Mocking religion

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warumich
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Mon Dec 13, 2021 2:24 pm

Millennie Al wrote:
Sun Dec 12, 2021 5:01 am
But in general the relationship holds.
Again, you just seem to be stating this, not offering an argument (or I misunderstood your sentences before that). I still don't see why a belief that's false (or at least held for bad reasons) should more likely lead to oppression than a belief that's true (or well evidenced or whatever). Surely it's the content of the belief that is to blame here. So you seem to be saying that if it's not properly evidenced, it is more likely to have content that leads to oppression? I might be a bit dense here, but I don't see the necessity of that connection.
Millennie Al wrote:
Sun Dec 12, 2021 5:01 am
If you mean that "religion" has been given a specific technical meaning within a particular field, I would not be surprised, but also consider it irrelevant. Many fields take ordinary words and give them special meanings. But if you mean that religion as people normally refer to it does not mean belief without regard to evidence (which is not quite the same thing as without evidence), then I would very much disagree and would like to see your definition of religion.
There is no technical meaning to religion because it's a term that has evolved naturally over the centuries and within / between different social and linguistic groups, that's why, to Shpaller's dismay, we often need to go back 500 years to look at the origin of the term. Sociologists have tried to provide meaningful definitions of religion, and they all have to cover what "people normally refer to", because you cannot have a definition of a social phenomenon that departs too much from what people think it is. The general problem is that whenever you have a definition of religion that covers everything that people tend to think of as religious, then it also ends up covering things that are not commonly regarded as religion (this could include science, but also nationalism, football fandom, atheism etc); OR it is so narrow that some things that are commonly regarded as religious are left out (including quite often East Asian religions because they're just too different from our European conceptions of religion; but also often things that say catholics or methodists will tell you is religion). This is a well known problem and usually part of chapter 1 of any sociology of religion textbook.

Since you're interested in what "people normally refer to" though, there's plenty of research on this. Just an example that comes to my mind right now, I'm currently reading a book on interviews with Polish and Ukrainian scientists on their views on science vs religion, which also includes a lot of thinking about what religion is - these include atheist, catholic, orthodox and Greek catholic scientists - and as you can imagine the opinions and views of what exactly is religion differs a lot here. But there is certainly no consensus that the essence of religion is "faith without evidence". I know you'll disagree with these good people, but you're the one who wants to ground the definition on what people normally refer to, so you cannot now go and disagree with what the people tell you.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Mon Dec 13, 2021 2:33 pm

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Fri Dec 10, 2021 5:29 pm
Fwiw I'm in the process of writing a blog about the history of the use of biology as a means of oppression, for all of women, ethnic minorities, gay people and trans people. It requires me to do a fair amount of reading first (Angela Saini is a fabulous writer), hence why it's taking a long time. But the arguments we see right now about how transphobes just want everyone to believe in biology is the same refrain we hear about gay people being an abomination because biologically they aren't f.cking for babies and about black people being biologically less intelligent and about women being biologically incapable of thinking hard enough to deserve the vote.

All of those positions were based on the premise of using biology, science, evidence, to back up what they wanted to believe. It's taken decades of research to push back on that, but even now there are a lot of old, debunked theories out there which are still believed by a lot of people and used to oppress. Now, I'm sure that all of you goodly people would distance yourselves from the biological basis of sexism and racism and homophobia, though there are plenty of transphobes here who like to use the same recycled oppressive science-based arguments as were used for bigotries which are now unfashionable. But if a lot of the forum members here were able to post on a science forum in the 1920s, a fair f.cking lot of you would agree that eugenics was great and we should be looking to improve the human race through careful breeding.

Because science.

Looking forward to your blog post, be sure to link to it when you're done please!!
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by bjn » Mon Dec 13, 2021 5:53 pm

Surely it boils down to how you see people.

Some individual people are objectively “inferior” on real physical or psychological measures, let alone b.llsh.t measures to do with race, gender and sexuality. My hay fever is a trivial case, my autism more significant, some poor sod with muscular dystrophy more so. Their lives won’t be as productive or possibly as happy as “superior” people, to the point of being an actual burden on everyone else.

None of that matters though. The most import thing is that people are not means to an end, they are ends in and of themselves. Because they aren’t objects, this means autonomy in decision making a right to as fulfilling a life as possible.

That last statement is a value judgement. Not everyone shares it, but I’m hoping most people here do.

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Re: Mocking religion

Post by Millennie Al » Wed Dec 15, 2021 4:16 am

warumich wrote:
Mon Dec 13, 2021 2:24 pm
Millennie Al wrote:
Sun Dec 12, 2021 5:01 am
But in general the relationship holds.
Again, you just seem to be stating this, not offering an argument (or I misunderstood your sentences before that). I still don't see why a belief that's false (or at least held for bad reasons) should more likely lead to oppression than a belief that's true (or well evidenced or whatever). Surely it's the content of the belief that is to blame here. So you seem to be saying that if it's not properly evidenced, it is more likely to have content that leads to oppression? I might be a bit dense here, but I don't see the necessity of that connection.
It's not the likelihood that is essential. Suppose there is a tour guide for a coach tour who is supposed to ensure that no tourist gets left behind at a stop. The method he uses is to toss a coin and if it is heads he says everyone is present, while if it is tails he says someone is mssing and waits ten minutes before checking again. Obviously this procedure is not effective as it is based on no relevant evidence as to whether all the tourists are on the coach. Now suppose that a tourist takes too long in a shop and gets left behind. If we ask why they were left behind we would normally say that there are two causes: that they were late and that the tour guide failed to effectively check that everyone was present. Note that the tour guide is sometimes right - he gets a head when all the tourists are present or he gets a tail when someone is missing. But we don't normally say that this means that the sole cause of leaving behind a tourist is that tourists fault for being late.

Similarly, since religion is not an effective way to decide what to do, when someone uses it and it gives them the wrong result we fairly blame them for using that religion to make a decision. But if it gives them the right result we cannot credit the religion because it was mere coincidence that it got it right.
Since you're interested in what "people normally refer to" though, there's plenty of research on this. Just an example that comes to my mind right now, I'm currently reading a book on interviews with Polish and Ukrainian scientists on their views on science vs religion, which also includes a lot of thinking about what religion is - these include atheist, catholic, orthodox and Greek catholic scientists - and as you can imagine the opinions and views of what exactly is religion differs a lot here. But there is certainly no consensus that the essence of religion is "faith without evidence". I know you'll disagree with these good people, but you're the one who wants to ground the definition on what people normally refer to, so you cannot now go and disagree with what the people tell you.
Indeed I cannot disagree with that, but what I can do is say that if people cannot agree on what it is then no meaningful discussion or analysis can take place.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Dec 15, 2021 9:36 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 4:16 am
warumich wrote:
Mon Dec 13, 2021 2:24 pm
Millennie Al wrote:
Sun Dec 12, 2021 5:01 am
But in general the relationship holds.
Again, you just seem to be stating this, not offering an argument (or I misunderstood your sentences before that). I still don't see why a belief that's false (or at least held for bad reasons) should more likely lead to oppression than a belief that's true (or well evidenced or whatever). Surely it's the content of the belief that is to blame here. So you seem to be saying that if it's not properly evidenced, it is more likely to have content that leads to oppression? I might be a bit dense here, but I don't see the necessity of that connection.
It's not the likelihood that is essential. Suppose there is a tour guide for a coach tour who is supposed to ensure that no tourist gets left behind at a stop. The method he uses is to toss a coin and if it is heads he says everyone is present, while if it is tails he says someone is mssing and waits ten minutes before checking again. Obviously this procedure is not effective as it is based on no relevant evidence as to whether all the tourists are on the coach. Now suppose that a tourist takes too long in a shop and gets left behind. If we ask why they were left behind we would normally say that there are two causes: that they were late and that the tour guide failed to effectively check that everyone was present. Note that the tour guide is sometimes right - he gets a head when all the tourists are present or he gets a tail when someone is missing. But we don't normally say that this means that the sole cause of leaving behind a tourist is that tourists fault for being late.
That just reinforces warumich's point about how its the content of the belief that matters. Your example is based upon a premise that the tour guide wants to avoid what we would consider to be a bad outcome (tourists getting stranded). Certainly the coin tosser is less efficient than the one who uses a strategy.

We can invert your example and make the opposite case if we consider an outcome we'd agree was bad. Consider two Peoples Commissars who have been sent to Ukraine in order to identify kulaks who'll be sent to a labour camp (in which almost all will die within the year). The first commissar uses a rational method and bases his selection criteria on whether a peasant owns any property at all. He selects 75% of the households in a village. The second doesn't really understand Marxism-Leninism and just tosses a coin, and so only 50% of the households in a village are sent off to be worked to death. Coin tossing led to a less terrible outcome.

So we're back to whether the person wants to achieve what we'd think of as being good or bad outcomes. Using a rational strategy to achieve that aim is an argument about efficiency which applies both to things we'd like to happen and to things we don't like.

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Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Wed Dec 15, 2021 10:13 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 4:16 am
Indeed I cannot disagree with that, but what I can do is say that if people cannot agree on what it is then no meaningful discussion or analysis can take place
Not quite, there are many meaningful discussions and analyses you can have as long as you're aware of the limitations of the concept. I've been trying to think of an analogy in natural science; this is not going to be perfect but bear with me.

Take wasps. I'ts a perfectly reasonable concept for an insect that serves us perfectly well in everyday language; we don't need to have a clear definition of what a wasp is in order to have our picnic ruined. Biologically, according to my meager understanding and wikipedia, a wasp is not a particularly useful category however - a wasp is any insect of the suborder apocrita which is neither a bee or an ant. So wasp is not a natural category, it is a social construct that has developed in natural language in a time before people had any ideas about genetics or clades, just insects grouped together because they look similar. But you can still study yellowjackets, or hornets or whatever; you don't need to have a coherent concept of what a wasp is in order to do that. But if you want to make wider studies about all wasps, you'd have to include bees and ants.

Similarly with religion - as a sociologist you can study individual religions like Lutheranism, Buddhism or Siberian Shamanism, without having a concise concept of what religion is. If you want to make grand sweeping statements about all religions however, you will find that you might have to include things like science, atheism or Star Trek fandom.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Wed Dec 15, 2021 11:19 am

warumich wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 10:13 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 4:16 am
Indeed I cannot disagree with that, but what I can do is say that if people cannot agree on what it is then no meaningful discussion or analysis can take place
Not quite, there are many meaningful discussions and analyses you can have as long as you're aware of the limitations of the concept. I've been trying to think of an analogy in natural science; this is not going to be perfect but bear with me.

Take wasps. I'ts a perfectly reasonable concept for an insect that serves us perfectly well in everyday language; we don't need to have a clear definition of what a wasp is in order to have our picnic ruined. Biologically, according to my meager understanding and wikipedia, a wasp is not a particularly useful category however - a wasp is any insect of the suborder apocrita which is neither a bee or an ant. So wasp is not a natural category, it is a social construct that has developed in natural language in a time before people had any ideas about genetics or clades, just insects grouped together because they look similar. But you can still study yellowjackets, or hornets or whatever; you don't need to have a coherent concept of what a wasp is in order to do that. But if you want to make wider studies about all wasps, you'd have to include bees and ants.

Similarly with religion - as a sociologist you can study individual religions like Lutheranism, Buddhism or Siberian Shamanism, without having a concise concept of what religion is. If you want to make grand sweeping statements about all religions however, you will find that you might have to include things like science, atheism or Star Trek fandom.
Good example. So there's a clear meaning behind "wasps are bastards" based on being stang off a yellowjacket which isn't addressed by an entomologist pointing out that there's some rare species of not-a-bee-or-an-ant which actually does something really useful or something.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by secret squirrel » Wed Dec 15, 2021 11:28 am

When I give the description: "The ground was quite covered with plants" --do you want to say I don't know what I am talking about until I can give a definition of a plant?
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:06 pm

Biologists don't even agree on what a species is, and people who focus on different groups have different ideas about where best to draw the line. But we still manage to discuss species.

It's perhaps not surprising that when humans with imperfect knowledge attempt to divide a continuum of natural variation into fixed categories there'll be tricky edge cases. There's probably examples from space science too.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:15 pm

More generally, when people talk about how science is some sooper-dooper rational endeavour I tend to assume they have little experience of how it's actually practised.

Outside of the naive Poppertopian ideal it's cliquey, faddy and structurally oppressive. There are plenty of historical examples of science unwittingly enforcing sexism and racism, and to this day enforces global inequalities by focusing research in rich northern countries rather than where need is greater (which in cases like medicine and environmental sciences tends to be the exact opposite). Oh and good luck if your English isn't good.

CP Snow pointed a lot of this out 50 years ago and nothing's changed, so either most scientists don't mind or some property of science is inherently oppressive via a rich-get-richer type of algorithm.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:37 pm

Well then start a thread on the problems with science, and hopefully it won't be derailed by people claiming religion is just as good in the way that this thread about religion is constantly derailed by people claiming science is just as bad.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:55 pm

I suspect the issue is that many of the criticisms leveled against religion (especially organised religion) are problems with human institutions - especially powerful ones - more generally, rather than inherent to religion.

So mocking it accurately, if you're interested in doing so, requires a bit of thinking. For me warumich's posts have been consistently the most interesting on the thread. If I wanted to hear people mocking religion in a naive way I'd go and find a teenager who's just read Dawkins for the first time.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Wed Dec 15, 2021 1:03 pm

shpalman wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 11:19 am
Good example. So there's a clear meaning behind "wasps are bastards" based on being stang off a yellowjacket which isn't addressed by an entomologist pointing out that there's some rare species of not-a-bee-or-an-ant which actually does something really useful or something.
Yes, you'd be technically wrong, but people will know what you mean. Until you realise your 8 year old son now avoids perfectly harmless fig-wasps because you taught him from the start that wasps are bastards. But fig-wasps don't care what you think of them, and here's clearly a point where the analogy breaks down, because people generally do.
And it's not just about avoiding hurt feelings (though call me woke but I don't see that as a bad thing), it's also about teaching others that religions lead to oppression when all you have are examples of religious practices that did. Generalising is wrong, not just technically as with the wasp example, but morally because that will lead to oppression if perfectly inoffensive people and their beliefs are lumped into the same category of bastards because of what some other people did, said or believed.

We see this with Islam in the US - the few aspects your average Trumpist will see of the religion are the negative ones associated with one or two particularly unpleasant sects. And all, even perfectly moral upstanding and decent Muslims suffer for that.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Wed Dec 15, 2021 2:09 pm

warumich wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 1:03 pm
shpalman wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 11:19 am
Good example. So there's a clear meaning behind "wasps are bastards" based on being stang off a yellowjacket which isn't addressed by an entomologist pointing out that there's some rare species of not-a-bee-or-an-ant which actually does something really useful or something.
Yes, you'd be technically wrong, but people will know what you mean. Until you realise your 8 year old son now avoids perfectly harmless fig-wasps because you taught him from the start that wasps are bastards.
Would my hypothetical 8 year old even recognise fig-wasps as wasps? It's not like they go around telling everyone that they are wasps.
warumich wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 1:03 pm
But fig-wasps don't care what you think of them, and here's clearly a point where the analogy breaks down, because people generally do.
And it's not just about avoiding hurt feelings (though call me woke but I don't see that as a bad thing), it's also about teaching others that religions lead to oppression when all you have are examples of religious practices that did. Generalising is wrong, not just technically as with the wasp example, but morally because that will lead to oppression if perfectly inoffensive people and their beliefs are lumped into the same category of bastards because of what some other people did, said or believed.

We see this with Islam in the US - the few aspects your average Trumpist will see of the religion are the negative ones associated with one or two particularly unpleasant sects. And all, even perfectly moral upstanding and decent Muslims suffer for that.
Is your average Trumpist more likely to be a strongly religious White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or an atheist?
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Wed Dec 15, 2021 4:50 pm

shpalman wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 2:09 pm
Would my hypothetical 8 year old even recognise fig-wasps as wasps? It's not like they go around telling everyone that they are wasps.
Your hypothetical son maybe not, but my 8 year old may well, since I caught him reading his science textbooks yesterday (proud dad!). But on a serious note, this is as I said just an analogy - we're not being taught in primary school about all the different kinds of wasps, but we certainly all get taught about religions and given examples of religion and what not from an early age, so I would say the point stands in this particular instance. If we say religions are bastards because of what, idk, the inquisition did and use that to generalise to all of religion, then some people who listen in and believe this will take that to mean that also applies to the innocuous tea lady from the local vicarage. Because unlike fig-wasps people will know about the local vicarage and it's status as a religious institution. Case in point is the argument I've been having here about how all religion leads to oppression.
shpalman wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 2:09 pm
Is your average Trumpist more likely to be a strongly religious White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or an atheist?
In this particular example it was a religious group discriminating against another religious group, sure, but that's not the point though; it's about people generalising across a whole group based on negative examples of another (sub)group who share some characteristics, but not notably the ones you're actually worried about. But if you want an example involving atheists, let's take Stalin who oppressed religious people based on some generalisations about the evils of religion that derived out of his and Lenin's particular reading of Marx. Now the usual objection comes up in a discussion about atheism that invokes Stalin is that we cannot judge all atheists by what Stalin did. But well, exactly, right?
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by JQH » Thu Dec 16, 2021 3:30 pm

warumich wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 4:50 pm
... But if you want an example involving atheists, let's take Stalin who oppressed religious people based on some generalisations about the evils of religion that derived out of his and Lenin's particular reading of Marx. Now the usual objection comes up in a discussion about atheism that invokes Stalin is that we cannot judge all atheists by what Stalin did. But well, exactly, right?
We can't judge all atheists by Stalin because there is no power structure defining what atheism is or what atheists should think and do.

We can and do judge Marxist-Leninism by Stalin's actions though.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Dec 16, 2021 4:35 pm

Because the power structure defining what Marxism-Leninism is or what Marxist-Leninists should think and do has Stalin at the top of it?
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by secret squirrel » Thu Dec 16, 2021 4:43 pm

Didn't Stalin invent the term Marxism-Leninism? My understanding is it was what he called what we would call Stalinism, in order to cash in on the cult of Lenin he had a hand in creating and, obviously the status of Marx. So Stalin is at the top of Marxism-Leninism, while also being significantly at odds with both Marx and Lenin.

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Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Thu Dec 16, 2021 4:58 pm

The majority of the world's religions don't have power structures that tell believers what to do or believe. Hinduism for example is not like the catholic church, there is no central authority, and there's no universal canon or doctrine. But if you want to argue that it is the presence of centralised power structures that dictate what people should believe and do, which leads to bad outcomes, then yes I think that's not unreasonable. But most religions don't have that, and many non-religions do.

Also agree that we can judge Marxism-Leninism by the actions of powerful Marxist-Leninists (but can we judge all of them as individuals? there's going to be plenty of variation in individual beliefs and actions).

But I'm not entirely sure why this keeps coming back to me - I keep saying I'm not against judging individual belief systems based on their contents or the actions of those who believe in these contents. What I object to is tarring all of religion (whatever that precisely is) with the same judgemental brush, as if it's the fact that it's to do with religion that makes something bad.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by Millennie Al » Fri Dec 17, 2021 5:18 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 9:36 am
That just reinforces warumich's point about how its the content of the belief that matters. Your example is based upon a premise that the tour guide wants to avoid what we would consider to be a bad outcome (tourists getting stranded). Certainly the coin tosser is less efficient than the one who uses a strategy.

We can invert your example and make the opposite case if we consider an outcome we'd agree was bad. Consider two Peoples Commissars who have been sent to Ukraine in order to identify kulaks who'll be sent to a labour camp (in which almost all will die within the year). The first commissar uses a rational method and bases his selection criteria on whether a peasant owns any property at all. He selects 75% of the households in a village. The second doesn't really understand Marxism-Leninism and just tosses a coin, and so only 50% of the households in a village are sent off to be worked to death. Coin tossing led to a less terrible outcome.

So we're back to whether the person wants to achieve what we'd think of as being good or bad outcomes. Using a rational strategy to achieve that aim is an argument about efficiency which applies both to things we'd like to happen and to things we don't like.
I think that in such a scenario people wouldn't regard the coin tossing as a good thing which saves lives but rather that those lives were saved by the luck of the second commissar being less harsh. There is an asymmetry in how techniques are judged. If the aim is good, then a technique which fails is a bad technique, but if the aim is bad, a technique which fails is not thereby good. We wouldn't express regret that the first commissar was not tossing a coin - we're express regret at the aim.

Suppose someone, whom I'll call Chris, gives good advice at a press conference which would save lives, but due to technical failure nobody hears what he says and the advice is not followed. We would blame the technical failure for preventing lives being saved. Now suppose instead someone, whom I'll call Boris, gives bad advice at a press conference which will cost lives. We don't say that it was a shame there were no technical problems to prevent people learning of the advice - we criticise the advice itself.

Note the asymmetry: when the aim is good, bad techniques get blamed for its failure, but when the aim is bad, bad techniques are not considered to be good merely because they frustrate the aim.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by Imrael » Sat Dec 18, 2021 9:30 am

On a minor point, one of Tom Hollands books makes an interesting point about the original distiction between faith (belief in god/saviour/prophet etc) and religion, meaning the organised body of practices associated with the faith.

From this, I'd suggest that a religion needs to be broad enough to attract enough followers, or appealing enough to ruling groups to be pushed onto people. The consequence of this is that religion is basically neutral in regulating human ethics - the beliefs and practices of any viable religion will be broad enough to justify a range of human behaviours, and flexible enough to retain relevance as societies change. It all turns into "we do charity" vs "we hide child abuse", or "we mutilate thieves" vs "we give to the poor".

Not really sure where that takes me - except to say pragmatically its not safe to mock some religions in some places, in the same way as its not safe to mock some political rulers. Outside of that, to paraphrase Ricky Gervais - mock what you like. Some people wont like it, and you can decide if you care.

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Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Sat Dec 18, 2021 10:28 am

warumich wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 4:50 pm
shpalman wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 2:09 pm
Would my hypothetical 8 year old even recognise fig-wasps as wasps? It's not like they go around telling everyone that they are wasps.
Your hypothetical son maybe not, but my 8 year old may well, since I caught him reading his science textbooks yesterday (proud dad!).
Great, so your 8 year old is using science and learning to expand his knowledge rather than just accepting what one authority figure tells him, which is as it should be.

Maybe he'll also learn about wasps which are such bastards* that they led Darwin to doubt the existence of a beneficent and omnipotent God.

* - not that such a human value judgement makes much sense here, except in the sense that humans invented the concept of this particular sort of god according to certain sorts of human values.
warumich wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 4:50 pm
But on a serious note, this is as I said just an analogy - we're not being taught in primary school about all the different kinds of wasps, but we certainly all get taught about religions and given examples of religion and what not from an early age, so I would say the point stands in this particular instance. If we say religions are bastards because of what, idk, the inquisition did and use that to generalise to all of religion, then some people who listen in and believe this will take that to mean that also applies to the innocuous tea lady from the local vicarage. Because unlike fig-wasps people will know about the local vicarage and it's status as a religious institution. Case in point is the argument I've been having here about how all religion leads to oppression.
shpalman wrote:
Wed Dec 15, 2021 2:09 pm
Is your average Trumpist more likely to be a strongly religious White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or an atheist?
In this particular example it was a religious group discriminating against another religious group, sure, but that's not the point though; it's about people generalising across a whole group based on negative examples of another (sub)group who share some characteristics, but not notably the ones you're actually worried about. But if you want an example involving atheists, let's take Stalin who oppressed religious people based on some generalisations about the evils of religion that derived out of his and Lenin's particular reading of Marx. Now the usual objection comes up in a discussion about atheism that invokes Stalin is that we cannot judge all atheists by what Stalin did. But well, exactly, right?
Religions are all created by humans. How are their "power structures" enforced, at the level of the ordinary citizen, and how does this compare to the actions of a totalitarian state?

We don't have religious inquisitions anymore so keep that straw man out of it, but the innocuous tea lady from the local vicarage might (or might not) turn out to have some rather strange or bigoted views. And she's expressing them sincerely and not because thinking or saying the "wrong" thing would earn her a knock on the door in the middle of the night from the secret police. I mean, the worse thing the church would probably do to you if you decided you didn't want to be a part of it anymore, would be to tell you that you aren't allowed to be a part of it anymore. And yet people still sincerely express those ridiculous ideas, for example the one about how god made his human-but-god-but-human son who was actually himself (according to the inconsistent ret-conned origin stories) so that humans could torture him to death so that god could forgive them for something god made up earlier. Or the general idea of dead people coming back to life, which they still don't do.

Maybe you consider it essentially harmless, if lots of people behave as if random nonsense like that were true and make it part of the fabric of their lives, but as you've been pointing out with your analogies, just believing what you're told by authority figures leads to all sorts of prejudices and problems.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Sat Dec 18, 2021 10:39 am

warumich wrote:
Mon Dec 13, 2021 2:24 pm
There is no technical meaning to religion because it's a term that has evolved naturally over the centuries and within / between different social and linguistic groups, that's why, to Shpaller's dismay, we often need to go back 500 years to look at the origin of the term.
My dismay is that if you go back 500 years then obviously you'll find that "science" isn't worth sh.t. We had no idea what was going on. There's something in the bible my mum pointed to, about not paying attention to so-called "wise" people, or something.

There was that lecture you linked to which said that comparing science and religion before about two hundred years ago was meaningless because... and then he spent an hour comparing science and religion up until about two hundred years ago.

"The origin of the term" is only relevant to people who are hung up on actual words and not the concepts they represent.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by warumich » Sun Dec 19, 2021 12:24 am

shpalman wrote:
Sat Dec 18, 2021 10:28 am
We don't have religious inquisitions anymore so keep that straw man out of it, but the innocuous tea lady from the local vicarage might (or might not) turn out to have some rather strange or bigoted views.
Maybe it's because I'm foreign, but I used the word innocuous specifically to denote someone who is not harmful or offensive. Was that not the right word?

Excuse my passive aggressiveness, I'm not particularly in a mood to get into shouting matches with people I consider friends; I'm trying to be friendly and even joking here, but you keep biting my head off, as if I somehow personally offended you. Apologies if I have. But at the same time I'm scratching my head a bit as to what particular thing I said (in my arguments with millennie and others) that irks you so much. Maybe if you can give me a clear statement as to what your position is, I can understand it better? Because all I'm seeing is that you want to mock religious people for whatever hypocrisies or stupid or harmful things they believe. Which, I keep trying to say, is fine with me, as long as you mock the actual things they believe and/or do, it's just that these things don't logically connect with religion, or at least nobody has given me a clear argument on how that link should go, and it's going to be difficult anyway because religion is not a useful concept for this sort of thing because there is far too much variety in things that are usually labelled religion, as I have outlined above.
Then you (pl) complain that you're not interested in the origins of the term, or some shamanistic religion in New Guinea that no-one's heard of and you want to talk about Jehova's Witnesses or Presbyterianism or Catholicism or whatever, but then that means you come back to giving actual examples of actual doctrines, practices or beliefs you disagree with, and I. Am. Fine. With. That. as well. That's why, when earlier you said you wanted to talk about specific things that are not 500 years old or something I didn't engage, because for me that wasn't related to the argument I had with millennie.
Maybe the one bit of disagreement we're left with is that even within a particular faith community, there will be many variations of people believing different things, some will be perfectly harmless. But then as a counter-example you conjure up a perfectly harmless person who is not perfectly harmless, as if that's some sort of gotcha, and I am at a loss here at how to counter that.
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Re: Mocking religion

Post by shpalman » Thu Dec 23, 2021 6:48 pm

Well, conjuring up a perfectly harmless person to demonstrate that a person can be perfectly harmless is also begging the question. We can all imagine the innocuous lady serving the tea, but we can all also imagine a lady who seems innocuous but thinks homosexuality is a sin or that immigrants have it too easy or that it's suspicious how quickly these mRNA vaccines were developed against covid because there's no vaccine against HIV and that's RNA too or whatever.

As long as we're just conjuring people up we might as well each conjure up a deity who funnily enough mirrors our own attitudes and prejudices.

I'm not shouting and I'm not trying to bite your head off. I'm generally enjoying the debate but I'm also trying to maintain some focus. It feels like I've spent too much energy in here defending science, for example. I've brought out examples of how science resolves conflict and controversy within itself eventually by recourse to experimental data, which can't ever happen in the case of religion because there is no such thing as experimental data in that context.

Personally I waver between two points of view. The first would be that people are what they are, and the belief systems they construct are only reflections of that, so religion itself has little influence on what sort person a person is; they'll pick the bits of the belief system which go along with what they think is right and not worry about the other bits. The second would be that groups of people can form an echo chamber which reinforces certain views beyond what an individual might have arrived at, causes them to accept beliefs which they aren't really comfortable with because it's "part of the package", and lead to an ingroup/outgroup mentality.
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