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View Diary: Atheist Digest '10: Debunking Dogmas, Part I: Creationism (211 comments)

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  •  But, (8+ / 0-)

    Ethics and morality have nothing to do religion. Take a look at Phil Zuckerman's book, Society Without God, where he examines how the extremely secular societies of Scandanavia are some of the most stable, egalitarian and happiest in the World.

    Just another day in Oceania.

    by drshatterhand on Wed Aug 18, 2010 at 09:23:11 AM PDT

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    •  Scandinavia did not start out secular (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SciMathGuy, commonmass, Joieau

      They worshiped the Nordic Gods, then were converted (by force) to Christianity.

      It was through social evolution that they became secular.

      If we were to wipe out most of humanity through nuclear war back to the stone age, new religions would get invented.  Gods would be created for the sun and the harvest to grow.

      Secularism is largely a luxury that exists when a society becomes stable through a more advanced infrastructure.

      •  Are you trying to say that Scandinavia is only (4+ / 0-)

        moral and egalitarian today because they used to believe in Thor and then were forced to believe in Jesus?  That is wrong on so many levels I don't even know where to start.

        "Religion allows people by the millions to believe things, that only a crazy person could believe on their own." -Sam Harris

        by XNeeOhCon on Wed Aug 18, 2010 at 09:34:19 AM PDT

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        •  If they never converted to Christianity.. (1+ / 0-)
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          ... maybe they'd be the same secular society we see today, maybe not.  The Nordic religion is more of a warrior religion (at least compared to Christianity), so it's hard to tell how they would be like today.

          I think you're missing my point.  Can you cite a tribal society that evolved from stone age, to bronze age, to industrial age without a belief in a higher power of some sort?  Practically every culture in the world is built around their founding religions.

          Practically every human society starts off with the God delusion.  The Soviet Union tried to brutally suppress religion without letting it naturally go away with horrific results.  Stalin actually revived the Church because he found that the people would rather rally around their Churches inthan some abstract concept like "workers of the world, unite!" during the Great Patriotic War.

          In order to get rid of God, you need stable infrastructure and advanced technology.

          I say these things as an agnostic who has rejected religious dogma.

          •  As far as I know there are no societies that (5+ / 0-)

            have been secular throughout their entire history.  That wasn't the point I was making.  My point is that the presence of religion in a society's history does not account for it's high ethical standard.  Correlation does not make causation.  Religious traditions mirror the morals of the society they exist within.  Take away the religion and the moral fabric of that society does not fall apart as many would like to believe, in fact, as you can see in Scandanavia, throwing off the yoke of religion has only been beneficial if anything.  Now, to be fair, they could be better off for the same reasons they are abandoning religion, and not directly because they are abandoning religion (I won't make the same fallacious mistake), but looking at thier case objectively seems to dispell the myth that religion creates morality.

            "Religion allows people by the millions to believe things, that only a crazy person could believe on their own." -Sam Harris

            by XNeeOhCon on Wed Aug 18, 2010 at 09:53:18 AM PDT

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            •  It is impossible to prove or disprove (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SciMathGuy, Joieau

              that religion creates morality.  I think it's impossible to seperate the two simply because the early foundations of primitive societies almost always requires a cruel deity who needs to be worshiped or otherwise the sun will not rise unless a human sacrifice is made.

              So this cruel God becomes the one who explains all existence, creation, etc.  And the foundation of all ethics, simply by default.  Even if it is completely a human construct.

              Religious belief is a necessary growing pain that is necessary for humans to evolve from a social point of view.

              I remember the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" and there was a scene where everybody was burning books in a library to keep warm because of an apocalyptic ice age.  The librarian (an atheist) was asked why he clung to a copy of the Bible if he was atheist.  He responded something to the effect that that copy of the Bible was one of the first to be printed.  And that the printing of the Bible represented a first step towards the age of reason and enlightenment because prior to that, only the "insiders" of the Church were allowed to read it.  It is a profound scene for a popcorn movie.

              Saint Augustine wrote beautiful theological dissertations in his search of the truth.  If he were alive today, I imagine that his will to truth would lead him to reject religion.  He is still a giant of history.

              •  I disagree. (5+ / 0-)

                I think it rather a simple exercise to prove that religion does not create morality.  Religion is a creation of man, not some ex nihilo entity.  Even if the first person to create a particular ethical standard was a writer of a religious text, that standard was not created by the religion spawned by that text but by the same source as the text.  And that example is the closest one could get to religion creating morality.  The more realistic process, which can be researched, and confirmed by historians and scholars, is that moral constructs are fluid and a religious text is a snapshot of the prevalent ideas at the time it was written.  It's clear that those ideas are abandoned over time when you realize that today we follow virtually none of the moral code from the OT.  It is their self interest to claim God's authority over the moral conduct of society, but religious leaders must keep up with the moral standards of an advancing society or they get left in the dust.  

                "Religion allows people by the millions to believe things, that only a crazy person could believe on their own." -Sam Harris

                by XNeeOhCon on Wed Aug 18, 2010 at 10:50:07 AM PDT

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            •  Indeed-- (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              XNeeOhCon, Joieau

              Now, to be fair, they could be better off for the same reasons they are abandoning religion, and not directly because they are abandoning religion....

              Yes, I think that appears to be about the size of it. Atheism isn't the cause of social progress; it just happens to be a sibling effect of the same causes that bring social progress about.

              It's still a happy thing, though: a rising atheism rate is a bit like a rising literacy rate, or a falling maternal mortality rate. As a broad swath of social science data shows, a rising atheism rate shows that something's going right in your community.

      •  Which came first (3+ / 0-)
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        wilderness voice, SciMathGuy, Joieau

        Did the moral reasoning which created the rules in the bible come first, or were the words written, and then people began to follow the moral rules as written?

        I would argue that the moral rules came first, and that they were simply written down.  

        That would indicate that it is the human part that creates the morals, not (the idea of) a perfect moral authority like a god.

        It's a symptom of my syphilitic mind.

        by otto on Wed Aug 18, 2010 at 10:04:07 AM PDT

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        •  Morality creates religion, then. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ... by which the two almost become inseparable until we can afford the luxury of casting off the yoke of religion.

          It's like the chicken or the egg.

        •  The moral reasoning came first (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rieux, otto, XNeeOhCon

          by a considerable longshot. Writing is barely 5,000 years old. This is why the Hebraic tradition included not just the origin mythologies and life stories of the patriarchs, but also the Noahide Laws. All seven of them:

          Idolatry is forbidden.
          Incestuous and adulterous relations are forbidden.
          Murder is forbidden.
          Cursing the name of God is forbidden.
          Theft is forbidden.
          Eating the flesh of a living animal is forbidden.
          Mankind is commanded to establish courts of justice.

          ...courts to adjudicate the first six laws and any other social/political issues of concern. The Talmud holds that these seven laws were given to Noah as binding in the period after the Flood on all mankind. As opposed to the Mosaic codes, which were binding to the Hebraic people and their priesthood.

          Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

          by Joieau on Wed Aug 18, 2010 at 11:19:40 AM PDT

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