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The Satisfaction of Critical Thinking: Questions for Religious Advocates

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I've seen so much good done by critical thinking. Carl Sagan was a huge influence on me regarding the use of valid reasoning and sufficient evidence to arrive at sound conclusions. In other words, he wrote of the importance of science and scientific thinking to advance human knowledge to be used as a tool to solve many of humanity's most pressing problems. I've found ever since I read some of his books and watched his Cosmos series on PBS that if I do veer from critical thought, then I make myself vulnerable to being deceived and deluded. Sure, believing what isn't true might bring me some short-lived happiness, but it never lasts long. I end up feeling like a fool with a scanter bank account.

So regarding religion, I've found that religion rarely if ever is isolated to the individuals who hold such beliefs. Christianity and many other religions teach their members to try to convert unbelievers to the faith. If those unbelievers resist conversion, then they are often denounced as reprobates and shunned, and social disruption is the result. It's happened to me several times in my life, at least three times in the last three years. Because religion causes these kinds of problems and many other kinds of problems for that matter, I feel it is my moral obligation to speak out against religion warning people of its attendant ills.

Recently an advocate of religion paid a visit here to this forum to ask why "atheists" are picking on those poor Christians whom he sees as happy people who just want to be left alone to feel the joy of their religion. It is very cruel to disabuse them of their beliefs here at IIDB! Why, they might learn the truth and give up those wonderful beliefs that made them so happy. They'll end up feeling sad as they face the reality of a world bereft of a loving father in the sky who some day will take them all there to live forever.

Oddly enough, though, he seemed to disapprove of our "secular religion" here at IIDB. Apparently not all presumably religious people have a right to be happy. If you are a critical thinker who is openly skeptical of religious claims, you are miserable or should be miserable! You are to keep your wretched doubt to yourself. Just logging on to this forum to critique religion constitutes a religion in its own right, and a dangerous cult-like religion at that. He sees us as fanatics identifying as infidels who dwell on religion daring to see error in religion that we feel obliged to correct. He sees all religion as "an intrinsic part of human cultures" and as such should be maintained and seen as good, but apparently the "religion of atheism" is an exception to that rule.

I feel many questions arise from these views. Why, exactly, do skeptics of religion need to keep their views to themselves while the religious are privileged to openly express them? Is that not a blatant double-standard? If religion really does bring happiness, a dubious claim, why is that happiness more important than knowing the truth? Are we to envy people who are happy even if we know they are being deceived? Would you envy a man lying in the gutter soiling his pants as he feels joy from the alcohol he just consumed? Aren't the ills of religion like that and are indeed in need of correction?

I won't be holding my breath waiting for clear, sensible, full and honest answers to these questions, but I thought that I needed to set the record straight on the alleged "sacred happiness" of the religious.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I think you bring up a good point and honestly I've never thought about it that way. Of course critical thinking certainly makes me happy. It lets me know I'm in charge and that anything can be questioned. It might be that religious folk are only happy if you leave them alone. Put reality in front of them and they know they have to retreat back into religious fantasy to be happy. Might as well throw back a couple shots. The bible is just another bottle.
 
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I think you bring up a good point and honestly I've never thought about it that way. Of course critical thinking certainly makes me happy. It lets me know I'm in charge and that anything can be questioned. It might be that religious folk are only happy if you leave them alone. Put reality in front of them and they know they have to retreat back into religious fantasy to be happy. Might as well throw back a couple shots. The bible is just another bottle.
I should add that I think that my personal integrity is more important to me than happiness. Like you I value truth over fantasy, and I also realize the importance of others knowing the truth too. It scares me to think I live in a society in which tens of millions of people value superstition over science.
 

steve_bank

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Looking at a complex issue like religion mixed with history, politics, and culture as a simplistic good and evil tdichotomy is the opposite of critical thinking.
 
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Looking at a complex issue like religion mixed with history, politics, and culture as a simplistic good and evil tdichotomy is the opposite of critical thinking.
Yes. As a critical thinker, I recognize that religions come in many different degrees of evil. It would be simplistic to say some of them are "good" although a religion can be very good for those crafty enough to take advantage of those who put their faith in that religion.
 

steve_bank

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Looking at a complex issue like religion mixed with history, politics, and culture as a simplistic good and evil tdichotomy is the opposite of critical thinking.
Yes. As a critical thinker, I recognize that religions come in many different degrees of evil. It would be simplistic to say some of them are "good" although a religion can be very good for those crafty enough to take advantage of those who put their faith in that religion.

It all comes under the term 'the human condition'. To me all human ornizations are the same.

In modern times communism atheist by ideolgy has been far more destructive than relgion.

The Muslim Hindu conflict with India and Pakistan is not just about religion per se, it is about national pride and group identity.

In the 80s I was living in Portland. There was an all get sports club that refused to allow bisexuals to join. If it is not one thing it is another. Identity politics and group identity.

I don't see his expressions and hear his tome of voice. Going by Gnistic Chrtians's words I woyd thibk given the oportunity he woud abuse power as zaelots do.
'
Note he identifies as Gnostic Christian Bishop. He projects a group and personal identity and attacks anyone who raises questions as evil. His favorite retort is 'fuck you'. Threaten his group identity and claims of purity and righteousness and he gets agregressive, just like 'evil' Christians.

As the old radio show opening line goes

'What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.'

In Christian parlance, we are all sinners. Those who preach any kind of perfect goodness are self deluded zealots.
 

Swammerdami

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Why, exactly, do skeptics of religion need to keep their views to themselves while the religious are privileged to openly express them? Is that not a blatant double-standard?

Isn't it a bit like discussing Santa Claus with children? An adult is free to profess belief in Santa with children not his own — at worst the children will find the adult a bit stupid. But telling children whom you do not know that Santa Claus is a fiction is, rightfully, forbidden.

("A bit like" is an operative phrase here.)
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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What causes some people to not reflect on their behavior, the things they say? It's more than group identity. What causes group identity? Okay, natural selection has chosen for group identity. But that doesn't answer the question of how natural selection chooses for group identity. How does it happen? There must be an explanation for the behavior. What's the explanation? Can we become a bit more intelligent as a species by answering the question definitively? Can we then pass on that knowledge to others?

Does a religious person ever question the value of their group identity? Does a religious person even think about having a group identity? I'd be curious Learner's take on the question.

And when I say religious person I mean in the "having a god" sense, believing in the magic and ghosts and spirits, the whole woo thing. Does that kind of religious person see themselves as having a group identity like someone who flirts with crystals or astrology?

But ultimately irrational behavior should be explainable in scientific terms that we can understand and appreciate - at least for those of us who are interested. And if one isn't interested there's a scientific explanation for that because such a person probably never thinks about their group identity and the irrational things they do. The reflection just isn't there. Why isn't it there? What is causing it to not be there as opposed to a person that does reflect?
 

Tigers!

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Does a religious person ever question the value of their group identity? Does a religious person even think about having a group identity? I'd be curious Learner's take on the question.

And when I say religious person I mean in the "having a god" sense, believing in the magic and ghosts and spirits, the whole woo thing. Does that kind of religious person see themselves as having a group identity like someone who flirts with crystals or astrology?
Do you ask yourself that same question i.e question the value your group identity as a sceptic? I'd be curious for your take on the question.

Since I am a member of my local Baptist church then yes I do have a group identity as a member of that group.
Just like I have a group identity as a member of the Richmond Football Club. See my avatar.
 

steve_bank

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Iyou want to turn it into a Darwinian perspective, the fact that region persists indicates a survival value. It is a scical glue.

It is eeasy to see group idenity and its manifestations in iothers, harder to see in yourself. My point to Agbostic was he exhibits the same behavior and rhetoric as those he calls evil. Given the right circumstances he coud be as intaolerant as those he rants against.

That fact is born out by modern history. Region is not the source, it is fundamental human behavior.

In the 80s I went to the old Boston Gardens ro see the Bostoan Celtics play. You wouyd not want to rant against Lary Btrd if yiu are an oposing fan. Fights broke out. More so for the Bruins.

In Euriope soccer fan violence between fans can be extreme.

Reducing all religion to a simple good evil stereotype dichotomy in terms of causation is not critical thinking.

On the flip side being atheist does not mean some kind of absolute good, also evidenced by modern experience.
 
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To me all human ornizations are the same.
To me an organization like the Union of Concerned Scientists is obviously better than the Ku Klux Klan. Organizations from a moral perspective are vastly different. I do understand, though, that many defenders of the faith will drag secular groups down to the level of religion to make them all appear to be on an even level.
In modern times communism atheist by ideolgy has been far more destructive than relgion.
No matter how bad some secular movements might have been, religion is made no better by making comparisons between them. You've made here what I like to call "the smellier skunk fallacy" which goes like this: My skunk might smell bad, but other skunks smell even worse! The fallacy here is that no matter how badly other skunks might reek, my skunk still stinks. In the same way no matter how bad nonreligious groups are, religion is made no better by comparing it to those secular groups.

Besides, most atheists don't belong to those groups, and neither do most atheists approve of what they've done. Atheists are free to repudiate all evil, while Christians must approve of anything evil they believe was done by their God.
'What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.'
Quoting a line from an old radio show doesn't prove much. Most people are good most of the time, and they deserve credit for the good that they do.
In Christian parlance, we are all sinners.
That's because Christians invented sin to be an integral part of human nature. There's nothing like laying a guilt trip on people for doing what their instincts lead them to do.
 

steve_bank

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There is no completion, corruption, and politics in science? HeeeHeeHee.

All social organizations form hierarchical power structures. It is natural.

If you want to invoke morality, science presumes to create new science without bounds or restraints. Consequences are not the responsibility of the creator. The pursuit of science is what gave us the climate change problem.

Nuclear and chemical weapons.

Stop turning science into some kind of idealized religion to be worshiped, demystify science.

There are people who believe anything said by people with science credentials.

Without social stability there is no science. Religion has always been a part of stability. As we become more divided and unrest grows, the question is what will replace religion. At this point it is pop culture. Endless streams of mind numbing entertainment.

People quote pop icons for morality instead of philosophy or religion. People with little morality become pop heroes. Icons who drink and drug themselves to death are pop heroes.

Again balance. If you want to criticize reilgion there is plenty to talk about, but look at it in the coronet of the totalityof culture.

That is what I call critical thinking and freethought. Analysis without being biased by categories and personal opinion.
 

Bomb#20

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Why, exactly, do skeptics of religion need to keep their views to themselves while the religious are privileged to openly express them? Is that not a blatant double-standard?

Isn't it a bit like discussing Santa Claus with children? An adult is free to profess belief in Santa with children not his own — at worst the children will find the adult a bit stupid. But telling children whom you do not know that Santa Claus is a fiction is, rightfully, forbidden.

("A bit like" is an operative phrase here.)
According to Rudyard Kipling, the truth is a naked lady: a gentleman must turn his face away and swear he did not see.
 
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