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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

First topic message reminder :

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 polyglide on Mon Jul 27, 2015 2:24 pm

Dr, Shedlon,
Of course you have no time to do anything other than spout sacrilegeous nonsence bordering on the insane.

Science is responsible for many ills of the world and to suggest that finding a cure for malaria offsets this fact is like saying if a murderer kills thousands then this is offset by saving hundreds.

+You have a very high opinion of science to the detriment of your ability to know fact from fiction, sad, very, very sad.

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

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Mon Jul 27, 2015 4:58 pm

So all you have again is another childish tirade. No attempt to discuss or even acknowledge a single point I made. Quelle surprise.  

Why are you here in a forum for discussion if you have no interest in discussion,  and just insult everyone who offers anything contrary to your own superstitious belifs?

"  The rules that matter are self evidently nothing to do with religion, human's evolved to be both empathetic and altruistic as these traits were mutually beneficial and offered societal cohesion. 


[size=35]The concept of the golden rule pre-dates Christianity by millenia, and is evident in societies that aren't theistic. I pity any person that can only refrain from theft and murder if it offers either the personal gain of an imaginary after life, or an equally absurd eternity of torture, such a person would be a very poor example of humanity. [/size]


[size=35]The ten commandments you'll note consider rules about servile knee bending more important than prohibiting things like child abuse or rape neither of which get a mention, with other notable omissions being racism and bigotry. Apparently a vain self obsessed narcisistical capricious maniac bent only on self adoration felt it had to make sure its "creation" was giving it enough attention.  What an utter joke."[/size]


Why ask a question then utterly ignore the answer? You really are like the most tiresome child making noise to get attention. Have a look at my answer and try at least to reason a response beyond mere ad hominem and inane empty rhetoric.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:43 pm

Dr, Shedlon,
There is no need to use capital letters to emphasise your ignorance, it is self evident.

How on earth can you answer the pointless nonsense
you spout?.

I did not ask anything other than, would the world be a better place and any reasonable sane person would realise that the world could never be in a worse state than at present.

Not only the actual killing etc; going on but the potential for weapons created from scientific information threatening the whole world.

You have a very lack of understanding of love,[ in fact a lack of understanding of anything

Of course God should be loved and obeyed, firstly because he created mankind and offered a paradise, and secondly because to follow his instructions are in the best interests of mankind.

Of course in your religion one should bow down to scientists and congratulate them on making the means of self destruction along with numerous miscalculations on about every level of science.

Of course you pick and choose the branches of science you in your high opinionated manner think are right and dismiss the most imporatnt ones.

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

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Tue Jul 28, 2015 5:02 pm

Plymouth wrote:
I did not ask anything other than, would the world be a better place and any reasonable sane person would realise that the world could never be in a worse state than at present.



So you didn't care what the answer was as you already decided only your opinion was right. Don't ask questions if you have no interest in the answer beyond your own superstitious beliefs. 

The ten commandments are an odious pernicious grandiloquent rant by a fictional deity to demand demeaning and servile worship from its creation.  It's as absurd as it is stupid and insulting to humans of any intelligence.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:08 am

Polyglide wrote:[size=48]Of course you pick and choose the branches of science you in your high opinionated manner think are right and dismiss the most imporatnt ones. [/size]



Liar. You're the one who thinks weapons development is the only thing you can legitimately and endlessly and dishonestly attribute to science. That's as stupid as it is duplicitous.  

You're the one who denies entire scientific fields like evolution and genetics. You're the one who denies scientific evidence from physics, biology, chemistry, genetics, cosmology and geology, all in favour of superstition based on talking snakes, magic apples, and sky fairy magic.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:35 am

Dr, Shedlon,
Please look up the dictionary definition of liar and learn to use in an appropriate manner.

After leaving the library yesterday I put on the wireless, there was discussion going on regarding the impact weapons that did not need man to impliment them could have in the future.

It said that SCIENTISTS and others involved were of the opinion that a race to find the most effective could turn into a Rat Race etc;

I have never said that science does not do certain good work, if you think so just say when and where.

I have never denied any field of science, in fact I have actually pointed out that there are numerous fields of science and that most just confirm the wonders that God created.

If you learned to read what is actually written would be a great help.

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

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:18 pm

You lied shamelessly and repeatedly.  I've never offered any subjective opinions on any scientific facts, unlike you who have relentlessly denied entire fields of science when they refute your superstitious beliefs. 

If you had any grasp of English at all it might help, but since you have no interest in discussion and are simply preaching and ranting ad nausea I doubt even that would help.  Every other poster abandoned all attempts at discourse with you long ago. Perhaps you might wonder why, though again I doubt it very much. 

There is no evidence for divine creation, none. The risible eclectic collection of creationist rhetoric and strident falsehoods you've paraded are an embarrassment. As is your continuing denial of entire fields of science like evolution and genetics because they evidence unequivocally the shared ancestry of all animals including the human animal.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:21 pm

You lied shamelessly and repeatedly.  I've never offered any subjective opinions on any scientific facts, unlike you who have relentlessly denied entire fields of science when they refute your superstitious beliefs. 

If you had any grasp of English at all it might help, but since you have no interest in discussion and are simply preaching and ranting ad nausea I doubt even that would help.  Every other poster abandoned all attempts at discourse with you long ago. Perhaps you might wonder why, though again I doubt it very much. 

There is no evidence for divine creation, none. The risible eclectic collection of creationist rhetoric and strident falsehoods you've paraded are an embarrassment. As is your continuing denial of entire fields of science like evolution and genetics because they evidence unequivocally the shared ancestry of all animals including the human animal.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Fri Jul 31, 2015 2:20 pm

Dr, Shedlon,
Repeating yourself is a bad sign, it infers you do not believe what youi said in the first place and rightly so, as it is a load of ignorant rrrubbish.

Of course all life came from the same origin, God and therefore there is close and far relationships between many living things one would not expect anything other.
.

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

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Fri Jul 31, 2015 5:37 pm

Firstly I'll highlight the stupidity of your opening lie when you then proceed to repeat the same unevidenced claim for divine creation that you have made endlessly.  

Science is an objective process that relies on evidence and rigorous and continuous scrutiny. Religion never scrutinise its claims. As we can see in microcosm from you repeating the same nonsense with no attempt to evidence it or even examine the claim.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Fri Jul 31, 2015 5:41 pm

I notice my condemnation of your latest lie didn't get any response. You really have no shame. I think this pointless attempt to discuss religion has run its course now. As you have chased away all the other erudite and intelligent posters and I am simply giving you the false impression you are one of them.

I may post on topic occasionally but feel there is now little to be gained from this pretence of discussion. I feel I should thank boatlady and the moderators for their forbearance.  It really can't have been easy.  So thanks
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:11 pm

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 Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:21 pm

Interesting article HERE about evolved human altruism, it talks about “group selection” as a means of favouring "altruistic" genes. Though it differentiates between what it calls true altruism and group altruism. Quite interesting, and the idea of group selection is gathering some momentum.

A small excerpt.

What do we know about human altruism? First of all, we don’t know whether true altruism, in which individuals behave in ways that help others by hurting their own reproductive prospects (firemen are one example), has any genetic basis in human society.  True altruism like that isn’t known in any other species, and I suspect that, to the extent it occurs in ours, it’s an epiphenomenon: a byproduct of our general social cooperativeness.  As far as whether we are genetically cooperative (rather than truly altruistic), that seems quite likely, but it doesn’t require group selection.  It requires selection that occurred in groups, which is different.  And we almost certainly have some behaviors that evolved by kin selection, parental care being the most obvio

I'm not sure the idea that the world's religions and belief systems, have many more points of similarity than differences is entirely true either. They certainly plagiarise each other that much is beyond doubt, stealing ancient and powerful myths and allegories and passing them off as their own, and hijacking dates in the calendar that have been ancient pagan celebrations, etc.. My main bone of contention for the claim though is twofold, firstly that monotheisms are aggressively exclusive, and secondly that even amongst a single religion they fragment at an astonishing rate, and each faction is as exclusive as the one that spawned, or tries to be, and equally if not more aggressive in trying to exclude all other beliefs. ISIS for instance is ostensibly Islamic, but compare their behaviour in proselytising their beliefs to most Muslims who happily, or at least peacefully, co-exist with other believers of all types.

Of course I'd argue, as have others far more knowledgeable, intelligent, and better educated than I, that faith not necessary for altruism, or morals. there ia ample evidence of moral behaviour patterns in plenty of other animal species after all. Nor of course have religious beliefs ever proved to be a genuine check to egregiously bad behaviour, quite the opposite I'd say.

Of course there a massive eclectic mix of beliefs, even amongst those who ostensible belong to the same religion, and whilst no one would attempt to deny that religious beliefs have produced examples of extreme altruism and self sacrifice for the good of others, in general I'm not sure this is the case. Of course one could also argue that those believers who behaved with compassion and true altruism simply possessed those attributes anyway, and happened to believe and so projected their own personality's onto those beliefs.

Another interesting scientific article HERE, this time showing evidence for human sexual selection having a propensity for selecting altruistic mates.

Humans are often seen as unusual in displaying altruistic behaviour towards nonrelatives. Here we outline and test a hypothesis that human altruistic traits evolved as a result of sexual selection. We develop a psychometric scale to measure mate preference towards altruistic traits (the MPAT scale). We then seek evidence of whether mate choice on the basis of altruistic traits is present and find it in one study (N ¼ 170 couples). We also predict that a stronger female MPAT, as measured by responses to the MPAT scale, will be expressed – a result found in all three studies (Ns ¼ 380, 340, and 398). Both sets of results are consistent with the hypothesized link between human altruism towards non-relatives and sexual selection.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Sat Aug 01, 2015 9:53 am

I always seem to read an interesting post just as I'm on the way out the door - hope to reply once I get back home tomorrow night
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:44 am

Dr, Shedlon,
It may help to read the Ant and the Peacock re; Darwin and Wallace.

Just what this has to do with the reason for the post I know not.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Sat Aug 01, 2015 1:40 pm

polyglide wrote:Dr, Shedlon,
                 It may help to read the Ant and the Peacock re; Darwin and Wallace.

                 Just what this has to do with the reason for the post I know not.

Not sure I follow what you're saying in the last sentence to be honest. What is it you're claiming has nothing to do with the reason for what post?

Also have you anything salient to say about my post on the evolutionary origins of human altruism or the works I've referenced? Or what this would mean for religious claims of human morals only being possible through divine absolutes, as opposed to moral relativity, which is so obviously the case I'm always stunned people even try to deny it. One has only to look at the heinous practices we now deem criminal that were family occasions a few short hundred years ago to see that post industrialisation freeing up the time for most of those societies to contemplate such behaviours and their morality or lack thereof, have helped advance our morals drastically. Or that biblical morals are on the whole either repulsive or require no remit from religion at all but are intrinsically human in origin.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:48 am

polyglide wrote:Dr, Shedlon, Of course all life came from the same origin, God and therefore there is close and far relationships between many living things one would not expect anything other.


I'm fairly sure you've not thought this claim through. As a clue to why it is wrong you might consider your many claims that your omnipotent being can "do literally anything", and then ponder why such a being would create all living things EXACTLY as if they shared a common and evolved ancestry, with different species possessing greater or lesser percentages of the building blocks of life, DNA, according to how recently their shared ancestor took separate evolutionary paths to solve similar problems of reproduction and survival in changing environments.  

The fact is one could demonstrably expect a being with omnipotence to avoid things like shared DNA, though far more tellingly of course one would have to be blind to all reason to expect such a being to include things like vestigial organs in it's design, which abound in the animal kingdom, including Whales with hind legs, it's hard to explain the whimsy of an omnipotent once you create one, isn't it? Without being unduly critical here, as religious apologetics are by their nature both circular and contradictory, you do have a habit of contradicting your earlier claims, sometimes subtly but often quite blatantly. The point here is that you are so closed minded that your beliefs are true, 100% closed minded according to you, that you tie yourself in knots trying to ignore evidence rather than weighing it objectively and letting the chips fall where they may. Despite your many claims to the contrary I examine both sides of the argument with equal rigour, but whilst one side is supported by all the objective evidence, and requires no subjective rationalising the other by stark contrast has you denying vast amounts of scientific evidence, and making rationalisations that are illogical, even irrational, and are circular and contradictory.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:21 pm

As is so often the case Wikipedia is our friend:

Helena Cronin author of "The Ant and The Peacock"

"Helena Cronin is a noted Darwinian philosopher and rationalist. She is the co-director of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science and the Darwin Centre at the London School of Economics. She achieved prominence with her book, The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today (1991) and has published and broadcast widely since.

Cronin is co-editor of Darwinism Today, a series of short books in evolutionary theory.[1] She writes popular articles, such as in The Guardian as well as in technical journals. She is a 'Distinguished Supporter' of the British Humanist Association.

Cronin's strong rationalistic views brought her prominence in a number of areas, such as sexual selection, Darwinism, the relative abilities of males and females, and gay rights. These are discussed in turn below.

The evolutionary zoologist Mark Ridley, reviewing The Ant and the Peacock in the New York Times, writes that it is a "fine book" in which Cronin uses our modern understanding of altruism (the ant) and "dangerously gaudy sexual ornamentation" (the peacock). Ridley notes that there are two reasons for sex differences like the peacock's train, and that Cronin explains them through the debate of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin proposed female choice: female aesthetics drive male displays. Wallace both "ignored Darwin's problem" (ornamentation) and "denied Darwin's solution" (female choice rather than natural selection). Instead, Ridley observes, Cronin explains that Wallace preferred the explanation that peacock's tails "crop up almost automatically"; he believed that female choice was both unnecessary and impossible. Ridley finds Cronin "quite amusing as she reviews the 'misogynistic opinion' of the critics of female choice", citing Cronin's example of the universally unpleasant 19th century anti-Darwinian St. George Mivart, "such is the instability of a vicious feminine caprice, that no constancy of coloration could be produced by its selective action." But curiously (notes Ridley), Darwin and Wallace swapped roles in Cronin's problem of the ant, where Darwin argued for natural selection, while Cronin quotes Wallace arguing that for human "intellectual and moral faculties", "we can only find an adequate cause in the unseen universe of Spirit." In Ridley's opinion, "The subtlest and most original insights in "The Ant and the Peacock" concern differences between Darwin's ideas and modern ideas." Ridley finds that Cronin "moves easily between the Victorians and ourselves", not entirely avoiding the danger of anachronism, "the historian's mortal sin", that this movement creates. He suspects that the book will therefore "appeal more to philosophically minded readers than to historians," but grants that "luckily" evolution is "one of the more philosophical of scientific ideas", and Wallace and Darwin can survive being treated as our contemporaries."

More here.

Again this author tackles the apparent dilemma in the perceived contradiction between the evolutionary mechanism of survival of the fittest, and altruistic behaviours in animals who cooperate for a collective success rather than the reproduction of their own genes. The point of course as I tried to make earlier is that the two behaviours are not in the least incompatible with Darwinian species evolution, and examples occur throughout the animal kingdom, including of course human animals.

Often creationist try to project so called "social Darwinism" as part of evolution and a consequence of accepting the fact of evolution. Of course it's neither part of Evolution nor even part of science, but is a shoddy nefarious ideological concept that is synonymous with fascism. Survival of the fittest in the Darwinian sense refers to fit for it's environment, not merely the strongest physical specimen within a single species, which is how fascism distorted it to justify persecuting those perceived as weak or who did not conform to their own subjective racial ideals. As we see altruism far from being anathema to evolution is a direct product of it.

Our evolved human intellects of course allow a much larger element of choice, hence our morals being so complex, and involving such complex ideas, such as ethics and philosophy, and religion of course, another human construct that is vastly complex. The point of course is that the evidence shows that many animals have evolved both altruism and morals besides humans, as of course you'd expect if all animals shared common ancestry that belied their ostensibly disparate natures after billions of years of evolutionary change.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by boatlady on Sun Aug 02, 2015 8:49 pm

.. My main bone of contention for the claim though is twofold, firstly that monotheisms are aggressively exclusive, and secondly that even amongst a single religion they fragment at an astonishing rate, and each faction is as exclusive as the one that spawned, or tries to be, and equally if not more aggressive in trying to exclude all other beliefs

Sheldon, I have no argument at all with this point - I think I am considering religion in terms not so much of its specific beliefs and practices, more of its social meaning and function, which is and has been a form of social bonding that enables individuals to form into social groups which transcend family ties and thus enable societies to grow and develop.

I think the argument I would want to make goes something along these lines - we all need to belong within a social group - essentially religions emerged as a way of defining a social group that would transcend the family or tribe which enabled people to form larger and more productive social groupings - part of this process involved the development of ethical systems and ideas about the proper regulation of society - these ideas were encapsulated within a range of ritual observances and development of special roles (priests, monks, teachers, kings) - so far, all religions share the same DNA if you like.

I would absolutely agree that organised religion and in particular the monotheisms have evolved in a way that is toxic and destructive, although still based on those earlier principles of group cohesion, ethics and rules governing social relationships.

The introduction of notions like belief, faith and exclusivity are what has transformed an essential ingredient of social development into a range of prejudices and hatreds that may well result in the destruction of the race, I would want to argue; however, the role of religion in helping to regulate behaviour and enable us to live in large social groups is I believe ignored at our peril.

The stuff about altruism seen in the light of evolutionary development is new to me and very fascinating - I need a bit of time to get my head around these ideas
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Sun Aug 02, 2015 9:32 pm

Interesting post, I'm of the opinion that ethics, and morals can (and should be) based on and around secularism. I am also of the opinion that ironically this is the best way to protect people's right to believe whatever they wish, or nothing at all of course.

Underpinning all ideas of a just and fair society in my opinion are universal basic human rights. I think as many people as can should support Amnesty International for that very reason. I can see no moral justification for anyone to deny any right to anyone they would want for themselves, and I am deeply concerned at Cameron's suggestion the Tories will try and get the UK out of the ECHR, which would be an enormous step backwards in my opinion.

It's often surprising to me how many people seem unaware that there is research into, and evidence to support, altruism being an evolved trait. Of course evolution is now a vast area of study as it encompasses all living things, so for those of us laymen who can't spend our time studying it perhaps it's shouldn't be that surprising.

Interesting and slightly tangential point I read about a while ago, were that American universities and pharmaceutical companies were voicing their deep concern that they were increasingly losing ground in medical research and development to other developed countries as they couldn't recruit enough people with the prerequisite qualifications and training, because all medical research and development now has to be underpinned by the scientific fact of evolution, and so many people, some 47%, in the USA are creationists who don't accept evolution. I remember being staggered that one of the richest industrialised democracies in the world could fail in it's duty to properly educate its populace so astonishingly. Evidence if it were needed of the corrosive effect religious beliefs can have, and this in a country which has a secular constitution that supposedly separates church and state utterly.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Mon Aug 03, 2015 1:51 pm

Dr, Sheldon,
I feel this subject is a very interesting one that could include some sensible exchanges of opinion but not if one is going to resort to the usual silly replies and induendo.

If you read the findings of the Stamford Prison Experiment and the Stanley Milgram experiments you will find some very interesting observations regarding altruism.

Both in animal and human behaviour you will find both good and evil, there are varying reasons for both, as the above experiments will show.

I do not think anyone is born either good or evil there are too many varients between individuals and Nations etc;

Many heroic actions have been carried out without aforethought and with no regard therefore of the consequences
as many heroes have stated.

I have just been reading the account of a young disturbed man.

He was chased by a dozen or so police officers for the sole reason that his parents had been concerned as to his welfare.

He was so distressed that he jumped into a pond and not one of the police officers attempted to save him because of Health & Safety, they also restrained others from doing so.

He drowned.

How do you think this fits into the subject.

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

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:00 pm

I have no idea how or even if it fits into the subject. You'd have to make a point for that as it is your claim. 

The scientific research that shows altruism is an evolved trait doesn't negate human choices, as we also know our evolved intellects allow us choices governed by circumstance and the size of that intellect. 

The point being made is that morals and even ethics are evolved traits.  No divine absolutes are required. Indeed the absolute morals attributed to deities have dated in precisely the way we'd expect if they were entirely man made. 

The conclusion seems perfectly obvious given the human propensity to create imaginary deities and base laws on the assumption that the diety in question wills it.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:50 pm

I'm not sure what your police anecdote means, or what it is you're claiming it means. Though clearly the thread is predicated on the idea that religions were created on the assumption that religious belief could be used to bully, threaten, frighten and otherwise cajole humans into "behaving", and of course that we don't need religion for that, as police will do the same job.

It's not an entirely literal premise I suspect, as you could read police to mean an effective criminal justice system that offers a very good chance of wrongdoing and criminality being detected and punished. I suspect that it is also predicated on the assertion that those religions have at their heart a deity that is entirely fictitious.

No one can argue that religious "morals" seem oddly synonymous with the epoch they originated in, and either redundant or repugnant to societies just a few thousand years later. The very few that are salient today don't require any deity or religious beliefs to make them obviously morally correct, if a person can't avoid murder theft or rape without a divine diktat then they're just a shitty human being.

A similar if tangential point regarding theistic morals is when theists claim they are generous or altruistic because of their religious beliefs. If they can't muster empathy for their fellow humans without the threat of hell or the bribery of eternal bliss then again they're a poor example of humanity, and if they can then it's oddly incongruous to cite those beliefs as the source of their altruism. It doesn't end there either as many people are altruistic who hold no religious beliefs, and give both their time and money to help others with no expectation of any reward, or of anything at all beyond helping those less fortunate than themselves.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:30 pm

It occurs to me we could test the premise of this thread with a simple question:

In the society you live in would you feel safer if

a) religion was removed?

or

b) police and the law were removed?

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

Post by polyglide on Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:42 pm

Dr, Sheldon,
As far as I am concerned all the false religions should be removed and mankind live according to God's advice and the Christian religion.

There would be no need for a police force and the law would be God's law.




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

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:45 pm

Sadly your opinion is laughably wrong here, as all the evidence from OT atrocities, the crusades, the Inquisition through to the Holocaust show. 

No amount of bombastic opinion or labelling all the theists who committed atrocities as somehow conveniently not true believers will change the evidence.

Besides your subjective interpretation of God's law seems to involve misogyny, a puritanical obsession with what women wear and who sleeps with whom and when and a fair amount of  homophobia, hardly desirable morals for any decent society.


Last edited by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:55 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:49 pm

Dr, Shedlon,
Sorry, i cannot reply to atteocities, should there be a gap between the o and c and you are in the wrong place?.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:53 pm

Nor can you capitalise an I it seems. Oh dear.....
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:57 pm

Dr. Shedlon,
I have to get down to your level in an attempt to make you understand.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:09 pm

Your relentless ad hominem was on show long before I posted in here. As was your inability to tackle any topic beyond a relentless bombastic declaration of faith more suited to a pulpit than a discussion forum. As we see here again where you ignore the topic utterly.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:23 pm

Dr, Shedlon,
All we need is to follow God's law and there would be no problems.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:35 pm

So you KEEP  saying, unfortunately you offer no evidence to support the claim, and ignore all the evidence offered to refute it. 

That's not discussion.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:46 pm

Dr, Shedlon,
Then please explain where going by God's law would not be of benifit and not need anything else.

I say it would be the best thing since sliced bread, now you explain why not.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Tue Aug 04, 2015 5:32 pm

I already gave more than one expansive answer to that question, you just insulted me, ignored my answer, and reposted your claim that bronze age based morality is some kind of panacea for 21st century ills. Which of course it is not as it contains some fairly repulsive stuff, misogyny, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, whilst advocating things like slavery, rapine, murder, genocide, child sacrifice and much more.

As I have said the ten commandments either offer rules that pre-date religion, and have been found to exist in nearly all human societies, even those devoid of any kind of religion or theism, or a list of rules on how to worship a single deity. If a person can't desist from theft murder and rapine without divine diktat then they're just a shitty human being.

The rest is only remotely applicable if you are a Christian, or possibly Jewish or a Muslim, and they have palpably failed to check the most egregious atrocities by those religions and their adherents, ever. Since I am not an adherent of any theism or religion then those rules on worshipping a deity are entirely irrelevant to me. If people wish to spend their lives worshipping a deity then so be it, but no one who doesn't wish this for themselves should be commanded to do so. Hence I don't see how the TC's would make the world a better place. I see religious beliefs as either innocuous but irrelevant, or pernicious and deeply corrosive, neither of which really answers contemporary moral dichotomies, like the need for all human beings to have their basic rights and freedoms protected by law, or the desire to create fair and just societies globally, or tackling poverty and disease, or inequality, racism, misogyny, sexism, criminality, climate change, species extinction, homophobia, xenophobia etc etc etc..
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:00 pm

Dr, Shedlon,
Have you actually read the Ten Commandments?.

Not one of the things you mention above are included

Please actually read them and then comment.

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

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Fri Aug 07, 2015 5:51 pm

polyglide wrote:Dr, Shedlon,
                Have you actually read the Ten Commandments?.

                Not one of the things you mention above are included

                Please actually read them and then comment.


So again you just insult me and ignore my answer, why?   If you disagree with the points I have made then say why, showing evidence if you have any, rather than simply dismissing it without even the courtesy of acknowledging what I've posted. It should be abundantly clear you'll never get the answer you want as our views are diametrically opposed, but if you have no interest in discussing or hearing views that differ from your own then why come into a public forum? I always do you the courtesy of giving a thorough response to your posts, as I had here again. Only for you to make the ridiculous assertion I've not read them, when my post shows that I have, as had my previous post I referred you to which you also ignored.


I am the LORD thy God
Thou shalt have no other gods
No graven images or likenesses
Not take the LORD's name in vain
Remember the sabbath day
A list of commands to servile worship, and as I say utterly irrelevant to 21st century ills, enough Christians have obeyed these and the world is according to your post beyond help. Hardly compelling evidence they'll help, and besides there's no real evidence a deity exists, and even if it did and was omniscient and omnipotent and of course omni-benevolent, then the idea it would require the saccharin worship of humans if frankly absurd.

Honour thy father and thy mother
One hardly needs a commandment for this, or religion, with the caveat they are good decent parents and deserve it of course.
Thou shalt not kill
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not bear false witness
Again if you need the threat of hell or the promise of eternal bliss, or a commandment from a God to know not to do these things then you're simply a shitty human being.

Thou shalt not covet
An absurd nonsensical thing to try and command, it's both in our natures to desire things we see, and of course as long as we just covet then an utterly harmless thing. Again I see no prospect of improvement for 21st century societies from blindly obeying these.

As I said nothing prohibiting war, slavery, rapine, torture, paedophilia, or child abuse, or spousal abuse, just off the top of my head. So no the world would not really be improved by blindly obeying these.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Sat Aug 08, 2015 12:14 pm

Dr, Shedlon,
Had we had only one religion, then all the problems caused by false religions would have been avoided.



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

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Sat Aug 08, 2015 1:16 pm

polyglide wrote:Dr, Shedlon,
                Had we had only one religion, then all the problems caused by false  religions  would have been avoided.  

If you disagree with the points I have made then say why, showing evidence if you have any, rather than simply dismissing it without even the courtesy of acknowledging what I've posted. It should be abundantly clear you'll never get the answer you want as our views are diametrically opposed, but if you have no interest in discussing or hearing views that differ from your own then why come into a public forum? I always do you the courtesy of giving a thorough response to your posts, as I had here again. Only for you to make the ridiculous assertion I've not read them, when my post shows that I have, as had my previous post I referred you to which you also ignored.


I am the LORD thy God
Thou shalt have no other gods
No graven images or likenesses
Not take the LORD's name in vain
Remember the sabbath day
A list of commands to servile worship, and as I say utterly irrelevant to 21st century ills, enough Christians have obeyed these and the world is according to your post beyond help. Hardly compelling evidence they'll help, and besides there's no real evidence a deity exists, and even if it did and was omniscient and omnipotent and of course omni-benevolent, then the idea it would require the saccharin worship of humans if frankly absurd.

Honour thy father and thy mother
One hardly needs a commandment for this, or religion, with the caveat they are good decent parents and deserve it of course.
Thou shalt not kill
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not bear false witness
Again if you need the threat of hell or the promise of eternal bliss, or a commandment from a God to know not to do these things then you're simply a shitty human being.

Thou shalt not covet
An absurd nonsensical thing to try and command, it's both in our natures to desire things we see, and of course as long as we just covet then an utterly harmless thing. Again I see no prospect of improvement for 21st century societies from blindly obeying these.

As I said nothing prohibiting war, slavery, rapine, torture, paedophilia, or child abuse, or spousal abuse, just off the top of my head. So no the world would not really be improved by blindly obeying these.

You raised this question at least have the decency to acknowledge my response, and stop preaching just because you didn't get the answer you wanted.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Sat Aug 08, 2015 1:21 pm

Dr, Shedlon,
No Christian would indulge in the things you state had there been only one religion.

They have all come about through false religions and people not taking note of God's advice.

Along with some saying they are Christians and not acting accordingly etc;
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Sat Aug 08, 2015 1:46 pm

polyglide wrote:Dr, Shedlon,
                No Christian would indulge in the things you state had there been only one religion.

                They have all come about through false religions and people not taking note of God's advice.

                 Along with some saying they are Christians and not acting accordingly etc;

If you disagree with the points I have made then say why, showing evidence if you have any, rather than simply dismissing it without even the courtesy of acknowledging what I've posted. It should be abundantly clear you'll never get the answer you want as our views are diametrically opposed, but if you have no interest in discussing or hearing views that differ from your own then why come into a public forum? I always do you the courtesy of giving a thorough response to your posts, as I had here again. Only for you to make the ridiculous assertion I've not read them, when my post shows that I have, as had my previous post I referred you to which you also ignored.


I am the LORD thy God
Thou shalt have no other gods
No graven images or likenesses
Not take the LORD's name in vain
Remember the sabbath day
A list of commands to servile worship, and as I say utterly irrelevant to 21st century ills, enough Christians have obeyed these and the world is according to your post beyond help. Hardly compelling evidence they'll help, and besides there's no real evidence a deity exists, and even if it did and was omniscient and omnipotent and of course omni-benevolent, then the idea it would require the saccharin worship of humans if frankly absurd.

Honour thy father and thy mother
One hardly needs a commandment for this, or religion, with the caveat they are good decent parents and deserve it of course.
Thou shalt not kill
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not bear false witness
Again if you need the threat of hell or the promise of eternal bliss, or a commandment from a God to know not to do these things then you're simply a shitty human being.

Thou shalt not covet
An absurd nonsensical thing to try and command, it's both in our natures to desire things we see, and of course as long as we just covet then an utterly harmless thing. Again I see no prospect of improvement for 21st century societies from blindly obeying these.

As I said nothing prohibiting war, slavery, rapine, torture, paedophilia, or child abuse, or spousal abuse, just off the top of my head. So no the world would not really be improved by blindly obeying these.

You raised this question at least have the decency to acknowledge my response, and stop preaching just because you didn't get the answer you wanted.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

Post by polyglide on Sat Aug 08, 2015 1:53 pm

Dr, Sheldon,
Do you actually read my replies?.

I have said that if there was only one religion as advocated by God then all that you raise would not have occured.

It matters not what the Commanments are, none would be of any hinderrance to man being able to have a fruitful life.

Man's pride may get in the way but that is another matter, he should have none in that respect.

There would be no wars or any of the things you list, they have come about by man not accepting God's advice etc;

One religion, Christianity, no problems.
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Re: "People say we need religion, when what they really mean is we need police"

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