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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Pullman is a Militant Atheist, The Golden Compass is Evil, Catholic League Boycotts (Page 6)

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Author Topic: Pullman is a Militant Atheist, The Golden Compass is Evil, Catholic League Boycotts
Rakeesh
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Can someone tell me where I started talking about government-run censorship of these things? I'm not...even though, quite frankly, for pedophilia and other heinous things, I have no problem with it, simply because making viewing such things a crime permits the government to keep an eye on them earlier if they get caught.

--------------

quote:
Why? Well, firstly, cinemas are private organizations and if they wish to release a film, regardless of content, they can.

Secondly, I believe that by allowing these ideas to get out in the open, people will see them for the sick, perverse things they really are.

If something is truly wrong (and I think pedophilia is one of those things), I say give it enough rope and it will hang itself.

As to your first point, cinemas are private organizations, and so are citizens. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism, a point which is getting overlooked in this thread.

As to your second point, irrelevant. It's not as though there's a large percentage of the population that's on the fence on issues like pedophilia. People already see it as perverse and wrong, normal people anyway.

-----------
Tom,

quote:
I'm pretty sure the act of making a snuff film is illegal.

That said, I don't see any reason why a cinema shouldn't feel free to air one. I wouldn't go to it, and I suspect most people wouldn't, and I'm sure they'd lose a great deal of money compared to whatever other film they might have chosen to show, but I wouldn't legislate against their right to do it.

Sure it is. But people can do illegal things and then not get caught. And please note, I didn't ask if you would try to legislate against it.

---------------

Actually, the more I look at objections to my post, the more I see people are latching on to a point I didn't make: that we should legislate against this. I was asking about private boycotts, and what private citizens might do aside from simply not seeing it, and whether or not such a thing was wrong.

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TomDavidson
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Here's the thing: I think a private boycott of a snuff film would be disastrously ineffective.
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Rakeesh
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Boycotting the film isn't the only option, Tom, and you know that. I think you're being deliberately obtuse here.
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TomDavidson
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What private options are available that would not also publicize the film?
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Nathan2006
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
Of course, if it turns out that the books are really terrible and anti-christian, whenever I discuss them I'll have to include digs about Harry Potter. "Gee, if only we had boycotted the books when they came out in the USA in 1997... But... Weren't we a little occupied with some other books? Some innocent, harmless, quite moral works of fantasy?"
You do know that many, many people who have a problem with HDM have no problem with Harry Potter, including the Catholic League, right?
A particularly good point. I'll keep it in mind when I have all of those discussions with the CL.

To clarify: I was talking about some people I, personally, know. They actually were/are offended by Harry Potter books.

Although, for the record, I would never be that sarcastic while discussing the books with them. I'm much nicer in real life. Anonymity boldens me on these forums, making me meaner, and stupider (God, I hope the stupidity is limited to the boards.)

quote:
Personally, I think organized religion, like any massive group of people, is capapble of great evil. The larger the group(not religious necessarily) the more likely the actions of the group are to be stupid. Mob mentality, informational cascades in any culture, or "I burnt that book cuz my pastor said it'd give me demons."
I don't necessarily agree with that statement (With it's insinuation that any large group of Christians will burn books because a pastor said they would), but I do agree with the gist. I much prefer small religious gatherings/churches. But, although I'm not knocking individual celebration or practice of your religion, what good does it do you in a vacuum?

I don't think it's the group size that really matters, as much as it is the group mentality. You could have a relatively small group that consists of one 'head' who thinks for the whole group, just as you could have a large group without the group mentality.

And... Although this has nothing to do with the discussion... Could somebody please tell me what a snuff movie is? [Embarrassed]

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MattP
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quote:
And... Although this has nothing to do with the discussion... Could somebody please tell me what a snuff movie is? [Embarrassed]
A snuff movie depicts the actual killing of a person.*

*Edit: ...where the person is killed specifically for the film. A film of a fatal car crash, public executions, etc. would not be a snuff film.

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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by Nathan2006:
And... Although this has nothing to do with the discussion... Could somebody please tell me what a snuff movie is? [Embarrassed]

Snopes (the Urban Legends web page) has a pretty good article on the subject, if you're interested.

Honestly, I found the anti-Christianity sentiments of HDM moderately annoying, but not nearly so much so as the lurching character motivations, logical gaps, and apparent instances of author amnesia. Compass is a pretty good read, and Knife isn't half bad, but Spyglass squanders most of the accumulated potential. It actually might have been a better series if Pullman didn't feel such a need to pull towards the anti-religious themes.

As far as the Catholic League goes... I think perhaps people ought to have a little more faith in their faith.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
It actually might have been a better series if Pullman didn't feel such a need to pull towards the anti-religious themes.
With a little massaging, I think we can make this sentence universally true:

"It might actually have been a better series if the author hadn't felt such a need to push the themes."

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Tresopax
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That is not true for many series.
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TomDavidson
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Is there a series out there improved by an author's desire to push his or her themes? I can't think of one.
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Scott R
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Are themes the same thing as agendas in this discussion?
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Zalmoxis
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Probably. To follow up on my critique, I realize different people have different reactions and that some of my reactions may come out of my own ideologies. But I really think that with Pullman (and as Tom notes with a other series and individual novels, as well), the key for me is whether or not the ending lives up to the promise of the beginning -- if it has the same energy, nuance, delight, intensity, focus and even humor (if humor is part of the mix).

I think both His Dark Materials and the Alvin Maker series show a definite flagging in these qualities.

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Tresopax
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The Lord of the Rings, Dune, The Chronicles of Narnia, Foundation Series, The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy....
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TomDavidson
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Hrm. I would say that each and every one of the books you just listed goes through its weakest moments when its author decides to push his themes at the reader, and is best when the opposite occurs.
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Rakeesh
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Tom,

quote:
What private options are available that would not also publicize the film?
When you put in that unnecessary restriction, none that I can think of.

Here's the thing, though: publicity despite the saying is not always a good thing.

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steven
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I can't think of any major examples where Tom is wrong, and no minor ones either. People rarely read fiction in order to have the experience of being preached at or to.
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Dagonee
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quote:
Here's the thing, though: publicity despite the saying is not always a good thing.
For example, photographing the people who went into the theater and posting them on a web page, then publicizing the page, would certainly give publicity to the film. I doubt it would increase the box office sales, though.
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pooka
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Yeah, look at the Book of Mormon movie. Though it was kind of a reverse psychology thing. "If you don't see it, they won't make more." Good!
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Rakeesh
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quote:
I can't think of any major examples where Tom is wrong, and no minor ones either. People rarely read fiction in order to have the experience of being preached at or to.
Are people just forgetting the hypothetical we're dealing with here, along with just pretending I was talking about government-run censorship? It's gotten quite irritating.

Think about it. For a pedophiliac or snuff film, do you really imagine fans would go through, for example, a picket line where dozens or even scores of people would see their faces? Come on, gimme a break.

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Dagonee
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I think steven's post was referring to Tom's comment about books that push themes, not the private action against speech issue.
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Rakeesh
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Ahh, that's correct. My mistake.
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TomDavidson
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Ah. But once you're actually photographing the consumers of a certain media, you're not acting against the media; you're acting against the consumers. Private action against an individual consumer intended to bully that person into no longer consuming a product can succeed, because people are more likely to care about how other people see them than how other people see a faceless media conglomerate.

I can't personally imagine any movie reprehensible enough that I'd feel comfortable engaging in hostile actions against its viewers, but I certainly agree that would work.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
People rarely read fiction in order to have the experience of being preached at or to.
I disagree. People tend to enjoy being preached to, enough to pay money for it and endure substandard fiction for the privilege, as long as they're already in that particular choir.
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BSKnack
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The the same extent which I feel that OSC is pro-church, I feel that Pullman is anti-church. Pullman has even publicized that his writing of the series was specifically to attack the church and their beliefs.

I proudly advertise myself as an atheist minister. I feel it's time that atheists have a person to talk to that can offer moral support with issues that Christians quickly steal and attempt to keep themselves by referring to Christian values. I'm truly sorry to inform people that don't realize it, most people with values, whether believers in Christ or not, share a common set of beliefs, in fact, being raised a Jew and having attended religious school 9 hours a week for 13 years, I must admit, nearly all the values that I've heard called Christian, come from earlier roots.

I'm nearly finished with the Crystal City and have found the entire series thus-far to be quite entertaining. If there's anything I don't like about them, it's that I feel that much of the writing designed to be anti-racist often is very easy to misconstrue as "They can't help they're idiots, they're <insert skin color here>". Of course, I feel I appreciate what OSC was trying to say, but failed to do so, not because of poor writing skill, but because he's spent far too much of his life teaching himself not to be racist (a noble ambition).

I'd like to get back to what I hoped to say originally. Pullman has an incredibly interesting writing style. I feel that Pullman's greatest weakness is fanatisicm. He's a weak atheist, it's almost as if he feels he needs to sell atheism because he himself still doesn't quite trust himself to believe it.

A real atheist, such as myself has long moved past the "Do I believe or don't I?" state and simply accept that creation is a ridiculos idea in itself (yes, you believe what you want, and I'll do the same), we accept that being a good person has absolutely nothing to do with an afterlife, and most importantly, when you're dead, you're pushing up daisies and fertilizing the land. We've moved on to topics like "How do we educate the unenlightened and teach them that atheists need values too". I even invite in visiting mormons and jehova's witnesses to attempt to teach people so great as them, to instead of knocking on doors to save peoples souls, they could better spend their time traveling to distant lands to help save peoples lives.

I would say that boycotting a film like this because it contradicts your beliefs is a terrible example of intelligent thought! Any intelligent person would clearly see it's all the more reason to see the film, or more importantly, read the books to get the authors own words! It is clear to me that this is not a case of "lead me not into temptation". It's about education.

If you are a person that considers attacks on christianity so horrible that you would damn a man for it, then at least hear his words before you damn him. You don't need to follow him, I know that after reading OSC, I'm even more resolved not to be Christian. Let this be the same to you. Strengthen your resolve but learn to recognize a man that is clearly is your enemy in as much as he intends to do harm with his words. He calls Christianity evil and stupid, and he's printing books and selling film rights. Shouldn't you know more about him?

I don't believe you'll ever change the way he thinks, nor given the provocative nature of his writing will you make him sell less copies of his books by publicly boycotting him. You Christians need to know this writing, you need to know what he writes, you need to see what a truly anti-christian man believes.

I say all this because I believe Pullman gives atheists a bad name. Remember, I started by explaining, we have values too, many of which you Christians claim to own. The difference is, we believe something else.

-----------------------
As a final note, please remember that you're all atheists so long as you don't believe in Ra or Bast.

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Scott R
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quote:
most importantly, when you're dead, you're pushing up daisies and fertilizing the land.
MOST importantly? Why is the nothing that happens after death more important than the something that happens in life?

quote:
I even invite in visiting mormons and jehova's witnesses to attempt to teach people so great as them, to instead of knocking on doors to save peoples souls, they could better spend their time traveling to distant lands to help save peoples lives.
Mormons already do. We hardly need an invitation.

Welcome to Hatrack. You're wrong.

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TomDavidson
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BS, that post of yours is an excellent example of why someone should lurk at Hatrack for a while before posting.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
People rarely read fiction in order to have the experience of being preached at or to.
I disagree. People tend to enjoy being preached to, enough to pay money for it and endure substandard fiction for the privilege, as long as they're already in that particular choir.
I half agree (with mph).

As the following post alludes to, I often enjoy reading books or viewpoints that preach fundamentally different values than my own. "An unexamined life is not worth living" and all that. I'm looking at you OSC's World Watch and Pastwatch [Wink]

On the other hand, I'm not sure that preaching necessarily decreases the quality of a book. I'll pull out the two examples in Tresopax's list that are relevant to the thread.

In the Foundation Trilogy, the first four Seldon crises are (roughly) based on the balance of power, religious coercion, economic power, and the balance of power between an Emperor and his generals. Arguably, the second crisis is the most preachy, given Asimov's humanist views. However, I never really saw it as a particularly weak spot in the series and given that I later read about Isaac Asimov's experiences (in his biography) with his publisher John Campbell's pseudoscience (and by implication, the growth of Hubbard's Scientology), I thought it had extra resonance.

As for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, if you removed Douglas Adam's (early) anti-technology and anti-religious themes, it would be a really short book/radio series!

So to be honest, I find myself disagreeing with TomD on that point.

BSKnack: First, welcome!
Second, do not take this personally, but what IS an atheist minister? And how would that be different from a counsellor or a psychologist?

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BannaOj
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quote:
the lurching character motivations, logical gaps, and apparent instances of author amnesia
Yeah. I just recently read the trilogy, and need to re-read it at least once more. I think the first book is definitely the best, with the most interesting characters.

Where the story ended up was kinda bleh. It was very much Paradise-lostish and it it just didn't feel (to me) like anything really unique or special. He still had primary characters redeem themselves with acts of heroism like primary characters are supposed to do, and you could see it coming from a mile away.

AJ

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steven
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"I disagree. People tend to enjoy being preached to, enough to pay money for it and endure substandard fiction for the privilege, as long as they're already in that particular choir."

Mmm-hmmm. However, would you prefer to read a new Dan Simmons novel that is twice as good as Hyperion/Fall of Hyperion, but trashed Mormonism specifically (versus trashing the RC church in Hyperion), or a very, very long new piece of crap by a Mormon author?

It's a matter of degree, I'd say.

If you're not a Hyperion fan, please make up your own example.

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pooka
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I could see the idea of an Atheist minister, not necessarily as someone who wants to promulgate Atheism as much as to serve as a shepherd and comfort to people within his community of ...er... non-belief.

But I've never even heard of Bast.

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Synesthesia
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bast is the cat goddess in the Egyptian patheon.
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MightyCow
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I wouldn't say Hyperion trashes the real RC church, although it does trash a highly-corrupt, futuristic version of the RC church. Of course, it's possible to take it as a criticism against the Church in general, but that seems overly sensitive to me, and means you miss out on a fantastic book just to give yourself an excuse to be offended.

That's how this Pullman thing seems to me. I guess some people would rather be offended and manufacture an enemy than realize that fiction sometimes holds up a mirror to reality but doesn't necessarily attack anyone by doing so.

I guess to some people, a boycott is preferable to an informed discussion. I think that says a lot.

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Zalmoxis
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quote:
fiction sometimes holds up a mirror to reality but doesn't necessarily attack anyone by doing so.
I don't know about that. The cynical side of me thinks that all narratives meant to be consumed are acts of violence.
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pooka
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I think the issue is more similar to the use of cartoon characters to advertise cigarettes.

Or, it also reminds me of Million Dollar Baby, and how a lot of people thought it was a girl power movie, but it's a better dead than broken movie.

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Ron Lambert
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I thought Million Dollar Baby was a euthanasia movie. Paging Dr. Kevorkian.

I guess that's what you meant by "better dead than broken."

There's that Zalmoxis--sic 'em, memes!

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Morbo
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
People rarely read fiction in order to have the experience of being preached at or to.
I disagree. People tend to enjoy being preached to, enough to pay money for it and endure substandard fiction for the privilege, as long as they're already in that particular choir.
The roaring success of the "Left Behind" series is a good example of this.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
I wouldn't say Hyperion trashes the real RC church, although it does trash a highly-corrupt, futuristic version of the RC church.

Does it? The church seemed quite sympathetically portrayed to me. Sure, the society in which it operates is corrupt, but the church itself seems to have retreated to fairly simple beginnings. All the faithful that we see are honest in their faith.

Now, insofar as Hyperion can be seen as a theological argument, it probably disagrees with Catholic doctrine, but by no means does it vilify. Or do you see something that I don't?

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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
MOST importantly? Why is the nothing that happens after death more important than the something that happens in life?

You've got that exactly backwards. It is the infinity of nothing that gives the finitude of something its importance. As opposed to the religious view, where life is merely a vanishingly tiny interlude in an infinity of something else.
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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
MOST importantly? Why is the nothing that happens after death more important than the something that happens in life?

You've got that exactly backwards. It is the infinity of nothing that gives the finitude of something its importance. As opposed to the religious view, where life is merely a vanishingly tiny interlude in an infinity of something else.
While I do agree with you, at least in principle, this still doesn't answer or nullify Scott's question.
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steven
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I suppose I'm alone in seeing that neither extreme is balanced?
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Scott R
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KoM:

BSKnack stated that the most important part of his philosophy was that death ends the person. He explicitly mentioned that this was more important than the way one conducted one's life.

Here's the full quote:

quote:
A real atheist, such as myself has long moved past the "Do I believe or don't I?" state and simply accept that creation is a ridiculos idea in itself (yes, you believe what you want, and I'll do the same), we accept that being a good person has absolutely nothing to do with an afterlife, and most importantly, when you're dead, you're pushing up daisies and fertilizing the land.
So my question remains-- why is that piece the most important part?
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King of Men
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He did not say it is more important than the way you conduct your life. And it is the most important part because of the implications it has for how you should live this life: To wit, as the only one you've got.
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dkw
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*shrug*

I find religious philosophies that focus primarily on what happens after you die to be pretty lame, and I don't think much more of an atheistic philosophy that considers what doesn't happen after you die to be its most important tenent.

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Tresopax
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I agree with dkw.
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pooka
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Some people assume that if this life is all there is, people are going to enjoy themselves to the point of being jerks.

Other people assume that if people feel mortality is insignificant, they will be jerks.

I think the point is to merge the infinite and the finite in my perception.

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ClaudiaTherese
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In contrast, my personal sense of morality derives much of its weight from a belief that this is the only chance I have, and that there is not likely any way after my death (which could come at any time, completely unexpectedly) to make up for offenses against others or any of my own failings.

But I'm okay with that being labelled as lame. It still speaks with the same weight to me.

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dkw
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That doesn't sound like "most important" to me. But if it is for you, okay. I hear the parts about not hurting others and trying to minimize flaws being more important parts of what you're saying. The "no afterlife" bit just closes one possible loophole. I mean, if you knew you wouldn't die for another 30 years and thus would have time to make amends would that make it okay to hurt someone now?
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ClaudiaTherese
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Hmmm, maybe then it wouldn't be as pressing for me to spend as great of a percentage of my time and energy figuring out how to avoid harming that other; i.e., I might spend more time just relaxing and living in the moment instead of worrying quite as much.

I have other intellectual reasons not to be treating other people with ill intent [and those go beyond the scope of this conversation], and those reasons have some impact on my gut as well. However, by far the visceral punch comes from the belief that my time is short (as all lives are) and that it may end up being much much shorter than I'd expected. So I have to devote a good bit of my time and energy -- consistently, unflaggingly -- to making sure I forsee what negative outcomes of my actions that I can in advance.

Moreover, what you posit is impossible. That antecedent is unknowable, so it's as relevant to me as "if you could move backwards in time" would be. An interesting intellectual exercise were I in the mood, but not really settling as weight on my shoulders.

Regardless, it's not necessary for me that you or anyone else agree with it, or even understand it more than in a cursory way. I just wanted to chime in that this point of the conversation did ring true for me and to have that out there with KoM. Aside from that, my pony has left the race. [Smile]

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Originally posted by ClaudiaTherese:
Aside from that, my pony has left the race. [Smile]

Speaking of foreseeing negative otcomes, on reread that sounds flippant and dismissive. I meant it as a gentle poke at myself for being pendantic and inserting myself into ongoing conversations abruptly.

I find this me-me-me! part of myself mildly funny and more than mildly exasperating.

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dkw
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It's always good to have you in the conversation.

Short winded pony or no. [Wink]

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