Minnesota Atheists Meetup Group Message Board › The Modern Atheist And End Of Religious language

The Modern Atheist And End Of Religious language

A former member
Post #: 30
Religion didn't teach me morality it was science and knowing what was real and getting over the dogma that was filled in my head by the mormon religion. And that should go with all religion they teach you to hate other religions and people with different skin color or orientation. It's time to get rid of all the crosses the church's and build a secular world, that will build better morality and teach kid's to respect the world in which we live. And we as Atheists can do it without attacking but with sound science and reason behind us that should be enough to put religion where it belongs in the dog house for good!
Greg P.
user 4140221
Minneapolis, MN
Post #: 9
Niether religion NOR SCIENCE is an apt source for morality. Religion, at its best, often has some version of the dictate to treat other people in the manner one wishes to be treated--which it then goes on, in many cases, to egregiously violate with persons in other sects, races, orientations, etc. We have no disagreement on that point, Carl, and one does not have to go beyond recent headlines to see faith being used as justification for child rape and misogyny in the Yearning for Zion polygamist cult. But science alone can be distorted in very much the same way, as when isolated facts about evolution were used to help justify "Social Darwinism." We can't derive what "ought to be" from what is, so morality and values simply must come from outside of science. But I think what I hear you saying, Carl, is that the tools in science helped you to see that religious faith is not tenable, which freed you from the lame and anemic morality of religion and empowered you to build a more full-blooded morality on rational principles. I get that. I'm right there with you. I sometimes think that since both science and philosophy are founded on helping us get closer to the facts of a matter, we often confuse them, and maybe I'm just being too pedantic, but I think our only real difference is in how we talk about the tools. I think you see philosophy as perhaps part of science, whereas I think that science and philosophy are quite different. For example, I think that the facts that science uncovers would be the same whether humans existed or not, whereas much of what we know from philosophy is only true because of the type of beings we are. One thing we certainly share, though, is a vision for a future free of crushing, bruising, stultifying dogma. We perhaps have things to learn from each other about how to strive for that goal. Because of your experience, you take a very hard line on religion, and I don't blame you a bit. My experience with religion was extremely positive, and I learned a great deal from my many years as a Christian. I am absolutely convinced that Christianity is in no sense based on factual truth, that it is profoundly mistaken in many crucial respects. But I also recognize that for many people, faith is the closest thing they have to a philosophy, something that guides their actions and provides a sense of purpose. It's no good getting "rid of all the crosses and churches" without addressing those existential concerns. Science simply cannot do that. It was never intended to. We have much, much harder work ahead of us than merely hammering on the obvious errors of religion, trying to tear down shrines of ignorance with blunt reason. We must construct edifices of morality (not THEIR morality--the real kind that you are talking about, Carl) and meaning, founded and supported by sweet reason, so they want to leave their cramped, crabbed religious lives and join us in the light.
A former member
Post #: 2
I think we should strive to end religious language, but we can not do so without exposing the superstition and deflating the unchallengeable sanctity of religion. I am a literature teacher, and becoming an affirmed atheist last year (I was one for a long time, just did not admit it) has opened my eyes to the ubiquitous lexicon of religious ideology. Going to church and believing in Jesus are a given, and religious iconography abounds. We have to challenge these myths and ideas by making a side by side comparison to the cosmology of the Bible and the cosmology of the Big Bang. Once we take an objective look at what religion actually describes in the "holy" texts, the absurdity of their propositions become apparent. I know that theists should be the one defending their myth-driven ideas, but let's face it--they are the majority. They populate the airwaves, the halls of education, and halls of government in far greater numbers than we do. So like it or not, they own most of the dance hall, and they get to call the tune, and we have to persuade the DJ to play some alternative tracks that we have brought in from our private collection. We can not ignore that the giant troll of religion is blocking the bridge, and we don't have enough billy goats to knock them aside.

True, it can be frustrating to point out in 2008 that the cosmology of Genesis has the sun being created on day four after plants have been created (photosynthesis did not apply back then I suppose?), but until we have the Reason Driven Life on every bookcase and Day of Scientific Discovery on every Sunday Morning (instead of people like Mac Hammond and Joel Olsteen filling up stadiums), WE are the voice crying in the wilderness. We must continue to debate "holy books" and hopefully open the eyes of theists one eyelid at a time...


A former member
Post #: 31
While I agree we need to debate I think most Atheists are going
about it wrong. We need to stop using comtemporary atheism
such as arguments about and against religion. Instead of debating
they should dominate,invade,undermine, and ultimately be able to
institutionalize and to naturalize. A more worldview movement that
would include all religions not just the christian ideology most
Americans identify with. First root religion out of it's penetration of
society and everyday life. Public crosses and displays must come down.
Religious holidays must be eliminated. The sabbath must be overthrown.
In an Ideal world all churches,temples,synagogues and all other religious
properties would be decommissioned and converted into secular public
properties. Religious images in schools and government buildings forbidden.
Religious dress, food habits and sexuality must be abandoned. Especially
the body must be free in order for the mind to be free. Doing this would
free women and children of the shackles of religion. It's a long journey
but it can happen if done the right way.
A former member
Post #: 3
First root religion out of it's penetration of
society and everyday life. Public crosses and displays must come down.
Religious holidays must be eliminated. The sabbath must be overthrown.
In an Ideal world all churches,temples,synagogues and all other religious
properties would be decommissioned and converted into secular public
properties. Religious images in schools and government buildings forbidden.
Religious dress, food habits and sexuality must be abandoned. Especially
the body must be free in order for the mind to be free. Doing this would
free women and children of the shackles of religion. It's a long journey
but it can happen if done the right way.


That sounds kind of aggressive, Carl. Rather than rooting out religion, I would rather that people leave it willingly. I would rather see churches come down because no one was bothering to attend anymore, as has been the case in Europe.

Have patience, Carl. I noticed that the most religious presidential candidates were not as successful as the least religious.
justin c.
justncase80
Minneapolis, MN
Post #: 5
I could probably get behind the idea of altering whatever laws we have in place to promote religion. I bet removing religious institutions tax exempt status would have a big impact.
Greg P.
user 4140221
Minneapolis, MN
Post #: 10
Carl, I love your passion, and I feel confident that you don't mean to come off this way, but some of your assertive language reads, to my eyes, uncomfortably like a fatwa or inquisition. I read an interview this morning in New Scientist with the archaeologist (forgive my not having the time to look up his name--Finklestein, perhaps?) who is essentially rewriting the standard view of biblical historicity. No exodus, no Joshua and the battle of Jericho--all pure fiction. And this guy is an atheist, but he is still a practicing Jew. Still celebrates Passover, in full realization that it is not historical. Now I put it to you, what is wrong with that? Or to think of another example, in an article in "Free Inquiry," the atheist magazine, a Jewish writer responding to Hitchen's book said that she didn't think religion poisoned latkes, a Jewish festival treat. I don't think it poisons Christmas trees or carols, or even religious paintings. Don't get me wrong, a lot of religious art is crap, but some of it is quite good--as a human accomplishment. Can't that be our goal, to help divest religion of its literalism? I have no desire to be a tornado that rips down every edifice vestigially associated with religion. The great atheist fantasy series "His Dark Materials" by Phil Pullman uses religious themes to make a very atheistic point, about growing up and taking responsibility (among other themes). Too religious? How about we act like the sun rather than the wind, gently coaxing the superstitious to give up the shabby old coat of ignorance in favor of the natural warmth of reason, and human-based ethics and purposes? I won't say more about this. Clearly we must agree to disagree on tactics, and that's fine. I think the radically aggressive approach creates a sort of "Overton's Window" for folks like me, who feel perhaps more sympathy with the typical scared believer, and less acrimony. BUT. I have plenty--PLENTY--of disgust and anger toward those who openly lie to and abuse regular believers. Those in the ID and creationist camps who know damn well that they are not representing science accurately, biblical "scholars" who make claims for the historicity of Jesus unsupported by the facts, miracle-mongers and faith "healers" who prey on the suggestibility and gullibility of the desperate--these are despicable sorts and should be called out in the harshest, most uncompromising terms. If you want me to join you in condemning these cynical, greedy, lying bastards, then you have a very strong ally in me.
A former member
Post #: 32
When you say inquisition I take it you have been reading about those crazy christians from a few hundred years ago. When I say root out religion I mean debunk all of it not just parts of it like most American Atheists do. Then make all churches taxable then they will fall one by one and then turn all buildings into secular public property. Than discourage all religion as a bad by product of the past. Turn religious holidays into secular holidays better yet get rid of the word holiday or holy-day. Teach more science and technology. Then less superstition will arise and the better the world will be for all humanity.
A former member
Post #: 2
Carl,

I understand and appreciate your point of view. I was at a party last night where a number of people were talking about teaching Sunday School and delivering toys to children while they treated their wives with heavy doses of sarcasm and disdain. My tongue was nearly bleeding as I held my breath, wanting to point out to them the hypocrisy of their actions.

Still, forcing religion into the trash scares me because I do not want my belief of non-belief to be forced away from me. Perhaps it was my duty to say something to the misogynistic jerks who flaunted their righteousness on one hand while verbally abusing their spouses with the other. I did, however, share my observations with my friend, using the words, "There is some Christian morality for you." I have also been much more open about my non-belief in an imaginary friend and the futility of prayer. If each of us gives reasons for our non-belief without attacking those with waning or unstable belief, we might begin to start tipping the scales.

We have truly out evolved our need for religion. Instead of praying to the clouds, hoping for some divine intervention, we can start to treat each other with the love and support that is wished for by those who clasp their hands and mumble in futility.
Jack C.
user 3043821
Group Organizer
Minneapolis, MN
Post #: 12
As I've monitored this discussion and watched it develop I have to chime in for Carl. My point of view may be influenced by the fact that I know Carl and have spoken to him in person about this and other subjects. As he's said, he isn't calling for name-calling or aggression of any kind against those who are religious. The hope is that one day Christianity, Islam and the rest will be put in the same category as the ancient Greek and Roman religions, which we now appropriately name "myths." Those stories and the art they have inspired are still appreciated; we just don't presume that they depict the world in any sort of realistic way. And the method for getting there is speaking up for reason, letting others know why we don't believe in the supernatural, and by standing up for our right to live in a secular society where religion is no longer favored over nonbelief. Many people who believe in secularism only take it to mean that our government will not favor one religion over another, in spite of the fact that freethinkers greatly outnumber the adherents of many religions and religious denominations.

I don't have time to write much more, but the other thing I wanted to touch on is the word "transcendent." A common definition is "existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe." Under that usage, I don't see how an atheist can support the existence of transcendental experiences without being somewhat hypocritical. Yes, we all have wonderful experiences that make us feel joyous, fulfilled, and more, but they are not diminished by our understanding of neuroscience, or by experiments that show how they can be duplicated by drugs or electrical stimulation. I don't have time to look up the Douglas Adams quote, but to paraphrase, isn't it enough to enjoy the beauty of a garden without insisting there are fairies living in it? The more information we have, the better off we are. We don't see schizophrenia, manic depression, or other negative mental states as "transcendent," but the experiences they cause the individual are just as real to him or her.

We can be tolerant of religious people in precisely the same way we are tolerant of those who believe in astrology.
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