I Am An Atheist (Page 3)
CoIin: I'm sure I wouldn't like life in N. Korea much, but I would add that the freedoms enjoyed in the United States, for example, are NOT a result of religion. Quite the contrary; they are partly a consequence of religion being kept apart from political power. We have seen what happens when the church held the reins of power and it wasn't pretty either. Theocrasies and totalitarian states tend to, um, "frown upon" heterodoxy. Read that as :- orthodoxy = my doxy, heterodoxy = your doxy
Anyway, we should be thankful that we can discuss these matters freely now * knock on door *
ewarner1: "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? - Thomas Jefferson
I agree with you about the knock on the door, I believe in the power of choice, and yet I must acknowledge the debt we have to the idea that our rights are God given, not given by government. For government is not to be trusted with the power to take our rights life, liberty, and the pursuit (not gift) of happiness. Christianity is always about the power of a choice, which you should keep, as a gift from God, not man.
CoIin: Well, like yourself, I'm glad we have these rights, but we'll have to agree to disagree as to their origin. I think it was Jeremy Bentham who described natural rights as "nonsense on stilts".
Peace and love
ewarner1: It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here." Patrick Henry
Mr. Bentham was a big fan of the rights of the government over the individual, I am not and I suspect you are not either.
Our government was founded by people who believed in choice, but not people who undervalued the value of religion, not hardly.
Again be thankful you have rights that come from God, not government.
CoIin: Hmm, don't like Bentham, eh?
Let me try Plato then... If God confers anything to us, or forbids us from doing anything, does He do it because it's the right thing to do, or does He do it for another reason (a whim perhaps?). If it's the former, He is defering to an independant standard (which we might as well access ourselves). If the latter, then if God commanded us to rape, say, we should rape?
Have fun. I'm dizzy already.
If morals come from God as you say, why don't Christians follow the God-given law in the Bible? e.g. stone people who work on the Sabbath to death
Coach-Man: ewarner1 wrote "...Christianity is always about the power of a choice..."
No, Sir, it's not.
For at least 1000 years [around 400 to 1400] the Catholic Church (the only "Christianity" in Western Europe at that time) never allowed people to have a choice to believe in something but the Roman doctrines. If they did, they had to face the collective wrath of the only permitted clerical hiararchy. Declared non-Catholics that didn't repent and embraced the Catholic faith were branded "heretics" and denied all human rights, then became fair game to the Inquisition and were ultimately burned at the stake.
In this brutal way, Christianity developed on a foundation of terror, fear, humiliation, intolerance and disrespect. And - I'm sorry to say - in some ways, it still includes some of these properties.
That's why I have used my present right to choose not to be a part of this monster.
conspiracy: I'm inclined to agree with you up to a certain point. In many European countries, being a non-Christian still comes with a stigma and you are not fully accepted into all circles of life.
CoIin: @ CoachMan
I agree with your sentiments, but for reasons of historical accuracy, I should point out that (if I'm not mistaken) the Inquisition only had jurisdiction over Christians who held "heretical" beliefs. I don't think it had any jurisdiction over non-Christians. From Wiki:-
"Because of its objective — combating heresy — the Inquisition had jurisdiction only over baptised members of the Church (which, however, encompassed the vast majority of the population in Catholic countries). Secular courts could still try non-Christians for blasphemy; most witch trials went through secular courts."
Coach-Man: Thanks for correcting my somewhat imprecise way to express myself. I was mostly concerned with individuals of a Christian background and the horrible fate they met if they dared question the Church's doctrines. A stray Muslim appearing in the middle of Zurich would of course be treated in a different way.
ewarner1: Coachman, I would agree that Christianity has been done poorly, and often still is. To be fair you would have to say that being an athiest has been done poorly many times too. You would not say I think Mao was ok (at least I hope not) even though he did not believe in God, or Stalin, or Pol Pot, they were all mass murderers. Becuase you are an athiest you must also be such a man, any more than I am like a Christian of the middle ages. Middle Age Christianity was an aberation, because the church lived in a world that was so full of ignorance and nobody could read. Martin Luther was one of the very few of his time who was both allowed to read the bible and could read the bible. When he did he transformed the world, and the church.
ewarner1: Conspiracy, considering that most Western European countries have church membership of 3% to 4% and a small minority of people who believe in any form of God your claim is absurd. Try travelling in Europe as a believer, you would see how friendly western Europe is, (outside Ireland).
Coach-Man: My first reaction to your [EDIT: next to] last post is that you try to define what is less tasty of meat balls and chocolate pudding.
Just because I don't identify myself with a religion doesn't mean that I applaude all the acts of former and present atheists. As a matter of fact, I don't hold Mao, Stalin and Kim in any higher esteem than the Pope. On the contrary, I try to distance myself as far away from all of them as I possibly can. You may commit terrible atrocities in the name of many things, of course, not necessarily a deity or a religious belief system. Everything is just an excuse to implement control of the masses and the goal seems to justify the means no matter what...
Most of the (former) European governmental-sponsored Churches still have a nominal membership of 80-90%, while maybe 50-60% of those are "regular" Church-goers, who attend service at least during Christmas ans Easter, probably even more often.
While you could be right that a person's faith (or lack thereof) is no big issue in Northwestern Europe, it still matters in countries like Poland, Italy and Spain, where many in-laws are disgusted when their child chooses to marry someone outside their own faith.
I was lucky to be warmly accepted by my husband's parents, even if they are Catholics, they are open-minded and tolerant, so we have actually become good friends, but I have a feeling that our family is an exception, at least on the countryside, where the society is more open and everybody knows their neighbours. It's a matter of honour and intolerance with roots back to medieval times.
CoIin: One lesson to be learned in all these cases is that power corrupts and when people (religious or not) get hold of it, they aren't going to give it up easily. I think Mao actually did believe in Marxist ideology in the earlier days and did have the best interests of his people at heart, but later he became just another hideous, fat, corrupt, brutal tyrant.
Trixtress: One such individual was Bishop Sylvester of Rome, who was lured into a corrupt power position by Emperor Constantine. But I understand him perfectly well; how could he resist such luxury and comfort only few decades after his co-religionists were persecuted by Constantine's predecessors?
CoIin: Yeah, it's all pretty depressing We often hear about Christian persecution in the Roman empire, which was deplorable of course, but we don't often hear that after the empire became officially Christian, the Christians proceeded to persecute the pagans with at least equal, and probably even greater enthusiasm.
Tamanisha: ...which proves your earlier claim that power corrupts, no matter whether the wrapping it comes in is religiously connected or not...
bahcatha: religion in itself corrupts, it is the root of most intolerance in existence today and with billions of various religions believing in a worldwide religious war that is supposed to end us all it will happen, not because it was divine prophesy, but because so many believers will set the thing in motion, the rest of us who do not believe in religion will be caught up in the stupidity.
ewarner1: I understand that athiests don't like being thrown in with Mao, Stalin etc, who would?
My point is that you cannot say these Christians were bad, therefore all Christains are bad (including me), if you cannot deal with these athiests were bad, therefore you must be bad as well. Simple logic.
As a recovered athiest I have never made the mistake of thinking all athiests are crummy people. We can argue (and should) over ideas. Lumping huge groups of people as all rotten is bigotry, never a pretty thing regardless of the ideology.
Drain_Bammage: "When one person (stalin,mao etc) suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from the same delusion it is called religion."
quigley: mao was actually a seventh day adventist in his younger days and the sevvies were about the only christian group he ended up not persecuting.
conspiracy: I would like to expand ewarner's analogy a little further.
Yes, very few atheists in their right mind would like to be associated with Mao and Stalin, or with their communist doctrines, that's for sure.
Still, Christians embrace the equally corrupt doctrines of the dictator Constantine and his successors, secular (emperors) as well as spiritual (popes).
Shouldn't we all learn something from this situation and also distance ourselves from "isms" that were used as tools to commit crimes against humanity, no matter if we talk about Communism or Catholicism ( or its Protestant "offspring" )?
[Believing in a god or not is totally independent of belonging to a political party or a particular religion]
synbeckons: corrupt fcuking men take over the notion that there is a existence of supernatural powers and then some with what they have you believe is real and true about said of entity and you fault those who revere that entity,aztec's and mayans worshipped that same entity,