Sunday, October 3, 2010

9-Page Reply #6

More on my 'No Use' Credo:

(note: Some people may not care for this, but I really enjoy the debate and to sit back and think on something for a moment. Feel free to comment, but after a while I'll probably stop replying and move on to something else.)

I have no use for a religion that can nurture fanatics who believe it is their god’s command to kill unbelievers and those of opposing belief systems.
I agree with Demosthenes and a practicing Muslim at the SHIFT meeting today - this type of behavior is human behavior, not religious. I do think religion has a way of exponentially multiplying human behaviors to new levels of extremism, but other forms of organizations can do the same. I'll just say that religion has a natural nak [?] for it.

I have no use for a religion that equates atheism with Satanism.
I stand by this one, and I think any religious moderate would too.

I have no use for a religion that is obsessed with women being virgins.
Again, more cultural, but religion has commandeered many cultural aspects and made them into 'doctrines,' but luckily most people don't really care as much anymore.

I have no use for a religion that says no one outside of their specific group can come to know god.
May be to vague, again. Mormonism basically says this, I know Catholics and Protestants did way back when, but generally moderate religion has taken over this area and are more lax.

I have no use for a religion that tells me I should be perfect and any failures are sinful.
I was mainly referring to Mormonism and how some amazingly wonderful, beautiful, and righteous people in the religion can still think they are scum and full of sin because they don't read their scriptures EVERY night, or that they sometimes get annoyed with people. This is related to the next one.

I have no use for a religion that nurtures feelings of guilt and shame.
I use the word 'nurture' cause I mean it. If you felt no guilt or shame then we in the secular field of psychology have a nice name for you, two in fact - sociopath or psychopath. Lot's of religions feed you shame and guilt but then also tell you how to get rid of it, true, but again, why does the 'hypothetical' person above have to feel guilty about all these little things. I think one of the reasons there is no significant difference between religious and non-religious samples on their levels of happiness is because some religions make their members so damn miserable. Mormonism being one. Let off a little people.

I have no use for a religion that hates magic but believes in miracles.

I never got a reply to this one. It is a shallow comment but I still stand by it.

I have no use for a religion that mutilates children’s genitals.
Female genital mutilation is bad. Okay, and most people agree, but it doesn't stop from millions happening. Though Demosthenes didn't bring it up I will say that FGM is Muslim countries may not have a clear origin but historians generally agree that is was an African tribal practice, a cultural aspect, that Islam picked up much later in it's reign on the earth. So it's an example of religion again commandeering something crazy about humans and perpetuating it as doctrine. I also had in mind some of the sick examples Hitchen's uses in God is Not Great, though he even noted that the numbers are not necessarily high for those examples, but that some are occuring in countries where we could outlaw the practices, such as a Jewish sect, I believe, that has old men suck off the foreskin off boys when cutting. Again, tiny number, but still sick.

I have no use for a religion that teaches that evolution is a lie.
Here I should be more specific. Many religions accept evolution, but many people don't accept that humans evolved. Creationists number above 40% of the populations in America and Australia, the 6000 year kind, so they obviously do not accept it. Mormonism is okay with the idea, but it doesn't work in the sense of how nothing had blood or died before the Fall, so evolution does not truly work in Mormonism. Most likely at some point the church will come out and usurp the old Official Declaration on Evolution.

I have no use for a religion that teaches its followers to distrust the government.
This came from the polygamist sects. Obviously a bad government should be fought against, peaceful revolution. But when some churches or religions actually teach children ways to cheat the IRS or to distrust the police as part of Sunday worship, then there are some problems here. Demosthenes recognizes this, but didn't wish for me to include Nazism in that, and I agree.

I have no use for a religion that protects its priests when they were caught abusing children.
Demosthenes - "Agreed. So don't be Catholic." Lol. I do wish to carry this over to other religions though. The Catholic church did cover-up many crimes and this is a horrible thing. Some churches try to cover-up other things as well, but usually it's just a few people committing embezzlement. I think this is a good sign that the people running the church are not communicating with God very regularly and you should go elsewhere.

I have no use for a religion that teaches that the more righteous you are the more 'white' you become, and the more wicked you are the more likely you will be cursed to become 'black.'
Well, some really old Mormons still believe this. This continued past the 50s I believe, I daresay you can find documentation of General Authorities making similar comments into the 70s and possibly the 80s, but yes, most people don't believe this racist bullshit. I may be attacking a straw man.

I have no use for a religion that says masturbation is evil.

I added this in later. I don't see anything wrong with this, but I won't say the same about pornography. I don't particularly care for porn but I don't think we'll solve any problems if we take it away.

I have no use for a god who says to kill those of different cultures or lineage.
Again, this would probably be human nature under the guise of religion and religious zealots riling the populace to war. In the sense of the Old Testament massacres I am becoming more open to the idea that Jews were Canaanites and the Torah is an account of what they wanted their history to be and how they never were pagans committing orgies and killing children. I should probably research that more cause I like the premise.

I have no use for a god who writes a book like the Bible or Qur’an.

Vague perhaps. If a god was going to write a book I would expect it to be more amazing than these two. I think both should be studied for literature purposes, and that they give some good advice and transcendent thoughts at certain points, but that overall they are filth when it comes to directing us how we should live today. I think it's about time we took a step up on our moral plain adventure. In a sense we are with moderate religion cherry-picking the really good stuff out of these books, and I'm all for them. But these books were not inspired and I dare say the Code of Hammurabi (spelled it right the first time, go me!) is overall a better text than the OT. So to say that the OT was all the Jews could handle in the sense of living right, doesn't flow by me.

That's it for now.


  1. You know, this whole list underscores my point that you are cherry-picking marginal religious fanatics and using them to represent the religious world as a whole. Let's go one by one again.

    1. Tells its adherents to murder outsiders - Outside of radical Islam this is pretty much unheard of today.
    2. Says atheists are really closet Satanists - They may say that atheists are being deceive or led away by Satan, but I sincerely doubt that there are any religious groups out there that teach that atheists are lying about their disbelief and actually worship Satan secretly.
    3. Teaches that a woman's only value is her virginity - Sexual psychology, as noted previously, indicates strongly that sexual promiscuity does not lead to happiness. Religions have every right to teach sexual restraint. That said, the notion that extramarital sex is second to murder is a disgusting, immoral, destructive idea, and outside of Mormonism it doesn't exist.
    4. Insists that those of other faiths cannot know God - Mainstream American Christianity today is remarkably pluralistic and they don't teach this (although obviously atheists cannot, by definition, know a God whose existence they deny).
    5. Teaches that any imperfection makes you worthless - Again, outside of Mormonism this kind of guilt and shame culture is hard to find.
    6. Encourages genital mutilation - Roundly condemned by every religious group outside of the Middle East today.
    7. Condemns any scientific theory generally, or evolution specifically - There are some (ok, quite a few) individual religious people that are personally threatened by science. In this they are, by and large, not in accord with the official teachings of their church. Even in Mormonism, that whole thing about no blood or death before the fall is falling out of favor. The trouble with Mormonism is that old ideas are allowed to die out naturally and never have an official repudiation, so that you never can quite nail down what official doctrine is.
    8. Distrusts government; 9. Abets criminals - Yeah, not common.
    10. Condemns masturbation - Not anywhere near as common as you might think, at least since the '50s.
    11. Killing outsiders - Isn't this a repeat of #1? Regarding the Old Testament and Jewish heritage, read Freud's "Moses and Monotheism". He largely agrees with you.
    12. The Bible and the Qur'an are vile - I can't speak for the Qur'an as I haven't spent any time with it, but this shows me pretty clearly that you haven't undertaken a serious study of the Bible. Some cherry-pick the love and mercy parts, most anti-religious folks cherry-pick the parts that they object to (generally the same three or four stories over and over again), but a contextual reading reveals it to propound a remarkably advanced morality, even by modern standards. If you'd care to discuss some examples, I'm game.

    Generally speaking, I maintain that you are largely judging religion by the actions of those at the margins, and in most instances by Mormonism exclusively. It makes sense as it's the group you know best, but it's the moral and intellectual equivalent of judging atheism my Mao or Stalin.

  2. Random replies:
    2 - I find that most people do not think atheists are Satanists, but there are still people out there who have a well-heard voice and say things like that. I can think of a crazy woman in Italy I believe, and Elder Neilson who said something quite similar.

    3 - An example where we don't disagree if you read my statement and yours together.

    4 - I personally do not know many people like this. Back home i know a few, but no one goes to church there, around Nashville I know a lot of people who think many other faiths don't know God, this comes down to individual preachers and people, but I have met a lot of people (though mainly Mormon or Baptist) that say you can't know God unless you're one of them.

    5 - I should probably have included the flip-side with some Baptist faiths that teach that once you accept Christ you can do anything. I thought people had misheard this when they told me till I actually met a lot of these people on my mission who said they could commit adultery and it wouldn't matter. The only reason they didn't was because they loved their spouse.

    11 - Freud did contribute some amazingly good things to society, such as a theory of subconscious thoughts and projection. But I am not sure that's a compliment that I may like an idea that he perhaps started....

    12 - I'm betting most new atheists mainly use Bible examples that Dawkins put into The God Delusion. I honestly get annoyed when I talk to people about their atheism and they start saying Dawkins and Hitchens quotes. Personally I really like Harris's quotes and would like to hear more of his ;)

    I am unsure if Mormonism can be likened to the Gulags or Mao in this instance, but duly noted. I try to explain how I really feel, even though that changes regularly, in these reply posts. For once, though, I honestly feel like there isn't as much disagreement between us in this post but you may not think so.

  3. I don't see anywhere where you disagreed with me, so I suppose you're right that there's not much to discuss here. What I don't understand, however, is that if you don't disagree with me, why do these statements make it into your No Use Credo? I feel like you just said that most of them are describing fringe elements and don't represent religion generally. So why mention them?

  4. A decent amount of my examples are fringe groups, or doctrines or practices that have changed in the last 20 years, but when you add all the groups up it grows pretty large. I mean, creationists alone is over 140 million between America and Australia if we take the low end of 40% being creationists. FGM is 99% in Somalia and girls are taken out of schools in Britain during summer by their parents to go get the 'procedure' done. Mormonism has maybe, what, 6 million active people, but plenty of them suffer from a lot of different things they don't need to be. Catholocism is changing but many clergy still teach against masturbation, so obviously not 1 billion people suffering from that, but that's still millions, maybe hundreds.

    Put together I don't see how what I'm saying affects a 'small' amount of the world population.

  5. You could say the same thing about atheism with much bigger numbers and worse results, and I'm sure you would object if I did (and rightly so). Mao killed 60-70 million, Stalin was a little less successful in absolute numbers, but similar by percentage. Similar things happened in the name of atheism in Indochina, Central America, and elsewhere. This may not be mainstream atheism by today's standards, but the effects were certainly not negligible. Even today you have atheist ethicists like Peter Singer advocating legalization of infanticide until the child is a year old. Now he's not representative of modern atheism either, but he represents a larger percentage of atheist ethicists than Mormonism's percentage of religionists. Certainly bad religion exists, but you are trying to judge religion generally by the freak nutcases. If that's the game we're going to play, atheism's record is far worse than even the worst of religions. I suggest you take a different approach, as this kind of cherry-picking is disingenuous and erodes your credibility.