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Thread: One for Barry

  1. #21
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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by StokeBloke View Post
    antidisestablishmentarianists
    Oh, nice try!

    But the 'ists' is redundant; the proper word would be antidisestablishmentarians.

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by StokeBloke View Post
    {snip long closely-argued post}
    One word for you, StokeB: titular. STOP SNIGGERING AT THE BACK!

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by CheesyRobMan View Post
    Like you said, I need to step outside what I'm thinking and doing from time to time too and measure the way I'm acting against the way I should be acting.
    Well, now that's what I'm having difficulties with. How do you know how you 'should be acting'? Doesn't the church/religion tell you that? If not, whence does the shouldness derive?

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Shnikov View Post
    Well, now that's what I'm having difficulties with. How do you know how you 'should be acting'? Doesn't the church/religion tell you that? If not, whence does the shouldness derive?
    From the moral dictate of whatever religion someone belongs to. The basic principles of Christianity are good, but people can call and think of themselves as Christians, even when acting in a thoroughly unchristian way.

    On the Agony page of my daily paper there are regularly letters from girls who are pregnant, saying they won't have an abortion because they're Catholic. There are also regularly letters from girls saying they're going to sleep with their boyfriend, but don't want him to use a condom because they're Catholic. They don't seem to care much that their religion tells them, quite clearly, not to have sex before marriage! It's not actually the religion at fault (they know the rules), it's their decision to interpret it to suit their own lifestyle.

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Shnikov View Post
    How do you know how you 'should be acting'? Doesn't the church/religion tell you that? If not, whence does the shouldness derive?
    As I attempted (badly) to explain earlier, the mindset and values you adopt have to come from somewhere. Either you think there is a set of moral-absolute values that define right and wrong, or you don't - although you would be hard pressed to find someone with a healthy mind and *no* concept of right and wrong. Where faith comes in is that you decide that a certain set of values are inherently right, whether because of Divine pronouncement/example, cultural normality or some other more arbitrary reason. In my case, I choose to believe that Christianity is right because of my faith, and accept its framework of values and shouldness (great word btw!), and use that as the basis for the way I make my decisions.

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    Re: One for Barry

    Another one for Barry

    Jesus is coming....look busy.







    I'm going straight to hell

  7. #27
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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Trouble View Post
    Another one for Barry

    Jesus is coming....look busy.




    That'll be 25 for a new keyboard, then. Lucky for you I managed to wipe all the coffee off my 22" screen...

  8. #28
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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Shnikov View Post


    That'll be 25 for a new keyboard, then. Lucky for you I managed to wipe all the coffee off my 22" screen...
    Luckily I had a tissue handy because I snotted.

  9. #29
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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Shnikov View Post
    Religion promotes a credulous world-view, one which makes people prone to a way of conducting themselves that abrogates personal responsibility.
    For that statement to be a meaningful comment on relgion it would have to suppose that people are not "credulous" and "prone to conducting themselves [in ways] that abrogate personal responsibility".

    My experience - along with vast volumes of social and psychological research - suggests that human nature is fundementally credulous and prone to conducting oneself in ways that abrogate personal responsibility.

    In fact, blaming religion for the world's ills is, in my opinion, a great example of trying to blame something other than human nature for the nature of human behaviour. If that's not abrogating responsibility on the grandest scale, I don't know what is (ironically, if there is a God, then Christianity could be excused for its behavour; if there's not as God, then religion must be a manifestation of human nature itself).

    I guess what I'm saying is that you've got the causality around the wrong way. Religion does not create the negative aspects of human nature. It's the bad parts of human nature that have created religion. Blaming some reification of human behaviour for human behaviour - religion or anything else - is creating a false idol. It is, in a curious sense, a form of religion.

    Humans are a nasty piece of work. As much as we're capable of good, we're also capable of great evil. Christianity teaches us that it's because we fell when Eve took the apple from the snake. I think the blame lies in our most fundemental genetic makeup.

  10. #30
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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    For that statement to be a meaningful comment on relgion it would have to suppose that people are not "credulous" and "prone to conducting themselves [in ways] that abrogate personal responsibility".
    Well, that's wrong, surely: it doesn't need to suppose that. To what extent people can be described that way, religion promotes it - isn't that what I said?
    My experience - along with vast volumes of social and psychological research - suggests that human nature is fundementally credulous and prone to conducting oneself in ways that abrogate personal responsibility.
    My experience - along with some research - suggests that this is amplified by, if not directly caused by, the fact that almost 999 out of a 1000 people are brought up within a religion.
    In fact, blaming religion for the world's ills is, in my opinion, a great example of trying to blame something other than human nature for the nature of human behaviour. If that's not abrogating responsibility on the grandest scale, I don't know what is (ironically, if there is a God, then Christianity could be excused for its behavour; if there's not as God, then religion must be a manifestation of human nature itself).
    You've made quite sweeping statements about human nature without explaining to us how you have arrived at this knowledge about what constitutes 'human nature'.
    The 'abrogation' of 'responsibility' to which I referred was personal responsibility - like, um, "I shouldn't do this because it is wrong", not "wow, society is to blame!".
    I would accept that religion is a manifestation of human nature, provided that certain qualifications apply. Clearly (to greater or lesser extents) we prefer certainty to uncertainty, simple rules to complicated ones, to allow other people to make decisions for us, not to have to contemplate oblivion. But just because we are the sort of species that might believe in gods and the supernatural doesn't make them more or less true.
    I guess what I'm saying is that you've got the causality around the wrong way. Religion does not create the negative aspects of human nature. It's the bad parts of human nature that have created religion. Blaming some reification of human behaviour for human behaviour - religion or anything else - is creating a false idol. It is, in a curious sense, a form of religion.
    Humans are a nasty piece of work. As much as we're capable of good, we're also capable of great evil. Christianity teaches us that it's because we fell when Eve took the apple from the snake. I think the blame lies in our most fundemental genetic makeup.
    I thoroughly, wholeheartedly and vigorously reject your claim that humans are 'bad', and especially that we are 'a nasty piece of work'. Most people I know are good and decent people trying to get on with each other, provide a bit of material comfort for themselves and those they care about, do a decent job for the people they work for. Some like to create nice things, some like to do charitable work, some like to relax in the garden. They don't like to hear that troops are perpetrating atrocities in Iraq, that children are being let down by the social care system, that hundreds of bank workers may lose their jobs; if there is something that they feel will be really helpful they are quite likely to give that helping hand.
    I feel sorry for, but am also rather impatient with, people who have such a relentlessly unreal and negative view of the human character.

  11. #31
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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Shnikov View Post
    Well, that's wrong, surely: it doesn't need to suppose that. To what extent people can be described that way, religion promotes it - isn't that what I said?
    Wrong?

    You have just said that religion promotes these negative things.

    What I said was for that to be meaningful, you have to prove that religion causes these things. What I am suggesting is that you have the causality around the wrong way. That the things you find so repugnant about religion are, in fact innate parts of human nature - they stem from our social and biological make-up as people.

    The evidence for this is fairly simple. Every human culture has developed some form of religious (or at least totemic) belief system even when totally isolated from other cultures. These belief systems all display the sort of credulity and abrogation of responsibility that you seem to despise (given that you provide a sweeping condemnation of religion, it would be somewhat hypocritical to challenge this point...).

    In the broadest sense, there are two possible theses that explain the existence of religion. The first is that there is in fact some form of spiritual world (God or whatever) and religion is in some sense genuinely motivated and inspired by this spiritual world. The second is that religion is a product of the human desire to explain the world. You clearly believe the latter.

    If the latter is true, then religion is a social construct: it is a product of the beliefs and actions of people. But social constructs go further: they are abstracted from the beliefs and actions until they are held up as if they are concrete entities. For religion to be a social construct means a whole bunch of things. One of them is that it must both be produced by some basic force from the social setting constructing it and that it must continue to have some sort of meaning or purpose within the social setting. Without those things, it doesn't exist.

    As you correctly state, almost everyone holds religious beliefs. This suggests that the initiating forces behind religion are something basic to all human societies. When I refer to human nature I'm getting at something that is not tied to any particular culture. Given the universality of religion across cultures, this seems to be tied to human nature. In terms of causality, if religion is a social construct, then people - and by definition human nature - must have caused religion to come into existence. One cannot have a social construct without social actors.

    On top of that, all the religions are so similar: one has to account for that similarity. How do so many diverse cultures construct something that is so similar? Similarity is usually a product of a common cause. The only common factor in all religions - if one discounts spirituality - is the people who make up the religion. This suggests that religion - good or bad - is an ongoing expression of human nature. This conclusion is strengthened when we see very similar behaviours from non-religious ideologies: Naziism, Stalinism, Maoism all display the same form of incredulity and abrogation of responsibility.
    My experience - along with some research - suggests that this is amplified by, if not directly caused by, the fact that almost 999 out of a 1000 people are brought up within a religion.
    You've made quite sweeping statements about religion without explaining to us how you have arrived at this knowledge about what constitutes 'religion'. Actually, you've not made any indication of what religion is - it seems, in your language, to be a sweeping prejorative term - but lacks definition.

    The sort of stuff I'm talking about is the work on decision making and other basic cognitive processes - the work on decision heuristics and the like. There's some neat stuff on the role of expectations in filtering our perceptions. All of this points to the fact that our minds are made to believe: credulity is a product of genetic determinism.

    I'll deal with the abrogation of responsibility later.
    You've made quite sweeping statements about human nature without explaining to us how you have arrived at this knowledge about what constitutes 'human nature'.
    Much as you've made sweeping statements about religion?
    I thoroughly, wholeheartedly and vigorously reject your claim that humans are 'bad', and especially that we are 'a nasty piece of work'./
    No, you'd blame an abstract concept instead.

    I wonder if you've ever encountered Hannah Ardent's term, the Banality of Evil? Her argument is that the atrocities of the holocaust were the committed by normal people who accepted the premises of their state. What she was arguing was that , if one excludes the relatively small number of genuine sociopaths, evil acts were mostly committed by good people. And given the right context and environment, everyone was capable of the most horrific evil.

    Her case study was Eichmann - the architect of the Nazi death camps. He was portrayed as a monster who despised Jews and wanted to destroy them. Instead she found a relatively normal man. In most respects a good, decent human being. He uncritically accepted a view that Jews were a problem and not quite human. He then set about solving that problem. Where he failed was in applying any sort of self-reflective awareness to his actions. While he was a fundementally good person, he was central to one of the most evil acts in human history.

    The Stanford prison experiments demonstrated a similar idea: put good people into a particular environment, and they start committing atrocious acts. Freud - for all his faults - suggested the same thing: the purely self-interested ego is capable of nasty acts: it's only our social id that keeps it in check. The fact that virtually every occupying army gets involved in nasty little things like rape and massacres is another piece of evidence. I could go on, and on and on. In each case, the social structure totally overrides individual responsibility.

    This is the point I was making: people, as individuals are generally good and decent people. But we can drop over that edge to do evil without changing our basic goodness. We're all too quick to be credulous and abrogate responsibility.

  12. #32
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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    The evidence for this is fairly simple. Every human culture has developed some form of religious (or at least totemic) belief system even when totally isolated from other cultures.
    Not true. Non religious tribes of people have been found and it certainly seems logical that religions are as popular as they are only because they spread so well between groups of people.


    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    On top of that, all the religions are so similar: one has to account for that similarity.
    All religions are NOT similar. Not even close. Unless you mean similar as in "this truck is very similar to this strawberry"


    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    You've made quite sweeping statements about religion without explaining to us how you have arrived at this knowledge about what constitutes 'religion'.
    wouldn't catch you doing that would we ?

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    Wrong?

    You have just said that religion promotes these negative things.
    Correctamundo!!

    But what you said was for that for what I said to be true, it required that 'those things' weren't part of human nature already. And that's wrong. If you think about it, you'll see.

    OK, in the easter spirit of goodwill to all men: it's in human nature to look after children, even other people's children. But the NSPCC promotes it. See?

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    In the broadest sense, there are two possible theses that explain the existence of religion. The first is that there is in fact some form of spiritual world (God or whatever) and religion is in some sense genuinely motivated and inspired by this spiritual world. The second is that religion is a product of the human desire to explain the world. You clearly believe the latter.

    If the latter is true, then religion is a social construct: it is a product of the beliefs and actions of people. But social constructs go further: they are abstracted from the beliefs and actions until they are held up as if they are concrete entities. For religion to be a social construct means a whole bunch of things. One of them is that it must both be produced by some basic force from the social setting constructing it and that it must continue to have some sort of meaning or purpose within the social setting. Without those things, it doesn't exist.
    Your argument appears to go as follows: "Either there really are gods, or religion is a social construct. My definition of 'social construct' requires the following elements: X, Y and Z. If a phenomenon doesn't have X Y and Z, it's not a social construct..."

    ...and so - um - what then?

    First, if social construct is to be defined in a way that means religion cannot be a social construct, then your first paragraph quoted here is a false dichotomy. There is a third thing religion can be: not true, not a social construct, but something else. Alternatively, I'm happy to accept the dichotomy if social construct is less rigidly defined.

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    You've made quite sweeping statements about religion without explaining to us how you have arrived at this knowledge about what constitutes 'religion'. Actually, you've not made any indication of what religion is - it seems, in your language, to be a sweeping prejorative term - but lacks definition.
    Much as you've made sweeping statements about religion?
    No, you'd blame an abstract concept instead.
    You quoted my statement from yesterday's post.
    "My experience - along with some research - suggests that this [viz, credulity] is amplified by, if not directly caused by, the fact that almost 999 out of a 1000 people are brought up within a religion."
    Never mind whether it is 'sweeping' - do you assert that it is wrong?

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Shnikov View Post
    But what you said was for that for what I said to be true, it required that 'those things' weren't part of human nature already. And that's wrong. If you think about it, you'll see.
    What I see is you having an axe to grind against religion. You've repeatedly blamed religion for these failings of people. What you fail to do is explain how religion exists separately of the people who make up the religion.

    My argument is that if there is no God, then religion cannot be anything more than an expression of human nature: a social construction. If there is no God, then humans must have created religion. Thus the bad things that you attribute to religion are things that people have created. The most likely explanation - and one with the evidence to support it - is that these things you are talking about are part of human nature. You can blame religion for reinforcing them. But then you have to blame the things that created religion: people. By your own admission, virtually every person on the planet is involved in religion. Through their involvement, they have created religion.

    The basic problem I have is trying to separate religion from people. That is the fault I see in your logic. It doesn't make any sense.
    OK, in the easter spirit of goodwill to all men: it's in human nature to look after children, even other people's children. But the NSPCC promotes it. See?
    One does not preclude the other - a that's a fundamental error of logic. As I said, we have the capacity for both good and evil contained in our basic make-up. Proving that human nature contains good does not mean it does not contain evil.

  17. #37
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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    This is the point I was making: people, as individuals are generally good and decent people. But we can drop over that edge to do evil without changing our basic goodness. We're all too quick to be credulous and abrogate responsibility.
    which is a pretty drastic re-working of your earlier sentence, against which I protested
    fiercely:
    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332
    Humans are a nasty piece of work.
    So if I missed the point you were making, it's hardly surprising!

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    What I see is you having an axe to grind against religion.
    Guilty as charged.
    My argument is that if there is no God, then religion cannot be anything more than an expression of human nature: a social construction.
    ...and therefore the evils of religion are really the evils of humanity.

    Well, blimey, if that's your argument you could have stated it a lot more simply at the outset!!

    Of course that is correct; it's probably largely correct even if there is a (or some) god(s).

    I have to get ready to go on my easter travels, but perhaps I can continue the discussion after the weekend.

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Shnikov View Post
    You quoted my statement from yesterday's post.
    "My experience - along with some research - suggests that this [viz, credulity] is amplified by, if not directly caused by, the fact that almost 999 out of a 1000 people are brought up within a religion."
    Never mind whether it is 'sweeping' - do you assert that it is wrong?
    Yes. The statement that religion directly causes credulity is wrong. Absolutely, totally, and completely wrong. It is caused by the way the human brain is hardwired: the cause for individual behaviour is the genetic make-up of our mind. The cause of our genetic make-up is evolution. Religion is one manifestation of this make-up.

    Religion probably does have some amplifying effect on credulity: but this is because people want institutions that amplify their credulity. Again, the evidence for that is the fact that atheistic societies also create institutions that reinforce credulity.

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    Re: One for Barry

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    Yes. The statement that religion directly causes credulity is wrong. Absolutely, totally, and completely wrong. It is caused by the way the human brain is hardwired: the cause for individual behaviour is the genetic make-up of our mind. The cause of our genetic make-up is evolution. Religion is one manifestation of this make-up.

    Religion probably does have some amplifying effect on credulity: but this is because people want institutions that amplify their credulity. Again, the evidence for that is the fact that atheistic societies also create institutions that reinforce credulity.
    (Quick post from parents 'puter)

    Well, you have a problem. There are plenty of us who aren't credulous. So it can't be 'hardwired', can it?

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