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Does Religion Cause Violence?

 
SkepticX
 
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SkepticX
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16 June 2017 13:47
 

Excellent essay! (Thanks due to an intrepid interwebber who goes by John the Theologian on another forum I frequent—interesting dude).

Well worth reading even if you disagree with Cavanaugh entirely and/or where takes it. There’s still a lot of good intracranial sustenance, regardless.

I think it’ll also be very interesting to see how the kids here who read it deal with the material (or don’t).

 

[ Edited: 16 June 2017 14:07 by SkepticX]
 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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16 June 2017 16:02
 

From the OP article:      (Highly recommend reading the entire article.)

Other theorists of religion and violence make similar admissions. Kimball, for example, says in passing that “blind religious zealotry is similar to unfettered nationalism,” and, indeed, nationalism would seem to fit—at times—all five of Kimball’s “warning signs” for when religion turns evil: absolute truth claims, blind obedience, establishment of ideal times, ends justifying means, and the declaration of holy war. The last one would seem to preclude secular ideologies, but as Kimball himself points out, the United States regularly invokes a “cosmic dualism” in its war on terror.

Suppose we apply an empirical test to the question of absolutism. “Absolute” is itself a vague term, but in the “religion and violence” arguments it appears to indicate the tendency to take something so seriously that violence results. The most relevant empirically testable definition of “absolute,” then, would be “that for which one is willing to kill.” This test has the advantage of covering behavior, and not simply what one claims to believe. Now let us ask the following two questions: What percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Christians would be willing to kill for their Christian faith? What percentage would be willing to kill for their country? ...  For most American Christians, even public evangelization is considered to be in poor taste, and yet most endorse organized slaughter on behalf of the nation as sometimes necessary and often laudable. ... The point is that such empirical testing is of far more usefulness than general theories about the violence of “religion.”


Very interesting and thought-provoking article; thanks for posting it.
(I plan to reread the article and think about it some more.)

Unfettered nationalism is not unlike religious extremism, with the same violent results.

In regards to the two test questions (bolding mine):  I think a distinction would have to be made between a limited war fought to protect, versus a war in which foreign values/politics are being imposed.

 

 
 
jdrnd
 
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17 June 2017 09:04
 
SkepticX - 16 June 2017 01:47 PM

Excellent essay! (Thanks due to an intrepid interwebber who goes by John the Theologian on another forum I frequent—interesting dude).

Well worth reading even if you disagree with Cavanaugh entirely and/or where takes it. There’s still a lot of good intracranial sustenance, regardless.

I think it’ll also be very interesting to see how the kids here who read it deal with the material (or don’t).

Just read it through.

The author’s point is that one can not definitively separate religious from secular institutions.
He states:
“If one tries to limit the definition of religion to belief in God or gods, then certain belief systems that are usually called “religions” are eliminated, such as Theravada Buddhism and Confucianism”
He is correct in that both use fiction to promote themselves
However, there is a distinction, which in his defense he alludes to later in the article,  Religion is based on the supernatural and secular institutions are not.

 

After a paragraph where he quotes an explanation as to why secular ideologies are different from religious ones, He asks the question:
It is not enough, therefore, to claim that worship of God is absolutist. The real question is, what god is actually being worshiped ? 
Note that “Other gods” refer to money, nationalism.
If you read carefully, the author implies the often used claim that non belief is just another religion.  Most of you know where I stand on that statement.  >>>> The off switch on a TV is not another channel


He does point out that:
... a loyalty to an absolute that excludes accommodation to other realities: “If faith is that strong, and it dictates a choice between action or eternal damnation, then violence can easily be justified.”

He quotes Harris:
“In our dialogue with the Muslim world, we are confronted by people who hold beliefs for which there is no rational justification and which therefore cannot even be discussed, and yet these are the very beliefs that underlie many of the demands they are likely to make upon us.”  ..This is especially a problem if such people gain access to nuclear weapons. “There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. . . . In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.” 

But he gives no alternate constructive response.


He mentions
“Locke and the founding fathers saved us from the curse of killing in the name of religion. “What the founders and Locke were saying was that the ultimate claims of religion should simply not be allowed to interfere with political and religious freedom”
So in other words, the “ideals” of western liberalism allow people to believe what they want.  Yet Islamic (and for that matter Christian) fundamentalists want to IMPOSE their life style on us. 

He ends with:
Indeed, Harris’s logic is little different in practice from the Bush Doctrine, which says that America has access to liberal values that are “right and true for every person, in every society,” that we must use our power to promote such values “on every continent,” and that America will take preemptive military action if necessary to promote such values.

But what do you do if a group of individuals feel that you should die if you don’t agree with them?
Should we all convert?
Should we just let them kill us?

So Skep, what do you think?

 
EN
 
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EN
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19 June 2017 02:49
 

If a group of individuals think I should die if I don’t agree with them, then it’s war and we fight.

 
Twissel
 
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19 June 2017 04:13
 

Protection of Freedom of Speech gone a bit to far:

“I do not approve of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6jB3YTA1MM

 
 
SkepticX
 
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19 June 2017 04:56
 
jdrnd - 17 June 2017 09:04 AM

The author’s point is that one can not definitively separate religious from secular institutions.
He states:
“If one tries to limit the definition of religion to belief in God or gods, then certain belief systems that are usually called “religions” are eliminated, such as Theravada Buddhism and Confucianism”
He is correct in that both use fiction to promote themselves
However, there is a distinction, which in his defense he alludes to later in the article,  Religion is based on the supernatural and secular institutions are not.

I’d say to the extent that nationalism is based upon the observable/material/evidential, it’s not a functional equivalent to religion, but when it enters the realm of the unverifiable/unfalsifiable it is.

 

jdrnd - 17 June 2017 09:04 AM

After a paragraph where he quotes an explanation as to why secular ideologies are different from religious ones, He asks the question:
It is not enough, therefore, to claim that worship of God is absolutist. The real question is, what god is actually being worshiped ? 
Note that “Other gods” refer to money, nationalism.
If you read carefully, the author implies the often used claim that non belief is just another religion.  Most of you know where I stand on that statement.  >>>> The off switch on a TV is not another channel

The point being that no one acts based upon what money tells them to do, although they may very well act on the presumed wishes of The Founders as if they were a pantheon.

 

jdrnd - 17 June 2017 09:04 AM

He does point out that:
... a loyalty to an absolute that excludes accommodation to other realities: “If faith is that strong, and it dictates a choice between action or eternal damnation, then violence can easily be justified.”

He quotes Harris:
“In our dialogue with the Muslim world, we are confronted by people who hold beliefs for which there is no rational justification and which therefore cannot even be discussed, and yet these are the very beliefs that underlie many of the demands they are likely to make upon us.”  ..This is especially a problem if such people gain access to nuclear weapons. “There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. . . . In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.”

But he gives no alternate constructive response.

A lot of criticism aimed at Harris is appealing to the consequences or complaining that Harris doesn’t provide a solution (as if what he’s saying isn’t valid unless he also knows or claims to know how to solve the problem, in spite of the fact he makes it clear that he’s got no easy or even clear answers to offer, just a pretty broad recommended course of action).

 

jdrnd - 17 June 2017 09:04 AM

He mentions
“Locke and the founding fathers saved us from the curse of killing in the name of religion. “What the founders and Locke were saying was that the ultimate claims of religion should simply not be allowed to interfere with political and religious freedom”
So in other words, the “ideals” of western liberalism allow people to believe what they want.  Yet Islamic (and for that matter Christian) fundamentalists want to IMPOSE their life style on us. 

He ends with:
Indeed, Harris’s logic is little different in practice from the Bush Doctrine, which says that America has access to liberal values that are “right and true for every person, in every society,” that we must use our power to promote such values “on every continent,” and that America will take preemptive military action if necessary to promote such values.

But what do you do if a group of individuals feel that you should die if you don’t agree with them?
Should we all convert?
Should we just let them kill us?

We should kill them more, and harder, and worser.

 

jdrnd - 17 June 2017 09:04 AM

So Skep, what do you think?

I think people enamored with large text are compensating.

 

 

 
 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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19 June 2017 05:27
 
SkepticX - 19 June 2017 04:56 AM

 

jdrnd - 17 June 2017 09:04 AM

So Skep, what do you think?

I think people enamored with large text are compensating.

 


you are so cruel

 
SkepticX
 
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19 June 2017 06:48
 
jdrnd - 19 June 2017 05:27 AM
SkepticX - 19 June 2017 04:56 AM
jdrnd - 17 June 2017 09:04 AM

So Skep, what do you think?

I think people enamored with large text are compensating.

you are so cruel


It’s a kindness ... I know you like it.

On another note ... regarding nationalism where it’s functionally equivalent with religion—I consider that religious, flat out. I distinguish religion vs. not based upon the patterns of thinking and behavior, so my understanding of religion is more broad than those particular institutions and communities officially recognized as such. In fact many of those institutions aren’t actually all that religious to my thinking. I suspect what religion actually is requires that we understand it in functional terms rather than depending upon arbitrary category shifts and twists, as the essay explains more or less. So I guess I should start using modifiers like institutional religion and traditional religion, standard issue religion ... etc.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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19 June 2017 07:44
 
SkepticX - 19 June 2017 06:48 AM
jdrnd - 19 June 2017 05:27 AM
SkepticX - 19 June 2017 04:56 AM
jdrnd - 17 June 2017 09:04 AM

So Skep, what do you think?

I think people enamored with large text are compensating.

you are so cruel


It’s a kindness ... I know you like it.

On another note ... regarding nationalism where it’s functionally equivalent with religion—I consider that religious, flat out. I distinguish religion vs. not based upon the patterns of thinking and behavior, so my understanding of religion is more broad than those particular institutions and communities officially recognized as such. In fact many of those institutions aren’t actually all that religious to my thinking. I suspect what religion actually is requires that we understand it in functional terms rather than depending upon arbitrary category shifts and twists, as the essay explains more or less. So I guess I should start using modifiers like institutional religion and traditional religion, standard issue religion ... etc.

Also personal religion.

 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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21 June 2017 12:14
 
EN - 19 June 2017 07:44 AM
SkepticX - 19 June 2017 06:48 AM
jdrnd - 19 June 2017 05:27 AM
SkepticX - 19 June 2017 04:56 AM
jdrnd - 17 June 2017 09:04 AM

So Skep, what do you think?

I think people enamored with large text are compensating.

you are so cruel


It’s a kindness ... I know you like it.

On another note ... regarding nationalism where it’s functionally equivalent with religion—I consider that religious, flat out. I distinguish religion vs. not based upon the patterns of thinking and behavior, so my understanding of religion is more broad than those particular institutions and communities officially recognized as such. In fact many of those institutions aren’t actually all that religious to my thinking. I suspect what religion actually is requires that we understand it in functional terms rather than depending upon arbitrary category shifts and twists, as the essay explains more or less. So I guess I should start using modifiers like institutional religion and traditional religion, standard issue religion ... etc.

Also personal religion.

what do you mean by “personal religion”

 
EN
 
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EN
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21 June 2017 19:58
 
jdrnd - 21 June 2017 12:14 PM

what do you mean by “personal religion”

Not part of any organized institution, but a faith simply based on one’s own experience and convictions.  Not dogma-driven; similar to having a personal philosophy, a personal viewpoint or a personal perspective, but entering into the religious realm. Does that help?

 
jdrnd
 
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22 June 2017 15:22
 
EN - 21 June 2017 07:58 PM
jdrnd - 21 June 2017 12:14 PM

what do you mean by “personal religion”

Not part of any organized institution, but a faith simply based on one’s own experience and convictions.  Not dogma-driven; similar to having a personal philosophy, a personal viewpoint or a personal perspective, but entering into the religious realm. Does that help?

But EN,
My point over all these years is that if a person bases their decisions on something that doesn’t exist, even on a “personal” supernatural God, that person is making decisions based on a fiction, based on something that isn’t true.
The point of secularism is that decisions are not based on the supernatural, because the supernatural doesn’t exist.

 

 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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23 June 2017 06:11
 
jdrnd - 22 June 2017 03:22 PM
EN - 21 June 2017 07:58 PM
jdrnd - 21 June 2017 12:14 PM

what do you mean by “personal religion”

Not part of any organized institution, but a faith simply based on one’s own experience and convictions.  Not dogma-driven; similar to having a personal philosophy, a personal viewpoint or a personal perspective, but entering into the religious realm. Does that help?

But EN,
My point over all these years is that if a person bases their decisions on something that doesn’t exist, even on a “personal” supernatural God, that person is making decisions based on a fiction, based on something that isn’t true.
The point of secularism is that decisions are not based on the supernatural, because the supernatural doesn’t exist.

That’s the point of atheism, I’d say.

Secularism means to be free of religious coercion, and the maintenance of a fully inclusive civil society in which the practice of religion is neither mandatory nor forbidden.

 
 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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23 June 2017 06:49
 
bigredfutbol - 23 June 2017 06:11 AM
jdrnd - 22 June 2017 03:22 PM
EN - 21 June 2017 07:58 PM
jdrnd - 21 June 2017 12:14 PM

what do you mean by “personal religion”

Not part of any organized institution, but a faith simply based on one’s own experience and convictions.  Not dogma-driven; similar to having a personal philosophy, a personal viewpoint or a personal perspective, but entering into the religious realm. Does that help?

But EN,
My point over all these years is that if a person bases their decisions on something that doesn’t exist, even on a “personal” supernatural God, that person is making decisions based on a fiction, based on something that isn’t true.
The point of secularism is that decisions are not based on the supernatural, because the supernatural doesn’t exist.

That’s the point of atheism, I’d say.

Secularism means to be free of religious coercion, and the maintenance of a fully inclusive civil society in which the practice of religion is neither mandatory nor forbidden.

I agree with you.
The article that Skep promoted in his OP suggests that the secular is no different than the religious in instigating violence. I feel otherwise because much of what religion promotes is based on the imagined thoughts of fictional beings.

 
EN
 
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24 June 2017 15:10
 
jdrnd - 22 June 2017 03:22 PM
EN - 21 June 2017 07:58 PM
jdrnd - 21 June 2017 12:14 PM

what do you mean by “personal religion”

Not part of any organized institution, but a faith simply based on one’s own experience and convictions.  Not dogma-driven; similar to having a personal philosophy, a personal viewpoint or a personal perspective, but entering into the religious realm. Does that help?

But EN,
My point over all these years is that if a person bases their decisions on something that doesn’t exist, even on a “personal” supernatural God, that person is making decisions based on a fiction, based on something that isn’t true.
The point of secularism is that decisions are not based on the supernatural, because the supernatural doesn’t exist.

All I was doing was suggesting another category of religion to Skep.  I wasn’t responding to you.  But you took it as an opportunity to preach your message, which is to be expected.

 
EN
 
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EN
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24 June 2017 15:11
 

Double post

 
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