Religion / Atheism

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Sam the Centipede
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#326

Post by Sam the Centipede »

The Gnostic heresy and its offshoots were fascinating. Rather like the sovcits, they claimed to have special knowledge that ordinary folk lacked! Ultimately their gnosis was just a special brand of ignorance.

Christianity is not really monotheistic and could not be. With a single perfect god doing everything there are no gripping stories. It's a drama with no other actors and no audience, nobody to interact with or talk about. So there are minor deities hidden around: angels, the devil (boo! hiss!),, Jesus, Mary the horsemen of the Apocalypse, cherubim, possibly saints, etc.

I am curious how the people of the Norse, Roman/Greek etc. religions actually viewed their gods. Those pantheons have a rich narrative of stories, drama, rivalries, flawed personalities, locations, battles, love, hate and only a limited notion that the mighty gods might have any interest in ordinary mortals, unless leading an expedition that met with a god's approval.

I'm sure the hoi polloi must have regarded the whole thing with ambivalence: it was a shared mythology to bind society together and good fun for temples, feasts, etc., but their gods gave little guidance on personal behavior and only intervened capriciously.

Changing the topic slightly: it's always amusing as an atheist when one hears a priest asserting "all religions are false, except mine." There are thousands of religions in the world, so I agree 99.9% with that priest; my only emendation would be to remove the words "except mine."

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Re: Religion / Atheism

#327

Post by Reality Check »

Years ago I had an interesting discussion with some Christians in my family about Christianity being a polytheistic religion. They don't buy it of course nor do most Christians. They also didn't like it when I pointed out that the term Holy Trinity is not used in the Bible.
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#328

Post by Volkonski »

Well, of course. It was bound to happen eventually. American retailers commercialized Christmas and now they are doing the same to Ramadan! :)


Houston Chronicle

@HoustonChron
Local Muslims say retailers can help bring Ramadan into the mainstream https://www.houstonchronicle.com/busine ... ium=social

11:38 AM - May 15, 2018
Earlier this year, the national party supply outlet Party City launched a Ramadan-specific line for the first time. The chain, with 850 U.S. stores, sold the party goods online and then in select stores, including one in Sugar Land. The company quickly ran out and is working to restock.

“We listened to our customers who were requesting Ramadan decorations and recognized an opportunity to fill this underserved category of party good items,” Party City’s president of retail Ryan Vero said in an email statement.

Malik gladly bought plates and napkins to supplement her homemade works.

“When you see Party City doing this,” she said, “it’s an honor for us.”
Image“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#329

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer »

I'm glad. My greatnieces are Muslim. Decorations like these make them feel more a part of society.
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#330

Post by That Eurojerk »

In France you find in the large supermarkets a Ramadan "Advent calendar".
„Er aber, sag’s ihm, er kann mich im Arsche lecken!“ - J.W. Goethe - Götz von Berlichingen

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Re: Religion / Atheism

#331

Post by Volkonski »


Richard Dawkins Foundation 🤔 🔬 🔭 ⚖️ 👩🏾‍🔬 🏳️‍🌈

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.@stephenfry received the Richard Dawkins Award at CSICON this past weekend.

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Image“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#332

Post by RTH10260 »

a speech nearly ten years ago, on neuroscience analysis of believe
Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science wrote: Published on 23 Apr 2009

Andy Thomson gives his talk titled 'Why We Believe in Gods' at the American Atheist 2009 convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Re: Religion / Atheism

#333

Post by Volkonski »

Don't know how I missed this before today since I am a member of two UU Fellowships. :?

For those on Facebook-

The Unitarian Universalist Hysterical Society Coffee Hour

https://www.facebook.com/groups/UUHyste ... _tn__=CH-R

Some sample posts-

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Image“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

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Re: Religion / Atheism

#334

Post by fierceredpanda »

Reviving this thread so people who don't want to read this don't have to. This is particularly the case on Christmas Eve, when (for reasons neither here nor there) I of all people understand that this isn't always a season of nothing but merriment and joy.

The Christianity Today editorial seems to have set off quite a furious debate among Christians as to who is the more Christian. Right-wing white evangelicals are continuing to argue that Trump is a necessary evil, a "worthy heathen" like Darius, holding back the tide of atheism and unbelief that threatens to imprison and torture Christians for practicing their religion. Yes, they actually believe that. David Brody's Twitter feed for the last several days has been chock full of these arguments. The countervailing point was best summed up by CT's article:
To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency.
Or, more succinctly, one could borrow the Brennan Manning quote that was very popular when I was growing up as a young Christian:
The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
Now, it's many years since I outed myself to my family as an atheist. (I think I've gone over my deconversion story here somewhere, but the short version is that I was persuaded to out myself out in the name of honesty by my Jesuit priest law school advisor.) Part of me is exasperated by these internecine squabbles about 1st century superstitions when the world has some serious problems to solve right now. But, I will confess, a lot of me is enjoying seeing the David Brodys of the world make very clear that what we atheists have always asserted about religion is exactly true: That, in spite of all the claims by religiously affiliated folk that their kingdom is not of this world, and their concerns are with the life to come, time after time after time the actions of religious bodies indicate that they are wholly unconcerned with any life to come and entirely interested in power in the only world we actually know exists - this one.

Upon reflection, I very much desire the bulk of evangelicals to continue to publicly admit that they are entirely interested in worldly things like judges, stopping gay and transsexual people from being treated equally, continuing to marginalize atheists in public life, and those sweet, sweet tax exemptions for every damn thing they do. I want them to continue to embrace Donald Trump as their folk hero, grabbing women's crotches while saving America for Jesus. I want them to continue to insist that doing anything about climate change is against God's will, because reasons. I want them to do more things that an unbelieving world will find unbelievable. And some day when Trump isn't President, and the David Brodys of the world want to go back to lecturing all of us about how we need moral leadership and blah blah blah, no one will listen. That's what I want.

Why do I want these things? Because the quickest way to produce more atheists is for Christians to continue to behave like they believe exactly none of the teachings of Christ, and for religion in general to be exposed for the worldly power-grab it always has been. It's long past time the world got over the superstitious nonsense of the first century, stopped worrying about some future life that may or may not exist - and that we can't know if it does exist anyway, and start having reasoned discourse about real problems in the here-and-now.
"There's no play here. There's no angle. There's no champagne room. I'm not a miracle worker, I'm a janitor. The math on this is simple; the smaller the mess, the easier it is for me to clean up." -Michael Clayton


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Re: Religion / Atheism

#335

Post by Slim Cognito »

After a traumatic (to a 8-yo girl) experience in Sunday School* I kept my alternate religion to myself for decades. As many tweens do, I gravitated toward Wicca. I got books about Wicca and Hinduism from the library and hid them like my brothers hid their porn stash. I've since given up all pretense of religion, although I do think highly of Jesus' teachings. When I finally came out to my mother, she cried because she won't see me in heaven. (I've resisted the urge to ask her which husband she plans to hang out with when she arrives, my dad, my stepdad or both, and would she mind if stepdad's first wife comes along.) When I visit and she turns on Joel Olsteen, I move to another room because I can't stomach the guy. She's too frail (on hospice care) to go to a church service, or even downstairs to the one they hold in the assisted-living center.

All that said, however, if I drove down the street and saw a church with a nativity display that shows Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus in a cage, I would attend their service the very next Sunday.

For the record, my family members aren't evangelicals, they are socially liberal methodists and not in any way hypocritical of anyone's lifestyle as long as they are law-abiding. Mom was equally thrilled and saddened when her beloved hairdresser left her salon to move to CA with his new husband-to-be. This was many, many, MANY years ago, before SCOTUS' ruling.


*They taught us Fire Next Time as if it were an uplifting song for children to sing, "No more water but fire next time" I walked out of there traumatized that, if i misbehaved, god would set me on fire. And, for the record, I was always horrified by the allegedly wonderful children's story of Noah's ark, where all the puppies, kittens, babies and children drowned because of what some bad grownups did.

(my apologies if I've told this story before. I forgets stuff)
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#336

Post by Sam the Centipede »

FRP: I think the RW evangelicals' Christianity is not really a religion in the sense of beliefs and a moral code, it's an identity thing, and they hope to be a dominant community. Typically it's a variant of white supremacy. Or dominionism. Their behavior is about caring for and promoting their own and demonizing us rational folk. They are evil.

SC: it's an interesting question as to what the person in heaven is supposed to be: the old frail person who died or an invigorated young version. Are young children who die still children in heaven? Do lifetime wheelchair users have a golden wheelchair or can they walk? Or is everybody just a disembodied spirit, in which case wtf is that? The whole notion is incoherent and bizarre.

I once asked some Jehovah's Witnesses at the door about their construct of heaven, and (iirc) after all the fun and games of the end times, the righteous will spend eternity praising their god! That's heaven?!?! Sounds more like hell! And it also sounds like a vile and unpleasant god. But that doesn't really matter, as it's all fiction.

I was in my teens before I realized that many people go to church because they desire to, not because they get dragged along as kids (as I was) then feel as adults that it's an unpleasant but necessary duty. But then I never did "get" the religion thing. No supernatural being ever considered communicating with me, and I worked out why.

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Re: Religion / Atheism

#337

Post by JohnPCapitalist »

fierceredpanda wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 9:54 am
The Christianity Today editorial seems to have set off quite a furious debate among Christians as to who is the more Christian. Right-wing white evangelicals are continuing to argue that Trump is a necessary evil, a "worthy heathen" like Darius, holding back the tide of atheism and unbelief that threatens to imprison and torture Christians for practicing their religion. Yes, they actually believe that. David Brody's Twitter feed for the last several days has been chock full of these arguments. The countervailing point was best summed up by CT's article:
To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency.
Or, more succinctly, one could borrow the Brennan Manning quote that was very popular when I was growing up as a young Christian:
The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
:snippity:

Why do I want these things? Because the quickest way to produce more atheists is for Christians to continue to behave like they believe exactly none of the teachings of Christ, and for religion in general to be exposed for the worldly power-grab it always has been.
Bravo!

Of course, the sad thing (or good thing) about the Christianity Today article is that it is about four years too late. Nonbelievers immediately saw the Trump train wreck for what it would be. We had no illusion for even a second that this shambling, bumbling, blustering fool would do anything good for anyone, including those who support him. The time for responsible Christians to begin an unrelenting campaign to oppose him was then, not after he has stripped away the facade of respectability of the GOP's values and those of the Evangelicals that make up his base. That would have taken moral backbone and concerted effort, but it might have had an impact. This article appearing now is a case of shutting the barn door after the horse has not only escaped but been rendered into dog food. No non-believer is going to salute the courage of the CT editors for publishing this material now. And they're certainly not going to win any converts for what they think is a courageous moral stance.

The world has already started to react to the specter of unrestrained Evangelical fanaticism. I have followed the numbers coming out of the various Pew surveys and other reputable sources. Christianity is potentially past the tipping point among the under-30s. I recently asked my son if any of his friends are religious, and he looked at me oddly. "Of course not," was the reply, in a tone of voice and with a look that showed he considered the question as repellent and bizarre as asking whether he hung out with pedophiles.

When you couple the bad behavior of the fundamentalists with the unceasing waves of news stories about sexual abuse by clergy, we're potentially following the same curve as Ireland in a shift in religious behavior. 50 years ago, 90%-plus of the population attended church weekly. Because of the priestly abuse scandals and (a mostly local phenomenon) of the workhouse scandals, church attendance has plummeted to something like 30% to 40%. The most Catholic country in Europe is now roughly where all the others are, yet they got there in a generation, not in a couple centuries. Yes, other sociological phenomena were at work as well, including increasing urbanization and increasing educational levels, which corrrelate with lower religiousity, but bad behavior on the part of church authorities was clearly the main driver.

We have a long ways to go on church sexual abuse scandals, by the way... while the Catholics are mostly (there are some revanchists in the hierarchy, so I won't say "all") working hard to fix the institution permanently and to acknowledge the horrors of the past, the protestants are just getting started. The Houston Chronicle's report (https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/i ... 588038.php) about abuse and systematic coverups in the region's Southern Baptist churches is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg -- it's not a Catholic problem, it's not even a Christian problem, it's a universal problem with religions as well as other organizations. If you want to see some scary abuse statistics, look at the Hasidic Jewish community in the New York area, for instance. The Jehovah's Witnesses are also being sued with increasing frequency and increasing success, which could potentially bankrupt the organization. Many of the protestant organizations now being hit with abuse allegations are doubling down rather than reforming, unlike the Catholics.

So between Trump and child molestation, we're likely to see the US become very much like Europe in the next 20-30 years. I am hopeful that this horrible time is the last gasp of a sick, dying culture, though I could be wrong. After all, I'm sure many people predicted that religion would become extinct in the wake of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in 1925, but clearly it went underground until it could erupt again after 40 years of being stoked by Reaganism.

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Re: Religion / Atheism

#338

Post by Volkonski »

United Methodist Church is expected to split over gay marriage, fracturing the nation’s third-largest denomination
Church leaders agreed to spin off a “traditionalist Methodist” denomination, and allow the remainder of the denomination to permit same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy for the first time in its history.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion ... omination/
Leaders of the church said they had agreed to spin off a “traditionalist Methodist” denomination, which would continue to oppose same-sex marriage and to refuse ordination to LGBT clergy, while allowing the remaining portion of the United Methodist Church to permit same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy for the first time in its history.

The plan would need to be approved in May at the denomination’s worldwide conference.

The writers of the plan called the division “the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person.”

The United Methodist Church is the United States’s largest mainline Protestant denomination. The church has fought bitterly about LGBT inclusion for years, and leaders often feared the fight would lead to a schism.
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#339

Post by neonzx »

Volkonski wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 3:39 pm
United Methodist Church is expected to split over gay marriage, fracturing the nation’s third-largest denomination
Church leaders agreed to spin off a “traditionalist Methodist” denomination, and allow the remainder of the denomination to permit same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy for the first time in its history.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion ... omination/
". . . allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person.”

As Jesus would want it. :roll: Separate. Methodists (like Baptists) did this over slavery, too. :-
To which Trump replied, Fuck the law. I don't give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money.

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Re: Religion / Atheism

#340

Post by RoadScholar »

I agree with everything negative y’all have said about organized religions, and more, but I disagree that such insights invariably produce atheism. It hasn’t with me... and brothers and sisters, I have looked into and pondered pretty much everything.

My personal experiences tell me something is up besides molecules. Something. Don’t know what. Something, under every steaming mound of conflicted verbiage, showman’s ritual and human failings rendered permanent that comprise capital-R Religions, seems valid to me... something that wants us to be wiser, rise above baseness and treat each other better.

Egyptian mysticism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judeo-Christianity, Islam, Pagan spirituality, whatever has been said to carry God... they all seem to have a blaze of similarity at core, but each is encrusted with miles and miles of mankind’s crappy baggage, so thickly stratified that you can barely peer into the center.

Leonard Cohen wrote “There’s a blaze of light in every word...” Every word. Shifting, imprecise, translated, misunderstood, ambiguous; signifiers vainly seeking significance... but within, a blaze. So too I persist in the belief that there is a spark that we can explore to be better people, to do better in our brief time, but about which we are all nearly 100% wrong, including me.

Something that is obscured, not revealed, by any attempt at definition. Reward or punishment after death? Certainly not before - the good are rarely rewarded and the wicked often prosper. Entering the Light? One god, three, many? Male, female? Their Holy Names? Don’t know, don’t care. Just more irrelevant claptrap to me. One true religion, and everyone else is doomed? Nonsense. Worse than nonsense: the worst idea in the long sad history of bad ideas.

And yet somehow all of that still hasn’t shook me off the branch.

Of course, the starkest rock-ribbed atheists may after all be correct... I just don’t think so.
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Sam the Centipede
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#341

Post by Sam the Centipede »

Atheism does not imply that one believes that there is nothing more to the universe than molecules. It's a rejection of belief in gods specifically, and, by extension, other vaguely humanlike supernatural beings affecting our world. The etymology gives the meaning.

But a vague feeling that there is something out there, however deeply held or long thought about, is not evidence for existence of anything. Many theologians spend years in seminaries, madrassas, universities, etc. each studying the fine detail of their religion's theory and mythology, each religion contradicting the other, without ever reaching the blindingly obvious conclusion that they are wasting their time studying bullshit. Their "knowledge" is little different than that of an obsessive fan of Star Wars or Harry Potter, yet they claim insight denied to us rational folk. Theirs is the wisdom of fools and charlatans.

The feeling that there must be a reason, someone or something must be in charge, is clearly a deep part of human psychology. Religions tap into that need, and into other social factors, but that does not in any way make them true. They can't all be right, but that explains why they can all be wrong. The stories pull us in. Our brains are not inherently rational, in fact they are inherently irrational, with emotion our principal tool in decision making.

Science does not have all the answers and does not claim to. Religion not only doesn't have the answers, it doesn't even understand the questions. There may be something out there, but religion has none of these tools to find it, and its closed nature actively works against discovering wider truths.

The greatest underlying principle of science is "show me, prove it". That is much stronger than its polar opposite, religion's faith, which demands that adherents believe not only without evidence, but especially when the evidence actively contradicts the belief.

It amuses me when I read about religious groups discussing changes to doctrine, such as for same-sex relationships. Firstly because they are very keen to claim to be defenders of' eternal verities, yet somehow these eternal verities can shift with general social mores. Secondly because they don't ever ask their god (y'know, this all-powerful being with a host of angels and other subservient demigods, who surely could spare a few minutes) to give a clear and concise ruling on such issues. "Clear and concise" does not mean inflicting bushfires on Australia to punish teh gayz, rather tablets of stone or flaming letters!

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Re: Religion / Atheism

#342

Post by Reality Check »

I have enjoyed reading this thread. I think I figured out that religion was organized mass delusion as an early teenager while listening to a sermon at a Methodist church. My wife was a Presbyterian when we got married and we continued to attend the church when our children were younger. The one we attended was run by a fairly progressive moderator. He allowed a Gay - Straight Alliance group who were banned from meeting at a local high school to use the church facility to meet. When the moderator moved up to a higher position in the Presbytery he was replaced by a more conservative moderator. That was it for my wife. I had quit going for several years. She followed suit. She has never actually come out as an Agnostic but she never brings up religion.
Sam the Centipede wrote:Atheism does not imply that one believes that there is nothing more to the universe than molecules. It's a rejection of belief in gods specifically, and, by extension, other vaguely humanlike supernatural beings affecting our world. The etymology gives the meaning.
Good point. Atheists or Agnostics if you prefer do not claim to have all the answers. However that's no reason to embrace views and teachings of humans who lived 1000 to 5000 years ago who probably had 1% of the scientific understanding we have in 2020.

There are still some big questions to be answered such as what is human consciousness and is life rare or ubiquitous in the universe. I find it fascinating that the cells in our body are completely replaced over a span of 7 to 10 years. That means you are made up of completely different molecules than you were a decade ago yet you apparently have the same memories and self awareness that you did ten years ago. That sounds spooky but I think there are many examples in nature of collective properties cannot be explained by dissecting the individual pieces.

I think the answers to these big questions will come from reason and scientific research and not from the teachings of primitive ancient writings.
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#343

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer »

I agree with Reality Check.
There are still some big questions to be answered such as what is human consciousness and is life rare or ubiquitous in the universe. I find it fascinating that the cells in our body are completely replaced over a span of 7 to 10 years. That means you are made up of completely different molecules than you were a decade ago yet you apparently have the same memories and self awareness that you did ten years ago. That sounds spooky but I think there are many examples in nature of collective properties cannot be explained by dissecting the individual pieces.

I think the answers to these big questions will come from reason and scientific research and not from the teachings of primitive ancient writings.
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#344

Post by p0rtia »

I've been listening to a lot of atheist and skeptics podcasts, shows, and debates for the past few years. It soothes my brain to hear people discussing issues rationally, in contrast with the intellectually dishonest way all Republicans, most Media talking heads, and many Democrats discuss issues. Like many others here, it hurts my brain to listen to the destructive shit.

Anyway, listening to theists arguing their various proofs for the existence of whichever god they imagine, listening to the delusions and the bad logic, hearing stories of the incredible harm that is done to society by both the rejection of critical thinking and the authoritarian fear-mongering is exactly like listening to Republicans arguing in favor of Dear Leader and fascism.

Tragic.
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#345

Post by neonzx »

Reality Check wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 12:51 pm

There are still some big questions to be answered such as what is human consciousness and is life rare or ubiquitous in the universe. I find it fascinating that the cells in our body are completely replaced over a span of 7 to 10 years. That means you are made up of completely different molecules than you were a decade ago yet you apparently have the same memories and self awareness that you did ten years ago. That sounds spooky but I think there are many examples in nature of collective properties cannot be explained by dissecting the individual pieces.
Or not, exactly. Especially for our brain cells.
https://www.livescience.com/amp/33179-d ... years.html
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Re: Religion / Atheism

#346

Post by Reality Check »

neonzx wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 3:20 pm

Or not, exactly. Especially for our brain cells.
https://www.livescience.com/amp/33179-d ... years.html
I had read this article, which doesn't mention brain cells.
https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/ ... years1.htm

At the same site they had another article that clarifies that cells in the cerebral cortex are not replaced:
https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/ ... years2.htm
There are also some cells that never leave us and may aid the aging process, or at least the body's breakdown over time. While the eye's cornea can regenerate itself in as little as one day, the lens and other areas don't change. Similarly, neurons in the cerebral cortex – the brain's outside layer that governs memory, thought, language, attention and consciousness – stay with us from birth to death. Because they aren't replaced, the loss of these cells over time can cause maladies like dementia. The good news is that other areas of the brain, like the olfactory bulb that helps us smell and the hippocampus that helps us learn, can and do rejuvenate [sources: Wade, Epstein].
So some brain cells do rejuvenate.
"“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

Heather Heyer, November 2016

Panch Villlain

Re: Religion / Atheism

#347

Post by Panch Villlain »

Sam the Centipede wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 12:39 am
Atheism does not imply that one believes that there is nothing more to the universe than molecules. It's a rejection of belief in gods specifically, and, by extension, other vaguely humanlike supernatural beings affecting our world. The etymology gives the meaning.

But a vague feeling that there is something out there, however deeply held or long thought about, is not evidence for existence of anything. Many theologians spend years in seminaries, madrassas, universities, etc. each studying the fine detail of their religion's theory and mythology, each religion contradicting the other, without ever reaching the blindingly obvious conclusion that they are wasting their time studying bullshit. Their "knowledge" is little different than that of an obsessive fan of Star Wars or Harry Potter, yet they claim insight denied to us rational folk. Theirs is the wisdom of fools and charlatans.

The feeling that there must be a reason, someone or something must be in charge, is clearly a deep part of human psychology. Religions tap into that need, and into other social factors, but that does not in any way make them true. They can't all be right, but that explains why they can all be wrong. The stories pull us in. Our brains are not inherently rational, in fact they are inherently irrational, with emotion our principal tool in decision making.

Science does not have all the answers and does not claim to. Religion not only doesn't have the answers, it doesn't even understand the questions. There may be something out there, but religion has none of these tools to find it, and its closed nature actively works against discovering wider truths.

The greatest underlying principle of science is "show me, prove it". That is much stronger than its polar opposite, religion's faith, which demands that adherents believe not only without evidence, but especially when the evidence actively contradicts the belief.

It amuses me when I read about religious groups discussing changes to doctrine, such as for same-sex relationships. Firstly because they are very keen to claim to be defenders of' eternal verities, yet somehow these eternal verities can shift with general social mores. Secondly because they don't ever ask their god (y'know, this all-powerful being with a host of angels and other subservient demigods, who surely could spare a few minutes) to give a clear and concise ruling on such issues. "Clear and concise" does not mean inflicting bushfires on Australia to punish teh gayz, rather tablets of stone or flaming letters!
Thank you for this brilliant post. You expressed my thoughts much better than I ever could.

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