Religion... Yay or nay?

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#46 Post by Taleweaver » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:06 am

thishumblemosquito wrote:And to complicate things, just because I assert I am one thing doesn't mean I am e.g. a Christian who doesn't believe in Christ.
Um, I don't know any Christian church where that would be a viable definition. If you don't believe in Christ, then you are not a Christian. You may hold Christian ethics or values in high regard, or even follow Christian teachings. But without belief in Christ, you are not a Christian. That's a fact.
And what is wrong with teaching Creationism as an alternative to the theory of Evolution ^_^?

I actually strongly believe that the two should be taught together, referentially, across multiple religions. And before you all exclaim "As Science"! There is a scientific study of religion: Theology. The problem I have is both sides want their version taught to the exclusion of the other. I'd put Evolution in Science Class, and Creationism in Theology. Context is very important.I could argue that biologists are wasting time - its all chemistry and electricity and since chemistry is atoms, which are electrons, which are physics, everyone should only study physics ^_^.
In Germany, we have "religion" as a school subject, and it is essentially composed of all the basics about the world religions, plus ethics, plus all about sects, the dangers thereof and the philosophical basics of the meaning of life. And that's exactly where this content belongs: into one school subject, outside of all scientific ones.
Theory of Relativity, Atomic Theory, Theory of Evolution = all theory
Yes, but it's a different kind of "theory" than you seem to think it is. These "theories" are actually working models of the world, and the reason they are still called "theories" is that they are subject to change once scientific research expands our knowledge of the world. The "Theory of Creation", for example, is not like those because it is laid down in the Bible, a book that is no longer subject to change.
I love Science, but scientists can be just as religious about scientific theory as we are about our religious beliefs ^_^.
True. And it's exactly these hardheads whose stubborn beliefs are falsified the most.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#47 Post by Glasskitten » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:23 pm

If you'll forgive me for nitpicking at minutiae from previous pages: There's another interpretation of the bear story. Not that I was there at the time...

Sorry to interrupt an interesting conversation.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#48 Post by arachni42 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:36 pm

thishumblemosquito wrote: Belief
Atheists believe neither God nor gods exist. Religious people do. Although opposite, they are equally beliefs.
Heyyyy, someone finally said something in this thread I'm mildly offended by!! Yaay!! ;) Actually, I wouldn't bother replying, but this is a thread about writing, so I think there's something important here that writers should consider.

Not believing in something is not quite the same as believing in it -- and this is something that many, many, MANY people get wrong when it comes to atheism. Replace God/gods with pink invisible unicorns.

Atheists believe that invisible pink unicorns don't exist, and pinkunicornists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
You could also say that atheists believe that small teacups orbiting Jupiter don't exist, but orbitting-teacupists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
You could say that atheists believe that gigantic 6-foot-long spiders don't exists, but giantspiderists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.

I mean, yeeeessssssss, technically speaking, they are equally beliefs. So you didn't technically say anything wrong. Why am I objecting? Because there is a context and meaning in that statement (something writers should be aware of), and it's not something that can be innocently hand-waved by saying, "all I said what that they are beliefs." The problem is that you could pretty much take anything, any arbitrary thing, and make a statement of belief or disbelief about it. "Soandso believes that there is not an invisible tiny dragon in their garage." But if you were asked to describe Soandso's character or even list their beliefs, you would not say, "They believe there is not an invisible dragon in their garage." Their list of "beliefs" could become infinitely long, even just from locations they believe there is no invisible dragon is. Then you have to list their beliefs about where there are no invisible unicorns, undetectable teacups, spiders too large for the laws of physics, and so forth. Yet, these are all technically beliefs of Soandso. And none of these can be "disproven" in a rigorous sense. There could actually be an invisible tiny dragon in their garage who doesn't bother anything. There could be. Therefore... it is a belief?

Don't get me wrong; I am not trying to make a statement that belief in God is the same as belief in unicorns (clearly, belief in God has profound implications and belief in unicorns does not). I am using these examples to illustrate how arbitrary it is to consider something like "doesn't believe in God" as a "belief" in the same sense. I can see why it seems that way, and I've seen it countless times... but to anyone who is a writer, if you happen to write about atheists there will definitely be people who appreciate it if you can get it right!

While I'm here, I will also point out something about science. Yes, it has politics, it has fanatics, it is the center of some people's lives, and it has people for who it invokes spiritual feelings. But there is an important difference. Religion is centered around beliefs and rituals and cultural things that are valued even if they don't change over centuries. It is inherent in science to change in light of new evidence. That is at the core of it, and there is a long, profound history of change and revisions in science. In fact, science will often get criticized because "scientists are always changing their mind." But when there is new evidence, that is the ideal of the scientific method. That's why we're able to have reliable computers, cars, airplanes, and so forth based on it. The fundamental purpose of religion is quite distinct from science. There are people who treat wine "as a religion," too, complete with going to wine tastings every week and producing converts from Merlot to Malbec, but that doesn't mean wine is much like a religion.

Again, I can totally see why there are people who say "science is a religion," but I totally love cases when this is handled properly in writing, even if the conclusion is that God smites all the non-believers or something. ;)
thishumblemosquito wrote: Quite a lot of self-identifying atheists I've come across actually focus their interactions specifically on the challenging/disproving the existence of God.
Well, God can't be "disproven," so I think "challenge" is the more accurate word to use for this... but despite all the stuff I wrote above, not all atheists get it right, either. ;)
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#49 Post by SundownKid » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:40 pm

I classify agnostics as atheists - either you believe in God or you don't, but don't say you "might believe" because that's the same as not believing in God. I don't think there's anything wrong with being an atheist, but saying there is such a thing as a strong or weak atheist is ridiculous. It sounds to me like people trying to gloss it over to make their beliefs more palatable.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#50 Post by Desu_Cake » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:46 pm

SundownKid wrote:I classify agnostics as atheists - either you believe in God or you don't, but don't say you "might believe" because that's the same as not believing in God. I don't think there's anything wrong with being an atheist, but saying there is such a thing as a strong or weak atheist is ridiculous. It sounds to me like people trying to gloss it over to make their beliefs more palatable.
Well that's incredibly elitist of you.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#51 Post by Taleweaver » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:09 pm

By the way - I'm guilty of this myself, but I think this thread has now strayed a little too far from its original topic:
Especially in the mindset of fantasy (Time period feel: Renaissance, Medieval times, Arthur and Merlin, etc.), is it bad to incorporate God (The Christianity/Catholic Bible God) in a fantasy world where Magic also rules? (I.E in my story, The Paladins of the West worshiped God versus the Mages of the South practiced dark magic and the Clerics of the North practiced light magic.) and show the conflict between characters because of their belief differences?

Is this a bad idea?
I think this thread has come to show that religion can be a great source for conflict. Aside from that, I doubt our current line of discussion is helping the OP.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#52 Post by thishumblemosquito » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:21 pm

Taleweaver
Interesting - just comparing your comments with the quotes post

"You can't be a Christian, unless you believe in Christ." vs "I can say I am a Christian but if I don't believe in Christ, does that mean it's true?"

"Religion" vs "Theology" - I'd just would note: Theology as the scientific study of religion would be a scientific subject. Scientific as far as I understand it is actually relates to the use of a particular methodology.

"Meaning of Science in Theory" vs "All theory." - I did mean it in the exact same way as you do. What I meant to highlight, which you have as well, is that they are not intended to be presented or accepted as irrefutable fact. When that happens, we've left the path of science, and entered the realm of religion. Science as religion is religion not science, and the playbook changes accordingly. This doesn't mean a scientist can't be religious person, or a religious person can't be a scientist. Quite a number seem to have done it successfully ^_^.
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arachni42 wrote: Not believing in something is not quite the same as believing in it -- and this is something that many, many, MANY people get wrong when it comes to atheism. Replace God/gods with pink invisible unicorns.

Atheists believe that invisible pink unicorns don't exist, and pinkunicornists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
You could also say that atheists believe that small teacups orbiting Jupiter don't exist, but orbitting-teacupists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
You could say that atheists believe that gigantic 6-foot-long spiders don't exists, but giantspiderists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
atheist = the "theist" part actually refers to "God" so needs to get replaced too.

so this would actually result in:

apinkunicornists believe that invisible pink unicorns don't exist, and pinkunicornists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
You could also say that unorbitting-teacupists believe that small teacups orbiting Jupiter don't exist, but orbitting-teacupists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
You could say that agiantspiderists believe that gigantic 6-foot-long spiders don't exists, but giantspiderists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.

So indeed - writers beware. Context and meaning ^_^.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#53 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:51 pm

SundownKid wrote:I classify agnostics as atheists - either you believe in God or you don't, but don't say you "might believe" because that's the same as not believing in God. I don't think there's anything wrong with being an atheist, but saying there is such a thing as a strong or weak atheist is ridiculous. It sounds to me like people trying to gloss it over to make their beliefs more palatable.
But an agnostic is NOT someone who "might believe" in God. An agnostic is someone who believes it is impossible to know if God is real or not. That's a major distinction. From Wikipedia: Agnosticism is the view that humanity does not currently possess the requisite knowledge and/or reason to provide sufficient rational grounds to justify the belief that deities either do or do not exist.

Essential an agnostic is a skeptic. They don't believe either side of the "God is real" or "God is fake" debate have proved their respective positions.

As a comparison, many Deists believe a greater power (God, advanced intelligence, a flying spaghetti monster) created the rules for the universe, much like a programmer creates the code that governs a game system, then flipped the switch on (the Big Bang) and now may or may not give a damn about anything happening in the universe on a micro level. So they are separate from agnostics, even though they believe the existence of God is impossible to know beyond observing how the world actually works (most Deists don't believe in miracles or divine signs), because they DO believe in a God. Agnostics don't support one view over the other.
Glasskitten wrote:If you'll forgive me for nitpicking at minutiae from previous pages: There's another interpretation of the bear story. Not that I was there at the time...

Sorry to interrupt an interesting conversation.
Those interpretations really don't make God or Elisha look less nuts for unleashing bears on people. It still basically boils down to - "if you are one of God's chosen, He's total cool with you murdering the crap out of people, because He's strict about His laws being followed".

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#54 Post by thishumblemosquito » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:22 pm

Alright - This is my last one:
LateWhiteRabbit wrote: Those interpretations really don't make God or Elisha look less nuts for unleashing bears on people. It still basically boils down to - "if you are one of God's chosen, He's total cool with you murdering the crap out of people, because He's strict about His laws being followed".
1. Elisha did not send the bears.
2. Elisha cursed the children.
3. I can curse you or you me, but that does not mean bears will or will not come.
4. Elisha cursed the children in the name of the Lord.
5. The Lord sent the bears.

This scenario/story illustrates an important quality of God for Christians:

God is merciful and God is unmerciful. You do not decide. You can mitigate, but ultimately, you do not decide. Whether God will be merciful or unmerciful is out of your hands, but when you do something in the name of the Lord, God will decide how to act.

Each time you quote that, we who believe are reminded what the nature of God is.

It's been reminded exactly who you answer to, so you straighten up, and you become a better Christian. I was compelled to respond for those very same reasons.

And if you believe, you will believe not because of anything in me, but because of something in you. I can't make you believe, I can only tell you what I believe. This is the nature of belief.

^_^

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#55 Post by arachni42 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:53 pm

thishumblemosquito wrote: atheist = the "theist" part actually refers to "God" so needs to get replaced too.

so this would actually result in:

apinkunicornists believe that invisible pink unicorns don't exist, and pinkunicornists do. They are opposite, but equally beliefs.
That is true, and I find it quite interesting that the language is like that. I think we have history to thank.

But to bring this back around to the OP, who asked about fantasy settings, I will mention that I was reminded of The Mists of Avalon. It was really focused on the old religion vs new religion conflict (and some related gender power issues) in the time of King Arthur. It's got 4.5 stars on Amazon, so there must not be TOO many people who hated it. ;) Personally, I like reading stories with those types of conflicts.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#56 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Mar 25, 2013 7:05 pm

thishumblemosquito wrote:Alright - This is my last one:
LateWhiteRabbit wrote: Those interpretations really don't make God or Elisha look less nuts for unleashing bears on people. It still basically boils down to - "if you are one of God's chosen, He's total cool with you murdering the crap out of people, because He's strict about His laws being followed".
This scenario/story illustrates an important quality of God for Christians:

God is merciful and God is unmerciful. You do not decide. You can mitigate, but ultimately, you do not decide. Whether God will be merciful or unmerciful is out of your hands, but when you do something in the name of the Lord, God will decide how to act.
But this seems to be a form of faulty logic. We don't decide if God is merciful or unmerciful, but we decide when God acts? God wouldn't have done anything to those children unless Elisha invoked him? So God is subject to dogma, and we can force his action (but not decide it) through our words? I don't see it.

I'm a modern deist myself, with classical deist leanings. I believe the "higher power", whatever it is, made the rules that govern the system, and it is a fallacy to assign human-like behavior or motivation to "God". (Deists believe that since "God" created the rules of the universe, only by understanding nature, science, and physics can you have any possible comprehension of "God's" true nature.) When you assign human behavior and thinking to God, it honestly makes him/her/it look like a big fat bi-polar jerk.

I prefer the idea of God as a watchmaker, that set everything in motion with rules to govern it all, and then stepped out for a metaphorical sandwich. Or in our modern way of thinking, I view God much as a programmer of a virtual world. The system then operates on its own, with no direct oversight from the creator. Because I find the alternative much more disturbing - if "God" is constantly doing hands on monitoring and manipulation of the system .... the state of the system would imply God isn't a very nice "whatever-God-is".

When the choice is humanity having either an "abusive parent" or an "absentee parent", I pick the latter one.

Tying it all back to the topic, I find fantasy works that explore the ramifications of God or gods being held accountable to their creations quite interesting. "His Dark Materials" trilogy has a very interesting version of God. I also believe several JRPGs have explored the heroes having to face off against a god or the creator of the universe, and finding the plans of said god are not good for humanity. It is rather fertile ground to explore in a story context.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#57 Post by 9-of-Hearts » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:05 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:But this seems to be a form of faulty logic. We don't decide if God is merciful or unmerciful, but we decide when God acts? God wouldn't have done anything to those children unless Elisha invoked him? So God is subject to dogma, and we can force his action (but not decide it) through our words? I don't see it.

I'm a modern deist myself, with classical deist leanings. I believe the "higher power", whatever it is, made the rules that govern the system, and it is a fallacy to assign human-like behavior or motivation to "God". (Deists believe that since "God" created the rules of the universe, only by understanding nature, science, and physics can you have any possible comprehension of "God's" true nature.) When you assign human behavior and thinking to God, it honestly makes him/her/it look like a big fat bi-polar jerk.

I prefer the idea of God as a watchmaker, that set everything in motion with rules to govern it all, and then stepped out for a metaphorical sandwich. Or in our modern way of thinking, I view God much as a programmer of a virtual world. The system then operates on its own, with no direct oversight from the creator. Because I find the alternative much more disturbing - if "God" is constantly doing hands on monitoring and manipulation of the system .... the state of the system would imply God isn't a very nice "whatever-God-is".

When the choice is humanity having either an "abusive parent" or an "absentee parent", I pick the latter one.

Tying it all back to the topic, I find fantasy works that explore the ramifications of God or gods being held accountable to their creations quite interesting. "His Dark Materials" trilogy has a very interesting version of God. I also believe several JRPGs have explored the heroes having to face off against a god or the creator of the universe, and finding the plans of said god are not good for humanity. It is rather fertile ground to explore in a story context.
These sound a lot like my own beliefs. After a lot of soul searching, I essentially found myself a similar type of Deist, although (though I don't know how you meant "God") I also don't know or care to classify it as God(s) and/or Goddess(es). And I believe in Luck, Fate, random events, Karma, free will, the supernatural (like spirits and angels), and a few other contradicting things.
I loved His Dark Materials as well, I read it a few years ago--maybe it could be the work that for sure set me into examining my own beliefs and accepting that I'm more inclined to Deist thinking than Christian. (Though it was my religiously Lutheran mom who last Fall suggested my ideas are more Deist, I hadn't known how to classify them beforehand. Luckily, she's sort of okay with that. My Catholic aunt won't stop trying to re-convert me though.)


More relating to the OP's post, I particularly enjoy works that challenge the typical belief system in an intelligent and thoughtful way, such as happened in The Golden Compass and the rest of those books. I love to see our understandings of the world looked at in another way, even if I don't agree--such as in the case of... oh what was it... there was a YA Sci Fi novel, I forgot the name, but the female protagonist finds that the universe only repeats itself, and finds she can't change things. I dislike the concept of predestination beyond most things, but it was a thought-provoking book, despite that the conclusions made by the author were repulsive to my sense of the world. Made me cry, even... So...I say go for it--the conflict makes for a great, thought-provoking premise if treated right, and I would bee among the first of such a game's readers. I believe it's a great idea, especially if things aren't shown as black and white.


Also, on another concept mentioned in here, people seem to get really touchy when they believe their beliefs are being or going to be treated frivolously, especially arguing against considering stories i.e. from the Bible as myths. I disagree.
The Ancient Greeks considered what we call today myths their religion and truth--they believed so strongly that the gods and their wrath was so very real that one's impiety could be punishable by death or exile. Participation in religious festivals was mandatory lest one citizen be the cause of disaster for the state. Sure, we may not believe that this is or was true, but they did. Their stories were not myths to them, same as anyone now. So while you can believe in your religion's stories, if you call the stories of another religion "myths," don't be so offended if people use the same or similar terms for yours. Not everyone agrees your stories happened.

And for those who argue that all atheists have an active disbelief in God, the answer is no. Like others have mentioned it means absence of belief in a deity. Amoral is the absence of morality, good or bad, unlike immoral which is active non-morality. Atheism is the same way. It is the ABSENCE of belief. Sure, some militantly believe there is no God, okay. But while it is a belief, that doesn't make it religion. I very strongly believe despite and with my most realistic realizations of cruelty's existence in this world, that humanity can change and become better. That is also not my religion, no matter how absolutely I believe in it.

....Sorry for such a long-winded post, it happened before I knew it.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#58 Post by SundownKid » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:17 pm

Those are my very same views as well. I didn't mean to say that agnostics or atheists are bad in some way, in fact, I think that too much religious fervor leads to negative consequences, and I think everyone is entitled to their beliefs. However, I also believe that a certain amount of blind faith is a prerequisite to believing in a deity. If it's completely quantifiable by science, it ceases to become a deity and becomes a regular, though powerful being rather than being outside the laws of the universe.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#59 Post by arachni42 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:19 am

9-of-Hearts wrote:oh what was it... there was a YA Sci Fi novel, I forgot the name, but the female protagonist finds that the universe only repeats itself, and finds she can't change things.
Was it... The Starlight Crystal, by Christopher Pike? He was my favorite author as a teen. Some of his books (especially the older ones) were just thrillers, but several of them had more interesting elements like this. He has an adult novel where there is a character (Sati, a blonde female) claiming to be God... but I found that one to be less interesting (and less touching) than The Starlight Crystal.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#60 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:29 am

SundownKid wrote: However, I also believe that a certain amount of blind faith is a prerequisite to believing in a deity. If it's completely quantifiable by science, it ceases to become a deity and becomes a regular, though powerful being rather than being outside the laws of the universe.
Possibly. But if you believe that "Being" created the laws of the universe, how can it be governed by them? It would be like a computer programmer being a slave to the lines of code he's written. Maybe that Being or God is subject to another set of laws, but it wouldn't be to the ones they personally created that oversee your world. Now, it could be argued some of those laws will be the same, be we don't know. That's why Deists prefer to study the work of God (nature, science, physics, the universe) to try and understand the creator rather than trying to speculate on the nature or wishes of God. It's also why Deists don't believe in miracles or divine intervention. Why would you create laws to govern everything, and then break them? Why force yourself to operate outside the system when it was yours to create from the ground up? Instead, you would ensure you could achieve your wishes or goals using the laws of nature you personally designed.

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