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Skeptics Dilemma


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#46    Paranoid Android

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 02:28 PM

View PostZaphod222, on 26 January 2013 - 12:52 PM, said:

Your claiming so does not make that it so. Violence in the name of an extremely pacifistic religion like Jainism would be contradiction in terms, so your claim is patently nonsensical.

There can never be a concept like a Jainist Jihad, or a Jainist suicide bomber. It it simply not possible within Jainist thinking.
You quoted your own post here.  It sounds like you may have been referring to me, and as such I am taking it that way.  At a glance I would say the same thing about other religions - there should not be such a thing as a Christian terrorist or a Muslim terrorist.  Nevertheless, they exist.  Despite my belief that both beliefs teach tolerance and respect (yes, even though I am a Christian, my studies of Islam lead me to think that it also wants peace) the FACT remains that both Christianity and Islam have left trails of destruction.  And I lay the fault of that destruction squarely on the shoulders of individuals who have taken the teachings of Christ and Mohammed and twisted them to mean something else entirely.

If you think an influential figure cannot also do the same with pacifistic beliefs such as Jainism, I can only point to irreconcilable differences.  Surely an influential and charismatic leader could convince many that peace can only be achieved once "heretics" (non-believers) are eradicated.

I know you're thinking it impossible.  And as it currently stands, it IS IMPOSSIBLE.  Jainism simply doesn't have the political clout to pull it off.  But if they had a billion adherents then some of them could be led to believe that "true peace" is possible, if they resort to killing apostates to ensure peace for the future.

This is my final post on the matter.  If you disagree with me, then I'll accept it and leave it at that.  I won't agree with you, but I'll leave you be.  Despite the outlook of non-violence in Jainism, an influential leader can change things.  But they would only change things if the numbers of followers were sufficiently large to cause people to overthrow the status quo.  Unless you find a better argument than "Jainist Jihad is a contradiction in terms", I'm afraid we can't move forward - such an argument is, in my opinion, ignorant of human nature.

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Edit:  I'm reminded of a post I made a while back, found HERE, in which I speak of a fictional character named Byron, who never raised a finger in violence and taught a life of non-violence, and yet his followers upon his death chose to use his death as justification for violence - "Byronist Jihad " is also a contradiction in terms, yet in this universe such a thing happened.

Edited by Paranoid Android, 26 January 2013 - 02:52 PM.

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#47    Frank Merton

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 02:40 PM

Ah, maybe what we are all searching for is a religion that allows you to believe and do whatever you fancy and promises prosperity and long life and then bliss after you die but doesn't ask you to do anything either for it or for your fellow beings.  Oh, and it also gives you spiritual peace and fulfillment and a virgin every other day.


#48    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 05:17 PM

View PostParanoid Android, on 26 January 2013 - 02:28 PM, said:

At a glance I would say the same thing about other religions - there should not be such a thing as a Christian terrorist or a Muslim terrorist.  Nevertheless, they exist.  Despite my belief that both beliefs teach tolerance and respect (yes, even though I am a Christian, my studies of Islam lead me to think that it also wants peace) the FACT remains that both Christianity and Islam have left trails of destruction.  And I lay the fault of that destruction squarely on the shoulders of individuals who have taken the teachings of Christ and Mohammed and twisted them to mean something else entirely.

Agreed, I've wondered at what point the religious labels and corresponding definitions have been stretched beyond having much meaning; when individuals twist the teachings of the religion's founders, at what point is it inaccurate to even call them Christian and Muslim?  I agree the terms are wide-reaching but they are not infinitely malleable, if one thinks that Charles Manson or Elvis is God, no matter how they integrate that with Christianity they are not Christian even if they somehow self-identify as such.  We could say that we still refer to Christian or Muslim terrorists because of the great overlap in beliefs between them and pacifists of their sects, and thus the question of whether terrorism is justified is just one point of difference amongst many other points of agreement.  In theory though, and I don't know enough about Jainism and how core pacificism is to that belief system to know if it's a good example, it seems possible to have a "'x religion' terrorist" that is a contradiction, or at least a meaningless label.

Ah, actually I was going to use your Byronist example and just read your link and see you've already discussed this angle of it.  It's a head-scratcher, I just can't get my brain around what the purpose of the label then actually is (from a logical or validity standpoint, I understand it's purpose politically/tactically).  If Byronism's only belief was in absolute pacifism, then what does it even mean to say that someone can be a Byronist terrorist, it means nothing more than that they have affixed this label to themselves, or I guess more precisely, they believe that they are somehow a follower of Byron despite holding the exact opposite belief of Byronism.  But there doesn't seem to be as much question that other non-religious labels can't just be affixed freely like that, it doesn't matter if Donald Trump says "I am a communist", he's not by definition.  I guess it has to do with the interplay of the evolution of words over time, the precision of different belief systems and labels, social identification, and a lot of other stuff that's too heavy to think about on Saturday.  Interesting topic though!

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#49    Beckys_Mom

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 05:23 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 26 January 2013 - 02:40 PM, said:

Ah, maybe what we are all searching for is a religion that allows you to believe and do whatever you fancy and promises prosperity and long life and then bliss after you die but doesn't ask you to do anything either for it or for your fellow beings.  Oh, and it also gives you spiritual peace and fulfillment and a virgin every other day.

You need a religion for that?   I know I sure don't..

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#50    Frank Merton

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 05:28 PM

View PostBeckys_Mom, on 26 January 2013 - 05:23 PM, said:

You need a religion for that?   I know I sure don't..
I'm not sure I caught that one; at my age it takes a lot of religion.


#51    ealdwita

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 06:00 PM

And at my age, the ability to cope with a virgin every two days would need more of a pharmaceutical than a metaphysical remedy!

"Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel, ac gecnáwan þín gefá!": "Fate goes ever as she shall, but know thine enemy!".
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#52    Doug1o29

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 07:31 PM

View PostI believe you, on 22 January 2013 - 07:57 PM, said:

Describe a religion that you would find acceptable, people need the magic and stuff remember, so what is the most benign way you could package it so religion would do the world least harm.
Rather than create a new set of myths to replace the old ones, why not just have the honesty to admit that the metaphysical is unknowable.  We can never know, objectively, if there really is/was a god, etc., much less answer questions that stem from that assumption.

The person who says that he knows there is no evidence of the supernatural and that it is unknowable, but on the basis of faith alone, believes anyway, is on pretty solid rational ground.  It is the one with weak faith who must try to prop up his faith with poorly-understood scientific concepts, who is out in left field.

We can't have it both ways.  Either we believe on the basis of faith, or we don't.  There is no middle ground.
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#53    Beckys_Mom

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 07:36 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 26 January 2013 - 05:28 PM, said:

I'm not sure I caught that one; at my age it takes a lot of religion.

You don't need a religion for that, just live your life that way... Your own form of spirituality that allows you that freedom you described beforehand

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#54    redhen

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 08:22 PM

View PostVerloc, on 24 January 2013 - 02:29 PM, said:

So the "religion" i would create would differ from all the others in the sense that we do not think we have all the answers and try to force it on other people, but to admit that we dont have the answers


Here's one that fits your requirement: Jainism. One of the fundamental Jain concepts is:

"Anekāntavāda (Devanagari: अनेकान्तवाद) is one of the most important and fundamental doctrines of Jainism. It refers to the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth."  http://en.wikipedia....ki/Anekantavada

Simply put, Anekāntavāda means "it's complicated".

I can't read Sanskirt, but I believe the Jain motto (as seen in my avatar) means either; Ahimsa paramo dharma (non-violence is the paramount teaching) or "live and let live". How accomodating is that?

p.s. although I have adopted the Jain symbol as an avatar, I am not a professed Jain. I just happen to agree with most of their teachings (not all though).

Edited by redhen, 26 January 2013 - 08:26 PM.


#55    Mr Walker

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 11:12 PM

View PostZaphod222, on 26 January 2013 - 12:28 PM, said:

I won´t argue with that. I find it quite likely that most people feel better (safer), if they can believe in something. It makes life simpler... being a sceptic takes energy.

But that says nothing about the benefit of the belief system for society. Were the girls of the Mason Family happy and healthy while they were in the cult? Probably. The members of Aum Shinrikyo? The members of the Jim Jones cult? Hardcore Nazis? The pilots of the 9/11 planes? Probably yes, in all cases.

But please do not tell me that these destructive belief systems are good for the rest of us. You still have to look a the content of the religion; there is no way around it.
Here we reach the point where social values and ethics conflict with individual  values and ethics and that gets complicated and tricky.

In general I believe social  values and ethics should prevail because it is our society which protects us and allows us our individual rights and privileges. However, there may well be some cases where an individuals ethics conflict with his/her society's. For example I am for voluntary euthanasia but my society and most other societies oppose it. I am philosophically opposed to abortion "on demand" with no checks and balances, yet my society accepets and allows this. I remain personally opposed to certain things while recognising that, in a democracy we have both rights and obligations,

Under a tyranical rule individuals may have a duty and an obligation to oppose that rule, but this is much harder to justify under a democracy.

Ps i never found being an atheist took any energy while I was one. I never thought about it once I had established the apparent logic of the position. It was just how I was and my society seemed to be. I dont think I thought about it or talked about it for years at a time. Maintaining a consistent, working, secular humanist set  of ethics and values, and an accompanying philosophy, DID take considerable time thought and energy

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#56    Mr Walker

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 11:35 PM

View PostZaphod222, on 26 January 2013 - 12:40 PM, said:

....that is called Stockholm Syndrome. But yes, I accept that some women fell happy in a subordinate role. But that is irrelevant to the question if all religions are equally good or bad. Again, they are demonstratable not.



Actually, most people are born into a religion, so the question of "need" does not arise. But anyway, if all religions accepted that you adopt and leave them as you wish, it would be great. In the event, not all religions do that. E.g. in Islam: you can join any time (just say the Shahada), but leaving is punishable by death according to islamic law (apostacy). So right there is a clear difference: A religion kills you for leaving is clearly objectively more evil than one that allows you to leave. How can you say the two doctrines are the same?



That is simply a false statement, but I do not want to get into a Christianity vs islam theological debate, which is why I precisely did NOT mention Christianity. Taking Islam and Jainism as examples makes my point as clear as it can get.



Not all religions allow you to pick and choose. So this gets back to the same point: You need to look at the content of a religion. Generalizing about "all religions" is pointless and based on wishful thinking.
To take your last point first. No it is not wishful thinking. It is what is necesary in all things, not just religions, for humanity to survive and prosper.

Each individual is accountable for their own thoughts and for their own deeds.  All functioning humans have the abilty to know what is desrtuctive and wh t is creative and hence individually we are all accountable The nuremberg trials established that in International law. That is exactly the same for an atheist as for a religious person

The matter of statistics on cause of deaths is interesting, but there is no doubt  that christianity over 2000 years has been directly and indirectly responsible for more deaths than  islam  since its incepetion.

HOWEVER what i did not point out is that "secular" wars and conflicts over that time have killed more than either. From genghis khan to stalin,  the cultural revolution of china, and the killing fields of the khymer rouge, their  secular death toll exceeds either christian or muslim.

I do not argue that DOCTRINES are the same quite the opposite but religions whatever their doctrines come form the same place serve the same puproses and survive if they are effective
Humans, if not "born into a religion"  will create their own because of  how humans construct belief.

I agree that many beliefs are passed on, but so are values and ethics indepndent of religion. An adult human can think for them selves and can decide their own set of values ethics and religious beliefs.

In western societies, while the total number of religious people is remaining the same, many are swapping beliefs. Islam is growing as are eastern faiths like buddhism.  This may relfect the comparative modern relevevance of some religious beliefs (or aspects of them)compared to others.
I didnt say subordinate.  That is a value judgement.

My wife would hit you if you called her subordinate, yet she lives a traditionall christian based role as a wife.Eg I work and provide all her material needs, while she does what she loves, maintaining the home, garden and our animals. That suits her temperament and personality She does not enjoy engaging with people or being tied down to work under a boss and being told what to do. She is her own boss in our home.
This would not suit every woman but it suits her She also does not wear make up or dress to look sexy despite being the sexiest woman I have ever met. Again that is her choice based on her values.

I teach young girls who are forced/ indoctrinated by society to look like sexual objects and to act as one.  They think that is right and natural because they have been conditioned to do so. Rather than value self for self, they see their value as a sexual object for another Or in what they can earn and provide..

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#57    Paranoid Android

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 11:47 PM

View PostLiquid Gardens, on 26 January 2013 - 05:17 PM, said:

If Byronism's only belief was in absolute pacifism, then what does it even mean to say that someone can be a Byronist terrorist, it means nothing more than that they have affixed this label to themselves
My point exactly, at least I know I'm not incomprehensible in what I am trying to say.  Thanks :tu:

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#58    Mr Walker

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 12:16 AM

Just a side bar. Jainism is an interesting belief set. While some jainists won't go outside at night because they are more likely to accidentally kill something, and some won't eat root vegetables because small Insects may be killed in harvesting them, it is quite jusifiable and even seen as necessary in jainism to kill in defence of self or innocent people, and to join the army police as a part of a role in protecting life. It is a practical religion in some senses, which is what appeals to me. It allows for individualism, and categorises protecton of life into different priorities.
I also like its basic tenets, especially the idea of an individual being in control of, and personally responsible for, their thoughts emotions and behaviours.

Edited by Mr Walker, 27 January 2013 - 12:17 AM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#59    Zaphod222

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 02:56 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 26 January 2013 - 11:35 PM, said:

1)
The matter of statistics on cause of deaths is interesting, but there is no doubt  that christianity over 2000 years has been directly and indirectly responsible for more deaths than  islam  since its incepetion.

2)
HOWEVER what i did not point out is that "secular" wars and conflicts over that time have killed more than either. From genghis khan to stalin,  the cultural revolution of china, and the killing fields of the khymer rouge, their  secular death toll exceeds either christian or muslim.

3)
I do not argue that DOCTRINES are the same quite the opposite but religions whatever their doctrines come form the same place serve the same puproses and survive if they are effective
Humans, if not "born into a religion"  will create their own because of  how humans construct belief.

OK, one by one

1)
Christianity has 800 years ahead of islam, so in the name of fairness, you might want to chop off 800 years of counting Xtian violence. Secondly, your claim is still plainly wrong. Just take the islamic conquest of India alone. That was the biggest holocaust the world has ever seen, with historians estimating it at 90 million Buddhists and Hindus murdered. That alone makes your claim absurd, regardless of what macabre headcount you come up otherwise. ("Hindukush", by the way, means "killing ground for Hindus".... are you aware of that?)

2)
About "secular wars"; I would be hesitant to label the ideologies that drove Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot as purely "secular". Even if there was no god involved; what drove them were irrational, brutal, belief systems. Belief systems that they thought wer worth murdering for. Is that not also a religion? Because by e.g. calling Buddhism a religion, you have already acknowledged that a religion does not necessary need to have a god.
So basically you are making my point: You need to look at the content of a belief system. You can not label them all together. E.g. Jainism is IN NO WAY comparable to Pol-Potism.

3)
The only way in which you could argue that "religions serve the same purpose" is that they answer an innate human need to believe in something. If that is what you wanted to say, I agree. Otherwise, absolutely not. The contents of various religions are COMPLETELY different.
That humans who are not born into a religion will form one is probably generally true. The Cargo Cults of the Pacific are an excellent example for this. However, to state that Cargo Cults has the same content as e.g. Christianity would be absurd.

And where it gets criminal is when a religion declares that not only are children born into a religion, but also do not have the right to ever leave it, the punishment for apostesy being death. Any religion that does this should not be acceptable for modern society.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." (Salman Rushdie)

#60    Zaphod222

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 03:12 AM

View PostParanoid Android, on 26 January 2013 - 02:28 PM, said:

there should not be such a thing as a Christian terrorist or a Muslim terrorist.  Nevertheless, they exist.  Despite my belief that both beliefs teach tolerance and respect (yes, even though I am a Christian, my studies of Islam lead me to think that it also wants peace)

If you don´t think there are islamic terrorists, just open your newspaper. And that only scratches the surface. The fact is that striking terror into the hearts of the disbelievers is a religious tenet for fundamentalist muslims, and the root goes right back to the founder.

And if you fall for the simplistic talking point that islam wants "peace", you only show that you have not studied the issue. I would recommend to inform yourself about the definition of "peace" within islamic dogma. Hint: It is not what you and I understand by "peace".

All I can say to you is I hope you inform yourself more about the topic before posting strong opinion statements.

Edited by Zaphod222, 27 January 2013 - 03:13 AM.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." (Salman Rushdie)




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