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BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism

John P 03 May 13 - 04:35 PM
Joe Offer 03 May 13 - 05:35 PM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 03 May 13 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,Musket sans Ian 04 May 13 - 03:32 AM
Joe Offer 04 May 13 - 03:43 AM
GUEST 04 May 13 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,Stim 04 May 13 - 12:32 PM
GUEST 04 May 13 - 05:08 PM
GUEST,Stim 04 May 13 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Stim 04 May 13 - 05:50 PM
Joe Offer 04 May 13 - 08:04 PM
GUEST,Stim 04 May 13 - 11:54 PM
John P 05 May 13 - 12:18 AM
Joe Offer 05 May 13 - 02:58 AM
GUEST,Musket sans sin 05 May 13 - 04:37 AM
GUEST,Stim 05 May 13 - 05:51 PM
GUEST,Stim 05 May 13 - 06:05 PM
Joe Offer 06 May 13 - 02:19 AM
Joe Offer 06 May 13 - 02:54 AM
Jim Carroll 06 May 13 - 03:20 AM
Joe Offer 06 May 13 - 03:39 AM
GUEST,Musket sans sin 06 May 13 - 09:04 AM
GUEST 06 May 13 - 09:06 AM
Steve Shaw 06 May 13 - 07:25 PM
Ebbie 06 May 13 - 07:43 PM
Jim Carroll 07 May 13 - 04:53 AM
Steve Shaw 07 May 13 - 05:40 AM
Joe Offer 07 May 13 - 09:03 PM
GUEST,Musket sans respectability 08 May 13 - 01:17 AM
Joe Offer 08 May 13 - 02:14 AM
GUEST,Musket not giving in just yet 08 May 13 - 05:48 AM
Jack the Sailor 02 Jun 13 - 10:36 AM
MGM·Lion 02 Jun 13 - 11:32 AM
MGM·Lion 02 Jun 13 - 11:39 AM
Jack the Sailor 02 Jun 13 - 11:51 AM
MGM·Lion 02 Jun 13 - 12:00 PM
Jack the Sailor 02 Jun 13 - 05:45 PM
Jeri 02 Jun 13 - 05:48 PM
Steve Shaw 02 Jun 13 - 06:30 PM
Jack the Sailor 03 Jun 13 - 01:22 AM
MGM·Lion 03 Jun 13 - 01:37 AM
MGM·Lion 03 Jun 13 - 01:40 AM
Jack the Sailor 03 Jun 13 - 04:00 AM
GUEST,Musket sans sailor seaman 03 Jun 13 - 04:56 AM
MGM·Lion 03 Jun 13 - 05:04 AM
MGM·Lion 03 Jun 13 - 05:21 AM
Steve Shaw 03 Jun 13 - 06:10 AM
Steve Shaw 03 Jun 13 - 06:12 AM
Jack the Sailor 03 Jun 13 - 06:31 PM
Jack the Sailor 03 Jun 13 - 06:32 PM

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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: John P
Date: 03 May 13 - 04:35 PM

Not good enough, pete.

Support what you say, please. Stand up and be counted. Own up to your words. Take responsibility for your actions. Say what you mean. Etc.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 May 13 - 05:35 PM

I guess that in a simplistic way, I'd define sin as that which does harm - or maybe that which gets us into the fricking mess we're in right now. Viewed from that standpoint, we all sin.

And I think this simplistic perspective of sin is as valid as the more complicated ones. I think we all have the ability to determine right from wrong - and I think the vast majority of us are inclined to choose what's right. Oh, I suppose there may be some shifts on the fringes of what's considered right and wrong, but I think that for most people, what's right is what serves the benefit of ourselves and those around us.

And in general, I think that "moral" people, are people who are altruistic - people who think of others as much as they think of themselves. I know lots of very moral, exemplary people who have no religious beliefs - and I know lots of immoral, despicable people who are so religious it makes me choke. I know lots of wonderful religious people, too.

And I think I can honestly say that sexual orientation (and a great deal of sexual conduct) doesn't fit into my perspective of morality at all - unless it does harm to another person.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 03 May 13 - 07:01 PM

Atheist agreeing with Christian alert!

I do find myself agreeing with what Joe says above. To me, the point is that people can be good, moral, altruistic or conversely, completely otherwise - and whether they subscribe to a religion or are atheists or don't even think of their world in either of those terms is largely irrelevant.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Musket sans Ian
Date: 04 May 13 - 03:32 AM

That's your problem Joe.

It can be very irritating for someone like me when you utterly destroy the religious stereotype I need to vent my anger at.

Kindly stop being so rational, logical and agreeable and start living up to the Catholic stereotype idiots like me dismiss in one sentence.

Regarding sin, if I were being serious, I'd say that it can describe what you and others have portrayed it as but to many people, regardless of their view on religion, sin seems a religious word. You can break local laws, you can commit acts that go against any moral compass or you can go against what scriptures suggest. An act can fall into any or all categories but I suspect it has to fit in the latter to be a sin for many people?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 May 13 - 03:43 AM


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST
Date: 04 May 13 - 11:40 AM

Thanks Joe. Being altruistic and not doing harm is pretty much my definition of ethical behavior.

If sin is defined as doing harm, isn't there still a requirement that the harm be intentional in order for it to be considered sin? Or are you saying that doing harm completely unintentionally, maybe without even knowing about it, even without there being any way to avoid it, is being sinful? I'm pretty sure I can't go along with that. It offends my sense that intention, responsibility and consequences need to be balanced.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 04 May 13 - 12:32 PM

In the original Greek of the New Testament, "sin' is actually "hamartia", which, as the more literate Mudcatters may know, is an important idea in Aristotle's discussions of drama and tragedy. Here's a bit of definition, from the Wikipedia entry:


"The Greek term "hamartia," typically translated as "tragic flaw," actually is closer in meaning to a "mistake" or an "error," "failing," rather than an innate flaw. In Aristotle's understanding, all tragic heroes have a "hamartia." The character's flaw must result from something that is also a central part of their virtue, which goes somewhat awry, usually due to a lack of knowledge. By defining the notion this way, Aristotle indicates that a truly tragic hero must have a failing that is neither idiosyncratic nor arbitrary, but is somehow more deeply imbedded -- a kind of human failing and human weakness."


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST
Date: 04 May 13 - 05:08 PM

Well, I can't see defining sin as a tragic flaw or an honest mistake. Why would you all feel the need to seek forgiveness for something you don't have any control over? You seem to be saying that if I make the best decision I can based on everything I knew at the time, and if that decision later proves, because of knowledge that came later, to have been a mistake, that I was engaging in sin. If that's sin, I'm glad I'm not a Christian of the "we're all sinners" variety, and I'll stop wondering why so many Christians are so screwed up about wanting to tell how other people how they ought to behave. It sounds like their sense of where responsibility lies has been twisted sadly out of shape.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 04 May 13 - 05:43 PM

It isn't about something you have no control over, and it's not about "God", "The Bible", or other Christians, or whatever--it's about setting standards for yourself, (which all of us do (whether we identify ourselves as religious or not), and missing the mark.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 04 May 13 - 05:50 PM

Incidentally, GUEST, those comments are about the idea of "Hamartria". I was simply posting some commentary on the meaning of a word, what it implies to you is your own affair.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 May 13 - 08:04 PM

Musket, traditional Catholic teaching says that for sin to be serious (mortal), it must in fact be serious and known to be serious, and done with the intention of doing serious harm.

Non-serious (venial) sin is a little broader, but it still must be intentional.

But in a broader context, I don't think that "I didn't know" is a completely adequate excuse. Once we become aware that something we've done has caused harm, I think there's a duty to put things right.

I don't like to get boxed into looking at morality from a legalistic or doctrinal point of view. For one thing, that's a negative approach, and I'm in this life to make positive impacts. My criterion is justice, what does it take to make things right. I may not be responsible for that man on the corner being homeless, but don't I still have a moral obligation to him? Maybe all I can do for him today is make eye contact with him, but at least that's something.


-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 04 May 13 - 11:54 PM

That comes very close to the idea that "It's OK if I think it's OK". Is it OK for a person to murder, to steal, to commit adultery, etc if they didn't believe that they were doing wrong, and didn't intend to do harm?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: John P
Date: 05 May 13 - 12:18 AM

Is it OK for a person to murder, to steal, to commit adultery, etc if they didn't believe that they were doing wrong, and didn't intend to do harm?

Stim, do you really see this being a problem in the real world? It seems fairly obvious that it is not, from anyone's point of view, OK to murder or otherwise harm others. Why would you say such a thing?

People who don't know they are doing harm when they commit these crimes are insane and our courts actually don't hold them responsible in this way.

I agree with Joe that if I found out later that my actions caused harm I would try to make the situation better. While I would feel bad about it, I wouldn't think I had committed a sin, and I would probably be somewhat successful at convincing myself that feeling guilt was inappropriate for the situation and harmful to myself.

Sorry, the guest a few posts back was me unexpectedly sans cookie.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 May 13 - 02:58 AM

Stim, you're twisting what I had to say. And as I said, I don't like to get boxed into looking at morality from a legalistic or doctrinal point of view - we need to take a much wider view of all the implications of moral decisions, of what's right and wrong. In answer to the question posed, I defined the matter very narrowly with regards to personal guilt for sin - not legal guilt, and not whether the act was objectively right or wrong. The principle has many worthwhile applications, particularly in issues where there is disagreement - like birth control and homosexuality and abortion, for instance. Warfare and capital punishment and employer mistreatment of workers would be three other good examples, ones that make conservative Catholics squirm. The Catholic Church is opposed to all these things, and considers them to be "objectively immoral." In the eyes of the Catholic Church, these things are NOT "OK," and some of these things may even result in excommunication, the most extreme punishment the Catholic Church can impose.

But even then, if the person does these things believing that they are not wrong, or not intending to do wrong, then the person is not guilty of sin and is considered to have done these things "in good conscience" (even if he/she gets excommunicated). For Catholics who oppose certain policies of the Catholic Church, that allows a modicum of freedom of conscience that offers at least a bit of reassurance - and I think most Catholics oppose at least some of the policies of the Catholic Church.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Musket sans sin
Date: 05 May 13 - 04:37 AM

Just to be provocative then Joe.

At what point is any Catholic subjected to excommunication? The police officer who is aware of the possible consequence of arrest? The prosecuting attorney? The judge and jury? The governor? The technician? The doctor who pronounces time and cause? Any voter who uses their vote for a pro capital punishment politician?

Are there any Catholics in the armed forces?

How about the priests and their support who have been found guilty of abuse? Or the Vatican seniors who covered it up?

Excommunication sounds a weak response to a non believer but even then, I don't see it used much either as a response nor a deterrent?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 05 May 13 - 05:51 PM

For John P, in response to:

"Stim, do you really see this being a problem in the real world? It seems fairly obvious that it is not, from anyone's point of view, OK to murder or otherwise harm others. Why would you say such a thing?"


It really is a problem--people who are not insane do terrible things all the time. And they do them believing that whatever the laws might be, and whatever suffering that they might cause, that they are justified in doing them.

Though a lot of war atrocities spring to mind, I'll bring up the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments . If you're not familiar with this, medical researchers, working for the United States Government told a group of black sharecroppers that they were giving them free medical care. They concealed from them the fact that they had syphilis, didn't treat them with penicillin, and prevented them from getting outside treatment. They allowed them to spread the disease to loved ones and babies, and watched as they slowly died, without intervening with antibiotics, so they could observe and document the course of the disease.

This work went on for 40 years, and the people involved were intelligent, rational people who cannot have been oblivious to either the suffering that was going on, or the fact that they had the power to end it. They didn't though.

And so it goes...


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 05 May 13 - 06:05 PM

For Joe:

My point is that, whatever the Catholic view on sin may be, the idea of harmatria, or "tragic flaw" is that we are morally responsible for failing to recognize the harm that can come of our plans and actions, even, or perhaps especially, things done in "good conscience"

My thought, as I get older, is that relatively few of my fellow humans really "do evil" intentionally--they may act impulsively, stupidly, out of misunderstanding, out of misplaced loyalty, out of selfishness, or simply without self-awareness. Whether they (or we) are exonerated by a court of law, absolved by a church, or just slide on a technicality, we have to live with the knowledge that we caused harm, and that, if things had been more carefully considered, we wouldn't have.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 May 13 - 02:19 AM

Stim, I agree with all you say about "hamartia." We covered the concept thoroughly in moral theology classes.
That's why I don't want to get stuck behind the narrow definition of "sin." If you try to decide to decide what's a sin and what's not a sin, you oversimplify the entire topic of moral judgment.

A moral person must explore the ramifications of what he/she does, and weigh the pros and cons of every action - very few of the important things in life are absolutely right or absolutely wrong, so a balance must be sought.

I also think that our moral decisions are often choices of general attitudes, rather than individual acts. We often to have time to make a moral decision on the spur of the moment, so what we do depends on the attitudes we have chosen before the action itself. After I had been a father for about a dozen years, I realized that I didn't like hearing myself say "no" as a first response whenever my kids wanted to do something. I made up my mind to say "yes" unless I had a darn good reason to say no, and it made for a far more positive relationship with my kids. Now, I really wasn't wrong in my earlier, negative approach - but I found the later approach to be much more positive and healthy. I made a moral choice and it had a profound effect on my relationship with my children, but it wasn't really a choice between right and wrong.

Guest who posted 04 May 13 - 05:08 PM asks:
Well, I can't see defining sin as a tragic flaw or an honest mistake. Why would you all feel the need to seek forgiveness for something you don't have any control over.

I wouldn't consider those things to be sin, either - but I did apologize to my kids for my previous negative approach. I think that apology should be seen as doing what it takes to heal the harm and mend the relationship, even if that harm was unintentional. I think it's wrong to see apology and forgiveness as bowing in submission to the offended party and groveling to beg forgiveness (although I had an ex-wife that demanded that....)

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 May 13 - 02:54 AM

Musket asks about "excommunication." The Wikipedia article gives a pretty good definition: Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend, or limit membership in a religious community or (as in the case of the Catholic Church) to restrict certain rights within it.

Excommunication is most usually used in matters over which there is disagreement, to attempt to compel the individual to comply with church policy. Women who receive abortions and practitioners who perform abortions are automatically excommunicated. One of our Mercy sisters was vice president of a Catholic hospital and a member of the hospital ethics committee, and she was excommunicated by her bishop when she voted to allow an abortion when the mother's life was endangered. The nun had to go through a humiliating process of confession and repentance in order to be readmitted. I wish she hadn't submitted to that, but that's what she chose to do.

Excommunication is also used in cases of heresy, when a theologian refuses to retract something that has been deemed contrary to Catholic teaching. Another sanction used on theologians, is the withdrawal of the theologian's license to teach in a Catholic university.

Now, please take note that I tend to agree or at least sympathize with most Catholics who are being excommunicated these days, so please don't ask me to defend excommunication. I'm hoping Pope Francis cuts way back on excommunications. Remember that I'm an associate member of the Sisters of Mercy, and these frickin' bishops have been excommunicating nuns lately.

While it might seem appropriate to excommunicate a child molester, especially if the molester is a priest; that isn't done. There's no controversy, no room for retraction - in most situations nowadays where complaints are substantiated, the priest is simply removed from ministry and never allowed to practice as a priest again - and referred for criminal prosecution. There's still lots of noise about what happened before 2000, but there is now very little tolerance for priests who engage in any sort of sexual misconduct with children.

Many of you won't believe this, but the Catholic Church has been out of the business of punishing people for wrongdoing for a long, long time. By the end of the 16th century, the excesses of the 15th-century Spanish Inquisition had been done away with. Sanctions issued after that time were to ensure compliance, not to punish wrongdoers for sin. Even the Spanish Inquisition referred wrongdoers to civil authorities for punishment - although it's clear that blame for the torture and punishments of the Inquisition, rests squarely on the shoulders of the Inquisitors.

So, the general idea nowadays is that the Catholic Church may issue sanctions to force compliance, but any punishment is meted out in the Hereafter - by a Judge known to be "gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (Psalms 86, 103, and 145).

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 May 13 - 03:20 AM

"the Catholic Church has been out of the business of punishing people for wrongdoing for a long, long time."
http://www.magdalenelaundries.com/jfm_comm_on_torture_210411.pdf

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 May 13 - 03:39 AM

Not what I'm frickin' talkin' about, Jim - and you know it.

Those were systems of punishments within an institution, issued by the staffs of the institutions and those who supervised them.

And yes, those systems of punishments were wrong - and those who committed crimes were Irish citizens and should be punished under Irish law. If your government doesn't have the courage to prosecute crime that happens within its own boundaries, don't try to pass the blame off on Rome, or America. The criminals were Irish, every one of them.

-Joe Offer-


....and the Spanish Inquisition was exactly what the name implies - Spanish. Of course, the Popes were Spanish at the time, too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Musket sans sin
Date: 06 May 13 - 09:04 AM

Thanks for the explanation Joe.

In some ways I remain confused but am not getting hung up over it.

By having the facility to excommunicate it seems logical to me that there can be no definition for all. Either everybody is subject to doctrine whether they want it or not, one true path etc or the religion only applies to the members. In which case what happens to the rest of the planet?

I see a logical flaw here. If a religion explains the world and those matters we don't as humans understand, it applies to all. It also makes other religions contemptible?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST
Date: 06 May 13 - 09:06 AM

Whatever that is what you are talking about, the church still sees fit to punish whoever it disapproves of.
Following the death of a young woman due to being refused a termination, the Irish Government has been forced to review Ireland's laws on termination.
The hierarchy have announced that it is "not inconceivable" that politicians who vote 'the wrong way' will face excommunication.
Long may we stay in the 19th century!
I would have thought that considering its historically appalling record on sex education, contraception and the clergy's own record of sexual misconduct, sex should be the last thing the church has a right to have a say in
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 May 13 - 07:25 PM

I guess that in a simplistic way, I'd define sin as that which does harm - or maybe that which gets us into the fricking mess we're in right now. Viewed from that standpoint, we all sin.

I've been in hospital for a bit and I haven't been keeping up, so this might not fit in, but here goes. Neither of those definitions of sin will do because you can do harm by accident, or out of the very best intentions, and you can get into a fricking mess completely unintentionally and with the best will in the world.

Now, to be slightly provocative (and ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek...), let me put one or two things forward for consideration. Musket prays that Sheffield Wednesday will avoid relegation. I put it to you that his prayer is sinful, because, by asking God to keep his team up, he is, in effect, praying that another team (unspecified, but I'm afraid that doesn't get him off the hook) will suffer the ignominy of the drop. My 85-year-old granny, massive character, still got all her marbles, salt of the Earth, hub of the family, has got cancer. We stand around her bed praying to God for her to get better. This is sinful because we are asking God to keep an infirm old woman alive who will continue to be a huge burden on the social services, which are paid for by taxpayers who never knew her, and we are asking him to keep alive a person who will be also a burden on the resources of the planet.

I elected not to tell you I was going into hospital (for a major op on my spine) because I didn't want praying for (plus I use my real name and I never disclose my infrequent absences from home online). You may or may not be relieved to know that I'm recovering remarkably well. That is nothing whatsoever to do with all the good wishes I've received (which were all most welcome all the same) or with any covert praying that's been going on round here. I will be buying the missus a bunch of flowers for looking after me brilliantly since I came out of hospital and I might just send that amazingly skilful surgeon a thank-you card. :-) Good stuff comes from truly human endeavour, not from some bloke in the sky who, according to religion, could click his fingers and wipe me out in a heartbeat. I can't imagine Mr Wafai in the Orthopaedics/Trauma department even remotely contemplating that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 06 May 13 - 07:43 PM

Oh dear. I have come up with a metaphor that does not console.

"You are climbing higher and higher and the ground, when you dare peek, is getting farther and farther away. The one thing that gives you the confidence to keep going is knowing that you are safe because you have a belaying rope around your middle.   You have heard of other people who suffered grievous accidents but you know that either they went off without their rope or they didn't know how to fasten it properly. Thank the gods that you have been properly trained.

You know that you are safe, and that makes all the difference. You are not aware that the rope is not attached at the other end."


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 May 13 - 04:53 AM

By the way Joe - in both the examples you gave - Spain and Ireland, had the church chosen to intervene, the abuse would have stopped immediately - they didn't and it didn't.
In the case of Ireland, the church held the establishment in its pocket, and still does to an extent.
Confining religious abuse to national boundaries is as dishonest as it gets.
Don't suppose anybody would care to explain the concept of "original sin" would they?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 May 13 - 05:40 AM

Original sin is an easy one, Jim. We are all miserable, guilty wretches because a woman who never existed bit into an apple belonging to someone else who never existed. This was passed down to us in a story told by a liar. Now the only way out of our guilty wretchedness is to turn our faces to "The Lord" and, grovelling before him ("Lord, I am not worthy...") ask his forgiveness for something we did not do and which never happened in the first place. Even the tiniest of new babies are besmirched with this guilt! But, even having signed up to his club (which I'm certain he would have hated) you might well be waiting around, even long after you're dead, for "judgement day" to find out whether you've done enough to get yourself off the hook. Hope this helps!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 May 13 - 09:03 PM

Well, Jim, in Spain in the 1490s, it was a church court that was passing judgment and handing people over to government for torture or other punishment. So, there's no disagreement there. It was, however, quite some time ago. I'm sure you're still looking to pin the blame on somebody, though.

In the case of the industrial schools and the Magdalene laundries in Ireland (18th - 20th centuries), these were local affairs - not done under the authority of Rome. Rather than transfer the blame elsewhere, why not admit that the crimes committed in these institutions should be prosecuted by Irish authorities?

And people are pointing fingers of blame at churches everywhere because of proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda. There's no doubt the legislation is unjust, but the churches have at least been successful in getting the death penalty removed for most situations. Despite all the finger-pointing, I have yet to see solid evidence of leaders of the major churches supporting anti-gay legislation. They just haven't opposed it according to specifications set by the finger-pointers. So, the Archbishop of Canterbury gets blame, and some Catholic bishop in western Africa who was one of the frontrunners in the papal elections.

It's all about blame, folks. The people placing the blame, have little to do with fixing the problem, however. For those who place the blame, making progress on a problem is never enough.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Musket sans respectability
Date: 08 May 13 - 01:17 AM

Very true Joe. But.

Laying blame upwards allows responsibility for actions in your name.

If The Archbishop of Canterbury was to even acknowledge that the views and assertive attempts by Anglican bishops in Uganda to promote capital punishment for anything, let alone being gay... were not the actions of people in his ministry, it would be a start.

The difference between a person in the street with a view and the influence of these savages is the cloak of respectability his church offers them.

Ditto Rome and the Irish issues. Saying that influence restricts the excesses is a bit weak when their representatives are part of the problem and the centre turns its head and looks away.

I have been a board chairman and a chief executive variously in my time, thousands of staff working under our banner. I can't see any situation where the media wouls accept a plea of "not my problem" should actions by our staff do harm.

Don't confuse blame with responsibility. Ask whether the big bosses would be happy to take credit for any good these people do.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 May 13 - 02:14 AM

But churches don't work on the model of corporations, Musket. They are broken into national churches that are loose affiliations of dioceses that are far more autonomous than what you would find in most corporate divisions. In the Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury really has very little influence over other churches in the Anglican Communion. And besides, the reports from the "legitimate press" paint a far more favorable picture of the conduct of the Anglican and Catholic bishops in Uganda. There's a lot of extremist propaganda on both sides of this issue. The Anglicans and Catholics are caught in the middle of this impossible situation, and I think they're being judged unfairly.

In general, Africans seem to be far more conservative about homosexuality, than the peoples of any of the other continents. Here's the official position of the Church of Uganda (Anglican) on the previous anti-homosexuality bill. It definitely opposes homosexuality, but does not promote any of the harsh punishments that have been proposed. http://churchofuganda.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/COU-official-position-on-the-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009-.pdf.

This pastoral letter [http://www.uecon.org/downloads/A%20Pastoral%20Letter%20UEC%20Celebrating%20Uganda%20at%2050%20Years%20Please%20Oct%202012(1).pdf] is the only mention of homosexuality I could find in the documents from the Roman Catholic bishops of Uganda. Both the Catholics and the Anglicans oppose homosexuality, as is the tradition in their churches; but neither group speaks in favor of the harsh treatment of homosexuals that is proposed in the Anti-Homosexuality Act of Uganda. Wikipedia has an excellent article on the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

As for Ireland, the Irish bishops and the Irish government have the information and the authority to handle the situation of the industrial schools and the Magdalene Laundries. The Irish Catholic Church is largely autonomous, and Rome rarely interferes on local issues.

If you try to understand churches as corporate authority structures with strong chief executives that command obedience, you're looking at the wrong model. Every local church/parish is largely independent; and every member of every church is a voluntary member.

Churches work more on a family structure. My cousins and I are in the same family, but I don't ordinarily intervene in the family affairs of my cousins' families. Even Grandpa should be very hesitant to intervene in the affairs of his adult grandchildren.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Musket not giving in just yet
Date: 08 May 13 - 05:48 AM

Yes, I do understand the more federal or franchise approach religious parent bodies adopt.

However, this is rather convenient. When a Pope or Archbishop is influencing governments, which they do, they use their membership as a single body in terms of what they bring to the table. When Stalin asked how many divisions the Pope had, it was a dismissal of people power rather than dismissing the view of the Pope.

The offical view of The Church of Uganda is not consistent with the views as stated publicy by some of its own leaders, (influenced by the way through funding and support by certain evangelical American organisations, staffed by British evangelical people.) The main African aversion to being gay may be there, but also there is a deep faith and respect for church.

If churches therefore stopped discriminating, stopped finding weasly excuses to hate people for what they are.... the "African" view on being gay would alter, the permission to hate people for being different would be lessened and ... and... Well, why not try it at least?

But they won't.

Because God doesn't want equality for gays.

Apparantly.

He doesn't want women in top positions of employment in the church either.

Apparantly.

Are you sure their bible has the same words in it as yours Joe? I reckon yours is similar to my cousin's copy. I also reckon my local vicar's copy must have been a different translation because he comes across as rather bigoted. Doesn't help that he approached Catholicism as he feels it is more in line to his view of the world. The catholic church meanwhile has opened its doors to Anglican clergy who don't want to see women in senior positions. What respect, seriously, what respect should someone offer the catholic church when it can do that?

Hard to explain that to a simplistic bloke like me, or at least it is difficult I guess to put a positive spin on it.

When I put provocative and, yes, insulting posts in order to bring out debate, I am not proud of myself, not seeing this as the Ian who deals with my own reality day to day and sometimes I actually want to insult. Why? Because I have huge issues with it all. I cannot think of a single mainstream religion that doesn't promote difference as something to be distrustful of in one way or another.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 10:36 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_of_Pi


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 11:32 AM

Steve, Musket ~~ rereading this thread which I had not logged on to lately: astounded to find you both in different ways dissing Rupert Sheldrake, who seems to me to have the best, most questioning intellect currently working on questions that really matter, i.e the dogmatism to which science, as well as other sorts of intellectual concepts like faiths, are prone to settle matters of dispute by appeal to different sorts of unquestionable "Constants". The account in his TED lecture of the reactions he had provoked from a "Professor of Metronics[?]" was as shudder-inducing to me as some of the declarations one reads of from the Holy Office at the trial of Galileo. It seems to me that the Sheldrake road is surely, clearly, the way to go. Particularly surprised, Steve, by your admission that you had decided all of a couple of minutes into his lecture that it was not worth listening any more as he was 'talking out of his bottom'. Regret to say that he does not appear to me in this instance to have been the one so doing; not what I should have expected of you whatever!

Jack ~ Have just seen the film of Life of Pi, and read it some time ago; exercised as to what relevance you find in it to topics raised in this thread.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 11:39 AM

As a matter of coincidence, I broke off to catch up on the Cat from the book I am currently reading ~~ which happens to be that very Sheldrake's "Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home". I happen myself to have had experiences with an acquaintance at one time which seemed [and seems still, tho it was years ago] inexplicable except in terms of telepathy, which I am convinced is essential as one of the thus-far unaccounted for functions of our minds which desperately need further exploration. Sheldrake is the one doing it ~~ not helped by the hysterical, non-scientific flak to which his work is being subjected by some who should know better. Like ?? and ?? and...


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 11:51 AM

MtheGM I saw it last night. It is the most visually beautiful film I have ever seen. Ang Lee even makes those old block style apartment buildings in La Belle Province look way prettier than they do in person. I thought that no one could surpass Amelie and Avatar in their own ways for sheer cinematic beauty. Ang Lee has beaten both at their own game.

M~, According to what I saw in the film and quotes I have read by the novelist, the theme is that when you have two stories, one with "God", one without, the one with "God" is the more interesting. This is a story that speaks a little about the Hindu Gods, Jesus & Allah and has a very sympathetic Buddhist character.

Life of Pi is exactly the type of material I started this thread to discuss. If there is no discussion other than the usual nonsense, at least I will have done my part. At least I will have tried.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 12:00 PM

Agree about the film's visuals and atmosphere, Jack; but less sure about its 'message' [if that is quite the word I want]. After all, it wasn't Allah or Jesus or Buddha that influenced the final choice and judgment ~~ it was Richard Parker, that exquisite TIGER, wasn't it? Honest, now! And even if he be taken as a sort of Deity-symbol, then what are we to make of the fact that he so disappointed Pi ultimately by not even turning to give him an affectionate final glance, after all they had gone thru together and the relationship he thought they had forged against all the odds, before vanishing from his life into the jungle for ever? Beware how symbols may turn on you & bite your bum!

LoL

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 05:45 PM

MthGM I can only assume that you did not see the last scene in the movie where adult Pi explains to the interviewer how stories with God in them are better.

But don't argue with me. Argue with the man who wrote the original story.

"according to Yann Martel, can be summarized in three statements- "Life is a story... You can choose your story... A story with God is the better story."


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Jeri
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 05:48 PM

Personally, I like stories with fairies in them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 06:30 PM

Honestly, The, has your common sense taken a day off? Here we have an embittered man (for reasons best known to himself) who immediately starts by railing at science for its being usurped by belief-system obsessives. It should have taken you less than the 90 seconds to realise that here we had a man who was doing that usual dismal thing of equating what he doesn't agree with (atheism/science? Select your particular bent) with religious belief systems, as equal but opposite. But science is not a belief system. It is the way that human minds seek explanations for natural phenomena. Science starts with unbelief, dismissal and super-scepticism. Neither is atheism a belief system. Atheism is waiting for evidence, pure and simple. Allowing yourself to be swept up into this pseudo-intellectual back-alley, is, well, somewhat unbecoming.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 01:22 AM

Science is not a belief system. Of course it isn't. Did you know that Steve Shaw examined every fossil in existence and went to the very ground from which they were dug before he believed in evolution. Did you know that he personally checked every notation in Einstein's math before he accepted Relativity?

He read all of Fermi's and Curie's work in the original Italian then replicated all of their work in his second floor bathroom.

He observed the heavens through his own telescope befor he believed Galileo Galilei and Newton.

Of course he did, faith and trust are totally rejected by low level science teachers. Science rejects belief!! All must be tested by each individual!


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 01:37 AM

You just don't get Sheldrake, Hen. You have given yourself, to hear you tell it, a viewing of 120 seconds of a public discourse by him, without having read a word he has written or listened to a further word he has said, and presume to judge him entirely by that. Do you really think that becoming intellectual behaviour, or a basis on which to come to a conclusion?

Surprised at you. Whose commonsense has take the day off, as you put it? If you really want to dismiss him [& I tell you, he is in this discourse one of us, not one of them], at least provide yourself with a reasonable intellectual framework within which to do so.

~The~


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 01:40 AM

Jack ~ "Stories are better with God in them":

I think it is you who miss Pi's point ~~ that, though they might sound better to some, be more entertaininig and interesting than boring old actuality, they still remain simply stories.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 04:00 AM

M~ the author and Pi in the book have both said that the stories with God are better. You want to quibble with the movie or the novel, quibble with them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: GUEST,Musket sans sailor seaman
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 04:56 AM

I have not read every post you have submitted me old Jack Tar but I believe you generally talk bollocks.

Is that what you meant?

Science isn't a belief system. Belief systems are belief systems. Science describes what we understand about what we observe, not what we wish to observe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 05:04 AM

No, Jack -- I shall quibble with YOU, till you get into your thick head that you have misunderstood what they mean by 'better'.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 05:21 AM

... and that even if 'better' in their terms, they are still only stories


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 06:10 AM

I did listen to a lot more than 120 seconds as it happened, The. Still, it was a long time ago and I'm not watching it again until the sun goes back in.

Well now, wacko. You think science is a belief system just like religion because I trust everything that's told to me without checking it first-hand for myself.
So let's demolish this false equivalence 'twixt science and religion once and for all.

Religion tells you what to believe. Science puts information in front of you.

Religion is a massive disconnect between the writings of ancient desert-dwellers, claims of witnesses, tradition and the assertions and edicts of holy men (rarely holy women). Science is an ever-accumulating body of hard-won knowledge via the verification of evidence.

Religious "knowledge" must not be questioned. You may end up being excommunicated, ostracised or having your head cut off. Science is not science unless it can be questioned at every step. In fact, science must be questioned at every step. That's the way science has progressed, and that's why religious knowledge never progresses. All we have is the further ruminations of "theologians" who operate within a tight ringfence.

Religion consists of a static and unconnected mix of myth, witness and edicts. Science consists of a huge single jigsaw of knowledge for which we are forever finding more pieces. Quite often, we realise that the jigsaw seems to be growing bigger before our eyes. I know whether I can trust the findings of Galileo or Newton or Einstein because many further pieces of their jigsaws have been discovered and are still being discovered, and you can't fit pieces of the wrong jigsaw. For any new scientific assertion, I can find the paper, study the details of the methodology and take or leave the conclusions if I want to. I don't need to imagine that the whole of science is one big fraud unless I check every detail personally. That is not faith in anything like the same sense as religious faith, which is completely blind (if it wasn't, there would be no religion). If you want to call it faith at all, it's based on sheer practicality, in the same way that I have "faith" in the fact that my wife hasn't poisoned my porridge this morning.

So try not to be so silly.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 06:12 AM

Of their parts of the jigsaw, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 06:31 PM

". and that even if 'better' in their terms, they are still only stories "

that is not what the character says in the movie that is not what the novelist says about the movie.

I haven't commented except to quote them. If you don't believe it your problem is with them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reflections on Religion and Atheism
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 06:32 PM

Steve, You are a very poor spokesperson for science.


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