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Is religion the opium of the people? Options
Yarin
Posted: Monday, July 10, 2017 4:49:23 PM
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Is religion the opium of the people?


TMe
Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 11:13:45 AM

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No, it's heroin.

‘Only sheep need a shepherd.’ ~Voltaire

Totally my personal opinion: but searched from net.

The starting point of religion is fear. Religion is based on the idea of sin: all people are born sinners, impure souls, and if they don’t purify themselves, they will soon be condemned to hell by God, where they will have to experience eternal suffering.

In order to avoid hell, religion demands that people prove to God that they are worthy of heaven. How? By following the dogma of religion. Naturally, when people are put in such a situation, they find themselves in a continuous state of fear. They are always afraid of whether their actions are right according to religion or not.


I am a layman.
Yarin
Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 4:38:31 PM
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I believe that each one of us is born pure of heart and innoent. The soul is a clean slate at birth and has a tendency towards good, but the lack of education and of virtues brings the human into primitivism.
leonAzul
Posted: Friday, July 14, 2017 12:30:17 AM

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I find that this metaphor is more meaningful than perhaps Karl Marx intended.

Like opium, religion in the occident can be a great source of comfort and encouragement in a disappointing and depressing world. There is no mystery why a common epithet of the Holy Spirit is "Paraclete". The obvious analogy to morphine as a surgical anesthetic is obvious.

However unwittingly, it is also possible to become addicted, and like the devastation that opium and its derivatives wreaks upon the human brain, the misapplication of faith is perhaps even more odious due to the lack of chemical antidotes.

It gets even weirder when the bishop is a junky.

There is a place in the middle where the people are pleasantly numb, yet still functional. Much of the time that is where it has been for as long as anyone can remember, or artifacts can provide evidence, yet that still doesn't make the righteousness right.

"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 12:42:50 AM

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It's been said before, but deserves to be repeated.

There is a difference between 'religion' and 'a sect', 'a church', 'a religion', 'a doctrine'.

One of our Christian members (I think it was Jacobusmaximus) wrote something like 'a church is the people, not an organisation' (that's probably a poor paraphrase).

To me, people who use "I'm a (Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Pagan) and (God/Allah/the gods) will take care of me if I follow the rituals" to deny or ignore their own responsibility are using religion as an opiate.
Many officials of organised religions encourage this.

One very basic meaning of 'religion' is "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects".

To me, THE fundamental set of beliefs and practices which are agreed upon by almost every major sect or church are summed up in the belief that one should be humanitarian:
- do whatever possible to help one's family, society, mankind and future generations
- do harm only to prevent greater harm.

It doesn't matter whether you personify, within your own mind, the overall spirit of these ideals - or whether you call it "God", "Father", "Abba", "Allah", "Jehovah", "Yahweh" or nothing. If you believe something approaching these ideals and you follow them as you can, then you are religious.

This does not act as an opiate.

The knowledge that you did what reason told you was right and just, and the knowledge that you have helped do become a source of encouragement and comfort - but they don't make one 'pleasantly numb' - they make one want to be more active.



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 6:21:26 AM

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Dragonspeaker wrote:
To me, THE fundamental set of beliefs and practices which are agreed upon by almost every major sect or church are summed up in the belief that one should be humanitarian:
- do whatever possible to help one's family, society, mankind and future generations
- do harm only to prevent greater harm.


I like this; however, I would say that these are the fundamental behavioral characteristics of anyone who strives to conform themselves to the image of the divine, as the nature of that divine is claimed to be. (Obviously not as it is evidenced to be) I would add the personal aspect of to live, love, and rejoice in the wonder of being, an experiencing being.

Dragonspeaker wrote:
It doesn't matter whether you personify, within your own mind, the overall spirit of these ideals - or whether you call it "God", "Father", "Abba", "Allah", "Jehovah", "Yahweh" or nothing. If you believe something approaching these ideals and you follow them as you can, then you are religious.


Hi Drago, thank you for this, I am reminded of my struggles to conceptualize something I proposed here once called "The Spirituality of Atheism" specifically in point #6, I think you have elucidated this aspect of the concept I was chasing better than I did in that topic.




Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 10:56:12 AM

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Yarin wrote:
Is religion the opium of the people?


No I do not think so, although many of the observations made in the quotes posted are to a degree accurate, they do not address the root of the issue.

What must be understood is that religion was an incredibly adaptive strategy for the majority of our species' history, it is an incredibly powerful meme in all its various manifestations. I have come to see that raving against religion as if it is something that can be easily abandoned by people in light of modern understandings of the world, may be grievous error.

I think religion is becoming more akin to Aldous Huxley's Soma drug, in the sense of tool used in the hands of the powerful in order to bend the masses away from being any real threat to that power, and to blind them to the growth of the cancer that will be the doom of the common man.

Question authority. How do you know, that you know, what you know?
Hope123
Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 1:27:14 PM

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Epi, the link to your old thread just flipped me to 'Active Topics'.

Also, I agree that there is absolutely no sense raving against religion. But doesn't your last paragraph about how authority uses it to tame the masses imply that it is indeed an opium for the masses? I thought Huxley's soma drug was considered to be like an opiate? Keep them happy as well as tranquilized?

I have seen many people use religion as an opiate in order to dilute the pain of the loss of a loved one - they will see them again. (Although how that helps for the present is beyond me.) Or of making a wrong decision after praying and then blaming God to dilute feelings, and so forth.

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Hope123
Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 1:39:26 PM

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Drago, I looked up the dictionary definition of "religion" and saw a term I had never heard before - "nullifidian" - "Someone having no faith or religion; a disbeliever". TFD

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TMe
Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 1:43:04 PM

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Hope123, Can we say nullifidian is antonym of 'religious'?

I am a layman.
Hope123
Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 3:28:00 PM

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TMe wrote:
Hope123, Can we say nullifidian is antonym of 'religious'?


Good question, TME.

According to TFD 'nullifidian' means a disbeliever. So if religious means believer, then it would be an antonym, I guess.


So, TFD indeed says 'religious' means: "Having or showing belief in and reverence for God or a deity".

Null means 'amounting to nothing; absent or nonexistent'.

:::

That's my take on it anyhow.

Edited - got called away -

According to the above definition of religious (belief in God), I do not believe atheism can be called a religion but to prevent that happening, perhaps nullifidian is a better term?




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Hope123
Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 4:08:37 PM

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Epi,

I saw these quotes as I searched the topic of religion -

The majority takes the creed [Calvinism] as a horse takes his collar; it slips by his ears, over his neck, he hardly knows how, but he finds himself in harness and jogs along as his fathers and forefathers before him —Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

This could apply to any religion or political affiliation.

Here are a couple more that were on the same website:
1 Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis —Sigmund Freud
2 Religion is like love; it plays the devil with clear thinking —Rose Macaulay
3 Religion is like the breath of heaven; if it goes abroad in the open air, it scatters and dissolves —Jeremy Taylor
4 Religion, like water, may be free, but when they pipe it to you, you’ve got to help pay for the piping. And the piper —Muriel Spark


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Hope123
Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 7:09:04 PM

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Here's another question for y'all.

Do you need to believe in souls to be religious, i.e. showing belief in God?

I don’t believe in souls. I’m a physicalist.

I’m not saying that souls are impossible. Even though the idea violates science and physics principles, maybe science just hasn’t gotten around to believing in souls.

But I don’t need to prove they are impossible to be justified in not believing in them. The case for them is not very convincing, the same as for the case for the existence of unicorns and dragons is not convincing either. When you look at the arguments that have been offered over many years by philosophers to try to convince us of the existence of souls, those arguments just aren't very compelling.


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Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 9:09:06 PM

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Hi Hope!

Yes - I noticed the 'nullifidian' word too.

I think the difference is that a 'nullifidian' is someone who does not have a belief about god at all.
An 'agnostic' does have a belief - that it's impossible to know whether there is a god or not.
An 'atheist' does have a belief - that there is no such thing as god.

This link should work better - the thread's nine pages long.

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Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 4:12:28 AM

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Hope123 wrote:
According to the above definition of religious (belief in God), I do not believe atheism can be called a religion but to prevent that happening, perhaps nullifidian is a better term?

The word 'religion' comes from the Latin religāre, to tie fast. It is not fair to exclude those who believe that there's no God. I consider myself a religious atheist.

One has to hold fast to his beliefs 'cause sometimes it happens. Take a look at the first episode in part 2 of this Soviet film (1975):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_2302304307&feature=iv&src_vid=J1Oy2EAHJbo&v=LiUYir3UUUY

Just 6 minutes. An atheist recants at 3:35 and then at 4:50 there's sort of repentance.

აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
TMe
Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 5:23:32 AM

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Thanks Hope123.

I am a layman.
Y111
Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 5:58:16 AM
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Drag0nspeaker wrote:

An 'agnostic' does have a belief - that it's impossible to know whether there is a god or not.
An 'atheist' does have a belief - that there is no such thing as god.

These two beliefs don't seem to contradict each other, so one person can have them both. Besides, why can't a believer in God also believe that it's impossible to know if he exists? If so, then agnostics should be distinguished from gnostics, not from atheists and theists. It's like another dimension.
will
Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 4:18:37 PM
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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
One very basic meaning of 'religion' is "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects".

To me, THE fundamental set of beliefs and practices which are agreed upon by almost every major sect or church are summed up in the belief that one should be humanitarian:
- do whatever possible to help one's family, society, mankind and future generations
- do harm only to prevent greater harm.

I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone, but I take issue with this premiss.

I think the primary purpose and the fundamental beliefs and practices of every major religion, sect or church is aimed at self promotion and self preservation of a particular group of people. If the welfare of humanity as a whole were the primary goal, then we would have seen a consolidation of religious creeds based on shared common ground. History has shown the opposite to be true; we see a history of schisms and violent division, not to mention crusades and conquest. Like nationalism, religion is an exclusive process. Humanitarianism is, or should be, inclusive by its very nature.

Secondly, all major religions (with the possible exception of Buddhism and maybe Hinduism) have at their core some concept of salvation and damnation. I’m not sure how seriously the majority of theist take it, and I suspect most non-theists (and believers of other faiths) take it as seriously as the misfortune that results from walking under ladders or stepping on cracks, but the fact remains that many theists fantasise – in the absence of anything tangible, there is no more accurate word – about the eternal suffering of what would amount to the majority of humanity. Or at the very least most major religions require their followers to condone the eternal suffering of what would amount to the majority of humanity. This is nothing like what I would call humanitarian.

Lastly, it is demonstrably not the case that almost every major sect or church can be defined by the ethos of ‘do harm only to prevent greater harm’. Sometimes harm (contrary to the common good) is perpetrated due to an adherence to outdated dogma, for example the Catholic Church’s views on contraception, or Islam’s views on gender and sexual equality. They may believe such ‘harm’ prevents greater harm (usually in the afterlife), but this defence only applies to a particular dogma and is categorically not for the common good of humanity. Some religious sects and dogma, historically and currently, view harm to and dominion over others as a divine virtue.

Drag0nspeaker wrote:
It doesn't matter whether you personify, within your own mind, the overall spirit of these ideals - or whether you call it "God", "Father", "Abba", "Allah", "Jehovah", "Yahweh" or nothing. If you believe something approaching these ideals and you follow them as you can, then you are religious.

I’d say this is real stretch of any definition of ‘religious’ and a huge leap even if I were to accept your premiss. Surely all that is required to be a humanitarian is faith in humanity as it exists in this life and this dimension of reality. How does relinquishing authority and responsibility to supernatural beings add anything, and least of all define what it means to be human?

I almost raised this in this thread, but it would have been in response to something jacobmaximus said and I didn’t want to look like I was baiting him. In that thread several non-theists made ‘humanitarian’ comments similar to the one from leonAzul, that jacobmaximus called ‘a breath of fresh air’. The defining feature of most non-theists that I experience is not their lack of belief in gods, but rather their belief in humanity. Ceding control to unseen gods – gods prone to personal interpretation and personal mis-representation – diminishes the human experience.

I would rephrase your thoughts as:
It doesn't matter whether you personify, within your own mind, the overall spirit of these ideals - or whether you call it "God", "Father", "Abba", "Allah", "Jehovah", "Yahweh" or nothing. If you believe something approaching these ideals and you follow them as you can, then you are a humanist.


Drag0nspeaker wrote:
An 'atheist' does have a belief - that there is no such thing as god.

Not that it really matters, but this is not strictly correct either.

In it’s broadest sense atheist simply means an absence of belief in the existence of all specified deities.

I don’t think even Dawkins would say 100% ‘there is no such thing as god’. I wouldn’t either because, apart from anything else, absolutes are not a very scientific position to take.

There is a crucial difference here between a very slim hypothetical chance of some thing we might best describe as ‘god’ despite no current evidence, and very specifically defined God/s and claims of it’s interaction with mankind

An analogy might be that I do not reject completely the concept of huge unknown sea monsters, but I do reject the concept of the Loch Ness Monster, based on the fact that the evidence does not support any of the specific claims made in favour of its existence.


.
leonAzul
Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 6:01:19 PM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:

An 'agnostic' does have a belief - that it's impossible to know whether there is a god or not.
An 'atheist' does have a belief - that there is no such thing as god.


Although it is normal in everyday speech to treat "belief" and "opinion" as synonyms, in the context of a philosophical discussion that would be confusing at best, and would risk the danger of equivocation at worst. To be clear, the logical fallacy of equivocation occurs when the same word is used with subtly (or not so subtly) different meanings during different parts of an argument (a formal statement of the evidence and logic that leads to a particular conclusion).

Despite the everyday connotation, the literal meanings of "atheist" and "agnostic" have little to do with belief. The "atheist" has no reason to believe in a literal divinity due to the lack of verifiable evidence. Point. Final. The agnostic does not know. As pointed out above, most believers are in fact agnostics — they believe, but they do not know as the gnostics claim to know.

Unless we take the time to clarify how we are using words in a particular context, any hope of meaningful conversation is torpedoed. Again, in everyday speech among persons who share the same context, such stipulations would be cumbersome and unnecessary. Among persons in an international forum discussing a sensitive issue, the need for clarity and openness is absolutely paramount.

In the mean time, I see at least one other person has addressed from a different perspective, so I'll stop here, and respond to the actual discussion in another message.

"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 6:09:35 PM

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Hello will.

Did you read my post?

You are using definitions of words which are not the real basic definitions.
I agree with almost everything you say about the "great organised religions" and the teachings of "Hell-fire and damnation"

Most of what I said was not "my premise" it was simple logical extension of the dictionary definitions of the words.

You ask "How does relinquishing authority and responsibility to supernatural beings add anything, and least of all define what it means to be human?" when I specifically said that religion does NOT depend on belief in god - and that people who 'relinquish responsibility to a deity' are misusing religion - using it as an opiate.

"The Church" (mainly the Christian church in its many forms) has twisted the meaning of the word 'religion' to mean something approaching "the relinquishing of authority and responsibility to supernatural beings" - and have foisted off on people that one cannot be 'good' or 'ethical' without worshipping their particular brand of creator.

The broadest definitions of 'religion' do not mention supernature, infinite beings, relinquishing responsibility, or anything like that.
They simply define 'something a person believes in and follows devotedly', 'something of overwhelming importance to a person', 'A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion'.
People (not Great Religions) tend to have that same cause and principle which they hold in to.
People like to help others. They have to be threatened with hell-fire to make them go out and kill - unless they are psychopaths themselves (but that is a small minority).

As Харбин says "The word 'religion' comes from the Latin religāre, to tie fast. It is not fair to exclude those who believe that there's no God. . . One has to hold fast to his beliefs"

************
Your understanding of the word 'atheist' does not match ANY of the definitions of that word in the dictionaries - it is specifically defined as "someone who denies the existence of god", "a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being" - not an absence of belief, but a disbelief.

A person with simply an absence of belief is a nullifidian.

***********



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leonAzul
Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 6:33:09 PM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:

To me, people who use "I'm a (Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Pagan) and (God/Allah/the gods) will take care of me if I follow the rituals" to deny or ignore their own responsibility are using religion as an opiate.
Many officials of organised religions encourage this.


Then you concede the accuracy of Marx' observation, within the context of a significant number of congregants — note well that I do not claim this is the case for the majority, only that it is significant enough to be noteworthy.

You yourself state that "[m]any officials of organised religions encourage this [use of religion as an opiate]."

Edited after a response in order to repair a broken tag, which is my fault. Otherwise, my response has not been substantially altered.


"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 8:08:16 PM

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I don't agree with Marx's statement:
"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

As you said earlier - the misapplication of faith is the 'drug'.

"Religion" - having some principle which one follows with zeal - is not.

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leonAzul
Posted: Monday, July 17, 2017 10:09:40 PM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
I don't agree with Marx's statement:
"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

As you said earlier - the misapplication of faith is the 'drug'.

"Religion" - having some principle which one follows with zeal - is not.


Actually, we need to examine the exact language and context in order to make such a fine appraisal. I agree with you that Karl Marx's assessment of religion is deficient, but even a broken clock is correct two times each day.

Whistle

Yet you still swing that cudgel "religion" a tad carelessly. Perhaps a named religion as recognized by the Crown is something to be followed, feared, or mastered, but can we say the same for all things called "religious"? Does it universally have more to do with rites and rituals, or with credos and shibboleths?

Think


"Make it go away, Mrs Whatsit," he whispered. "Make it go away. It's evil."
Hope123
Posted: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 10:45:53 AM

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Opiate - drug, narcotic, sedative, tranquilizer, depressant, soporific, anesthetic, painkiller, analgesic, anodyne; hypnotic

If you look at the whole context in Marx’s critique of Hegel, used figuratively an opiate means something that calms or soothes. Karl Marx means he thought that it was religion in general that prevented working-class people from rising up against their leaders. However, I think he also acknowledges the good it does for them when he mentions "real suffering". People since have been putting their own interpretation on what he meant when using only the shortened quote.

(Nowadays as well as religion the people have the Internet, the shopping malls, the fireworks displays, etc. and even real opoids as their opium.)

The whole quote is from “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/critique-hpr/intro.htm

For Germany, the criticism of religion has been essentially completed, and the criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism.

The profane existence of error is compromised as soon as its heavenly oratio pro aris et focis [“speech for the altars and hearths,” i.e., for God and country] has been refuted. Man, who has found only the reflection of himself in the fantastic reality of heaven, where he sought a superman, will no longer feel disposed to find the mere appearance of himself, the non-man [Unmensch], where he seeks and must seek his true reality.

The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.


Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.

It is, therefore, the task of history, once the other-world of truth has vanished, to establish the truth of this world. It is the immediate task of philosophy, which is in the service of history, to unmask self-estrangement in its unholy forms once the holy form of human self-estrangement has been unmasked. Thus, the criticism of Heaven turns into the criticism of Earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.

The
following exposition [a full-scale critical study of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right was supposed to follow this introduction] – a contribution to this undertaking – concerns itself not directly with the original but with a copy, with the German philosophy of the state and of law. The only reason for this is that it is concerned with Germany…

The criticism of the German philosophy of state and right, which attained its most consistent, richest, and last formulation through Hegel, is both a critical analysis of the modern state and of the reality connected with it, and the resolute negation of the whole manner of the German consciousness in politics and right as practiced hereto, the most distinguished, most universal expression of which, raised to the level of science, is the speculative philosophy of right itself...”


https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/pr/prconten.htm



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will
Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2017 3:41:36 PM
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Hi Drag0nspeaker

Sorry for not getting back sooner. Yes, I did indeed read your post.

And I noted your premiss was based on a ‘very basic meaning of religion' as "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects". That definition appears to come from Dictionary.com – actually followed by two examples: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

The primary definition reads:

noun
1.
a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.


Emphasis mine.

So rather than using “definitions of words which are not the real basic definitions”, I’d argue that I actually highlighted the definition that most people intuitively recognise, and pointed out it was a stretch to include all humanitarians – including non-theists and those that follow no religion – under the umbrella term of ‘religious’, especially in the context of the Marx quote being discussed. I very much doubt Marx was referring to groups of individuals with humanitarian ideals; it seems clear he was talking about hierarchical religions that control the masses through dogma and fear (or reward if you are compliant).

As leonAzul says, equivocation rarely adds anything but confusion, and with such emotive terms as ‘religious’ it’s really not at all helpful.

Drag0nspeacker wrote:
Your understanding of the word 'atheist' does not match ANY of the definitions of that word in the dictionaries - it is specifically defined as "someone who denies the existence of god", "a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being" - not an absence of belief, but a disbelief.


I’m not sure I see a difference.

To be a-theist does not involve an a priori assumption that there is no God. It’s not an article of faith akin to theistic beliefs, adhered to regardless of all else.

The absence of belief, or disbelief if you prefer, involves the rejection of the specific claims made by theists – the rejection of specific god hypotheses. If a god hypotheses is ever supported by evidence and an atheist still denies or disbelieves, then this would be a position based on Faith -- in the religious sense, not trust based on evidence.

As it happens, so far, there has been good reason to reject every single hypothesis to date *, from an empirical rejection of the hypothesis that the sun is carried across the sky in a chariot, to a logical (and ethical) rejection of the hypotheses of an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and omnibenevolent god that is contrary to the observed existence of ‘evil’ and suffering.

To have absence of belief (or disbelief if you prefer) in any particular god hypothesis is no more a religion than having a disbelief in fairies is a religion. Or to be more serious, it is no more a religion than an absence of belief (or disbelief if you prefer) in any particular multiverse hypothesis; the evidence to date does not support an absolute statement of belief. In the absence of supporting evidence, an ‘atheistic’ stance on the existence multiverses is not an article of faith, it’s a rational stance in accordance with the principle of Occam’s razor.

*I’m not demanding here that the evidence proves me right. The fact is that theism asserts the existence of the supernatural – an extraordinary claim – and the burden of proof lies with theists to support those claims.


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Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2017 5:00:55 PM

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will wrote:
The fact is that theism asserts the existence of the supernatural – an extraordinary claim – and the burden of proof lies with theists to support those claims.

Despite all your reasoning I do not see their claim to be any more extraordinary than my claim of nonexistence. Religion is something beyond any proof - you get it as very basic knowledge. It's like Peano axioms - you do not prove them you just know they are true.

აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
will
Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2017 5:45:06 PM
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You don’t think that the notion that the sun is carried across the sky in a chariot is an extraordinary claim? Eh?

If knowledge based on a lack of proof was not extraordinary, it would follow that less proof would would make any assertion a person cared to make more credible. This is clearly not the case. There is nothing extraordinary about assuming there are no teapots circling Venus.

This is why many theists so frequently start by attempting to support their beliefs with an ‘evidenced’ based argument, but ultimately turn to an argument from Faith – belief in the absence of evidence.


.

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017 1:57:39 AM

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will wrote:
You don’t think that the notion that the sun is carried across the sky in a chariot is an extraordinary claim? Eh?

This is not religion. Just a bit of outdated science.

will wrote:
If knowledge based on a lack of proof was not extraordinary, it would follow that less proof would would make any assertion a person cared to make more credible.

I'll say it again - one never proves Peano axioms. And I would probably say - yes religion is extraordinary - but not any less credible than science.
This is a person whom my friend (a physicist) calls the greatest of living physicists:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_Dyson

Quote:
Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here. The two windows give different views, but they look out at the same universe. Both views are one-sided, neither is complete. Both leave out essential features of the real world. And both are worthy of respect.

will wrote:
This is why many theists so frequently start by attempting to support their beliefs with an ‘evidenced’ based argument, but ultimately turn to an argument from Faith – belief in the absence of evidence.

True religious theists will not try to prove or support anything - they will share with you their knowledge. It's this kind of 'scientific' people, both theists and atheists trying to topple the other's knowledge, that resort to proofs.



აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
will
Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017 7:17:35 AM
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I wrote:
You don’t think that the notion that the sun is carried across the sky in a chariot is an extraordinary claim?

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
This is not religion. Just a bit of outdated science.

The deity Helios was very much part of a wider religion and was believed and worshipped just as faithfully as any deity today. The Greek Gods ‘existed’ as supernatural philosophical explanations – what you refer to as ‘very basic knowledge’ – in the absence of a more empirical explanation of nature. When increasing knowledge rendered their existence untenable, they became consigned to history and mythology.

However, by your logic, why is it not extraordinary to believe in Greek Gods? Why are Greek Gods not like Peano axioms - you do not prove them you just know they are true?

I submit that you are falling into the fallacy of arguing from a philosophical premiss of a deist god, by definition beyond reason and human knowledge, but then conflating that with specific Gods, clearly defined by specific claims, that can be measured empirically -- and thus rejected as you have in the case of the Greek Gods.

You are correct in saying that firm belief and firm non-belief in a deist god (or anything) that is beyond proof would be equally extraordinary positions to take.

But very few theists believe in a deist god, do they?

The belief that Helios carries the sun across the sky in a chariot, or the belief that the Abrahamic God created two first individuals, Adam and Eve, from the dust of the ground, are specific claims that can be measured empirically. The evidence does not support either, hence they are extraordinary claims contrary to reason.

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
I'll say it again - one never proves Peano axioms.

For a start we’re not talking about Peano axioms, the comparison with a positive assertion of the existence of the supernatural has not been established.

Secondly, if religion is an axioms that ‘one never proves’, what is the purpose of scripture, revelation, or theology in general?

I’ve stated several times already and can’t really state it any clearer: a-theism is not an a priori assumption that rejects the possibility of something that is beyond human knowledge. A-theism is the a posteriori rejection of (all current) specific god hypotheses; the only difference between Helios as ‘a bit of outdated science’ and the Abrahamic God is time elapsed – unless the Abrahamic God has another, more successful, attempt at revealing His true nature to all mankind, the chances are that in future years 'He' will also have been empirically reduced to mythological status... along with every single (now untenable) god that has ever ‘existed’ and, for the majority of humanity, every 'other' God that currently exists.

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
And I would probably say - yes religion is extraordinary - but not any less credible than science.

Wait. Just to clarify, because I can only assume we are talking about two different things here, when I say extraordinary I don’t mean ‘uncommon’, I mean ‘fantastical’. I’m aware that philosophies that don’t rely on evidence, and philosophies that run counter to evidence, are commonplace; unfortunately as commonplace as practical descriptions that accurately reflect reality.

My point is that to claim God created the Earth in it’s current form 6 thousand years ago is an extraordinary (fantastical) claim in the face of the geological, physical, chemical and biological evidence.

Are you saying that human decent from Adam and Eve (via talking snakes and global floods) is no less credible that our understanding of biology and genetics? If you are, I fear we’re both wasting our time.




I largely agree with the opinions of Freeman Dyson re religion and certainly agree his contribution to physics has been great. He was also quoted as saying:

Quote:
I have no use for a theology that claims to know the answers to deep questions but bases its arguments on the beliefs of a single tribe.

Which reflects my initial point to Drag0nspeaker about the exclusive and divisive nature of religion and it's dogmatic claims to a divine right over knowledge.

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
True religious theists will not try to prove or support anything - they will share with you their knowledge. It's this kind of 'scientific' people, both theists and atheists trying to topple the other's knowledge that resort to proofs.

Now we’re back to this No True Scotsman fallacy. It is my experience, even in a largely secular country, that religion (semantics aside) works very hard to assert its influence on the wider society. You only need to look at history, or the Middle East, or the USA, to see examples of the negative influence of religion worldwide. To dismiss the negative effects religious beliefs have on the world by categorizing them as something separate is disingenuous to say the least.

And it also contradicts your argument that theistic beliefs are like Peano axioms - you do not prove them you just know they are true
Logically, you can’t arbitrarily give a free pass to ‘good religion' and simply discount ‘bad religion'.


.


Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017 8:46:56 AM

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will wrote:
Secondly, if religion is an axioms that ‘one never proves’, what is the purpose of scripture, revelation, or theology in general?

The first two are the ways they share divine knowledge, the last - a science. I'm not a theologist but I know that Isaac Newton was and that's sufficient for me to think there's something in theology.

will wrote:
My point is that to claim God created the Earth in it’s current form 6 thousand years ago is an extraordinary (fantastical) claim in the face of the geological, physical, chemical and biological evidence.
Are you saying that human decent from Adam and Eve (via talking snakes and global floods) is no less credible that our understanding of biology and genetics? If you are, I fear we’re both wasting our time.

There's much in religion that was thought to be true once and is not nowadays but the very question of creation (not a particular date) remains. And there are things 'extremely extraordinary' such as Christ's resurrection that I would have been ready to believe had I been brought up as a Christian.

This is head of the department of theoretical mechanics in МФТИ at the time when I was a student:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Rauschenbach

He was a Christian though few people knew it.

will wrote:
Now we’re back to this No True Scotsman fallacy. It is my experience, even in a largely secular country, that religion (semantics aside) works very hard to assert its influence on the wider society. You only need to look at history, or the Middle East, or the USA, to see examples of the negative influence of religion worldwide. To dismiss the negative effects religious beliefs have on the world by categorizing them as something separate is disingenuous to say the least.

Do I need to present an example of an atheist state that some people called Evil Empire? I'm a faithful citizen of that state and a staunch atheist but I will not deny in many ways negative influence that atheism had on our history.

აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
will
Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017 10:52:37 AM
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Joined: 6/29/2009
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I wrote:
Secondly, if religion is an axioms that ‘one never proves’, what is the purpose of scripture, revelation, or theology in general?

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
The first two are the ways they share divine knowledge

Hmmm… how well is that working out?

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
I'm not a theologist but I know that Isaac Newton was and that's sufficient for me to think there's something in theology.

Appeals to authority are not that compelling. But as you mention it, I’d argue that great minds like Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Dyson would have made greater, or certainly quicker, progress in human understanding had they not been taught from birth that theism was an immoveable axiom that must be reconciled regardless of any evidence against it.

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
There's much in religion that was thought to be true once and is not nowadays but the very question of creation (not a particular date) remains.

Exactly. This is what happened the the axioms that supported the Greek Gods; every claim made for their existence was chipped away by a better understanding of reality, until only the mythology remained. And the same applies to every one of the almost endless list of supernatural answers to the question of creation.

Thus far not a single answer to any question about nature has yielded a supernatural solution. It’s extremely rash to apply reasoning from first principle to current supernatural claims.

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
And there are things 'extremely extraordinary' such as Christ's resurrection that I would have been ready to believe had I been brought up as a Christian.

I’m not sure what your point is here, apart from demonstrating the power of indoctrinating children. Eh?

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
Do I need to present an example of an atheist state that some people called Evil Empire. I'm a faithful citizen of that state and a staunch atheist but I will not deny in many ways negative influence that atheism had on our history.

I’ve never denied that atheists can do ‘evil’ deeds. On the contrary, my point has always been that we should not base any ideologies on beliefs without reason. Faith, belief in the absence of proof, is not a virtue. Humanity should not build systems, define groups or self identify on beliefs that are “beyond any proof” or on axioms “you do not prove” or that “you just know [are] true.”


.
Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1
Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017 1:18:49 PM

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will wrote:
Hmmm… how well is that working out?

It worked for me. This is my copy of the Bible given to me as a gift:



Later I specifically asked about it in a local monastery. They said it is a perfectly Orthodox translation.

will wrote:
Appeals to authority are not that compelling.

You asked me something that I know exactly nothing about.

will wrote:
But as you mention it, I’d argue that great minds like Galileo, Newton, Darwin and Dyson would have made greater, or certainly quicker, progress in human understanding had they not been taught from birth that theism was an immoveable axiom that must be reconciled regardless of any evidence against it.

This reminds me of school. When we learnt War and Peace we were told not to pay attention to the author's religious and philosophical 'digressions'. Had Tolstoy been raised in the USSR this piece of work would have been much better. I smiled even though at the time I did think that religious people were superstitious, fearful and benighted.

will wrote:
I’m not sure what your point is here, apart from demonstrating the power of indoctrinating children. Eh?

My point is that I do not find it impossible - just do not believe in it.

will wrote:
my point has always been that we should not base any ideologies on beliefs without reason.

Did I say we should? But the only time atheists could come to power they managed to turn science into ideology.



აბა ყვავებს ვინ დაიჭერს, კარგო? გალიაში ბულბულები ზიან.
will
Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017 4:10:40 PM
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I still own the Bible that I won in a drawing competition when I was about 7 years old. I drew Saint Francis of Assisi attending to various forest creatures – the biologist in me coming through at an early age. The Vicar that presented my prize, in front of the entire school, said he particularly liked my lovely ‘dog’… the idiot! it was clearly a badger; it’s no wonder I’m angry at god. Whistle

Харбин Хэйлунцзян 1 wrote:
This reminds me of school. When we learnt War and Peace we were told not to pay attention to the author's religious and philosophical 'digressions'. Had Tolstoy been raised in the USSR this piece of work would have been much better. I smiled even though at the time I did think that religious people were superstitious, fearful and benighted.

Indeed. From innocent young minds to the greatest genius, we are all products of our upbringing. It takes a great deal of effort to enforce flawed ideologies, they might be sustained and even flourish for a while, but the human capacity for logic, reason and critical thinking normally prevails.


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