you don't get the form the Crusades took without heavy doses of religion, from the explicit appeal to the Christian religion of Alexius Comnenus and the Byzantines to the massacre after the seige of Jerusalem in 1099. Certainly the form the Crusades took is very much different and very much more religiously informed than the conflicts between Rome and the Parthians, let us say.Which is to say that if religion didn't start the fire, as they say, it certainly made it a much bigger fire, and furthermore religious reasons for doing things tend to be deeper and more fanatical than "what say we go conquer Britain as a new Roman province?" and the like.3. As regards your last bit about common community, I think it must be added "except when it doesn't", perhaps with fairly heavy emphasis on that part of it. Speaking as an actual athiest here, I find the examples pretty numerous - a bulk of common beliefs has certainly done wonders for peace amongst Sunni and Shia, it must be said, to say nothing of the infamously cutthroat world of the 4th century Christian church. We are now at a point at which Samson is decrying the most direct continuation of the early Christian church as being a pack of pagan idolators, which seems to me to be very community spirited.Milage may vary.
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And if there's a single thing that will turn someone from faith to atheism, it's the whole "my god is better than your god" bullshit. Or I believe in god and you don't, so I'm going to fry you and your kin until you see the one true light. Two words: fuck off.I was born and raised Anglican, including Confirmation and taking Holy Communion. But after watching my mother be an on-again, off-again Christian, as in whenever it was convenient or not, and then all the other bullshit with regards to people using their various religions to pass judgment on others, I said fuck it.I've got lots of friends with all kinds of faiths. I really don't care as long as I'm not judged on my beliefs, or non-beliefs as the case may be. And as long as I'm not forced to follow their faith. No, I don't think I'll be travelling to a muslim country anytime soon.

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Whoa' date=' whoa. Hold up. Atheism starts wars? As in, the lack of belief in any gods at all? Like all wars ever? 'cause I'm going to have to go with a big no on that one.I take the point you're making here, but your terminology is wildly off-base (and perhaps offensive, if you want to go that far).
I'm sorry, when I have this discussion I'm usually talking to people who are theologians, Classicists, etc."Atheist" just means "does not believe" or "not a believer", it's doesn't actually mean "doesn't believe in anything", not least because even if you don't believe in God you believe in other things. With the greatest respect, therefore, "atheist" is the correct word in that it denotes a refusal to hold a belief. Christians are atheists in that they don't believe in Jupiter and that was why the Romans slaughtered the early Christians in their thousands.
Leaving aside the at times internecine, at times partially external conflict that were the Inquisitions, there are a couple of points to be made in opposition here.1. Offloading all of the blame over who started killing who onto what the other guy thinks is, I think, a bit reductionist, perhaps, insofar as your own religion has a certain amount of choice to make as to relationships. The Nicene Creed, for example, or the whole "There is no god but God..." bit from Islam would seem to me to be wholly different approaches to the world than, say, Taoism.The point being, I think, that what you believe explicitly informs what you think of what those other heathens believe and your approach as to killing them, not killing them, or sending them cupcakes.
And yet, all religions have conducted internal and external purges - looking at Christianity it should be much more the "cupcake" religion in terms of belief, but in terms of practice when you have real people involved you get killing anyway.It's not about "what the other guy thinks" it's about the fact that the two sides fight because they cannot accept each other's beliefs. It really doesn't matter what those beliefs are, except that they are different and not compatable. This is where modern religion is different to Greek or Roman religion - the Romans in particular found Jews and later Christians highly offensive becuase they only believed in their own God, while the Romans would generally assimilate any God into their Pantheon, either as a new deity or as an aspect of an existing one.The crucial point is that this is a basic human flaw with any belief system that trys to discover "truth", all modern religions are after this and so is Atheism. Cards on the table - if you are an Atheist then you must think my religion is at best a mistaken view of the world and at worst dangerously insane. The fact is, that judgement is the same as if you were a Muslim, or you a Christian and I an Atheist.
2. While religion may or may not be the entire problem in and of itself, religion certainly has its part to play. I don't want to boil this down too far, but while it's true that it's possible to see the First Crusade as an expression of various political and social pressures within Europe (rise of Papal authority, overpopulation of knights, trade issues, &c, &c), it likewise seems true to me that you don't get the form the Crusades took without heavy doses of religion, from the explicit appeal to the Christian religion of Alexius Comnenus and the Byzantines to the massacre after the seige of Jerusalem in 1099. Certainly the form the Crusades took is very much different and very much more religiously informed than the conflicts between Rome and the Parthians, let us say.
Massacre after a siege is normal, it has nothing to do with religion. Saint Augustine scotched this argument 1600 years ago after Rome fell to the Goths. The peculiar thing about the fall of Rome was not that the Goths slaughtered the Pagans, but that they spared the Christians in the Churches. The Crusaders in 1099 did the same. The Eastern Emperor was not making a simply "religious" appeal, he was appealing to the sense of common identity from one half of the Empire to the other - at this date there was still a "Western Emperor" even if he did just hold Germany and bits of France the fiction of a Western Empire remained. Both parts of the Empire were Christian because of Constantine and the later Emperors.At this date you can't seperate religious and moral language, so when the Pope preaches the Holyness of going to help the Eastern Emperor he is just saying "this is the right thing to do". As it was, the First Crusade was actually a fit of a Fail becuase not only was there an Army of Knights and Men-at-Arms there was also a mad rabble following the Army, then the Imperial Army got turned back...Which is to say that the Crusades were a cultural War between a waning culture and a rising one.
Which is to say that if religion didn't start the fire, as they say, it certainly made it a much bigger fire, and furthermore religious reasons for doing things tend to be deeper and more fanatical than "what say we go conquer Britain as a new Roman province?" and the like.
I feel conflicted on this point, on the one hand the Reformation and the English Civil War were utterly reprehensible periods in English history and even the people burnt at the stake did not get out with clean records. On the other hand, the Soviet Union (an avowedly Godless enterprise) supressed all dissent in a way far more brutal than the religious purges of the previous centuries. I am therefore left to conclude that the reason religion looks bad cumulatively is that for the longest time it was the only show in town, but the last 100 years have seen the irreligious more than make up the ground and I am therefore inclined to say the problem isn't theistic religion, but just people.
3. As regards your last bit about common community, I think it must be added "except when it doesn't", perhaps with fairly heavy emphasis on that part of it. Speaking as an actual athiest here, I find the examples pretty numerous - a bulk of common beliefs has certainly done wonders for peace amongst Sunni and Shia, it must be said, to say nothing of the infamously cutthroat world of the 4th century Christian church. We are now at a point at which Samson is decrying the most direct continuation of the early Christian church as being a pack of pagan idolators, which seems to me to be very community spirited.Milage may vary.
And yet, the all hospitals until about 150 years ago were essentially religious institutions - the Roman Catholic Church was the ONLY institution to preserve not just knowledge but actually writing for hundreds of years.I mean - imagine a world without Aristotle, Plato, Vergil, Cicero, Augustine, Marcus Auralius, Lucan, Aristophenes, Herodotus... all preserved in monasteries until the outside world was calm and safe enough to appreciate them again. We could play the game all day but without Christianity, Islam and Judaism we wouldn't have a Western society AT ALL . We would have had to reinvent everything and by the time we had we would have been taken over by the Arabs or the Chinese.
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I find that definition of Atheism to be a pretty huge stretch. If you believe in any higher being, then by definition, you are a Theist, not an Atheist. There is really no gray territory there. Either you believe in a higher being or you don't. You are not an Atheist because you believe in one God but not another, because your belief in that God, by definition, makes you a Theist. A Christian is not an Atheist of Islam, he is a dissident of Islam. He does not believe in Allah, he believes in God. That is a difference of opinion between two Theists who believe in two different Gods."Religion doesn't start wars, dissidence does." is much more accurate.Why do I not believe in a God? Well, let us say that I have little faith in humanity, and religion has proven time and time again to result in tempers boiling over and people being killed in the name of one man's idea of a higher being. Nowadays, we have the same story in politics, and I would prefer hanging my hat someplace where at least our annihilation would be grounded in reality.

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I find that definition of Atheism to be a pretty huge stretch. If you believe in any higher being' date=' then by definition, you are a Theist, not an Atheist. There is really no gray territory there. Either you believe in a higher being or you don't. You are not an Atheist because you believe in one God but not another, because your belief in that God, by definition, makes you a Theist. A Christian is not an Atheist of Islam, he is a dissident of Islam. He does not believe in Allah, he believes in God. That is a difference of opinion between two Theists who believe in two different Gods.[/quote']You can find it a stetch all you want - it is the Classical definition. An atheist is one "who does not believe", or "without God"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AtheismPlease read the section, "Classical Antiquity and note the final paragraph.
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Erm. Right. I'm reminded of why religion debates on non-religion forums are bad.And as I am really not in the mood to participate much more at this point, I'll leave you with the definition of Atheism the real world actually uses:The belief that there is no God.Note that carefully. The belief that there is no God. For I have run into many who claim to be this mythical "I don't believe in ANY GODS" type of atheist only to find out the still believe in some sort of higher power than themselves.Also, the whole thing with Atheism having killed more people during the 20th century than all wars in the name of organized religions combined throughout history.Anyway, yeah. Besides, you're not about to convince me my faith in God is wrong, nor are you going to convince me Purgatory exists when all you have is Catholic paganism to back it up with.

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I'm sorry' date=' when I have this discussion I'm usually talking to people who are theologians, Classicists, etc. "Atheist" just means "does not believe" or "not a believer", it's doesn't actually mean "doesn't believe in anything", not least because even if you don't believe in God you believe in other things. With the greatest respect, therefore, "atheist" is the correct word in that it denotes a refusal to hold a belief. Christians are atheists in that they don't believe in Jupiter and that was why the Romans slaughtered the early Christians in their thousands.[/quote']I don't really want to get bogged down in an argument over terminology, but two things:1. You're seriously the first person I've ever heard use the term in that way. Granted I'm not a theologian, but...2. The common definition, in which atheism is defined as lack of a belief in any god or gods whatsoever, is by far the more common one, and it's how I think most people think of it.Thus, my lengthy post.Well, that and my love of writing lengthy posts. It's a weakness.
It's not about "what the other guy thinks" it's about the fact that the two sides fight because they cannot accept each other's beliefs. It really doesn't matter what those beliefs are' date=' except that they are different and not compatable. This is where modern religion is different to Greek or Roman religion - the Romans in particular found Jews and later Christians highly offensive becuase they only believed in their own God, while the Romans would generally assimilate any God into their Pantheon, either as a new deity or as an aspect of an existing one.[/quote']I'm not sure this is entirely incompatable with my point, though the Romans present something of a problem insofar as a great deal, maybe even most of Roman opposition to Judaism/Christianity was bound up in issues of imperial authority and respect thereof that aren't necessarily present in other examples we might name.My entire point here is that it's values inherent in the Roman belief system that cause conflict with the monotheists (and Druids, and the Carthaginian religious system) somewhat irrespective of anything those religions did or didn't do. We may be arguing two different sides of the same thing, here.
The crucial point is that this is a basic human flaw with any belief system that trys to discover "truth"' date=' all modern religions are after this and so is Atheism. Cards on the table - if you are an Atheist then you must think my religion is at best a mistaken view of the world and at worst dangerously insane. The fact is, that judgement is the same as if you were a Muslim, or you a Christian and I an Atheist.[/quote']Yes, if we're going to be honest about it then I do find most all religions to be, if not mistaken, kind of strange, and at worst dangerous impositions.However, and I think this is important, religions assert various things to be true via recieved wisdom. $PROPHET recieved the wisdom of $DEITY from $EVENT, which subsequently became the $HOLY_TEXT that is the sacred font of all wisdom for living a good life. I'm generalizing, obviously, but that's the rough formula.By contrast, atheists asset, and depending how up or down the agnostic scale you are depends on how much asserting actually goes on, merely the absence of $DEITY or any kind of recieved TRVTH. I'm not even really comfortable calling atheism a religion per se, because it lacks all of the supernatural trappings associated with an actual religion. Yeah, there's that assertion in there about lack of existance of $DEITY, but in my experience that's expressed more as a hypothesis awaiting a proof rather than something engraved on stone tablets. In short, it seems to me that athiests are a lot more willing to say "Well, fuck if I know" about various things.Which I think is a fundamental difference between the two, and one of several reasons you don't see a whole lot of atheist evangelists versus religious evangelists, among other things.Moving on.
Massacre after a siege is normal' date=' it has nothing to do with religion. Saint Augustine scotched this argument 1600 years ago after Rome fell to the Goths. The peculiar thing about the fall of Rome was not that the Goths slaughtered the Pagans, but that they spared the Christians in the Churches. The Crusaders in 1099 did the same.[/quote']Well, yes and no. A certain amount of violence after a seige is to be expected - rape, looting, some killing, slavery depending on when and where, but generally a certain degree of clemency did feature. What I think stands out about the sack of Jerusalem versus other possibly similar events is, besides the sheer degree of the slaughter, the explicitly religious overtones/justification for the thing, and the degree of infamy this engendered, even at the time.Alaric, by contrast, didn't kill the vast majority of the citizens of Rome in 410, and rather the opposite.Leaving aside most of what you're saying about the Crusades, because we're essentially in agreement...
At this date you can't seperate religious and moral language' date=' so when the Pope preaches the Holyness of going to help the Eastern Emperor he is just saying "this is the right thing to do"[/quote']That's kind of my point - the religious justification dials the moral justification up to 11, so that it turns from "Romans, the Parthians just sacked some forts in Syria, we need to drive them back!" to "Take back Jerusalem! God wills it!" That "God wills it" part is a crucial distinction, and without it you don't get the kind of populist swellings that accompanied the First Crusade among other things.
On the other hand' date=' the Soviet Union (an avowedly Godless enterprise) supressed all dissent in a way far more brutal than the religious purges of the previous centuries. I am therefore left to conclude that the reason religion looks bad cumulatively is that for the longest time it was the only show in town, but the last 100 years have seen the irreligious more than make up the ground and I am therefore inclined to say the problem isn't theistic religion, but just people[/quote']So your last bit I think is pretty correct, or perhaps the problem is blind allegience to idiology in general, but I do want to make a couple of notes about the Soviets.While I realize that the "OMG atheists!" part of the Soviets is what really gets at a lot of religious folks, I'm not really convinced that that bit of Marxism-Leninism was the overriding big deal. I mean, Lenin and Stalin didn't really kill a ton of people for being religious, they killed a ton of people because they were political opponents (or, in Stalin's case especially, because Stalin was a crazy ruthless fucker who knew that part of being a dictator was knowing when to kill a bunch of dudes to prove a point). With the exception of dismantling the very much in bed with the Tsars Church and spouting off about opiates of the masses in propaganda, Collectivization, the Great Purge, etc. are more about Stalin half implementing the main agrarian/industrial bits of the Marxist plank while simultaneously consolidating his own hold on power.
And yet' date=' the all hospitals until about 150 years ago were essentially religious institutions - the Roman Catholic Church was the ONLY institution to preserve not just knowledge but actually writing for hundreds of years.[/quote']Yeah, don't get me wrong. I know full well the traditions of Christian/Jewish/Islamic scholarship keeping learning alive, and I know the various good works done by various religions. I'm not interested in making that attack (or really making much of an attack at all), it just wasn't particularly germane to my point at the time.
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Erm. Right. I'm reminded of why religion debates on non-religion forums are bad.
Well, I dunno. This is probably the most civil one I've ever been in, as far as that goes. I don't know about anyone else.
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Well' date=' I dunno. This is probably the most civil one I've ever been in, as far as that goes. I don't know about anyone else.[/quote']Yes, but how much of a debate are you having, really, when I appear to be the only actual semi-religious person participating? Or, at this point, just waiting for it to end because at this point I find the whole thing a bit annoying.
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I thought Thomas and I were the only non-religious people participating.There is a debate happening here, or rather two debates (you and Amadaun, me and Sigurd). I can't even follow the theology one at all. Sigurd and the rest of us are having an abstract debate mostly about terminology, I suppose.Also, on a non-religious note (unless you're religious about liking steak, which may well qualify me), I totally cooked a steak for the first time since living here, and it's seriously the best steak I've ever cooked. So thrilled about this.

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That makes two of us, because the theology one seems to be trying to make the case that one cannot consider the Bible an authoritative document for some reason because the Bible doesn't explicitly declare itself as one. That simply makes no logical sense to me at all and honestly I have no idea how to go about explaining why. Debates aren't really my thing when it starts getting into this sort of mess.So for whoever is interested in where I'm coming from on this and why reading the sources you're all citing isn't going to change anything, here's why:Christianity, TRUE Christianity, is not about which organized religious sect you belong to. It's about the individual and their relationship with Christ. Nobody can tell me that my own relationship with Him is somehow wrong, or that concepts backed up only by Catholic sources mean anything to that. The Bible is considered a primary authority in the same way the Constitution is in our system of government in the US. There are of course precedents, statutes, and other subordinate laws, but none of them in that type of system can contradict what's in the "master document" if you will.With that in mind, nothing in my relationship with Christ indicates that his Salvation was offered with conditions payable upon death in some kind of holding cell. We are not on bail once we repent and ask forgiveness. That debt is paid in full at that time and nothing in the Bible contradicts this in any way.

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Or' date=' at this point, just waiting for it to end because at this point I find the whole thing a bit annoying.[/quote']+1Can you at least split the last ... what? 5-6 pages now? and tuck it into a corner of the forum? When I see activity in "Random Stuff", I expect to come read .... random stuff.
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I thought it was an interesting debate. Most of it sailed right over my head, but I still thought it was interesting.It certainly created a flurry of activity!We've got a forum for this on DC should anyone wish to discuss it further. I think it's about done now anyway.And does the flying shark have a cannon it its head as well? :blink:

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I don't really want to get bogged down in an argument over terminology' date=' but two things:1. You're seriously the first person I've ever heard use the term in that way. Granted I'm not a theologian, but...2. The common definition, in which atheism is defined as lack of a belief in any god or gods whatsoever, is by far the more common one, and it's how I think most people think of it.
Interestingly enough - Richard Dawkins prefers my definition - it is litterally the only thing we agree on. I'm not arguing against the "common" definition, but no word has one meaning and more to the point I don't have any other word to express the idea with. So you will just have to put up with it :tongue:
So your last bit I think is pretty correct, or perhaps the problem is blind allegience to idiology in general, but I do want to make a couple of notes about the Soviets..
I take your notes about the Soviets, but they killed people basically because they opposed Communism, which was what Lenin/Stalin though MUST be - just like Protestants who opposed Catholics or vice versa.It's the holding an idea and refusing to accept alternatives - until about 250 years ago religious ideas were the only ones in town. Saying religion is responsible for wars is like saying religion is responsible for physics, because until 200 years ago all physicists were religious.Now, to satisfy Hanna:

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The May 18, 2012 issue of Science magazine has several articles on human conflict. Hubby got a sample issue in the mail today. The part that is in plain English is an interesting read. Not sure about the real technical jargony stuff though. The section starts on p. 819.

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Note that carefully. The belief that there is no God. For I have run into many who claim to be this mythical "I don't believe in ANY GODS" type of atheist only to find out the still believe in some sort of higher power than themselves.
You seem to be confusin....*record scratches*And now for something completely different.

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Heh, nice. Not generally my sort of thing but good job on getting it noticed so fast.I see everyone's favorite mod pirate is at it again too. Damn that woman.

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Sure would love to know why Nexus seems content to give her a pass on obviously stolen content though. "I did these myself by magic" is so obviously full of shit, yet they just ignore it when reports roll in about it.

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