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  #21  
Unread December 12th, 2004, 02:40 PM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Post What ticks off secularists, and why?

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What really tics off atheists, perplexes skeptics & stumps evolutionists; about whether there is a God or not? Is Jesus the Messiah is the only emperical / historical proof God gave us, and the evidence is irrefutible.
Thanks for asking this. I'll give you my honest perspective.

First, the tradition that overlaps all of those things can be described in a single word instead of the awkward multiple categories. I think you are referring in general to secularists.

I can tell you some things that tick me off as a secularist in general. I can assure you that they have nothing to do with specific religious claims. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, and various denominations of Christians live together in my neighborhood peacefully and without trying to convert each other or any serious interest in doing so. That's the model that secularism strives for in my opinion. Most of us aren't the least bit bothered that the other groups believe something different about God. That's the point. People don't want to be preached to, especially from someone else's religion.

I think ab important source of contention is that anti-secularists perceive that secularism is itself a religion or anti-religion rather than a no-religion zone. They don't see it as a protected region of non-religion and objective inquiry the way secularists do. Though it may seem subtle, that is a very central point of contention between the two kinds of traditions.

Secularists don't care about specific religious claims, secularism is about people being free to practice their religion, but not imposing it on other people who believe differently. It is about (1) recognizing the sheer brute fact that people (rationally or not, warranted or not) believe different things about God and (2) about the optimism that this doesn't have to divide us if we draw reasonable boundaries. Not everyone accepts this division of private belief and secular public inquiry, and that's where the tension arises.

Anti-secularists (most often conservative evangelicals) consider the secular idea to be thinly disguised atheism. Most secularists disagree strenuously with this. We believe that the people who oppose any such boundaries (and we see them as offering essentially a form of theocracy as preferable) simply take for granted the intellectual traditions that secularists believe resulted from and support the secular autonomy of inquiry. That's where the two visions differ and a big part of why intellectuals feel so threatened by conservative evangelicals.

Equally important, secularism is about objective forms of inquiry that people can agree on regardless of their personal beliefs. Secularism started not at all with atheism of any sort, but with the almost unimaginable excitement that was generated in the 17th and 18th centuries over the success of mathematics and physics compared to the seemingly endless unresolvable conflicts between theologians.

Reasonable people can and do successfully argue the divinity of Christ or Vishnu (the point of free will?), but not the principles of calculus or the rate of acceleration due to gravity (a matter of intelligence, education, and common human nature).

Deism arose among a tiny but vocal group of intellectuals as a natural extension of secularism and secularism was widely influential beyond the deists probably because it seemed to offer a way to avoid the endless negative influence of theological disputes in politics and public life in a theocracy.

The idea can be differently interpreted, but the basic principle is simply that some things are much more universally agreed than others, and that autonomous inquiry based on them should be protected even if it sometimes creates (hopefully constructive) tension with theology and with specific religious traditions.

So one thing that disturbs secularists deeply is when their hard fought right to practice autonomous intellectual inquiry (particularly science and natural philosophy) free of the brute force of mass opinion is threatened, as when politicians intrude in science and universities in the name of "cultural renewal."

Another thing that disturbs us is when the real value and often truth of our intellectual traditions is ignored because it has been systematically misrepresented in order to make the theological/legal case against secularism.

Admittedly, secularism itself can become overly aggressive and verge on suppressing religion, and some of the response is in understandable reaction to that.

However many of us believe that there is also very good evidence of a systematic, well-organized "wedge" strategy to eliminate secularism because it is misconceived as positive atheism, and to promote theocracy. This is the "cultural renewal" political agenda and secularists feel justly threatened by it.

kind regards,

Todd

Some good introductory sources:

Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, Susan Jacoby. A history of the struggles of secularism, documenting why they were considered so important and why they are not simply atheism in disguise.

Science and Religion in Historical Perspective , Vern Bullough, in Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?, Prometheus Press.

The Science and Religion Movement, Eugenie Scott, in Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?, Prometheus Press.

The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist, Richard Feynman, Perseus Press.

The Sacred Depths of Nature, Ursula Goodenough, Oxford University Press. An argument for natural religion compatible with the values of secularism and the evidence of scientific inquiry.

Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design ,
Barbara Carroll Forrest, Paul R. Gross, Oxford University Press. Documents the "wedge" strategy of "culture renewal" and how it is intended to replace science with religious ideas in biology.
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  #22  
Unread December 12th, 2004, 08:38 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Wink Schroedinger and my genes answer Fred

Is Life Based on the Laws of Physics? (p. 76)

"What I wish to make clear in this last chapter is, in short, that from all we have learnt about the structure of living matter, we must be prepared to find it working an a manner that cannot be reduced to the ordinary laws of physics. And that is not on the ground that there is any 'new force' or what not, directing the behaviours of the single atoms within a living organism, but because the construction is different from anything we have yet tested in the physical laboratory. To put it crudely, an engineer, familiar with heat engines only, will, after inspecting the construction of an electric motor, be prepared to find it working along principles which he does not yet understand. He finds the copper familiar to him in kettles used here in the form of long, long wires wound in coils; the iron familiar to him levers and bars and steam cylinders is here filling the interior of those coils of copper wire. He will be convinced that it is the same copper and the same iron, subject to the same laws of Nature and he is right in that. The difference in construction is enough to prepare him for an entirely different way of functioning. He will not suspect that an electric motor is driven by a ghost because it is set spinning by the turn of a switch, without boiler and steam."

In a word, yes.
JimB
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  #23  
Unread December 12th, 2004, 08:40 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Talking Todd's Secularism

Nice statement! Hit him again if he gets up!

Jim
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  #24  
Unread December 13th, 2004, 10:18 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Richard's Daughter, Juliet: Review of A Devil's Chaplain

JimB says Schroedinger and his genes answer Fred—“Is Life Based on the Laws of Physics?”

Well, aside from the fact that one would need a far greater appreciation for the “new force” of electromagnetism to understand the electric motor versus the heat engine; and aside from the fact that the known laws don’t seem able to explain human consciousness; and although I may have wondered about your bent genes and emergent outcomes in relation to Flew’s—the so-called negative atheist—recent conversion to believing that intelligence was involved in producing life; that wasn’t my question.

My question, apparently, is more disconcerting, at least for those professing atheism: What are the odds that the universe and we are here by chance?

Last edited by Fred H.; December 13th, 2004 at 10:34 AM.
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  #25  
Unread December 17th, 2004, 03:10 PM
jasonparker jasonparker is offline
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Default Re: Richard's Daughter, Juliet: Review of A Devil's Chaplain

Yes I agree with you. you can see new articles about this subject in www.harunyahya.com I suggest you to check it out.
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  #26  
Unread December 18th, 2004, 09:34 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Richard's Daughter, Juliet: Review of A Devil's Chaplain

jason agrees . . . and Fred wonders, with friends like jason, who needs enemas?
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  #27  
Unread December 19th, 2004, 12:21 AM
Mike Phillips Mike Phillips is offline
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Wink Re: You call that a punch!!!

Todd & Jim

Thank you Todd for the Thumbs up, next round!
So Todd, you just admitted that you & Jim both, along with other secularists (pluralists) have "freewill" to believe what you choose to believe. (miracles do happen!).

My choice through trial & error of many pathways; only one really provided peace, hope and love, for me my fundamental beliefs have been tested by time as well as myself and has never led me astray. When compared to other religions "real" Christianity is the only one that fulfilled my soul and is more intellectual than other religions that are of pagan origins. In a moment of perfect clarity faith is revealed.

The God I have placed my faith in is the same one that Abraham in the Old Testament placed his in. And the same one that sent His Son for you all as well as myself.

I have researched many religious beliefs. And yes, Christianity is exclusive to WHO is God, But so are other religions with their various idols & gods.

Historically tested Judism the roots of modern Christianity, is one and the same except the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.

I do not believe allah, buddha, vishnu, confucious or other gods is the same Creator God in the bible (just do a little "historical" research) and you will draw some very distinct & clear conclusions. I do not judge or condemn others by their religious belief. But what I have discovered is they judged me for saying I believe in salvation through Christ. Not only that, but when I am among different religious people, which is often, they ask me questions. Several "converts" have made stark distguishing conclusions comparing their new faith to their old religion and are quite satisfied with their decision experiencing fulfillment, joy, peace, hope, love and reality. Something their old religion could not provide or substane. I guess the proof is in the pudding.

Hey Jim, You call that a punch, Com'on, you guys can hit harder than that, what are you afraid of? My friendly "Ghost" won't hurt ya' (well......)

Enjoy This Christmas Season & May You All Be Blessed with Many More!!!

Mike
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  #28  
Unread December 19th, 2004, 01:24 PM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Cool We don't condemn, yet we are judged ...

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Originally Posted by Mike Phillips
Todd & Jim

Thank you Todd for the Thumbs up, next round!
So Todd, you just admitted that you & Jim both, along with other secularists (pluralists) have "freewill" to believe what you choose to believe. (miracles do happen!).
My guess is that virtually everyone believes in free will. However, we certainly think of it (and especially its role in decision making and morality) in different ways. We also explain its origin differently. Unlike two people looking at a tree or a rock, two people reflecting on abstracts like free will can perceive very different things, I think.

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My choice through trial & error of many pathways; only one really provided peace, hope and love, for me my fundamental beliefs have been tested by time as well as myself and has never led me astray. When compared to other religions "real" Christianity is the only one that fulfilled my soul and is more intellectual than other religions that are of pagan origins. In a moment of perfect clarity faith is revealed.
That's great. The question with respect to your attitude toward secularism is then whether you would acknowledge the possibility that other people feel the same way about their "pagan" religions and are equally fulfilled by them. Does it seem impossible, possible but irrelevant, empirically disconfirmed, or what? The first hurdle is what the "pagan" philosophers call the principle of charity, the idea that we should assume that the other side is being rational and honest and that it makes sense to see why and how they are being rational and honest, rather than assuming that their reasoning is just the devil trying to tempt us.

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I have researched many religious beliefs. And yes, Christianity is exclusive to WHO is God, But so are other religions with their various idols & gods.
It may well be that human nature drives us to make our religions exclusive, once we have made them part of our identity. I see a similar thing happening with nationalism. However, I would arge that it isn't true of logical neccessity. Many scholars argue persuasively that there are common themes in religion and mythology that reveal a universal architecture to the human mind and spirit. We don't have to see religions as mutually exclusive, although there is a tendency to do so.

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I do not judge or condemn others by their religious belief. But what I have discovered is they judged me for saying I believe in salvation through Christ.
You don't condemn others, yet they judge you. Very well. I think nearly everyone would make the same claim.

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Not only that, but when I am among different religious people, which is often, they ask me questions. Several "converts" have made stark distguishing conclusions comparing their new faith to their old religion and are quite satisfied with their decision experiencing fulfillment, joy, peace, hope, love and reality. Something their old religion could not provide or substane. I guess the proof is in the pudding.
Have you ever considered the remote possibility that you might be operating under a selection bias here? That when people find other religions to be equally fulfilling that you simply don't hear their words or believe what they say is in their heart? Even if it was true that you had discovered the religion that brings greatest fulfillment to the greatest number of people, it could be explained by one religion being a more effective "opiate of the masses" than others. A more seductive temptation. Isn't it possible that most religions see the others in this way as temptations from the truth?

I don't see an argument here against secularism as I have defined it, in fact I see your argument as supporting it. You want the freedom to pursue the religion you find so fulfilling.

If you grant that I want the same thing but that I might find something different to be fulfilling, then we have no argument left on this particular point. If you think it is your moral responsibility to work to deny that to me, then we are at odds with each other.

The secular philosophy at its core is intended to avoid that contention, although like anything else it can be applied overly aggressively and effectively make the presumably "neutral" zone so large that it impinges on freedoms. Aligned with identity politics, for example, or "political correctness" it can itself become oppresssive. Philosophies and ideologies are no replacement for wisdom.

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Enjoy This Christmas Season & May You All Be Blessed with Many More!!!
My best to you as well.

peace and joy,

Todd
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  #29  
Unread December 19th, 2004, 04:06 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Secularism

Todd:

Secularism is defined, by Houghton Mifflin, as religious skepticism or indifference; or the view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education. It’s virtual atheism, and therein lies the tension.

The problem seems to be that the so-called secularists are often atheists attempting to impose their desire to exclude all traces of God and/or religion, or all traces of “religious considerations,” from “civil affairs or public education.” An impossible and undesirable goal, and something the Founding Fathers, mostly deists, didn’t really intend. No wonder we have annoying religious fanatics like Mike attempting to impose their own POV.

Back in the 1950s, when I was an atheist in grade school, we all prayed (sort of), said things like “one nation under God,” and sang Christmas songs. Far as I know, no one was psychologically damaged. That’s before you GD “secularists” and religious fanatics started having your hissy fits. Y’all really mucked things up … hope Santa craps in your stockings.
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  #30  
Unread December 25th, 2004, 12:24 PM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Cool stereotyping opponents creates much of the division

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hope Santa craps in your stockings
Nice. I used to love the spirit of Christmas. The "believers" like you are threatening to kill it for me with their very un-Christ-like partisan rhetoric. I'm trying not to lose faith. You present a serious challenge for me sometimes, my friend. I wish you nothing but joy. I hope that chip falls from your shoulder some day while we are both breathing and able to appreciate the event.

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Secularism is defined, by Houghton Mifflin, as religious skepticism or indifference; or the view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education. It’s virtual atheism, and therein lies the tension.
It seems fairly obvious that secularists are less passionate about imposing religion on the public sphere than evangelicals, that's what makes them secularists. Calling them "virtual atheists" is simply inaccurate, it is a rhetorical stance not a point of fact. To disconfirm it simply notice that a great many secularists are theologically liberal ministers, rabbis, and priests. Not atheists at all, unless you stretch "atheist" so neither of us would recognize it.

It seems to me that you are lumping several completely different groups together by stereotype (and to some degree common themes), in the same manner that liberals tend to think that anyone who sounds like you and Mike as the "religious right" even though you see yourselves as having very different perspectives.

What you aren't recognizing, I think, is that people tend to stereotype those they think are opposed to them and thus miss the nuances in their views. It seems to be a pretty reliable fact of social cognition. Repeating over and over that liberals are all atheists doesn't make it true, it just shows how strong the stereotype is and how successfully Republican party leaders and their "think tanks" and special interest groups have framed the issues in their own terms in recent years.

Quote:
The problem seems to be that the so-called secularists are often atheists attempting to impose their desire to exclude all traces of God and/or religion, or all traces of “religious considerations,” from “civil affairs or public education.” An impossible and undesirable goal, and something the Founding Fathers, mostly deists, didn’t really intend. No wonder we have annoying religious fanatics like Mike attempting to impose their own POV.
There is an important theory in sociology known as secularization. It refers to the idea that religion should in principle diminish in both reported belief and practice (church attendance) as people become more educated. It has happened in Western Europe, but not in the United States.

The question is why. One plausible theory is that the secularism enforced in the U.S. by the constitutional separation of Church and State forces churches to be more aggressive in their marketing in order to survive, whereas in nations with state-sponsored religion, churches become lazy about building and maintaining their flocks. I think it is very possible that you at least partly right, that it is our very secularism that encourages religion, and also religious fanatacism.

Quote:
Back in the 1950s, when I was an atheist in grade school, we all prayed (sort of), said things like “one nation under God,” and sang Christmas songs. Far as I know, no one was psychologically damaged. That’s before you GD “secularists” and religious fanatics started having your hissy fits. Y’all really mucked things up
It surely won't stick in your head any more than it ever has in the past, but moderates and fanatics are distinguishable, even among people you don't like. I'm not in favor of the things you accuse me of, like taking widely shared religious symbols competely out of the religious sphere. I never had any problem with "under God" or religious holidays being celebrated in public school. These things are more of nationalism and community unity than they are of religious piety. That's why the deists supported them. It is the extremists on the right that have been taking advantage of militant atheist fanaticism to try to make even conservative democrats sound too "liberal."

I drew the line when in response to "culture war" rhetoric the social conservatives tried to teach the Bible in science class. That just isn't right. Even in countries where there is a national Church, that is recognized as an inappropriate thing. People can pray and refer to God as far as I'm concerned, most of us know what they mean and share most of their feelings of national unity and spiritual commonality without thinking of it in sectarian terms. I go to church with my Catholic family and respect their beliefs and they mine. Hypocrisy like atheists attending church and your Santa who craps in stockings is a product of the tensions we hold between our beliefs.

We can learn to understand and deal with it on an individual basis, or we can make a senseless "culture war" out of it and divide us over every arbitrary point that politicians persuade us is important. That strategy works extremely well for spreading division between Muslims and Christians, Christians and Jews, Jews and Muslims, and inthe U.S., liberals and conservatives. Not to mention racial groups and to a lesser extent, groups that like different sports teams.

That's how I see the choice we face. I reject that choice and work hard to deal with individuals in spite of their refusal to recognize their stereotypes and my own challenges recognizing mine. Not that it is a real choice for most of us. We don't change our frame, not because we disagree (since you agree with me on virtually every substantive point) but I think because we usually aren't aware of the effect of the ideological frame on our thinking. People don't discover their own stereotypes because someone points them out, they discover them with great difficulty and great rarity and often great effort. Yet the evidence is there if we work to see it. We can learn to think more clearly and less ideologically in spite of the difficulty.

Joyous Christmas!

Todd
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