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View Diary: Struggle and Faith: How Occupy Has Taught Me To Tolerate Religion (231 comments)

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  •  The religious historian Karen Armstrong (13+ / 0-)

    discusses the evolution of atheism, and of religious fundamentalism, in one of her books, I think "The Struggle for God."

    Atheism first arose after Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain attempted to purge Jews living within Spain in the early 1500s. The Crown told Jews they could either convert to Catholicism, or leave the country. Many left; many also converted. But the forced conversions weren't sincere, with the result that many became alienated from religion altogether. The urban cosmopolitan sensibility of the day absorbed this alienation. That's the earliest historical incidence of formal "atheism," the lack of a belief in God.

    Religious fundamentalism, a belief in the literalism of scripture, according to Armstrong, arose as a reaction to the scientific worldview taking over in the west at about this same time. Science purported to uncover the "literal truth," so religion felt it had to compete.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 07:57:55 PM PDT

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    •  And amazingly (8+ / 0-)

      the extreme examples of each seem to need each other.

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 08:07:54 PM PDT

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    •  Re (10+ / 0-)

      There is no such thing as formal atheism.

      From the time back when the first idea of gods formed in people's heads, there were other people who said 'no, I do not believe it'.

      Atheism is not a religion (it isn't really a 'thing' at all). It didn't form as a political statement or as a response to (or encouragement of) any sort of repression or political event.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 04:32:00 AM PDT

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      •  OK, I'm sure you're the expert :) n/t (0+ / 0-)

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 04:41:55 AM PDT

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        •  Actually it's just logical (7+ / 0-)

          If someone asserts the existence of an Invisible Pink Unicorn and I say no, I don't think so, I am not "just advocating another kind of belief".  If Invisible Pink Unicornists start trying to convert others by the sword, and I fight back, I am not just another believer in a religious war.

          And if I say that believing in Creationism is not consistent with science, I am not somehow failing to see a grand truth that faith and science are not incompatible.

          There are other things that you and others in this thread are saying that are true, or partially true, but please take care not to conflate them with falsehoods like the ones I mention above.  These arguments are not from authority, just logic.

          I will not make a "craziness exception" for religion.  A lot of religious beliefs are nuts, some much more benignly so than others. One of the most benign ones may be believing that the arc of the moral universe is long but bends toward justice.  I tend to belief that, but rationally, it's only verifiably true to the extent that a lot of people persist (with some luck on their sides) in doing the bending.

          "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

          by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:42:25 AM PDT

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        •  I agree but I think the Dawks are a new (0+ / 0-)

          wrinkle

          Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

          by tikkun on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 01:32:32 PM PDT

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          •  The only thing (0+ / 0-)

            new about the "New" Atheists is their cultural prominence.

            There is nothing that Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, or Dennett (or Victor Stenger, Julia Sweeney, Greta Christina, P.Z. Myers....) has said about religion that wasn't previously stated decades, centuries, or millennia earlier by Socrates, Lucretius, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Twain, Russell, Ingersoll, O'Hair, and the like. And the "New" Atheists themselves have consistently pointed that fact out.

            One consequence of an increased profile for atheist criticism of religion is that it's much harder for religious figures and organizations to hide from that criticism. They can (and have) attempted to shoot the messenger by pretending that the Gnus are barbarians who deserve to be disregarded, but it's demonstrably not working.

            So what's new about the Gnu Atheists is that religion is scared of them.

            •  What Is Different About Them (0+ / 0-)

              is their Calvanist methods.  I don't take it from Calviinists and I don't take it from Dawks.

              Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

              by tikkun on Thu May 02, 2013 at 06:37:17 AM PDT

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              •  What exactly (0+ / 0-)

                are "Calvinist methods"? That sounds very much like a stand-in for "they do things I don't like, even if I don't have legitimate reasons to object to those things."

                You'll forgive me if I don't give the benefit of the doubt to vague complaints directed at members of despised and disempowered minorities for doing things that just so happen to bruise the unjust privilege of the overwhelmingly powerful hegemon.

      •  Well, it's a 'thing' in that it embraces logic and (8+ / 0-)

        skepticism. And it insists that extraordinary claims (for instance, that the Universe is ruled by an invisible omnipotent & omniscient being who has chosen not to speak to us openly for the last 2,000 years) demand extraordinary evidence. Something more rigorous than a clumsily stitched together pastiche of collected oral traditions dating from circa 1000 BCE to 200 AD in multiple different languages with countless internal contradictions.

        •  Logic is of human construction. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tikkun

          When you think of the force that brought about the universe, why do you think it would need to talk like humans?

          The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

          by dfarrah on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:37:25 AM PDT

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          •  Then why is the only thing that has helped (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            No Exit, Tonedevil

            us understand how the universe works based on logic?  (I speak of SCIENCE! <== read in the voice from that Thomas Dolby song)

            "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

            by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:46:32 AM PDT

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            •  As much as I love that song, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dackmont

              we are humans and what we use to understand anything is still limited by ourselves.

              The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

              by dfarrah on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:21:30 PM PDT

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              •  True, but then how useful is religion? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gsenski, Rieux

                If we're gonna take science down a peg (which is reasonable, but tends to be overdone by the faith ~ science false equivalence advocates), then we need to do the same for religion, which doesn't have any irrefutable evidence for having ever helped us understand the universe.  I strongly refute "God of the gaps" thinking.

                But I think we'd agree that religious experience can show us a lot about ourselves, as can (even moreso) science, and as can basic sympathy and self-understanding (which can be but isn't necessarily something that happens in a religious context).  Alexander Pope had a good point when he wrote "the proper study of mankind is man".

                "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

                by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 05:10:39 PM PDT

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          •  God speaks English (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dackmont

            One curious glitch committed by Biblical literalists is they believe God is at once all-powerful and all-knowing, yet is still constrained by the limitations of human language. I know that when I think, English words run to and fro in my head. Literalists seem to think God also thinks in English. Were that true that alone would prove God's lack of omnipotence.

      •  I might suggest that there is both informal and (5+ / 0-)

        formal atheism, in the sense that while certainly there have people for most of recorded history that didn't believe that there were gods, or didn't believe in them if they did exist (informal atheism) there has only been a term "atheism" for that situation for a fairly brief time, and some people who self-describe that way maintain websites and have meetings, which is a fairly formal expression of it.



        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:18:52 AM PDT

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        •  There was Gravity long before there was a word (6+ / 0-)

          for it.  

          Non-belief or naturalism has a long and proud history going back at least to 600 BCE with the Buddha, who preached against belief in gods on the grounds that such beliefs are indemonstrable, and so disturb peace of mind by leaving it in a state of needing demonstration and proof all the time.  

          The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

          by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:02:20 AM PDT

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          •  Yes yes yes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            No Exit

            There was/is room in Buddhism for materialists.  The Buddha discouraged believing that one's actions don't matter morally, but didn't care whether one believed in heaven.  He believed in karma, but there is a tradition of Buddhist logic that interprets karma in a materialistic way.

            "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

            by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:49:17 AM PDT

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    •  formal, as in semantically. Maybe. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson
    •  ugh no (7+ / 0-)
      Atheism first arose after Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain attempted to purge Jews living within Spain in the early 1500s.
      Yes, let's just ignore pre-Christian atheist philosophy.
      •  Who has studied it? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CBrachyrhynchos

        What have they written about it?

        A paraphrase, sort of a counterpoint to Karen Armstrong, would be interesting.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:46:18 AM PDT

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        •  Caught flat-footed (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          karmsy, Tonedevil, dackmont

          I don't really have much of a bibliography to share. The Guardian's CiF Belief section was running a series on Epicurianism. Not exactly pre-Christian but certainly non-Christian, Batchelor has some work exploring skepticism and agnosticism within the Pali canon.

          •  Thanks for your candor. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CBrachyrhynchos

            Admittedly, this thread may not be the place for an in-depth discussion of this topic. But I think there probably is material for an interesting comparison.

            It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

            by karmsy on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:18:15 AM PDT

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          •  Ack, I should have read this before posting (0+ / 0-)

            my reply below -- you made the exact same points.  Hayes is fun though, and more trenchant than Batchelor!

            "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

            by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:06:10 PM PDT

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        •  Read Richard Hayes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          karmsy

          "Land Of No Buddha" for (along many other things) some discussion of Buddhist philosophers who were atheists.  I think Epicurus was too -- certainly some of the Greeks were.

          "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

          by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 09:51:15 AM PDT

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    •  Errrrrr No (4+ / 0-)

      This Bartonesque history lesson was brought to you by the letter W for WRONG and number 0 for the IQ of the poster.

      I suggest you try to pick up a history book before giving a lesson on Spanish history, as it seems you slept through most of class or were taught by a bible bashin goof. Utter twaddle.

      Atheism has been around as a recognizable and written down philosophy since ancient times. Ever hear of Diagoras orSocrates? Hellenic culture was full of atheists. There was also a strong atheist school of thought in Indian society in the 6thC BC. Then later in Rome, through the Byzantine period, and through the Middle Ages all the way to the day.

      And as for Armstrong...well wrong again. Fundamentalism has been around as long as religion itself, and is a reaction to contra-dogma or a belief that counters that of its own "brand" or a perceived threat to the faith from within or without. Example - the iconoclasts of the Byzantine period were active long before the birth of modern science.

      So please, put your holy book down and pick up a history book. You will learn more from the latter.

      •  There is such a thing as conscientious (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Buckeye Nut Schell, Quicklund

        and informed disagreement. Then there's attitude.

        This comment represents the latter, in full blossom.  

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:31:17 AM PDT

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      •  And Buddha was a staunch atheist (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis

        The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

        by not2plato on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:58:01 AM PDT

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      •  Socrates was not an atheist. He questioned (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund

        and sometimes poked fun at various beliefs about the gods, thereby unsettling many people, who charged him with undermining belief in the gods.  However, he never taught that there were no gods.

        However, speaking during his trial, he said (doing this from memory, may not be precise) that he had a daemon (spirit) that told him when he did wrong.  So he knew that questioning beliefs about the gods was not wrong.  In fact, he considered pursuing truth (which involved questioning) to be a task laid on him by the god.  If those trying him offered him his life if he would stop questioning, he could only answer them by saying, "Men of Athens, I love you and I honor you.  BUt I will obey the god rather than you."

        I'm not saying there weren't atheists long before the Spanish Inquisition.  I agree with you that there were.  But Socrates was not one of them.

        --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

        by Fiona West on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:00:18 AM PDT

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      •  insulting the poster in your first line renders (0+ / 0-)

        the remaining paragraphs useless.

        continuing to insult the poster in the second paragraph renders your remaining paragraphs a bunch of bs.

        go back to the drawing board and learn how to engage in civil discussion.

        Have a nice day.

        •  Walter: "Am I wrong?" (0+ / 0-)

          Dude: "No, you're not wrong."
          Walter: "Am I wrong?"
          Dude:  "You're not wrong, Walter, you're just an asshole!"

          --the gospel

          "Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Ingersoll

          by dackmont on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:15:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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