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Author Topic: Mrs. Powell is the Devil
TomDavidson
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Bev, some atheists draw a distinction between "weak atheists" -- who say "I don't believe God exists because there's no evidence that He exists; it would be like believing in unicorns" -- and "strong atheists," who are far rarer and say "I have faith that God does not exist."

Agnostics and weak atheists are often blurred, mainly because most people we call agnostics today ARE weak atheists, and almost no agnostics are REALLY agnostic by the original definition of the term.

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beverly
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quote:
I think your definition of "malevolent" is highly subjective, if not outright erroneous. I hadn't realized you felt so strongly about missionary work.
I have never used the tactics of tearing down another's beliefs (again, excepting perhaps atheism). I think missionary work is most effective when you build bridges rather than creating gaps. Especially when you realize you cannot force conversion. You can only be a facilitator. Again, no argument with anything you have done lately, but some things I have seen you do in the past.
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twinky
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quote:
Sounds more like agnosticism to me. Atheists are confident that there is no God. Confidence implies proof or at least evidence.
Agnosticism: The doctrine that certainty about first principles or absolute truth is unattainable and that only perceptual phenomena are objects of exact knowledge.

Atheism: Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.

(Those are from Dictionary.com, which references Webster's, WordNet, and various other sources.)

"Disbelief in the existence of God" does not require evidence. In fact, it requires precisely what we have -- no evidence at all. As I said, the statement is simply "I am not going to believe in things for which there is no evidence." There is no evidence for the existence of God, therefore I do not believe in God.

DENIAL of the existence of God, a more "militant" atheism, fits more with your view. However, denial of the existence of God is not a necessary condition for being an atheist -- all that's necessary is a lack of belief (in other words, you don't have to DO anything to be an atheist).

Edit:

I used to be agnostic, by the above definition, but am now an atheist. I'm what Tom would call a "weak" atheist, I suppose, though I dislike the term (preferring to label the other atheists as "militant" [Razz] ).

[ September 02, 2004, 02:47 PM: Message edited by: twinky ]

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saxon75
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quote:
I have never used the tactics of tearing down another's beliefs (again, excepting perhaps atheism).
Why is it acceptable in some cases but not in others?
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beverly
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quote:
Beverly, it seems that this entire tom-centered portion of the thread was exactly on that topic, though. Tom made a statement, and people were offended that he was using his sense of Evil to call a group Evil.

I'm not trying to argue that you're not allowed to call Tom wrong. But it seems that I have heard some theists say on this board that arguing against them requires a certain tact and respect. It seems reasonable to expect the same tact and respect back at a non-theist.

I apologize. I have tried to be very respectful of others beliefs. Perhaps I don't understand the atheist POV.
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dabbler
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I'm curious, I don't mean to be rude. When you say " I have tried to be very respectful of others beliefs." do you include atheism as a belief? Because you seem to feel that atheists don't have beliefs.
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beverly
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quote:
Why is it acceptable in some cases but not in others?
Perhaps because I don't feel I am doing any damage whatsoever. If I try to tear down the faith of any believer, I may be driving them away from God and salvation. Why would I want to do that?
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Storm Saxon
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quote:

There are two teams, for all practical purposes - the believers and the non-believers.

I would say this is not true. There are those people who are part of the moral majority, and those who diverge. We used to have atheists and agnostics on this board who would side with the moral majority Christians/Jews/Mormons, etc., because while they didn't believe in God, they believed quite deeply in the basic moral rules and laws.

Conversely, we have 'liberal' Xians/Mormons/etc., who side with non-believes that don't believe in some of the 'moral majority'(for lack of a better word) beliefs--no gay marriage, keep drugs illegal, death penalty, etc.

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twinky
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Possibly because they don't -- or at least they don't HAVE to.
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Dagonee
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Gaaak! Watch who you call liberal. [Razz]
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
"Disbelief in the existence of God" does not require evidence. In fact, it requires precisely what we have -- no evidence at all. As I said, the statement is simply "I am not going to believe in things for which there is no evidence." There is no evidence for the existence of God, therefore I do not believe in God.
I disagree with you there, but it's just because of the vaguaries of the English language.

Here's the definiton of disbelief from dictionary.com: "disbelief: The act of disbelieving;; a state of the mind in which one is fully persuaded that an opinion, assertion, or doctrine is not true; refusal of assent, credit, or credence; denial of belief."

Disbelief is more than simply not believing. Disbelief in anything requires just as much evidence as belief.

edit: Disbelief in the existance of God is a denial of the existance of God.

[ September 02, 2004, 02:51 PM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

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Vera
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quote:
There is no possible direct physical evidence on this plane of existence that can prove or disprove the existence of the type of God posited by traditional Christianity. No matter how grand the miracle or how loud the proclamation from the cloud, there is always a conceivable physical explanation that would cover it, and people who will believe that explanation. Conversely, no matter how mundane an event is, there is always the possibility it was the result of direct divine influence.

It's a fruitless search.

quote:
However, I firmly believe any such proof of the Divine would have to be highly individualized as Dag pointed out, no two people can agree on exactly what form that proof would have to take to be accepted.


Alot of people say this, but I don't think it is true. I think objective proof would be possible if god wanted to give it. Is there anyone who wouldn't have been convinced by Ellie's proof at the end of "Contact"? I mean the book, not the movie, since they end very differently. I know it would for damn sure convince me.

It was repetable and verifiable by anyone, so it didn't depend on trusting eyewitness testemony of a miracle. The message was woven into the very fabric of the universe, so it could only have been placed there by an omnipotent being at the creation of the universe.

Carl Sagan was an athiest, but I think he wrote the most profoundly religious book I've ever read. Maybe because I'm a scientific agnostic myself (I don't deny the possibility of god, but I'm very, very skeptical, and about 90% sure that the athiests have the right of it, and would certainly want some pretty strong proof before I accepted something that seems pretty implausible to me) it would take and athiests argument to convince me. I think something like Ellie's proof, which didn't rely on my own sense or anyone else's is what it would take. And if that would convince me, I think I would convince anyone.

Edit to add:
Tom is right. I'm a weak athiest; I think it's possible a god could exsist, but there is no evidence and it's a bit like believeing in unicorns or fairies. Also, until a few years ago I would have called myself an athiest without a second though because athiest=someone who didn't believe in god. It is only in recent years that I've heard athiesm redefined as active denial, and so had to redefine myself as an agnostic. In a way this kind of annoys me, and I can't help but think this redefinition is an attempt on the part of the religious to redefine athiesm to make it easier to argue against.

[ September 02, 2004, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: Vera ]

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beverly
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dabbler, I look at trying to change a "strong atheists" mind more like trying to change the mind of someone on politics. I think it is a secular issue rather than a religious one. As I said, if I am trying to convert a "strong atheist" to anything it is agnosicism or "weak atheism". To me it is not a religious issue, it is reasoning.
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saxon75
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quote:
Perhaps because I don't feel I am doing any damage whatsoever. If I try to tear down the faith of any believer, I may be driving them away from God and salvation. Why would I want to do that?
I think it's a little unreasonable to expect people to accept you trying to change their beliefs just because you think it's for the best when you don't accept other people trying to change your beliefs just because they think it's for the best.
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twinky
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quote:
If I try to tear down the faith of any believer, I may be driving them away from God and salvation. Why would I want to do that?

Well, people trying to tear down the beliefs of nonbelievers seems to be why Tom has become a militant agnostic. [Razz]
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saxon75
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quote:
Disbelief in anything requires just as much evidence as belief.
Which is to say, not much at all.
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TomDavidson
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And, y'know, I don't see how it's possible to be an evangelical agnostic without introducing skepticism and doubt. You can't very well build bridges to someone's belief when the whole point is that their belief in anything at all may well be wrong, and they shouldn't be so sure of it. [Smile]
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twinky
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quote:
I disagree with you there, but it's just because of the vaguaries of the English language.

Here's the definiton of disbelief from dictionary.com: "disbelief: The act of disbelieving;; a state of the mind in which one is fully persuaded that an opinion, assertion, or doctrine is not true; refusal of assent, credit, or credence; denial of belief."

Disbelief is more than simply not believing. Disbelief in anything requires just as much evidence as belief.

Well, one of the other definitons of atheism listed over at dictionary.com uses the phrase "lack of belief" instead, which I consider (incorrectly, it would seem) synonymous with "disbelief."

I firmly believe (and THIS is very much an active belief) that you DON'T have to actively believe anything to be an atheist.

Edit:

Actually, Saxon75, I'd go so far as to say "none."

[ September 02, 2004, 02:55 PM: Message edited by: twinky ]

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beverly
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Even as I have been "attacking" strong atheism here, I have not ever directed such attacking at an individual. When ssywak and I had our discussion awhile back, my thrust was to present the existance of God as at least as likely as His non-existance. I never attacked his beliefs, not that I know of. I merely tried to express things as how I see it. Inasmuch as Tom does the same, I have no problem with it. But when he mocks individual's faith, I do have a problem with it. I never mocked ssywak's faith.
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beverly
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Tom, presenting reasons for skepticism is OK. Mocking is not.
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TomDavidson
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I have NEVER mocked someone's faith. I have, however, occasionally pointed out when conclusions they have drawn from that faith are evil, illogical, or silly.
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katharina
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My impulse was to sigh and say "Yeah, that's not mocking at all."

However, when presented with a belief, scorn is not the emotion it solicits.

[ September 02, 2004, 03:00 PM: Message edited by: katharina ]

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beverly
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I will consider that in the future when you have said something that bugs me. Is that fair?
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saxon75
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quote:
I firmly believe (and THIS is very much an active belief) that you DON'T have to actively believe anything to be an atheist.
See, I don't know if I can completely go with you there. I don't think it's really possible for people to disbelieve in something in the way you mean, unless they simply don't think about it at all. I agree that not believing in something and believing that it does not exist are two different things, but I just don't see how a person could completely fail to have a belief one way or the other about something that he has spent any time thinking about.

quote:
Actually, Saxon75, I'd go so far as to say "none."
I'm inclined to agree.
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beverly
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Let me explain a bit about my husband's personal lexicon (mph). He will say that he does not like something. When he says it, it never means that he dislikes it, only that he does not actively like it. That may explain his feelings about the difference between "disbelief" and "not believing". To him, "disbelieve" is very much active and not passive at all.

[ September 02, 2004, 03:03 PM: Message edited by: beverly ]

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TomDavidson
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Does your husband merely lack belief in the panda, or does he disbelieve it?

[ September 02, 2004, 03:04 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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saxon75
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quote:
Let me explain a bit about my husband's personal lexicon (mph). He will say that he does not like something. When he says it, it never means that he dislikes it, only that he does not actively like it.
I do that myself, actually. Most often in response to the question "Do you want to do X?" Although, I often end up clarifying that I don't want not to do it, either.
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saxon75
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You know, Tom, I'm relatively certain that you disbelieve the panda, yourself.
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twinky
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quote:
See, I don't know if I can completely go with you there. I don't think it's really possible for people to disbelieve in something in the way you mean, unless they simply don't think about it at all. I agree that not believing in something and believing that it does not exist are two different things, but I just don't see how a person could completely fail to have a belief one way or the other about something that he has spent any time thinking about.
Well, here's how I did it:

As an agnostic, I spent years wondering, studying religions, reading philosophy, and trying to come to grips with this "God" business in some way that I could be satisfied with, but I was never able to get past the "I don't know" stage. Finally, I decided that there wasn't even enough evidence* for me to bother wondering about it at all anymore, and simply left the whole internal discussion by the wayside. The best way to describe my view about God is that I lack belief in God's existence.

Now, I do believe some things -- things like the need for evidence before accepting propositions, et cetera. I have BELIEFS, but they don't really involve God anymore because I'm sick of thinking about God. Like I said, the internal discussion has been left behind in my memory and subconscious. I don't think about it anymore. I've stopped looking. Should I start looking again at some point in the future, I'd probably go back to agnosticism.

*I don't just mean physical evidence, here. I would accept the existence of God if I had a spiritual experience that convinced me God exists -- through, for instance, prayer or meditation.

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TomDavidson
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I very actively disbelieve in the Judeo-Christian God, as presented in the Bible and related texts; I make no bones about that. I am, however, entirely agnostic about the existence of gods and/or supernatural existences of other sorts. That the Christians are almost certainly wrong does not mean that no one else out there could be right.
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saxon75
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I see. It boils down to us having different definitions of "atheist" and "agnostic."

Edit: That was to twinky.

[ September 02, 2004, 03:10 PM: Message edited by: saxon75 ]

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twinky
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quote:
Let me explain a bit about my husband's personal lexicon (mph). He will say that he does not like something. When he says it, it never means that he dislikes it, only that he does not actively like it. That may explain his feelings about the difference between "disbelief" and "not believing". To him, "disbelieve" is very much active and not passive at all.
Sure, I do that too, though I usually specify: "I don't like that -- I don't DISlike it, I just don't actively like it." So I'll stick to "lack of belief," which descibes my feelings on the matter, just so that there is no further confusion. [Smile]
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saxon75
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quote:
I very actively disbelieve in the Judeo-Christian God, as presented in the Bible and related texts; I make no bones about that. I am, however, entirely agnostic about the existence of gods and/or supernatural existences of other sorts. That the Christians are almost certainly wrong does not mean that no one else out there could be right.
True enough, but I still think it's quite likely that you believe that there is no invisible panda floating above your head who, were it not invisible, would be purple.
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beverly
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Tom, that is an interesting brand of agnosticism. Would you go so far as to say that when only the God of the Bible is considered, you are atheist?
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beverly
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Twinky, I understand. I personally would define you as an apathetic agnostic. But that is my own personal lexicon. [Smile]
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twinky
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quote:
I see. It boils down to us having different definitions of "atheist" and "agnostic."
Yeah, I guess so. I think, though, that based on the myriad defintions available at dictionary.com, we are conveniently both right. [Big Grin]

Also, another reason that I've adopted the atheist label for myself is to allow for the possiblity that I might become a "strong" atheist, as bev put it. I confess that I have felt some rumblings in that direction lately, though I'm aware that it's probably mostly anger-related. [Razz]

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beverly
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quote:
Does your husband merely lack belief in the panda, or does he disbelieve it?
I can't speak for my hubby, but I am a purple panda agnostic. [Smile] Of course, since the very idea of a purple panda has never before been introduced to me or history, I think it is pretty unlikely. If you gave me some good references and evidence for why I should believe in this purple panda beyond just your own perceptions, I may start to consider it a possibility.

Kinda like Bigfoot. [Smile]

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twinky
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quote:
I personally would define you as an apathetic agnostic.
That's a sensible label. However, if recent trends continue, I'll even be an atheist in YOUR books sometime next year. [Razz]
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beverly
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Twinky, sorry that religion has given you cause for anger. Certainly you are not alone in that. If you ever wanted to talk about it, I would be more than happy to.
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TomDavidson
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"True enough, but I still think it's quite likely that you believe that there is no invisible panda floating above your head who, were it not invisible, would be purple."

Would you tell a LDS that she doesn't REALLY believe in the Book of Mormon? Sheesh, man, who are YOU to question whether or not I think there's a panda when I say there's a panda? What, you think I'm pandering to all the other panda-maniacs out there? That I'm just pretending to let the panda type for me to get the votes and fit in?

*huff*

[Smile]

"Would you go so far as to say that when only the God of the Bible is considered, you are atheist?"

I'm not sure you can use the word "atheist" that way, but I know what you mean. So sure. [Smile] I think there is ample evidence that the major branches of Christianity are, in fact, untrue, although this does not necessarily reflect upon the existence of any god.

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beverly
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Fascinating, Tom. I think I was somewhat aware that you felt this way, but didn't know much about it. I'd be interested in knowing more about your beliefs on the matter. It doesn't have to be on Hatrack though. [Smile]
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twinky
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quote:
Twinky, sorry that religion has given you cause for anger. Certainly you are not alone in that. If you ever wanted to talk about it, I would be more than happy to.

Oh no no, it wasn't religion that gave me cause for anger*. Sorry, I should have been more clear about that. [Smile]

*And really, even in situations where "religion" could be said to have made me angry, it's always PEOPLE, not religion itself, who actually do the things that make me angry. So no, no worries on that score.

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saxon75
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Actually, Tom, you never specifically said that there was a panda. I wish you would get off the fence and just own up to your panda-related beliefs.
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beverly
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[ROFL]

Don't look now, but there's a big purple panda behind you!

Twinky: I think I understand. That is probably a lot more the truth with people, since the teachings of most major religions today (I feel a need to specify "today" now [Wink] ) are in essence good. But the followers... that is another matter entirely.

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TMedina
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Bah, Tom is just panda-ring to the crowd.

-Trevor

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TMedina
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I have to apologize - I was told my pun was unbearable.

I've promised to stop being ursinine.

-Trevor

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TomDavidson
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I beat you to that pun. [Smile]
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TMedina
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It wouldn't surprise me, but I try not to read your posts any more than absolutely necessary. [Big Grin]

-Trevor

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
Again, you're projecting some expressions of the philosophy on all of them, and implying some big conspiracy. "Those fundies all stick together."
Actually, ANY religion is, precisely: a conspiracy.

Religious groups are most well known for conspiring to build churches, conspiring to teach their children some version of morality, conspiring to establish rituals to remind people to be true to that version of morality during everyday life.

quote:
It's NOT, however, possible to be both sensible and fundamentalist
Here, Tom may be using the word sensible quite literally. That is, in response to sensory input, rather than from assumed information.

I must say that I am bothered by Tom's sweeping generalizations here also, even though I agree with him. I think the problem really comes from the multiple definitions of "fundamentalist." Tom has chosen one such definition, (his own) and used the term in broad-brush fashion. That's a good way to tick people off, and it's unnecessary.

What I'm getting from Tom's version of the word "fundamantalist" is someone who refuses to use their own senses to check the truth of their religious doctrine, combined with the tendency of religions to "conspire" (as above) to evangelize obsolete and unsupportable assertions. That's a really bad thing.

Edit: Jeez, I just noticed how far this thread has gone past the first page. Oh, well.

[ September 02, 2004, 10:28 PM: Message edited by: Glenn Arnold ]

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TomDavidson
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Note: when correcting someone's definition, read beyond the first page to see if they've done it for you. [Smile]
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