Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

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

#81  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 15, 2013 2:22 pm

Matthew Shute wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
The point/claim is that religion, unlike atheism, can give an excuse to do bad things.
Not only an excuse. Sometimes the sole motivation.

What, other than religious dogma, motivates those who carve away at the genitals of male and female children when there is no medical necessity to do so? This would make no sense whatsoever without believing some very strange things. Without the dogma, the cause is removed. Spurious child genital mutilation is almost exclusively "faith based".


Circumcision of male infants in the states has been done routinely on health grounds (c.f. religious) whether spurious or not.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#82  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 15, 2013 2:28 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
Matthew Shute wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
The point/claim is that religion, unlike atheism, can give an excuse to do bad things.
Not only an excuse. Sometimes the sole motivation.

What, other than religious dogma, motivates those who carve away at the genitals of male and female children when there is no medical necessity to do so? This would make no sense whatsoever without believing some very strange things. Without the dogma, the cause is removed. Spurious child genital mutilation is almost exclusively "faith based".


Circumcision of male infants in the states has been done routinely on health grounds (c.f. religious) whether spurious or not.

Fallacious health grounds that is. There is no inherent medical necesity to mutilate baby boys. With the exception of born-with deformities of course.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#83  Postby Matthew Shute » Sep 15, 2013 2:30 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
Matthew Shute wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
The point/claim is that religion, unlike atheism, can give an excuse to do bad things.
Not only an excuse. Sometimes the sole motivation.

What, other than religious dogma, motivates those who carve away at the genitals of male and female children when there is no medical necessity to do so? This would make no sense whatsoever without believing some very strange things. Without the dogma, the cause is removed. Spurious child genital mutilation is almost exclusively "faith based".


Circumcision of male infants in the states has been done routinely on health grounds (c.f. religious) whether spurious or not.

If it is genuinely done for medical reasons, then it isn't spurious.

And if there are no medical benefits, then it isn't done "on health grounds", even if that's cited as the excuse reason.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#84  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 15, 2013 2:33 pm

Matthew Shute wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
Matthew Shute wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
The point/claim is that religion, unlike atheism, can give an excuse to do bad things.
Not only an excuse. Sometimes the sole motivation.

What, other than religious dogma, motivates those who carve away at the genitals of male and female children when there is no medical necessity to do so? This would make no sense whatsoever without believing some very strange things. Without the dogma, the cause is removed. Spurious child genital mutilation is almost exclusively "faith based".


Circumcision of male infants in the states has been done routinely on health grounds (c.f. religious) whether spurious or not.

If it is genuinely done for medical reasons, then it isn't spurious.

And if there are no medical benefits, then it isn't done "on health grounds", even if that's cited as the excuse reason.


I would agree with that. However it was a tradition for a long time to circumcise all male infants on "hygiene" grounds, which had nothing to do with religion.

Of course Jewish boys were circumcised on religious grounds.

All I'm saying is that you can't lay all the circumcisions in the US at the feet of the religious.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#85  Postby GenesForLife » Sep 15, 2013 2:36 pm

You can lay the whining that followed Cologne (IIRC)'s ban on infant circumcision solely at the feet of religion, though.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#86  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 15, 2013 2:39 pm

Fallible wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
stevecook172001 wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:

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:


No it isn't. I have said that the worship of a being who has done unimaginable things is one way in which some theists are in my view less moral than atheists. Atheists are capable of having some pretty nasty views, but they're not attempting to claim that nasty things are OK when the master of the universe does them or gets others to do them, that "badness" goes away when God is involved. You didn't come back with anything in relation to that, so I assumed you were satisfied on that count. Now I find that you've just gone back to claiming that no one has given you a decent answer.

I say again - if a person is willing to actually worship a being that they believe has wiped out humanity almost in its entirety because it was not living as this being thought it should, is willing to claim that this being is the pinnacle of all that is good and right and just, is willing to excuse genocide, mass starvation, deadly illnesses and who knows what else in a being that could put a stop to it all by its sheer will, then that person is less moral than another person who does not worship such a being. ...


I don't even know where to start with this. Most religious people don't have this at the forefront of their mind when they're trying to live good, decent lives. Most Christians, when they are trying to live good, decent lives are thinking of Jesus saying "love your neighbour as yourself", not of God wiping the earth of humanity during the flood.

I think I'll leave you all with your atheist sense of moral superiority. I don't feel that way and I don't feel an "us vs them" division when it comes to my religious fellow humans, but clearly some of you do.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#87  Postby Fallible » Sep 15, 2013 3:06 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
Fallible wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:
stevecook172001 wrote:

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:


No it isn't. I have said that the worship of a being who has done unimaginable things is one way in which some theists are in my view less moral than atheists. Atheists are capable of having some pretty nasty views, but they're not attempting to claim that nasty things are OK when the master of the universe does them or gets others to do them, that "badness" goes away when God is involved. You didn't come back with anything in relation to that, so I assumed you were satisfied on that count. Now I find that you've just gone back to claiming that no one has given you a decent answer.

I say again - if a person is willing to actually worship a being that they believe has wiped out humanity almost in its entirety because it was not living as this being thought it should, is willing to claim that this being is the pinnacle of all that is good and right and just, is willing to excuse genocide, mass starvation, deadly illnesses and who knows what else in a being that could put a stop to it all by its sheer will, then that person is less moral than another person who does not worship such a being. ...


I don't even know where to start with this.


Why?

Most religious people don't have this at the forefront of their mind when they're trying to live good, decent lives. Most Christians, when they are trying to live good, decent lives are thinking of Jesus saying "love your neighbour as yourself", not of God wiping the earth of humanity during the flood.


Do you have any statistics to back this up? Of course not. We both live cheek by jowl with religious people, we both experience them doing good. I can't say what they're thinking while they do it, and nor can you. What we can both see is what their religion is actually based around. And what it is based around is a nasty, self-absorbed, immoral killer. That that killer gives out rules it doesn't even follow itself is not a plus point. That people choose to overlook the overwhelmingly hateful nature of the object of their worship in favour of being nice to their neighbours so the killer likes them is not a plus point.


I think I'll leave you all with your atheist sense of moral superiority. I don't feel that way and I don't feel an "us vs them" division when it comes to my religious fellow humans, but clearly some of you do.


I think the religious are less moral and I've explained why. You haven't really addressed what I've said. Just suppose for a moment that you are correct and that most Christians don't think about their god's evil acts, but instead focus on loving their neighbours. Do you really think it's a good thing that they're able to do that? Do you not think they should maybe pause to consider what this thing they are so willing to follow has done? It's not something I feel that good about, in fact it angers and distresses me that the vast majority of people who have the potential to be so great are willing to put their basic humanity, everything they surely know is right, on hold when the being under scrutiny is their master. I'm disgusted that SO MANY people can just hand wave away the bloody grounding of their religion because he later came back in a nicer costume to tell them something that most of the rest of us have worked out for ourselves anyway.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#88  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Sep 15, 2013 3:12 pm

stevecook172001 wrote:
Doubtdispelled wrote:
Darwinsbulldog wrote:Likewise murders, rapes and assaults are more common in highly religious areas than those which are more secular and atheist.

:eh:
Can you provide us with some data on this, DB? It's quite a strong claim.
I don't know about the data on the above, but what I do recall reading is that a higher frequency of religiosity tends to co-occur in societies that have large disparities between rich and poor and where there is a low level of eduction amongst the poor. We also know that violent crime is more prevalent amongst the poor for all of the obvious and well documented socio/economic reasons. One might plausibly hypothesise, therefore, that higher levels of violent crime are, at the very least, a correlate of both religion and poverty.

Or, to put it more bluntly:

Ignorance and desperation makes people more likely to believe in any old crap (as a result of desperation) and deal with their problems in simplistic, violent ways (as a result of ignorance). Which is, of course, why organisations such as the Catholic church love their poor people. Indeed, they love them so much, their policies would seem specifically designed to keep them that way.

So from this, I would conclude:

The same set of conditions which make it easier for otherwise good people to go bad are the same conditions which nourish religions and/or encourage people to join religions (which would also explain the higher percentage of self-proclaimed religious people in prisons, by the way). But this does not make religion the cause, it makes religion a co-effect from a common cause. And, while some religious organizations may well recognize their dependence for survival on continuing human suffering, this does not mean the same thing as religion leading to humans being more likely to do bad.

I'd also like to apologize for how upset I became last night. I really do rely on the members of this forum for a regular dose of reason and when it appears that we're getting up to the same ignorant shit I'm tired of hearing from religious folk I sometimes become excessively reactive to that. Please understand that this stems from an overall admiration for the general populace of the forum.

That said, I'm still going to join in and disagree with anyone who tries to claim, without evidence, that religion makes people bad somehow. Even the anti-homosexuality stuff GenesForLife pointed up earlier doesn't show religion causing bad so much as it points up ignorant, poor people being more likely to be both religious and bigots.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#89  Postby Fallible » Sep 15, 2013 3:20 pm

I don't think religion makes people bad. I think it just highlights and reinforces the less than savoury aspects of human nature that lie inside all of us, and I think religious people are far less inclined to challenge their double standards, because they have so much at stake. This does happen with atheists too, but not on such a large, fundamental and widely endorsed scale, I would argue.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#90  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Sep 15, 2013 4:27 pm

Fallible wrote:I don't think religion makes people bad. I think it just highlights and reinforces the less than savoury aspects of human nature that lie inside all of us, and I think religious people are far less inclined to challenge their double standards, because they have so much at stake. This does happen with atheists too, but not on such a large, fundamental and widely endorsed scale, I would argue.

I disagree with you less, but I still think you're painting with too broad a brush. Some religions most certainly do tend to reinforce the boundaries between in-group and out-group membership, creating a disparity in treatment between group members and non-members and using ostracism as a threat to maintain authority. I would still maintain that the drawing of boundaries between themselves and others is the primary source for their less than savoury opinions and treatment of others.

There do exist, however, religions which do not rely on authoritarian nonsense and do not create group boundaries with treatment disparities. These religions, lacking such a powerful tool, are minority religions. But they do still exist as religions and they do not demonstrably reinforce bad behavior, either through their doctrines or their practices (which can differ within religions ;) ).

So we cannot say that religion as a categorical thing reinforces the sordid side of human nature. I would wholeheartedly agree with you if you were to say that Christianity or Islam had a very disturbing tendency for doing so. But I would still insist on using more conditional language. I don't think that even Christianity or Islam have this effect on all of their members.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#91  Postby Fallible » Sep 15, 2013 5:12 pm

I'm talking about the fact that the most popular religions depict a monster - quite clearly an awful, immoral brute, something which anyone would condemn as such - but state that it is simultaneously loving and merciful. This does not compute. The only way you can make it compute is to turn a blind eye to the terrible things this being has done. Theists are assisted in doing this, so they don't challenge the disparities and since it would bring their whole belief system crashing down if they were to look too closely at them, they don't. They seem to be able to still live with themselves, I don't think I could.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#92  Postby THWOTH » Sep 15, 2013 10:18 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:[..] 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.


Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote:Survey reveals only .02% of prisoners identify as atheists.
July 22, 2013

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons released an April 2013 survey of 218,167 prisoners that reports .02% of prisoners are atheists.

You read that right. Not 2%, or even .2 percent, but .02% of American prisoners are atheists.

Hemant Mehta first reported the statistic on his popular blog, The Friendly Atheist. Check out his blog post on the new statistic here. Mehta wanted to corroborate the often quoted, but now dated, statistic that .7% of prisoners are atheists.

His open records request to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons proves that an even smaller percentage of American prisoners, .02%, identify as atheists. Because 2.4% of the general population of Americans are "atheists," according to a 2012 Pew study, atheists make up a disproportionately small percentage of prisoners. The Pew study, however, found that one in five adults identifies as "nonreligious."

This goes a long way to debunk the myth that a person can't be good without a god...

Full article »»

Of course, this only shows that the number of self-identified atheists criminals in the US prison system is below the level of self-declared atheists in the general population (c.5%). The surprisingly low figure may also be accounted for by the fact that the US prison system is an extremely religionised environment. But still, the figure does seem to imply that atheists are less likely to commit a felony than non-atheists.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#93  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Sep 15, 2013 10:29 pm

THWOTH wrote:
Of course, this only shows that the number of self-identified atheists criminals in the US prison system is below the level of self-declared atheists in the general population (c.5%). The surprisingly low figure may also be accounted for by the fact that the US prison system is an extremely religionised environment. But still, the figure does seem to imply that atheists are less likely to commit a felony than non-atheists.

It implies no such thing. If I were to go to prison, I'd self-identify as Christian, too. Because it would decrease the likelihood of abuse from other prisoners as well as increasing my chances of parole. Given those factors, we should not trust these sorts of statistics at all. And we should probably try to eliminate the tendency of parole boards to preferentially parole Christian prisoners.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#94  Postby THWOTH » Sep 15, 2013 10:35 pm

Nice to see you SS :wave: you blummin' spoil sport. Seems US prisons are full of liars and there's no way to tell if US prisoners are actually religious or not.

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

#95  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Sep 15, 2013 10:38 pm

THWOTH wrote:Nice to see you SS :wave: you blummin' spoil sport. Seems US prisons are full of liars and there's no way to tell if US prisoners are actually religious or not.

;)

:grin:

I'm just sayin' that it's exactly the sort of statistic which ought to be suspect. Only when parole boards are not made up primarily of Christians will we be able to trust the religious claims of prisoners. I'd lie as well under those conditions- and I have an abiding distaste for lying.

Nice to see you, too! :wave:
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#96  Postby Jumbo » Sep 15, 2013 10:39 pm

Hmm the pope says:
The Pope has struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone towards atheists and agnostics, saying that God will "forgive" them as long as they behave morally and live according to their consciences.


The bible says:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

(emphasis mine)

So either the pope is right and the bible/god is wrong or that second death is god ways of forgiving us. Yet more oxygen theivery from men in funny hats IMO.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#97  Postby Aern Rakesh » Sep 16, 2013 7:03 am

ScholasticSpastic wrote:
THWOTH wrote:
Of course, this only shows that the number of self-identified atheists criminals in the US prison system is below the level of self-declared atheists in the general population (c.5%). The surprisingly low figure may also be accounted for by the fact that the US prison system is an extremely religionised environment. But still, the figure does seem to imply that atheists are less likely to commit a felony than non-atheists.

It implies no such thing. If I were to go to prison, I'd self-identify as Christian, too. Because it would decrease the likelihood of abuse from other prisoners as well as increasing my chances of parole. Given those factors, we should not trust these sorts of statistics at all. And we should probably try to eliminate the tendency of parole boards to preferentially parole Christian prisoners.


:this: There also might be certain activities available for prisoners who claim affiliation to a religion, that, though not immediately appealing to an atheist (e.g. Bible study groups) (here is one) might alleviate tedium and boredom.

Of course SS and I could be wrong. There might be a whole slew of people out there being bad because they think their monster god approves of such behaviour. :dunno:
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#98  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Sep 16, 2013 7:26 am

I think if people go back and read my original claims with a little more care, they might realise that I was not saying that religious people are bad because of their religion, but rather it is more difficult to be good from a faith position. I thought I had clarified what I meant by also claiming that other, non-religious positions, such as extreme ideology, can have the same effect. eg. Most political moderates would guage Fascism or Communism as being potentially very toxic in their implementation, and tend towards totalitarianism.
In other words, where mere ideas [like an idea of god] are harmless, faith in an idea [like a god] can be toxic. Add historical considerations to this, and indeed, we find that faith in a god or even creed limits criticism of such belief, and that may often lead to pogroms and other displays of less than kind behaviour.
How, in faith systems, the toxicity of the religion is more exported. In other words, people may be more kind to people of their own group than outsiders.
The toxicity of faith can be diluted by dualistic systems. Here, both faith-based thinking, and reason-based thinking may be given roughly equal weight in the society, and that society is unlikley to be extremist or unkind.
The universality of the god or creed also has bearing. In terms of gods, universal gods tend to be toxic than local or part-time gods. And if there can exist a pluralism of ideas, then politics is rarely toxic.
And when I mean "reason", I do not mean a confinement to any particular school: realists, rationalists, empiricists, relativists, etc, etc all contribute to what I understand to be rational discourse.
Having said all that, I do believe that faith-based systems [in general] are improving in terms of general tolerance and recognising that internal and external realities are not as contradictory as once thought. I may be wrong, but I think science has helped in this regard.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#99  Postby Horwood Beer-Master » Sep 16, 2013 7:44 am

Nora_Leonard wrote:...However it was a tradition for a long time to circumcise all male infants on "hygiene" grounds, which had nothing to do with religion...

I somehow doubt the idea of routine infant male circumcision (with any justification) would have ever occurred to anyone in the first place had it not been for it's history as a religious practice. It's hardly the kind of procedure that simply suggests itself.

Think of it this way; if no culture or religion had ever had a practice of routine circumcision prior to the modern era, we probably wouldn't even have the word 'circumcision', there would simply be no need for it.
When referred to at all it would merely be called 'foreskin removal' or 'prepucectomy', and would be regarded like any other form of amputation to be done only if medically necessary. It would never have become a particular 'thing' in itself requiring it's own commonplace word, anymore than "removal of the little-toe" is.
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Re: Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own conscience

#100  Postby DarthHelmet86 » Sep 16, 2013 7:49 am

Horwood Beer-Master wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:...However it was a tradition for a long time to circumcise all male infants on "hygiene" grounds, which had nothing to do with religion...

I somehow doubt the idea of routine infant male circumcision (with any justification) would have ever occurred to anyone in the first place had it not been for it's history as a religious practice. It's hardly the kind of procedure that simply suggests itself.

Think of it this way; if no culture or religion had ever had a practice of routine circumcision prior to the modern era, we probably wouldn't even have the word 'circumcision', there would simply be no need for it.
When referred to at all it would merely be called 'foreskin removal' or 'prepucectomy', and would be regarded like any other form of amputation to be done only if medically necessary. It would never have become a particular 'thing' in itself requiring it's own commonplace word, anymore than "removal of the little-toe" is.


As I understood it the USA's foreskin chopping came from semi-religious grounds, since it was about stopping kids from playing with their dicks which was thought of as bad and unseemly due a religious fear or hatred of sex and sexuality. Since then it has become a sort of tradition with mistruths like "hygiene" being used to keep the practice going even though it is a barbaric mutilation of a child for no benefit. Though I would argue that the first people doing it used their religion to veil their own personal fear and hatred of sex rather than the religion imposing that upon them.

Of course I might not have got the right info, since this tradition is often hidden behind other reasons to protect it from the brutal honesty of what it is.
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