A more tolerant view of religion

I think I have a more tolerant view of religion than I used to have. Religion is an important part of billions of people’s lives, and often a useful part of their lives.  That I believe something different, or don’t believe, is generally my own business and not something I should try to impose on anyone else.

If other people’s beliefs and actions related to their beliefs aren’t imposed on me or affect me adversely then I should be tolerant of their right to hold and practice those beliefs.

I had a largely non-religious upbringing, apart from some token attendance at Sunday school and church, and occasional bible classes in school. My main impression was that bible stories and parables were not my preferred sort of literature.

As an adult I have had some interaction with churches and religious schools through weddings and relations involvement, but my religious experiences have been very superficial.

Some things raised my eyebrows, like when a family friend got married and promised to honour and obey her new husband (in the 1990s), but that didn’t affect my life (and I don’t think it affected hers, and like many of us these days they parted before death).

Obviously many people who practice a religion get something out of it. As well as community and social aspects there must be something significant to be gained by sharing time with people with similar specific beliefs.

I know someone who was brought up in one religion and as a child enjoyed going to church because of the singing, but as soon as it was their choice didn’t practice a religion.

I have seen where religion has played a significant part in peoples lives in a positive way. I know a woman who was widowed, left with eight children aged ten and under. Life was tough for her, but she was supported a lot by her church community, and got a lot out of her faith, which she always retained.

People follow religious faiths and practices because it is good for them.

I have come to realise that because I don’t believe the same things is not a good reason to criticise their beliefs.

From my experience there are only isolated exceptions to people accepting my choice of beliefs and practices, or lack thereof.

In the main New Zealand society is relatively tolerant of different beliefs. We live amongst, work with, play sport with and socialise with people with various beliefs and religious preferences with religion being left as persona choice and private. I often don’t know whether people I associate with are religious or not – and this doesn’t matter.

It does us good to understand other religions and beliefs, and we should protect the right of people to practice what they want without prejudice or fear.


I have deliberately not named any religion here. Please keep any discussion similarly non-specific.

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75 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  31st March 2019

    ”That I believe something different, or don’t believe, is generally my own business and not something I should try to impose on anyone else.”

    And there we have it. Both the problem and the answer quantified.

    Reply
    • But it isn’t a problem. New Zealand is generally good at not imposing religion on others. I don’t agree with but can tolerate religious themes in our national anthem, and am not too upset by religious prayers in Parliament. It’s pragmatic to retain something but generally should be non-specific of any religion – but I can also tolerate exceptions in special circumstances.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  31st March 2019

        [deleted, this is a general thread on religion, no references to specific religions please. PG]

        Reply
        • Kimbo

           /  31st March 2019

          The problem with JWs and Mormons comes with their treatment of apostasy (i.e., shunning by family and friends), and more specifically for the “offenses” for which it will be applied, e.g., in the cases of JWs the authorisation by a parent for a blood transfusion to be administered to their dying child, is sufficient.

          But then again, it is probably caveat emptor as future JWs are made well aware of the consequences before they pass the Rubicon of formal baptism.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  31st March 2019

            The Mormons I know socialise freely with non-Mormons, and JWs ditto.I don’t know what happens when they leave. The Gloriavaleites are very cruel and justify it by claiming that the person’s soul’s in danger.

            An Orthodox priest-monk whom I know befriended two young American Mormons who later told him that they were in love and had made love. I can’t remember how he heard that one of the two men had killed himself because their love was discovered and terrible consequences followed. No gays allowed.

            Reply
            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              Yes, as Mormonism and JWs engage in aggressive (but legal) and trained formal proselytism, they are encouraged to befriend non-believers. Which is not to say those friendships are insincere, indeed like anyone else they can be entirely genuine. is part of their ethics (as per Blazer) to be good and honest in all their dealings….as that can and will attract others to their sect (some would call them cults).

              But yes, if and when a full member chooses to leave, including to another form of Christianity then it is the full “Gloriavaleites” treatment.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              Well, these lads were not befriending Fr A for any ulterior motives, or he them. They just wanted someone to tell. Poor blokes.

              The Brethren do the casting out, too. The proper name has eluded me.

              My flatmate married a Brethren; Open Brethren. He was a ghastly, manipulative snob and I remember her almost (if not actually) in tears on the phone as she tried to explain why she’d been talking to another young man, quite innocently, and trying to make him forgive her. The marriage broke up when he became violent….and guess who was ostracised and cast out ? And these were Open Brethren.

              Did you know that there are still some Peculiar People extant ?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              I was amazed to discover that Nothingarians existed. A man in one of LM Montgomery’s books always said that he was one and laughed, and I thought that it was a joke. But there were people called that !

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              The Closed Brethren would likely not tolerate friendships with Non-members, but what you describe of the Open Brethren is not typical Iwould suggest, or at least it shouldn’t be. Yes, they do usually take an uncompromising line on sexual and other forms of traditional Christian morality and ethics. But in the case of lack of repentance, yes, steps to remove someone from the congregation can occur – not that the person in question usually hangs around. Instead both congregant and assembly drift apart and it is up to family and friends how they then relate.

              The thing to keep in mind with your anecdote is that the key distinctive of the Brethren is the emphasis on the local church. Which means that the matter, if brought to the attention of the church, is in the hands of the congregation’s elders. And like local body politics, bias, incompetence, agendas subculture and personal favouritism can play a part when dealing with marriage and other disputes. Doesn’t make it right, but is a reality of human affairs.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              I believed K when I met her again and told me. She was almost laughing in that ‘I still can’t believe that !.’ way. It doesn’t seem to worry her that they did that. HE was in the wrong, he didn’t actually bash her up but he shoved her around and hit her and when he sent her down the hall with a blow and she fell to the floor, she decided that enough was enough.

              He was a self-righteous prig and people were hoping that she wouldn’t marry him. But at least she got out. I had the impression that losing the OB in that church was a small price to pay.

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              Antidisestablishmentarianism also has religious origins, or at least comes from the fraught interface between religion and politics.

              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antidisestablishmentarianism

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              I was an excellent speller and could spell words like that when I was in Std 1. I remember doing so (I didn’t know what it meant of course) and spelling other long and/or difficult words. At the same time, I was totally unable to do long division (and still can’t) but I’d rather be good with words than with maths. 😀

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              I wonder how many people know what antidisestablishmentarianism means. It’s an easy word to spell aloud, as it divides itself neatly.

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              And one could argue that Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican and anti-Muslim immigration policies has an antecedent in the “Know Nothings”.

              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_Nothing

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              The Nothingarians really were called that; it was their official name.

              It’s like the Peculiar People.

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              I believed K when I met her again and told me.

              …and just to be clear I’m not disbelieving your or her account. In churches, especially when it comes to adjudicating on matters of alleged moral misconduct, the rule that should apply is “by two or more witnesses shall anything be established”. Is certainly how a group with a “high” view of Scripture like the Open Brethren operate. As I say, I wouldn’t take one incident as typical of the OB. Although particular congregations and whole denominations, just like any human institution can develop, maintain and protect a toxic subculture. And yes, there are some institutions that are more authoritarian than others, and therefore more susceptible to abuse. Or lax, hence paedophiles for example, can take advantage of opportunities.

              However, as those of us who have to inhabit any religious community usually find, there is sometimes a vast chasm between belief or practice. And if the problem becomes a lack of change once you call those in authority or the institution out for it, and it is serious enough that your wellbeing is in peril (as your friend’s was, at least according to her account)

              …then it is time to leave. Don’t know why critics of religion go on so much about “hypocrisy” as an argument against it, when religious people, as long as they are not engaging in rationalising (admittedly a common practice for the institutionalised of faith communities), are well aware of it. Both in their religious community, and in their own lives.

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              It’s like the Peculiar People.

              Sure, although that is as a result of adopting a phrase from the King James Bible that is now an anachronism. Is like “the quick and the dead”, “conversation” or “gay clothing”!

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  31st March 2019

            ‘I have made you a peculiar people….’ Peculiar still has that meaning in ‘peculiar to…..’

            Conversation for a long time could mean talking or something else; criminal conversation was adultery. In Vanity Fair, when Becky and Lord Steyne drive around in his carriage having a ‘long conversation”, it’s up to the reader to decide what Thackeray means. I suspect that he didn’t mean that they had a long talk. It still meant (in context) sex in 1877, according to my 1877 dictionary.

            Quick could well be related to the Yorkshire ‘wick’, which also means alive. It must be.

            We may well have this entire conversation deleted because it mentions particular religions…..

            I wasn’t surprised that someone so controlling as K’s husband turned violent. They were Open Brethren, I know; we were at the wedding and the service said something like until death parted them or the Lord came back, whichever was first. I forget the exact words, but the rider about the Lord’s return was said a few times.

            Reply
            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              Yes, the Brethren usually like to get their denominational distinctives in at every point. I wish I had a dollar for every time they dropped the word “memorial” into their Communion/The Lord’s Supper services(during which, unlike many other denominations, they deny any physical or distinct spiritual presence of Christ). Hence I wouldn’t be surprised if they also said at the service you mentioned, “at which point we shall be raptured* in the air to meet the Lord at the commencement* of his earthly* literal* 1,000 year reign”.

              I remember being at one marriage service, Baptist to be exact (similar in belief and practice to Brethren) where the levels of smug sanctimony and piety were radioactive. The tacit reason was that the groom, from the wrong side of the tracks but now within the fold, was marrying the church minister’s daughter, and her brother was his co-pastor. Anyway the whole thing was designed and conducted primarily as an evangelism service aimed at….his relatives. When her brother intoned with a big cheesy grin, “the closest a married couple can get is when they…pray together”. I almost got up, and shouted, “No it’s no! In the Scriptures it’s when they do the wild thing and become one flesh (Genesis 2:24)”.

              * usually we amillennial Calvinists have no need to peddle our eschatology at a marriage service. Funerals? Less so… 😉 😇

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              I was at a funeral of a dear friend and former neighbour which was taken by her son, a JW. Poor Dulcie ! She was not a JW, but the service was (very) thinly disguised evangelism, and, had I not known better, I would have thought that Dulcie was one. It didn’t have an altar call, but that was about all it didn’t have.

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              Yep. Was at a funeral service for a JW a few years go and same thing. is indicative of their organisation, with a heavy top-down control ultimately out of HQ in NY, with a Henry Ford Model T-like production-line spirituality and message. Hence the woman whose life we were meant to be celebrating and remembering may as well have not have been there, indeed she was incidental, even a pretext to the recruitment message for the JW organisation.

              They didn’t even have the grace to mention the words “Roman Catholic” when advising there would be a subsequent service/remembrance by other non-JW family members at another church.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              Dulcie had no religious beliefs. But the impression given was that she was a JW, even if it wasn’t explicit. It’s the only JW funeral I have been to, so I didn’t realise that it was not atypical.

              It wasn’t like your one, we were all aware of Dulcie ( she was the ‘celebrant’s’ mother) , but it did her a great disservice.

              My old man was not surprised, now that I come to think of it.He knew almost everything about religion/s. You would have had some fascinating conversations with him.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              My front door is plain glass, so I can be seen from the path. I have no net curtains, and if I happen to be near the window….once I caught a glimpse of JWs at the gate, and was not in the mood to talk to them so grabbed the dog and dived down below the bedroom window. How pathetic.

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              If it is any consolation, the Mormons have almost certainly also claimed Dulcie by proxy courtesy of their doctrine and practice of “baptism for the dead”. 😭

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptism_for_the_dead

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              Yes 😀 They did my stepfather and I suppose my mother (they had Mormon neighbours) I suppose that my Mormon neighbour up the road has done it to my old man 😀

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              He he he. I almost always let ’em, and Mormons and other of the weird and varied cults and sects in…and they are the ones who end up leaving very quickly. 🤣

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              I usually do, but for once couldn’t be bothered, I probably held the dog’s mouth shut.

              Me: Ssssshhhh !
              Dog: Mmmmfffffff…..mmmffff….

              How childish 😀

              I met a Mormon called Elder Berry 😀 I am not making this up.

              The Mormon woman up the road is a lovely person, and so are the ones down the road. All the ones I know here are great people.

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              Yes, both JWs and Mormons, because they are always “on show” representing and promoting their respective organisations, put a great store on good ethics and being good people. Hence they are generally good neighbours and good employees. My beef is seldom with them personally. More the authoritarian and heretical (from the perspective of historical orthodox trinitarian Christianity) organisations they (admittedly freely) join.

              And JWs prohibiting blood transfusions? Their organisation has (pardon the pun) much blood on its hands over that. At least the Mormons (the main LDS branch, anyway) have cleaned up their previous abuses such as polygamy,

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_polygamy

              racism

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_people_and_Mormonism

              …and prophetically-sanctioned murder:

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_Massacre

  2. Blazer

     /  31st March 2019

    Religion should be…simple..

    First…’do no..harm’.
    Second …treat people how you would like to be…treated.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  31st March 2019

      Tautoko.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  31st March 2019

        Isn’t the “First, do no harm.’ from Hippocrates ?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  31st March 2019

          That is in relation to medical treatment by physicians or healers of his time, as I understand it, hence it’s significance as the Hippocratic Oath.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  31st March 2019

            The quote ‘Thou shalt not kill, but needs’t not strive/Officiously to keep alive.’ is usually quoted out of context. It’s from Clough’s The New Decalogue, a cynical rewriting of the 10 Commandments !

            Reply
    • Kimbo

       /  31st March 2019

      Religion should be…simple..
      First…’do no..harm’.
      Second …treat people how you would like to be…treated.

      Nope, too simplistic. What you describe in the first instance is ethics that should be common to all, not just religion. Yes, good religion should include ethics – including those that you mention which should regulate the behaviour of its adherents towards “infidels” and/or “unbelievers”. However, religion IMHO concerns itself in the first instance with cosmology – what “reality” really is, and epistemology – how do we really know what it is. Just as in the same way, say, Alan Wilkinson hitches his wagon to the epistemology of logical positivism. Or maybe, Blazer, you’ve (perhaps tacitly) brought into the Hegelian dialectics that were first applied in the political sphere by Karl Marx, and now form the basis of the analysis and ethics of feminism, ethnic studies, transgender activism, etc.

      For instance for the three Abrahamic religions the cosmology it is that Universe is created by a transcendent moral all-powerful being, and that creation has, through disobedience, fallen into imperfection which will one day, through the intervention of that same God be put right. Ethics originate from and are applied from that cosmology.

      In contrast, Hindusim the cosmology is that everything is God, but the temporary aberrations of individual being just doesn’t realise it. However, through continual reincarnation enlightenment will eventually cause everything to transcend beyond the illusion of material being. Again, ethics originate from and are applied from that cosmology.

      Sorry to get technical but just as it is arrogant and presumptuous in the current philosophical, political and cultural context for the religious and/or ideological to impose their beliefs on others, so it is a dis-service for the non-religious to impose their epistemology onto the religious. Plus, more importantly, it is a disservice to accurate and nuanced discussion. Better instead to engage, rather than talk past one another by imposing alien concepts or straw men I would suggest.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  31st March 2019

        ‘too simplistic’…mere opinion ,just as mine is.

        The more complex things are, the less they are understood.

        Bit like my lawyer will talk to your lawyer….mere mortals cannot understand legalese and the machinations of the law!

        Alien concepts and straw men are subjective diversions .

        You will find an ‘expert’ to argue black is white if you have a mind…to.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  31st March 2019

          Well, they are both absence of colour rather than colours in their own right…..

          Reply
        • Kimbo

           /  31st March 2019

          mere opinion ,just as mine is…Alien concepts and straw men are subjective diversions…You will find an ‘expert’ to argue black is white if you have a mind…to.

          He he he. ‘Scuse my high falutin’ words but sounds in my admittedly fallible and biased opinion like “don’t trouble my existing prejudices with troublesome ideas that are outside my current plausibility structure”.

          Just out of interest Blazer, in your world how do you distinguish between “mere opinion…subjective diversions” and…facts? Or is the statement, “Apirana Ngata was not a National MP before 1938” just an opinion? Like I said, religion at its heart is the ways in which adherents primarily engage in cosmology – what is really real? – and epistemology – how do we know what is really real?.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  31st March 2019

            While I can see your argument that the Abrahamic religions are primarily the ways in which adherents primarily engage in cosmology & epistemology they go much further than simply that in that they justify & excuse past & even present time land stealing, wars, murders, slavery, severe punishments, regulationary rtiuals and practices that are peculiar to their ethnic origins, and compulsory beliefs in myths, magic, & tales that appear on any rational reasoning with current scientific knowledge to be so highly improbable as to be simply false or self serving of the religions originators or apostles.

            Reply
            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              Um, they can and indeed do that. Or at the very least they can be co-opted and misused for those nefarious purposes. Just as Science can be, and is misused. Is moot whether the problem is religion or human nature. I favour the latter, although I take Christopher Hitchens’ point that religion can lead some people to do acts of evil they would otherwise not even contemplate. Mind you, he does overlook that religion can also compel some people to practice virtues they would otherwise not consider.

              So maybe the answer is that we have good religion, just as we need good ethics, good science, good politics, good historical studies…

            • Gezza

               /  31st March 2019

              The most fundamental problem that exists with the Abrahamic religions is that they are all based on the unquestioning belief in the Israelites’ god who by any reasoning did & demanded some monstrous things & is still sold to believers as inherently good & especially favouring his chosen people.

              The other two derivatives are based in the premise that his nature changed, &/ or that his rules changed & the previous religions got it wrong, & that he communicated his expectations of all mankind in a way that would become so unclear and open to multiple interpretations and translations that even ignoring the lack of evidence for any of his magical powers and even the places where crucial mythical or actual events took place it seems absurd to me now that anyone could ever seriously believe any of the texts to be the way an all powerful, all-knowing, and beneficent creature would behave or communicate his expectations.

              The rest of the texts are whatever people wanted to believe about how they should behave, or what others in power coerced them to believe or behave.

              Religions improve nowadays when people know better and behave better & ignore the bad. It’s time to acknowledge & debate more widely why people believe religions that teach things that rational people know didn’t & can’t happen because they don’t make sense, or they have a cultural origin that doesn’t fit easily with facts or a different environment.

              This is not done widely enuf, in my opinion.

              A problem I have with both Hitchens & Dawkins is that in those debates or interviews I have seen with them on religions they focus excessively on criticising verses or scriptures that are used to justify abhorent practices when adherents of those religions simply argue that those are misinterpreted.

              A classic criticism of Islam is that Muhammad was a pedophile because of the age he had sex with Aisha. I have seen enuf good debating by Muslims to know to never argue that because it is subject to good scholarly dispute by Imams & as such marriages were both religiously & culturally valid at that time and place (Allah sanctioned it according to Muhammad) it is largely an irrelevant, pointless one.

              They don’t spend enuf time picking apart the mythical nonsense.

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              Fair enough, Gezza. Far be it from me to try to persuade you otherwise, much less impose my beliefs on one who states his in such an emphatic, dare I say dogmatic fashion that rivals any religionist I’ve ever encountered. 😎

              A few responses though: No, I think you misinterpret how the Abrahamic faiths should be, and in many cases are practiced, although yes, I do agree some demagogues within them insist on dogmatic adherence to their often peculiar interpretations. Instead, I think “faith seeking understanding” is a better and more humble way in keeping with the human frailty and fallibility that the three Abrahamic faiths emphasise are an inescapable part of the human condition.

              Also, as we (Jews, Christians and Muslims) believe that God has intervened in human affairs, then the concept of progressive revelation from the one unchangeable God is logically compatible within our belief systems, I would suggest. Indeed, it is inferred by your reference to “,cultural origins”. So you want a God who commands good ethics that suit your current culturally and historically-influenced perspective, yet you also acknowledge that humanity, of its very nature is a locked-in-time-and-space cultural being? Perhaps the problem is that you have not yet taken the journey to acquire some tools that will enable you to step beyond yourself as a critical subject, and instead scrutinise your own belief system as the examined object.

              As to variant interpretations? Again, we are fallible human beings who at some point will err in every cosmological and epistemological task to which we set our hand so…why judge religion via divine revelation any differently? And as to “the lack of evidence for any of his magical powers”, as per Karl Popper I’d be interested to know what falsification tests if any you have to potentially persuade you otherwise?

              You say that religion has “not done enough”, especially when ultimately engaging with the corrections offered by “rational people” (presumably like yourself). I will suggest that what you characterise as “rational” may, in your case be “rationalism”. Hence In your case I’m not sure there is anything religion can do to convince you while still remaining true to itself, and fair enough – just as you are not forced to change, I doubt religious people would be persuaded by you.

              Hence while you criticise Dawkins and Hitchens, at least they are trying (poorly, and not always honestly or reasonably IMHO) to engage with religious believers concerning the revelatory texts which they (believers) consider authoritative. But if you want to continue the unproductive but emotionally-satisfying habit of “talking past one another”. knock yourself out…

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              Also, as a Christian I have no interest in defending Muhammad from accusations of paedophilia, although as he is a genuine figure of history, accuracy if it can be established to a reasonable possibility is a good goal of historical research no matter what the subject. I will, however, suggest a Christian parallel in the now (in the West) defunct and abhorred institution of slavery. Yes, due to progressive revelation, it was not prohibited by Yahweh in the Old Testament. At best the already universal practice was arguably moderated into a form of indentured servitude. As per Jesus in the New Testament speaking of another moral evil which progressive revelation tolerated for a season, it was allowed due to “hardness of heart”. In other words, people are slow to change, and can only change so much at any given time, indeed if you try too much too soon, you get the opposite result. So why do you expect Yahweh to do anything different with the same human nature that saw the “noble experiment” of Prohibition in the 1920s become such a failure?

              It is also true that in the New Testament slavery is not specifically, or at least explicitly abolished. If it had, the infant church would have been crushed as a seditious political enterprise intent on undermining the economic and social foundations of the Roman Empire in which it was born. However, arguably, especially in the likes of Paul’s New Testament letter to Philemon, slavery is criticised and undermined by Christianity. Hence Christianity was twice instrumental in abolishing slavery – with the acknowledgement that the second time in 19th Century America would have been unnecessary if it hadn’t been (mis)used to impose it again…along racial lines.

              Which reminds me – yes, all three Abrahimic religions claim divine privilege for their adherents, usually to be enjoyed in the next life. In the meantime, all of them (including Judaism) are open-ended in the sense that anyone of any ethnic and cultural background can join. In that sense they are universal. Also, all three emphasise that divine favour is not for self-indulgence, but rather for service to make the world a better place. As before, as that is often misused for chauvinistic triumphalism is proof that humans can and will misuse anything.

              Hence, as before, I would suggest the primary problem is human nature, not religion as such. Hence good religion is desired…but what I sense you would want religion to become would no longer qualify it as religion.

            • Gezza

               /  31st March 2019

              Fair enough, Gezza. Far be it from me to try to persuade you otherwise, much less impose my beliefs on one who states his in such an emphatic, dare I say dogmatic fashion that rivals any religionist I’ve ever encountered. 😎

              That is of course the standard criticism of religionists for one who disputes the validity of the fundamental beliefs of their religion, notwithstanding that I am not arguing for a religion but for evidence & logic to be applied to their claims & stone age or medieval texts.

              I make no claims based on myths, miracles and magic – those who do have the burden of proof for demonstrating they occurred, because they are not demonstrated now.

              A god who wants praise, unquestioning belief and obeisance, and to punish those who do not deliver those, whilst revealing his requirements to a selected few people at a time when scientific ignorance & paganism prevailed, & whose adherents were the few at the time to receive these messages, which to this day are debated as to their meaning & relevance in later days, and which demand rituals, and which coincidentally also include moral codes which contain some sound, often better rules for living by, at the time and place & in the culture they arose in should in my view be recognised for all these things.

              Where they clash horribly & have caused misery & hatreds is where this God concept falls over. Where they work well & is where simple humanity & empathy pick up the reality.

              No sane, real God who was all powerful, all knowing, all good, would create the evils of the world & then use a carrot & stick set of incomplete, faulty instructions full of irrelevancies, errors & alternative interpretations to be delivered by an evolving set of warlords, seers & philosophers & expect at the end of that that only a few would then have eternal life in paradise giving it praise for believing in it & somehow figuring out the exact right things it demanded.

              As for the argument of the messages needing to evolve & be presented over time to suit the human condition, to me that simply doesn’t stack up. The human brain doesn’t seem to have evolved over the last few millenia such that a clear message or more correct knowledge of God’s creation story & science wouldn’t have been possible before now.

              There have been plenty of examples of people who were or whose parents were educationally ignorant who on receiving education have been able to go from no understanding of a subject to an excellent, even a specialist knowledge.

              I don’t believe I am engaging in an unproductive & emotionally-satisfying habit of talking past you. I was raised a Christian & have taken a long time to reach my current viewpoint after much thought & much reasoning.

              I have no problem with people believing in and following rules of behaviour which are good, sound, well-trued rules or recommendations for harmonious living, but I like to debate people who believe that theirs have come from a particular divine being whose existence & claimed communication strategy & quaities are doubtful or self-evidently at times at odds with what it is described to be.

            • Gezza

               /  31st March 2019

              *bronze age, iron age, & medieval texts, sorry.

            • Kimbo

               /  31st March 2019

              That is of course the standard criticism of religionists for one who disputes the validity of the fundamental beliefs of their religion, notwithstanding that I am not arguing for a religion but for evidence & logic to be applied to their claims & stone age or medieval texts.

              is that like assuming that (some) religionists don’t also agree that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, or that we practice unquestioning belief” in “incomplete, faulty instructions full of irrelevancies, errors”? Sorry, but given your choice of phrasing, and the assumptions which they assert, I’ll stand by the assessment of your dogmatism, at least for the moment. And yes, because you are assuming your epistemology courtesy of the cultural development known as the Enlightenment are self-evident truths that should govern any dialogue, you are talking past people of religion.

              Tell you what, though. I’ll try and break the impasse. I note you ignored my challenge re Karl Popper. However, it is clear you are highly skeptical regarding claims of truth via divine revelation. Fair enough. You’ve already displayed your historical arrogance by, in effect dismissing the perspective of the ancients (while also, in contradiction affirming they shared the same human nature as us). Nonetheless, in the case of Christianity at least with which I am intimately familiar, it does indeed claim to rest on a series of miracles, with the resurrection of Christ as . However, rather than regurgitating the evidence for that belief, I’m just wondering

              …what are your tests to confirm a miracle has indeed occurred? You’ve mentioned a number of alleged reasons why they are highly unlikely. Fair enough. But as per Karl Popper, what would be sufficient evidence to falsify your current belief that, in effect, they do not occur?

            • Gezza

               /  1st April 2019

              I have no interest in being fitted into The Enlightenment as the basis for my lack of belief in your God, Kimbo. I am using simple logic, history & observation to arrive at my conclusions. I have long departed from a start point of the Abrahamic God must have done it because otherwise I don’t know who or what could have, so it must be the Judeo-Christian or Muslim God.

              The creation myth is a miracle. It gets the sequence & the facts completely wrong. Adam & Eve are a miracle. That myth gets it completely wrong.

              The instant development of different languages from the point of the Tower of Babel on is a miracle, and that gets it wrong.

              Water is not changed into wine anywhere. I see no reason to believe it ever has been just because a gospel not even by a contemporary witness says it was. The dead are not bodily raised again and nobody has produced any reliable incontrovertible evidence that it ever happened.

              Virgin births are still claimed & somebody is always in trouble for it because virgin births don’t happen & nobody has ever produced any evidence that they can or do happen, or ever happened. There is a much more likely explanation.

              There are millions of faithful people who visit Lourdes & virtually nobody gets a miracle cure – and those few which have been claimed to be certified miracles are still debated & the evidence not great.

              Spontaneous recoveries & remissions from disabling or painful long term medical conditions are surprisingly commonplace, whether one prays to a deity or saint for them or not. I had one four years ago with a painful chronic arthritis condition in my back that began in my 20s & literally disappeared overnight after four decades myself. It might recur. It might not. I’m just bloody glad it’s gone. It’s medically incurable & required daily heavy duty antiflammatories to control. Eventually as I aged they were likely to cause perforation of the bowel.

              All the claimed miracles in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, & the Quran are impossible to reliably verify & while you have no interest in arguing for the validity or otherwise of Muhammad’s claims of revelation the reliable evidence for his being visited by the angel Gabriel & God’s revelations & corrections through him to your eroneous beliefs are just as verifiable as the claims Mary & other characters in the Bible were visited & instructed by him or by other angels.

              Why would his version be wrong & Christianity’s be right? What reliable evidence can you produce apart from your belief in what the 3 Gospel writers who used much of the first gospel wrote?

              Thomas was offered the opportunity to put his hands in the wounds of the supposed resurrected Jesus to prove he was indeed resurrected, but no other person was or has since been offered any opportunity of actual physical proof this event ever really happened.

              The thing is, there are things that could happen that could convince me your God exists, is all knowing, and all powerful, & can do magic (break the laws of physics & chemistry for example), & has clear expectations of humanity and how it should behave about which there can be no doubt, but I do not think there is ANYTHING that could convince you your God does not exist.

              And therefore you set me the task of proving that it doesn’t because you can’t prove that it does, & that it is all good, all powerful & all knowing. Hitchens is correct when he says that what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. But there is plenty of evidence in my view that your God is not all knowing, all powerful & all good & that the claims made of him in this respect are self evidently incorrect & can only be justified by adopting an attitude of moral relativism.

              It looks to me like your belief is fixed, however, & that you are very experienced in developing arguments for why it must be & explaining away the inconsistencies & illogicalities in your fundamental text.

            • Kimbo

               /  1st April 2019

              I have no interest in being fitted into The Enlightenment as the basis for my lack of belief in your God, Kimbo.

              OK, so you say you only rely on “simple logic, history & observation”, all of which are now inevitably conditioned by the Enlightenment (btw, I’m not afraid to admit that at many points I too drink from the same well, so why not you?). Yet you logically contradict yourself by asserting on the one hand

              “The dead are not bodily raised again”

              yet also

              “The thing is, there are things that could happen that could convince me….break the laws of physics & chemistry for example”.

              Like, say, a resurrection?

              And therefore you set me the task of proving that it doesn’t because you can’t prove that it does, & that it is all good, all powerful & all knowing…what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence

              No, not at all. Indeed as I previously acknowledged, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, so therefore there an onus of proof – or at least good evidence – on those claiming divine revelation resting on alleged miracles.

              However, in your long assertion of why the Scriptures are not reliable concerning the miraculous events which they claim occurred, at no point did you answer my previous question. Please note, I’m not trying to convince you my God exists. I’m just wanting to know what your hypothetical falsification test, if any, is?

              Here, I’ll repeat it again and make it more precise in light of your last post:

              You claim that “nobody has produced any reliable incontrovertible evidence that it (the resurrection) ever happened”. Fair enough, or at least according to your application of “simple logic, history & observation”. So what would you consider specific and sufficient evidence to falsify that belief, much less make you re-consider? Note, you’re not acknowledging it necessarily exists. It might not, indeed from your perspective it almost certainly doesn’t. Nonetheless, if, hypothetically a “black swan” evidencing the resurrection of Christ exists, what would it look like?

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

            • Gezza

               /  1st April 2019

              Kimbo, I dunno where you are but in North Welly it’s 1.37 am. Perhaps we could pick this up again tomorrow or some other time. You could even submit a guest post perhaps, so it could resurrected when either of us has any useful further argument to make?

              Falsifiability as I understand it applies to testable scientific theories or hypotheses & I don’t think can be usefully apllied to religions which are not empirically proveable.

              Meantime, seeing you bring up Popper, I’ll leave you with this, about him, from Wikipedia. I have never read him & don’t spend much time on philosophers and especially on religious philosophers who are believers in particular gods especially. Philosphy is of less use & interest to me than psychology and seeing how the human ape’s brain can deceive itself & be deceived, & manipulated by others.

              “In an interview that Popper gave in 1969 with the condition that it should be kept secret until after his death, he summarised his position on God as follows: “I don’t know whether God exists or not. … Some forms of atheism are arrogant and ignorant and should be rejected, but agnosticism—to admit that we don’t know and to search—is all right. …

              When I look at what I call the gift of life, I feel a gratitude which is in tune with some religious ideas of God. However, the moment I even speak of it, I am embarrassed that I may do something wrong to God in talking about God.”

              He objected to organised religion, saying “it tends to use the name of God in vain”, noting the danger of fanaticism because of religious conflicts: “The whole thing goes back to myths which, though they may have a kernel of truth, are untrue. Why then should the Jewish myth be true and the Indian and Egyptian myths not be true?” In a letter unrelated to the interview, he stressed his tolerant attitude: “Although I am not for religion, I do think that we should show respect for anybody who believes honestly.”

            • Kimbo

               /  1st April 2019

              Cheers, Gezza. Yes, Popper’s test relates in the first instance to scientific theories. Nonetheless I’ve always found falsification a helpful form of mental hygiene for any political, ideological or religious beliefs I’ve had. In some way all are built on, or appeal to empirical claims.

              Sleep well.

              Cheers,

              Kimbo

  3. Zedd

     /  31st March 2019

    I agree with most of your points PG.. it seems the ‘intolerance’ is mainly caused by small ‘Extremist’ groups from various Religions & racial groups. This often taints the broader views of many, towards these different sects/groups; Ignorance of things unknown/misunderstood.

    It also doesn’t help, that some folks.. are still taking up arms, in the name of their ‘faith’ against ‘unbelievers’ (hangover from middle ages; crusades etc.)

    Also: some in the MSM/social media, who have promoted these extremist views (on all sides) to the detriment of others :/

    [Deleted, content was ok but I asked that this discussion be non-specific of any religion. You can make those points on another thread. PG]

    Reply
    • Zedd

       /  31st March 2019

      [Deleted, content was ok but I asked that this discussion be non-specific of any religion. You can make those points on another thread. PG]

      duly noted 🙂

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  31st March 2019

        It hasn’t been deleted, but I don’t see it as specific, it made some good points.

        Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  31st March 2019

    It’s not my tolerance of religion that concerns me but religion’s tolerance of me.

    Reply
  5. Patzcuaro

     /  31st March 2019

    I think there is room in the future for some sort of annual remembrance of what happened in Christchurch which could evolve into religious tolerance. Various religions could have open days where they invite the local community along to get a greater understanding of them.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  31st March 2019

      !!! What an excellent idea. But I’d have it as a collective thing in a park. Mosques have open days now.

      Reply
  6. Gezza

     /  31st March 2019

    It does us good to understand other religions and beliefs, and we should protect the right of people to practice what they want without prejudice or fear.

    There are many, many, people who spend their entire lives attempting or purporting to understand just one religion,. Because their scriptures are so confusing & capable of multiple interpretations, & include cruel, evil, immoral or objectionable acts of their gods or historic heroic figures & role models, which are rationalised away as morally defensible simoly because their god or hero did it, by some adherents, & held by others to be still valid rules of morals or behaviour today

    Most of those who practice one religion have neither the time nor the inclination to properly research, examine & understand another religion, let alone all or many others, because they are indoctrinated, or simply obligated to exclude any possibility that their own fundamental religious text, interpretations, & beliefs are unsupported by logic, evidence, & contradict prevailing social laws & customs – electing instead to maintain a dogged adherence to a set of beliefs and/or morals, behaviours & rules that fit their psychological makeup, brainwashing since birth, social or family pressures, or fears of divine eternal punishments on death for rejecting or departing the religion.

    My own personal view is God forbid that any religions based on arguable texts or books that still contain provisions or verses that advocate, excuse, or sanction harming or punishing others for religious beliefs, sectarian differences, or non-beliefs, or evil acts done or ordered by their gods or heroes, or for leaving the religion, or for behaviours that are not harmful but simply do not conform to that religion’s diktats, should ever come to dominate sectors of our society, laws or politics here.

    The ability to identify, challenge, criticise & argue against religious beliefs must not be suppressed as hate speech.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  31st March 2019

      That’s the ling version.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  31st March 2019

        I’m hoping PG will correct your ling to long as there’s nothing fishy about it.

        It’s necessary to give a long version because intolerance of you might not always be religiously based, Sir Alan. 😉

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  31st March 2019

          To think I wasted an uptick on you, Sir Gerald.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  31st March 2019

            Don’t worry about it, Sir Alan. I did the same with you. We’re human. We all make mistakes.

            Reply
            • Patzcuaro

               /  31st March 2019

              Red herring or skating on thin ice.

            • Gezza

               /  31st March 2019

              Whoops – see below – dunno how that ended up there. I clicked on reply in my comment above. Should’ve appeared below your comment.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  31st March 2019

              Patz; did you know that red herrings were once a literal thing for diversions ? People would ruin the trail for the hounds with them, as the smell was stronger than the smell of the fox.

              I read that in a Trollope when someone was doing it to spoil the hunt.

            • Patzcuaro

               /  31st March 2019

              Just folloling on with fishy illusions.

            • Patzcuaro

               /  31st March 2019

              Interesting about the red herring, anti hunting is not a new phenomena.

  7. Gezza

     /  31st March 2019

    Huh? Can you elaborate on that Patz. I don’t understand what you mean.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  31st March 2019

      Red herring; a diversion or false trail.

      Skating on thin ice; being in danger, often self-induced.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  31st March 2019

        I know what it means but I don’t know which comment Patz is relating it to & therefore exactly what Patz means in that context. If it was a criticism of my argument I’d like to pursue it further, if not here, then on another thread.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  31st March 2019

          Being a simple soul I presumed Patz was rightly warning you about the risk of decorating my fence.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  31st March 2019

            Tariana Turei says that it is a form of social expression or some such twaddle.

            I bet that if someone did it to her fence she’d sing a different song.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st March 2019

              She would if she saw what is hanging on my fence.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  31st March 2019

          Sorry, being facetious..it was a surprise to read about real red hs being used to make the hounds go in the wrong direction.

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  31st March 2019

          It was irresistible.

          Reply

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