Sunday, September 26, 2010

Secular religion gone crazy

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Religion has unfolded into a plethora of different schools over the last 3000 years or so. We might well ask - what is the next step. I can see light at the end of the tunnel. A religion which is open to everyone regardless of what they believe. I believe I have found them on a website called ReligiousTolerance.org. I do like the fact that they do state their values upfront. True to their name, they count an atheist among them. I guess that is consistent with their belief in democracy.
Where I disagree with them is:
1. "In the inherent worth of every person. People are worthy of respect, support, and caring simply because they are human. Unfortunately, we have not reached a consensus on when human life, in the form of an ovum and spermatozoon, becomes a human person. On this matter, our lack of agreement on when personhood begins mirrors that of society at large".
Let me add some clarity. When a person is 'inherently' or intrinsically of value, you admonish the very concept of value, or any notion of a hierarchy of values. Intrinsic values are thus a repudiation of life, of meaning, of science, and of knowledge. People are worthy of respect, support and caring to the extent that they have earned your respect, and you theirs. The reason why you can't reach a consensus on what life is, is because you see the implications of that decision. In any respect, abortion is not an issue related to when life begins, but the proper ethics between lives. You clearly believe that a life ought to be able to impose obligations on other lives. This is evident is abortion and the collectivist state, i.e. welfare, education (i.e. the right to an education is the right to coerce teachers into providing an education).
2. "In working towards a culture that is relatively free of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, physical disability, age, body shape, etc".
Well, there would be less discrimination if educators actually recognised its cause. Discrimination is not actually the problem. Discrimination is actually a proper consequence of making value judgements. Price discrimination is something we do every day, and we make all manner of value judgements. Why not racial, religious and sex discrimination? Well, in some context they are appropriate, and mostly they are not, but its a question of reasons and context. There is no dogmatic way to make such decisions. Clearly religious people are more likely to exercise such irrational forms of discrimination because they make a virtue out of 'faith' (or acceptance without reason). Given their humble acknowledgement of their prejudice, you will often hear Christians say, I wish I did not have this prejudice...oh well, I am only human. Original Sin - its the ultimate cope out.
3. "In the value of the human person. We oppose the use of torture and cruel or unusual punishment including the death penalty".
There are good reasons to repudiate the use of capital punishment. Perhaps the most important reasons are that (i) our justice system is underfunded, (ii) Our government persecutes more than it prosecutes given its underlying value system, (iii) the objectivity and critical thinking skills of our judiciary is lacklustre, (iv) Our court system integrates with the police and prison system, so there is a possibility of judicial indifference, bias and unaccountability, and (v) attitudes to evidence, and what constitutes evidence are often arbitrary or non-contextual. I do however think there is a place for capital punishment; but at this point government bureaucrats cannot be trusted with the responsibility or its regulation.
4. "In the importance of democracy within religious, political and other structures".
Not sure what this means, but these institutions are entirely consistent. We have religion which repudiates the mind, and we have a political system which subjugates the rational thoughts of some individuals to the mindless indifference of the majority, who are themselves disempowered, vestiges of their former, mal-developed selves.
5. "In the separation of religion and state; and the freedoms of speech, association, and expression".
Nice idea, but unfortunately it makes little difference. Whilst religion might have little direct influence on politics, on some level it affects the thinking of people, and that culminates in coercive government policy, and the oppression of individuals. Just as religion is based on arbirtrary dogma, so is government policy. The difference is that religious dogma comes from traditional nonsense, whilst government policy derives from collectivist nonsense. Our democratic tradition is based on subjugation of individuals to the majority, which is not a competition in 'quality' arguments, but a 'numbers' game which precludes the possibility of conflict, which prevents the realisation of solutions. This is what we call the 'tyranny of the majority', which is more concerning that the 'tyranny of some minority' because it has the force and legitimacy of the law. Your arbitrary Senate structure offers little in the way of protection, such that many people actually consider it worthwhile to abolish the institution of 'accountability'.
6. "That freedom of speech is one of our most important rights. This includes the freedom to compare the beliefs of faith groups with each other and with other sources of information. It includes the freedom to criticize faith and other groups when they harm others".
What good is freedom of speech when you have no freedom of property. What good does it do me to have the freedom of speech when I have no right to material expression, say the creation of wealth. What is the purpose of ideas, but to seek some material manifestation of it. Knowledge is not an end in itself. But yes, you ought to have the freedom to be stupid, or not. But I should be free of any motivation you might have to impose your values upon me. In which case your arbitrary assertions tend to manifest in wars, which is why religion is ultimately as dangerous as any other subjectivist (i.e. collectivist political) movement.
7. "That the systems of truth that we have studied on the topics of morals, ethics, and religious belief are often considered absolute within various religions and secular belief systems. However, they are obviously relative because they vary greatly from one culture, religion, and time to another".
Wow, this is an intellectual contortion. Truth is absolute, but it is also objective and contextual. It is not a 'dogmatic' absolute divorced of context. As soon as you talk about reconciling dogmas and secular thought is where you descend into relativism. It cannot be done with any credibility. Either you are preaching absolute mumbo-jumbo, or you are talking relativist mumbo-jumbo. Anyway, any mystic idealist is condemned to descend into scepticism by merely 'virtue' of their idiocy and declining morale. Hence the ultimate scepticism.
8. "In the generally positive influence that most religions have had on their followers and on society".
Religion has a terrible historical legacy, but I guess if you accept that humanity was born with 'Original Sin', you could delude yourself into thinking almost anything. Are we better? Does that correlate with the declining levels of religious belief. Empirical evidence suggests that atheists commit fewer crimes than Christians. I don't want to suggest that only Christians are bad people, but that all critical thinkers are going to be educated 'thinkers'. i.e. The ratio of Christian scientists are far lower at 5%, than the 66% ratio of Christians in the broader community.
9. "In the importance of education. We believe that people are not truly educated unless they have studied the world's major religions and ethical systems. They need to learn of both the good and evil impacts that each has had on society".
Studying all the major religions of the world would be great if it was not all you studied, as it might highlight in your mind the fact that they all descended from paganism, and are thus forms of early deception, and how institutionalised religion is really nothing more than plagiarism of early paganism.

If this dialogue made little sense to you, it is because you need to raise your intellectual proficiency. There are a great many books to read....i suggest you get started.
------------------------------------Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com
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Attention all atheists!!
In fact anyone who has had an interesting encounter with a Christian which involved manipulation, deception or blatant rationalisation. This is research or material for a forthcoming book. I am not suggesting that all Christians are criminals, dangerous or threats to society, but I am suggesting that Christianity is a basis for moral inefficacy. There is a reason why Christian nations are always at war. There is a reason why former Christians (or children of Christians) have a tendency to drift into cults and extreme religious groups. Thank you for any life experiences you can recall. ----------------------------------------------- Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com