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'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, (original, huh?) airs on Tuesdays at 10:PM and Saturdays at 8:PM, Eastern time on RainbowRadio.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Open call to all you religious moderates out there: 'Splane dis to me...

I had planned to do something on the budget, but I came across a couple of items in Skepdic that I just HAD to deal with.

Please take a moment to read THIS and THIS.  Now, lest you think these are anomolies, let me assure you that there are TONS of examples of this kind of gut-wrenching outrage throughout Skepdic's "What's the harm? Archive"

Now I've made no secret here about my disdain for organized religion.  And I already know what your very first answer to me will be; and this will be the same wether you are perfectly moderate and reasonable or standing in middle of a field with your underpants on your head, waiting for the mothership:  But we're not LIKE them!  They're CRAZY!

OK... Here's the thing... It occurs to me that there is basically a 1:1 (perhaps greater) correlation between how religious you are and how crazy you are.  Very Religious = Very crazy. (See above) Not an extremist = Not very crazy.  And of course, crazy people never KNOW their crazy,  but if you ever consider someone MORE RELIGIOUS than you are, do you ever notice how they usually also seem a little bit crazy, at least compared to you, from your own POV?

So here's my question...

Knowing that the degree of one religiosity is directly proportional to their insanity, why should anyone want to have this force in their life at all?

Please tell me why this is any different from saying, "Oh, I only use a little Cocaine.  Just to make me feel a little better.  I'm not going to be like those crazy Coke-heads, screwing up their whole life."

Tell me how that statement is any different!

Tell me why any good that comes from religion, can't come independently of the insane baggage they ask you to carry!  And yes, some churches ask you to carry very little, but why should I carry ANY AT ALL?! 

I have never noticed a positive correlation between how religious one is and how good a person they are.  Biggoted, hateful, judgemental and downright batshit crazy? Yeah, all those things seem to increase with one's religious zeal.  But charity?  A non-judmental, unconditional love of your fellow man?  Nope.  NEVER seen that. Even though Christ seemed to embody it, his loudest followers seem to be allergic to it. 

And don't think I'm just bashing Christianity here!  Islam has all the social and philosophical problems of Christianity, and then some.  And they have just as many more crazies as you'd expect, given their greater overall zeal!  How about Hinduism?  I'll say this for them: They don't take converts.  You have to be BORN a Hindu.  (I guess the whole reincarnation thing gets messed up otherwise.)  So I respect that they don't go around prostelytising and trying to force everyone else to covert to their way.  That takes a lot of the disfunction out of it.  OTOTH, the amount of absolutely absurd stuff you'd have to belileve in order to REALLY believe is as many times greater than it is Christianity and Islam as their number of Gods is!

(And BTW... if you pick and choose what parts of any religion you will accept and which parts you'll ignore: WHY BOTHER?  You're not following that faith, you're just MAKING IT UP AS YOU GO ALONG!  And you can do THAT without the damned Church! In fact, from the POV of most churches, YOU ALREADY ARE!)

So in closing, I'll say it again: I truly don't judge anyone for believing whatever they want, as long as it's kept out of the science room, out of our laws and out of my face.  And I'm putting this out there in all seriousness.  This is NOT a rhetorical question! I would really like for some moderate, liberal defender of religion to try and convince me of it's inherent goodness. Because the way I see it, if the Amount of Crazy you are is "X" times the amount of Religious you are, why would I want "X" to be anything but ZERO?

17 comments:

  1. "If the Amount of Crazy you are is "X" times the amount of Religious you are, why would I want "X" to be anything but ZERO"

    Agreed!

    I thought about it for a few, I could not isolate one benefit that churches give that other private enterprises offer as well...

    While churches may offer some good services, I think the possibility that they come with a dose of craziness is a big turn off.

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  2. KK,

    Personally I think that Chris Hitchens said it best [PP] that, "in a secular society, men of goodwill would be continue to do good while evil men would continue to shirk their civic responsibilities. But to make a good man do evil things, first you must make him religious."

    Now, there's pretty much nothing else that I agree with Hitchens on. He's a pompous, drunken sot, and one of the most conservtaive atheists you'll ever find. But to me that quote just nails it: People are good becasue people are good. Church doesn't MAKE them good, but rather takes advantage of their goodness. Utilizes it, yes, and gives them a place to organize for good purpose, true. But I strongly believe that this can be accompished without religion, and without the inevitable divisiveness that religion brings.

    Thank you for your comment.

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  3. I can't say what it is for everyone else. I am a member of a baptist church. I use member loosely because I don't attend church regularly, maybe 5 times a year & I do tithe when I attend. I usually attend on holidays and other special events when my mother suggests I attend. Yes, I am old enough to make my own choice about church and religon but if my mother didn't enforce it sometimes I'd probably never go & yes I do feel better after attending. However, going to church doesn't make me a Christian anymore than standing in my garage makes me a car. I would never force my religious logic or faith on anyone & you can slather your religon or your non religion all over me & it doesn't hinder or free my thoughts. I agree there are some crazies in all churches. Religious zeal has never done much for me and probably never will.

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  4. Kimberly,

    Now... You certainlyt seem like a religious moderate, and exactly the kind of person I'm looking for to answer this. After reading your post - 5x a year, no big-time spiritual experience when you go, I have to ask: Why bother? I assume you believe in God in some form, and that's fine, but if you can believe going to Curch 5x a year, then wy not zero? And since their are sure to be articels of the faith that you don't accept (there alwasy are) then why give it a name? Why not just follow the religion of "Kimism" the way I follow what might be called "Eddieism"? What drives to go to church, even as little as you do?

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  5. On religion, I would rate myself a zero. I'm not a church goer. But faith is important to me, and I try to follow Jesus' example in how I treat others. But bear in mind that Jesus had zero toleration for religious hypocrites, the religious right of his day. The fear, hate and intolerance we see spewing from the American Taliban is not faithful to Jesus' example. They follow GOP Supply-side Jesus to justify their own spiritual dysfunction.

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  6. "I would really like for some moderate, liberal defender of religion to try and convince me of it's inherent goodness."

    No can do, because a religion is not a social club or a set of rules. It is a truth proposition. I'll debate the truth of my religion with you all day long. If it's true, I don't really care how good it is. Reality is reality.

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  7. TomCat,

    I'm with you. Personally I have always thought of Jesus as more of a teacher than a 'savior.' To me his value was as an earthly leader, by example, rather than in any mystical or spiritual sense.

    Steeve,

    Believe it or not, I'm with you, at least to a point. However, as Obi-Wan pointed out, "You're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." I find a lot of "truth" in the book of Genesis, for example, even though it is completely devoid of FACT. And that's where we CAN debate: Facts. The earth is NOT 4000 years old, humans are not born of virgins, nor do they come back from the dead, nor do they live in the bellies of fish for several days, not were two of every species of animals on earth all on the same boat as any given time. All THAT? It's bullshit. And what's more it's not even bullshit that's unique to Christianity. EVERY religion has a divine/virgin birth story. Every Religion has a creation myth. Every religion speaks of "miracles" or "magic." And yet you reject the "truth" of every other religion, in favor of one no less arbitrary and no more supported by science or evidence.

    And that's MY "truth proposition." SCIENTIFIC REASONING. Everything else? Why should I believe ANYTHING without evidence? Why reject Zeus, Odin and Ra but not God? Why reject the divinity of Mohammed or Siddhartha Gautama or, for that matter, the mere existence, let alone divinity, of Heracles, but not Jesus? You cannot formulate any argument rejecting the "truth proposition" of any other religion that cannot be applied to yours. You cannot defend your faith, without inadvertently defending all the faiths you reject.

    So go ahead, debate the "truth proposition." Try me, I used to hang with fundamentalists and even dated one once. I've heard it all before, and I've never heard ANYTHING to make me think it's anything more than bullshit.

    If it were HARMLESS bullshit, that would be one thing. But the above examples show how that is not so. If it did some GOOD, some tangible good that could not be accomplished otherwise? OK, MAYBE you could offset some of the harm that's done. But I see no good in the current world that couldn't happen in a purely secular one, and plenty of evil being done that's either motivated or, at best, rationalized by the perpetrator's religion.

    Reality IS reality. And he way I see reality, religion not only does more harm than good, but does precious little good, if any, that couldn't happen without it.

    All that to defend a "truth" that's devoid of FACT?

    Sorry, not buying it.

    Thank you both for your comments.

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  8. "I've never heard ANYTHING to make me think it's anything more than bullshit."

    That's not really the point. Do you actually need to be CONVERTED to simply accept that other people think that Christianity is reality? Your original question was along the lines of "given that religion is crap, how is it justified?" The correct answer is "Well, I don't think it's crap." That should be enough for you. You'll understand religious people better if you assume that they don't think what they believe is crap.

    "go ahead, debate the 'truth proposition.'" This doesn't feel like the place, but okay...

    How did Christianity originate? After much back-and-forth, the top secular scholars have mostly reached a consensus. There really was a Jesus who was crucified. His followers spread his teachings. Later on, other people started grafting myth onto the story. Eventually the idea took hold that Jesus rose from the dead, which was not what Jesus's original followers were teaching.

    But the textual evidence confirms that the latest the myth could have been grafted on is the late 40s. That's not how myths work! Myths work like the "telephone" game; a message gets distorted in propagation. But the telephone game doesn't work if the same people are at both ends of the chain. In the late 40s, Jesus's original followers were still leading the church. They were wholly on board with the idea of the resurrection.

    Thus the leading secular theory on the origin of Christianity is contradictory. You can go around and around on this, but the end result is that if you attempt to explain the origin of Christianity without the resurrection, you get egg on your face.

    No other religion's origin defies natural explanation. Not Zeus, not Islam, not the flying spaghetti monster, not even Judaism.

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  9. I find your post very interesting but I'm not sure I'm understanding your overall point, or how it pertains to mine. (Still interested though, so please feel free to elaborate.)

    One thing though: I didn't say "religion was crap." I pointed out that it does DEMONSTRABLE, TANGIBLE HARM. Then, I asked if it did any GOOD, but also whether on not that same GOOD could be done without all the baggage: asking me to believe many things that have been proven false AND asking me to condemn things that I don't see as wrong. And that's where a lot of the harm comes in: Prejudice against gays, atheists, other religions, etc... IOW: Is religion a net-positive or net-negative force in society. I believe it's a net-negative, and I refer the rest to Epicurus, unless one convinces otherwise.

    And remember: I've said before that I don't care what they believe. I'll respect their beliefs as much as, and usually MORE THAN, they respect my non-belief. But whether or not religion does HARM is not a matter of belief: It's a matter of public record that goes WAY beyond the two examples I've linked to above. Likewise the origin of man (just for example) is also not a matter of belief. Dawrin's theory is incomplete but every day another blank gets filled in. GENESIS OTOH is DEMONSTRABLY FALSE, as is EVERY OTHER CREATION MYTH. Whether or not it does any GOOD...? OK, THAT'S entirely a matter of belief, because it depends largely on what can NEVER be proven: One's soul, the afterlife and divine judgment.

    I didn't post what I did, just because "I believe religion is crap." (Or crazy.) Remember how I put it, because I've seen this time and time again:

    1) Take any religious person, at any level of zeal, anywhere on the spectrum.
    2) Take another who is starkly more zealous.
    3) Inevitably, person (1) will think that persons (2)'s beliefs are a little bit nuts, that s/he goes too far and that s/he's just a little bit crazy in that way.

    In my experience? The atheist will say this about the Easter/Xmas Church goer. The 2 time/year person will say that about the weekly church goer. The Sundays-only Christian will say that about the devout Christian. The devout Christian will say that about the Cult leader. And the Cult leader will say that about the Terrorist. At least, they will the moment a conflict between their beliefs comes to light.

    See... I'm not saying what I am just out of my own opinion. It's an opinion that I've heard expressed a thousand times by people all over the religious spectrum, all over the world. No matter how religious you are, there's someone who's MORE religious that you think is a little crazy, maybe even a lot. And THAT'S why I asked:

    "If the Amount of Crazy you are is X times the amount of Religious you are, why would I want "X" to be anything but ZERO?"

    Now... I THINK what you're saying is, they "They don't believe they're crazy." But there's the rub: The crazy person NEVER DOES. (And I've personally known enough who were 'officially certified' to know this!) But just taking my own informal survey, and making my own observations over the past few decades, I've seen no evidence, none at all, that refutes the strong, positive correlation between "Religious" and "Crazy." And that's without even considering my own opinion.

    Thanks for your comment.

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  10. By "crap" I was meaning "positively not true, bullshit, proven false, not reality". In that vein, you absolutely DID say that religion is crap.

    "If the Amount of Crazy you are is X times the amount of Religious you are, why would I want 'X' to be anything but ZERO?"

    Let's start with X=0 and begin walking down the road to Cult Leader. Keep a close eye out for where I misstep. If X != 0 at the point of my misstep, your question is answered. If X = 0, then you are correct and nobody's going to convince you otherwise.

    I don't believe in the Genesis story of creation. I believe Darwin's theory because that's where the real evidence in the real world points.

    I do believe in the resurrection of Jesus, because that's where the real evidence in the real world points. Anyone who can show that the real evidence in the real world points somewhere else is welcome to, but as I started to show in my previous post, it's been nothing but decades of failure by all of the best minds in the business.

    Down the street is a group of people that also believe the resurrection of Jesus, and therefore takes his teachings very seriously. I think I'll check them out.

    Hmm, that church believes things I don't. I think I'll stop going to that church and go to a different church.

    The new church is more in line with my beliefs. They're not 100% in line, but no two people are. I think I'll stick with them.

    This church is saying and doing a lot of good stuff that I agree with. I think I'll go every week, not just once in a while.

    That probably puts me in the middle of your spectrum, so I'm half crazy. I don't want to be half crazy, but I don't see what I did wrong.

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  11. The only people who say you're "half crazy" are those that are significantly less religious that you are. Take me: Do I believe that Christ “rose form the dead”? Truly? No, I don't. Nor do I believe in Virgin birth. To ME those things are irrelevant however, and don’t take away from the relatively GOOD things that he taught. I'd still put his among the most enlightened and amazing people that ever lived, even putting aside those things. To me he was a just a human being who preached some radical, and progressive stuff, considering the time he lived in. My opinion is that all the mythical stuff was tacked on later. And again: These mythical achievements are hardly unique to Christ. Many religions have resurrection stories, virgin or divine births, fulfilled prophecies, etc... I see no reason to reject some and accept others, just based on the number of people who believe them. There are A BILLION Hindu’s in the world after all, and I don’t believe in Vishnu, Ganesha, Kali or Shiva anymore than I believe in what you call God.

    So do I think you're "crazy?" Well, you're making this kind of personal, but, OK: Yes. I think that to believe that there's any "evidence" at all that someone ROSE FROM THE DEAD or was BORN FROM A VIRGIN for that matter, does make one at least "a little crazy." I'm not going to make the skeptic’s argument here, because it's not really my place to try and change your beliefs. I respect and accept them, and I only give you my opinion/judgment now because you specifically asked me for it.

    Also - don't forget: Those people in that church that you walked away from? If they really were MORE ZEALOUS than you and your new church, not merely ‘different,’ chances are that right now, they're telling you you're going down the WRONG PATH, and you'll GO TO HELL unless you do everything THEIR WAY, etc, etc... And what would you say to that? Probably something along the lines of, "Aw, you guys are crazy!"

    Because it's not just about the beliefs themselves. I understand that people can have different beliefs, even agnostics and atheists can be worlds apart and call each other crazy. (I’ve been there!) But what puts people on different parts of the spectrum is how deeply they hold these beliefs, how much they let them interfere with their RATIONAL thinking, and how much they want to use them to judge and persecute others. THAT'S where the "crazy" comes in. Obviously a moderate, relatively reasonable guy like you isn’t going to beat a child to death in some antiquated exorcism ritual. I get that. But the only difference between you and them are the DEGREE to which you hold the belief. That’s X here. Do you give $100 dollars a week? The guy who gives $10 thinks you’re a little crazy. Do you believe the transubstantiation is actual? The guy who believes it’s merely symbolic thinks you’re a little crazy.

    But take heart, because it works the other way too: Religious folks see the atheists as crazy, since we’re risking our eternal souls should we be wrong! See? We’re ALL a little bit crazy from someone’s perspective. It just depends on our POV and how well we can objectively defend our position. I'm comfortable where I am. As I've said before: The Skeptic's Dictionary is MY Bible. LOL

    Thanks again.

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  12. "It just depends on ... how well we can objectively defend our position."

    I hope in the future you'll use that as your yardstick for how crazy someone is, not this "degree" and "spectrum" stuff. That way you won't say I'm a little crazy for believing something that I can objectively defend, perhaps better than you can objectively defend your side.

    I say that not to take offense, but to highlight that the measure you're using is not the measure that you should be using.

    And the following is a parting shot, not an effort at proselytizing, because I can't ignore your weird repetition of strawmen. What I said above is what I hope you take away, and I don't intend to post on this thread again. (Don't let that stop you from responding, if you want.)

    "Many religions have resurrection stories, virgin or divine births, fulfilled prophecies, etc... I see no reason to reject some and accept others, just based on the number of people who believe them."

    So what I said two posts ago wasn't in English, or something.

    You should look into Christianity again, if you're so inclined, because you can't explain its origin. You still believe the grafted-on myth thing, which is ahistorical and collapses on inspection. The definitive work on this is here.

    I don't know who's telling you to believe Christianity because Bible stories are unique or because there are lots of believers, but they're wrong, and they're not me. They haven't posted on this thread. Yet you're arguing with them.

    Anyway, thanks for playing along. It's hard to talk religion these days.

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  13. I am very religious and I am not a bit crazy. I know a lot of very religious people and they are not crazy either. What I think we have is people that are nuts and would be nuts even if they were not religious. But the misuse and purposeful twisting of scripture and especially old testament, God as Rambo stuff gives them the vehicle to practice their craziness. I can only speak to Christianity after all but for certain starving a child is not Christian behavior. Neither is beating a child or stoning adulterers or executing homosexuals. Religion is not the catalyst in my humble opinion but the cover.....the big mysterious hocus pocus shroud these whackjobs use to hide their hateful, sinful, deceitful and wicked behavior behind. For instance, do you think being a Catholic priest causes men to become pedophiles or do you think pedophiles hide behind the collar? As Christians we are called to take up the cross....not hide behind it.

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  14. Steeve,

    I'll have to check out your link. I am aware how the Bible came to be, however, and the politics involved. But I'll look at your source and come back to it at a later time.

    JLarue,

    Very true. And a very fair counter but let me ask you: Just as you say that it does not MAKE men evil, can you really say it makes anyone GOOD? Or are good people drawn to what they see as a good sounding message? And to the point in which they will ignore the evil being done in its name? OK, to be fair, not IGNORE. You acknowledge it, and say it's a cover. But in GIVING someone that cover, can that not motivate them? OK, I guess not specifically, if not religion then they could always find something else, but... looking at the two articles I posted, I'm not so sure. (But maybe. I'll have to concede that I cannot know for sure either.)

    One thing though... You have a certain view of Christianity, and you point out, in your examples of what is NOT Christian behavior, how this view is at odds with MANY who call themselves CHRISTAINS. There are as many or more (at least in this country) who will accuse YOU of twisting the Word to justify what they see as an abomination, or at best to encourage tolerance of it. (Adultery, Homosexuality, etc...) From their POV, persecution of that IS Christian behavior. And (while I agree with you that they've twisted it) there are plenty of bible versus that when quoted, do seem to clearly justify their position.

    Consider either this: http://www.humanismbyjoe.com/a_brief_summary_bible.htm

    or this: http://www.humanismbyjoe.com/humanist_ethics_vs_biblical_ethics.htm

    (or any one of the several biblical articles in humanismbyjoe.com.)

    You can say that these are being taken out of context when they're used to justify what you call "non-Christian" behavior, but you can't deny that these ARE being used this way, and by no small (or politically insignificant) number of people.

    So you separate religious from crazy, by separating whether it's used to motivate good or evil. And in that way, I cannot deny your reasoning without denying my own. Just as I say that the Good would happen anyway, then you can say that so would the evil. All I can do is BELIEVE otherwise, and that's no more profound than you BELIVING as you do.

    --------------------

    In any case, I have no intention of trying to change either of you're all's beliefs. It is the conservatism and the hypocrisy that I truly hate, not just that people have a faith that they find comforting or rewarding in some way. But lately I'm bombarded with that hypocrisy and judgment and Conservatism and EVIL. And since I never did believe in the spiritual side of it, I am constantly having the idea reinforced in me that it has outlived it's usefulness as an institution.

    Anyway everyone who has posted here has given me a lot to think about (and in some cases READ. LOL.) So maybe I'll just have to put this aside for awhile, reflect a bit and come back to it. I don't see my belief (or non-belief, as it were) changing, but perhaps I can shore up my arguments a little. Perhaps I've been too hasty here.

    Thank you all for your comments.

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  15. OK Steeve. I didn't realize that was an AMAZON link. But, what they hey? Maybe I'll check it out. I can't make an argument if I don't understand the evidence I'm arguing against.

    Just tell me one thing: It is truly an archeological and historical study, using material evidence OUTSIDE of the the Bible? Or it just this man's interpretation of the evidence that's IN the Bible? (And maybe in some of those Gospels: Thomas, Phillip, Mary, etc..., that didn't make it in.) I'll really only have any interest in reading a study that goes OUTSIDE of the Bible itself to find supporting evidence. So please advise.

    Thanks

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  16. That link should have been more about what the atheistic community needs to argue with, not what you need to argue with. It would be a prohibitive time investment, and I don't have the slightest idea if the book would be of any value to you.

    It's sort of a compendium of everything that's historically knowable about what the earliest Christians thought about the resurrection. He draws on essentially everything available that's relevant to that topic, although that topic is so narrow that 2/3 of what's relevant is the bible. The argument is of the form "what could have caused this belief to emerge in the way that it did".

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  17. Oh, OK. Thanks for the clarification. I was under the impression that we weren't arguing about the quite same thing, and I think I better understand what you were getting at now.

    It does sound interesting, but I'm not really all that interested in knowing what the early Christian's believed, or why. Not right now anyway. I know what TODAY'S christian believe, and what I believe. And regardless of the origins of that belief, I find nothing to convince me it's a valid one. (Meaning that it actually happened.) And as I don't consider the bible to be an historically accurate reference, what information he has about the resurection itself will not be of interest to me.

    THANK YOU though for letting me know. I WILL keep it in mind, should my interests ever wadner in that direction. And you never know... I've got a few works about WOLRD Religions that have fascinated me, so maybe. We'll see.

    Thanks again.

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