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"People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

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"People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:53 pm

The above is a quote from HL Mencken, taken completely out of context purely as a starting point for this thread.

I've been watching the 'religion' themed threads for a while now, and my conclusion is that religion seems to bring out some very nasty traits in many people - the main activity on these threads has been squabbling, sniping, argument by assertion, and puerile point scoring.

This seems par for the course whenever religion is discussed, whether within small groups like this one, or on the wider world stage (I'm thinking Crusades, I'm thinking Jihad, I'm thinking abuse of women in some Muslim cultures, I'm thinking brutalisation of Muslim prisoners in Iraq and in Abu Graib)

Religion so often seems to be the excuse we use for hating, torturing and killing people who are 'different', and it seems that, even in a friendly discussion where little is at stake, religion continues its role as a fomenter of conflict.

Yet, when you look at religious texts, the rhetoric is about God's love, duties to one's neighbours, humane treatment of animals, children and all weaker individuals, sharing wealth and resources, giving to the poor and needy etc etc. I can't see anything wrong with any of that - in fact, I'm completely behind all of it.

Religion is at the core of all civilisation - it seems to have evolved within all cultures as a means of drawing the community together, collecting and preserving knowledge, teaching children, providing 'theatre' in the form of communal ritual observances, providing a sense of safety, through knowledge of the seasons, history of the community etc. In early times, heads of state would often have a priestly role, and might be sacrificed if the harvest was unsatisfactory to placate the gods.

It's clear, at least to me, that we would not be able to live within the social groups we do, and could not have made the material advances we have made, as a race, without the influence of religion in providing the ethical framework within which we can live close to each other without raw self interest undermining any attempt to create a community.
Without communities, we are only ourselves - within communities, we have access to the talents and gifts of others - the whole is definitely much greater than the sum of its parts. Mankind (and womankind) needs to live in communities - no man, as John Donne famously wrote, is an island.

So far then, religion is to be seen as a completely positive thing - religion=communities, communities=people getting access to knowledge and resources they would otherwise lack, and thereby achieving outcomes they could not even dream of alone. Looked at in this way, religion is a completely practical and very desirable thing.

Looking around the wibbly wobbly world for inspiration, I found this series of essays - i'm only posting the link to the first - you can easily find the others if you're interested.
http://theology.co.kr/whitehead/religion/1.html

This is interesting to me because it divides the concept of religion into 4 phases:
Ritual
Emotion
Belief
Rationalism
Seems to me, so far I have talked about the first two phases, and the conclusion here is that there is no problem at all with these two.
Ritual observance brings a community together, channels the emotional energy of community members, provides entertainment, access to knowledge, the foundation for a set of rules about behaviour - in short, a police presence.
I do it all the time with my dogs - 'look over here, here's a biscuit, behave in a certain way and you will have the biscuit'.
Dogs are happy, furniture remains unchewed, the household is a happy one.

When we move on to what the author of the piece would term the 'individual' aspects of religion, I think we start to get into problems, and this may be where the negative aspects of religion arise. Belief and rationalism (forming a personal code of practice based on belief, and attempting to convince others of the validity of this) are where the subjective, 'numinous' elements arise, and where the mischief can also begin.

Some religious figures have evolved what I might want to call benign beliefs - Elizabeth Fry for example, who believed that her God loved everyone, even convicted criminals, and who expressed that belief by working within the prisons of the time to provide the benefits of civilisation to those prisoners so far as she could.

Some religious figures have evolved much less benign beliefs - I might want to cite the priests of the Spanish Inqisition, whose revelation and belief was that God loved only Catholic Christians and that the use of torture and painful death would save the souls of those that fell below this high standard.(Sorry, this is VERY oversimplified, but I hope people get the gist)

In my own journey, I have found it preferable to avoid close connection to any religious movement, because I think once you get into those 'personal' aspects of religious belief and action, you do run the risk of getting involved in beliefs and attitudes that I would find morally repugnant (the belief, for example, that Baptists, Catholics, Muslims - fill in your own denomination - have the direct line to heaven the real gen, the absolute knowledge of right and wrong; and that everyone else is going straight to Hell)

I like having the concept of god - I don't care whether anyone can prove or disprove her/his/its existence. To me the truth is that we are all god's children - we all belong to the same family, we all have the right to live, to grow and to find our own truth.

Between the world's religions and belief systems, there are many more points of similarity than there are differences - we all have a moral compass, we all believe in something - what I would like to see is a proper discussion of our different beliefs, a friendly and sympathetic consideration of the points of view expressed, and a sincere attempt to reach a common understanding.
But, hey, that's just me - carry on squabbling if you like
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Shirina on Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:34 am

Yet, when you look at religious texts, the rhetoric is about God's love, duties to one's neighbours, humane treatment of animals, children and all weaker individuals, sharing wealth and resources, giving to the poor and needy etc etc. I can't see anything wrong with any of that - in fact, I'm completely behind all of it.
Actually, it's not. Religious texts are a mixture of love and hate, of kindness and atrocity. No one with any sense of morality can juxtapose God's love with the same God who sent two she-bears to rip apart over 40 children for doing nothing more than making fun of a prophet's baldness. And that's one of the smaller atrocities and stands small against the backdrop of global genocide.

Our moral fabric CANNOT and DOES NOT coexist with this kind of depravity if religion is where one looks to find morality. If religion was simply a dedication to a morality predicated upon empathy, then religion would almost always be a force for good. However, religion throws a personality into the equation - an all-powerful God that can do no wrong - and that's where religion flies off the rails like a runaway train. I mentioned in a previous posting about how we treat the story of Noah's Ark and the Great Flood. We teach even our youngest children this story and explain to them how God had to murder hundreds of millions of people in a flood because they were bad! Except we don't teach our children that what God did was also bad - no, we do the opposite. We teach that it was GOOD! Religion confuses and twists people's sense of morality by putting the supposed author of morality - above morality! And we hear the excuses constantly. If God is all about love and forgiveness and still commits genocide, kills the first born of Egypt, murders 40+ children, wipes out cities, sends people to be tortured in Hell for eternity, and hoodwinks Abraham into willfully wanting to murder his own son - well gee whiz, what would an EVIL God look like? How can we even tell the difference between Satan and God at that point?

Then we have all of the rules. Many of them are excuses for humans to commit atrocity and depravity on each other. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Those who lie with another man as a woman are to be put to death. Adulterers - death. Disobedient children - death. Apostacy -death. Teaching another religion - death. Not being a virgin on your wedding night - death. Fortune telling - death. Blasphemy - death. These rules alone have caused the deaths and torture of countless millions over the centuries, and that doesn't even count "mere" oppression, persecution, discrimination, and the absence of civil liberties. The subjugation of women, the mistreatment of gays, the burning of witches, trials for heresy, inquisitions, crusades, wars, and blaming every plague and natural disaster on those of a differing faith (the Jews got the worst of that). Even into the 21st Century, this nonsense is still going on in parts of Africa, across the Middle East, in rural places all over the globe. Even in high-tech America, preachers still scream and pace in front a camera beaming their message across the world claiming Katrina, 9/11, and Sandy Hook are to be blamed on liberals, gays, atheists, feminists, intellectuals, and that rotten cesspit of anti-religiosity: education.

One cannot read the Bible, the Koran, or the Torah front to back and not also assimilate and absorb the evil aspects of reilgion as well as the good. It is simply impossible. No matter how hard many people try to be "Christian" by following the words of Christ, Old Testament passages will always bubble up from out of nowhere to remind a person that God isn't just about love, he is also about wrath. In far too many cases, that wrath was thrown about almost randomly and for extremely vague transgressions. No one really knows for sure why Saddom and Gamorah were destroyed. No one really knows why God thought the human race needed to be killed off almost the point of extinction. The Bible just says that humans were being naughty. Yet you and I both know that you can't put 100 randomly chosen people in a room and expect every single one of them to be evil. Thus the idea that the whole WORLD was evil save one singular family is ridiculous. Even as a parable, a metaphor, or a fable, the story is dispicable.

This is why I rely almost exclusively upon secular humanism for a sense of morality - a morality based on emapthy which, to be honest, is essentially the same thing as Jesus's Golden Rule. I feel without reservation that secular humanism has made me a FAR more moral person than religion ever could have done because its Golden Rule doesn't come with all the ancient baggage of religion that includes supernatural gods, death sentences, eternal damnation, original sin, primitive superstition, killing infidels, fatwahs, or a smug sense of superiority over those that worship differently. More to the point, I try to do right by my fellow humans because I WANT to, because it is just, right, and fair - not because I'm giving a nod to a celestial surveillance camera capturing all of my wrong doings. That means I don't sneak home, shut the door, and turn on porn, kick the dog, have permiscuous sex, punch my roommate, get drunk, shoot up drugs and steal money from my mom just because I think I can get away with it - or because I can repent later.

For most Christians, remember, the only sin you cannot be forgiven for is disbeief in God. As long as you're sorry for what you've done, no matter how awful it was, you can be forgiven for it and sit at the right hand of God in Heaven. The irony is that many pedophiles deeply hate their own behavior and are genuinely sorry for what they do - they just can't help it. A Christian pedophile will likely never be condemned to Hell as long as he keeps on repenting and meaning it. There is no justice or fairness to be found in the doctrines of religion.
It's clear, at least to me, that we would not be able to live within the social groups we do, and could not have made the material advances we have made, as a race, without the influence of religion in providing the ethical framework within which we can live close to each other without raw self interest undermining any attempt to create a community.
Religion is like a set of training wheels on a bike. They served their purpose as humanity made its first moves toward creating civilizations - but now that we're here, it's time to take off the training wheels. I feel religion has done its job and like the empty fuel tanks on the space shuttle, it's time to jettison it. Two points I want to make about that, however. First, I don't advocate banning religion or enacting laws to suppress it. If religion is ever to fall by the wayside, it has to be an organic process. It cann't be forced out or taken from us by authority. Secondly is that kicking religion to the curb does not mean we have to kick spirituality to the curb along with it. However, as inhabitants on an ever-shrinking planet and armed with increasingly destructive weaponry, we HAVE to find a better way to sort our morality than the "us vs. them" mentality inherent in religious belief.
Ritual observance brings a community together, channels the emotional energy of community members, provides entertainment, access to knowledge, the foundation for a set of rules about behaviour - in short, a police presence.
Speaking of a police presence, do you remember the dozen or so girls in Saudi Arabia who were allowed to burn to death in a fire because they didn't put on their religious head-coverings before fleeing the building? Yeah, they failed to practice a ritual - and a completely arbitrary one at that. This is an extreme example, yes, but a telling one, nonetheless. Religion fails as a police presence because it is mostly concerned with sexuality, modesty, and protecting itself and its political and social power. The Catholic Church is notorious for this. For instance, the Vatican issued a warning to the 40,000 or so American nuns saying they were spending too much time on good works and helping the needy and not enough time condemning homosexuality. Meanwhile, this same organization bought off victims of sexual abuse by its clergy while fighting tooth and nail to keep even one priest from facing criminal charges. And let's not forget about how the Church held the poor, sick, and elderly of Washington DC hostage by threatening to close down ALL of its charities in the city if the mayor there recognized gay marriage.

Those who only do good because they are afraid of the consequences of doing evil, well, the REAL police do a good enough job of maintaining that status quo. I've said numerous times here that it is our secular laws that keep the peace, not religious law. In the United States, some preachers have advocated that we imprison all homosexuals behind an electrified fence and airdrop food to them once in awhile, but our secular law forbids it. Jerry Falwell, a now deceased televangelist with staggering popularity and political power, once said that everyone who believes in UFOs should be stoned to death. Our secular law prohibits it. A state politician from Georgia said we should have the right to kill our own children if they disobey under the rules of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Secular law forbids it. In Louisiana, morally smug Christian politicians tried to pass a law forcing all high school girls in the state to submit to pregnancy tests - those found to be pregnant or those who refused would be immediately kicked out of school. Secular law forbade it. President George H.W. Bush said that he did not think atheists were citizens nor were they patriots. Secular law forbade him, even as president, to revoke citizenship rights to atheists. Muslim hate groups tried to claim that Islam was not a true religion and, therefore, not protected by the 1st Amendment. Secular law forbade it. I shudder to think what would happen if religion ever became our police presence.

So let me reiterate that I feel that modern secular humanism is the best avenue in today's world rather than ancient religions. Tradition is not always a good thing, as many once thriving but now defunct civilizations found out as the world passed them by. Those civilizations that fail to evolve and adapt with a changing world shackle their citizens in obsolete beliefs and traditions that hobble them as they limp into the next century. Never mind the innovaters who are sprinting ahead. Beliefs are just as prone to obsolescence as technology - and even religion has been forced to recognize this immutable fact. I give religion credit for making attempts at evolving, but it almost always ends up a dollar short and a day late. The endless debates in America about evolution and the Big Bang are only debates because religion here is failing to, well ... evolve. They are not debates elsewhere in the world. Perhaps if I were still in Britain, I would have a different view on religion, but as an American, I see our once great nation becoming ever more benighted largely due to the widespread belief in religious evangelism and fundamentalism - and so I simply cannot see religion as a positive in our society.

I can respect your decision to stay away from religious "movements" and follow your own path, and, perhaps, that was what religion was always meant to be. Here in the US, our religion stems from the Puritans who were so radical and oppressive that they were kicked out of their own nations. Americans are taught that the first colonists came to the New World to escape religious persecution in the Old World. It makes it sound as if the Old World was the bad guy and the Puritans came here to be free of them - but it wasn't really like that. The Puritans were nasty, and they continued being nasty when they came here, and that undercurrent of nastiness still reverberates in our culture hundreds of years later. Did you know that President George Washington was actually stopped and arrested once for working on the Sabbath? Some towns made laughing on Sunday a criminal offense, and one ship captain, home after a long voyage, was arrested for kissing his wife on the Sabbath. Catholic priests were forbidden to enter many of the colonies, and Quakers were literally dragged from their own homes and lynched in the town square. Puritanism is what brought us the infamous Salem Witch Trials. It almost managed to ban theaters in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, and it was perfectly legal for a husband to slap a dog muzzle on a wife who nagged too much. Yeah, that's the foundation of Christianity in America. They didn't come to the New World to escape persecution, they came here to escape prosecution!

It was so bad, in fact, that it motivated the Founders to institute a "wall of separation between church and state" (Thomas Jefferson). Yet Christians STILL believe that Americans only have freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion - which means that those not marching in lockstep with the majority faith have no protection against having that faith imposed upon them. Just as the Puritans of old would have done. America is still a young nation, a tumultuous teen having an identity crisis. I came from one of the oldest nations, one of the oldest cultures on earth, and I can see the difference - oh boy can I see it. Other nations have had thousands of years to sort out their religions, and you can see how that is reflected in their aggression. Hinduism, one of the oldest, is not a proselytizing religion and has not spread much beyond the borders of India. Judaism, another old religion, also does not proselytize and harbors very few radicals. Christianity is young as religions go, a young adult in a power position and thus tends to abuse its authority. Islam is even younger and thus the most aggressive and often the most violent. But America's Puritanism hasn't had thousands of years nor will it ever have that kind of time. The world isn't going to wait for us to play catch-up, and so, in THIS country, at least, I feel I must take a much firmer, harsher stand against the neo-fascistic sort of religion found in this country.

Take care, boatlady. Smile

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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by trevorw2539 on Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:39 am

Christian Law. 'Love thy neighbour as thyself'.
The fact that some individuals and groups choose to ignore that Christian Law does not nullify it. Neither does the fact that groups and individuals choose to ignore Secular Law nullify that Law.

Simply put. Christians who believe Christ, believe He brought all OT teaching to a new phase. Love God, and your neighbour as yourself.

Unfortunately, given human nature, both laws/standards fail to 'control' that nature.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:27 pm

Shirina
I wonder if we're a bit at cross purposes here.
I don't actually disagree with much that you're saying, but perhaps I didn't express myself very clearly.
I'm quite wedded to this notion of four phases of religion, which i think does help to think about the issue, and I think the first two, ritual and emotion, are very early manifestations of the 'religious' urge.
The 'rituals' I would refer to would be the very practical ritual observances necessary in a small and developing society - rituals about seed-time and harvest, regulations about hygeine (Jewish dietary laws and circmcision come under this heading - the original intention being to promote dietary safety and personal hygeine, both quite important when you're living communally within a farming community, but less so in a hunter-gatherer culture).
Ritual regulation of sexual practices, through marriage etc provides a safeguard against inbreeding, allows rights of succession to be preserved, and can even contribute to the safety of women.

Where all this goes so terribly wrong, in my view, is when we move away from ritual and emotion, the communal practice of various social norms that are clearly seen as supportive to the well-being of the community.
At that point, there arises the notion of 'belief' - these practices are ordained by god, and rationalism - god will be angry if the practices are not followed to the letter, oh and by the way guys, the high priest is the only one who actually understands what god meant when he ordained these ritual observances.

At that point, 'religion' becomes about the exercise of power, the tail starts wagging the dog, and you get the sorts of abuses you describe, which have nothing to do with morality or religion and everything to do with establishing and preserving a balance of power.

The tales of Noah, Gilgamesh, Adam and Eve, and the earlier creation-type myths, are VERY old indeed, and common to nearly every culture on Earth, whatever it's level of 'civilisation'. In the early versions of these tales, they are not regarded as morality tales, but as tales about how the gods are distant, unapproachable, powerful and capricious - the early version of 'life's a bitch, and then you die'. No-one expected in those times that you could look for mercy or goodness from the gods - they were simply powerful, they didn't care about people and part of the purpose of ritual observance was to placate them. In a sense, early 'religion' was a method of protecting oneself against the gods, not a method of aligning oneself with them
The children being eaten by bears is a different type of story, coming from a more 'modern' phase of religious development, and is clearly designed as an object lesson, to support the point of view of the 'religious' faction that originated it. Sort of a propaganda exercise, if you like.

Because of this misuse of religious rhetoric and ideas to develop and maintain a material and intellectual power base, I am deeply suspicious of all forms of organised religion, although I would loosely align myself with Quaker practices, and am very attracted to a humanist perspective.
I suspect the historical Jesus, if there was such a person, shared my suspicion, and wanted to return to an earlier, more spiritual form of 'religion' where the spiritual and ethical aspects took centre stage.

I think we can still learn from many of the religious thinkers, and maybe for some people membership of the church of their choice is a positive option in terms of self-realisation, belonging to a group, and making a contribution to the community, but I've seen too many 'religious fascists' and too much smug complacency from 'religious' people to feel really comfortable with it myself - maybe, like Groucho Marx, I just don't want to belong to any club that will have me.

I've just re-read your post, missed perhaps the most important bit on first go-round - the bit about the older religions having more 'mature' attitudes, and maybe for that reason beginning to become decadent and die out - I've really never thought of that, and it makes real sense of your comments about society evolving and no longer needing religion. Need to think about that some more.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by trevorw2539 on Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:50 pm

As opposed to Noah and Adam and Eve, Gilgamesh was a generally accepted king of Uruk around 2500-2570BC, though the stories surrounding him were written in the next 200 years.


Talking about Judaism. It is not only the High Priest that understands the rituals. He was the only one able to practise them at Yom Kippur.Pri
Leviticus repeats often 'Tell Aaron and his sons' - 'Tell the people'.
If the High Priest alone knew their meaning and he died suddenly - even while in the Holy of Holies - who would be able to perform them meaningingfully when appointed High Priest. Priests could perform some minor rituals, and could early Prophets.


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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by snowyflake on Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:20 pm

I'm quite wedded to this notion of four phases of religion, which i think does help to think about the issue, and I think the first two, ritual and emotion, are very early manifestations of the 'religious' urge.

I think religion has evolved with humans as a necessary evil for social cohesion, community responsibility (making the deadbeats feel guilty for not pulling their weight) and maintaining some semblance of order. So in a way, religion is like 'policing' with the priests and other clergy being the 'police'. When we didn't know what we know now, nature could look pretty scary and explanations were needed to calm fears or to get people to pull up their socks. 'Gods' were invented to explain nature and coincidental events.

But is religion even necessary today in the 21st century knowing what we know now and what is possible in the future? Should we discard superstition and delusion? Would living life using your reason, knowledge, rationality etc. take anything away from the wonder of our universe or make life less worth living? Would it make people immoral?

I don't think so. Religion, belief, faith just seems so unnecessary.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:40 pm

Snowy
A spiritual life, an ethical system, and a sense of community are important and remain necessary - I guess some people find these within religion, although it's true, they can also find some less positive things in the same place.
Certainly, some religious concepts seem to me to be helpful to the development of an inner life (for example, I find it helpful and illuminating to reflect that we are all god's children, even if I have no very formulated idea of what I mean by god) , although superstition and delusion are, as you imply, unnecessary and even harmful.
Trevor
Thanks for the correction about Gilgamesh - read the legends years ago and never registered that he was a real person - still I guess the point stands, as the stories are all clearly apocryphal, like the stories of the Flood and the stories of the Creation.
I think the point about the ownership of knowledge stands - OK, the High Priest shared his knowledge, but he was the one who defined what counted as knowledge, having received a revelation from Yahweh, probably via Moses, and I guess alternate interpretations of fact and/or writings were not encouraged outwith the scholarly set. I seem to remember the original Jewish revelation was received by Moses when the voice of god spoke to him both in his dreams and from a burning bush - both esoteric and essentially private communications, which he was then free to interpret.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:49 pm

The sometimes tortuous postings to these threads give us a strong reason to regard validity of The Scriptures as at the very least questionable.

Contrast the extreme ease of challenging a contemporary post with the assumed accuracy of an account written two thousand years ago in a language no longer spoken.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Guest on Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:24 am


… those not marching in lockstep with the majority faith have no protection against having that faith imposed upon them.

Not so.

United States Constitution, Amendment 1

Congress shall make no lawprohibiting the free exercise thereof [of religion]…
United States Constitution, Article 6, Paragraph 2

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Shirina on Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:21 am

Not so.
Still, many Christians believe we have no freedom from religion. In other words, we have no right for religion not to impose itself upon us. We only have the freedom OF religion - which means we only have the right to impose it.

Trevor, boatlady, I'll respond to your posts shortly - whenever my hands stop hurting. These big posts that I write, well, I can usually only write one or two per day, unfortunately. Crying or Very sad
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:25 am

Those who think we have no freedom from religion, in my view are mistaken.
Religious ideas are simply that - ideas - we are free within our own minds to entertain whatever ideas seem right and good to us.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by tlttf on Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:33 am

In most cases correct boatlady, should you travel outside of the UK which is pretty laid back regarding religious choice and find yourself in the middle east or the deep south of the USA you might find certain restrictions on religious beliefs.

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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by trevorw2539 on Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:53 am

boatlady wrote:Snowy
A spiritual life, an ethical system, and a sense of community are important and remain necessary - I guess some people find these within religion, although it's true, they can also find some less positive things in the same place.
Certainly, some religious concepts seem to me to be helpful to the development of an inner life (for example, I find it helpful and illuminating to reflect that we are all god's children, even if I have no very formulated idea of what I mean by god) , although superstition and delusion are, as you imply, unnecessary and even harmful.
Trevor
Thanks for the correction about Gilgamesh - read the legends years ago and never registered that he was a real person - still I guess the point stands, as the stories are all clearly apocryphal, like the stories of the Flood and the stories of the Creation.
I think the point about the ownership of knowledge stands - OK, the High Priest shared his knowledge, but he was the one who defined what counted as knowledge, having received a revelation from Yahweh, probably via Moses, and I guess alternate interpretations of fact and/or writings were not encouraged outwith the scholarly set. I seem to remember the original Jewish revelation was received by Moses when the voice of god spoke to him both in his dreams and from a burning bush - both esoteric and essentially private communications, which he was then free to interpret.

Not at all. Every detail of the rituals are clearly given in the book of Leviticus. The old story of the High Priest having a rope tied to his leg in case he died in the Holy of Holies where no-one else was allowed under punishment of death, is, however, a very much later addition and not in the OT. Very Happy

A lot of what you say makes sense. cheers You keep posting. I'll keep criticising Wink

Seriously. I find your views interesting. 'Religion' or a belief or faith in something will never disappear. The question is 'will belief in an Almighty Divinity be replaced by a belief in Almighty Science'. Much of our human life is dependent on Science and its products now. Read some of the posts on other threads/forums to see just how much 'faith' (religious) has been replaced by 'faith' (scientific).
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by trevorw2539 on Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:57 am

Shirina. Take your time. It must be difficult and painful for you. I wish you well
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:59 am

Religion might enjoy a "Better Press" if the established Faiths were not quite so obviously jealous of each other.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:33 pm

No one can stop anyone from beleaving in anything, they can ban the act of putting forward any religion or anything else but that does not change what a person may believe and personally practice.

In certain biblical times the humans had become nothing more than animals, this has nothing to do with God or his teaching but man's own doing.

So there is little wonder that the history of that time may be somewhat tarnished by the low life of that time.

To take a bit here and a bit there without considering all the relevant facts proves nothing and can be very misleading.

What present day Christians should be concerned about is the present and the offer made by Jesus, niothing else is of any consequence to those after the birth of Jesus.

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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Guest on Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:26 pm

Shirina wrote:
Not so.
Still, many Christians believe we have no freedom from religion. In other words, we have no right for religion not to impose itself upon us. We only have the freedom OF religion - which means we only have the right to impose it.

There is no “still”; nobody promised you a rose garden. I’ve stood firm through fierce opposition for what I believe whenever the occasion has arisen throughout my adult life. If all people were Christians, then no statute law, common law, or courts would be necessary. More on that at the end of this post.

Since all are not Christians (see below), statute law, common law. And courts are absolutely necessary. If one wishes to discover what wrongful acts are being committed in righteous societies, look at the laws thereof. For instance, I know that the founding citizens of the Nation of Y’srael murdered one another, stole from one another, coveted one another’s wives, and coveted one another’s animals. Same same today; murder, thievery, and covetousness exist in your state and mine.

Had religious persecution not existed in pre-revolutionary America USV, the Constitution of the new nation would not have needed the provision
“Congress shall make no law… prohibiting the free exercise thereof [of religion].” Why forbid behavior that is nonexistent?

Look at the constitution of your country and realize that, since just after the Civil War, all people in the US have been guaranteed equal protection under the law and the right to vote (gender exclusive) regardless of “race” or any other non-fender specific factor. So why did it take almost ninety years for Black Americans to gain legal equal access to public facilities (1954), another twenty plus years to gain actual equal access to public facilities (1974)? So why did it take almost one hundred years for Black Americans to gain actual voting rights (1965)?

I’ve repeatedly posted J.L. Chestnut’s account of watershed events in Selma, Alabama, including his statement that, six weeks after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted into law, the number of Black voters registered in Selma grew from 200 to 9,000, a four thousand five hundred percent increase. How much blood did that cost? How many busted skulls did that cost? How many lives did that cost?

The supreme law of your country and mine guarantees your right to free exercise of your chosen religion(s) and my right to free exercise of my chosen religion(s). I’ve exercised my right thereto as the first class United States citizen that I am. Are you ready to do the same?

And yes, I said your religion(s), because you indeed have at least one, not to possess, but to which you adhere. If you wish that assertion proven, just ask, and I’ll do so.

Lastly, as Christians are those who follow Jesus’ teachings, one of which is that one should treat others as one desires that others treat oneself, the preponderance of Baha’is that I know, and a number of other “non-Christians” that I know, some of whom claim Islam, are among the finest Christians that I know. If the whole of humanity were such as these, laws and courts would be unnecessary.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by snowyflake on Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:10 pm

No one can stop anyone from beleaving in anything, they can ban the act of putting forward any religion or anything else but that does not change what a person may believe and personally practice.

Absolutely. You can believe whatever you like. This freedom is innate. No one can stop someone from thinking something. However, I draw the line at believers infringing on my personal freedoms because they think their beliefs take precedence over my freedoms. I object strongly to believers imposing their beliefs onto the general public through legislation. Please feel free to believe whatever floats your boat but don't tell me I have to believe what you believe, don't lobby government to prevent gay people from marrying, don't lobby government to prevent women from getting proper health care including abortion, don't lobby government that science classes must include intelligent design as part of the curriculum, don't lobby for prayer in schools, don't lobby to prevent sex education in the public schools.

You believe in creation in spite of all the evidence against it. We can present evidence but unless you actually take a course and learn some basic science, I doubt you will change your mind.

You, polyglide, had the good fortune to be born into a country that allows you that freedom of thought. Imagine if you were born in Saudi Arabia or Iran or Afghanistan. You would be muslim because the choice of religion is limited there. If you were born in India you would be Hindu or Sikh. You are a Christian due to your geographical location more than anything else.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:19 pm

tlttf
I have travelled outside the UK, possibly less than some - I have never yet encountered anyone able to interpret let alone control, my thoughts. My beliefs and my attitudes are therefore free - whether I am at liberty to express them openly is another matter, and not one on which I commented.
Trevor
I do think the point stands, that within organised religion there is a priestly class that purports to have superior access to and understanding of, God's will. Given that superior access, you have the basis for the exercise of power over others, which is what so often makes organised religion a force for evil in the world. Maybe the Jews, being the 'chosen people' saw themselves, in Biblical times, as a race of priests - I'd need to look that up.
Rock
I just think you're saying that the US constitution conveys the right to follow a religion. It doesn't, by your showing, convey the right to be an atheist, a humanist, or an agnostic. Many people, increasingly many, want to opt out of organised religion - seems your constitution is not accommodating that wish
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Guest on Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:34 am

boatlady wrote:
Rock
I just think you're saying that the US constitution conveys the right to follow a religion. It doesn't, by your showing, convey the right to be an atheist, a humanist, or an agnostic. Many people, increasingly many, want to opt out of organised religion - seems your constitution is not accommodating that wish

You are not reading and understanding plain English. “Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion” means exactly what it says. If Congress makes a law that compels one to choose some religion, then Congress makes a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion, and the law that Congress makes is unlawful.

My Constitution of my United States of America guarantees my absolute freedom to do “whatever I damned well want to” in regards to religion. In fact, I have in my life professed Christianity, agnosticism (which can properly be lowercase, while “Atheism” must properly be uppercase in order to be accurate), Baha’i, and Judeo-Christianity (“I come not to destroy, but to fulfill”, Y’shua bar Yosef, of the tribe of Judah, a Jew, on the mount, circa 30 AD), in chronological order, and not once have FBI agents, ATFE agents, DEA agents, or US Marshals broken down my door for failing to exercise religion as prescribed by law, and not once have I been denied employment by a federal, state, or local government agency for failing to exercise religion as prescribed by law.

Conversely, I have been denied access to clean water and sanitary toilet facilities for failing to be “white” as prescribed by racist bigots, and, prior to 1965, had I been eligible to vote, age-wise, and had I tried to vote in the state in which at least two of my great-grandparents and two of my great-great-grandparents were freed from slavery circa 1865, I would likewise have been denied access to the polls and voting booths for failing to be “white” as prescribed by racist bigots.


Last edited by RockOnBrother on Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:27 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:47 am

One of the attractions of internet social commentary is its speed of response. But that may also in some cases be its singular drawback. The ephemeral nature of this medium tends to diminish the "weight" of opinions expressed, which might be more apparent if encountered in a hard-bound tome.

Take this particular thread, "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police" as an example.

A couple of the postings here are conceivably worthy of preservation for posterity, for their rational expression of personal emotion, and dispassionate recording of some universal truths.

Probably "lost" on your average God-botherer.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by trevorw2539 on Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:55 am

boatlady wrote:tlttf
I have travelled outside the UK, possibly less than some - I have never yet encountered anyone able to interpret let alone control, my thoughts. My beliefs and my attitudes are therefore free - whether I am at liberty to express them openly is another matter, and not one on which I commented.
Trevor
I do think the point stands, that within organised religion there is a priestly class that purports to have superior access to and understanding of, God's will. Given that superior access, you have the basis for the exercise of power over others, which is what so often makes organised religion a force for evil in the world. Maybe the Jews, being the 'chosen people' saw themselves, in Biblical times, as a race of priests - I'd need to look that up.
Rock
I just think you're saying that the US constitution conveys the right to follow a religion. It doesn't, by your showing, convey the right to be an atheist, a humanist, or an agnostic. Many people, increasingly many, want to opt out of organised religion - seems your constitution is not accommodating that wish

In Judaism the priestly 'caste' was the Tribe of Levi, set apart for that purpose. The other 12 tribes (yes 12) were not, and did not have priests. Their (Levi) duties, and reasons for, are set out in Leviticus for all to read. In much later years 'interpretation' began to creep in, and by the time of Christ rules and rituals had almost become more important than God. Even Jesus rebelled at many of the 'modern/idiotic' (of the time) teachings and practises. Thus we had the strictly Orthodox Saduccees and the 'modernist' Pharisees.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:09 pm

No one is attempting to force anything on you Shirina, all they are attempting to do is explain how and why all your ideas are based on
nothing more than thin air.

It is an obligation of any Chritian to attempt to explain the nature of God to those who are mislead by scientists who deal in nothing more than supposition.

You keep saying you have proof of what you believe, then in simple terms let me know the facts , without asking me to look at the work of others, if you believe them then you should very clearly be able to do so, withoput quoting others.

As an example of what I believe and for your sake i WILL LEAVE gOD OUT OF IT FOR THE PRESENT.

There are two people looking at a motor car. one iis an athiest and the other a believer in creation.

Along comes a third person who has never seen a car before and asks just what it is and how it came about.

The athiest explains that through eruptions of volcanos all kinds of metals were thrown into thje air and as with all life forms etc . these took on different shapes etc and started to come together in different shapes and sizes, eventually they formed the motor car.

Fantastic said the third person, can you show me all the other pieces of metel etc; that were not used and the oblong wheels and square wheels etc there must be millions of them that were not suitable for the car.?????

The Christian said I do not agree with that at all.

What actually happened was that an intelligent person sat down at a desk and worked out exactly what was needede to manufacture the car, I can actually show yoy the plans, from the plans engineers etc carried out the desighners instructions and that is how the car came about, it is all there for you to see and exactly the same applies to all kinds of life4 be it plant or animal.

A great desdigner spent time in creating all the liofe on earth.

Just come along with me and as with the car I will show you proof .

See the acorn I have in my hand, the design that has gone into this and the result in the oak tree is evidence of real intelligence far beyond that of mankind, look there is a butterfly just take a good look and consider all the implications of it's existance and consider the above regarding the existance of the car.

I rest my case.



.

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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:42 pm

Polyglide
You beg so many questions with this -
What is 'proof'?
Why could not the acorn have developed as a random result of natural processes?
Why is it the obligation of any Christian to explain anytyhing? Where does it say that?
When are you going to learn to spell?


Last edited by boatlady on Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:03 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : when am I going to learn to spell?)
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Shirina on Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:59 pm

There are two people looking at a motor car. one iis an athiest and the other a believer in creation.

Or how about this as an analogy ...

Two people are selling a motor car and I come to the lot to see what they're selling. The first guy points to an empty parking space and says, "There she is ... she's a real beaut!"

I search the parking space high and low, but there's no sign of a car. "I don't see a car," I reply.

The salesman says, "Oh she's there, alright. In fact, it's the perfect car. It is guaranteed never to break down, never to have an accident, it won't rust, even the tires will never go flat. You just need to have faith that it's there. Just because you can't perceive it with your 5 senses doesn't mean it's not there. After all, some things are just beyond our comprehension - such as invisible, intangible vehicles."

The second salesman points to a parking space with 80% of a car, but it's missing a few things.

"Where's the rest of it?" I ask.

The second salesman responds, "Well, we have most of it built, just not all of it. We're still waiting on some parts, but they'll be here soon enough. Oh, and if you're worried, check this out." The salesman points to the rest of the car lot, showing me hundreds of completed cars in perfect working order. "We've been at this stage before in all of those other cars, but the parts have always come in. Just like they'll arrive for this car, as well. It's just a matter of patience - but I guarantee that at least there's a car here, unlike that other guy that's trying to stiff you with an invisible car."

"But the other guy says his is a perfect car. Can you guarantee your car is perfect?" I inquire.

"No," the second salesman answers honestly. "There will always be flaws and it will need regular tune-ups, but you can at least get in it and drive it around. Try doing that with the other guy's invisible car. See what happens. It stands to reason he'll tell you his car is perfect because you can say whatever you want to about an invisible car that you can't test drive. Okay look ... think of it this way: How many people do you see driving around in an invisible car?"

Hmm, yeah, I think I'll buy the car that at least actually exists.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by tlttf on Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:03 pm

Poly, where do you get the analogy re; the car, what utter drivel, why would an atheist say such a stupid thing when in all reality he would likely be an engineer who are amongst the most sceptical of people regarding religion. Stick to the butterfly and throw in a few birds and bees to add content.

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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Shirina on Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:07 pm

See the acorn I have in my hand, the design that has gone into this and the result in the oak tree is evidence of real intelligence far beyond that of mankind
This reminds me of Christopher Hitchens' young daughter. When asked why a rock was pointy, she responded, "So animals can scratch themselves on it!"

It is a childlike mind that sees design in everything, that assumes everything is as it is and is where it is because it was somehow designed or meant to be that way. Incredibly romantic to be certain, but not necessarily realistic.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:27 pm

Why do people argue a point that can never be settled? Because they have the time.

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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:28 pm

But what, as a race, do we need?
Do we need a 'religion' or do we need for example, better social systems, a good police force and a healthy emotional outlet?
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Guest on Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:41 pm

Shirina wrote:
It is a childlike mind that sees design in everything…

At the time I was a physics student, therein, that particular institution of higher learning was ranked number three or four among US undergraduate institutions, right below MIT and Caltech, numbers one and two (virtually tied), and distinctly above Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the reminder of the Ivy League bunch.

The finest physicist I have ever known walked into class one day and announced that we knuckleheads would understand Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity conceptually, without reliance upon mathematics, by the end of class. He then proceeded to make good on his promise; with nothing more than a chalkboard, a piece of chalk, and his hand and body motions, he caused my classmates and me to “get” the whole shebang. To this day, I can explain without reliance upon mathematics why speed of light travel is impossible.

This physicist saw design throughout the universe in all four dimensions. Perhaps he had “a childlike mind”; if so, then “a childlike mind” is a mind of prodigious intelligence.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Guest on Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:25 pm

boatlady wrote:
But what, as a race, do we need?
Do we need a 'religion' or do we need for example, better social systems, a good police force and a healthy emotional outlet?

There are three macro-races, in alphabetical order, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. There are as many micro-races as there are full sibling sets plus the miniscule number of first cousin sets produced by identical twins mating with identical twins. Other than that, race amongst humans is a myth.

Popular usage has numbed us to the fact that, except among full siblings, we are not a “race”; in truth, calling ourselves a “race” diminishes our essence. We are a species, but even that scientifically correct appellation misses who we are by a country mile.

We are ha adama, created into the image of the creator on the sixth day. Before I go on, I ask a rhetorical question for the sole purpose of answering same: Was the sixth day the sixth day? In the words of Jean-Paul Broussard, “Ah don’ know, an’ ah don’ give a dahm.” There is a deeper meaning to sixth day as referenced in the poetry of Genesis 1:2 through 2:7, part of which is expressed in this sentence, written by me fifty to one hundred times per after-school detention session at least once per week during my second semester of seventh grade.

“Man is the only animal that can laugh and cry, because man is the only animal that can tell the difference between what things are and what things ought to be.”

What separates ha adama from animals? We are endothermic (warm blooded); so are birds and other mammals. We have hair (fur); so do other mammals. We use tools; so do monkeys, crows, and orcas (the tool they use is the water in which they function). We are highly intelligent; so are orcas. We have highly-developed brains; so do orcas.

I believe that there are several things which separate us from animals, but we must stray from the traditional “box” to perceive those differences. One of these is wonder; which fuels a curiosity unmatched among all life forms with which we are familiar. Orcas use their intelligence to hunt; we use our intelligence to contemplate the wonders of our universe. Orcas swim and seek prey; we swim and feel awe at the immenseness and gorgeousness of the vast Pacific. We are ha adama, orcas are not.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:27 pm

OK, you old pedant - what do you think people need?
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Guest on Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:32 pm

boatlady wrote:
OK, you old pedant - what do you think people need?

Opportunities to wonder. Please read my entire post; I suspect that, in two minutes (21:25 to 21:27), you were able only to skim.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Guest on Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:46 pm


More:


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/60/Maslow%27s_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg/640px-Maslow%27s_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg.png

An interpretation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom
[1]

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. Information from its description page there is shown below.
Commons is a freely licensed media file repository


References
1. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Shirina on Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:19 am

Heh, I'm always telling people to climb up a few rungs on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It seems most people never leave the physiological stage.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:57 am

Note that the pyramid may tend to become inverted with the onset of old age.
Don't stand under an inverted Pyramid.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:56 pm

Please read my entire post; I suspect that, in two minutes (21:25 to 21:27), you were able only to skim.[b]

sorry Rock - you're right - I did respond a little too hastily there - in fact I thought your answer, when I gave myself proper time to think about it, was a very good one - found myself more in agreement than I might have expected
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Shirina on Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:35 pm

if so, then “a childlike mind” is a mind of prodigious intelligence.
A child-like mind and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Einstein's era was still largely governed by religion - a time when teaching evolution in a public school science class was a criminal act, punishable by the immediate dismissal of the teacher and a $100 fine (not a small amount in those days). Even intelligent people are not immune from their own cultures. Therefore, Einstein's view of the universe was still colored by the beliefs he grew up with.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by trevorw2539 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:39 pm

Quote ROC.

I believe that there are several things which separate us from animals, but we must stray from the traditional “box” to perceive those differences. One of these is wonder; which fuels a curiosity unmatched among all life forms with which we are familiar. Orcas use their intelligence to hunt; we use our intelligence to contemplate the wonders of our universe. Orcas swim and seek prey; we swim and feel awe at the immenseness and gorgeousness of the vast Pacific. We are ha adama, orcas are not.

My post.

Have you never watched some birds, animals and mammals work out problems to achieve a purpose
They are surely more than curious. Proving that by simple experimentation.
When in the millenia to come 'curiosity' has killed of the cat (ha adama), perhaps these lesser species will take our place and wonder at the universe.

By the way, some years ago a top scientist presented a programme on UK TV in which he showed how it was theoretically possible to go faster than light, but not with out current technology. I got lost by turning left instead of right somewhere around Alpha Centauri. Very Happy
Personally I prefer to stick to the speed limit, that way I can see where I'm going, and not where I came from. Laughing





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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:22 pm

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