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ranrod

Makings of a believer

18 posts in this topic

I had a recent conversation with someone about how people became strong unwavering believers that I want to share. It rings true to my experience growing up in a Catholic household within a Catholic nation. I apologize this came out so long.

A kid is born and as soon as he can understand language his parents teach the kid that all good things that happen is because of a god: Food, shelter, family, etc. Furthermore, the lack of bad things happening is also attributed to the god: Avoiding an accident, not getting the flu, not needing surgery, etc. There's no bounds to the range of credit this god can get: from a moment of laughter, to getting a good grade, to getting the present you wanted, to a tornado missing your neighborhood, to your father beating cancer. Throughout that early childhood 'good' and 'avoiding bad' and any emotions associated with them are taught to mean 'god'. In reality the parents are simply redefining what a couple of emotions mean.

To compound the problem, kids are heavily exposed to this when their young minds are still developing, highly moldable, and full of magical thinking. That's why someone said that If we didn't expose kids to religion under their intellect was fully developed, there would be vastly fewer religious people. Powerful, permanent neural connections are made ages 0-7, but especially ages 2-3. Taking those natural but powerful feelings of magic and fear/respect for invisible forces you have at those ages, and giving them a name (God), is an extremely powerful conditioning technique.

At the same time the parents keep meticulous notes of every good coincidence or remarkable event that reinforces their view. For example, their vet says their dog will die, but it survives. A few years later a doctor says a family member has terminal cancer and 3 months to live, however, said family member lives another 5 years. A family member gets out of a car accident without a scratch. Even small ones like losing a plane ticket (say, on a taxi), but having the taxi driver return it without seeking compensation. Having a dream that foreshadows something that happens in real life later on. Statistically speaking none of these would be remarkable, but if you accumulate every coincidence and misinterpretation of what happened for 18 years, you'd have a lengthy and comprehensive list of 'proofs'.

The kid is also taught bad things are connected to their deity as well. "That hurricane wrecked havok in New Orleans. They have truly strayed too far from God". This goes for school shootings, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, etc. Interpreting bad events, often random or accidental, to our actions as humans, gives believers a very powerful (and imaginary), sense of control. When bad things happen, even if it is a tornado, they think they could've done something about it with prayer.

So for 18 years all these reinforcements take shape in a kid's head. After all that time training your brain to understand the concept it feels as real and tangible as the clothes on your backs. Musicians who practice hours a day for years develop a similar notion for musical notes -- they can touch the notes in their minds -- they can talk to them and they talk back -- they dream in terms of them. That shaped concept of god is no different. It becomes a powerful sense, seemingly with a life of its own. It feels tangible. A believer "knows" what that sense is thinking, feeling, planning. There's a sort of communication with it, and you can feel its presence.

So when an atheist says, "prove your god exists!", it makes no sense. That sense of a god is an immutable truth by the age of 18. It's not in question. It's not in doubt. It's a fact. It's like asking the musician to prove he has a stronger sense for notes, without playing music. How? It. makes. no. sense. Furthermore, going over the list of 'proofs' is just frustrating, and it's really even besides the point. It's all about that feeling inside.

However, the other way around makes perfect sense. If I walk up to you in real life and say, "you are naked right now", and you say "no I'm not, I can see I'm wearing clothes", and I say, "those clothes you see are in your imagination. You are actually naked", it would be perfectly valid for you to say "Prove it!" It is no different for a believer with such a concrete and palpable knowledge of God to ask for proof when someone says that their god is imaginary. For scientifically-minded people that sounds backwards. "no, that's not how it works. You have to prove assertions, not disprove negations".

Furthermore, the scientific process only applies to what's testable, and in the bible it says god will not allow himself to be tested by man (not in those words). This notion that puny, insignificant man, could not possibly test the almighty is another reinforced notion in a believer's upbringing. In addition, not everything that exists is testable at this point in time or in the far future for that matter. There are things we can experience, but we can't test. For example for thousands of years we experienced colds and flu's without understanding the cause of them. The fact we didn't know what to look for or test for, didn't mean it didn't exist. So this creates reasonable doubt and invalidates the "no scientific proof" argument. The believer doesn't understand the scientific process is there precisely to eliminate such biases and preconceptions as the ones that resulted in his belief to begin with.

A phenomenon is the adherence to the bible despite the obvious contradiction in the "god is good" notion and what's written in the old testament. It comes from the struggle between the legitimacy the bible brings to the table (while being truly evil in the OT), and notion that god is good (conditioned into a believer from birth). The end result is that believers cherry pick the parts of the bible that they like and disregard the others. As I've said many times, this is a very dangerous practice in a modern society. Such as God saying, "Show no mercy, have no pity! Kill them all - old and young, girls and women and little children" -Ezekiel 9:5. As I've also pointed out it creates a fractured religion with hundreds of thousands of personalized variants of the religion. Nevertheless, believers can easily disregard these issues. For a believer, bible issues are just not issues they would care about - They 'know' what they believe in. It's a sense they have deep within them and they can feel it as clear as day. You can pick at those details all you want, but it will not change what they feel inside. There can be many reasons for the 'bad' things in the bible being there. They only real truth they know is that force they feel within them (different depending on the country, region, and even neighborhood of the believer).

If someone has gone through at least 18 years of this conditioning it is unlikely they will let go. However, as adults strike out on their own, they often make further modifications to fit it within their personal and unique world experience. By the time they have kids of their own, they pass own their own flavor of it shaped by those unique experiences, and the cycle repeats. Morphing and evolving (ironic?) over time.

Religion is part of human biology, so I doubt we could ever lose it completely (and still be human), but I'm hoping we can at least put it in the right perspective/context in the future.

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So, basically, religious people are unthinking, rote-following, people incapable of reasoning, and the Christians are apparently so stupid they can't even see obvious contradictions in their Bible.

Edited by IamsSon

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I found this a fascinating and thoughtful OP. BUT how do you know this has any truth? It doesnt resemble anything I know from my own experience with people or religions. I can only assume that, as you are speaking with such conviction and surety, you personally lived through something like this. Otherwise how on earth do you know what goes on in people's minds, or indeed how religious belief is created and transferred from person to person..

( I missed the bit about growing up catholic in a catholic nation on my first read through, which might perhaps explain your thinking, but even so, is this how YOU were raised?)

In 35 years of teaching kids, at least half of whom are religious believers, I have never encountered one (or a parent) who credited god for the good things which come naturally or via hard work, and never one who blamed god for the bad things, or said something like god punishes bad people . For a start it just isn't biblical.

MAny people including me, do credit god with our talents and gifts, but we know we need hard work and a lot of luck to make the most of them. And god does perform miracles and protect people. But one should have the evidences to prove this to oneself, before assuming it.

You also cloud your argument by talking (I presume) about creationists who only make up a small part of religious believers. In general religion and science have no conflict and often complement each other.

Finally there are many millions of educated and scientific believers. In australia the more educated you are the more religious you tend to be. Education, and a knowledge of science, are no "cure" for religious belief, although they might mitigate against, or partially negate, certain forms of belief such as creationism.

As you point out humans individually create their own religious beliefs. If they are exposed to another's they might adopt it. BUT that religious form must also work for them or they will swap it for another or abandon religion altogether

A strong belief does not become knolwledge. it remains strong belief. I claim knowledge of god but not via belief. I have no belief in god i know god like know my wife or dog, from the same froms of evidence for their existence.

Belief does not become knowledge no matter how complete belief is and anyone who argues that is wrong. BUT people like my wife do have such a strong faith in god that they simply say "It does not matter what science says in this matter I have faith n god", She would never claim to KNOW god existed but she has no doubt of his existence, due to faith.

Taking this piece

To compound the problem, kids are heavily exposed to this when their young minds are still developing, highly moldable, and full of magical thinking. That's why someone said that If we didn't expose kids to religion under their intellect was fully developed, there would be vastly fewer religious people. Powerful, permanent neural connections are made ages 0-7, but especially ages 2-3. Taking those natural but powerful feelings of magic and fear/respect for invisible forces you have at those ages, and giving them a name (God), is an extremely powerful conditioning technique.

A child not exposed to an adults religious beliefs will inevitably create their own They will create a god construct, and while they might call it by another name, it will bexcatly the same mental construct as their parents. (not the same religion but the same form of construct)

So you would have all humans remaining religious, but a billion different religions, as each child created/ evolved their own . Humans actually have to be taught not to think in this way and to use other forms of thinking as adults, to reach the conclusion that gods do not exist. Left alone, every human child will create a god construct as they construct language and build human thought processes. It begins with how, from birth, we distinguish between agents and non agents in our world.

Edited by Mr Walker

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IamsSon

Christians are apparently so stupid they can't even see obvious contradictions in their Bible.

On the contrary. One can only admire the mental agility and energetic ingenuity with which some of the book-bound deny what is so obvious to everyone else. Imagine if all of that gymnastic rationalization could be harnessed to solve real problems!

I wouldn't limit the difficulty to Nicene Christians, since there are many Muslims, Mormons and Scientologists who display the same trait. Conversely, I wouldn't describe the trait as typically Christian. Few Roman Catholics, Orthodox or Anglicans are hindered in this way, and they, the three largest Nicene denominations, account for two-thirds or more of Christians worldwide.

ranrod

There's no denying that the first belief system a person enounters in any domain (cultural residence, language preference, politics, economics, sports team support, ...) has an advantage over competing belief systems. Beliefs exist for a purpose: to resolve decisions that must be made under uncerainty. There is "status quo" bias, and it seems more inevitable than irrational.

That is, when I woke up this morning, I did not rethink all my opinions and strategies for dealing with the world. Arraying them all before me, and carefully deciding on the evidence available, I hereby resolve to become a bisexual moderate-Republican Spanish-speaking Methodist Yankees fan who lives in Miami.

If that seems rational to you, then I guess that explains your frustration. But it isn't rational. IRL, I start today with the situation I was in last night, and work from there. Maybe by tomorrow I'll have moved a little bit one way or the other along some of the dimensions. But maybe not.

In religion, I am an agnostic. I wasn't raised agnostic. My religion works for me, it solves the religious problems I have, and does so to my satisfaction at a price I'm willing to pay. An adult Christian, Muslim, Scientologist, ... ditto. If it didn't work for them, solving problems to their satisfaction at acceptable cost, then they wouldn't adhere to it.

It is utterly pointless to complain that if somebody had been exposed to a different problem solving strategy early on, they'd be more likely to use a different problem strategy than they actually do. So what? That's an argument that religious problems are robust, and can be solved by a variety of approaches. (Which I think is true, by the way.) If so, then that is a rational reason not to change a current approach to such problems, barring some extraordinary opportunity presenting itself.

In general, I think the beginning of wisdom is to realize that disagreement with your personal opinion about a matter of opinion probably isn't irrational. Looking for causes in the remote past for adult choices which have ample justification in the present is unlikely to improve things.

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So, basically, religious people are unthinking, rote-following, people incapable of reasoning, and the Christians are apparently so stupid they can't even see obvious contradictions in their Bible.

You said it.

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IamsSon

On the contrary. One can only admire the mental agility and energetic ingenuity with which some of the book-bound deny what is so obvious to everyone else. Imagine if all of that gymnastic rationalization could be harnessed to solve real problems!

Although your opinion is interesting, it does not seem to be the opinion of the OP which is who I was addressing. The OP's view seems to be that religious people, especially Christians are people who fail to see obvious contradictions in the Bible and who simply believe because that's what they were taught as kids.

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I found this a fascinating and thoughtful OP. BUT how do you know this has any truth? It doesnt resemble anything I know from my own experience with people or religions. I can only assume that, as you are speaking with such conviction and surety, you personally lived through something like this. Otherwise how on earth do you know what goes on in people's minds, or indeed how religious belief is created and transferred from person to person..

A child not exposed to an adults religious beliefs will inevitably create their own They will create a god construct, and while they might call it by another name, it will bexcatly the same mental construct as their parents. (not the same religion but the same form of construct)

So you would have all humans remaining religious, but a billion different religions, as each child created/ evolved their own . Humans actually have to be taught not to think in this way and to use other forms of thinking as adults, to reach the conclusion that gods do not exist. Left alone, every human child will create a god construct as they construct language and build human thought processes. It begins with how, from birth, we distinguish between agents and non agents in our world.

Good point. My observations cover several Catholic countries and my observations in various parts of America. There are innumerable other ways religious views are developed in the world.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are personally one who ended up with his own unique take on religion. There sure are a lot of people who develop their own views. Like I said, I believe it's a human instinct so barring being conditioned to belong to a particular one, people will develop their own (as you also pointed out). The question is, does it serve anything (or is it meaningful), to condition your children to like one particular brand of religion? Be it Ra, Jupiter, Yahweh, or the Sun, if the kid is properly conditioned, he/she can end up believing in it wholeheartedly.

If we wait until kids are fully intellectually developed (at least > 13 yo), I believe organized religion would suffer a great hit, but surely most would believe in something spiritual. My ultimate point was to frame that instinct of spirituality correctly so society doesn't end up corrupted because of it.

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It is utterly pointless to complain that if somebody had been exposed to a different problem solving strategy early on, they'd be more likely to use a different problem strategy than they actually do. So what? That's an argument that religious problems are robust, and can be solved by a variety of approaches. (Which I think is true, by the way.) If so, then that is a rational reason not to change a current approach to such problems, barring some extraordinary opportunity presenting itself.

In general, I think the beginning of wisdom is to realize that disagreement with your personal opinion about a matter of opinion probably isn't irrational. Looking for causes in the remote past for adult choices which have ample justification in the present is unlikely to improve things.

I argue most organized religions are about not solving problems, often compound problems, and I'm exploring the possibility of approaching spiritual matters from a more self-aware manner. The conditioning perpetuate some problems, impedes progress in many ways. Having spirituality is fine, but let's put it in the right context.

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Good point. My observations cover several Catholic countries and my observations in various parts of America. There are innumerable other ways religious views are developed in the world.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are personally one who ended up with his own unique take on religion. There sure are a lot of people who develop their own views. Like I said, I believe it's a human instinct so barring being conditioned to belong to a particular one, people will develop their own (as you also pointed out). The question is, does it serve anything (or is it meaningful), to condition your children to like one particular brand of religion? Be it Ra, Jupiter, Yahweh, or the Sun, if the kid is properly conditioned, he/she can end up believing in it wholeheartedly.

If we wait until kids are fully intellectually developed (at least > 13 yo), I believe organized religion would suffer a great hit, but surely most would believe in something spiritual. My ultimate point was to frame that instinct of spirituality correctly so society doesn't end up corrupted because of it.

I agree with this. I think that, if religous/spiritual belief didnt exist, we would have to invent it. It helps internalise values and moralities in the heart, and thus people follow them more carefully than those internalised inthe head.

Belief is a much more powerful motivator/ driver than logic My opinion is that all religions have value but the idea is to chose the optimum one for yourself. That will involve looking at your own values and your country's cultural values/ mores etc. Next, you can either adopt an existing belief, adapt one to your own needs, or create an entirely individual one for yourself.

If you want to be an atheist that is fine but you stlll need to develop and live by a set of moralities and beliefs based on underlying basic value sets which you hold dear in your heart, as well as intellectually. For example secular humanism is a positive belief set which can be useful to an atheist.

Social justice, personal accountability, and environmental sustainability, are others.

Because i know from educational theory that children have to be taught values, ethics, moralities etc., I support teaching young children religious beliefs and principles, in order to underpin and reinforce their social behaviours and personal accountability. BUT, as stated, i think it is important to chose a; positive, socially responsible and constructive variant of religion to scaffold the child's ethics and moralities.

So i would chose a variant that, along with the basics of love, compassion, social justice and civic duty, for example; taught good diet, personal health, hygiene and physical fitness, responsible behaviours and as little use of drugs alcohol etc as possible, because they alter in negative and destructive/limiting ways, the natural state of our mind and body. Much like the ancient greek ideal of a healthy mind, in a healthy body.

It would include a responsiblity to develop ones mind and body to the maximum possible potentials, just so you could be all that you are capable of.

Christianity, like any religion, can be taught in many ways. Some incredibly empowering, liberating, and positive. Others disempowering, enslaving, and destructive.

Edited by Mr Walker
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Christianity, like any religion, can be taught in many ways. Some incredibly empowering, liberating, and positive. Others disempowering, enslaving, and destructive.

The problem I have with this statement is that it creates a dangerous situation if we look at large populations. If you tell everyone to cherry-pick the parts of the religion to listen to and disregard others, you are going to get millions of people making their own judgment calls. This is very dangerous as the bible has passages that advocates murder, guilt, fear, intolerance, rape, child abuse, slavery and suffering in general.

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The problem I have with this statement is that it creates a dangerous situation if we look at large populations. If you tell everyone to cherry-pick the parts of the religion to listen to and disregard others, you are going to get millions of people making their own judgment calls. This is very dangerous as the bible has passages that advocates murder, guilt, fear, intolerance, rape, child abuse, slavery and suffering in general.

Actually, it's by NOT encouraging "cherry-picking" but by encouraging actual reading and serious STUDY of the Bible that you end up with a brand of Christianity that is truly spiritual and incredibly empowering, liberating, and positive.

The churches that either actively discourage serious study, or that make it seem unnecessary are the ones that end up developing "Christians" who are caught up in rote, ritual, and dogma.

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I agree with this. I think that, if religous/spiritual belief didnt exist, we would have to invent it. It helps internalise values and moralities in the heart, and thus people follow them more carefully than those internalised inthe head.

Belief is a much more powerful motivator/ driver than logic My opinion is that all religions have value but the idea is to chose the optimum one for yourself. That will involve looking at your own values and your country's cultural values/ mores etc. Next, you can either adopt an existing belief, adapt one to your own needs, or create an entirely individual one for yourself.

If you want to be an atheist that is fine but you stlll need to develop and live by a set of moralities and beliefs based on underlying basic value sets which you hold dear in your heart, as well as intellectually. For example secular humanism is a positive belief set which can be useful to an atheist.

Social justice, personal accountability, and environmental sustainability, are others.

Because i know from educational theory that children have to be taught values, ethics, moralities etc., I support teaching young children religious beliefs and principles, in order to underpin and reinforce their social behaviours and personal accountability. BUT, as stated, i think it is important to chose a; positive, socially responsible and constructive variant of religion to scaffold the child's ethics and moralities.

So i would chose a variant that, along with the basics of love, compassion, social justice and civic duty, for example; taught good diet, personal health, hygiene and physical fitness, responsible behaviours and as little use of drugs alcohol etc as possible, because they alter in negative and destructive/limiting ways, the natural state of our mind and body. Much like the ancient greek ideal of a healthy mind, in a healthy body.

It would include a responsiblity to develop ones mind and body to the maximum possible potentials, just so you could be all that you are capable of.

Christianity, like any religion, can be taught in many ways. Some incredibly empowering, liberating, and positive. Others disempowering, enslaving, and destructive.

I think you bring in an excellent point, Religion can be and is taught in ways that are harmful, but it can be taught to be a positive growth producing addition too.( I have seen this done.) I think it is simply a matter of actively and honestly looking at the pros and cons and discussing them with your spouse and kids.

The reasons I see that religion can be harmful is when it is taught as a fixed mindset-- when it is taught as rigid, unchanging, and exclusive-- when it is taught to be the only way-- the only authority--or as the only path that 'cannot' be wrong.

As an experienced parent I seek/implement ideas that encourage my children to be growth seeking-- to be self aware-- to learn from mistakes-- to be responsible-- and to understand that they are accountable and responsible for their own behaviors and they have the ability to change them.(via attitude , reflection, awareness, understanding, experience etc. etc.)

I did not actively use religion in the upbringing of my 3 sons. Yet I encouraged all paths of questioning/interest.

I think compassion, altruism, charity, respect, respect for oneself and others, conscientiousness, health, morality and humanitarianism etc. etc is taught/modeled just as effectively via example/guidance/influence of the guides/parents..

Edited by Sherapy

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IamsSon

On the contrary. One can only admire the mental agility and energetic ingenuity with which some of the book-bound deny what is so obvious to everyone else. Imagine if all of that gymnastic rationalization could be harnessed to solve real problems!

I wouldn't limit the difficulty to Nicene Christians, since there are many Muslims, Mormons and Scientologists who display the same trait. Conversely, I wouldn't describe the trait as typically Christian. Few Roman Catholics, Orthodox or Anglicans are hindered in this way, and they, the three largest Nicene denominations, account for two-thirds or more of Christians worldwide.

ranrod

There's no denying that the first belief system a person enounters in any domain (cultural residence, language preference, politics, economics, sports team support, ...) has an advantage over competing belief systems. Beliefs exist for a purpose: to resolve decisions that must be made under uncerainty. There is "status quo" bias, and it seems more inevitable than irrational.

That is, when I woke up this morning, I did not rethink all my opinions and strategies for dealing with the world. Arraying them all before me, and carefully deciding on the evidence available, I hereby resolve to become a bisexual moderate-Republican Spanish-speaking Methodist Yankees fan who lives in Miami.

If that seems rational to you, then I guess that explains your frustration. But it isn't rational. IRL, I start today with the situation I was in last night, and work from there. Maybe by tomorrow I'll have moved a little bit one way or the other along some of the dimensions. But maybe not.

In religion, I am an agnostic. I wasn't raised agnostic. My religion works for me, it solves the religious problems I have, and does so to my satisfaction at a price I'm willing to pay. An adult Christian, Muslim, Scientologist, ... ditto. If it didn't work for them, solving problems to their satisfaction at acceptable cost, then they wouldn't adhere to it.

It is utterly pointless to complain that if somebody had been exposed to a different problem solving strategy early on, they'd be more likely to use a different problem strategy than they actually do. So what? That's an argument that religious problems are robust, and can be solved by a variety of approaches. (Which I think is true, by the way.) If so, then that is a rational reason not to change a current approach to such problems, barring some extraordinary opportunity presenting itself.

In general, I think the beginning of wisdom is to realize that disagreement with your personal opinion about a matter of opinion probably isn't irrational. Looking for causes in the remote past for adult choices which have ample justification in the present is unlikely to improve things.

Indeed 8ty because we can't and do not know how it could of been, we can not do anything about the "past" arguing about it is moot/ineffective! What we see/experience now and how that is playing out is what can be addressed and what can be changed..

Edited by Sherapy
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The problem I have with this statement is that it creates a dangerous situation if we look at large populations. If you tell everyone to cherry-pick the parts of the religion to listen to and disregard others, you are going to get millions of people making their own judgment calls. This is very dangerous as the bible has passages that advocates murder, guilt, fear, intolerance, rape, child abuse, slavery and suffering in general.

Not if you teach modern human values and ethics to all children. ALL human moralities beliefs and values are learned. Once upon a time it was moral and expected for a girl to marry at puberty. Once upon a time homosexuality was seen as a danger to a social structure and once upon a time slavery was seen as a necessary economic element (whoops i forgot. There are more slaves in the world now than at any time in the past. That includes young children forced to work or into armed forces, and young women forced into prostitution) Once upon a time (in my childhood )" children were expected to be "seen but not heard" and it was truly believed, and social and official policy, that to "spare the rod would spoil the child" Today we have gone to the other extremes of these beliefs.

I live by the bible but apply learned modern ethics and values to match the underlying principles upon which the laws and expectations of the bible are based. Eg I love and respect my parents and the wisdom of elders. I do not break the law. I use my talents wisely. I love my fellow humans and do all i can to help them. I am a steward of the natural world and so reduce my ecological footprint and live sustainably. I fight for protection and humane treatment of animals. These are all direct biblical principles but also modern common sense. (my cardiac specialist said my biblically suggested diet and exercise is the most healthy diet for cardiac health he has ever encountered.) My wife and I are "equally yoked," and partners on the path of life.

My point is that there is nothing impossible or incompatible about living very closely to biblical principles and yet holding thoroughly modern but "healthy" ethics and values. SOME commonly held modern ethics and moralities are just as harmful as ancient ones, but we cant see that because they are OUR values, engrained from birth through "indoctrination."

EG the idea that it is good to build things designed to last only a short time, so that people have to buy more of them sooner than they should have to. (planned obsolescence) Or that indefinite growth is not just sustainable but indeed essential for our economies. (Almost universal modern economic theory)

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Not if you teach modern human values and ethics to all children. ALL human moralities beliefs and values are learned. Once upon a time it was moral and expected for a girl to marry at puberty. Once upon a time homosexuality was seen as a danger to a social structure and once upon a time slavery was seen as a necessary economic element (whoops i forgot. There are more slaves in the world now than at any time in the past. That includes young children forced to work or into armed forces, and young women forced into prostitution) Once upon a time (in my childhood )" children were expected to be "seen but not heard" and it was truly believed, and social and official policy, that to "spare the rod would spoil the child" Today we have gone to the other extremes of these beliefs.

I live by the bible but apply learned modern ethics and values to match the underlying principles upon which the laws and expectations of the bible are based. Eg I love and respect my parents and the wisdom of elders. I do not break the law. I use my talents wisely. I love my fellow humans and do all i can to help them. I am a steward of the natural world and so reduce my ecological footprint and live sustainably. I fight for protection and humane treatment of animals. These are all direct biblical principles but also modern common sense. (my cardiac specialist said my biblically suggested diet and exercise is the most healthy diet for cardiac health he has ever encountered.) My wife and I are "equally yoked," and partners on the path of life.

My point is that there is nothing impossible or incompatible about living very closely to biblical principles and yet holding thoroughly modern but "healthy" ethics and values. SOME commonly held modern ethics and moralities are just as harmful as ancient ones, but we cant see that because they are OUR values, engrained from birth through "indoctrination."

EG the idea that it is good to build things designed to last only a short time, so that people have to buy more of them sooner than they should have to. (planned obsolescence) Or that indefinite growth is not just sustainable but indeed essential for our economies. (Almost universal modern economic theory)

But you are speaking for yourself. If you make excellent moral choices without religion, having religion is not going to change that. If we look at large populations, things turn out differently. Pablo Escobar was a devout Catholic Christian and saw no contradictions between his actions and his religion. You seem to assume everyone has your same thought process. The bible opens the door for too many heinous acts, and justifies them by stating God's will is above human law, and that people should answer to God above all else. One in a thousand people being influenced by the bible in the worse way possible is enough to ruin life for everyone else. A lot of people are on the verge of dangerous behavior and the bible tends to push them the wrong way.

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Sheri

Indeed 8ty because we can't and do not know how it could of been, we can not do anything about the "past" arguing about it is moot/ineffective! What we see/experience now and how that is playing out is what can be addressed and what can be changed..

The song from Rent, No Day but Today, is half right. Regrets about yesterday are completely wasted, but tomorrow is another day, and if I get my act together today, then tomorrow just might be a better day :) .

IamsSon

The churches that either actively discourage serious study, or that make it seem unnecessary are the ones that end up developing "Christians" who are caught up in rote, ritual, and dogma.

I am unsure what churches you are referring to. Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches, for example, propose studying the Bible along with additional scholarship as well. They're not the only churches with this perspective, but they are the largest Christian denominations, and about two out of three living Christians belong to one of those three. Even Lutherans, whose founder coined the phrase sola scriptura, often supplement their Bible reading with critical and interpretive commentary, some of it written by Luther himself.

ranrod

I argue most organized religions are about not solving problems, often compound problems, and I'm exploring the possibility of approaching spiritual matters from a more self-aware manner. The conditioning perpetuate some problems, impedes progress in many ways. Having spirituality is fine, but let's put it in the right context.

I agree that there is a potential for a religion to create or aggravate the problem which it purports to solve, like the bar that serves salty snacks for free. If that problem were salient, then it would seem easy enough to address it directly. It doesn't follow that the product is defective because the marketing is dubious; the bar probably does serve beverages that quench thirst.

Apart from that, however, it is dicey to propose that adults aren't typically making choices that suit them in their actual current situation. By all means, you personally should explore this domain with whatever strategy impresses you as promising. It is not obvious, however, that there's anything wrong with people whose strategies differ from yours.

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But you are speaking for yourself. If you make excellent moral choices without religion, having religion is not going to change that. If we look at large populations, things turn out differently. Pablo Escobar was a devout Catholic Christian and saw no contradictions between his actions and his religion. You seem to assume everyone has your same thought process. The bible opens the door for too many heinous acts, and justifies them by stating God's will is above human law, and that people should answer to God above all else. One in a thousand people being influenced by the bible in the worse way possible is enough to ruin life for everyone else. A lot of people are on the verge of dangerous behavior and the bible tends to push them the wrong way.

I am an ordinary human being. My biology genetics and neurology is not basically different from any one elses. What i have learned, anyone can be taught or can learn. I disagree with yourr conclusion about the bible. It is just one set of values ethics and moralities. Basically it is a good, constructive a set of values and ethics but it was written 2000-4000 years ago, so of course it needs being modernised. And most variants of christianity i deal with actually do this . They preach a social gospel. It is why religion in Australia is seen as an asset, and why educated people here are more religious than non educated ones (they see the human benefits of the forms of religion practised in Australia.)

IF one in a thousand people is influenced by the bible in a negative way, then many more are influenced by it in positive ways. Today christianity is far and away a positive influence in net terms. That ranges from the great social good it does for communities, to the comfort, peace and strength, it gives to individuals. A lot of people are on the verge of being lost, or on the verge of dangerous/destructive behaviours, and the message of the bible tips them away from that outcome.

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So, basically, religious people are unthinking, rote-following, people incapable of reasoning, and the Christians are apparently so stupid they can't even see obvious contradictions in their Bible.

LOL, yes basically that sums it up. Religion is a convenient excuse to stop thinking by yourself.

To their credit, we should acknowledge that Christians at least do not kill apostates and critics of the book such as another major religion demands.

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