Lying is the Root of all Religion

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Kishkumen
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Re: Lying is the Root of all Religion

Post by Kishkumen »

Some Schmo wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2023 6:26 am
I've really tried to make my peace with people's irrational need for religion. The problem is that the idiots want to bring it to the table in public discourse. I, unfortunately, cannot avoid other people's idiotic ideas about the supernatural, because they come up as a premise for the damned nonsense public servants are trying to foist on the American public.

If people want to avoid being criticized for believing idiotic crap, they shouldn't bring it up as a defense for public policy. I'll say it again; your religion is an obvious damned lie to anyone not brainwashed by your B.S.. You need evidence for any idea you want to forward. Religion is not a feasible defense for idiotic public policy. I'll leave religion alone when it leaves everyone else alone. Until then, Screw you, pushers of B.S..

You lying about the nature of reality is not going to convince everyone, just the morons. Go eat at the kids table while the adults talk.
I agree that unverifiable and controversial claims based on religious dogma should not be the law that governs everyone. Abortion is a great example. Blind devotion to the idea that the union of a sperm and an egg creates a life that must not be terminated under any circumstances lest God be angered and visit us in his wrath is not a great basis for making policy, let alone law.
"Great power connected with ambition, luxury and flattery, will as readily produce a Caesar, Caligula, Nero and Domitian in America, as the same causes did in the Roman Empire." ~Cato, New York Journal
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Re: Lying is the Root of all Religion

Post by Gunnar »

Kishkumen wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2023 12:42 pm
Res Ipsa wrote:
Mon Jul 31, 2023 7:22 pm
It does. Our brains lie to "ourselves" constantly. If they didn't, we literally could not function. And there is a ton of evidence that our brains value telling a consistent story over telling the truth. in my opinion, using "lying to themselves" as a substitute for "believing false things" creates a very false picture of what these others are actually doing.

The same with the basis of religion: Saying that religion is based on lies involves a moral judgment that none of us have a basis for making. Do they have origin stories that are not true? Sure. Can those origin stories be traced to an individual group who communicated something that they knew was false? No.

Declaring that something is harmful to society because it originated in falsity isn't really based on evidence. The U.S. was founded, in part, on the notion that "All men are created equal" even though it actually meant "All White Males who own land" are created equal. And yet, over time, changes that have moved us closer to that claim have been beneficial: ending slavery, ending race-based voting restrictions, extending the vote to women, extending property ownership to women, etc.

Christianity, regardless of the truthfulness of its origin story, promotes the Golden Rule. Is that harmful to society?

Religion, and its effect on society, is complicated -- just like everything else about humanity. Emotional black and white narratives are a huge part of what's killing our society today.
Thank you for these comments! You are exactly right, in my opinion.
I don't disagree with any of those comments, and RI well deserves our thanks for sharing them with us.

Speaking of the golden rule, this is the one principle that should be the bedrock of any respectable religion. This is the baby that absolutely must not be thrown out with the bathwater. Compared to that, most other religious claims are mere chaff that often obscures and sometimes even conflicts with that principle. Even discussions about what is true about the nature of God or gods and even whether or not any such being deserving the appellation "God" actually exists, can arguably be viewed as unnecessary distractions that too often lead to intolerance, bigotry and cruelty towards others who don't happen to entirely share one's own particular God beliefs. I like to quote the way Gamaliel the Elder (a contemporary of Jesus Christ) worded it:
That which is hateful unto you, do not unto others. That is the entirety of the law. Everything else is commentary.
It would be interesting to know whether or not Gamaliel and Christ ever spoke to each other and shared their views with each other.
No precept or claim is more suspect or more likely to be false than one that can only be supported by invoking the claim of Divine authority for it--no matter who or what claims such authority.
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Re: Lying is the Root of all Religion

Post by Vēritās »

Res Ipsa wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2023 4:09 pm
Gunnar wrote:
Tue Aug 01, 2023 5:23 am
I very much admire and agree with Steven Weinberg's take on religion:
Schmo, you used to say in your signature line that religion is a placeholder for ignorance. I think there is a lot of truth to that. I also think that a major impetus for mankind's invention of religion was desperation to understand enough about the scary world we live in to protect us from it and feel a bit more secure, even if, at first, we could only pretend to know that what we imagined or wished were true. Religion was (and still is) a placeholder for what we couldn't yet know or figure out. Shared religious beliefs undoubtedly motivated people to form cohesive groups for their own mutual protection and survival.

I don't think we can deny that much of the noblest and most beautiful achievements of mankind in art, literature, philosophy, music and human compassion have been motivated by sincere religious belief. But neither can we deny that many of the very worst atrocities and conflicts and most enduring hatreds between us have also been caused by "good" people fanatically convinced they were only carrying out the will of God.
No disrespect intended to you, Gunnar, but lots of disrespect toward Weinberg. He's a brilliant physicist who deservedly won the Nobel Prize in physics. But, in my opinion, that statement is one of the most idiotic things uttered by a high profile atheist. Rwandan genocide is the easiest example -- where an ethnic conflict led neighbors slaughtered neighbors, including children, with machetes.

What causes good people to evil is fear that an outgroup represents an existential crisis. And Weinberg's quip reinforces the in group-outgroup dynamic that is what causes good people to do evil.
Not sure your example does much to refute Weinberg because it assumes the people who did the slaughtering were genuinely "good" people to begin with. Weinberg didn't say only religious people do evil, he is saying religion makes a genuinely good person do evil. Of course other things can make a person become irrational and kill someone; something like watching your child and family being brutally murdered in front of you might drive a person to kill that person's family as well. But there is no doubt that religion is a very powerful force that can drive otherwise good people to act irrationally and do evil because the examples are abundant. And after all, it makes sense because once God is on your side, there are no consequences to be feared. And moral roadblocks or doubts you may have are easily wiped away with the religious precept that God's ways are mysterious and you'll better understand them in the hereafter.

The religious texts are full of examples promoting this notion where God's commandments put people in a moral quagmire. If God tells you to kill someone because it will benefit everyone, then you're supposed to do it (Nephi). Even if God tells you to murder your own son, you're supposed to do it (Abraham). If God tells the Jews to slaughter women and children (Amalekites) then you're supposed to do it. When God is randomly murdering scores of children in the Bible over the stupidest crap, like for making fun of a hairless prophet, I have a hard time listening to religious people talk about the sanctity of life when they're religiously driven to force 10 year old children to give birth after they're been raped. Probably by another religious man who.
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Re: Lying is the Root of all Religion

Post by Res Ipsa »

Vēritās wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2023 2:16 pm
Res Ipsa wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2023 4:09 pm
No disrespect intended to you, Gunnar, but lots of disrespect toward Weinberg. He's a brilliant physicist who deservedly won the Nobel Prize in physics. But, in my opinion, that statement is one of the most idiotic things uttered by a high profile atheist. Rwandan genocide is the easiest example -- where an ethnic conflict led neighbors slaughtered neighbors, including children, with machetes.

What causes good people to evil is fear that an outgroup represents an existential crisis. And Weinberg's quip reinforces the in group-outgroup dynamic that is what causes good people to do evil.
Not sure your example does much to refute Weinberg because it assumes the people who did the slaughtering were genuinely "good" people to begin with.
This illustrates one of many problems with Weinberg's quip: it invites an infinite game of No True Scotsman. Neither you nor Weinberg can show whether the people involved in the Rwanda massacre were "good people" or "evil people." But Rwanda is one of many examples of political movements that had the same result. And all it takes is one "good person" doing evil to disprove the quip.

Weinberg's assumption that there is some state of nature in which we can classify people into "good" and "evil" is sheer nonsense. Ironically, the categories "good" and "evil" are religious in nature, so I'm not sure why Weinberg is even borrowing them. The fact is, the actions we take are affected by millions of contingent events, most of which we aren't conscious of. Attributing people's actions to some fundamental personality attribute is a cognitive bias known as "fundamental attribution error." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundament ... tion_error
Veritas wrote:Weinberg didn't say only religious people do evil, he is saying religion makes a genuinely good person do evil.
i understand what he said. I'm saying it's not only BS, it's harmful BS.
Veritas wrote:Of course other things can make a person become irrational and kill someone; something like watching your child and family being brutally murdered in front of you might drive a person to kill that person's family as well.
Congratulations. You've proved Weinberg wrong. That's another problem with Weinberg's quip: it claims to be categorically true -- no exceptions. But there are plenty of counterexamples.

Also, I don't understand why you have introduced "rationality" into the discussion. Weinberg spoke only of good and evil. Adding "irrational/irrational to the mix seems to me to overcomplicate the issue.
Veritas wrote:]But there is no doubt that religion is a very powerful force that can drive otherwise good people to act irrationally and do evil because the examples are abundant. And after all, it makes sense because once God is on your side, there are no consequences to be feared. And moral roadblocks or doubts you may have are easily wiped away with the religious precept that God's ways are mysterious and you'll better understand them in the hereafter.
Given that neither you nor Weinberg has supported the claim that people can be divided into "good" and "evil" separate from what they do, any argument based on that notion is a waste of time.

In addition, the brush you paint with is simultaneously over broad and not broad enough. What makes sense to is absolutely not an accurate guide to how other people think. Maybe you accurately described the way you thought when you were a faithful Mormon. My experience in interacting with lots of religious folks over the years doesn't match with you cartoonish description of how people really think. They struggle with how to be a good person, just like I do. None of them have exhibited the type of simplistic, robotic reasoning that you describe. So, some may think the way you describe, but some is not all.

On the other hand, extreme movements of non-religious types include some people who think in ways similar to those you describe. No God, but the same types of rationalization for doing evil.

There is one thing that all extreme movements that persuade people to do evil have in common: tribe-based dehumanization of the other. The tribes can be based on any number of things: race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, politics, religion, and others I'm sure I haven't listed. To get humans to commit evil against other humans requires only the portrayal of members of an out group to be lesser humans, including not humans at all.

So, too broad and too narrow.

Not only that, but the foundation of Weinberg's statement is itself a perfect example of this destructive tribalism: the very notion that there are "good" and "evil" people. The quip is a ridiculous mess.
Veritas wrote:The religious texts are full of examples promoting this notion where God's commandments put people in a moral quagmire. If God tells you to kill someone because it will benefit everyone, then you're supposed to do it (Nephi). Even if God tells you to murder your own son, you're supposed to do it (Abraham). If God tells the Jews to slaughter women and children (Amalekites) then you're supposed to do it. When God is randomly murdering scores of children in the Bible over the stupidest crap, like for making fun of a hairless prophet, I have a hard time listening to religious people talk about the sanctity of life when they're religiously driven to force 10 year old children to give birth after they're been raped. Probably by another religious man who.
By singling out "religion" as the only tribe that can cause "good" people (still undefined) to do evil, Weinberg is perpetuating exactly the kind of harmful tribalism he should be calling out. It's the kind of simplistic, thoughtless statement that atheists say to make themselves feel morally superior to the religious. making Weinberg guilty of the thing he should be condemning.
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Re: Lying is the Root of all Religion

Post by ceeboo »

Res Ipsa wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2023 6:43 pm
Vēritās wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2023 2:16 pm
Not sure your example does much to refute Weinberg because it assumes the people who did the slaughtering were genuinely "good" people to begin with.
This illustrates one of many problems with Weinberg's quip: it invites an infinite game of No True Scotsman. Neither you nor Weinberg can show whether the people involved in the Rwanda massacre were "good people" or "evil people." But Rwanda is one of many examples of political movements that had the same result. And all it takes is one "good person" doing evil to disprove the quip.

Weinberg's assumption that there is some state of nature in which we can classify people into "good" and "evil" is sheer nonsense. Ironically, the categories "good" and "evil" are religious in nature, so I'm not sure why Weinberg is even borrowing them. The fact is, the actions we take are affected by millions of contingent events, most of which we aren't conscious of. Attributing people's actions to some fundamental personality attribute is a cognitive bias known as "fundamental attribution error." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundament ... tion_error
Veritas wrote:Weinberg didn't say only religious people do evil, he is saying religion makes a genuinely good person do evil.

i understand what he said. I'm saying it's not only BS, it's harmful BS.
Veritas wrote:Of course other things can make a person become irrational and kill someone; something like watching your child and family being brutally murdered in front of you might drive a person to kill that person's family as well.
Congratulations. You've proved Weinberg wrong. That's another problem with Weinberg's quip: it claims to be categorically true -- no exceptions. But there are plenty of counterexamples.

Also, I don't understand why you have introduced "rationality" into the discussion. Weinberg spoke only of good and evil. Adding "irrational/irrational to the mix seems to me to overcomplicate the issue.
Veritas wrote:]But there is no doubt that religion is a very powerful force that can drive otherwise good people to act irrationally and do evil because the examples are abundant. And after all, it makes sense because once God is on your side, there are no consequences to be feared. And moral roadblocks or doubts you may have are easily wiped away with the religious precept that God's ways are mysterious and you'll better understand them in the hereafter.
Given that neither you nor Weinberg has supported the claim that people can be divided into "good" and "evil" separate from what they do, any argument based on that notion is a waste of time.

In addition, the brush you paint with is simultaneously over broad and not broad enough. What makes sense to is absolutely not an accurate guide to how other people think. Maybe you accurately described the way you thought when you were a faithful Mormon. My experience in interacting with lots of religious folks over the years doesn't match with you cartoonish description of how people really think. They struggle with how to be a good person, just like I do. None of them have exhibited the type of simplistic, robotic reasoning that you describe. So, some may think the way you describe, but some is not all.

On the other hand, extreme movements of non-religious types include some people who think in ways similar to those you describe. No God, but the same types of rationalization for doing evil.

There is one thing that all extreme movements that persuade people to do evil have in common: tribe-based dehumanization of the other. The tribes can be based on any number of things: race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, politics, religion, and others I'm sure I haven't listed. To get humans to commit evil against other humans requires only the portrayal of members of an out group to be lesser humans, including not humans at all.

So, too broad and too narrow.

Not only that, but the foundation of Weinberg's statement is itself a perfect example of this destructive tribalism: the very notion that there are "good" and "evil" people. The quip is a ridiculous mess.
Veritas wrote:The religious texts are full of examples promoting this notion where God's commandments put people in a moral quagmire. If God tells you to kill someone because it will benefit everyone, then you're supposed to do it (Nephi). Even if God tells you to murder your own son, you're supposed to do it (Abraham). If God tells the Jews to slaughter women and children (Amalekites) then you're supposed to do it. When God is randomly murdering scores of children in the Bible over the stupidest crap, like for making fun of a hairless prophet, I have a hard time listening to religious people talk about the sanctity of life when they're religiously driven to force 10 year old children to give birth after they're been raped. Probably by another religious man who.
By singling out "religion" as the only tribe that can cause "good" people (still undefined) to do evil, Weinberg is perpetuating exactly the kind of harmful tribalism he should be calling out. It's the kind of simplistic, thoughtless statement that atheists say to make themselves feel morally superior to the religious. making Weinberg guilty of the thing he should be condemning.
Hey Res, :)

Many of your board contributions (this one certainly included) are one of the main reasons I still take the time to come here and read.

In addition to being personally grateful for your posts (and personally humbled by your posts), reading your posts has frequently forced me to think deeper, reflect, consider, and reconsider various things. In my opinion, you are an extremely valuable member of this community.

Thank you!
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Re: Lying is the Root of all Religion

Post by Res Ipsa »

Thanks for the atta-boy, Ceeboo. I'm glad you see something of value in my ramblings.

A Happy Thanksgiving to you and the Ceeboo household.
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Re: Lying is the Root of all Religion

Post by Gunnar »

I don't think anyone here is trying to argue that only people who regard themselves as religious do evil things while regarding themselves as good and morally superior people. But I don't think it can be rationally or honestly denied that there are many examples of people who have justified, in their own minds, doing heinous acts to other people with a religious-like, self-righteous fervor, whether or not they claim or admit to being motivated by religion, even while denying that religion was even a motivation for what they did.
Last edited by Gunnar on Sat Nov 25, 2023 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
No precept or claim is more suspect or more likely to be false than one that can only be supported by invoking the claim of Divine authority for it--no matter who or what claims such authority.
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Re: Lying is the Root of all Religion

Post by Gunnar »

Res Ipsa wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2023 9:11 pm
Thanks for the atta-boy, Ceeboo. I'm glad you see something of value in my ramblings.

A Happy Thanksgiving to you and the Ceeboo household.
For the record, I enjoy your "ramblings" too! There few, if any people, whose "ramblings" I would rather read, or that I find more consistently instructive!
No precept or claim is more suspect or more likely to be false than one that can only be supported by invoking the claim of Divine authority for it--no matter who or what claims such authority.
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