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Bakari Chavanu

Amazon.com: The God Virus: How religion infects our lives and culture (9780970950512): ... - 5 views

  • The God Virus goes beyond analogy, offering a fascinating and detailed look at the wiggling, maddening virus itself how it moves, how it survives, and how and why it continues to thrive. Dale McGowan, Author/editor, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, Harvard Humanist of the Year (2008) --Dale McGowan, Author/editor, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, Harvard Humanist of the Year (2008)
  • It's a book that non-believers will enjoy and religious readers can only dare to read. --Hemant Mehta author of I Sold My Soul On Ebay (Waterbrook Press, 2007)<br /><br />Your book is a convenient handbook on how real life Atheists can stay sane while others are freaking out with religious madness and blaming it on those that challenge the true believer s faith based system.
  • What makes religion so powerful? How does it weave its way into our political system? Why do people believe and follow obvious religious charlatans? What makes people profess deep faith even as they act in ways that betray that faith? What makes people blind to the irrationalities of their religion yet clearly see those of others?
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  • The paradigm can explain the fundamentalism of your Uncle Ned, the sexual behavior of a fallen mega church minister, the child rearing practices of a Pentecostal neighbor, why 19 men flew planes into the World Trade Center or what motivates a woman to blow herself up in the crowded markets of Baghdad.
  • The author speaks of the importance of "vectors" (priests, ministers, etc) in propagating religious ideas and how religious people and organizations will protect those "vectors" even in the case of abuse or other crimes.
  • Similarly, the fifth chapter deals with sex, and religion's attempt to control sex by creating a sex-negative environment. He mentions that even though religion uses positive terminology such as "focus on the family" really the message of "focus on the family" is a message of focusing on the rules and tenets of religion, which cause feelings of guilt and negativity towards sex. The function of this is not to create happy, dynamic family structures, but to propagate religion.
  • Rather than approach the god problem from a logical or hypothesis perspective A la Victor Stenger's God: the Failed Hypothesis, it approaches the problem of religion's impact on the individual and society.
  • It may not be so appealing to people who are intensely literal or who take the metaphor of the god virus as an argument rather than as a mechanism or metaphor for explanation.
  • One could say that atheism is a type of mind virus, and my feathers would not be ruffled. I think that it is very accessible to people who are capable of stepping outside of religion and looking at it objectively. I think that the book could have also been titled "the religion virus" without much harm.
  • After reading Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, I still needed a question answered- How does religion work? None of the aforementioned books really make any in-depth attempt at answering this dangerous question.
    -Dangerous only if one would try to tell the truth. The God Virus does exactly that.
  • This book answer's that question! Darrel Ray's explanation is undeniable, comprehensive, and brutally accurate of what religion REALLY IS. Those who are infected will not understand his analogy, and will by definition try to protect there infection as instructed.
Bakari Chavanu

answeringinfidels.com - 4 views

  • Here Richard argues that Metaphysical Naturalism is better than any religion, because if society were to adopt his view, there would be no religious conflict.
    • Bakari Chavanu
       
      I have to agree with this point. Richard in his presentation sounded very naive as to think enough people who accept "Metaphysical Naturalism" as a dominate worldview, when in actuality no particular worldview is dominate.
  • This seems pretty straightforward, but there is a gaping problem. Richard claims that the adoption of his view by society would bring an end to religious conflict. But what does he mean by “adoption”? He can’t be referring to a simple adoption of his view by a government, for this would not put an end to religious conflicts, whether internal or external.
  • For instance, if Congress suddenly voted in favor of a Metaphysical Naturalism Amendment to the Constitution, there would still be Christians, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Jews, Mormons, and others contending for their faiths. Thus, there would still be conflict. 
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  • His argument, then, amounts to this: “If we all believed in Metaphysical Naturalism, then there would be no disagreements about the truth of Metaphysical Naturalism.” If my point isn’t clear yet, just compare Richard’s reasoning with the following arguments, which are based on similar logic: 
  • If Christianity were adopted by everyone, then no one would disagree about whether or not Christianity is true. We wouldn’t have to worry about Muslim extremists anymore, for Islam would be a thing of the past. The war in Iraq would be over! Thus, everyone should adopt Christianity.
  • But this logic could be used to justify any policy change: 

    If we just made it a law that immigrants could come to the U.S. at will, then we wouldn’t have to worry about patrolling our borders or making immigration policies. We could then take those resources and use them elsewhere. Thus, U.S. borders should be open to everyone. 

    If people would simply agree that abortion is wrong, the abortion controversy would be over. This would allow officials to spend their time debating other issues, such as health care. Thus, people should agree that abortion is wrong. 

  • Needless to say, the Song of Solomon isn’t about the joys of child-rearing. I’m sure Richard is familiar with this part of the Bible, so I still don’t understand why he would say that the Bible teaches that sex is only for procreation.
  • Richard is also wrong when he says that the Bible lacks a mature view of sexuality. According to the Bible, God created sex. He could just as easily have given us the ability to reproduce asexually, but he didn’t. He wanted man and woman to be together, and he made sex pleasurable. When he finished creating us this way, he called everything “very good.”[23] And contrary to what Richard says, sex has purposes other than procreation. 
    • Bakari Chavanu
       
      But how do you know this? Plus, sex like other behaviors in life is extremely problematic for human societies. It represents the best and the worst about our nature. What type of god would allow that to occur in humans?
  • “[A]s atheists know better than anyone else on the planet, if you say you don’t believe you often become a social outcast.”[24]  

    This is the epitome of egocentrism. Around the world, people have been shunned, oppressed, tortured, and killed for their beliefs, yet Richard thinks that he’s got it worse than all of them. He even shares with his readers the suffering that resulted from his stand against theism: “For the first time, rather than being merely constantly pestered, I was being called names, and having hellfire wished upon me.”[25] If

  • Even more interesting is that Richard inadvertently implicates a number of his atheist colleagues in his crimes against reason: 

    The Internet Infidels were also instrumental in helping to complete the latest phase of my intellectual development, especially Jeff Lowder and many affiliated colleagues: Evan Fales, Victor Stenger, Keith Augustine, Dan Barker, just to name a few, who also gave advice about improving this work specifically.[31] 

    Shame on all of them! Either they lacked the reasoning ability to see the flaws in Richard’s arguments from breasts and blue monkeys (in which case they should all stop writing), or they don’t care that atheism is based on ridiculous arguments (in which case they should stop trying to persuade the world that their beliefs are important). Either way, they are guilty along with Richard. Aristotle would not be pleased.

  • On the last page of his book, Richard says that atheists “gain a sense of community and conviction through fighting together against our common enemies—the foes of reason, truth, and liberty.”[32] He then pleads for his readers to join him in his battle against Christianity. Remarkably, half way down the page he adds, “Failing that, if you’d rather pass, then I would like to extend another plea: for tolerance, acceptance, and understanding.” Thus, Richard’s message at the conclusion of his book seems to be: “Let’s all join together and destroy Christianity, our greatest enemy, until it is gone from the earth! But for those of you who don’t agree with me, let’s all be tolerant and understanding toward one another.”
  • Indeed, Christianity has enslaved the minds of billions of people: 

    The fact is that we believe in God and an immortal soul because of the missionary zeal and religious intolerance intrinsic to the Christian religion. We owe our superstitious ideas to sword and gun and flame. In this corner of the globe, the Christian church was the victor, and our minds were the spoil.[39] 

  • Richard calls for war, a battle “to defeat the nonsense and lies” that Christians have spread.[40] He even refers to his campaign against Christianity as a “crusade” and says that “it would be immoral not to fight it.”[41] 
  • In the first passage, Jesus is addressing the idea that he had come to usher in a golden age of peace. Contrary to Jewish expectations, the purpose of Jesus’ first coming was to die on the cross for the sins of the world and to tear down the barrier of separation between God and man.
  • That Jesus here uses the word “sword” figuratively to represent the division brought by the Gospel is obvious to anyone whose last name isn’t Carrier.
  • From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”[47] 
  • All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.
  • The story is meant to illustrate Jesus’ immanent departure. Jesus was leaving, but he would one day return. In the meantime, people can either serve Christ or they can rebel against him. We can do as we like, but we mustn’t forget that one day Jesus will return, and that we will all be judged. That’s the obvious meaning of the passage
  • In the other passage, Richard calls Paul an advocate of slavery. But notice what Paul says. He tells his readers that slaves shouldn’t rebel against their masters “so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.”
  • f Richard had been writing the letters, slaves would have rebelled, and Christianity wouldn’t have lasted very long.
  • Besides, in his letter to Philemon, Paul does ask a slave-owner to free his slave.[49] 
  • For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.[50] 
  • not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.[51] 
  • Paul says that we are all one. He tells slaves to render service with good will, then turns around and says that masters should do the same things for their slaves. He adds that our true Master is in heaven, and that there is no favoritism with God.
  • In other words, we are all equal in God’s sight. This idea ultimately resulted in the Founding Fathers’ declaration that “All men are created equal,” which in turn gave birth to democracy in America and to the eventual abolition of slavery.
  • As we investigate Richard’s claims, a pattern should be coming into view. Richard goes to the Bible searching for the most unfavorable interpretation he can find. It’s fine if that’s his method, but remember that he demands that the principle of interpretive charity be applied to his writings.
  • Are these really contradictions? I’m not so sure. Consider the following statements: 

    1. Yesterday morning, Aunt Ginger came to my house to visit me.

    2. Last night, Aunt Ginger and Uncle Tony came to Virginia to visit my father.

    3. Yesterday afternoon, my aunt came to town to go to the beach.

    4. Yesterday, my aunt and uncle came to my house to get a dog. 

    Believe it or not, these four statements are all true. 

  • Atheists are free to accuse me (or the Bible) of gross contradiction, and in fact this is a very common approach in atheist apologetics. But for Richard to interpret obviously reconcilable statements (i.e. one passage mentions two women at the tomb, while another mentions three women, etc.) as horrible contradictions and then to demand that the principle of interpretive charity be applied to all of his writings would require a completely different type of charity. It would require us to say,
  • Since some Christians have done bad things, Christianity must be bad. For Richard, any bad deed that a Christian does is evidence against Christianity, even if the deed is contrary to Jesus’ teachings. 
  • Yet, strangely, nothing an atheist does counts against atheism. Stalin killed millions of people because he had no respect for the sanctity of life, but should this affect our opinion of atheism?  Hitler tried to apply atheistic evolution to society, concluded that the Jews needed to be removed from the gene pool because they were interfering with human evolution, and killed millions of people.
  • Second, Richard says that the Bible is useless, childish, and boring, for it contains “extensive genealogies of no relevance to the meaning of life . . ., long digressions on barbaric rituals . . ., lengthy diatribes against long-dead nations and constant harping on doom and gloom.”[56] 
  • Obviously, very few people lay awake at night tormented by the question “What do words mean?” Nor do they care about analyzing normative propositions or studying the differences between reducible and irreducible sensations. I’m sure Richard would respond by saying, “But these topics are important! If someone finds them unimportant, then something must be wrong with him!”
julia goolia

Explaining evolution to a Creationist - comic - 13 views

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    funny!
Jaakko Wallenius

What makes a free thinker think freely? - Being Human - 6 views

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    If things are going smoothly in your life and you are just running with the herd, one is very easily drawn into accepting the ideas appreciated by the herd without questioning them. Human beings just are extremely social animals and the acceptance of ones social group is of paramount importance for any person.

    So very often there must be a trigger incident that throws a person off balance or outside the herd for at least a moment before a person is drawn into questioning the ruling ideologies of the herd. But when the flood-gates are finally opened, there is very often no going back, when one realizes on how shallow base even the most established traditions so often really stand.
Jaakko Wallenius

Is there a connection between standard of living and birth control? - Being Human - 0 views

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    It has been shown that a certain level of population control can be achieved with very little effort, if there just is will to tackle the problem. Religious leaders however already bear the main responsibility for the continuing population explosion in the developing world.
    I fear that the issue cannot be resolved before their power is diminished to an extent where sensible population control policies can be enforced in the poorest countries of the world also. The other option of course is that they change their odd religious dogmas so that these countries can be saved from hunger, poverty and desolation brought about by the uncontrolled rise of population.
Bakari Chavanu

Dawkins vs. Collins: analysis of the debate. - 1 views

  • In the first exchange, Dawkins and Collins apparently agreed that the proposition "God exists" is either true or false. Dawkins indicated that science is appropriate to the task of answering the question, but Collins disagreed: "From my perspective, God cannot be completely contained within nature, and therefore God's existence is outside of science's ability to really weigh in."
  • "God cannot be completely contained within nature," he implied that God can be partly contained within nature, which makes God open to scientific analysis.
  • By inventing a category called "supernatural" and relegating hypothetical things to it, they apparently hope to protect those things from the requirement of evidence.
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  • What does this mean? Does it make any sense to say that something exists outside space and time? When we apply the word "exists" to something, don't we mean that we can observe it or its effects in space and time?
  • Have we ever observed anything outside space and time?
  • By insisting that God exists "outside of nature," Collins nearly makes his supernatural compartment so small that there isn't enough room for God.
  • He is certainly correct that the inefficiency of evolution, not to mention its "errors of design," is inconsistent with the traditional idea of God as an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being. This traditional kind of God would be more likely to operate through Creationism, but this hypothesized mode of operation is not supported by the evidence of biology, genetics, geology, and cosmology.

  • Dawkins proposed two possible explanations for the values of the physical constants we find in our universe. One is that these constants couldn't be any different from what they are; they simply are what they are.
  • Within this great mulitverse environment, there are bound to be some universes that have the physical constants at just the right values to support the development of life, and we find ourselves in one of them.
  • Although Dawkins seems to present the two best currently available alternatives to Collins' God hypothesis to explain the life-enabling values of the physical constants of our universe, he and Collins both seem to accept without any skepticism the proposition that our universe is improbable. But how can they just assume this? In my opinion, they do this through a misapplication of probability theory. In the debate they used the "gravitational constant" as an example. They correctly noted that if the gravitational constant (G) were different by one part in a hundred million million, then life, as we know it, would not be possible in our universe.
  • One must know how many items with the feature are in the population and how many items without the feature are in that same population (or alternatively, how many items altogether are in the population).
  • In fact, we do not know that any other universes exist at all! Without knowledge of other universes, Dawkins and Collins misuse probability theory to conclude that our universe is rare
  • More must be said about Collins' contention that the application of Occam's razor supports the God hypothesis over the multiverse hypothesis. It doesn't. The God hypothesis is less parsimonious than the multiverse hypothesis for two reasons:

    1. it invents a totally new type of entity, a supernatural being "outside time and space," which is not necessary with the latter hypothesis, and

    2. it leads to the classic problem of infinite regress. If there must be something outside our universe, i.e. God, to explain the existence of our universe, then there must be something outside of God, i.e. "Z," to explain God. Then something is needed to explain "Z," ad infinitum.
  • Alluding to St. Augustine and commenting on the book of Genesis, Collins said "It was not intended as a science textbook. It was intended as a description of who God was, who we are and what our relationship is supposed to be with God."
  • Collins responded that if one accepts God's existence, then it is not unreasonable to expect that God might occasionally intervene in the world in a miraculous way, and that if one accepts that Jesus was divine then the Resurrection is "not a great logical leap." But these are big "ifs," and although Collins tries to show that they are plausible, he offers no good evidence to show that they are probable.
  • Collins implied that this altruism is a sign of God's existence and a gift from him.
  • Dawkins responded that good and evil don't exist as independent entities but that good and bad things simply happen to people.
  • Collins' "moral law" argument is another variation on the "God of the Gaps" theme. If science doesn't yet have a complete description of a phenomenon, then there must be a super-being behind the scenes who is responsible for whatever is in the gaps.
  • Collins' idea of a "moral law" is premature and far too rigid when one considers the variability in moral rules across different geographic areas, cultures, ethnicities, and religions.
  • "Faith is not the opposite of reason. Faith rests squarely upon reason, but with the added component of revelation." Part of the difficulty here is that "faith" has several different meanings and unfortunately Collins isn't clear about which meaning he intends. "Faith" may refer to a religion or worldview, as in "My faith is Islam." It may refer to an attitude of trust or confidence, as in "I have faith in my physician."
  • In his concluding remarks Collins indicated that he is interested in many "why" questions for which he believes answers may not come from science but from the "spiritual realm." In his concluding remarks Dawkins indicated his doubt that the future discoveries of science would support any of the beliefs of the traditional religions, beliefs that he regards as parochial, but nevertheless worthy of some respect. And on that conciliatory note, the debate was concluded.
  • Who won the debate? From the perspective of style or mode of expression, perhaps Collins won. At times, Dawkins seemed to come across as a bit testy and abrasive.
  • Gary J. Whittenberger
  • Maybe the best approach in any such discussion forum is to try to flush out first exactly where the theist is positioned on the spectrum of belief by a series of clear questions.
    eg for Christians:

    - Do you accept the literal truth of the Bible (completely, or just the New Testament?)
    - Do you believe in Jesus's miracles, virgin birth, physical ascencion to Heaven?
    - Do you believe that God regularly intervenes in the natural universe eg by answering prayers, or in the design of organisms?
    etc
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    Excellent article and good for discussion. Would like to read others in this group think.
Bakari Chavanu

God is Imaginary - 50 simple proofs - 4 views

    • Bakari Chavanu
       
      This is so true.
  • If "every one who asks receives", then if we ask for cancer to be cured, it should be cured. Right? If "our Father who is in heaven gives good things to those who ask him", then if we ask him to cure cancer, he should cure it. Right? And yet nothing happens.

Jaakko Wallenius

Why the city-dwellers were so drawn to the new salvation religions? - Being Human - 0 views

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    I can truly recommend this well written and concise book to all those who are interested in the past, present and future of the humanity.
Jaakko Wallenius

Why do religions abandon their original message? - Being Human - 0 views

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    The greatest achievement of modern versions of these three desert-religions is to maintain that the original message of goodness and kindness is still there quite intact and it is still the most important feature of that religion.

    A true miracle is that this claim can be maintained, even though century after century and generation after generation the leaders of these religions have systematically pushed these principles aside in practice in their endless quest to gain more followers and power and secure the continuation of their religious organization.
Kylyssa Shay

What Evolution Isn't - 0 views

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    Some people in America have a lot of erroneous ideas about what Evolution is. They think it's a religion, an ideology, a moral judgment, or an evil plot to turn them away from God.Well, evolution is none of those things and through this lens I hope to show what evolution isn't and explore why so many conservative Christians have such hatred for that particular scientific theory.
Kylyssa Shay

Ask an Atheist - 0 views

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    Once I could read I had access to hundreds of religious texts and religious books as well as books on philosophy and nature. I read them voraciously, trying to figure out this mystery called belief. After reading many books about beliefs and belief systems written by brilliant people and talking with a few pastors and a minister, I came to the conclusion that God was probably not real.When I was ten, I was outed as the child of an atheist by a teacher who then made an ignorant remark that set the tone for years of abuse both physical and emotional. She said, '[She] is an atheist and that means that she hates God.'If the teacher had known what an atheist was or if the children's parents had, I would have been saved years of suffering. As an adult, I have found that many people in America still don't have a clear idea of what an atheist is and it bleeds into society. It affects the way atheists are treated to this day.Most people in America learn about atheism, not the way I learned about belief, but by word-of-mouth from religious parents and peers who learned the same way. Most of the things I've heard when religious people discuss atheists come from fear and speculation. The lack of understanding makes people hate and fear atheists.To educate people about atheists and spread tolerance through education I'm offering to answer your questions. I'm hoping that instead of basing your opinion of atheists on hearsay you'll choose to ask an atheist instead.
Jaakko Wallenius

What are the ugliest stains in the history of the Christian faith? - Being Human - 1 views

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    is all too easy to forget that the first successful Crusade was a surprise-attack quite like Pearl Harbor and that was the real reason behind its success; the inhabitants of the Middle East just could not see it coming. It is only fitting that ultimately it ended in the wholesale and cruel massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem
Kylyssa Shay

If You Can't Explain the Origin of Life and the Universe Then Why Don't You Just Believ... - 2 views

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    An Atheist answers the strange question of if you can't explain the origin of life and the universe totally and completely then why don't you just believe in God because the Bible explains it all?
julia goolia

The Scripture Project | The Reason Project - 0 views

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    the skeptic's annotated bible hosted by the reason project.
Jaakko Wallenius

Why multiculturalism is not the answer? - Being Human - 0 views

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    Creating sharia courts in Western Europe is not the solution, on the contrary we have a direct need to make the followers of the medieval religious traditions to see that there cannot be two sets of laws enforced in any society simultaneously.
Jaakko Wallenius

Could there really be a third way? - Being Human - 1 views

  • Are there really just two choices before us: capitalism or socialism? I have come to think that the right answer should be a brand new combination of these two.
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    Are there really just two choices before us: capitalism or socialism? I have come to think that the right answer should be a brand new combination of these two.
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