SCIENCE VS RELIGION

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Lori Koonce
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Lori Koonce » Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:40 pm

Frank

It isn't just people on the right who get pissed. I'm about as left as we can get. And it makes me angry as well.

If you expect your informed opinions, thoughts and feelings to be accepted by others, for christ's sake what do you think you are doing when you don't return the courtsey?

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Moderator » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:56 pm

FrankChurch wrote:In Indiana an atheist group from Wisconsin has tried to stop the erection of a nativity scene in front of the courthouse there that has been erected for about 30 years. I know we have separation of church and state but don't atheists have better use of their time than to shit on Christmas scenes?

This just makes people more right wing and makes the atheists lose adherents.


I agree with you on this, Frank. I'm afraid some people have decided that letter of the law is useful for bludgeoning people with different philosophies.

Agitators of any stripe ought to be reviled. Wisconsin noses ought to be kept out of Indiana displays, and vice versa. I can tell you that were it to be focused on Long Beach instead of Indiana, they would get the same treatment we gave the Westboro Baptist Church: Get the fuck out of our city and our business -- your attitudes have no place here.

I find it no more acceptable from athiests than I do anyone else.

When your sole purpose in life consist of denying things to others, you need to examine your worthiness as an American.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:31 pm

FrankChurch wrote:In Indiana an atheist group from Wisconsin has tried to stop the erection of a nativity scene in front of the courthouse there that has been erected for about 30 years. I know we have separation of church and state but don't atheists have better use of their time than to shit on Christmas scenes?

This just makes people more right wing and makes the atheists lose adherents.


Well let's get the facts straight shall we? The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a national organization based in Madison initated a court case on behalf of members who live in Indiana.

Imagine taking the seperation of church and state seriously. Shocking! Scandalous!

Sorry folks but the genie is out of the bottle. The fastest growing religious affiliation in the country is NONE. Self-identified secularists are almost 20% of the population. The only thing these people have in common is an objection to the privileged position demanded and assumed by the pious.

Now personally I am much more concerned about local school boards filled with creationist morons than I am with tasteless little statues of Baby Jesus with a blinking light bulb inside his head, but privileging one particular religion over all the others is forbidden to the state is it not?
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Moderator » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:42 am

Ezra -- I will rephrase: "If your argument's starting point to others regarding this sort of thing is 'You Can't', then your philosophy is bankrupt."

Goes for creationists, atheists and anyone in between. I don't accept Westboro Baptist's exclusionary philosophy, and won't accept it from atheists either.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is exactly as wrong as the Westboro Baptists.

I'm not Christian, but this goes too far and is nothing more than a provocation. If anybody in this country ever bothered to read the Constitution they'd realize it's not an infringement or establishment of a religion by putting up a manger scene.

Atheism, I am frequently told with gusto, is not a religion. However, it would seem that the most fervent desire of atheists, at times like these, is to deprive anyone else from celebrating a religion.

If atheism is not a religion, it does not step on their toes to put up a manger scene.

The actual text of the Constitution is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Tell me where a manger scene is the establishment of a law, or prohibiting atheists from...well, NOT exercising their lack of religion.

I'm sorry, I'll call the Christian right on a whole lot of issues and rub their face in the mud when necessary for their arrogance and aggression.

On the other hand...

Sorry folks but the genie is out of the bottle. The fastest growing religious affiliation in the country is NONE. Self-identified secularists are almost 20% of the population. The only thing these people have in common is an objection to the privileged position demanded and assumed by the pious.

Now personally I am much more concerned about local school boards filled with creationist morons than I am with tasteless little statues of Baby Jesus with a blinking light bulb inside his head, but privileging one particular religion over all the others is forbidden to the state is it not?


... qualifies equally in my mind.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Evil » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:39 am

As a school teacher, I witness an awful lot of eggshell dancing over whether to celebrate Christmas in the schools or not. In England I've noticed its much less an issue. Christmas time is Christmas time, end of story. They sing carols, put up nativities, and recieve Father Christmas into their hearts, and a thousand years of tradition, to say nothing of good cheer, go unabated.

All are welcome to participate: before I left I witnessed a group of unspeakably cute little school kids singing "We three Kings" in a mall lobby. About half of them were little Muslim girls, proudly watched by their Muslim mums, who seemed much more concerned with how unspeakably cute their children were being than that they were singing other people's religious songs. "Join the fun!" seems the message, with the unspoken "or don't, but don't spoil it", which seems to me a much healthier attitude than this insistence on sterilizing culture that pervades North America.

But Christmas can hardly be called a religous festival anyway. At most, its a celebration of mythology. No culture can be healthy if it forgets its history or its mythology (think Russia). It's now widely known that' Christmas isn't even Christian in origin, but a continuation of old pagan winter festivals that have existed for God knows how long. Now its basically a celebration of Market myths and consumerist lifestyles. (And believe it or not, I'm cool with that. As long as folks don't go overboard with it which unfortunately they too often do). The current incarnation of Santa Clause owes more to Coca-cola than St. Nicholas, and there's no reason he can't visit all children (provided they've been good). Like so many other things, it's only ruined by grown-ups with their politics and their religion.

The Nativity isn't like the Ten Commandments. It's just a story. Every culture needs its stories.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:04 pm

Ezra, this is why I keep mentioning the fundamentalist beliefs of some atheists, like your friends Dawkins and Hitchens. People who will give no truck to people having sincere beliefs. You just turn people off.

It will make Indiana even more conservative, more insular.

High five to Barber.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:53 pm

Before I respond to individual points let me trust you to the fine hands of Mr. Thomas Jefferson from his letter to the Baptists of Danbury, CT.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

Do you want to know what I regard as the most important statement in this paragraph? Not the justly famous “wall of separation between church and state” but the phrase occurring earlier in the long, brilliant sentence that provides the foundation of the wall. Namely, “that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions”.

The state is secular. It should have no opinion on the subject of religion. It should neither proscribe it nor participate in it. So fine, build a crèche in your own backyard, or on your church property. But a courthouse is a symbol of the state and the law before which presumably all should stand equal.

When you privilege an expression of religion in this way you are explicitly declaring that the purest most authentic expression of citizenship is religious in general and Christian in particular.

Because of immigration the majority religion in Hawaii is now Buddhism. Can you imagine the howls from the contemporary Baptists of Danbury if the citizens placed a statue of Matreya or Avalokita on the courthouse lawn? Their ancestors understood that the idea of separation protected them FROM the state, apparently an idea a bit too deep for our current crop of Baptists.

"If your argument's starting point to others regarding this sort of thing is 'You Can't', then your philosophy is bankrupt."

Really? So the philosophy that says “you can’t own slaves” is bankrupt? That “you can’t discriminate against women or Jews or gays” is bankrupt? What was the point of opposing DADT if not to prevent the state from socially sanctioned discrimination? Passing this law won’t mean that no none will hate gays but it does say that as a nation we will not sanction discrimination in our laws. In precisely the same way the separation of church and state means that we will not favor one religion over another. All stand equal before that law.

You’ll have to explain to me how accepting that idea makes me like the Westboro homophobes. (Whose right to be assholes I would nevertheless defend, selfishly perhaps in order to protect my own right not to be.)

Steve E, the citizens of England still pay taxes to support the Church of England. This is part of what our Founders were rebelling against. Millions of Americans do not look at Christmas as a “celebration of mythology” nor do they look upon the birth of Jesus as “just a story”.

Frank could you try to think up a new, less stupid criticism than "fundamentalist atheists"? And yes I am opposing people's "deeply held beliefs" which is the whole point.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby diane bartels » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:26 pm

I am a deeply believing Christian, (though I am not to sure I am still a Catholic), but I agree with Ezra on this issue. It marginalizes different beliefs to allow majority or any religious symbolism to be affilliated with the apparatus of government. Period. I am a little scared now though. (Cause I haven't noticed myself disagreeing with Barber before.) lol This issue has also caused me mental doubt because iifeel better emotionally when there are phrases like under God and in God we trust affiliated with government. I feel safer and watched over. :D But intellectually and philosophically, I know it is in the better interest of our Liberty if church and state keep a large distance apart. 8)

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:45 pm

The Ten Commandments I agree with, but a holiday scene? My view is that there are bigger fish to fry. It just makes the atheist side look pc and silly.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Evil » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:49 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:Steve E, the citizens of England still pay taxes to support the Church of England. This is part of what our Founders were rebelling against.


Indeed. The shackles of nativity scenes and Santas were onerous indeed.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Moderator » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:15 am

Ezra -
Okay, if you take it literally and move beyond the current topic I'm wrong with the "You can't", and I deserve the smack. But I'm gonna use that same macro-view perspective to defend my comment.

But I stand by my philosophy that a manger scene is a holiday display and seeking to remove it is nothing more than a grandstanding lesson in offensensitivity.

You may, as an individual citizen, take it as a mythological story, the birth of a great man, or the birth of the son of a deity. But it harms no one with its presence. A manger scene does not establishing that Christianity is the law of the land, nor does it suggest that Christianity is the one and only. It is illustrating the birth of the individual for which Christmas is supposed to celebrate. (As noted above, Christmas itself is a pagan holidy, with the birth of Christ inserted.)

I would not take offense at a menorah being erected next to it. The menorah doesn't insist Judaism is paramount. Nor some other symbology of a belief system. We're here to celebrate all religions, which was the specific point of "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

Unfortunately, the common thread of atheist actions -- ostensibly under the commendable guise of defending a secular state -- is to deny ANY expressions of religion, including those intended to celebrate a specific holiday. Are we also to ban Santa Clauses on government property? How about the Police Department and Fire Department collecting Toys for Tots? Holiday lighting displays on city streets also need to go. Ribbons, streamers, etc. All gone. (City streets, after all, are as much city property as City Hall.)

We must also, to follow the trend, tear down any references, statuary, imagery or evocations of Greek and Roman gods -- goodbye Mercury, goodbye Goddess of Justice holding her scales. Public land. The British would need to sell off Stonehenge or prohibit the celebration of solstice on public lands. In Athens, let the Parthenon fall.

For that matter, Christmas Day Parades are all held in publicly owned squares or streets. They're all banned as well, I presume? After all, they do celebrate Christmas specifically, so...

Macy's Day parade, gone. It's a Christmas event, and Christmas is fundamentally a Christians-only holiday.

I hope you see my point. I agree completely that the display of a bible, a cross, a star and crescent, a judaic star, the Ten Commandments, the Koran, or any other religious representation of a law claiming legitimacy higher than the state's ought to be blocked. No question. In that the law of the country is paramount and it would be a conflict.

But displays of religious "events" which do not in and of themselves assert the supremacy of a particular belief but merely illustrate the core of the holiday they represent? I don't see it.

Given the nature of atheism, you might just as well object to an image of the three goddesses Aphrodite, Hera and Athena as they stood before Paris for his evaluation. By law, then, we cannot erect such a thing on the courthouse steps. They, too, represent a mythology to you, right?

If you don't believe, why does it offend you so? If you don't believe, it cannot possibly step on your toes to show a scene from mythology...
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby RocRizzo » Mon Dec 20, 2010 2:30 pm

We should let these poor people have their mythological displays. It's not hurting anyone. Though the people running these schools of mythology, who seek to control their minions, may have a tendency to inflict their hurt on people, the vast majority of them are genuinely harmless.

Remember that the purpose of all religions is control. Control by a dictator, who touts the teachings of a dead mythological being to gain control of the weak and frail. They will seek out anything to accomplish their goal, which is total domination. Kind of like The Brain, from Pinky and The Brain. They are meek little creatures who want to take over the world. In time, they crush their own hopes, when they do something stupid.

But hey, that's my eleventy-three cents.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:26 pm

Roc, a very unfair slam at religious people. We think that you base your moral base on religious values. Atheists have no moral basis, so they have to make it up, but if there's no God than how do we know what is moral?

I certainly don't want to know that someone like Kissinger will never find punishment in the afterlife.

Peace and brotherhood on earth. Jesus sounds pretty rational to me.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Lori Koonce » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:48 pm

Remember that the purpose of all religions is control. Control by a dictator, who touts the teachings of a dead mythological being to gain control of the weak and frail. They will seek out anything to accomplish their goal, which is total domination.


Rocco

What's the difference between the above, which is in your own words, and the way a lot of atheists choose to treat me because of my belief in a god. I mean being called stupid, illiterate, and a whole litany of things by people who don't believe is just as bad as what you are saying above ya know.

You choose not to believe, and that is your choice. But as long as my believing isn't causing me to harm myself or others, what the hell does it really matter?

I was listening to Studio 360, which is a NPR radio show. Try this one on for size. They were talking about a neuroscientist who is using FMRI to look at how the brain works when it experiencing transcendence. He wants to start a religion based on this... Neurothology! Cool hun? Then neither of us could bitch about what the other dosen't see, because we'd be able to see it all!!

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby RocRizzo » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:37 pm

Lori,
I dunno if there is a difference. Some atheists want to control people also.

As for me, I don't want to control, nor do I want to be controlled. As long as you leave others be, and don't try to preach your personal mythology, it's okay with me. Keep it to yourself, and you'll be fine in my book.

As far as National Petroleum Radio (Greg Palast's acronym, not mine) is concerned, you shouldn't take that stuff too seriously either. I listen to it all the time, and take it all with a grain of salt. Sometimes a larger grain than others. If I cannot research something myself, and come to my own conclusion, I cannot form a valid opinion.

I don't know what the guy on Studio 360 was talking about, but as far as I'm concerned, if it's a religion, it's about control. When I look at ANY religion, all I see is a set of mythology that tries to explain that which people cannot, or do not care to explain by means of experimentation and observation. This forms an elite group of experts who preach the propaganda of said mythology, and gain control of those who choose to believe in that mythology.

I often find the stories found in various forms of mythology interesting, and many times good guidelines on how to live one's life, I still only view them as fiction. They may have some form of redeeming philosophical ideas embedded in them, but they all have their flaws and foibles.

Perhaps I could, if required to, under penalty of death, or something, believe in the Unitarian Universalist religion, which takes tenets from all known forms of mythology, and uses the best ideas in philosophical myths to create some form of beliefs that is common to all of them. However I doubt it. I would probably choose death over being controlled. We are all already under so much control, I have no need for any more bosses, than the current bosses I serve.
"Understanding is a three-edged sword."


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