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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » old man blogs at cloud (Page 5)

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Author Topic: old man blogs at cloud
theamazeeaz
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Well, I was 7. Stop signs were pretty cool back then. And for the next six years bonjour, oui and arrêt were the only two French words I knew. Okay, that's not true: this kid Hailey brought in a beginner French book to recess and taught us all Je m'appelle.

I've been to France twice as an adult and never took in the stop signs. If it weren't for my dad demanding that I come back with pictures of 1. Christmas lights and 2. a stop sign when I went to Japan, it wouldn't have registered for me to look at them at. Of course, I had to ask an actual Japanese person where to find one, because they aren't everywhere, and not obvious because they are not octagons.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Brian J. Hill:
I sometimes get the nagging feeling that my failure to actively defend the "conservative" side means that I tacitly agree with the points made here ...

I don't agree with much else in your post, but this here is a feeling you should never have.
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Mucus
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I would say two things about Quebec and sign-age.

I don't think much about the official policy of bilingualism. In the sense of, aside from the three/four(?) years of rather useless French language curriculum in school, it isn't really something that comes up very often. Only government agencies and crown corporations (and some regulated industries) really use both languages with any regularity. But for the much larger private sector, it isn't really a big deal outside of Quebec. I see more Chinese on signs than French.

It is, however, a thing that they legally harass people that use (dominant) English signs (or anything else) in Quebec. In a broader sense, Quebec is probably the most hostile province toward immigrants in Canada and there's some truth in what Card is saying. He's probably not in the best position to make it given that they aren't exactly Republican-hostile toward immigrants, but it is a thing.

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Lyrhawn
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That's my understanding of Quebec as well. There was a story I read the other day about some charter Quebec either just passed or wanted to pass that threatens Canada's reputation for multiculturalism, I can't remember the details now.

I don't know. I live in an incredibly diverse metropolitan area, so I'm a big fan of multicultural society and diversity. But I guess I can see why Quebecois would be especially hostile. A lot of them, the French speaking parts anyway, still express an aspect of being repressed and resent being part of Canada. So for them, not only being not allowed to have their own country for what they see as their own people, heritage, language and culture, they also have to absorb immigrants as well. I might not agree with it, but I can see why they might feel that way. I can also see why French speakers might be hostile to English speakers.

My grandparents left when they were relatively young, but my grandpa still has somewhat strong feelings about it even though he sees himself as fully American.

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BBegley
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quote:
I think that can be applied to most of Card's rhetoric. Sometimes I think he assumes the persona of Demosthenes in his writing, when in real life he's much more like Valentine.
You have given me so much hope with this. For years now, I have struggled with the disparate quality of Card's fiction and his political writing. The nuanced understanding of human motivation and ethics in his novels stands in such stark contrast to his deeply unpersuasive political writing that it cannot be coincidence.

I think that you must be right, and that this is some sort of experiment on his part. There are plenty of writers I disagree with who make good persuasive arguments, and a writer of Card's caliber could not seriously write the weak, sophomoric, late-night talk radio dreck I read in the world watch columns.

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stilesbn
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Regarding Card and immigration, he has written a couple articles that are very critical of the Republican stance on immigration. In this case, he goes with the Democrat platform.
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tertiaryadjunct
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Unfortunately, BBegley, it is a well-known effect that even smart people will shut off their brains to maintain a preexisting belief (there's confirmation bias and all the other things mentioned in that initial paragraph: attitude polarization, belief perseverance, illusory correlation, etc.). Anything Card feels he MUST believe (either because he personally wants it that way or because he's invested so much of his life into it [religion]) he will find ways to support, even if they're blatantly irrational or nonfactual.

That includes gay marriage and the Christian (and by extension conservative) persecution complex. I think someone earlier in this thread (or was it another?) duly noted that Fox News exists to feed precisely this effect. Studies repeatedly show Fox viewers are the least informed about actual facts, but facts and rationality aren't what they're targeting...

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BBegley
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If this is the case, I will employ my confirmation bias to assume that Card is adopting a persona (like Colbert, but not funny) to make a point. I refuse to believe that someone who has written as long and as well as Card could write that way.

I think the evidence is clear. There are thoughtful intelligent arguments that conservatives can and do convey. The Card whose novels I read could obviously state those very elegantly and persuasively. The fact that he does not do so leads me to believe that he is performing some sort of satire, or attempting to drive people away from the positions he pretends to advocate.

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Samprimary
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a "persona?" satire?

no, that's really not what's going on here. nothing in his history supports the idea.

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Xavier
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Card's son Geoff has debunked that particular theory personally, IIRC.
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tertiaryadjunct
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Got 95% of the way through his interesting review of Noah, thinking right about then that for once there hasn't been any obnoxious bigotry (ok, a mild jab at feminists, but at least he qualified that). He was even praising an outspoken atheist! And then:

quote:
Mercy, after all, is not all that common an ideal these days. Certainly there is no grounds for mercy in atheism, which Aronofsky purports to believe: Nature has no mercy in it, and neither has science. Today's politically correct puritans are utterly intolerant and merciless.
And it's even better combined with a later paragraph:

quote:
I call these Judeo-Christian values, because I am reviewing Noah as an adaptation of Genesis. But of course these are all human values, for no human society can long survive without practical implementation of mercy, forgiveness, support for reproduction, and protection of children, in the daily life of the vast majority of human beings.
Atheists: inhuman puritans working (with the gays) to take down civilization!

Some day the Atheists might win and the whole world will descend into the Atheistic nightmare that is currently engulfing Sweden, with its merciless universal healthcare systems and social safety nets, well-educated, healthy children, and happy populace. If we're lucky, God will come along and give all those kids a nice, slow, merciful death by drowning and then He can give his people a third crack at it...

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Samprimary
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saw new article, immediately ctrl+f'ed for "feminist"

was not disappoint

anyway

quote:
In Noah, the Creator definitely has a list of sins that he deplores and condemns, to the point of destroying almost all humans because of their disobedience and wickedness. Today's atheists also have a list of unforgivable sins for which punishment is eternal, so an atheist could be comfortable with that aspect of Noah.
does he actually understand what an atheist is or is he one of those 'atheism is just another faith!' people

what would this list of unforgivable eternally-punished sins be and in what atheist doctrine is it laid out

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Heisenberg
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It's probably a snarky reference to the protests against Eich and himself.
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MattP
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My guess is that it's a very oblique reference to Brendan Eich.

Edit: Heh.. much not be that oblique, eh?

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Samprimary
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quote:
But of course these are all human values, for no human society can long survive without practical implementation of mercy, forgiveness, support for reproduction, and protection of children, in the daily life of the vast majority of human beings.
yes we have seen what this guy's model for what he thinks governments have to do for human society to survive. support for reproduction, wink so that civilization doesn't collapse, wink yes yes we haven't forgotten either

quote:
Certainly there is no grounds for mercy in atheism
i think everyone should read this particular snippet three times and really think about what he's saying. 'there is no grounds for mercy in atheism' is terminally faulted on a logical level, to say nothing of there being no creed of atheism with which to make this value judgment of atheist beliefs. pretty much even everyone here who is nominally inclined to support osc or are getting sick of his articles being picked apart can see that, or if they can't, it's just an indulgently easy exercise of looking at the myriad of examples in which an atheist worldview is perfectly and often commonly synergetic with mercy. what's the alternative? pretending humanism does not exist as a philosophy?

when this guy is simpering at a group of people who evidently got his goat, it starts to stick out because the generalizations start getting profoundly ridiculous and this is kind of a good little individually packaged example. if atheism really didn't have any grounds for mercy in it (in some impossible structured scenario in which atheism is, itself, a faith) isn't it a little strange that an atheist up and made this movie that he's lauding for being all up ins about the faith? is he trying to be all winky that he's in on aronofsky's secret probably is actually not an atheist, with all this 'aronofsky's purported atheism' ... ? is this how the dissonance is cognitively resolved

WELP there I go again I got all complicated on myself, better dial it back just in case he pulls a snark/satire card on that.

ok, here we go.

quote:
Does Noah contradict scripture? Only in a few spots.
heh
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Rakeesh
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I think it's useful simply as an examination of ideas to recognize that there is something...off about criticizing a non-religious viewpoint as not having incentives towards mercy and decency. Useful because it contains a possibility that in the given religious viewpoint, these are virtues that only occur when they are incentivized or punished.

But sometimes, some people make me comfortable enough to take it further. Whatever crazy kool aid Card has drunk lately, and seems inclined to continue drinking, *once* he wasn't like this and could actually credit a non-Christian/Jew/conservative with some basic human virtues worthy of praise and even acclaim. If he retains that ability, he sure as hell doesn't write about it.

Anyway, as for someone who has invested a lot of brain sweat into religion, ethics, etc., with Card I'm happy to take it a step further: if a warning against atheism is that it doesn't incentivize decency and mercy, then that is a strange confession for Card to make. Is *he* decent and merciful-when he is-only because it is incentivized? Is he good only she someone is watching?

As for an eternal sin for atheists, well, that is profoundly stupid even by Card' political-religious commentary standards, so I think it's likely just hyperbole.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
I think it's useful simply as an examination of ideas to recognize that there is something...off about criticizing a non-religious viewpoint as not having incentives towards mercy and decency. Useful because it contains a possibility that in the given religious viewpoint, these are virtues that only occur when they are incentivized or punished.

This. I just marvel at the un-self-awareness of implying that one's religion is the stick that keeps them from exercising some brutal instinct they are aware of. It really speaks incredibly well of athiests, doesn't it? I'm an athiest, and I am neither violent, nor unjust in my dealings with others. I must be possessed of incredible self-control.

But the best part is to ponder that he's not only talking about the stick, but also the carrot: the implication is that religion is the framework of human morality. So how do I *know* how to act justly outside of that context? Somehow, I just do?

quote:

Anyway, as for someone who has invested a lot of brain sweat into religion, ethics, etc., with Card I'm happy to take it a step further: if a warning against atheism is that it doesn't incentivize decency and mercy, then that is a strange confession for Card to make. Is *he* decent and merciful-when he is-only because it is incentivized? Is he good only because someone is watching?

Well, I think as untenable as that argument is in rational terms, yes, that is the argument he is making. Because when you have economic incentives (like being rich, and white, and wanting things to stay the same for rich white people), you need to get down on taxes, and government, and regulation, and "socialism." You do that by implying that human beings function in purely selfish ways, and that they are not inherently moral. That rationality does not collide with morality- that rationality is base self-interest, rather than enlightened self-interest. Because, if human beings were inherently rational, they would be capable of independently devising a moral system based on rationality. They would not need the church, in the sense that the church would not be stopgap against moral damnation.

This argument has been going on, in one form or another, since the Europeans abandoned the concept of divine-right nobility in favor of enlightenment notions of rationality, and began the long courting period with socialism. Then, as now, the rich and entitled, who were rich and entitled mostly due to the irrational power system perpetuated by the church and the monarchy, will fight against the very notion that people can rule themselves, and are anything like moral beings.

That all has the added bonus of justifying base self-interest as an instinct that human beings should naturally pursue when they are privileged to do so, and not a failing of character. So you get Mitt Romney who simultaneously believes that most human beings are pigs and will take advantage of charity, and acts like a complete pig to take advantage of weak government regulation, and sees no problem in exercising the instinct he ascribes to all people, on a higher level.

Ironic, I know, but that's the game.

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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
But of course these are all human values, for no human society can long survive without practical implementation of mercy, forgiveness, support for reproduction, and protection of children, in the daily life of the vast majority of human beings.
yes we have seen what this guy's model for what he thinks governments have to do for human society to survive. support for reproduction, wink so that civilization doesn't collapse, wink yes yes we haven't forgotten either

You know, support for reproduction would be a nice touch from the government. Let's start with paid maternity leave and paternity leave as well as subsidies for child care.
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theamazeeaz
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quote:
One of the most annoying things about Deconstructionism and Multiculturalism, when they took over university English departments, was that they gave everybody a new vocabulary to use in rehashing every single thing that had already been said about the same old books.

There was almost no new content, and even less that was intelligent. None was intelligible, because the genius of Post-Modernism was that it led to endless verbiage that was both inscrutable and not worth scruting. But because nobody could tell what was being said, or care much even when they did decode it, it allowed an endless supply of new dissertations and papers to be written and published.

In short, without adding even a farthing to the sum of human wisdom, it provided tenure to thousands of dumb people who wanted to pass on their imitation of education to even more thousands of dumb people in want of Ph.D.s.

This is an article about potato chips and corn chips.
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BlackBlade
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Rakeesh: You need to stop calling Mr. Card crazy.

----------

I think part of what Mr. Card is suggesting is that many things people think are artifacts of religion, are actually artifacts of how human beings became human beings (evolution, created like that) and that religion is actually giving expression to those things. It's like having a porcupine that's covered with a blanket and yet the barbs poke through and hurt. But people blame the blanket.

Take away religion, and while the specifics of hell might be gone, you'll still have people that functionally believe in that certain people belong in such a place, and will construct it.

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tertiaryadjunct
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I think part of what Mr. Card is suggesting is that many things people think are artifacts of religion, are actually artifacts of how human beings became human beings (evolution, created like that) and that religion is actually giving expression to those things.

This sounds familiar (did OSC discuss something to this effect in an article in the distant past?) but it certainly can't apply to Card's beliefs now, based on his current statements. If these things (including mercy) are innate artifacts of our humanity, surely atheists would have them too, but he clearly thinks otherwise. Hence my pointing out he called atheists inhuman (subhuman?).

*Of course* all aspects of religion are artifacts of human nature, since humanity creates religion. But these things don't NEED religion to exist; contrary to Card's statement that there is no call for mercy in [some list of things he assumes all atheists blindly worship], there are perfectly rational reasons to encourage certain moral behaviors (and even compel many through a framework of law).

We are all independent entities who bind together in a society for mutual benefit (as a social animal we evolved that way and as a rational animal we can understand the benefits of it). Did God hand down the magic of Democracy to us? No, we developed it over time using our powers of observation and rationality. No less with the smaller interpersonal rules: "Love your neighbor as yourself," aka "treat others how you would like to be treated" (which incidentally includes mercy) is a rational guideline for interacting smoothly with the many other people in your community, not a magic concept that just happens to appear in most religions. We all understand that doing harm to others is bad, because we understand that we do not like being harmed ourselves (we also understand that some people may act selfishly, and we create laws and legal systems to handle it).

But Card seems to believe, based on his latest article, that somehow none of this applies to atheists (and gays, I guess. What does he think about religious homosexuals, I wonder).

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BlackBlade
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quote:
This sounds familiar (did OSC discuss something to this effect in an article in the distant past?) but it certainly can't apply to Card's beliefs now, based on his current statements. If these things (including mercy) are innate artifacts of our humanity, surely atheists would have them too, but he clearly thinks otherwise. Hence my pointing out he called atheists inhuman (subhuman?).
I would argue Mr. Card believes things like mercy are harder than wrath, and since humans take the path of least resistance, we tend towards wickedness. God based religion (IMO) seeks to change that human tendency and direct them towards modes of living that while better, are hard work and run counter intuitive to many of our instincts.

(Edit, my attempts to summarize Mr. Card's views on atheism were not sufficient). I think Mr. Card would argue atheism does not succeed at this.

I think Mr. Card would argue that a key reason we are in the place that we are in, is not because people are freeing themselves from religion, but rather the opposite. Christianity causes problems, but overall it promotes a better state of human experience, other ideologies can't replicate that success.

I can't really comment on whether any of those ideas are correct, I've honestly never even tried to consider them.

That said, I do absolutely believe that were we to strip away religion, there would be an enormous net negative result. I recognize that atheists utterly reject this most likely because they don't believe any religion is actually powered by a supreme being.

[ April 10, 2014, 03:33 PM: Message edited by: BlackBlade ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Take away religion, and while the specifics of hell might be gone, you'll still have people that functionally believe in that certain people belong in such a place, and will construct it.
Are you talking about Mississippi?

-------

quote:
I recognize that atheists utterly reject this most likely because they don't believe any religion is actually powered by a supreme being.
Religion does seem less useful once you take away the presumption of a supreme being, yes. [Wink]
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scifibum
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quote:
That said, I do absolutely believe that were we to strip away religion, there would be an enormous net negative result. I recognize that atheists utterly reject this most likely because they don't believe any religion is actually powered by a supreme being.
As an atheist, I'm going to say that I don't utterly reject that stripping away religion could have some pretty devastating results. It would depend on how and why it was stripped away.

I think an empirical approach to deciding what is true is more likely to help one avoid false beliefs than any religion that I know of, and avoiding false beliefs might be helpful if your goal is to minimize harm. But it might be necessary to replace some aspects of religion with non-religious equivalents in order to avoid a lot of negative side effects that might go along with the end of religion if it's a sudden or forced change.

A simplistic example: daily prayer might have some benefits to mood and stress levels in the average worshiper. If everyone stops praying, it might be necessary to replace prayer with daily meditation of another kind to avoid detrimental effects on stress and mood.

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tertiaryadjunct
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
That said, I do absolutely believe that were we to strip away religion, there would be an enormous net negative result. I recognize that atheists utterly reject this most likely because they don't believe any religion is actually powered by a supreme being.

You say this with no evidence whatsoever. There's a reason I mentioned Sweden earlier - it is one of the most atheistic of European countries (a whopping 18% of people profess a belief in a god) and there is no dearth of peace, social welfare, or happiness as a result.

Statistically speaking, looking at correlations between atheism and peacefulness and atheism and social welfare among the different nations of the world clearly shows that the more atheistic a country is, the more peaceful and the better the social welfare of its people. Is it because (1) atheism causes peace, (2) peace causes atheism, or (3) a more careful, modern, and rational philosophy causes both atheism and peace?

IMO it's mostly (3) with a little bit of (1), but really the cause/effect relationship is irrelevant to disproving the point that atheism is somehow incompatible with positive social results.

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theamazeeaz
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Also, great paternity leave policies.
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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
quote:
That said, I do absolutely believe that were we to strip away religion, there would be an enormous net negative result. I recognize that atheists utterly reject this most likely because they don't believe any religion is actually powered by a supreme being.
As an atheist, I'm going to say that I don't utterly reject that stripping away religion could have some pretty devastating results. It would depend on how and why it was stripped away.
This. The USSR wasn't problematic because it was atheistic, it was because it was enforced. Official state religions of any kind are a terrible idea.
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Rakeesh
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Even then, I wouldn't say that a state religion-even an enforced one, to some level anyway-would guarantee a terrible outcome from a human suffering and wickedness standpoint.

Brutal, cynical authoritarian/totalitarian systems on the other hand...well they're more or less always a problem.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by tertiaryadjunct:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
That said, I do absolutely believe that were we to strip away religion, there would be an enormous net negative result. I recognize that atheists utterly reject this most likely because they don't believe any religion is actually powered by a supreme being.

You say this with no evidence whatsoever. There's a reason I mentioned Sweden earlier - it is one of the most atheistic of European countries (a whopping 18% of people profess a belief in a god) and there is no dearth of peace, social welfare, or happiness as a result.

Statistically speaking, looking at correlations between atheism and peacefulness and atheism and social welfare among the different nations of the world clearly shows that the more atheistic a country is, the more peaceful and the better the social welfare of its people.

Nonsense, where are you getting those numbers from?

Why isn't China's GINI coefficient blowing other countries away? Religion isn't even allowed to proselyte there, and atheism has been the majority belief there for decades. I'm willing to place most of the blame on Totalitarianism.

I meant "strip away religion" not "allow people to choose not to be religious." I don't think we're every going to live in a world where everybody voluntarily gives up religion. You're welcome to work towards that, and I'll work towards people voluntarily choosing it.

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theamazeeaz
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Here's a paper:
http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.pdf

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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Even then, I wouldn't say that a state religion-even an enforced one, to some level anyway-would guarantee a terrible outcome from a human suffering and wickedness standpoint.

Brutal, cynical authoritarian/totalitarian systems on the other hand...well they're more or less always a problem.

Define terrible. In grad school, I have friends from both Iran and Israel who very clearly pointed to societal problems directly caused by their state-sponsored religion.
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Rakeesh
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By 'terrible' I mean really bad, but not North Korean bad, if that makes sense. A USSR, a PRC, a whichever-of-propped-up-dictatorships in South and Central America level of bad.

Compulsory religion I regard as universally bad. Even if I thought there was a right/true one, it would still be bad. But then that's probably just my despicable fallen human pride talking.

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tertiaryadjunct
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I meant "strip away religion" not "allow people to choose not to be religious."

You meant forcibly strip it from others, rather than voluntarily strip it from ourselves? That's a bit of a non-sequitur (nothing said in this thread was advocating anything of the sort) but I guess I'm just a bit dense since scifibum apparently made the correct interpretation.

Well don't worry; to repeat myself, nobody is pushing to forcibly take away anyone's religion. An increase in atheism appears to be a fairly inevitable result of society's progressively improving understanding of the world and enhanced ability to care for itself through secular government. I don't need to forcibly strip away other people's religion; each successive generation strips away a bit more all by themselves.

Those who want to stay religious are fine by me, as long as they aren't allowed to *actively* suppress the rights and freedoms of others who believe differently (and in that case they are still free to *believe* what they like).


quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Nonsense, where are you getting those numbers from? Why isn't China's GINI coefficient blowing other countries away?

For my numbers on Sweden, I used Wikipedia, which is citing some polls from 2009 & 2010.

The author of the atheism/social welfare study I was referencing says: "My study improved on earlier research by taking account of whether a country is mostly Muslim (where atheism is criminalized) or formerly Communist (where religion was suppressed)..."

theamazeeaz also supplied a citation, and here is one more that specifically investigated the reason for the effect, which concluded:
quote:
It is quite apparent that there is a strong statistical relationship between state social welfare spending and religious participation and religiosity. Countries with higher levels of per capita welfare have a proclivity for less religious participation and tend to have higher percentages of non-religious individuals. People living in countries with high social welfare spending per capita even have less of a tendency to take comfort in religion, perhaps knowing that the state is there to help them in times of crisis.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Those who want to stay religious are fine by me, as long as they aren't allowed to *actively* suppress the rights and freedoms of others who believe differently (and in that case they are still free to *believe* what they like).
I suspect what this really means is "seek to participate and influence society in any meaningful way."

quote:
It is quite apparent that there is a strong statistical relationship between state social welfare spending and religious participation and religiosity.
There may be a statistical relationship between welfare program spending and low religiosity, but there is also a strong correlation between high religiosity and charitable giving. Maybe religious people prefer to be charitable through community organizations and person to person, rather than through government programs.

quote:
People living in countries with high social welfare spending per capita even have less of a tendency to take comfort in religion, perhaps knowing that the state is there to help them in times of crisis.
That makes sense to me. So does people becoming religious as their religious community reaches out to help them.
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tertiaryadjunct
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I suspect what this really means is "seek to participate and influence society in any meaningful way."

The moment you put words into my mouth is the moment I stop discussing anything with you on this forum.
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Dogbreath
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IMO, if you need to change laws and force other people to live according to your religion's rules in order to participate and influence society in any meaningful way, then you're doing it wrong. Many religions (including the LDS church) have had and continue to have a tremendous impact on our society without feeling the need to oppress other people. Blackblade: you ducked out of the other thread (you should check it out, tertiaryadjunct) where we were discussing this, but you never really explained why you feel that because we oppose legalized religious oppression, we are somehow keeping you from freely exercising your religion? IMO the best way to ensure religious freedom for everyone is to avoid having any religion start passing laws enforcing religious commandments and doctrines. As soon as you start forcing everyone to live by the rules of one religion, you destroy any sort of religious freedom. (Including that of the state sponsored religion, btw. If you're forced to live by a religion's rules regardless, what virtue is it to willingly choose to do so? That'd be like me claiming to be virtuous and generous because I choose to pay taxes)
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Why isn't China's GINI coefficient blowing other countries away? Religion isn't even allowed to proselyte there, and atheism has been the majority belief there for decades. I'm willing to place most of the blame on Totalitarianism.

I think that this is overstated for the former and wrong on the latter.

For the former, China's gini coefficient doesn't actually "blow away" other countries. It is not good for sure, and something should be done about it. However, the gini coefficient of the US, many countries in South America, and Africa all exceed China (all places that I don't have to tell you are particularly religious).

China is below average, it is not an outlier (i.e. blowing countries away). This is even if we ignore how misleading it is to lump developing countries and developed countries together on this kind of comparison. See the maps here

For the latter, this is wrong on two counts. While there's a lot of debate on the topic and wildly contradictory polling data, it seems fairly clear that the majority of people in China don't actually self-identify as atheists. They usually just identify as non-affiliated or non-religious.

Edit to add: To clarify, you need to lump together the non-affiliated, atheist, and non-religious to reach a majority (>50%). You don't get there with atheists only.

As for how it got that way, for the periods of time accurately identified as totalitarianism (i.e. during the Cultural Revolution) ... well, we've been down this well-trodden road before. If anything, that promoted Mao worship as a religion more than anything else. I'll just link to a previous conversation we've had.
http://www.hatrack.com/ubb/main/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=055876;p=3#000142

Historically, the non-interest of Chinese people in religion long pre-dates the PRC. I believe it was the Jesuits who reached China in the 17th century or so who observed that while the Chinese were very supersitious, they were not religious.

Or here's another good summary:
quote:
The Chinese have been less concerned with the world of the supernatural than with the
worlds of nature and of man. They are not a people for whom religious ideas and activities
constitute an all-important and absorbing part of life—this despite the fact that there are
nominally more Buddhists in China than in any other country in the world. ... It is ethics (especially Confucian ethics), and not religion of a formal, organized type, that has provided the spiritual basis of Chinese civilization.”

(this was written in 1942, before the PRC even started)
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/594032?uid=3739448&uid=2&uid=3737720&uid=4&sid=21104004151153

[ April 12, 2014, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: Mucus ]

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Mucus
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Here's another way of observing it way from a different perspective. Since the cross-country polls are pretty poor, here's one conducted in reliable conditions on Chinese immigrants in Canada.

quote:
In general, six in 10 Chinese reported
no religious affiliation in 2001,
compared with only 16% of the total
population. Religious affiliation
varied with the region from which
immigrants originated. Of those who
were born in the People’s Republic
of China, 71% reported no religious
affiliation, as did 58% of those born
in Hong Kong and 48% of those in
Taiwan.

Chinese Canadians: Enriching the cultural mosaic

In other words, the PRC only accelerated the process by 13 to 23% compared to the parts of the Chinese speaking world that skipped the PRC. The bulk of the advantage was already in place.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
There may be a statistical relationship between welfare program spending and low religiosity, but there is also a strong correlation between high religiosity and charitable giving. Maybe religious people prefer to be charitable through community organizations and person to person, rather than through government programs.

Highly religious people are more charitable givers when and only when you count giving money/tithing to their own church as charitable giving
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theamazeeaz
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quote:
this despite the fact that there are nominally more Buddhists in China than in any other country in the world
... It is ethics (especially Confucian ethics), and not religion of a formal, organized type, that has provided the spiritual basis of Chinese civilization.”

That's like saying Wal-mart is the largest seller of organic food in the United States. In other news, China is also the country with the most English speakers.

Anyhoo, Back in grad school the women's reading group did Huston Smith's "Illustrated World Religions*". It's a downright awful book, and despite the fact that everyone wanted to read it, I was the only one that made it through it. The book contains sections on Taoism and Confucianism, but the two Chinese women in the group said nobody does any of that stuff anymore, and hadn't really heard of much of it AT ALL. Unfortunately, this was all two-and a half years ago, so I don't remember what went on in the particular meeting. We had a lot of book to trash, and I don't remembering drilling forward because they had almost nothing to say about it. I realize the quote is from 1942, but from my infinitesimal sample size of modern China, Confucianism isn't practiced much either**.

*Aside from being extraordinarily boring, it managed to baffle the Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim in our group when it came to their section.
**We read a book about North Korea, and they were a lot more talkative about life in China then. I'll assume they're reasonably aware of what goes on in their country.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by tertiaryadjunct:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
I suspect what this really means is "seek to participate and influence society in any meaningful way."

The moment you put words into my mouth is the moment I stop discussing anything with you on this forum.
I'm sorry if I am putting words in your mouth. But I've just had this conversation so many times, I'm a bit jaded with it. It sounds like a great sentiment until you get to the devil in the details as it were.

It seems like invariably it turns into, "If you can't give me a secular reason for doing something voting for it, running a business according to it, raising children with it means your shoving your religion down somebody's throat, and infringing on their rights." But it never works the other way.

Thanks for providing your numbers btw. I'll review them.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Those who want to stay religious are fine by me, as long as they aren't allowed to *actively* suppress the rights and freedoms of others who believe differently (and in that case they are still free to *believe* what they like).
I suspect what this really means is "seek to participate and influence society in any meaningful way."

quote:
It is quite apparent that there is a strong statistical relationship between state social welfare spending and religious participation and religiosity.
There may be a statistical relationship between welfare program spending and low religiosity, but there is also a strong correlation between high religiosity and charitable giving. Maybe religious people prefer to be charitable through community organizations and person to person, rather than through government programs.

quote:
People living in countries with high social welfare spending per capita even have less of a tendency to take comfort in religion, perhaps knowing that the state is there to help them in times of crisis.
That makes sense to me. So does people becoming religious as their religious community reaches out to help them.

I have to agree with tertiary here. Aside from this not at sol being what he said or suggested, in historic terms it's pretty damn galling for the religious perspective to lecture the secular perspective on free thinking and lack of government crackdowns on thought dissent.

Is there a nation on Earth now, or has there been in history, where religion is in the driver's seat, *and* there was a strong focus on free expression, freedom of religion, and keeping government and religious power separate? We have a hard enough time of that over in the secular world where we are at least nominally outright committed to it. Of the monotheistic religions in all their varieties, how many place individual freedom as their chief virtue? And no, I don't mean 'everyone is free to think about religion in their own way', I mean that same sentence with two key words removed.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
It seems like invariably it turns into, "If you can't give me a secular reason for doing something voting for it, running a business according to it, raising children with it means your shoving your religion down somebody's throat, and infringing on their rights." But it never works the other way.
I'm sorry if it upsets you-I genuinely am-but if suddenly there were a huge influx of conservative Islamic immigrants into the US, sufficient to make a significant power bloc of their own, and they began to use the democratic process to attempt to enact those portions of 'Islamic law' (broad term there) that are unique to Islam, wouldn't you view that as religion being shoved down your throat? Even though it was done in a generally above board way, using the rules lawfully?

In order for a religion to be forced on someone, or simply an aspect of it, it is not necessary for there to be an overt government crackdown. It can happen peacefully, legally, and democratically. The pledge of allegiance for example-that is, the modern religious version. All nice and legal.

No one is suggesting there be a litmus test for appropriately secular motives in political and legislative discourse-that would be an excellent case of a cure being worse than the disease. But when parts of your or anyone's religion get inserted into *my* life, and they lack a secular justification-gay marriage restriction, for example, and I wouldn't even be participating!-then yeah. It's shoved down our throats. I signed up for the American citizen thing, not the Christian American thing. Just because signing up for the former exposes me to the latter doesn't lean I have to simply tolerate it.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
There may be a statistical relationship between welfare program spending and low religiosity, but there is also a strong correlation between high religiosity and charitable giving. Maybe religious people prefer to be charitable through community organizations and person to person, rather than through government programs.

Highly religious people are more charitable givers when and only when you count giving money/tithing to their own church as charitable giving
So? Areligious people give to an areligious organization, religious people give to religious organizations. How is that worth noting? Does one of those forms of giving not count for some reason?
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BlackBlade
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Rakeesh:
quote:
I'm sorry if it upsets you-I genuinely am-but if suddenly there were a huge influx of conservative Islamic immigrants into the US, sufficient to make a significant power bloc of their own, and they began to use the democratic process to attempt to enact those portions of 'Islamic law' (broad term there) that are unique to Islam, wouldn't you view that as religion being shoved down your throat? Even though it was done in a generally above board way, using the rules lawfully?
Again, the devil is in the details. If they tried to pass polygamy laws and argued that their religion was being infringed upon and that consenting adults should be permitted to form marriages, I would agree with them. If they passed laws requiring that Muslims men and women be permitted to offer prayers 5 times daily and that businesses could not forbid them participating in the call to prayer, I might be amenable to that. If they said pork could not be sold in certain counties "like we have dry counties today" I'm not so sure.
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Rakeesh
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I just don't understand what there is not to be sure about. Banning the sake of pork in a politically defined region, as a matter of public-as in, for everyone forever until the law changes, religious adherent or not-how is that anything less than absolutely unacceptable? I don't care if the county is 98% believer, the county works for the people, not a religion! If they aren't supposed to eat pork, let their leaders instruct them to that effect, and do their own persuasion. They already get an unchallenged first crack at their flock from birth the lasts fr years before there is any real competition. Why do they get the state's overt help too?
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BlackBlade
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So are you up in arms about dry counties?
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theamazeeaz
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As someone who doesn't drink, dry counties are pretty stupid, to be honest. I can understand having a dry campus to curb certain social problems after getting bitten by them (or even trying to reduce bar-associated crime).

While you can point to religions where alcohol is forbidden (Mormon), and ones where they drink during services (Catholic), ultimately, how much people care about making laws restricting alcohol depends on how many drunk people regularly appear to pee in one's yard.

However, unlike state lines*, county borders are not really patrolled. Drinking isn't illegal in dry counties (just campuses), just purchase. And most counties are small, relatively speaking. And very few people get drunks on their lawn. Most people do drunk responsibly. So essentially, all that is happening is said county is losing their tax revenue, and local residents are annoyed by the drive, but not that much, because the nearest wet place is probably less than 20 minutes away.

But I don't drink, so I've never been put out enough to protest.

*The police are very much checking people's cars for pot when you leave Colorado.

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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
There may be a statistical relationship between welfare program spending and low religiosity, but there is also a strong correlation between high religiosity and charitable giving. Maybe religious people prefer to be charitable through community organizations and person to person, rather than through government programs.

Highly religious people are more charitable givers when and only when you count giving money/tithing to their own church as charitable giving
So? Areligious people give to an areligious organization, religious people give to religious organizations. How is that worth noting? Does one of those forms of giving not count for some reason?
For non-mormons, a large portion of the religious giving probably occurs during the pass-the-hat part of church. But like tithing, most of that money goes to put on the church services the religious giver just enjoyed, as opposed to the general charitable causes that church might take on (the local poor, starving kids in Africa). So in a sense, you were paying the admission cost of the service.

Back when I attended Catholic church, there would be be a "second collection", the cause for which would be announced during mass. So the baskets came around twice. The first time, the money would presumably go exclusively to the church.

To be fair, if you donate to a university, the theater or a political campaign you get something out of it as well (stuff named after you/belated thanks for your life opportunities/ the shows you like continue/ politicians you prefer are the ones making the laws).

We must remember though, areligious government welfare spending in socialist states and church charity for certain impoverished members are not the same thing.

The European-style services are not given out because a citizen is poor. For example, the NHS in Britain is not a charity-- it is funded by the people to serve the people.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
There may be a statistical relationship between welfare program spending and low religiosity, but there is also a strong correlation between high religiosity and charitable giving. Maybe religious people prefer to be charitable through community organizations and person to person, rather than through government programs.

Highly religious people are more charitable givers when and only when you count giving money/tithing to their own church as charitable giving
So? Areligious people give to an areligious organization, religious people give to religious organizations. How is that worth noting? Does one of those forms of giving not count for some reason?
religious people give money to religious charity, secular charity too, but mostly they just give to their own church.

subtract what they give to religious institutions for the sake of the religious institution's operation, and the religious are less charitable. its just a matter of what donations are actually going to, you know, charity, and not a new wing for new life church or a recruitment campaign in Ethiopia or a new gilded temple or whatever.

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