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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:21 am 
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Like with most literature and general art, the interpretations of religious texts often say more about the viewer then about the text or the author. Sure some are more internally consistent and some are less so, but often there is a lot of room for interpretation that does not come at the cost of consistency. and an important part of fandom is, to have a favourite interpretation.

Given very different Christians can come up with bible quotes and reasonings, that support their position, and each alone sounds very convincing that this is the correct interpretation, and that the bible as a whole, is not really in the shape of a cooking recipie, i consider the existence of multiple mutually exclusive equally correct interpretations as much more plausible, then that of one right christianity.

Moreover even if some people have some religious identity, that in an objective way contradicts their holy book, telling them, that they have their identity wrong is generally considered an offence.

Especially for old religions there is no copyright and it is long established custom, that, as long as there are enough of them, also the "Luke shot first" faction has a claim to star wars fandom.

While i dislike the idea of internal inconsistency and think, that it should not go unpunished, this at least prevents the oppression of religions, because what else can keep people from practicing internally inconsistent religions.

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:50 pm 
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arcosh wrote:

Especially for old religions there is no copyright and it is long established custom, that, as long as there are enough of them, also the "Luke shot first" faction has a claim to star wars fandom.

This is my favorite paragraph of arcosh's post, but I'm not sure why that is.

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:02 pm 
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arcosh wrote:
i consider the existence of multiple mutually exclusive equally correct interpretations as much more plausible, then that of one right christianity.


This is equivalent to saying that you believe this is a situation where there is no actual "fact of the matter" --i.e. that Christian belief is strictly a matter of opinion. While that's a legitimate position for those outside the church, it's not a legitimate position for a believer, such as myself or Jorodryn. We're Christians presumably because we mutually believe there is a core of consequential truth in our religion, even though we might disagree on some of the specifics.

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Moreover even if some people have some religious identity, that in an objective way contradicts their holy book, telling them, that they have their identity wrong is generally considered an offence.


Again, if you are outside a given religion, it is beyond presumptuous to dictate to those within it what their beliefs are. The situation is a bit different on the inside, since there's a starting assumption that those who profess the same faith ought to be in agreement as to what that faith is.

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:10 pm 
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kitoba wrote:
arcosh wrote:
i consider the existence of multiple mutually exclusive equally correct interpretations as much more plausible, then that of one right christianity.


This is equivalent to saying that you believe this is a situation where there is no actual "fact of the matter" --i.e. that Christian belief is strictly a matter of opinion. While that's a legitimate position for those outside the church, it's not a legitimate position for a believer, such as myself or Jorodryn. We're Christians presumably because we mutually believe there is a core of consequential truth in our religion, even though we might disagree on some of the specifics.


Isn't this a question more of degree? You disagree with arcosh about multiple interpretations, yet acknowledge there can be disagreement on specifics.

kitoba wrote:
arcosh wrote:
Moreover even if some people have some religious identity, that in an objective way contradicts their holy book, telling them, that they have their identity wrong is generally considered an offence.


Again, if you are outside a given religion, it is beyond presumptuous to dictate to those within it what their beliefs are. The situation is a bit different on the inside, since there's a starting assumption that those who profess the same faith ought to be in agreement as to what that faith is.


Point of order. The instant such a group takes their beliefs outside their Church and uses them as a basis for advocating some form of public policy that would have direct impact on persons outside their faith, they forfeit any immunity to criticism of doctrine. Which, incidentally, brings us back to the original point of advertising one's religion in nonsecular spaces.

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:14 pm 
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Point of order. The instant such a group takes their beliefs outside their Church and uses them as a basis for advocating some form of public policy that would have direct impact on persons outside their faith, they forfeit any immunity to criticism of doctrine.


But doesn't society do that as a whole already? Just because Atheists do not believe in any form of deity doesn't mean that taking their belief out of their group as a basis for advocating public policy is any more acceptable.

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:34 pm 
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waffle wrote:
Isn't this a question more of degree? You disagree with arcosh about multiple interpretations, yet acknowledge there can be disagreement on specifics.


If I, as a Protestant, disagree with a Catholic about the unique God-given authority of the Pope, we both agree that that there is a right answer, even though we disagree on what that answer is. On the other hand, arcosh would presumably say there is no "right" answer, and thus that both of our opinions thus hold equal merit. For me as a believer I'm willing to grant that I might be wrong in my view on the Pope, or that both the Catholic position and my own might conceivably be equally flawed, but I'm not willing to say that the entire question is subjective or inconsequential.

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Point of order. The instant such a group takes their beliefs outside their Church and uses them as a basis for advocating some form of public policy that would have direct impact on persons outside their faith, they forfeit any immunity to criticism of doctrine. Which, incidentally, brings us back to the original point of advertising one's religion in nonsecular spaces.


I don't think either arcosh or I am arguing that any group is ever immune to criticism of doctrine. What I think we're both saying is that you don't have the right to define membership in a group you don't belong to. It's not my place to tell a Catholic person she can't be a Catholic and use birth control. That's between her and her church. I can criticize the decision itself, either as as a private citizen, or as a fellow Christian, but I can't make the determination on whether it is essential to Catholicism or not.

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:05 pm 
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Jorodryn wrote:
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Point of order. The instant such a group takes their beliefs outside their Church and uses them as a basis for advocating some form of public policy that would have direct impact on persons outside their faith, they forfeit any immunity to criticism of doctrine.


But doesn't society do that as a whole already? Just because Atheists do not believe in any form of deity doesn't mean that taking their belief out of their group as a basis for advocating public policy is any more acceptable.


That's why it'd be just as inappropriate for a teacher to hand out atheist deconversion tracts in school. If there was a generally recognized symbol for atheism, it'd be inappropriate to display that except in a small personal way analogous to a cross pendant.

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:10 pm 
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kitoba wrote:
@Weatherwax

I'd offer a different interpretation to your observations. Where you see the overwhelming ubiquity of Christian iconography in America as evidence of the strength of the religion here, I would see it as evidence of the extent to which the commercialization has co-opted and cheapened that iconography for profit. There are no religious ideas of substance in the vast majority of Christian themed merchandise. For example, the beloved secular classic "White Christmas" was deliberately written with the express intent of removing Christ from Christmas. The boom in this "social club" version of Christianity is of no actual benefit to the religion --the converse is true. It leads directly to the travesties against the faith committed on shows such as "South Park" or in the Japanese media, parodies easy to create because they represent such a short line distance from mainstream depictions.


I have noticed that, in what I have seen from here of American attitudes, there is a very loud and visible sort of person who seems interested in only the image of religion, and not the substance. People who will shout claims of faith from the rooftops, yet snub their neighbours; a self-obsessed camp who sees anything different as evil and expects the world to cater to their whims. I am at a loss to fully explain this attitude - it seems rooted in the twin convictions that faith without works will give some sort of magical benefits, and that 'faith' merely means loud protestations thereof - but it's probably more damaging to religion in general than any other attitude could be. (Such a grouping also seems heavy in biblical literalists, who generally don't seem to know much about the bible's contents). I'm not sure if such a grouping is really all that widespread, or if it's just a sort of well-known and oft-repeated caricature...

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:15 pm 
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Kitoba, thanks for the clarification. My question wasn't intended as a gotcha. I just couldn't make the two sentences fit together.
_______

Jorodryn wrote:
But doesn't society do that as a whole already? Just because Atheists do not believe in any form of deity doesn't mean that taking their belief out of their group as a basis for advocating public policy is any more acceptable.


Who said anything about atheism? I think you are confusing nonsecular (which is what our government is) with atheistic (which is something our government is not).

Again, the reason such proselytizing in government is prohibited is not to enforce universal atheism. It is to protect all beliefs, including Atheism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Shinto, Wiccan, etc. The only way to ensure a fair playing field for all is to remove the special privileges that some have been sneaking.

Let's turn this around. What is the point of putting up your denomination's religious icons in a public, government institution? What are you trying to say? Why are you putting something you believe in up in a place that is intended for everyone to share equally? Why does your icon deserve an exception? Who are you trying to influence by placing your religious icon there? Do they want to be influenced? Are you sure? Are they minors? Do you have their parents' or guardians' permission? Are you sure?

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:10 pm 
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Jorodryn wrote:
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Point of order. The instant such a group takes their beliefs outside their Church and uses them as a basis for advocating some form of public policy that would have direct impact on persons outside their faith, they forfeit any immunity to criticism of doctrine.


But doesn't society do that as a whole already? Just because Atheists do not believe in any form of deity doesn't mean that taking their belief out of their group as a basis for advocating public policy is any more acceptable.


AaaaaaAAAAAHHHHhhhhh!! *Lightbulb*

Your post just made something click in my mind that I've pondered before, but never figured out the answer to - why do certain Christian denominations rail so much against 1.) Evolution taught in schools and 2.) Proper human sexuality, with how-tos on stopping baby making taught in schools. And also, another question I've pondered - why on earth do certain Christians frame Evolutionary Theory as if it was a faith? They even call it "Darwinism", which sounds very much like something with acolytes passing out flyers on the streets.

I thought it was just an issue of wanting their version of their faith exposed to children, which of course it still may be. But it isn't just bringing their faith into schools, is it? It's about keeping out what they think is a matter of belief - they see some of the sciences not as secular (i.e. not religious but not unreligious), but as atheistic (not religious and possibly antireligious). SO, teaching evolution and human sexuality is the equivalent of telling children there is no god. To certain religious folks, a teacher talking about the branches of the tree of life is like handing out pamphlets denouncing god! Wow.

I know, I know, I should have put two and two together long, long ago, but honestly I wasn't even thinking along these lines. Oh, man, and now I really see what some small, very religious towns and Bible belt areas (e.g. Kansas, good lord, Kansas) are up against. We have people who want to either have their own faith taught in schools, or take all faiths out of schools, and to them science is a faith. No wonder something like 30 percent of adult Americans are young earth creationists. If faith (i.e. science) is out of school, and the only origin story they get is Biblical, then of course a little less than a third of Americans will believe the Biblical story as absolute truth and consider anything about the Big Bang or primordial soups to be freakish atheist proselytizing.

And sure, that's a minority, but that's a pretty big minority. One in three to four Americans! Sorry, sorry, I'm having a mind-blown moment here.

Anyway, yeah, the picture still has to go - but I can now see why people would be seriously up in arms about Jesus getting kicked out of the classroom while supposed (but not actual) atheistic thought gets to be taught every day.

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:33 pm 
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Atheism IS a faith --the faith that there is no God, as opposed to agnosticism which is the state of not knowing, apatheism, which is not caring, and secularism, which is merely a segregation of religion from public life.

And while he and people like him are certainly a small minority in the ranks of non-believers, evangelical, fundamentalist atheists such as Richard Dawkins do exist. As one of the foremost popularizers of Darwinian evolution, his explicit stated view that a belief in Darwin's theories leads directly and inevitably to atheism has been very influential, particularly in religious circles.

I'm writing a master's thesis on that very topic right now.

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I have noticed that, in what I have seen from here of American attitudes, there is a very loud and visible sort of person who seems interested in only the image of religion, and not the substance.


Real Christianity is dangerous and revolutionary. But any number of groups have a vested interest in promoting what you might call the "Disney version" --a sanitized, status-quo affirming approach to the faith. Accordingly, there are many people who have never even been exposed to the real thing.

Of course, that's not just Christianity. That's just how we do things here in America in general. Everything becomes a bumper sticker and a t-shirt (Che Guevara! Free Tibet! Fight Cancer!)

In China these days, there's now an official Communist Christian church, because that's how they do it over there, never mind the contradictions. (Of course, you can still be imprisoned or disappeared over there for practicing Christianity on your own...)

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:41 pm 
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kitoba wrote:
Atheism IS a faith --the faith that there is no God


No. Atheism is no more a faith than 'off' is a channel on the television.

I do not believe in Thor. I do not have faith that there is no Thor, God of Thunder. Instead, I have observed no evidence to support the hypothesis that there is an anthropomorphic representation of thunder, complete with goat drawn wagon making the sky boom. I have a quite thorough understanding of the physics of clouds, electricity and lightning as well as a wealth of practical experience with the subject.

kitoba wrote:
And while he and people like him are certainly a small minority in the ranks of non-believers, evangelical, fundamentalist atheists such as Richard Dawkins do exist. As one of the foremost popularizers of Darwinian evolution, his explicit stated view that a belief in Darwin's theories leads directly and inevitably to atheism has been very influential, particularly in religious circles.


Oh dear. One does not believe in the Theory of Evolution any more than one believes in the Germ Theory of Disease, Newton's Theory of Gravity, the Theory of Plate Techtonics, Quantum Field Theory or any of the other specific models used to explain observations.

_______

Oh, and before weatherwax's observations drift off the page, I think she is spot on.

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:03 pm 
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Well, I may be setting myself up for a Waffle smack down here but...

Evolution and the Big Bang are not the be all, end all theories of everything. There are still unknowns.*

Did an omniopotent being whip up planet earth in a week? Probably not. But if your religion can't survive criticism of what amounts to an origin story I think you've got bigger fish to fry!

*For reference, a post by waffle about the God of the Gaps

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:04 pm 
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Dodger77 wrote:
Well, I may be setting myself up for a Waffle smack down here but...

Evolution and the Big Bang are not the be all, end all theories of everything. There are still unknowns.*

Did an omniopotent being whip up planet earth in a week? Probably not. But if your religion can't survive criticism of what amounts to an origin story I think you've got bigger fish to fry!

*For reference, a post by waffle about the God of the Gaps


Definitely God of the Gaps. But that's not really the point your making, is it?

The point is that Genesis, as a literal story, is not supported by the evidence. For some people, this really isn't a problem. The official Catholic position is that the story is allegorical, and the important bits are not the nuts and bolts of the Creation, but the nature of Man, his relation to God and the nature of Sin. And, as someone once explained to me, this is not an issue for most of the larger, more organized denominations such as the Catholics and Protestants. The Bible is not the end all, be all of their faith. There is also the organization, the tradition, the Church itself.

But the smaller US denominations, the Southern Baptists and others do not have an organizational structure to fall back on. They are a lose conglomeration of mostly independent churches teaching approximately the same message, but without a central certifying organization. Their authority rests with the Bible. The Bible must be wholly correct. Because if it isn't, because if individual churches may pick and choose what parts are applicable and what parts are allegorical, who is to say which is which? Therefore, the whole thing must be absolutely and literally true, else their central organizing principle fails.

It's another way of reaching weatherwax's light bulb moment. Since any invalidation of any portion of the Bible invalidates the organizing principles of the religion, it is seen as an attack on religion.

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 Post Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:15 pm 
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waffle wrote:
Atheism is no more a faith than 'off' is a channel on the television.


Given that the majority of people alive today (as well as the majority of people throughout recorded history) profess some form of religion, and given that there is no shortage of people of manifest intelligence and education who believe in God, then yes, it does take a fair amount of faith in the accuracy and completeness of your own personal knowledge about the universe to definitively declare that all those people are wholly deluded, rather than admitting the possibility that they might be tapped into something real that lies outside of your own sphere of experience and understanding.

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Oh dear. One does not believe in the Theory of Evolution any more than one believes in the Germ Theory of Disease, Newton's Theory of Gravity, the Theory of Plate Techtonics, Quantum Field Theory or any of the other specific models used to explain observations.


You've lost me here. I do believe that diseases are typically caused by tiny microorganisms. I believe that Darwin's account of the origin of species is more-or-less accurate. I believe that the present shape of the continents was formed by the movement of continental plates. I haven't done any of the direct research myself to confirm those theories, and even if I had, I would still admit the possibility that other forces might also be at work, but I think "belief" is a perfectly reasonable and customary attitude to have in relationship to those theories.

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Evolution is not a belief. It exists independent of belief, one way or another.


This is itself a creedal statement. It has the exact same form as the following: "God is not a belief. God exists independent of belief, one way or another."

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