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markdohle

Believing Impossible Stuff Is Dangerous.

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Posted (edited)

In my last article, I dissected the study that went around the Internet claiming that children who have been exposed to religion (like swine flu) can't tell the difference between reality and fiction. Those findings were less than convincing, as I and others pointed out - because kids who had been to Christian Sunday school were virtually guaranteed to recognize the "fictional" stories as versions of Bible narratives.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scienceonreligion/2014/08/believing-impossible-stuff-is-dangerous-except-when-its-awesome

Edited by Saru
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He really doesn't understand the scientific method does he?

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Posted (edited)

He really doesn't understand the scientific method does he?

He does, just differently than you. He is reacting to a silly article about religious children that is a tad biased.....of course most things are. This modern myth about the war between religion and science is waged by certain segments in both groups, the majority probably don't see any problem.....they are called the quiet majority.

peace

mark

Edited by markdohle
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Soooo, children have vivid imaginations? Wooooooo, shocker! While I can say with certainty that I have many doubts about believing something that cannot be proven, this stance does not change the fact that I love to imagine that such things are possible.

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So, we should encourage children to believe in religion because it improves their imaginations?

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So, we should encourage children to believe in religion because it improves their imaginations?

Well, if discouraging belief, restricts imagination then yes . We all need a good imagination .
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So, we should encourage children to believe in religion because it improves their imaginations?

Don't forget fear and hatred.

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If you want to help kids build imagination. then limit the TV and video games and gave them some paint, crayons and blank paper. Play role playing games with them, tell them stories. They learn quick enough what is real and story. My one kid used to tell me some whoppers, but they were good and had a lot of imagination. When he got done, I'd ask is that true or a whopper. He would laugh and give it away. I miss my little kids to bad they had to grow up.

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So, we should encourage children to believe in religion because it improves their imaginations?

If God exists, yes of course. The questions, does God exist? I say yes, and science backs that up. However to believe in a certain religion does take faith. for instance Christian parents should tell their children about Christ and should actually live out their faith.

Peace

mark

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If you want to help kids build imagination. then limit the TV and video games and gave them some paint, crayons and blank paper. Play role playing games with them, tell them stories. They learn quick enough what is real and story. My one kid used to tell me some whoppers, but they were good and had a lot of imagination. When he got done, I'd ask is that true or a whopper. He would laugh and give it away. I miss my little kids to bad they had to grow up.

I agree, reading, art and crafts and story telling are one of the best ways to keep one interest in learning open.. TV, while it has its place tends to make the imagination, lazy at least from my viewpoint.

Peace

Mark

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Don't forget fear and hatred.

You don't need religion to have plenty of that.......it fact it seems to be growing in the world today......even without religion.....North Korea for instance and China, Cuba etc. People are people, not a pleasant thought.

peace

mark

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People think magical powers, super natural powers, ghosts, etc are impossible.

It's not until you have seen or felt the pressence of a ghost or spirit

that one will believe...

yet others will just claim they went crazy if they experience the supernatural...

People think it's impossible to move objects across a table without touching them..

yet monks can concentrate their mind and focus and have done this on video...

all limitations are self imposed

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People think magical powers, super natural powers, ghosts, etc are impossible.

It's not until you have seen or felt the pressence of a ghost or spirit

that one will believe...

yet others will just claim they went crazy if they experience the supernatural...

People think it's impossible to move objects across a table without touching them..

yet monks can concentrate their mind and focus and have done this on video...

all limitations are self imposed

I Like your last line. Without imagination nothing is possible because, before we attempt anything, we have to imagine it. If you believe you can do something, eventually you will be able to, even if not in the way you thought possible And if you personally don't achieve it, some other human eventually will.

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Posted Today, 05:57 PM

snapback.pngStarMountainKid, on 07 August 2014 - 05:28 PM, said:

So, we should encourage children to believe in religion because it improves their imaginations?

If God exists, yes of course. The questions, does God exist? I say yes, and science backs that up. However to believe in a certain religion does take faith. for instance Christian parents should tell their children about Christ and should actually live out their faith.

Science backs up the existence of God?? I think children should understand the difference between imagined stuff and reality. I personally don't believe in indoctrinating children in any particular religion. I think that limits their freedom of imagination. In my opinion, that is imagination-abuse.

I'm very glad my parients did not force-feed me some particular religious belief.

Edited by StarMountainKid
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Science backs up the existence of God?? I think children should understand the difference between imagined stuff and reality. I personally don't believe in indoctrinating children in any particular religion. I think that limits their freedom of imagination. In my opinion, that is imagination-abuse.

I'm very glad my parients did not force-feed me some particular religious belief.

Science for me points to the reality of an underlying intelligence.....so yes, it does for me strengthen my faith in God. Science itself can make no claims on God; it is outside of its field; that is for theology and philosophy to deal with. Religion does not limit imagination; there is no proof of it, unless you can find some sort of study that is not biased on the matter.....which is probably impossible. Parents have an obligation to teach their children the truth as they see it. Unless you want the government to take charge....that won't work; I would not want any government telling me what to teach my children about the meaning of life. It has been tried and has ended badly. Science does not deal with life and its meaning, unless it is to tell children that they are “just lumbering giants, whose only purpose is to pass on their DNA”…now that would limit imagination for me. Like I said, this whole modern myth about science and religion being at war is not true….except for those on the fringe on both sides. If you believe it, then on a subjective level it is true…..

There are doctors, lawyers, scientists, teacher, nurses and policemen who where raised in religious environments who seem to be ok, I see no impediment in their imagination or in how they deal with people. Logic can be used to back up faith, or to work against it. Logic is a tool, it is not truth. It gives us away to think and express ourselves that others can understand.

In the end we are controlled by our perspectives, they will dictate what we consider logical and reasonable. You have a perspective that is different than mine, so I expect you to have a different ‘slant’ on life, meaning, God and yes the whole question “is religion good for children” etc.

My problem is with both believers and those who do not, who seem to have a compulsion to want control others or shame them into changing their minds. Faith can be reasonable and based on logic, so can atheism. People of faith are not afraid of life without God, they simply ‘know’ that God exist, the same way that an atheist knows that God does not, both are non-rational statements, both can use logic and reasonable thought to back them up. We live in a world where doubt is part and parcel of our lives, in the end we choose, and we choose from a non-rational place, we call it personal experience. Those believers and atheist who insist on being insulting, only make fools of themselves I believe. I am glad they fight each other and leave the rest of us alone.

In the end, no matter how children are raised, most go their own way, however the deep values are often kept. So atheist parents may have children who become devout believers, and devout believers have children who become atheist….it is life in our modern world. Beliefs are shared and not force fed in any case. Hard shell atheist or believers only chase their children away from what they are trying to force on them.

Edited by markdohle
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I just think religions are irrelevant. They were made-up stories about nature before the advent of science. It's primitive thinking.

As far as God is concerned, the gods of religions are also made-up stories equally fanciful. Whether the universe or Existence is the result of the manipulation of some super intelligence, I would consider this one possibility. Science is the study of what is possible to study using the scientific method. If science can discover emperical evidence for some super intelligence lying behind everything, then let it be so.

But believing that ancient legends are telling the truth about how the universe began and all the rest of it, I just consider acts of the imagination of people who had no real, factual understanding of the reality of the world they lived in. These legends may or may not relate morality, but when this morality is imbedded within invented fiction, I think the invented fictions can be discarded to let the morality shine through, so to speak.

Believing impossible stuff is dangerous when we believe fiction as fact. One could say this psychological state is a form of mental illness. Children believe all sorts of fantasy-as-reality, but hopefully they grow out of this state of mind as they mature. Nevertheless, keeping this quality of child-like imagination is essential. Without our imagination we would not be fully human. The urge to explore the unknown and to create the as-yet uncreated are positive aspects of our imainative powers.

But in the end, in my view, we must retain some rational perspective on our own desires to believe impossible stuff. It is too easy to just accept. The effort needed for rational, objective discriminative investigation seems to be too much exertion for us. Besides, we may be forced to accept the previous unacceptable.

Our world-view may be turned on its head, and then who are we? We are strangers in a strange land, and nobody wants that. The comfort of belief is strong, yet the strength of the truth of knowledge is stronger.

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I just think religions are irrelevant. They were made-up stories about nature before the advent of science. It's primitive thinking.

As far as God is concerned, the gods of religions are also made-up stories equally fanciful. Whether the universe or Existence is the result of the manipulation of some super intelligence, I would consider this one possibility. Science is the study of what is possible to study using the scientific method. If science can discover emperical evidence for some super intelligence lying behind everything, then let it be so.

But believing that ancient legends are telling the truth about how the universe began and all the rest of it, I just consider acts of the imagination of people who had no real, factual understanding of the reality of the world they lived in. These legends may or may not relate morality, but when this morality is imbedded within invented fiction, I think the invented fictions can be discarded to let the morality shine through, so to speak.

Believing impossible stuff is dangerous when we believe fiction as fact. One could say this psychological state is a form of mental illness. Children believe all sorts of fantasy-as-reality, but hopefully they grow out of this state of mind as they mature. Nevertheless, keeping this quality of child-like imagination is essential. Without our imagination we would not be fully human. The urge to explore the unknown and to create the as-yet uncreated are positive aspects of our imainative powers.

But in the end, in my view, we must retain some rational perspective on our own desires to believe impossible stuff. It is too easy to just accept. The effort needed for rational, objective discriminative investigation seems to be too much exertion for us. Besides, we may be forced to accept the previous unacceptable.

Our world-view may be turned on its head, and then who are we? We are strangers in a strange land, and nobody wants that. The comfort of belief is strong, yet the strength of the truth of knowledge is stronger.

Gods are part of creation, all of them had a beginning and an ending.......they are like the rest of creation, unnecessary. It is like the un-moved mover of Aristotle, so God is what is necessary and eternal, without beginning or without end. Again science studies nature, creation, so if there are actual 'gods', then one day science will find out....however God, well no, God is not a thing, an object, a being even.

Religion is not primitive, it is a basic component of humanity, we have deep inward lives, we have spirits that is constantly seeking the answers to the riddles of life. Science cannot deal with that at all.

I guess atheist believe that out of 'nothing' the universe created itself. That all the information that was needed for this to happen just happened by chance, that RNA, DNA just happened to form without having to evolve. That all the life and beauty of the universe was some kind of huge accident, or chance happening, is to me not rational at all. The universe had a beginning and will have an end, its expansion is increasing, it will not contract, so it will end.......what is caused or came into existence needs a 'first cause', the first cause is uncreated, the unmoved mover if you will.

As a species we are still primitive, it is shown in our cultures, our entertainment etc. Also in our inability to learn. Religion is perhaps the only thing that can save us from the irrational and destructive impulses that seem to control us. It is the Spirit, grace that can stop this cycle.....sin is real, we need healing and mercy, if we choose not to accept, then we will continue to have greater hell on earth. North Korea, an atheist state is pretty close to hell on earth, perhaps that is our future in a godless, rational world. All the world wars of the 20th century were base on secular ideologies and atheistic. So if religion has had a bad record, the so called rational way of atheism actually has it worse. At least with faith, we can change and start to live our beliefs, while atheism, well to kill for the good of humanity is OK, no wrong in that, we are after all the measure of all things, beholding to no one but ourselves.

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This is a very interesting thread! Thanks Mark for sharing this and all of you for continuing the discussion.

There are a few things I'd like to comment on if I may, so forgive me if this post is rather disorganized.

So, we should encourage children to believe in religion because it improves their imaginations?

What is the alternative, StarMountainKid; do we handcuff them to philosophical naturalism; that the world around them is the product of blind time and chance, that we are a momentary blip of being and that life ultimately has no objective meaning or purpose? I suppose we should start them on the path of western postmodern cynicism and materialism early, then? Teach them that life is about personal gain and affluence?

I'm sorry, naturally, I like Mark's line of thought here. Religion teaches children (or anyone for that matter) that not only does life have objective meaning, but that life is bigger than the individual self. The world does not orbit around the self.

You would do with away with that and propose...what?

People think magical powers, super natural powers, ghosts, etc are impossible.

It's not until you have seen or felt the pressence of a ghost or spirit

that one will believe...

yet others will just claim they went crazy if they experience the supernatural...

LostSouls7 this is actually a very good point here, and it presents us with another problem of teaching children that we live in a closed system in which the supernatural is impossible and does not exist. Simply put, what if it does? Children have been known to demonstrate psychic ability at a very early age; and if the parents just tell the kids over and over again that it is not real, such abilities will end up repressed and ultimately lost. I think we should listen to our children with an open mind and try to understand when they are "talking to someone who isn't there" that maybe...just maybe...they really are!

Science backs up the existence of God??

This is a point of contention, yes. But one can certainly make compelling philosophical arguments for theism based on scientific discoveries. Take the Kalam Cosmological argument for example:

1. Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;

2.The universe has a beginning of its existence;

3. Therefore:

The universe has a cause of its existence.

Does anything that is contingent (something that can either be or not be) cause ITSELF into existence? If that were so, why can't a horse just cause itself and blink into being?

And ultimately StarMountainKid...ask yourself; why is there something rather than nothing?

I just think religions are irrelevant. They were made-up stories about nature before the advent of science. It's primitive thinking.

Then why does this "primitive" belief persist? Why haven't we "evolved" beyond religion? Could it be that Mark is right; that for all your talk of scientism...it cannot grasp at things like "does life has meaning?" or that in spite of all our discoveries; the earth is still the same messed up place with wars and rumors of wars, suffering, starvation and poverty? Could it be that man does NOT have all the answers? Could it be that man cannot fix all these problems?

If there is no God, then none of those things matter anyway. Life is inherently meaningless, and these "horrible" things we see demonstrated in the world is simply natural selection in action.

One again, the philosophical naturalist can propose no better alternative. The best we can do is ride the waves as we slide into extinction. This is the real end of your worldview.

As noted, should we raise our children with the idea that there is no such thing as "hope"?

These legends may or may not relate morality, but when this morality is imbedded within invented fiction, I think the invented fictions can be discarded to let the morality shine through, so to speak.

I disagree, because what you are saying here reduces morality to nothing more than pure subjectivism. It is a social construct. Therefore, there is no correct or objective morality at all; it is just an arbitrary standard to attempt to ensure the survival of a culture or people group. Thus, you cannot make any claim to a "real" or "grounded" morality at all. If one culture or tribe feels it is "moral" to practice, say, female genital mutilation; you have no right to impose your concept of "morality" on them because your view isn't any more objectively real than theirs. All you would be doing is imposing a kind of imperialism on this tribe; that in your arrogance you say there is an "absolute right and wrong" when in reality, there is no such thing.

As Dostoyevsky once wrote, "if God does not exist, then everything is permitted."

I'm sorry but I would rather teach my children that there is an objective ground for morality beyond the subjective self, and this ground is what I call God.

Believing impossible stuff is dangerous when we believe fiction as fact. One could say this psychological state is a form of mental illness.

Yes, so teaching your children that there is an objective "right and wrong" will be dangerous when they are confronted with opposing views of what is right and wrong and also when they are confronted with the sheer brutality that exists in the world from those competing and arbitrary concepts, to which they will have no explanation or peace with that other than the knowledge that natural selection is working.

Philosophical pessimism is the only sustainable worldview within this system; all other hopes will be dashed on the rocks.

Is this the gift we want to leave with our children?

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I'm not enthusiastic for teaching organized religion to kids. But religion can be taught by encouraging kids to study comparative religion and by the parents living their religion by example. Tell the kids what you believe, and why, give them study resources, and let them make their own selection via "multiple choice".

Edited by astab
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I'm not enthusiastic for teaching organized religion to kids. But religion can be taught by encouraging kids to study comparative religion and by the parents living their religion by example. Tell the kids what you believe, and why, give them study resources, and let them make their own selection via "multiple choice".

I personally think this is a great idea and that it's really important whether you're religious or otherwise. The point is we live in a "global" world now; your neighbors might very well be Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist. You may send your kid off to school and they see a Muslim girl wearing a Burka and they come home and ask you what it is and why they wear it. This is a wonderful opportunity to educate your children about other belief systems, and if you do it right, if you highlight what these faiths have in common as opposed to wherein they differ; you can work to promote religious tolerance and community building. We can begin to replace that fundamentalist sort of religious intolerance and bigotry and instill in our youth the idea that all religions should be seen as valid and worthwhile expressions of seeking God.

If we made this a normative practice with our children, encouraging them to befriend Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists ALIKE....perhaps we could begin to do away with so much of the awful religious intolerance and hatred in the world. Indeed, this is how religion can begin to "evolve"; sharing and rejoicing in what we have in common and at the same time respecting our differences for the greater benefit of all mankind.

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Marcus/Spy, thank you for your comments and rational and compassionate approach to religion and religious education. Yes, every time children - and some adults - are puzzled by some "odd" religious behavior/clothing, a solid opportunity for education and objective discussion presents itself. And if we ourselves don't know the "Why" of othes' religiosity, then we ourselves can look it up on the Net, read about it ... or politely inquire, if possible, of the person him/herself.

Edited by astab
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Gods are part of creation, all of them had a beginning and an ending.......they are like the rest of creation, unnecessary. It is like the un-moved mover of Aristotle, so God is what is necessary and eternal, without beginning or without end. Again science studies nature, creation, so if there are actual 'gods', then one day science will find out....however God, well no, God is not a thing, an object, a being even.

Religion is not primitive, it is a basic component of humanity, we have deep inward lives, we have spirits that is constantly seeking the answers to the riddles of life. Science cannot deal with that at all.

I guess atheist believe that out of 'nothing' the universe created itself. That all the information that was needed for this to happen just happened by chance, that RNA, DNA just happened to form without having to evolve. That all the life and beauty of the universe was some kind of huge accident, or chance happening, is to me not rational at all. The universe had a beginning and will have an end, its expansion is increasing, it will not contract, so it will end.......what is caused or came into existence needs a 'first cause', the first cause is uncreated, the unmoved mover if you will.

As a species we are still primitive, it is shown in our cultures, our entertainment etc. Also in our inability to learn. Religion is perhaps the only thing that can save us from the irrational and destructive impulses that seem to control us. It is the Spirit, grace that can stop this cycle.....sin is real, we need healing and mercy, if we choose not to accept, then we will continue to have greater hell on earth. North Korea, an atheist state is pretty close to hell on earth, perhaps that is our future in a godless, rational world. All the world wars of the 20th century were base on secular ideologies and atheistic. So if religion has had a bad record, the so called rational way of atheism actually has it worse. At least with faith, we can change and start to live our beliefs, while atheism, well to kill for the good of humanity is OK, no wrong in that, we are after all the measure of all things, beholding to no one but ourselves.

markdhole, I agree with most of what you say. However, as regards a First Cause, I am not sure that this is necessarily a deity. Some cosmological theories posit a kind of eternally existing field potential which because of inherent properties, spawns universes. Another - theistic - theory is that First Cause is God, but God, who is eternal, has also been eternally creating universes and holding them in existence for as long as He's been around - i.e., eternally. In the one case we'd have a non-sentient, physical, eternal First Cause; in the second we'd have a sentient, eternal, non-material First Cause. Just wanted to bounce those ideas off you, if you are inclined to reply. :)

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markdhole, I agree with most of what you say. However, as regards a First Cause, I am not sure that this is necessarily a deity. Some cosmological theories posit a kind of eternally existing field potential which because of inherent properties, spawns universes. Another - theistic - theory is that First Cause is God, but God, who is eternal, has also been eternally creating universes and holding them in existence for as long as He's been around - i.e., eternally. In the one case we'd have a non-sentient, physical, eternal First Cause; in the second we'd have a sentient, eternal, non-material First Cause. Just wanted to bounce those ideas off you, if you are inclined to reply. :)

I think the problem is, well humans. We are sentient, emotional, intelligent and we have deep spiritual longings that are manifested in our desire for love. It is expressed in our music and other art forms, this longing for union and love. Where does our desire for justice come from, or our moral sense. If we are made in the image and likeness of God, then God, or the first cause would not be less than us, but much more. That is why the human heart can find no rest, we are made for an infinite relationship with Infinite Love. We are finite creatures with an infinite ability to grow in love. To have some form of impersonal force as the originator of the universe does not work for me. That is why for me, revelation makes sense, and I believe that all of man's search for truth is our response to this divine call.

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Okkay, Mark, thanks for your reply!

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