Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

Abrahamic religion, you know, the one with the cross...

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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#41  Postby Fallible » Sep 14, 2013 8:04 am

Of course I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek. But yes, I would expect there to be a large number of certainly Christians who condone God's actions only because they're perpetrated by God, not just vocally but by continuing to worship a genocidal God.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#42  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 14, 2013 10:15 am

Fallible wrote:Of course I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek. But yes, I would expect there to be a large number of certainly Christians who condone God's actions only because they're perpetrated by God, not just vocally but by continuing to worship a genocidal God.


Okay, but you're not saying that more religious people would participate in genocide than non-religious...and again, I'm wondering how that would be measured.

I mean, I've seen some horrific suggestions on this forum of actions to be perpetrated on various individuals, yet I don't think when push comes to shove these posters would actually participate in a hanging/shooting/castration/(in one most horrific suggestion, the rape of Oprah Winfrey).

If I thought that, you can bet I'd be gone.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#43  Postby Calilasseia » Sep 14, 2013 12:09 pm

In answer to Nora above, I can cite:

[1] The Dominionists. Who have effectively taken over the Republican Party in the USA. Won't take you long to find out the nastiness they subscribe to.

[2] This interesting little list of supernaturalists:

Rev. Gary Aldridge, found dead in his bath after practising autoerotic asphyxiation for kicks. More on this here.

Ted Haggard, attracted the attention of law enforcement after soliciting the services of a male prostitute and seeking a supplier of illegal methamphetamine. More on this here.

Kent Hovind, currently serving 10 years for tax evasion and obstructing the work of Federal agents. Here is his indictment available online.

Arthur Shelton, committed a particularly gruesome and brutal murder, justifying it because the victim was an atheist, and is now serving 45 years for this. The full horrific story is here.

Joe Barron, Dallas megachurch minister caught in an Internet sting by FBI agents soliciting sex from an under-age girl (details here).

Bishop Thomas Weeks, who beat his wife to a bloody pulp in a car park (details here).

Earl Paulk, another 'righteous' evangelist, who apparently couldn't control his trouser snake (details here).

Dennis Rader, who is serving life as a serial killer with various kinky sexual fetishes thrown in for good measure. The full formal list of charges presented in the District Court of Kansas can be read here. He entertained lurid fantasies about women in bondage, and spoke of 11-year-old victim Josephine Otero, whom he strangled, to listening law enforcement and FBI officers, as being his "star young maiden" in his fantasy sado-sexual version of the afterlife. Apparently, he confessed to masturbating all over her as she died.

Warren Jeffs, currently serving a life sentence for raping under-age girls whilst posing as a "prophet" (news story to be found here).

Kevin & Elizabeth Schatz, both serving prison sentences (22 and 12 years respectively) for beating their adopted 7 year old daughter Lydia to death, because they listened to the hideous outpourings of Mike and Debi Pearl, two sleazy fundamentalists who advocate brutal corporal punishment for trivial misdemeanours as being purportedly "Biblically" sanctioned (news story here).

Alyssa Buastamante, who murdered a 9 year old girl and then boasted about it in her diary. She wrote the following: “I just f------ killed someone. I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they’re dead. I don’t know how to feel atm. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the “ohmygawd I can’t do this” feeling, it’s pretty enjoyable. I’m kinda nervous and shaky though right now. Kay, I gotta go to church now...lol.”

Jack Schapp, pastor of the First Baptist Church (Indiana) mega-church, also holding the position of Chancellor of Hyles-Anderson Bible College, arrested in 2012 in connection with the transportation of a minor across state lines for the purposes of sexual procurement, in violation of the famous Mann Act.

Tony Alamo, evangelist and self-proclaimed "prophet", sentenced to 175 years for assorted sexual offences, as reported here. Among the offences for which he was given the maximum sentence possible, were preying upon under-age daughters of his followers, and taking child "brides", some as young as 8 years old. He also fell foul of the Mann Act, forbidding transportation of minors across state lines for sex. Prosecutors were reported to be pressing for restitution for the victims, in the order of $2.7 million each.

Rev. Peter Petroske, Pastor at the Sacred Heart Church in Dearborn, Michigan, arrested for drunk driving in the nude, as reported hilariously here. Charges failed against him include driving under the influence of alcohol, and indecent exposure.

Patrick Hughes, reported here as being arrested for soliciting sex from underage boys, ages 9 and 14. Unusually, Hughes was not attached to the usual brand of fundamentalist church, but to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Columbus, Ohio. Arresting officers from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office cited the charges in the docket as being attempted rape, and attempted unlawful sex with a minor.

You can imagine the hoo-ha that would result from the supernaturalist crowd if a similar list of atheists existed, especially if any prominent figures were on that list. Seems that believing in a magic man, far from being a purported 'guarantor' of moral behaviour, has the opposite effect ...
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#44  Postby Fallible » Sep 14, 2013 12:14 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
Fallible wrote:Of course I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek. But yes, I would expect there to be a large number of certainly Christians who condone God's actions only because they're perpetrated by God, not just vocally but by continuing to worship a genocidal God.


Okay, but you're not saying that more religious people would participate in genocide than non-religious...and again, I'm wondering how that would be measured.


No, I'm saying exactly what I said.

I mean, I've seen some horrific suggestions on this forum of actions to be perpetrated on various individuals, yet I don't think when push comes to shove these posters would actually participate in a hanging/shooting/castration/(in one most horrific suggestion, the rape of Oprah Winfrey).

If I thought that, you can bet I'd be gone.


I don't think perpetration is necessary. For me the willingness to passively condone genocide and even worship the actual perpetrator is bad enough. And I've seen people here wish nasty things on people, but I've never seen an atheist here condone genocide and it certainly isn't woven into the very fabric of their various world views.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#45  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 14, 2013 12:20 pm

:sigh: Why, oh why, do you think a list of evil religious people is going to convince me of anything?

I do not need to be persuaded that much evil is done in the name of religion. What I was looking for is solid, statistical evidence that atheists are on the whole better human beings than religious people.

In any case it's not going to persuade me to become non-religious, as I'm already an atheist.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#46  Postby JVRaines » Sep 14, 2013 7:16 pm

Onyx8 wrote:It's that second one that's causing all the fuss. You actually aren't supposed to follow your conscience you are supposed to ask 'those who know' what you should do to get into Heaven.

The Catholic Church's approach to indoctrination is much slicker than that. The Church appeals to intellect as well as emotion and has a long history of subverting native mind culture, a trick it inherited from the Romans. It would not serve the Church's purpose to tell someone to check his brain at the door and just take their word for it. That's the domain of the fundamentalist.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#47  Postby Quaker » Sep 14, 2013 7:30 pm

trubble76 wrote:Does that mean the carpenter chappy was wrong when he said something about him being the only way to god? Atheists can get there without a zombie carpenter? Whats the need of the RCC then?


Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

There's more going on here than meets the eye. This is one of John's key "I am" phrases. These "ego eimi" phrases echo the Jewish name for God. Later on, John has people falling down as Jesus utters the words ego eimi, and John also has Jesus saying "before Abraham, ego eimi". So John is again pointing to the divinity and the timelessness of God present in Jesus (we have an "am" before a "was"). Elsewhere John uses the "I am" phrases to mirror descriptions of God in the Hebrew scriptures, such as being the good shepherd. John, it seems, when he used the "I am" phrases is pointing very strongly to the divinity of Jesus - which the Jews understood and they often reacted strongly to these ego eimi statements. Jesus is the way to God because Jesus is God. That, it seems, is what John is teaching. Some evangelicals use this verse "I am the way, the truth and the life, etc." to beat up non-Christians, but I think that is to miss the primary focus of what John is teaching, and that is that Jesus is God come in flesh. To John, Jesus was not just some intermediary who takes people to God, rather he, as God, embraces people. To approach Jesus is to approach God, in Johannine thought (again echoed in John's words of Jesus saying "I and the Father am one" and "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father").

As regards the OP, it seems to me that Pope Francis (who I have to say I'm very impressed with, so far) is reflecting Paul's teaching in Romans 2 that to follow one's conscience is to follow a law of God written on our hearts.

"When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all."
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#48  Postby stevecook172001 » Sep 14, 2013 9:48 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
Fallible wrote:Of course I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek. But yes, I would expect there to be a large number of certainly Christians who condone God's actions only because they're perpetrated by God, not just vocally but by continuing to worship a genocidal God.


Okay, but you're not saying that more religious people would participate in genocide than non-religious...and again, I'm wondering how that would be measured......


In a world without ideologies, good people do good things and bad people do bad things

But, it takes ideologies to get good people to do bad things.

Religions, of whatever stripe, are ideologies. As are all the "isms" that have replaced them.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#49  Postby Calilasseia » Sep 14, 2013 10:11 pm

stevecook172001 wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
Fallible wrote:Of course I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek. But yes, I would expect there to be a large number of certainly Christians who condone God's actions only because they're perpetrated by God, not just vocally but by continuing to worship a genocidal God.


Okay, but you're not saying that more religious people would participate in genocide than non-religious...and again, I'm wondering how that would be measured......


In a world without ideologies, good people do good things and bad people do bad things

But, it takes ideologies to get good people to do bad things.

Religions, of whatever stripe, are ideologies. As are all the "isms" that have replaced them.


You've just summed up my essential approach to doctrines of all species.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#50  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 14, 2013 10:38 pm

stevecook172001 wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
Fallible wrote:Of course I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek. But yes, I would expect there to be a large number of certainly Christians who condone God's actions only because they're perpetrated by God, not just vocally but by continuing to worship a genocidal God.


Okay, but you're not saying that more religious people would participate in genocide than non-religious...and again, I'm wondering how that would be measured......


In a world without ideologies, good people do good things and bad people do bad things

But, it takes ideologies to get good people to do bad things.

Religions, of whatever stripe, are ideologies. As are all the "isms" that have replaced them.


You're still handing out platitudes. Where is the proof of this? And, presumably you're not saying that only religious people are bad people?

The statement that I first questioned was that by DougC, i.e. (and by 'we' he's referring to atheists)

We are the ones who actualy live decent lives and try not to harm others.


And I asked where is the proof that atheists are better people than religious people or that they try harder to live decent lives and to not harm people.

All any of you has done is give reasons why a religious person might do something bad, or specific examples of bad religious people. Well :dunno:
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#51  Postby stevecook172001 » Sep 14, 2013 10:53 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
stevecook172001 wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
Fallible wrote:Of course I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek. But yes, I would expect there to be a large number of certainly Christians who condone God's actions only because they're perpetrated by God, not just vocally but by continuing to worship a genocidal God.


Okay, but you're not saying that more religious people would participate in genocide than non-religious...and again, I'm wondering how that would be measured......


In a world without ideologies, good people do good things and bad people do bad things

But, it takes ideologies to get good people to do bad things.

Religions, of whatever stripe, are ideologies. As are all the "isms" that have replaced them.


You're still handing out platitudes. Where is the proof of this? And, presumably you're not saying that only religious people are bad people?

The statement that I first questioned was that by DougC, i.e. (and by 'we' he's referring to atheists)

We are the ones who actualy live decent lives and try not to harm others.


And I asked where is the proof that atheists are better people than religious people or that they try harder to live decent lives and to not harm people.

All any of you has done is give reasons why a religious person might do something bad, or specific examples of bad religious people. Well :dunno:
It's really not very complicated.

People who base the moral underpinnings of their actions on a non falsifiable belief system (in other words, one that does not require the action to be validated by real world moral consequences) are enabled to do bad things because they believe they are doing them for a "greater good"

On the other hand, people whose actions are not based on a non falsifiable belief system may still do bad things, but may not morally justify them on the basis of a greater good beyond the real world in which the action occurs.

In short, what I am saying is that in a world devoid of non falsifiable belief systems, there will still be bad people, but it will be a hell of a lot easier to identify them.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#52  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Sep 14, 2013 11:38 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
Darwinsbulldog wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
I should imagine that there are millions of religious people who:
1) Vaccinate their children and trust in modern medicine
2) Would have just as much difficulty with killing someone as the next person, religious or otherwise
3) Don't for a second believe that the world is only 5000 years old.

No, you're going to have to produce some actual hard evidence that atheists are more likely to be good, decent people than religious people.


All true Nora. :thumbup:

However faith-based thinking can dull moral appeciation and the acceptance of natural phenomenon as having natural causation. This includes faith in ideologies as well as religious faith.
Faith sets up a bias towards moral principles that are 'canned" rather than the result using our sense of good and testing that sense with reason and evidence.Likewise, religions tend to set up worldviews that put the social realities before physical realities, in other words a bias towards magical thinking and away from reasoning and evidence as arbiters of "reality".
Rational atheism and science thus share some common ground in their approaches to social and physical reality. This DOES NOT make the theist incapable of reason, but it does make it more difficult.
Thus the theist will often have blind spots in moral or natural philosophy as a direct consequence of what they believe. The atheist, who lacks belief, also lacks that "handicap".
Methodological naturalism is a good example of this, because 'defacto" when doing science, one practices non-belief in anything. The sole professional concern is to make descriptive and predictive models of natural phenomena and subject them to severe test.
In faith-based systems, most "severe tests" of those beliefs are missing. Models of gods, as well as being "facts not in evidence" are self-inconsistent. [Like all magical thinking].


DB that is not evidence that atheists are more likely to be good, decent people than religious people, that is you theorising why that should be the case.

Where is the evidence? Where are the statistics...and perhaps more to the point, what are the measures? How do you measure what makes a person a good, decent person?


Perhaps you have been on a tour of the outer solar system where there is no internet? Not only has the Catholic church made kiddy abuse an art form, but they have made it their life's work to deny it occurs, protect the offenders and misinform the public. The stats linking religiousity and crime have been posted so often at RDF, here, TR and other rationalist sites I cannot believe you are not familiar with them.
What makes a good person? Well, I agree there are some grey areas. But bigotry and sexism is a big success in fairyland. Likewise murders, rapes and assaults are more common in highly religious areas than those which are more secular and atheist.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#53  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Sep 15, 2013 3:04 am

Darwinsbulldog wrote:
Perhaps you have been on a tour of the outer solar system where there is no internet? Not only has the Catholic church made kiddy abuse an art form, but they have made it their life's work to deny it occurs, protect the offenders and misinform the public. The stats linking religiousity and crime have been posted so often at RDF, here, TR and other rationalist sites I cannot believe you are not familiar with them.
What makes a good person? Well, I agree there are some grey areas. But bigotry and sexism is a big success in fairyland. Likewise murders, rapes and assaults are more common in highly religious areas than those which are more secular and atheist.

I think what Nora_Leonard is saying is that being religious does not make one a bigot, a sexist, a murderer, a rapist or a person likely to commit assault. Similarly, being an atheist does not protect one from being a bigot, a sexist, a murderer, a rapist, or a person likely to commit assault.

If that is the case, I agree. I can point up a lot of genuinely good religious people and genuinely shit atheists. Or I can go the other way. My conclusion, given the lack of any sort of conclusive evidence, is that religion lacks any sort of efficacy at all. It is LITERALLY good for nothing. It is not good for making people good or for making people bad. It's just a bunch of ineffectual story tellers taking credit for shit they didn't do.

As such, I would also like to see some sort of evidence that atheists are better people than theists. As far as I know there is none. And I would go further and say that the insistence on this forum that atheists must be better is pretty compelling evidence that atheists are just as shit as theists.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#54  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Sep 15, 2013 3:41 am

ScholasticSpastic wrote:
Darwinsbulldog wrote:
Perhaps you have been on a tour of the outer solar system where there is no internet? Not only has the Catholic church made kiddy abuse an art form, but they have made it their life's work to deny it occurs, protect the offenders and misinform the public. The stats linking religiousity and crime have been posted so often at RDF, here, TR and other rationalist sites I cannot believe you are not familiar with them.
What makes a good person? Well, I agree there are some grey areas. But bigotry and sexism is a big success in fairyland. Likewise murders, rapes and assaults are more common in highly religious areas than those which are more secular and atheist.

I think what Nora_Leonard is saying is that being religious does not make one a bigot, a sexist, a murderer, a rapist or a person likely to commit assault. Similarly, being an atheist does not protect one from being a bigot, a sexist, a murderer, a rapist, or a person likely to commit assault.

If that is the case, I agree. I can point up a lot of genuinely good religious people and genuinely shit atheists. Or I can go the other way. My conclusion, given the lack of any sort of conclusive evidence, is that religion lacks any sort of efficacy at all. It is LITERALLY good for nothing. It is not good for making people good or for making people bad. It's just a bunch of ineffectual story tellers taking credit for shit they didn't do.

As such, I would also like to see some sort of evidence that atheists are better people than theists. As far as I know there is none. And I would go further and say that the insistence on this forum that atheists must be better is pretty compelling evidence that atheists are just as shit as theists.


I was NOT claiming that SS. I was claiming that people from a religious background with some religious beliefs may adhere to aspects of religious culture that promote sexism, bigotry towards gays etc. And I would argue that their common humanity and reason make many of them reject such notions. Non-religious people do not have that baggage to start with. And in any care I was arguing against faith-based systems in GENERAL [not just religiousity] which can skew some people to unkind acts. Like Nazism and communism. These are faith-based systems also.

The main reason why religions are not so obviously toxic as in the past is the absence of the overt control of government, though theocracies like Iran [or North Korea] make it clear how corrupting and evil it can make people. Centuries of religious wars prove that.
"Good" people like Sir Thomas More do not burn people at the stake unless they are religious [or rather the "wrong" religion]. If More was an atheist why would he give a fuck about someone's else's beliefs?
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#55  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Sep 15, 2013 4:29 am

Darwinsbulldog wrote:
I was NOT claiming that SS. I was claiming that people from a religious background with some religious beliefs may adhere to aspects of religious culture that promote sexism, bigotry towards gays etc. And I would argue that their common humanity and reason make many of them reject such notions. Non-religious people do not have that baggage to start with. And in any care I was arguing against faith-based systems in GENERAL [not just religiousity] which can skew some people to unkind acts. Like Nazism and communism. These are faith-based systems also.

What evidence would do (and we still haven't seen any) is demonstrate that the baggage leading to sexism, bigotry, etc. comes from religion. I don't think it does. This is the null hypothesis, so don't try to turn it around on me. The hypothesis is: Religion does something. In the case of this semi-derail, the hypothesis is that religion makes people more likely to be asshats. In the case of self-righteous religious asshats, the hypothesis is that religion makes people better. It could just as easily be claimed that our common humanity that you accept as capable of promoting goodness also promotes the nastiness you're blaming on religions. But what has not been shown is that it's religions as religions that are at fault. I think it is much safer to say that the formation of cliques of any sort will result in the sort of assholery that's being discussed here. It doesn't matter if these are religious cliques, political cliques, or whatever. Where we draw lines between ourselves and others, this is where common humanity makes us into asshats. And where we erase those lines that same humanity makes us good. My version also explains why so many people participating in this thread appear to be unable to see their own hypocrisy.

Just to be clear: What's happening on this forum is exactly the same as implications from religious asshats that they're better. And I resent it in either direction.

The main reason why religions are not so obviously toxic as in the past is the absence of the overt control of government, though theocracies like Iran [or North Korea] make it clear how corrupting and evil it can make people. Centuries of religious wars prove that.
"Good" people like Sir Thomas More do not burn people at the stake unless they are religious [or rather the "wrong" religion]. If More was an atheist why would he give a fuck about someone's else's beliefs?

You are generalizing here from some religions to religions in general, and the implied generalization that is being allowed (and is very irksome to me) is that, given a list of religious asshats, we can claim that religious people are more likely to be asshats. Unfortunately for the claim being made, this sort of thing cannot be considered evidence. As Nora_Leonard pointed out, these are platitudes. And to me they're worse than that. They ignore all of the people who are both religious and good, while sweeping under the rug all of the people who are atheists and rubbish.

When religions make claims like this, we are understandably indignant. Why is it difficult to understand why our current hypocrisy makes me similarly indignant? Let's stop making up stories so we can pretend to be better than another group of people. It's a shitty thing to do. Now, if there were evidence that we were better, that'd be another story.

Of course, my own hypocrisy follows: I want the group I'm a member of (atheists) to be better. And, because we are being so obviously not better in this moment, I've gotten angry. But what's made me angry is the same sort of rubbish that every other group engages in. So, if I weren't on some level being the same sort of hypocrite as everyone else, I wouldn't have wound up being upset because I wouldn't feel let down right now.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#56  Postby natselrox » Sep 15, 2013 5:56 am

I think, we'll find a greater correlation of violence/other moral violations with religion than with atheism. Subscribing to a religion is almost the default position in most of the societies even today. Children are indoctrinated at a very early age and the journey to atheism, whenever it takes place, is often through an exposure to critical thinking and skepticism. This provides a vaccination of sorts against adherence to blind doctrines. And when it comes to acts of mass violence (genocide, for example), I think, it's much easier to rally people in the name of a doctrine than anything else. Now this doesn't have to be a religious doctrine (Russia, China etc.) but it might be easier to motivate people who are already inclined to believing in stories/perspectives without a shred of evidence.

Religion also provides for this binary division of good and evil (some version of this is present in almost all the religions). This makes it easier for the hate-peddlers to outsource their prejudices by hitch-hiking them onto these pre-existing notions. Ray F. Baumeister makes this point pretty well in his book "Evil"

How can virtue and idealism lead to cruel, violent, or oppressive acts? How can good cause or create evil?

On the face of it, there seems to be a contradiction in saying that good acts can be evil. But this contradiction is easily resolved. It is only necessary to recall that evil is in the eye of the beholder. It is sad, but hardly impossible, to recognize that some people who commit evil deeds are motivated by high ideals and a zealous desire to make the world a better place, as they see it. It is mainly from the perspective of their victims, and perhaps neutral observers, that these acts are bad.

Religion provides one persuasive example. Most people who do what their gods and their spiritual leaders tell them feel certain that they are doing what is right and good, even if this includes hurting others. An important trend in the past few years has been violence at abortion clinics, even to the point of murder, perpetrated by people who have strong religious beliefs that abortion is evil. They think God wants them to beat or kill a physician who is performing abortions, or even a receptionist who works at the clinic.

People with very different religious beliefs may not share the perpetrator's faith in the divine justification of such acts, however. God is the ultimate good, and what God tells you to do is therefore unimpeachably in the service of good. But someone who does not believe in your god will doubt your divine authorization, and your acts are suddenly judged by different standards. Because most readers of this book will be familiar with the Judeo-Christian tradition, let us consider several examples of acts that may seem good and proper when viewed from inside that tradition but could easily seem cruel and evil to anyone who does not accept its basic assumptions.

The Bible contains ample evidence of stories that seem morally questionable and objectionable if one abandons the assumption that anything God commands is automatically good. The story in which God tells Abraham to kill his son Isaac, relenting only at the last minute when Abraham is already standing at the altar holding a knife over the poor boy's throat, creates a remarkable image of what one scholar has called "God as a despotic and capricious sadist." 2 Certainly to anyone who doesn't share the belief in divine legitimacy, Abraham is a child abuser who is about to commit a horrible act of deadly violence against a defenseless family member. That Abraham must be a real sicko, you'd think, if you saw that story on the news today, even if it had the same happy ending. But to devout believers, Abraham's willingness to kill his son was a good thing, a positive proof of his moral faith in God.

Later, the Israelites believed that God gave them the land of Canaan, and it appeared that extensive and violent ethnic cleansing was necessary to accept this gift. The native inhabitants of Canaan had to be subdued brutally and in many cases massacred. After a while, the Israelite armies developed the habit of mutilating the genitals on the corpses of their defeated enemies, cutting the foreskins off their penises and bringing the lot in a bag to the king or queen. Without the sacred context, which is to say, in the eyes of anyone who does not fully accept the Judeo-Christian religionthe massacres and slaughters of the Old Testament are no less evil than many of the genocidal holocausts, atrocities, and collective brutalities of history.


In short, if you believe in a myth that endorses this 'them and us' view of the world, I think, it'll be easier for you to vilify others with a sense of self-righteous anger.

I was reading this report from the Gujarat riots in 2001 in India and the eyewitness accounts are terrifying:

They burnt my whole family.

At 10:30 a.m. the stone throwing started. First there were 200 people then 500 from all over, then more. We were 200-250 people. We threw stones in self-defense. They had swords, pipes, soda-lemon bottles, sharp weapons, petrol, kerosene, and gas cylinders. They began shouting, `Maro, kato,' [Kill them, cut them] and "Mian ko maro." (Kill the Muslims). I hid on the third floor.

Early in the day at 10:30 the police commissioner came over and said don't worry. He spoke to Jaffrey and said something would work out then left. The name of the commissioner of police that visited in the morning is P.C. Pandey, commissioner of police Ahmedabad....

At 3:30 p.m. they started cutting people up, and by 4:30 p.m. it was game over. Ehsan Jaffrey was also killed. He was holding the door closed. Then the door broke down. They pulled him out and hit him with a sword across the forehead, then across the stomach, then on his legs.... They then took him on the road, poured kerosene on him and burned him. There was no police at all. If they were there then this wouldn't have happened.

Eighteen people from my family died. All the women died. My brother, my three sons, one girl, my wife's mother, they all died. My boys were aged ten, eight, and six. My girl was twelve years old. The bodies were piled up. I recognized them from parts of their clothes used for identification. They first cut them and then burned them. Other girls were raped, cut, and burned. First they took their jewelry, I was watching from upstairs. I saw it with my own eyes. If I had come outside, I would also have been killed. Four or five girls were treated this way. Two married women also were raped and cut. Some on the hand, some on the neck.

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/india/India0402-02.htm


Are these behaviors exclusive to religion? Of course not. But religion certainly helps foster these. Take a look at any religious rally protesting something and you'll invariably see placards and posters that use this idea of 'evil' to label the side they are opposing. Atheism, which is the lack of any belief, just doesn't provide with these labels and hence it's impossible to commit atrocities in its name.

To paraphrase Eddie Izzard, "Religion doesn't kill people, people kill people. But religion helps, I think."
When in perplexity, read on.

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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#57  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 15, 2013 7:48 am

natselrox wrote:To paraphrase Eddie Izzard, "Religion doesn't kill people, people kill people. But religion helps, I think."
Those last two words (paraphrase or not) is the point. You guys think religion makes people behave in a worse manner than not being religious, and you've certainly got loads of examples of horrors where religion is in the mix there somewhere. But when religion is not in the mix, the reports don't highlight that.

What both SS and I are saying is: where is the actual proof—not the supposition, theorising, thinking—that atheists are better humans than religious people?

natselrox wrote:In short, if you believe in a myth that endorses this 'them and us' view of the world, I think, it'll be easier for you to vilify others with a sense of self-righteous anger.


A myth like "religion makes a person less of a good person than being atheist"? We've certainly got that "them and us" view expressed all over this forum.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#58  Postby Scot Dutchy » Sep 15, 2013 9:08 am

When you have religions that condone the killing of fellow human beings for just not being part of their religion that is enough proof for me. Where do atheists say that?

How about religions that say you can do anything in the name of their deity? Of course religion invokes and even encourages violence against other human beings (homosexuality?).

Religion does not make good people as there is no religious doctrine that is free of violence to non-believers.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#59  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 15, 2013 9:11 am

Nora_Leonard wrote:
stevecook172001 wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
Fallible wrote:Of course I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek. But yes, I would expect there to be a large number of certainly Christians who condone God's actions only because they're perpetrated by God, not just vocally but by continuing to worship a genocidal God.


Okay, but you're not saying that more religious people would participate in genocide than non-religious...and again, I'm wondering how that would be measured......


In a world without ideologies, good people do good things and bad people do bad things

But, it takes ideologies to get good people to do bad things.

Religions, of whatever stripe, are ideologies. As are all the "isms" that have replaced them.


You're still handing out platitudes. Where is the proof of this?

What reason would a good person have to do evil things?
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#60  Postby Scot Dutchy » Sep 15, 2013 9:11 am

Quaker wrote:
trubble76 wrote:Does that mean the carpenter chappy was wrong when he said something about him being the only way to god? Atheists can get there without a zombie carpenter? Whats the need of the RCC then?


Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

There's more going on here than meets the eye. This is one of John's key "I am" phrases. These "ego eimi" phrases echo the Jewish name for God. Later on, John has people falling down as Jesus utters the words ego eimi, and John also has Jesus saying "before Abraham, ego eimi". So John is again pointing to the divinity and the timelessness of God present in Jesus (we have an "am" before a "was"). Elsewhere John uses the "I am" phrases to mirror descriptions of God in the Hebrew scriptures, such as being the good shepherd. John, it seems, when he used the "I am" phrases is pointing very strongly to the divinity of Jesus - which the Jews understood and they often reacted strongly to these ego eimi statements. Jesus is the way to God because Jesus is God. That, it seems, is what John is teaching. Some evangelicals use this verse "I am the way, the truth and the life, etc." to beat up non-Christians, but I think that is to miss the primary focus of what John is teaching, and that is that Jesus is God come in flesh. To John, Jesus was not just some intermediary who takes people to God, rather he, as God, embraces people. To approach Jesus is to approach God, in Johannine thought (again echoed in John's words of Jesus saying "I and the Father am one" and "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father").

As regards the OP, it seems to me that Pope Francis (who I have to say I'm very impressed with, so far) is reflecting Paul's teaching in Romans 2 that to follow one's conscience is to follow a law of God written on our hearts.

"When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all."


Quaker steady up with the preaching. Read the FUA.
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