## Do we need religious institutions?

For intuitive and critical discussions, from spirituality to theological doctrines. Fair warning: because the subject matter is personal, moderation is strict.

Moderator: Dan~

hm...1984, well, you can be applied to religion. The big scary thing that watches you everywhere, every step you giveâ€¦ and it will punish you if you donâ€™t do what you are told to do.

Hey, uhh... I don't know what your experiance has been with religion, but obviously it must have been an unpleasant one (Keep in mind I can only talk about Christianity). Religion isn't supposed to be a big scarry thing. It isn't about punishing people. God doesn't have people behind street corners waiting to jump out screaming "Haha! I cought you, you heathen!!" It's about accepting people as they are and working to bring them closer to God. If people were perfect and already lived according to how God wanted them to we wouldn't very well need religion, now would we?

According to Catholocism every human person has the right to go to heaven. The only way you don't is if you choose not to by intentionally sinning and not going to confession.

Because there is no interest in the church to tell people what theyâ€™ve done. And the atrocities are very recentâ€¦ Pope Pio XI is said to have helped the Nazis during the 2nd world war.

The Church makes no attempt to hide what it has done. Now think here a bit, the Pope, being in the middle of Italy, an axis power with Nazi's all through it, couldn't very wel speak out publically to oppose Hitler. It was more prudent to try and remain neutral. No one blames Switzerland for staying neutral. If you have evidence you could share to back up your claim I will most definatly look into it.

Really now, if he had spoken out against Hitler, what good would it have done? It would have spurred a persecution of Catholic clergy. Nothing would have happend but the death of thousands of priests.

There is this case now in Britain about an archbishop that covered up a pedophiliac priest. Talking to my husband I said â€˜how can anyone trust the church after such things?â€™â€¦ cos it see this as a betrayal of trust, and for me itâ€™s the worst thing if could ever happen. Dishonesty in a place where you put your trust and heart is unforgivable

Something I think it is interesting the media has failed to report is that the number of pedophiles in the priesthood is significantly smaller in Catholicism than in any other denomination. Also, the problem really emerged once homosexuals were being admited into the priesthood.

You are playing against yourself with this sentence. You are showing how absurd religion isâ€¦ how can you support church morals saying â€˜Isrealis commit genocide on the Palestiniansâ€™â€¦ â€˜doesn't matter that priests used little boys as objectsâ€™â€¦ religion is causing this soâ€¦ it wouldnâ€™t exist without it.

I don't understand what you mean.

If the Pope really believed in God he would sell the Vatican or turn it into a homeless shelter. He would give up his clothes, his mundane rules, and follow Jesus and God. But noâ€¦ he is a hypocrite. He needs the Vatican, that imposed vision of God coming to earth through a huge expensive buildingâ€¦ to make others feel less powerful.

What do you mean "if the Pope really believed in God"? I don't mean to be rude or offensive but there is no way around it: How stupid of a statement can you make?!? You have OBVIOUSLY not done your reseach on Pope John Paul II. I request that you do not speak so ignorantly of him again untill you ahve. He is perhaps one of the most humble people on the planet. He has never put on the image you are implying he does. To make others feel less powerful? What power does the Church have today?! We live in a secular world!! There are people who sell their clothes and etc, they are called Franciscans, perhaph you've heard of them? They were started by St. Francis of Assisi. If the Church sold all it's wealth, firstly, how would it be able to support itself? Second, that would be all it could to. They would have nothing left to give. It can help more people now and in the long run byt doing what it is doing. I think you are forgetting all the charities and missionaries the Church supports. You are making the Church out like a Morman would: as the whore of Babylon.

The church doesnâ€™t do the 'goodness' they sellâ€¦ I say, sell the churches! Feed the starving countriesâ€¦ if you do believe there is a God, then stop thinking that goodness is to help a lady cross the roadâ€¦to give beggars food once a week, to give wine in a church and call it blood of Christ, to give boring sermons, to charge exorbitant quantities of money to marry peopleâ€¦ stop being hypocrite and actually do what you believe, donâ€™t just believe.

Again, think of all the Church does for people. There are people in Africa right now working in comunities stricken with AIDS. There are hopspitals in third world countries that run on a $5,000 budget or less a year. Schools with 3000 students running one$1,000 a year. These people work for nothing.

How dare you speak of the Holy Eucharist. We do not 'serve wine' and 'call it' the blood of Christ.

I do agree on the sermons. There is a spiritual crisis in the Church right now, all major Catholic publifications agree on that. There are reforms begining to get under way in the Church right now.

Have you seen The Name of the Rose?
This is a very lame hypothesis, because, first, we will never know if those popes were good or bad people. Second, that means God could indeed influence in our world, so, free will and many other things (like poverty) would in fact be Godâ€™s â€˜lazinessâ€™.

The Popes I'm refering to were pope during times of corruption during the Church and there is, as a matter of fact, evidence that they tried to work the Church to fit their own means. What I'm refering to also happened during a short period of time. Call it a coincidence if you want, but it seems a little to much to be one.
No paragraph breaks in your post? tl;dr.
Qzxtvbzr

Posts: 142
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2002 11:54 pm
Location: Galactic Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha

Perhaps I'm being too idealistic in hoping that one day man can see what religion is truely about: setting another's life above your own. "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend."

I agree with you here. That is a pretty strong representation of love but I didn't learn that from religion; I got it from overly dramatic movies.

Are you suggesting Christ's death as an example? What did he save me from? If I were Jesus and I knew that I could be chillin' at the right hand of the Creator of the Universe, I would have died too. Who wants to be hanging out here on earth when Heaven is where the party is at?

Oh yeah, but he had to spend three days in Hell. (Not really three when you do the math, just two. . .) I'm guessing that sucks but at least he didn't have to spend eternity there like the rest of us. So what exactly is the big deal about Christ's sacrifice? What is the significance?

Even the greatest theologians of the church say that these two verses can sum up the entire message of the bible. I don't need the whole bible for this discussion. Most of it is irrelevent. . .

I'm not saying this is the only aspect to Christianity, but is is the key message. It isn't what I want Christianity to be, it is what it is about. Loving one another. 7 out of the 10 commandments deal with loving your neighbor.

What truth am I blinded to, exactly? The truth about morals, or the truth in general. Either way, I must take offense untill you elaborate.

I only wish this were so, Qzxtvbzr. I really wish that the Christian God were benevolent. I really wish that the wonderful. God that you speak of were real, but you must face reality. God is either dead or evil.

Don't take offense to my words. Take offense to reality. You read Polemarchus' thread on the theory of a benevolent God. How can you argue with that? Your reply was 'When all else fails, resort to pascal's wager.' I am guessing that you wrote that because you saw the logic in Polemarchus' argument. Am I right? When all else fails resort to Pascal's Wager. I only wish it were that easy.
Last night as I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky, I thought to myself,
"Where the heck is the ceiling?!"

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

Skeptic
(Jason Hill)

Posts: 660
Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2002 7:02 am
Location: Atlanta, Georgia USA

I really wish that the wonderful. God that you speak of were real, but you must face reality. God is either dead or evil.

Since there's no way you could come close to proving that, you probably ought to say "God is probably either dead or evil", or if you prefer, "It's irrational to believe there is a God".

Uccisore
The Legitimatizer

Posts: 13279
Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2002 8:14 pm
Location: Deep in the forests of Maine

### A huge post... sorry about that.

Hey, uhh... I don't know what your experiance has been with religion, but obviously it must have been an unpleasant one (Keep in mind I can only talk about Christianity).

Heheâ€¦ why do you think that? I have no religion experience whatsoever. Iâ€™ve never went to church on Sundays, never listened a sermon (well I did when I went to church with my hubbyâ€™s family, he is Lutheran btw)â€¦ I used to pray when I was a child with my granny at night and I remember being very scared of a Christ image that he had on the wall. They used to say I should be a nice girl cos God was always looking to us. For some reason Iâ€™ve always had strong morals to the point I was embarrassed of taking a shower cos God would see me naked hehe, but I was about 4 or 5 years old at the time. About the same time my dod died and I was told it wasnâ€™t going to heaven because only humans could go to heaven, dogs were going to another heavenâ€¦ I was very upset cos I wanted to go to the same one. Well, hehe, we all have out dodge experiences when we are kids. I wouldnâ€™t consider it a religious experienceâ€¦ I was just a very curious child.

Religion isn't supposed to be a big scarry thing. It

Well, religion has its rules and if you donâ€™t follow them you will be punished somehow. I believe that many people go to religion for selfish reason. Like those who want to be savedâ€¦ or those that only turn to God when they are oldâ€¦ because they canâ€™t face the end of existence. I am not saying they donâ€™t really believe in it, they do, but it is selfish.

It's about accepting people as they are and working to bring them closer to God.

Then you arenâ€™t accepting them the way they are, you want them to be just like you are, you want to change them.

If people were perfect and already lived according to how God wanted them to we wouldn't very well need religion, now would we?

If God gave us free will, why do we need to live according to what he wanted us to? Is so, there wouldnâ€™t be free will at all.

According to Catholocism every human person has the right to go to heaven. The only way you don't is if you choose not to by intentionally sinning and not going to confession.

Poor animals, thought God also created them.
What is to â€˜intentionally sinâ€™? What is sin anyway?
Confession is pathetic, especially in Catholicism. I donâ€™t see the point of talking to a priest with you can talk directly to Godâ€¦. Also, if I have sex outside my marriage 1000 times and I confess 1000 times I will go to heaven, if I never confess I am not going to heaven.

The Church makes no attempt to hide what it has done.

How do you know? If they hide it well, we probably will never know...

Now think here a bit, the Pope, being in the middle of Italy, an axis power with Nazi's all through it, couldn't very wel speak out publically to oppose Hitler.

Not â€˜speak out publicallyâ€™ is very different then helping the nazis.

It was more prudent to try and remain neutral.

Which he didnâ€™t. And still,... prudent? He had an obligation to act morally if he is the man who all the Catholic churches go to on earth. Some pleople count of him to give guidence to their lives! He should be the first to point out atrocities against human beings. He is very good to speak what you should and shouldnâ€™t do, but when he has to act morally in the name of his principles and beliefsâ€¦ he decides to be 'prudent'. Very convenient.

No one blames Switzerland for staying neutral. If you have evidence you could share to back up your claim I will most definatly look into it.

Switzerland is a country, not a religion. People donâ€™t follow Switzerlandism, do they?
I havenâ€™t got any evidencesâ€¦ but John Cornwell has some in â€˜Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XIIâ€™. (sorry, I said XI in my last post, itâ€™s actually XII)

Really now, if he had spoken out against Hitler, what good would it have done? It would have spurred a persecution of Catholic clergy.

Of course not! Hitler was very catholic himself to persecute the clergy. And what good he would have done?! For f*** sake, he was the POPE, it was his obligating to go against human suffering, but instead he contributed to the fate of the Jews under the Nazis in his sympathetic dealings with Hitler as papal nuncio to Germany throughout the 20s.

Nothing would have happend but the death of thousands of priests.

I see.. so priests canâ€™t die in Nazi hands, but ordinary people canâ€¦
You donâ€™t understandâ€¦ he HELPED the Nazisâ€¦ not simple ignored the atrocities.

Something I think it is interesting the media has failed to report is that the number of pedophiles in the priesthood is significantly smaller in Catholicism than in any other denomination.

Doesnâ€™t matter what religion it is, it does happen and it shouldnâ€™t and wouldnâ€™t if there was no religion.

Also, the problem really emerged once homosexuals were being admited into the priesthood.

:O are you saying that homosexuals are pedophiliacs?
And, please, give me evidences and statistics on this matter.
Wouldnâ€™t be a good thing for the church to accuse homos to be pediphiliacs in the 1st place?
To my view they can only abuse boys because there are only boys to be abused. Also, to prevent yourself to have sex is not natural. Priests are like bombs about to explode.

I don't understand what you mean.

You said â€˜Isrealis commit genocide on the Palestiniansâ€™ & â€˜doesn't matter that priests used little boys as objectsâ€™ to defend religionâ€¦ but as far as I can seeâ€¦ no Jews, not genocide, no Muslims, no reason to kill them, no Catholics, no child abuse by priestsâ€¦ So, we conclude that none of this would happen is there was no religion.

What do you mean "if the Pope really believed in God"?

Rightâ€¦ wrong word. If they followed God/Jesusâ€™ words.

He is perhaps one of the most humble people on the planet.

Remind me again where he livesâ€¦ not a humble home I would say. I donâ€™t remember Jesus living like the Pope doesâ€¦. Actually, I donâ€™t see many people living in such place. So I think he is a hypocrite.

What power does the Church have today?!

Enough to have a country of the own, and be the richest institution in the world. Thatâ€™s the catholic churchâ€¦ now Jews also have a country and Muslims have many. Do you know what a town needs to become a cityâ€¦ a cathedral. What is written in a dollar note? Iâ€™m God we trustâ€™. Why to be gay is wrong? Religions morals. Thatâ€™s enough evidence of power to meâ€¦

Matter of fact, I heard of Assisi. Am not saying EVERY one is evilâ€¦ am I?
My point is that the goodness of the church and all religious institutions are not enough compared to their atrocities. I don't see why 10 lives worth more than 1 life. To the one who's gonna suffer/die, it worth everything.

If the Church sold all it's wealth, firstly, how would it be able to support itself?

It wouldnâ€™t.

They would have nothing left to give. It can help more people now and in the long run byt doing what it is doing. I think you are forgetting all the charities and missionaries the Church supports.

hm...Missionaries forced people (specially indians) into Catholicismâ€¦ they covered the indians bodies because they were naked, they imposed their beliefs to others. But as much as I canâ€™t see the good things you canâ€™t see the bad things.
They do charities, I canâ€™t deny thatâ€¦ but they could do better if there was no just HUGE and expensive buildings and paintings and images. And actually who give to charity are not the institution but the people.

There are people in Africa right now working in comunities stricken with AIDS. There are hopspitals in third world countries that run on a $5,000 budget or less a year. Schools with 3000 students running one$1,000 a year. These people work for nothing.

You can do such work without churchesâ€¦ and there are many who do. Many organizations, many groups and many charities which have nothing to do with churches.

How dare you speakâ€¦

Well, I am free to speak, I am afraid, according to what Iâ€™ve seen. And what I saw was wine and what they called was blood. Is not like I was offending anyone as I donâ€™t see it as anything but a ceremony, a representation. If i can't speak of that, then we can't speak of God at all, for i refer to him is the same way. You should feel offended by the way i talk about God also then...

The church canâ€™t committee any crime, EVER, as they are supposed to be the thing closest to god for us mortalsâ€¦ all the goodness canâ€™t justify the atrocitiesâ€¦ and atrocities committed by religious authorities, not some thick nuts who said God asked him to kill people.
If people really believe in God then there is no need to go to churches. There is no need to confess for your God is not in the church, he is everywhere. If you need help, search it in yourself, if you need confessing, if that takes the guilty out of your bodyâ€¦ you can do it anywhere are any time with not need of a priest. If u believe in God, then you wouldnâ€™t sinâ€¦ so why do u need a chuch to tell you what sin is and what itâ€™s not?
God is not the church and the church is far from being God or the messenger of God.
Cle

"Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience. But nothing is a greater cause of suffering." Dostoyevsky

Clementine

Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Nov 28, 2002 6:37 pm
Location: UK

Damnit!!! I had a whole post!!!!!!! A looooooooong post in reply and I answered everything but I disconected when I pressed 'submit' now it's lost! noooooooooooo!

I worked for like an hour and a half on it!!
No paragraph breaks in your post? tl;dr.
Qzxtvbzr

Posts: 142
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2002 11:54 pm
Location: Galactic Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha

Qzxtvbzr,
I know the feeling. I've done the same many times. Take a break and retype it tomorrow.

Cle,

Your answers were superb! I had to laugh out loud at a few of them. I am behind you 100% on this topic. I just can't imagine how the Catholic Church has lasted so long. It just doesn't make any sense!

If people were perfect and already lived according to how God wanted them to we wouldn't very well need religion, now would we?

If God gave us free will, why do we need to live according to what he wanted us to? Is so, there wouldnâ€™t be free will at all.

I couldn't have said it better myself. This is the perfect response! So our goal in life is to follow Christ, and conform our will to the will of God, right? We eventually get to heaven where we become sanctified and free of sin as well as being in complete accordance with God's will.

In fact, in heaven our will and God's will are one in the same. So that means that in Heaven, we are completely God controlled, without Free Will? So where is our identity? or have we just become one with God? I think I'd rather go to Hell.

Speaking of Hell. What's so bad about Hell? Why would the Devil want to torture his followers? I would think that Hell would actually be more like a big party. Am I right?

The Devil, wouldn't say, "hahaha . . . Now I get to punish you for eternity for doing my work and helping me out on Earth."

It would be more likely that he would say, "Here Skeptic , have a cold one for carrying out my work so well on Earth. You did a wonderful job, so enjoy your eternity in Hell, free from the relentless rules of the big guy upstairs!"

Imagine, no more patronizing religious people to bother me. In fact, I almost wish Hell were real. It sounds a like a lot of fun.
Last night as I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky, I thought to myself,
"Where the heck is the ceiling?!"

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

Skeptic
(Jason Hill)

Posts: 660
Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2002 7:02 am
Location: Atlanta, Georgia USA

### taking a break from seriousness

Imagine, no more patronizing religious people to bother me. In fact, I almost wish Hell were real. It sounds a like a lot of fun.

Haha, heaven doesn't want you, but hell's afraid you'd take over?
No paragraph breaks in your post? tl;dr.
Qzxtvbzr

Posts: 142
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2002 11:54 pm
Location: Galactic Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha

Qzx,
I too have made the same mistake. What I do now is high-light my post when I am done writing it, click copy, and then click submit. That way, if I get disconnected, I simply go back, click reply and paste. I haven't lost a post since.

Hope this helps.

Magius
Magnanimous

Posts: 1489
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2002 7:08 am

Man, that's a bummer Q. Luckily, I haven't had to type anything quite that long here yet. Thanks for the warning, though!

Uccisore
The Legitimatizer

Posts: 13279
Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2002 8:14 pm
Location: Deep in the forests of Maine

Q,
You probably noticed i quote people a lot to reply the posts, so i have to sure Word, as i keep reading the posts while typing. Then you copy and past to the forum. Is the best way, i believe... and it keeps you from committing too many spelling mistakes hehe (i am dyslexic, you see... too many mistakes)

I would think that Hell would actually be more like a big party. Am I right?

If hell exists, i hope you are right... i see hell as a place where you can't do anything you would like to do, full of stupid rules and unjust, full of silly people and rude bastards who always what to take advantage of everything... and I would have to work the whole day in something i hate... wait... sounds like my life already! Oh bugger...
Cle

"Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience. But nothing is a greater cause of suffering." Dostoyevsky

Clementine

Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Nov 28, 2002 6:37 pm
Location: UK

What I do now is high-light my post when I am done writing it, click copy, and then click submit.

I do the exact same thing, Magius. In fact, in some cases I will do similar to Cle and copy it to notepad or Word, just in case something drastic happens.

If hell exists, i hope you are right... i see hell as a place where you can't do anything you would like to do, full of stupid rules and unjust, full of silly people and rude bastards who always what to take advantage of everything...

It sounds as if you are describing Hell as being inhabited with fundamental Christians. Besides, why would the devil want to cause you any strife? Remember he is against God, and God is the one who wants to punish you. The devil would rather spite God and reward you for being on his side. It only makes logical sense to me. I feel sorry for the Christians though. They have to spend eternity in Heaven where they will be perfect. Yes, the bible says that in Heaven everyone will be perfect so that means that all Heaven goers will automatically conform to the will of God. A complete theocracy!!! Sounds like a pretty poor way to spend eternity. Can anyone argue against me here?
Last night as I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky, I thought to myself,
"Where the heck is the ceiling?!"

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

Skeptic
(Jason Hill)

Posts: 660
Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2002 7:02 am
Location: Atlanta, Georgia USA

It sounds as if you are describing Hell as being inhabited with fundamental Christians. Besides, why would the devil want to cause you any strife? Remember he is against God, and God is the one who wants to punish you. The devil would rather spite God and reward you for being on his side. It only makes logical sense to me. I feel sorry for the Christians though. They have to spend eternity in Heaven where they will be perfect. Yes, the bible says that in Heaven everyone will be perfect so that means that all Heaven goers will automatically conform to the will of God. A complete theocracy!!! Sounds like a pretty poor way to spend eternity. Can anyone argue against me here?

Argue against your opinion? How? I can't very well show an argument refuting the notion that 'fundamental Christians are silly people and rude bastards', nor is there a de facto argument against 'a theocracy is a poor way to spend eternity'. These statements are too completely subjective to have a good response. I do see a single sentence which may be 'argued', though, and that's the one about the devil wanting to reward people because it makes logical sense. I think it's a wasted claim, considering these two things:

a) Other than in cartoons, Satan actually isn't depicted as being in charge of punishing anyone, so asking 'why would the devil want to cause you any strife' is kind of an empty question.
b) Why is it logical that satan would want to reward someone for their service? There must be a thousand other ways to spite God. Drawing 'logical' conclusions about a being's future behavior requires knowledge about that being's personality that we just don't have.
Guest

The above was me, BTW.

Uccisore
The Legitimatizer

Posts: 13279
Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2002 8:14 pm
Location: Deep in the forests of Maine

It sounds as if you are describing Hell as being inhabited with fundamental Christians.

Heheâ€¦ maybe it is. But not only fundamental Christiansâ€¦ I would add all religions there.

Besides, why would the devil want to cause you any strife? Remember he is against God

But he is pure evil. He doesnâ€™t care if you â€˜helpedâ€™ himâ€¦ that the point. The is dishonest, unfairâ€¦ and you will suffer for the eternity under his tortures.
But if you see Devil as an opposition to God, and there is not good or evil, only 2 sides of the same coinâ€¦ then I agreeâ€¦ hell, heavenâ€¦ who cares?

Have you read a play called No Exit by J-P Sartre? It deals with 4 people who go to hellâ€¦ but it is actually a room where they gonna spent their eternity together. The thing is, the place is nice, but they end up hating each otherâ€¦ so actually, is the everlasting annoyance that is hell.
So, probably your hell would be full of religious fundamentalists, my hell would be full of wasps and other flying insects, no books, no papers to draw on or writeâ€¦ oh, and I would probably be shoeless and the floor would be all dirty. Uccisoreâ€™s hell would be full of gay people showing off their gayness, and people like you and I trying to prove him God is actually evil or that there is no God, only hellâ€¦ whatever.
Each person has their own hell, but we also have our heaven, but thatâ€™s in lifeâ€¦ if you are no good, then you will go to your hell and stay there forever. So in the end, we shouldnâ€™t dislike anything or anyoneâ€¦ or else, we will end up with them for the eternity. Hehe.. great.
Cle

"Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience. But nothing is a greater cause of suffering." Dostoyevsky

Clementine

Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Nov 28, 2002 6:37 pm
Location: UK

I do apologize for interrupting the discussion at this point, but I wish to share something with Uccisore of a topic we were discussing in the recent past. I think it worthwhile for all to read, so your time will not be spent in vain.

But first a note:

Skeptic stated:
I do the exact same thing, Magius. In fact, in some cases I will do similar to Cle and copy it to notepad or Word, just in case something drastic happens.

I too use notepad to write posts, but I don't write them in Notepad because something drastic might happen, instead I use Notepad for really long quotes - cause it is really annoying to keep scrolling down and then up in the REPLY screen. So I write it in notepad and then just copy and paste.

Uccisore, in our deliberations of God and why I don't believe in any religions conception of God, specifically the Christian one, I have been elucidating in vain. I think maybe that I have expressed myself in an awkward manner, so in an attempt to further illustrate my point, I advert you to some text written by Baruch Spinoza (philosopher) who I found, coincidentally, to have a very similar view to mine. Actually, I was studying for an exam (were taking up Spinoza) and I read past what was listed to know and found to my surprise some views that I agree with. I say this because about 95% of everything we took up from Spinoza, for me, was like nails on a chalk board. I just simply disagreed with him on almost everything. I hope what you will find what you read to be a more concise and coherent version of my argument a dozen or so posts back...

"...It will suffice at this point if I take as my basis what must be universally admitted, that all men are born ignorant of the causes of things, that they all have a desire to seek their own advantage, a desire of which they are conscious. From this it follows, firstly, that men believe that they are free, precisely because they are conscious of their volitions and desires; yet concerning the causes that have determined them to desire and will they have not the faintest idea, because they are ignorant of them. Secondly, men act always with an end in view, to wit, the advantage that they seek. Hence it happens that they are always looking only for the final causes of things done, and are satisfied when they find them, having, of course, no reason for further doubt. But if they fail to discover them from some external source, they have no recourse but to turn to themselves, and to reflect on what ends would normally determine them to similar actions, and so they necessarily judge other minds by their own. Further, since they find within themselves and outside themselves a considerable number of means very convenient for the pursuit of their own advantage-as, for instance, eyes for seeing, teeth for chewing, cereals and living creatures for food, the sun for giving light, the sea for breeding fish-the result is that they look on all things of Natureas a means to their own advantage. And realising that these were found, not produced by them, they came to believe that there is someone else who produced these means for their use. For looking on things as means, they could not believe them to be self-created, but on the analogy of the means which they are accustomed to produce for themselves, they were bound to conclude that there was some governor or governors of Nature, endowed with human freedom, who have attended to al their needs and made everything for their use. And having no information on the subject, they also had to estimate the character of these rulers by their own and so they asserted that the gods direct everything for man's use so that they may bind men to them and be held in the highest honour by them. So it came about that every individual devised different methods of worshipping God as he thought fit in order that God should him beyond others and direct the whole of Nature so as to serve his blind cupidity and insatiable greed. Thus it was that this misconception developed into superstition and became deep-rooted in the minds of men, and it was for this reason that every man strove most earnestly to understand and to explain the final causes of all things. But in seeking to show that nature does nothing in vain-that is, nothing is not to man's advantage-they seem to have shown only this, that Nature and the gods are as crazy as mankind.
Consider, I pray, what has been the upshot. Among so many Nature's blessings they were bound to discover quite a number of disasters, such as storms, earthquakes, diseases and so forth, and they maintained that these occurred because the Gods were angry at the wrongs done to them by men, or the faults committed in the course of their worship. And although daily experience cried out against this and showed by any number of examples that blessings and disasters befall the godly and ungodly alike without discrimination, they did not on that account abandon their ingrained prejudice. For they found it easier to regard this fact as one among other mysteries they could not understand and thus maintain their present and innate condition of ignorance rather than to demolish in its entirety the theory they had constructed and devise a new one. Hence they made it axiomatic that the judgment of the gods is far beyond man's understanding...

...And so they will go on and on asking the causes of causes, until you take refuge in the will of God-that is, the sactuary of ignorance...

...As a result, he who seeks the true causes of miracles and is eager to understand the works of Nature as a scholar, and not just to gape at them like a fool, is universally considered an impious heretic and denounced by those to whom the common people bow down as interpreters of Nature and the gods. For these people know that the dispelling of ignorance would entail the disappearance of that sense of awe which is the one and only support for their argument and for the safeguarding of their authority....

...When men became convinced that everything that is created is created on their behalf, they were bound to consider as the most important quality in every individual thing that which was most useful to them, and to regard as of the highest excellence al lthose things by which they were most benefited. Hence they came to form these abstract notions to explain the natures of things: -Good, Bad, Order, Confusion, Beauty, Ugliness, and since they believe that they are free, the following abstract notionns came into being: - Praise, Blame, Right, Wrong...

...All that conduces to well-being and to the worship of God they call Good, and the contrary, Bad. And since those who do not understand the nature of things, but only imagine things, make no affirmative judgments about things themselves and mistake their imagination for intellect, they are firmly convinced that there is order in things, ignorant as they are of things and of their own nature. For when things are in such arrangement that, being presented to us through our senses, we can readily picture them and thus readily remember them, we say that they are well arranged; if the contrary, we say that they are ill-arranged, or confused. And since those things we can readily picture we find pleasing compared with other things, men prefer order to confusion, as though order were something in Nature other than what is relative to our imagination. And they say that God has created all things in an orderly way, without realising that they are thus attributing human imagintion to God-unless perchance they mean that God, out of consideration for the human imagination, arranged all things in the way that men could most easily imagine. And perhaps they will find no obstacle in the fact that there are any number of things that far surpass our imagination, and a considerable number that confuse the imagination because of its weakness....

...All this goes to show that everyone's judgment is a function of the disposition of his brain, or rather, that he mistakes for reality the way his imagination is affected. Hence it is no wonder-as we should not in passing-that we find so many controversies arising among men, resulting finally in scepticisim. For althoug human bodies agree in many respects, there are very many differences, and so one man thinks good what another thinks bad; what to one man is well-ordered, to another is confused; what to one is pleasing, to another is displeasing, and so forth...."

<u>Source: Spinoza, Baruch. <i>The Ethics</i>, Part I, Appendix. </u>

Magius
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I always get a little wary when famous professionals are borught into a conversation, just because it does feel wrong to criticize what someone obviously wiser and more experienced than me has said. Nevertheless, I take comfort in the fact that wiser and more experienced people than me have also sided *with* me about things, so I'll guess I'll make a few comments.
Firstly, belief in something can be attacked in two ways: It can be said that a belief is not true, (that's called de facto, right?) or it can be said that it is unreasonable to accept a belief (de jure).
It's clear that Spinoza isn't trying to form an argument that there is no God, or that Jesus never existed, or any other issue of fact. Spinoza seems to be saying that the origins of religious belief are psychological and self-serving, and thus cannot be considered reliable.
However, what Spinoza has described here has very little to do with how a modern religious believer gets their beliefs. The origins of some religions may very well be just what Spinoza describes, but I certainly don't know anybody that came up with the idea of "God" as an explanation to what goes on around them- we're taught way to much science at an early age for anyone to do this. If his argument, then, doesn't say that modern religious believers get their faith from an unreliable source, then it *must* be saying that those beliefs are probably false (that it, if Spinoza's words are a critique of religion at all). I simply don't see how the passage above accomplishes that, though. Even if there was some mechanism in the human psyche that made religious beliefs happen, that's certainly not a reason to think that no religious belief is true. All that's left is a claim that since religions originate from unreliable sources, all *current* religious belief must also be unreliable. I don't think that's a strong argument at all.
My second problem with his claim is a little more basic. Every claim he's made here about religion could also be applied to the sciences, philosophy, and every other human endeavor- that is, if naturalism is true. Of course, this means that if religious beliefs are unreliable because they come from self-serving and naturalistic sources, then Spinoza's own claims are unreliable for exactly the same reason. I would say Spinoza's argument is self-defeating then, unless he accepts universal skepticism.

Uccisore
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"The Kingdom of God is inside you and it is outside you.."
"Split a piece of wood, and I am there.."
"Lift up the stone and there you will find me.." (The Gospel of Thomas)
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The forged Gospel of Thomas is one of the foudnational books of Gnosticism, which really doesn't agree with either me or Spinoza, or Magius as far as I can tell, so I don't really understand the relevance.

Uccisore
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Uccisore stated:
I always get a little wary when famous professionals are borught into a conversation, just because it does feel wrong to criticize what someone obviously wiser and more experienced than me has said. Nevertheless, I take comfort in the fact that wiser and more experienced people than me have also sided *with* me about things, so I'll guess I'll make a few comments

I didn't bring Spinoza into the conversation because he's a professional, but because I thought he explained my view of people and the concept of God better than I. Uccisore, this is the second time I am telling you this, take my words for what they are, I mean what I write. If there is something I think of you and your opinion I will come right out and tell you, I won't beat around the bush, be sarcastic, hide what I mean behind words or take jabs at you. I am honest and open. Please, remember that - it will make our conversations go much more smoothly. Remember, I said...

I think maybe that I have expressed myself in an awkward manner, so in an attempt to further illustrate my point, I advert you to some text written by Baruch Spinoza

I didn't say I was right, I didn't say that Spinoza was right, I am simply saying that I think Spinoza expressed a similar view better than I had and I wanted to know your take on it.

Furthermore, I wouldn't feel uncomfortable in criticizing dead philosophers views, I would feel uncomfortable criticizing anyones view if I were you (and I do feel uncomfortable cause I do it sometimes despite the fact that I knew there are better ways). Try not to criticize but come to understand, I find that once I really come to understand someones view there is never a need for criticism whether they are right or wrong. Coming to understand someone should never have to do with whether they are professionals or not.

Lastly, I want you to know that I don't consider what I call our debate a competition, although that is how debates are viewed. This is not a competition for me. It's a search for truth. It's not about how many professionals have sided with me and how many have sided with you. It's not about ME being proven or disproven, there is nothing personal in it for me to gain or to lose - it's a win/win situation for me cause I am here to learn, whether people get mad at me or love me - either way I will learn from them.

Magius
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Uccisore, this is the second time I am telling you this, take my words for what they are, I mean what I write.

How did I not? All I meant to say was "Having to publicly disagree with professional philosophers makes me nervous because I'm not one".

I would feel uncomfortable criticizing anyones view if I were you (and I do feel uncomfortable cause I do it sometimes despite the fact that I knew there are better ways).

If nobody criticized my views, I'd never learn anything. Not saying you do this, but that last thing I need is people to say "That's great Ucci, I respect your opinion!" even when I say something stupid, you know?
Maybe you mean something a little harsher by 'criticize' than I do?

Uccisore
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I didn't mean that if you don't criticize that you automatically are left with nothing but lying to the person about how great their view point is. I'm talking about the fact that rarely is a person 100% wrong about what they are saying, it would be a nice change if people actually made mention of that which is right. But aside from that, the way I try to approach debates is that there is no chance for me or you to be right, so all we are left with is each others understanding, so I try to get the person to explain in detail their view, then when I see problems in the view I don't say this and that is wrong about your view, but I think of a situation that resembles the view and where I think it would fail and I will say "How do you think your view would apply in this situation....or that situation...." and they themselves come to realize their view to be wrong and correct it, or they make me realize how indepth their view is by applying it in a situation where I didn't think it applied. But nowhere did I criticise them or they me.

It may sound unimportant, but I assure you it makes all the difference, especially in one on one debates.

Magius
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I'm talking about the fact that rarely is a person 100% wrong about what they are saying, it would be a nice change if people actually made mention of that which is right.

That's true. People benefit from encouragement, too.
Your approach of asking the "How would it apply if.." type questions seems fine, but I feel a little presumtuous when I use it. Like- I'm setting up a teacher/student relationship with the person I'm talking to, that seems to imply we aren't on equal terms. Does that make sense?

Uccisore
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You have a point, when I just look at the words and what is being asked; I could see people taking it that way. I think maybe people do take it that way sometimes in speaking with me one on one. But I think the all else rests in tone, demeanor, sincerity, and elucidating your purpose. If you tell a person why you are asking them the way you are, they will seize in feeling like you are being presumptuous (atleast most of the time).

Magius
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That's true. Internet communication is such a limited form, really. I couldn't possibly list the number of times I've been misunderstood, or misunderstood someone else, because of the lack of facial expression, hand gestures, and tone of voice.
My preferred approach is to generally only reply on a board when I disagree with something, and then to say why I disagree as concisely as possible, to give the person I'm disagreeing with a concrete argument to attack or conceed to. I expect the same thing in turn, but what often happens is I 'attack' another person's point of view while they say "Can't we just get along" or something, which makes me look like a jerk. I find it all depends on what kind of view I'm butting heads against. Adherents to certain belief systems are much more likely to agressively defend their beliefs, where adherents to others don't like to go into detail.

Uccisore
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Qzxtvbzr,
why dose religion have to exist in order to believe there is a god. why can't we just believe god in our hearts. many religious people have told me that our body is our temple. if this is true then there is no need for religion!
lolly

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