05-15-15 12:22  •  Proselytizing

Reject: I only have a problem with Christians shoving their religion down everyone's throats. They should quit proselytizing.

Oh, I don't know if proselytizing is the problem it's made out to be.

Reject: I think that greatly depends on how it's done and if respect for differing views is shown in the process.

I pretty much agree with this. Also, I definitely think that people should share ideas they think are important. Is proselytizing just this, or is it more?

Reject: What makes Christianity better than buddism, islam hinduism or any of the other 100s of religions out there? It doesn't.

Do you think if a religion was actually better it would be more acceptable to proselytize it?

For example, I have often argued that Buddhism is a better religion because it does not require gods or faith. Buddhism has a much better track record for peace than the Abrahmic Faiths - in the last 2,500 years there have been practically no wars or persecutions in the name of Buddhism.

And Buddhism can be shown to be an effective system. It claims to alleviate suffering and delivers on this claim - Buddhism teaches tools to experience real happiness, and Buddhists really are happier than people in other faith categories.

It's fun, you should try it.

Too much?

WallaWalla: How to increase the numbers? Be fruitful and multiply. Fundamentalists have it down.

I agree with you that this is the plan they are using. However I find it unethical for two reasons. One, I think overpopulation is a big problem and deliberately exacerbating just to have more people on your team is a selfish and grave misuse of reproductive responsibility.

Two, I don't agree that children should be indoctrinated into any faith before they are able to make their own decisions.

Other than that, great plan! It certainly is working in some places. :-\

05-12-15 7:22  •  Less Christianity

Hartman: Contrary to what you are hearing in the media, Christianity is not in decline in this country.

Less Christianity would be better.

Hartman: No less christianity would not be better.

If society followed past performance it almost certainly would. Less Christianity accompanied the rise of reason and the ascension of science and technology. Less Christianity resulted in the separation of church and state and the rise of the fully secular society. These two things have done more to improve the human condition than any other factors.

Furthermore, less Christianity in the future would result in less prejudice based on ancient superstitions, less ad hoc supernatural rationalization, and less division based on forever irreconcilable differences. That would be better.

Hartman: What would be better if less idiots who claimed to be Christians would stop there madness.

If you mean, it would be better if human beings treated each other with kindness and compassion, I completely agree! But you don't need Christianity for that, and in fact it kind of gets in the way.

Hartman: Christianity is under attack!

The belief system is unsustainable. Of course that feels like an attack, but it's more of a dissolve.

Beazel: Science and technology still go with Christians in the world.

Christians are more accepting of science-y ideas than they used to be, but the tenets of Christianity cannot be reconciled with observable reality. In short, Christianity does not appear to be true. That is a big problem that does not go with science.

Beazel: Christians are not stopping the non Christians from doing anything.

Actually they are, to a great degree. Large majorities of people who reject reason are stopping the whole society from using reason to solve problems. This is a large part of why problems go unsolved.

A lack of regard for reason is holding back the progress of civilization. That matters.

Beazel: There are good christians in the world and there are bad people who claim to be christian and have no idea what it means.

"Good people" vs. "bad people" really has nothing to do with it at all. Systems that don't seem to be true and can't be reconciled with reason produce bad results for the entire society, good and bad people alike.

Beazel: If everyone would be more excepting of each other and quit blaming everything on christians or non Christians our society would be a better place.

Sorry, but accepting the supernatural tenets of Christianity does nothing to make the world a better place, and only foments ignorance and misunderstanding.

Don't get me wrong, every person should be accepted and treasured, no doubt. But Christianity is not a person, it is a set of ideas. Not every idea should be accepted, and we need to be especially wary of irrational ideas which don't seem to be true, which are unsupported by evidence and which promote unreason.

05-12-15 6:22  •  Paid Maternity Leave

MelsMom: What is with these whiny liberals, demanding that women get paid maternity leave when they have a baby? So much entitlement! If you're going to have a child, plan for it and save for the loss of income while you're away from your job.

For god's sake why? To make the pile of money earned by the owners of your company bigger? To what end? You work hard, and a lot of their profitability is due to what you already give them. Why do you think they deserve that money to make their pile bigger more than you deserve a decent paid medical leave like every other mother in the world?

05-08-15 6:22  •  Atheist Problem

Mara: Can you believe an atheist still can't get elected in this country!? What is America's problem with Atheism?

America's problem with Atheism is that we are blowing untold amounts of human effort and wealth maintaining a vast medieval infrastructure. It's really hard to dismantle such a gargantuan edifice. It's scary to think about how that could be done safely.

So, atheists get jumped on because they are the ones pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.

It can't last. The medieval structures are crumbling under the weight of their own inaccuracy. So, this is all due for a change.

Mara: I heard they are trying to ban Islam in China.

There is no need to ban it. Islam is crumbling under the weight of its own inaccuracy too, just like Christianity.

Mara: Is there an alternative? I heard this: "Secularism has to do for nonbelievers what religion does for believers — arouse the higher emotions, exalt the passions in pursuit of moral action."

It does, and much better. The strongest call to action is a clear vision of what must be done. Thread killing line:

There is not one person who is willing to justify the existence of Christianity. Not one person who is willing to be accountable for the content of the tenets. So how is it still a thing?

The question is not rhetorical. What is the deal with this?

05-08-15 6:22  •  Jesus OK With Gay - Who Cares?

Ells: This pastor said that Jesus would have wanted you to bake a cake for a gay wedding. He claims to have Biblical support for this idea, too.

It's great he is using Christianity to rationalize good things instead of bad things. It happens.

But how much better if people quit pretending that what anybody said 2000 years ago is more informed than what we are able to discern ourselves, now.

We don't need the advice of "Jesus," or the committee that wrote him, or any of his self-appointed modern spokesmen.

We can figure out what to do ourselves.

04-28-15 6:22  •  Baltimore Riots

Rina: They are rioting because they have no self respect! Decent people don't do this. Assholes, thieves, and criminals, that's who is rioting.

Golfer: Well said. Rioting is always wrong. It solves nothing and makes everything worse.

People are not rioting because they have considered the matter and come to the conclusion that rioting is a reasonable solution to redress their issues. They are rioting because they are hysterical.

I'm sure you have never, ever, thrown an object in anger. But a lot of people have. They are not thinking, "Throwing this will solve my problems!" They are just hysterical with fury and acting on the fury.

That is how rioting begins. People aren't thinking, "A riot will win the respect of America!" They are thinking, "How can they do this us - again? It's not right!"

Sometimes this thought is unjustified, like when Muslims riot over Danish cartoons. However when there is systematic racism and aparthied which divide the society for centuries, and the divisions are still so stark, then this thought is very justified.

People shouldn't riot, or throw things when they are mad. But, they do. Believe it or not it could even happen to you.

04-20-15 6:22  •  The Future of Marriage

Blowme: The problem with same sex marriage. When women don't care about the paternity, what happens to sex inside marriage? They will just start having sex and babies with all kinds of different men.

Humans everywhere, absolutely everywhere, have sexual realtions outside of marriage, produce children outside of marriage, have homosexual relationships, etc. There is no society so restrictive or so loose that they affect this. Humans do what they do, and we have always managed to get by with this happening.

The affect of how our culture labels it is not on what we do, but how much shame and stigma versus approval and status we confer on the various things we do.

Understanding that homosexual people who want to get married and maybe raise a family are no different from hetersexual people who want to get married and maybe raise a family, allows us to see that there is no reason to give them any different levels of approval and status.

All this worry that people will suddenly start having different, worse sex is silly. People always have lots of sex and that's nothing new.

Woody: Since marriage is no longer necessary for either sex or children, maybe we should just do away with it! :P

Humans love paring up and formal mating rituals. We'll always have it, or at least the fun parts.

This post reminds me of a comment a few years back by P.J. Rourke. He was trying to saying that Socialism had failed in Sweden, by pointing out that Sweden had more unwed mothers than they used to.

What Sweden had was no mothers living in poverty, women active in family planning, and children who were never in danger of deprevation and grew up and became educated just like everyone else. They had the lowest teen pregnancy rate in Europe, meaning it was adult women making their own decisions. So what difference did it make if the women were "unwed"? They were fine.

04-18-15 4:22  •  Why Must Men Lead?

SilentMin: I saw on Facebook where this woman said that God designed men to be leaders. How can people still say this!?

Biology is very interesting. Evolutionary forces did set up men and women with unequal power relationships. And, usually it works. A lot of men, and a lot of women, are perfectly comfortable with men taking leadership roles and women taking following roles.

However, one of our greatest human strengths is our diversity. Not every man is leadership material, and not every woman is follower-bound. Some strong, smart women want to be leaders, and history has shown that they can do it.

There is no problem with noticing that our biology tends to funnel men into leadership, as long as we realize we are not bound by those tendencies. We can do what we want.

WheninRome: I think women have other strengths, and I think that they can be and are natural leaders, but there has been so much and for so long patriarchy and religious patriarchy that many think it's the natural state.

Unquestionably! Like any power, male power has been subject to endless abuse, including seriously disenfranchising women for most of history. Almost as soon as it became possible, women stepped into traditional male roles and blew everyone away with how little difference it actually made whether most anything was done by a man or a woman.

So, I agree the "status quo" has been a huge force in keeping inequality alive, and in the end there is no justification for it.

WheninRome: But I see so many who talk about being submissives because of what the Bible says, or how the Duggars live (clearly submissive), because the Bible says that the men are the head of the family.

Well I'll share something with you. I am an extremely strong, smart, capable woman and I have had a number of leadership positions in my career. But, my husband is even stronger and more capable, and equally smart, and plus he doesn't mind making decisions and worrying about things like money.

The last thing we would use to dictate the terms of our relationship is a religious book. But, I would say there is no doubt that he is head of our household, and I quite enjoy being "submissive" to him. I appreciate that he takes care of us and that I don't have to fret about things. I like to make him food and take care of his laundry and whatnot. Whenever I am in worry about matters I can always turn to him and he takes responsbility and he makes great calls, so taking care of things he asks me to do feels like the least I can do. We both love it.

But, since it's not from the holy book, why are we doing it like this? We just sort of are. I think the reason we have an obvious power differential in our relationship is because of our temperments. My husband has a kind of "manly" leadership personality and I have a kind of "womanly" followship personality that characterizes a lot of human pair-bond relationships, because it paves the way for and supports reproduction.

But, don't forget that nature has all kinds of ways of supporting reproductive relationships, including supplying non-reproducing adults to help with the rearing (in humans this group includes homosexual adults and post-menopausal females.) And as I said, humans are diverse. I have known many couples where the woman "wore the pants in the family," as they used to say, and that was just as natural and enjoyable to them as my relationship is with my husband.

And my role in our relationship has never prevented me from being a strong leader in the business world and in my work as a political activist.

So I would say that people can and do fill many roles, and while the traditional roles will continue to persist in a lot of human relationships because of a biological basis, we can and should structure society so that no one is bound by those traditions and everyone can take on roles of their own choosing.

WheninRome: It's the religion. Things have been that way for so long it seems to be the natural way. Where you see it's biological, I'm not so sure that it's not more sociological.

I agree that the religions have been a huge force in keeping people confined to limited roles. But I think the roles came first and the religion second. The roles have been with us since our days as simpler primates, as is obvious observing the gender roles of most primates. The roles were later encoded into the religion because religion is how people described what they were seeing in those days.

So, it was biological first and became sociological as we developed society. And I couldn't agree more that letting the tribal taboos of ancient people dictate the terms of our society has crippled us in this and so many other ways!

The great thing about it being largely sociological is that we can change our society, and we have been. There has been more change in the gender roles for women in the course of my lifetime than at any other time in history, and it has been a welcome and needed development in the morality of the human race.

As for the problems of the old religions, they are legion, but fading. There is absolutely nothing at all propping up the supernaturalism anymore and people are getting the picture.

In the same way we filled the knowledge void of religion with real knowledge, we are filling the moral void of religion with real morality. The new moral observation is that people need to be freer than traditional religions allow. Eventually this will become obvious to everyone.

4-17-15 11:11  •   A God That Could Be Real

Maria: What do you think of this lady's premise? She thinks gods are compatible with science if you define them differently.

One quote from her book reads:

"Having no spiritual life at all is like never really falling in love. Developing a spiritual bond with a fantasy is like falling in love with someone who will never love you back. But developing a spiritual bond with the real universe is like falling in love with someone who is already in love with you. That’s where God is."

I actually agree with the spirit of this quote, but it is failing on the specifics.

Who does she suppose has "no spiritual life at all"? Non-theists?

If having a bond with the real universe is spirituality, then the atheists I know have a more vibrant and exciting "spiritual life" than anyone else. It is exalting to stare unflinchingly into the depths of reality.

Abrams is conflating use of the word "God" with "having a spiritual life." As many Buddhists could tell you, gods aren't required for spirituality.

I agree with this: "Developing a spiritual bond with the real universe is like falling in love with someone who is already in love with you."

But I don't see how she can then go on to claim that="God." How?

Read more in the Archives.