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Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

Oh dear - www.goma.demon.co.ukI will take five of the ten ideas that were presented by Dave Jones in one of his YouTube videos, link is at the bottom, and I would like to do something different with them. The video is about how not to attack atheists so you can enter into a discussion rather than leaving it at that, it works much better into why no one should ever respect the religious arguments that are so often pushed towards us. Sticking with Christians and Muslims is useful as they are the two main groups to which we often find objection with, plus they are guilty of pretty much the same sorts of errors. Let’s assume that extremists often those that would also be called fundamentalists are unable to think for themselves through political coercion, brainwashing or simple craziness. It is the moderates that have the ability to think for themselves. Although this is comfortable it is not really true, I would rather just focus on moderate religious people and although this whole topic is part of a much larger discussion Dave Jones made me react and consider a slightly different approach. After getting some feedback on the things I have written, it does start to frustrate me after a while since I have to keep returning to the same points over and over again, as being religious appears to just mean that you have no ability to understand anyone else that does not think the same way as you do. I was also going to describe my feelings as hate although I want to make it clear that I don’t hate people, I do hate their beliefs which is completely different. Someone might be a kind, intelligent person who cares for their family and friends; I can accept this although it does not really come from religion at all. You might think it does but it does not. Ok, why don’t I like moderate religious people?

The Holy Book – the use of such books are taken to mean so much, in the critics of evolution they are often used as points of reference to which something is meant to suddenly click and the whole thing makes sense. It does not stop at what Jones argues being that nonbelievers don’t accept the holy books as God’s word, it goes further if we all make the assumption that it is then the implications are very clear. Either we have to stop learning more about the place in which we live or we have to do things that are immoral. I do go on about dinosaurs a lot; I am not really a fan still if the word reptile is meant to also include dinosaurs and this is the only mention of it in the bible, what we can take from that devalues what we already know, in the process ignoring it. Put this another way if you think that the post hoc explanation of reptiles on Noah’s Ark explains anything then you are just denying the right to access knowledge that does not agree with this, you will learn less just from one word than a body of research & theory. This is where the frustration is; partly as so much is ignored and secondly as so much is easily dismissed without consideration. The immoral refers to possible justifiable acts that holy books allow for and that is no account for the lack of intellectual honesty when using references, there are parts of all the holy books that mention depraved actions towards other humans if you never address them that makes you dishonest on all things.

Faith – it seems to be the less something has the evidence to back it up then the more faith that is required and therefore, the greater the weight belief becomes. It is like saying the less I know something for sure the more important the role of personal feelings have to become. This is just a ridiculous stand point to argue from, there is no reason to why your personal feelings should be given any weight at all, no one can check them and it is as equally possible first you had some basic understanding of religion and later personal feelings to back it up. Likewise the perspective that you must have faith in order to understand just creates a circular argument that never gets anywhere; no one should just believe stuff. The situation is often the other way around there is a lot of evidence that just does not agree with religion so why does anyone believe it; it is clear that religion does not work and is not true. The example of Stenger is useful; God is seen as transcendent, meaning he is outside of space and time still God is also omnipresent meaning that he exists everywhere – there is no way in which these two things can be true. The conclusion is that just because someone claims faith all that means is they have a personal feeling and feelings should never be something which are acted upon without anything else being there to back up those feelings, especially when the consequences are so serious. Having faith means you have accepted something because you have been told to; this is a major fault of character.

Evil concepts – all religions see certain groups as sub-human and not like the rest of us, for example Islam thinks that women should be treated like animals with their only goal to do things for men. A lot of Muslim people have commented that they respect ‘their women’, it is clear that your respect and disrespect are very much alike. Let us mention other people; it is clear in Islam that one difference is the only determining factor on how we treat them never mind what is the right thing to do or not. This I suggest is an evil concept, so is Hell I mean after all the guilt that catholic’s use over the death of Jesus they still have to blackmail with the threat of going to hell. If there was anyone that I would describe as evil it is mother Teresa, ignoring her inaction on treating the ill with medical care, she went around the world telling women that they had no choice. Surely if any woman wanted to have an abortion or use birth control it should always be up to them and it should never settle on others opinions. People promote the idea that religion is good when it is clearly never good at all; this is the most frustrating thing I have come across since it serves to simply create a distraction of the real issues that religious people support by their inaction to challenge.

The attack of atheists – the situation in America is very disturbing. It does not stop there though after all there are decisions that are being made based on religious grounds. If religion is never proven to be correct how can such directed decisions offer the right choice. This often leads to agenda based seeing; there everything is put into context of religious perspective removing the necessary debate about important issues. Often atheists are forced to defend their position once they put real issues forward, this creates noise and distraction. There is also the implication that somehow an atheist is someone that should not be trusted, at least we explain our position and will listen to a constructed argument against the things we believe in. This leads to the next issue…

Threats and insults – religious people often demand respect for their belief, even if they don’t show it back, they just don’t understand the objections are real. Too often I have seen threats mostly from Muslims, not exclusively; this just creates a reinforcement of things that are already known. The Danish cartoonists were simply demonstrating their opinions and how do people react, they beat them down and create violence, is there any wonder about the western view of Islam as just a group of violent people? Then others have to suffer in silence with their opinion as it might cause offense, Islam causes me offense in the first place! Christians that present intelligent design wonder why others see them as stupid; it is because they reject their own intelligence. They are insulting all of us when they expect us to believe something which they made up and then demand respect for. If you want to threaten or insult then go and do that somewhere on your own, if you want to create meaningful discourse then please go ahead. There appears to be an enemy of the week sometimes, there is an outcry for people just expressing what they think which is dealt with by violence, threats and insults. Are Muslims so scared of others that don’t think like them they need to resort to this? Those that do these things are more often than not scared and trying to convince themselves of what they say is right.

I want to keep coming back to this point; religious belief has serious consequences so if religion has anything other than the divine to do about it, then we must closely look at religion. If religious people are just left with metaphysical feelings then, it is religious people that need to be worried about faith and they should never interfere with the rest of us. Rather than stating there is no ‘truth’ behind religion, it tries to promote itself as truth and that is dangerous as well as a lie. Just because a religious person believes something is true, even if it is a strong feeling they do demand others should just accept this, why should anyone accept religion as true? I cannot remember who said this; religion is a prime example of a thing above evolution in action, it has won and keeps on winning even if it no longer works. Moderate religious people are the ones that are keeping it alive even though it is something that we should let die. What use, what point does religion serve anyone anymore? I am not taking away people’s hope here, if you are an adult then you are big enough to know the truth and I don’t understand what you are hoping to gain. Does it really matter if gay people become priests, are they not just people? Should ‘gay’ be before a person, I don’t think so. We have gone too far just to allow religion to simply rip us up again and anyone who is scared of a religion free society, then they should never fear, they are safer and better places. Religion has had its time and it failed! Now let us move to something that really does work…

Dave Jones YouTube Video – http://youtube.com/watch?v=oRGziCZSV_Q

Related post – https://therationalunderstanding.wordpress.com/2008/05/07/do-we-need-to-read-understand-the-bible-the-koran-or-the-torah-in-order-to-understand-religion-or-have-an-opinion-on-it/

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http://news-service.stanford.edu   Karen ArmstrongKaren Armstrong discusses in her Ted presentation the three Abrahamic religions, she is a well educated woman and although she is referring mostly to fundamental extremists I can’t help but apply it to the whole which means that I only agree in part with Armstrong’s points. She comments that compassion is the golden rule of all religions and that only once this is accepted and put into practice does someone truly understand God & the divine. However, there has been an abuse; those terrorists that use the Koran to commit murder and those that ignore the word of Jesus to judge others and commit uncompassionate acts. The conflict is where ego becomes more important than the golden rule of compassion and religion simply becomes a fault line. I agree with this point that people tend to use the surface differences to create a them and us, whether this is religion, colour or football teams there will always be these created divisions. I should not attack religion for the result of some people creating hate or lack of concern for others because of these insignificant differences, if I believe that those fundamental believers (not extremists, just fundamentalists) do show compassion in their everyday lives. Fundamental believers are those that believe in their religion and act in accordance.

So do I believe that fundamental believers show compassion in their everyday lives? Well, no. The evidence suggests that this is not true. Religion does not always live within evidence; I do however happen to live there. I could list a lot of examples here but let me start with just a few. Stem cell research in America could not be possible because religious groups consider 150 cells that could possibly, with no certainty, become a human more important, worth more protection than killing an alive house fly with 100,000 cells (Sam Harris). In Pakistani a sister can be sentenced by law to gang rape for a brother’s crime (Christopher Hitchens). There is a current attack on science that will see many children not taught about evolution because it steps on the grounds of the church (Richard Dawkins). These three examples are not the result of compassion, the first would deny people help from disease, the second is just wrong and the third lacks the rules that compassion allows us to understand others knowledge. I am not saying that some religious people are not governed by compassionate acts, still you cannot pick and choose what examples you’d like to keep hidden and others you would like to demonstrate. If “Religion is compassionate” is a true statement, where all evidence suggests that it is then it goes without saying that if one piece of evidence suggests that it is not, the whole statement becomes untrue. And these examples are not fundamental extremists, they are the norm.

Armstrong commented on her idea for a charter for compassion, where she would get popular religious leaders to sign up and it would help promote compassion within religious settings. As an atheist and God damm proud of it, I find it particularly disgusting that we have to remind religious people to be compassionate and stop causing trouble for the rest of us. I understand the point that is being made, the extremists that have taken over religion are seen as the enemy but that is not true anymore. People do all sorts of crazy stuff in the name of religion and it should never be accepted. As if people need to be taught how to read scripture correctly, as Armstrong suggests, presents a great worry – either they are simply using it for their own ends in which case they will ignore anything a rational person says or they have spent all this time missing the whole point of their own religion. I find this approach a little naive still there is always one choice that people have, people have a choice not to believe in religion at all. If you don’t like what people of the same faith are doing, then you can always leave it no one should ever force you to stay with a faith. If they do, it’s not about faith anymore it’s just about people trying to control other people. Armstrong talks with passion and I do respect her approach, even if I don’t always agree.

Another newspaper article has the same effect on me, where Armstrong comments on the pope’s ill timed statements directed towards Islam, it divides my opinion on her. To start with describing current anti-Islamic feelings in the west based on a historical perspective being that of the last thousand years is a wrong approach to make. I’m not involved in many conversations where such a detailed history is ever discussed and to be fair although there has been a media dominated frenzy in recent years it is not why people can come to dislike Islam. I dislike Islam, Christianity and Judaism, just to be fair I will say that now so this is not seen as an attack just on Islam, they are all equally distasteful. I do agree with Armstrong when she says that the Catholic Church should not judge the position of the Jihad since they are the ones that have caused countless murders of their own, at a much larger scale than Islam. Let’s not forget the role they took of condoms in Africa, they are committing genocide. Still getting back to Armstrong, there are two quotes that I found most interesting in her article, they are:

“But the old myth of Islam as a chronically violent faith persists, and surfaces at the most inappropriate moments.” & “They will convince more Muslims that the west is incurably Islamophobic and engaged in a new crusade.”

Of course, Armstrong here is maintaining her perspective that we should not go back to anti-Islamic thoughts and we should not blame violence on Islam. Let me say that this is a fantastic view on what Islam should be like but it’s not like that, the Islam of the world does not only exist in the Koran. The notion of a violent faith does persists, I could just talk about terrorists but that would mean your thoughts are moved away from Islam in its everyday sense, I don’t want to do that, I want examples you can’t dismiss as the acts of a few. A Muslim cleric claimed that the polio vaccine was a plot against them and this resulted in 2005 in another outbreak and the deaths of children. This is not violent but it still it’s important that children are being affected, there is also abuse of children going on in madrassas and mosques within the EU because they are seen as sensitive areas for police and social workers to enter. Ok so this leads me to the Dutch cartoons, these cartoons 3 of which were never made by the Dutch artists rather an Islamic propaganda organization caused a man in London to dress as a suicide bombing during the protests (the cartoons were never published in the UK), Was this an acceptance of a young Muslim man that violence and Islamic protest went hand in hand? How about the 139 people that died in Danish embassies? Is this a result of a peaceful religion? Sam Harris wrote that most of the crime committed in France was done by Muslim immigrants. These are the things that I hear about and there are lots more examples too, so why does Islam to me seem like a violent religion? Well for these reasons because the arguments are presented to me like so. In this sense I don’t need to understand a historical perspective or even the Koran in order to understand Islam. Still these are real perceptions of what is going on. While there is argument that it is inappropriate for the pope to make these comments, it’s never inappropriate to demand these issues be dealt with before any further discussion.

As I said I reject all religion so this is not me picking out one religion. Armstrong comments that since the 9/11 attacks on New York there has been an increase in unconscious prejudice towards Islam, this is true but at the end of the day every Muslim has to be blamed for this. I will tell you why, it’s because there is a sense that fundamentalist are the ones to blame, this is not the case. It is the moderate believers that are the origins for fundamentalists, if there were not moderates then there would be no fundamentalists. Most holy books are bases of violence that is how they have survived all this time, it’s the moderate approach that allows for the immoderate to use the process. Let’s go back to the idea of religion being used for political means and the case of the cleric stopping the polio vaccine. If we assume that this was just a political move, how did the cleric get support and power to perform these political acts? The answer can only be that religion, even those that of moderate religion supported this cleric because they thought the cleric being closer to God & performing his will and the respect that religion teaches about its own religious teachers. If those two things were not in place the power of one man would have been significantly reduced. Moderate religious people cause more harm than fundamentalists do, that is true across all Abrahamic religions. Look at priests and there abuse of children within the Catholic Church, they were able to do this because people gave priests the power and in turn disempowered themselves & their children. So while I accept that most religious people can be kind and the situation is far more complex than I’m presenting here, my perceptions are valid.

The west has always been Islamophobic, still at least in the UK people have been religion’o’phobic for a long while. Consider the difference between George Bush and Tony Blair, George Bush has tried to move away from religious wars against people to just wars against evil regimes. Religious statements have tip toed into Bush’s comments quite often. Tony Blair had to wait until he left office until he came out about his conversion to Catholicism, the British are suspect of religion and so they should be. Still for the average person on the street in the UK after the recent London suicide bombings they are more phobic than perhaps they were before because all they see is the death Islam can cause. This might be a natural reaction, even if it is not a correct one and it will repair itself with time. If you were to ask me I am more scared if Islamic countries or the USA on the bases of its religious intent directing its action, I would have to be honest and say I am more scared of the Christian USA than any Islamic countries. Both however, are justifiable as violent religions. I don’t agree with Armstrong on many things.

Newspaper article : http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/sep/18/religion.catholicism

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