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View Diary: We Must Fight The Church (101 comments)

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  •  Dogma is the enemy... (8+ / 0-)

    not necessarily the Church itself. And Catholicism is not alone in these excesses.
    Any rigid system of belief leads to discrimination, injustice, intolerance, etc.
    Political dogma can be as dangerous as religious dogma, it just doesn't yet have a comparable bodycount.

    TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

    by Niniane on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 11:11:00 AM PST

    •  That's right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, homogenius

      and the religious doctrine of "faith", whereby the process of shutting down all critical thinking capacity and simply accepting as fact what one is told is celebrated as the height of virtue inevitably leads to dogma.

      As someone (I forget who) once said,

      "Without religion, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion."

      Replacing "religion" with dogma would be more accurate, but the general point is correct.

      •  There are plenty of spiritual outlets (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        homogenius, heathlander

        or religious vehicles that do not lend themselves to the perversities of intolerance. Many of the Eastern Religions, the practices of the Unitarians and others, and most Neopagan belief systems are pretty flexible, ie. with limited or no dogmatic bullshit.
        I single out dogma as the culprit because it exists outside "religion" but with leads to similar atrocities. The political dogma of the  Nazi Party,
        Skinheads, Soviet-style Communism, The Khyber Rouge,
        McCarthyism, are just a few of the more recent examples of what ideology gone wild can accomplish even without religion to help it along.

        TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

        by Niniane on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 11:42:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Sam Harris takes issue w/ your assumption (0+ / 0-)

      I understand your point, but there is an argument by freethinkers like Sam Harris and Dr. Richard Dawkins that attempts to counter it. (It's becoming known as the "giving cover" argument.) Whether or not you finally decide if it counters your point successfully, a good sense of the argument can be gathered from this interview with Harris.

      •  I've read their books... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cyncynical

        and see brilliant analysis interspersed with irrational (imho) leaps of illogical fancy.
        Atheists (strong atheists anyway) are can be as irrationally dogmatic about their own (non)beliefs as are theists. Their inability to see their own hypocrisy, I think, limits their ability to follow their own logic through to a conclusion.
        I highly doubt Mr. Harris can find much fault with Buddhism, for example. I hope not, anyway... He's seems kinda high-strung and Buddhism might offer him a little peace.

        TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

        by Niniane on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 11:55:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Can you give an example? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hestal, poemless

          I don't think it is accurate to describe atheists as "dogmatic", because the whole point is that they have based their conclusion on evidence, and would, were contrary evidence made available, change their minds. They have not shut off their critical thinking capacities and blindly accepting; on the contrary, they have thought rationally about the problem and come up with a logical conclusion.

          •  I'll give it a shot... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cyncynical

            If you are familiar with Harris and Dawkins, you are no doubt familair with "strong" and "weak" Atheism. In a nutshell, it is the difference between "There is no god", and "I don't have sufficient evidence to believe in a god".
            I take no exception to the "weak" position, in fact, I (sort of) fall in that category myself.
            The problem that I see is that while the existence of god cannot be proven, neither can the non-existence. The concept of God transcends any one belief system, and without any dogmatic limitations pinning it down, cannot be dis-proved.
            Certainly accepted scientific theory and observation can cast doubt on, say, Catholic catechism and theology, but pretty much leaves the overall concept of Deity untouched.

            In a nutshell, Harris and some of his peers, make the leap from "weak" to "strong" without sufficient justification. They accept "on faith" that there is no god. This is their dogma, and they are as unyielding and vehement in their defense of it as the Church is in the birth of Christ. And they are just as arrogant in their condemnation of those who believe differently.

            I have a better than average background in the sciences, and have kept up my interests on an amateur basis. And yet, my observations of the universe around me have me utterly convinced that there is a God. Or Goddess. Or both. Or whole bunches of them. I'm cool with that. Nothing in accepted scientific "fact" contradicts my belief. I don't need to know all the details... if I do, I will make 'em up as I need them.

            Harris would think less of me for that, so one of us must be wrong.
            I choose him.

            TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

            by Niniane on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 12:36:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Naaah, you are the one who is making (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              heathlander

              the leap on no evidence.  Harris and Dawkins say that there is no proof of God's existence and that is as far as they take it.  They spend the rest of the time in their books talking about the fact, and I repeat "fact," that religion does so many insane things based on unfounded beliefs.  They point out that religions constantly declare that the world is one way, without any supporting evidence, and with mountains of contrary evidence.  They point out that the attempts by religions to decide how the faithful should conduct themselves in the real world often lead to seriously harmful situations.  They show that this irrationality of religion does much more harm than good.

              If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

              by hestal on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 12:50:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Dawkins says that, technically, everyone has to.. (0+ / 0-)

                ..be agnostic, because just as you can't disprove the existence of the toothfairy or of Zeus or a huge invisible flamengo named Brian that is sitting on your head right now, you can't disprove the existenec of God. But until there is evidence for any of these things, the logical position to take is to believe they don't exist.

              •  They focus, as do most of us, on contemporary (0+ / 0-)

                western religious institutions, almost exclusively within the Judeo-Christian-Muslim traditions.

                There are many more religious outlets out there than those few, and many of those simply do not fit within Harris and Company's limited concepts of irrationality and caused harm.

                In fact, many spiritual practices encourage "freethinking" and questioning "established" wisdom.

                Their western bias with regard to religion undermines the credibility of their message. They should either limit the scope of their criticism or educate themselves to the likely exceptions to their own beliefs.

                TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

                by Niniane on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 01:06:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Harris, in fact, acknowledges the very (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  heathlander, cyncynical

                  point you are making.  This is the trouble with debates of this kind, they, like religions, are too often based on an opinion-based view of the world.  Harris devotes quite a lot of time to this point in his book and Dawkins does so as well.

                  If you don't have an earth-shaking idea, get one, you'll love building a better world.

                  by hestal on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 01:10:52 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Looks like you read the books. (0+ / 0-)

                    I enjoyed them too, and recommend them highly.
                    I do have a problem when the ideas get bandied about carelessly and without proper qualification.
                    There are too many folks out there who have issues with the church (pick one) and latch onto something like this without understanding it at all.
                    You get it, it seems. Too many others don't.
                    It has become kind of "cool" in some intellectual circles to make fun of people with spiritual inclinations. Know the difference.
                    The most intelligent (and intellectually honest) people I know, both personally and by reputation, are very spiritual people.
                    Einstein, Sagan, and many others were very spiritual, albeit not religious people.
                    In the neo-pagan community, there are many incredibly intelligent (yet strangely unsuccessful), people that I call friends. And they enjoyed the Dawkins and Harris books too.

                    TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

                    by Niniane on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 01:26:34 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Freethinkers can't be spiritual ? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elie, dallasdave

        That perception seems to be the problem with folks like Harris. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of his, and Dawkins, and "freethinkers" in general.
        I am extremely cynical, and pride myself on my critical and rational approach to life.  At the same time, there is bunches and bunches of stuff that just can not be explained away "rationally", and proved to any degree to my satisfaction. Where science loses the trail, spirituality picks it up.
        Science and Spirituality coexist peacefully within my personal belief system. The only dogma I have to deal with is of my own design, and is subject to change without notice, based on new observation, or maybe just on a whim.
        I'm happy, healthy, and and well-adjusted. I can look at the world with childlike wonder, but am pretty hard to snooker.

        And yet, Mr. Harris would consider me a silly, superstitious fool for my beliefs.

        I forgive him though, I used to be an Athiest too.

        TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

        by Niniane on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 12:12:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who said freethinkers can't be 'spiritual'? (0+ / 0-)

          "At the same time, there is bunches and bunches of stuff that just can not be explained away "rationally", and proved to any degree to my satisfaction. Where science loses the trail, spirituality picks it up."

          Ah - it seems like you're just afraid/reluctant to say "I don't know". It's true that, even using reason and logic, we are unable to explain everything (or even most things). Why can't you just accept that, without turning to religious or "spiritual" (whatever you mean by that) beliefs to plug the gaps? (That is not an accusatory question, by the way - I'm genuinely curious).

          •  I don't know... (0+ / 0-)

            is where religion began. Yup, all of em.
            Any honest religion hasn't gotten very far from it's beginnings.
            Believing that there is something "more" than what we can absolutely prove seems to be important to the human animal. It is to me.
            My point is that there is no harm intrinsic to finding comfort in that belief. The devil, they say, is in the details. Without dogma, without a power structure, and organization, whatever harmful potential might have existed is greatly minimized, if not eliminated completely.
            I don't know is where science gets it start too.
            And any sufficiently honest science hasn't gotten very far from that either.

            Any hypothesis or theory (scientific or spiritual) is only workable until proven wrong, or until no longer supported by observation.
            Until then, isn't one just as good as the other?

            TFYQA - think For Yourself, Question Authority

            by Niniane on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 12:49:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

              "My point is that there is no harm intrinsic to finding comfort in that belief. The devil, they say, is in the details. Without dogma, without a power structure, and organization, whatever harmful potential might have existed is greatly minimized, if not eliminated completely.
              "

              There may be no direct harm caused, but the intellectually lazy attitude of just putting everything down to a big creator in the sky would do immense damage in the long run, because it would hold back technological and scientific discovery.

              In any event, regardless of harm caused, there is also the small matter of whether a belief is true or not. That is what science is concerned with.

    •  I should be more clear . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Niniane

      The "giving cover [to extremists]" argument relates to your assertion that dogma is the enemy but not necessarily the Church itself.

      Your point about rigid systems of belief Harris and Dawkins would agree with, I'm sure.

      •  People like Dawkins and, it seems, Sam Harris (0+ / 0-)

        always seem to overstate the role religion plays in world conflicts. This is understandable, since it is religion that are campaigning against, but I would have to disagree with them on that.

        But yes, in the case of extremism, it is not dogma generally but religion in particular that is doing the damage.

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