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Everything posted by disarray

  1. Ok, let's be more specific then: "The size of the human association cortex is only part of what makes this region unusual in humans. In addition to having more neurons in the association cortex, brain imaging studies comparing the brains of humans to other primates show humans have a greater number of fibers connecting the brain regions involved in such human-specialized functions as language, tool making, reasoning, and social cognition." http://www.brainfacts.org/About-Neuroscience/Ask-an-Expert/Articles/2014/How-does-the-human-brain-differ-from-that-of-other-primates Graphs illustrating the ratio of cortical surface area of granular prefrontal cortex: So, no contest as far as I can tell, despite homologous structures. Not in the same ball park. Again, I have stated the relevance of this issue, but not sure how you find it relevant to the OP. I don't think that humans are necessarily all that much less aggressive than the average hominid, but I do think that there ability to use language and develop and pass on culture has indeed allowed them to create civilizations whereby reason, religion, laws, mores, morays, customs, rituals, etc. etc. have enabled them to suppress/modify/control aggressive instincts. Just how big a piece of the pie religion plays in this is hard to determine, particularly given that it virtually stamps every aspect of culture with its ability to validate and sanctify mundane beliefs and values on a grand scale. And then there are comparative IQ tests. We consider dogs smarter than many other mammals in that it can see food on the other side of a fence and then go around it, whereas many other mammals would continue to bang into the fence. We consider chimps smarter than many other mammals because they can take a broom that's on the floor and use to to knock down some bananas hanging from the ceiling, whilst standing on an apple crate. The average human can understand the basics of calculus.....But speaking of exceptions, we have eight year olds playing chopin etudes and speaking 8 languages. So no, in particular, when it comes to use of language to modify aggression, chimps (a particularly nasty and aggressive ape) aren't in the same league as humans....not by a mile. Indeed a chimp can't even make a sentence: "Projects devoted to teaching chimpanzees and gorillas to use language have shown that these apes can learn vocabularies of visual symbols. There is no evidence, however, that apes can combine such symbols in orderto create new meanings." Terrace, Herbert S., et al. "Can an ape create a sentence." Science 206.4421 (1979): 891-902.
  2. Hmmm. Actually who called whose writing "bullshit." But yes, perhaps if the tone of a forum is dragged low enough with insults and name calling it would indeed appear that there is not much difference between humans and other hominids. But yes, pointing to a few bright animals (e.g., elephants that can move a brush around a canvas a bit) hardly provides evidence that humans stand head and shoulders over other animals when it comes to curbing their instincts in normal day to day activities and when it comes to general intelligence: All in all, it is no contest. I would concede that the biggest advantage is our ability to construct languages and pass on culture: "The cultural-intelligence hypothesis... says that humans have specific areas of intelligence where we excel; our brains are not just bigger, but also better than those of our nearest evolutionary relatives. The fact that the children excelled in specific areas suggest it's the other theory that's right — that our ability to cooperate and share expertise has allowed us to build complex societies, collaborate and learn from each other at a high level, and use symbolic representation (writing, numerals, imagery) to communicate ideas." http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1659611,00.html "a chimpanzee, although self-aware, cannot come close to what we recognize as human intelligence. It seems that a complexity value of 70 or above is essential, that is, 11 billion neurons, each with 1000 connections to other neurons, and an EQ of 7.6." http://www.science20.com/stars_planets_life/calculating_animal_intelligence And it is here that it is relevant that humans are far smarter socially. They can construct elaborate legal and physical systems that enable humans to control and modify their aggressive impulses within society, religion itself being one of those systems. So my stance is that there is a huge difference in social, ethical, and emotional intelligence, but that, again, it is anyone's opinion and guess just how great a role religion plays in controlling, modifying, and repressing internecine/infra communal aggression. I do agree that people would still be civil and obey the law for the most part were religion to vanish. But the conflict that arises over religion's general failure to more with the times (e.g., its intransigent attitude towards birth control in overcrowded and impoverished areas of the world) would greatly decrease. Similarly, wars over religious identity and supremacy would also greatly decrease were religion to vanish. But yes, there is a huge difference in the complexity of frontal cortex, for example:
  3. I don't actually find usually it necessary to wait for explanations from original poster, this being a case in point. I only mention that I can't read people's minds from time to time when they complain that I have misinterpreted a remark. Sometimes people resent my getting involved in other people's disagreements, but it is my right as a forum member to do this, so that is not my problem. A blanket statement was made and I agreed and elaborated. What is a major point is that the religious do not have much valid scientific evidence (imo) to support their points of view when it comes to issues of contention between religion and science, and therefore they, imo, more often than scientists do within the actual literature, resort to questioning the motives of scientists (e.g., suggesting that scientists are biased), not to mention the several other reasons I listed above. I do find that when people start attacking me in general or my writing style in general that they are almost always not actually addressing my "arguments" regarding the issue at hand. Indeed, in this case, you chose to continue to make personal global observations about me rather than to address my specific arguments as to why I think it a reasonable comment to say that the religious people are less "respectful" when it comes to issues of contention between science and religion, or, for that matter, between religious beliefs and those who do not hold religious beliefs or even the same religious beliefs. In addition to the several different types of examples I gave above, I would note that scientists, by virtue of their professional goals, are less "evangelical" than religious people. I have never had any scientist knocking at my door uninvited, for example, trying to give me religious literature or convert me to a religious viewpoint. Perhaps you might address my actual "arguments" rather than making pointless remarks, insults, and digressions regarding my style of writing.
  4. Um, whether Zapatos' point is entirely ( as in100%) valid, is a matter of opinion, so I am not going to get defensive about suggesting that it was not, and indeed, I usually find it pointless to get too sidetracked by minor pseudo-conflicts such as this. However, the original comment was, "Science respectfully presents its position with mounds of empirical data and observation to support its case, never tries to use force or threats to coax people into belief, and doesn't claim to have the ultimate truth." As I didn't make the comment myself, I can only speculate as to its meaning, but given the overall context of the comment, I think that the reference was to studies, papers, texts, lectures, and dissertations. When it comes to discussions on issues with which religion and science are typically in different camps, I do think that it is reasonable to suggest that the religious spend far more time attacking (often disparagingly and often disrespectfully) the opposition (i.e., science) than science/scientists spend attacking the opposition (i.e. religion). If one is not referring to discussion on issues with which religion and science are typically in different camps, I would agree that both scientists and religionists(?) are equally respectful, particularly when it comes to religious people addressing people who are espouse the same religious beliefs. But religion is perhaps generally less respectful of the reader's or listener's viewpoint in theory, as religion does often say that: Those who disagree are pagan, atheists, materialists, damned, malicious, etc.; People needed to be converted to the Truth whether they realize that they have this need or not, as if true friends would keep pestering them to convert; When it comes to a dispute between religion and science, the infallibility of scripture is undeniable so that it is no contest; etc. In practice, I have often seem religious people approach strangers and tell them that they are guilty sinners, or ignorant about the Truth, or doomed to go to hell unless they accept scriptural truths, etc. Must say, have never seen a scientist approach people and claim that they are sinful and doomed to eternal suffering if they don't accept their version of the truth.
  5. Um, I think that it was understood that we are not talking about forums and bloggers. My experience is that, when it comes to issues such as evolution vs. creationism, that the creationist approach, having really little or no data to support their own claims, take the strategy of poking or attempting to find holes in evolutionary theory. Apart from a few scientists who have written books to show that creationist arguments are weak, science just merrily goes on its way collecting more and more evidence to support evolution. Amazingly, creationists, et al., fail to see the evidence for what it is, and apparently cherry pick any scientific statement that might be construed as supporting creationism: "This is a wonderful time to be a Bible-believing Christian/creationist. The scientific evidence, rightly interpreted, overwhelmingly supports the straight-forward reading of Scripture. Even in those areas of seeming conflict, research continually sheds new light, increasing our confidence in Scripture. I call on my Christian "semi-creationist" brothers, those who hold to the Big Bang, or the old Earth or theistic evolution, to join the ranks of those who are trying to solve the remaining conflicts from a God-honoring, Bible-upholding perspective. For in the end, Scripture will stand. Rightly observed and interpreted there can be no conflict between science and Scripture." [from a Creationist website] https://www.icr.org/article/1173 What can one say?
  6. Well, yes. I don't understand how one can overlook the huge disparity between humans and other hominids with regard to repressing/controlling/modifying (aggressive) instincts. I also agree that religion (along with resource shortage, ethnocentrism, and racial/gender inequality) can reasonably be described as a main or major problem because it so ubiquitously affects so many issues. The extent to which conflict would be reduced were religion to vanish suddenly is a matter of speculation and opinion. (Another issue is the degree to which one would label religion as a cause of conflict rather than a catalyst, but again, this is largely a matter of opinion and semantics.) Indeed, the superior intelligence, symbolic language capabilities, awareness of ones own instincts and drives, complexity of social structures that repress immediate gratification, etc. of humans is quite evident, though the difference is a matter of degree, as we are all hewn from the same tree, so to speak. As to the significance of the differences between humans and other hominids when it comes to modifying their drives/desires/instincts, that is also a matter of opinion. Therefore, the bottom line here is that it is rather pointless to argue about the difference as if it is a black and white, yes or no, matter. In addition to just taking a cursory look at the behavior of a large group of chimps/bonobos in comparison with humans with regards to the ubiquitous level of overt sexual and aggressive activity, one could examine the function and structure of the human prefrontal cortex, which is far more advanced than that of other hominids and all other animals. I think that the following quote summarizes the general thrust of any further evidence that I might provide: "Human morality, although sophisticated and complex relative to the moralities of other animals, is essentially a natural phenomenon that evolved to restrict excessive individualism that could undermine a group's cohesion and thereby reducing the individuals' fitness." Shermer, Michael. "Transcendent Morality". The Science of Good and Evil. ISBN 0-8050-7520-8. I will just leave it at that for now for sake of brevity. But again, I don't see that this is directly related to the OP unless one is suggesting that, as I mentioned, humans have presently got their aggressive instincts so well under control that we need merely to excise religion from human culture or consciousness so that people will become relatively peaceful....Again, the degree to which cutting out religion would reduce aggression is a matter of opinion and speculation, though I personally think it would help quite a bit. Religion, like race, color, and gender, are convenient markers to identify people with whom one is in (ethnocentric/economic/sexual/political) competition with. Hence, even if one looks at conflicts between people of relatively similar religions, (e.g., Cathololics/Protestants), one sees a great deal of conflict in European history owing to the fact that the people subscribing to these religions have different agendas and are by and large people from different socio-economic levels. (Bartholomew's Day Massacre being a good example.) Labeling oneself as a Protestant or Catholic in this case, just makes it easier for people to see whose team one is on; not surprising one of Hitler's earlier steps in his genocide project entailed insisting Jews wear an identifying Star.
  7. Its all a matter of having vested interests. Despite claims by the religious to the contrary, science is not on a crusade to bless materialism and destroy decency in the modern world....When it comes to knowledge, it has no bias or prejudice or ulterior motives....it merely wants to get the job of providing comfortable homes, sturdy bridges, reliable airplanes, etc. Religion, on the other hand, wants to maintain control, dictate morality, hang on to it often ill-gotten land, collect donations, gather money to build churches, control women's reproduction, etc. The truth of the matter is that science is now far more of a threat to religion than religion is to science. It didn't always used to be that way.
  8. Well, you do paint a coherent picture of things. But: My main observation would be to note that Reason and humankind's ability to repress/modify primal/basic/aggressive urges did not just suddenly rear its beautiful head in the period of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a bit of a watershed period, but repression is as old as human civilization. Moreover, as I noted before, religion and its attempts at reason often served to repress basic urges every bit as much as any secular movements did. But I do not share your rosy picture of the present state of affairs. People still have the capacity to quickly regress to the state of being barbarians underneath polite social appearances. Indeed, one thing that shocked the world was to see how (after the great optimism provided by the Enlightenment + Victorian refinement of manners + Industrial revolution + Edwardian era of peace and progress) easily a relatively modern state such as Germany could so easily fall back into good old-fashioned barbarianism (in WWI and particularly in WWII). Someone once said that any society is three meals away from anarchy. Even in the U.S. we have a Presidential candidate who is saying that it would be no holds barred on the use of torture were he to be elected, and, in terms of media response, no one seems to be batting an eyelash about such a prospect. Prejudice and racial violence is still rampant, domestic violence is full swing, bombings continue worldwide, nuclear proliferation has not abated significantly, etc. So no. Don't agree: Religion is just the icing on the cake of aggression. I do agree that many of its beliefs are archaic and many continue (as religion is so conservative) to be espoused today, the most egregious example to my mind being the notion that one has the right to stone a young gal to death for extramarital sex, even if it was a matter of being raped. But again, as Stephen Pinker will tell you, such patriarchal notions did not come from religion; rather, patriarchal religions are the outcome of patriarchal attitudes and beliefs that arose from such things as the male sense of honor that is typically found in herding tribes/societies, an extension of male territoriality common to hominids, concern for family honor in keeping with the market value of brides, etc., etc. Yes, Stephen Pinker also wrote a book in which he claims that civilization is progressing and that human aggression is gradually attenuating, but I don't see that the facts regarding intergroup warfare really support this. People are perhaps more aware of how they should behave, but, as always, biology has the last word: Dr Jekyll may have a new suit of clothes and his manner may be more refined, but Mr. Hyde still runs the show behind the scenes.
  9. The issue was whether religion is a main cause of conflict. No one claimed that humans don't have the ability to repress/modify aggressive instincts. Speaking for myself, I would agree that we have similar instincts as apes in various degrees depending on which apes one is talking about (and you agree with this). The aggressive hominid (aka ape) instincts that we have are not religious in nature; that is, they are not really offshoots of some religious impulse. Therefore, it is not valid to say that our basic aggressive instincts are religious in nature, or that, conversely, our religious impulse/instinct causes aggression. The fact that, as you say, humans have a far greater cerebral capacity to reason and to repress/modify basic instincts such as sex and aggression does not really change the fact that the religious impulse (presuming that there is one) is not a main cause or even A cause of human aggression. Indeed, religion does often serve as a part of a culture's/society's ability to reason and create concepts that repress/modify aggressive impulses. If that is your drift, it would seem that you are now arguing that religion curtails aggression rather than causes it. But I think it more likely that you are really suggesting that humans have the ability to repress/modify aggressive instincts, and moreover, that they have been so successful at repressing them that, except for the influence of religion, people would by and large be pretty peaceful. If so, I don't agree with that...Resources and demand are so much in demand, as always, that there will continue to be conflict and war between groups (e.g., tribes, states, nations). Eliminating religion would perhaps just lower the flames a little. There are many theories as to what causes human aggression, and perhaps we could take a look at them. But by and large, they have to do with biological instincts involving survival, reproduction, and resource acquisition. Again, my stance is that religion is best described as a catalyst (rather than a cause) for those in power in a given society to increase their dominance over others in that society by sanctifying their beliefs and values (thereby sometimes creating conflict and sometimes harmony), and to incite and justify aggression towards other societies. In any case, religion can be used as a psychological weapon. Right makes might, and conversely, might makes right: By claiming that ones aggression is validated by God (as Constantine did mid-battle) one gains a moral advantage as well as an increase in morale.
  10. I don't think that there is much question as to humans having one or more aggressive instincts. Religion came before societal structure? Please...tell me more. In many cases, religion excited instincts. Certainly Abrahamic religions, for a start, curbed sexual instincts, but that is a mixed blessing so to speak....as discussed by Freud (Civilization and its Discontent) et al. Again, religion taught people to play nice with those within the community, not outside. Even when the theory is universal love, this tends to still hold true. No, humans have all the same base instincts, they are just more clever at concealing them, both from themselves and from others. Religion often functions just to reinforce a society's legal system, validating it on a supernatural level...That doesn't mean that humans somehow become significantly more altruistic than other animals. Indeed, the problem with many if not most religions is that they use rewards and threats and punishments to get people to curb their instincts...that doesn't say much, ultimately, for the fact that humans don't behave as badly as chimps, who, after all, are unusually aggressive. A closer comparison to humans is arguably the bonobos who are far less aggressive. Religion is a man-made product. Except for scriptural passages and some rituals that encourage aggression, religion does not cause intergroup conflict in and of itself: As far as anthropology is concerned, there is no God that is actually encouraging people to make war. Ultimately, religion is mostly a catalyst that performs various social functions, and has the drawback that it often does not keep up with the times (thereby causing internecine conflict), owing to its predilection for claiming that its beliefs and values are supported by God(s) and therefore absolute and immutable.
  11. I agree with that. Numerous books have been written regarding human aggression, and the "religious impulse" per se is not exactly a key factor in most theories (Konrad Lorenz, Erich Fromm, etc.) Strictly speaking, the hypothesized religious impulse deals with such things as wishing to protect the dead, to communicate with ancestors, to wish to live after physical death, to believe in moral order, to believe that one is protected, etc. In practice, people do this in groups so that we do get spinoffs such as charity, fellowship, bonding ceremonies, etc. So yes, religion, per se, can be seen as just one more socio-cultural trait/activity along with music, dancing, dress, festivals, rituals, etc. But speaking of apes, a great deal of aggression revolves around demonstrations of superiority and dominance with regards to territory (i.e., mates, land, food, offspring, etc.). As one can see in the #1 Commandment of 'monotheistic' Judaeo-Christianity, there can be only one Real god who is king of the hill, and he/she/they is the only one who can grant people eternal life and the only one who can say what is absolutely right or wrong. As with apes, he can be a jealous and ruthless leader, wanting you to be loyal to no other leader/god. If everyone in the world held the same religion, there probably wouldn't be much conflict over who is right and who deserves to have religio-political power in a region. In short, religion can be a very positive thing as long as one is talking about what happens within a community. However, once communities with different religions come into contact and/or competition with each other (and 'ethnocentric impulses' kick in), there are likely to be major conflicts (over, as with apes, land and resources) in which both sides are saying something tantamount to "My Dad is Bigger than Your Dad, so you are wrong and you better watch out." It is at this point when individuals or groups with different religions/gods meet up that religion often ceases to be just one more trait, and becomes a main catalyst for violent conflict.
  12. You lost me at "outward photons." Which ones are they, may I ask?
  13. Personally, I was just taking a stab in the dark. Ok, I am ashamed to say that I have not read much Feynman, despite his efforts to make physics accessible to the average person. I don't know the context of this statement of his, but, on the other hand, I thought I had read that we are experiencing a certain degree of gravity from everything in the universe, though not sure what that would mean either.
  14. No, I know exactly what you are referring to and no, I am not misreading anything, as you assume. Although someone claimed that religion was THE cause of conflict (and later modified it to suggest that it was the main cause), I am making the educated guess that he realized that there are of course other things that cause conflict in the world. In particular, there is conflict over resources, and there is conflict arising from xenophobia/racial prejudice, and their is conflict arising from sexual jealousy, etc. If you reread the posts yourself, you can see that you continued to argue that religion was not THE only thing that cause conflict as well as the similar point that it was just one of many traits, even after the person who made this claim retracted it, and said that 'he' would go halfway and say that it was just the main thing. Hence my posts noting that you were, in effect, beating a dead horse....(Don't take that literally..nothing personal.) Indeed, generally speaking, when one reads or hears someone claim that feminism, for example, is THE cause of conflict in the world, they don't literally mean that conflicts between men and women are the only conflicts that exist in the world. People often use hyperbole to make a point. I have read and heard self-avowed feminists acknowledge that they feel it necessary to exaggerate their statements in order to redress what they claim is the imbalance that has resulted from years of patriarchy. What people (really) mean when they say that patriarchy or religion is THE cause of conflict in the world is not that it is the ONLY cause of conflict, but rather that they see it as being the hub from which all other problems stem....Perhaps, a better analogy is to say that they think of religion (or patriarchy) as being like the head of an octopus, with all its tentacles having a "hand" in all the other problems. Indeed (if I can type a little more here without being too wordy), one can easily show that religion does indeed have its 'finger in (virtually) every pot' that causes conflict: high connection with patriarchy itself, racism, resource and land appropriation, political control.....well, you get my drift. But a key reason that one could reasonably say that religion is the overriding and ubiquitous factor is that it puts the imprimatur of Godliness on whatever beliefs a person or society holds in order to gain power and control: Instead of saying that I want your land, religion allows one to say that God has granted this land to you. Instead of saying that I want to control women, religion allows one to say that God has granted me the right to control the household. Instead of saying that I don't want women on birth control and I don't like homosexual marriages, religion allows one to say that God only permits "natural" sexual relations, (and perhaps stone people who don't fit the mold). Instead of saying that I don't want people with a certain color of skin around, religion allows one to say that God considers them to be an inferior race. etc. In any case, this is my take on the situation. If you disagree, please don't just say that I have misread...I am entitled to my opinion and to my interpretation, whether you agree or not. I try to understand where a person 'is coming from' when I read posts, not to hammer them over the head by taking what they have said too literally. And I am sorry that this post is a little wordy or that my word choice might not be good enough or that I seem self-righteous....not all of us are as highly succinct or perhaps educated and humble as yourself. As for your dick diagrams....charming!
  15. Well we all experience spacetime in ways other than just mathematical models. Football fans who make a group wave by swaying their hands above their heads certainly have the impression that they are interacting with spacetime. I think that it is unclear whether gravity is a force per se...My understanding is that there is no such animal as "gravity" as a force per se, but rather that everything in the universe is moving in a straight line (or rather geodesic in spacetime curvature) as the universe expands so that gravity can be explained in these terms rather than in terms of a force. But in any case, humans only have so many senses...and they can detect waves in air as sound and certain light waves as visual images, but they just ain't got senses for most EM waves or for time dilation or gravitational waves at all, so that, as far as everyday experience goes, we can only rely upon the math and stop speculating about what things beyond our perception might be like IF we could perceive them. (That is basically the Kantian view). By the by, I recall reading somewhere that humans can only perceive a 10 trillionth of the known EM spectrum. So no, I don't think that it is something that the mind can digest in terms of some big picture, and indeed we can't even 'imagine' what it means when it is suggested that the universe has no boundaries, but rather "curves" back onto itself.
  16. Don't know if I am at all on the same page here, but I have wondered whether everything (to some minute degree) is deteriorating/decaying/ageing at different rates with respect to everything else once one took into account the seemingly infinite differences in reference frames caused by differences in acceleration and gravitational distances with respect to just one thing, such as that lamp post in my front yard. Even in the mind of some Einsteinian God, the possibility of ever keeping track of the various time dilations seems an impossible task. Yes, of course.....but I was presuming that I could speak about math as being a metaphor/model. After all, I presume that spacetime is more than the geometries we make to describe it.
  17. I gather that, in terms of gravitation, "waves" refer as much to the mathematical model (which may or may not have some sort of Platonic existence depending upon whom you are talking to), as to actual waves that can be detected on instruments. It sounds to me that in this sense the word "waves" is sometimes used in a rather metaphorical sense. If you have an advanced understanding of the mathematics (e.g., geometry of spacetime manifolds, etc.), the use of such a term makes sense, while, to someone less advanced, the term may be confusing, as it is only natural to immediately wonder what sort of medium, (e.g., water) gravitational waves are traveling through, and to wonder why there are waves at all if there is no medium (but rather some sort of direct orthogonal transfer of whatever it is that is being transferred), and to wonder how such waves could "pull" when most waves seem to push things away. As physicists often tend to use common everyday terms in scientific ways that are not entirely consistent with their every day use, I think that, in some cases, more carefully defining the terms one is using to those less versed in the advanced maths involved would simplify matters and eliminate prolonged confusion, particularly to those who are unable, or who will never have the wherewithal to understand the advanced maths that makes it all seem so plain and clear.
  18. Hmmm. I just asked how your comment that "Even if religion vanishes, there will still be conflict" is pertinent, and you repeatedly respond by suggesting that I am being loquacious and not reading the posts. Certainly, if you wish to quote something I have said as being bloviating (aka empty) or loquacious (talkative), I would try to rephrase it, but just making general comments about my writing in general hardly seems constructive. Similarly, you stated that, religion is "merely one more trait we use to separate ourselves into us/them. It's a powerful one, yes, but so too are race and gender and political outlook, for example." Regardless of who you were addressing, I responded to the statement itself (which is a reasonable thing to do as a discussion participant) by agreeing that it is a trait, but pointing out that this statement on its own may be misleading, because religion (as a social-identity marker) is not just any ole trait, but rather a particularly dangerous (as well as powerful) one with respect to power struggles, colonialization, justifications for war, competing eschatologies, etc., which are specific and substantial comments in keeping with the topic of this thread. As no one here has claimed that religion is THE only thing that causes conflict (or that it is the only trait providing social cohesiveness and identity. for that matter) and as no one, as far as I can tell, claimed that "some utopia free of strife and full of harmony would be immediately realized were religion to sunset," I fail to see the relevance of stating that conflict would continue were religion to vanish. Simple as that...no insults, no misreading (as you complain), no emptiness, no personal insult..... just a simple observation. Rather than continually being offended for vague reasons, while at the same time, derogating me as a "self-righteous, holier than thou, blowhard," it might move things along a little more were you to answer my question regarding the relevance of your remarks about there being sources of social conflict and there being social-identity traits other than religion. In any case, ad hominems always seem to me to be a way of detracting from the issues at hand, so I am not going to respond to them nor reply in kind....but the bottom line though, after all is said and done, is that you responded with insults rather than answer my question.
  19. Not sure what you are referring to. Personally, I never disagreed that it would still be the case that there would still be conflict in the world if religion disappeared, but merely emphasized as my own observation that this statement need not be interpreted as claiming that there will be less conflict if religion disappeared, as it could easily be interpreted as suggesting this. I was not claiming that it was your intention for others to interpret the statement in this manner, however, as I have no way of knowing what you meant other than the words you type. I see no harm in my qualifying a statement that I see in front of me, and I see no need to assume that I am reading something into your words other than what you posted. But, as long as you mention it, I do wonder why anyone would have as a main point in a post there would still be conflict even if religion vanished, since this is so incredibly obvious as to be gratuitous and irrelevant.
  20. Yes, learning in general is best done from bottom up, of course, and having someone answer questions as one goes along is helpful, though sometimes a bit of outside reading/studying by oneself certainly accelerates the process. This is especially true, I would imagine, when it comes to counterintuitive subjects such as Relativity.
  21. I recall the occasional government ad supporting U.S. space exploration to be rather questionable in the sense that they say things along the line that space exploration is a natural expression of mankind's (sic) basic need for adventure and need to know if there is life elsewhere (as if an extension of manifest destiny) and that the money (hundreds of billions) spent on space shuttles (collecting moon rocks, exploring Mars, Jupiter) is well spent because there have been technological discoveries made as spinoffs from designing the rockets, etc. My response is that such equal if not greater spinoffs could have occurred had we spent those billions on something more directly likely to be useful, e.g., studying the ocean and the ways we can utilize its resources. Similarly, people say that religion satisfies people's "religious impulse," to relate to something greater than themselves, and my response again is that this can be done in ways that do not enable various societies with an excuse to justify waging wars (as if God is on their side) or their moral beliefs (as if God says they are right and thus unquestionable). As history stands, religion has always been a sort of con game, wherein, I suspect, even those doing the conning (i.e., religious leaders) do not realize that they are doing the conning, though many ministers will, in confidence, say that they don't believe in such things as miracles, resurrections, etc. We do see many churches that attempt to satisfy people's spiritual needs (aka religious impulses) without claims that there are moral absolutes, or divine beings, or recipes for salvation, or elaborate rituals, prayers, etc., (e.g., Unitarian) though at some point one can't help asking whether one can justifiably call them churches, or describe their practices and teachings as being religious. Identity markers per se are not necessarily a good thing, if that is your drift. Look at the centuries of violence and other forms of conflict/power struggles created over race and gender (simple biological markers). But religion has elements that make it even more incendiary, and indeed, particularly with regards to race, provides that extra catalyst that enables individuals and groups to claim superiority and to indulge in violence. But similar religious-based aggression has been directed towards women, from something "minor" as their role in the church and family to witch burning. Religion provides more than just a means of self-identifying a culture. Within the Abrahamic religions we see additional traits that incite violence: insistence that God is on ones side when it comes to war, insistence that enemies are evil and that God hates their practices so that people feel obliged to attack the enemies, insistence that God wants you to spread the "Word" as a justification for colonization and forced conversion (in collaboration with economic hegemony and genocide), insistence that ones own religion has the only true recipe for achieving salvation with the result that other religions need to condemned or eliminated (as in power struggles for centuries between Catholic and Protestants in Europe), etc. Similar conflicts in dogma have caused violent conflict in Eastern religions, e.g., between Hinduism and Buddhism.
  22. No one here is on a rampage to eradicate religion or carrying a placard while protesting outside church doors. On the other hand, progress will not be made if one just minimizes the negative aspects of religion by saying that it has done a lot of good, or it's not the only problem, or its not the only thing that causes conflict, or that its just an excuse for conflict and never a motivating factor in itself. Yes, books pointing out the follies of Creationism is a start. But people resist change in their thinking because religion satisfies so many deep seated needs. One can't just get rid of religion without offering satisfactory alternatives: What is needed is to replace the notion that evil spirits cause people to commit crime with an examination of the toxic social conditions at the heart of the problem, to replace patriarchal religious attitudes with more egalitarian ones, to replace subscription to a particular belief system as a means towards sustaining the self in an afterlife with a deeper understanding of nature and with universal hope, to replace the worship of some abstract deity(s) with humanism and humanitarianism, to replace ethical codes set in stone with tolerance and critical thinking, to replace ethnocentrism with multiculturalism, to replace admiration for wealthy media heroes with admiration for the kind and generous, etc. I respect Jainism and Judaism because they think in terms of the well-being of the entire community, while Christianity, for example developed in a way (post Augustine) that seemed to emphasize individual salvation; and both Islam and Christianity each maintain a strong insistence, by and large, that any other religion is pagan, evil, and damned. People need something to belong to, and in today's situation of global competition, people need to have respect for other communities while creating bonds within their own to reduce alienation, e.g., community parks, recreation centers, festivals, events, celebrations, parades, etc....things that seem to be gradually taken over by job fairs, new stores, shopping malls and strips, political rallies, and the like.
  23. Hmmm. So I guess I would ask for further clarification here. Are you suggesting that there would be just as much conflict in the world if religion vanished. I am reminded of Freud's hydraulic theory the idea being that there is so much sexual and/or aggression pressure that is more or less hard-wired into the human psyche that if we damn and dam it up in one place, so to speak, it is only going to build up until it finds another outlet somewhere else. (I am not arguing for or against Freud's theory here, merely drawing a parallel). But surely you agree that religious belief generally plays a significant belief in religious conflict today (as always), and that it, for good or better, frequently and often strongly affects their attitudes and beliefs with regards to such controversial issues as euthanasia, abortion, stem cell research, birth control, race relations, multiculturalism, blind obedience to authority, homosexuality, transsexualism, prayers in schools, forced allegiance to God for citizenship, prayer in public events and meetings, divorce, etc. etc.. Surely these issues create various levels of conflict in our society to this day, and surely religion adds fuel to these issues in various degrees.. To assume that there would not be less conflict were religion to go away, or that some vague drive for conflict would just find other outlets, if that is your drift, does not make sense to me. Postnote: Just remembered that I left out arguing over sacred lands, stoning of women for adultery or being raped, religious motivated bombings and flying into towers that goes on in present times. Could go into burning witches, torture, and mass butchering over which religious group will maintain power (e.g. St Bartholomew's Day massacre), but that speaks for itself. Many societies have made huge strides in terms of reducing conflicts over slavery and women's rights, so yes, there will always be conflict, I suppose, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep on trying to reduce it.
  24. You and I are agreed upon this and it seems patently obvious to us that telling children that they are born sinful and will go to hell or heaven depending upon whether they behave and/or believe is not a constructive parenting approach. But I think that it is an interesting question as to why what seems patently obvious to us (and others) seems so absurd and outrageous to many Christians. To them, it makes children realize that they are bad and need to shape up. I recall a study (circa 1950s) that concluded that parents from Protestant homes were more likely to adopt an authoritarian parenting style, with a higher than average tendency to physically discipline their children. Despite its shortcomings, I don't think that it is far-fetched to mention the relevance of Adorno's book on the 'authoritarian personality'. In short, from their perspective, parents who tell their children they might not go to heaven, but suffer agonizing pain in hell forever are being good parents. They fail to see the irony of such an approach. Moreover, they fail to see the irony in suggesting that other Christian sects or other religions who practice slightly different views about going to heaven or hell are just plain wrong. Indeed, I have mentioned that even telling ones children that there is a Santa who will reward them or leave them neglected (without presents) depending upon whether they have been "good or bad," as the song goes, is a questionable practice. Santa, like God, even knows what you are thinking and doing when parents aren't around...something, again, that many parents think is a great idea. However, even atheists have been upset by this observation because they say that they enjoy Christmas time and opening presents with their beloved relatives at Christmas...so how dare I make such a statement. I agree that things such as the notion that Santa comes down the chimney in the middle of the night and eats the cookies mom baked on Christmas Eve is a quaint folk custom, and I am not advocating that we do away with a national holiday. I am just pointing out the ubiquity of Christian beliefs in our culture, the often accompanying assumption that the U.S. is a Christian Nation (either officially or de facto), and that attempts to provide a level playing for all religions by prohibiting expressions of Christianity in public places (e.g., court house lawns and schools) by banning displays such as the 10 Commandments and nativity scenes are outrageous attempts by people (perhaps inspired by the devil) to eradicate all religious expressions and beliefs from the country. So to touch base with OP, religious people invent conflict and assert their rightness/righteousness, in large part, to maintain control. Without typing much more, for sake of brevity, I would note that 20th c.. psychology/sociology in theory and practice tended to move away from the extremes of the sort of strict aloof, and authoritarian parenting legacy of Victorianism, while still eschewing permissive parenting. A less authoritarian approach (e.g., the assertive approach) tends, I would suggest, to place less emphasis on children's (innate) sinful nature, less emphasis on the existence of absolute moral truths (and more emphasis on critical thinking, discussion, and compromise), and, in general more emphasis on children's innate self-worth, their ability to think for themselves, their ability to independently regulate their own conduct (without some form of Big Brother or Big Father always watching over their shoulder), and their ability to have healthy children of their own someday, untainted with the mark of original sin, or Cain, or of any other blemish on the core of their Being.
  25. Walter....that is a lot of information to throw out there in one huge chunk without explanation. I find it a little cryptic in the sense that it is somewhat obscure to me just which of the thousands of statements made in the videos etc. you think relates to thread of this post. I did look at the video entitled "Jesus is God whether you believe it or not." Don't you think that this sort of approach tends to put an end to discussion, as if to say, "If you don't believe in my religion, well, you are wrong...end of story." Indeed, the last slide of the video says that people who don't agree that Jesus is God are "liars," "deceivers," and "antiChrists." I am wondering whether or not this is a 'politically correct' statement. Is this what you believe? Is it possible for me to disagree in any way with such religious statements without someone thinking or labeling me as being a liar and an antiChrist?
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