the religious out take from Escape Artist's thread

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Siri Kirpal

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Okay, let's see if I can address all the replies to my post on Escape Artist's thread in a coherent fashion.

First, yes, science is science and religion is religion. My problem is when people use scientific arguments to decry religion. That turns science into the inquisition. It defeats science's purpose of helpful inquiry. My problem is when people say you can't prove God, and then are bothered when religious types say, you can't disprove God. If it's scientific fact, you have to be able to do both.

Second, my main problem is with people who decry ALL religion based on (hmmm....what's the polite way to say this?) absurdities in the Bible or in Evangelical Christian thought. Please, there are lots and lots of religions out there. I posted a few of the more tolerant ones in #20 of Escape Artist's thread. I don't think it's respectful to act as if all religions are responsible for the less-savory ideas of one portion of one religion.

Sikhism, for instance, specifically states in stanza #21 of Japji Sahib--the poem devout Sikhs (and some non-Sikhs) read every day--that we can't know when the universe came into existence. That's a far cry from the creationist's countdown of 6000 and whatever years. And frankly, it's a lot more sane than the scientific passion for tracing it back as far as we can go. Point is, we weren't there. Sikhs know that.

Third, believe it or not, atheists are every bit as likely to make "exclusive truth claims" as religious people. My husband and I just took part in a sociological study of people in interfaith relationships. Now, the lady who did the study rightfully points out that she didn't get enough data to make any sweeping statements. But it's telling that of the 14 people interviewed, only one person said that "exclusive truth claims" on the part of a partner ended the relationship. The partner with the exclusive truth claims was an atheist. None of the rest of us mentioned that sort of thing at all. If any of you want to verify that, please pm me with your email address, and I'll forward that study to you.

Fourth, ah, yes, speaking of studies: Loads of double-blind, correctly scientific studies indicate that people who pray or who are prayed for live longer and have fewer health issues, etc. Okay, yes, I know, there might be other reasons, like people who pray might take better care of themselves. And that right there is telling too. Also, there are studies that meditation activates specific parts of the brain. In other words, we're hardwired for the experience of God. THE EXPERIENCE OF GOD. Note, that I didn't say that therefore God exists.

In my understanding, what Escape Artist experienced when she had that experience of vast connection was a religious experience, one she gained when she dropped the idea of hell. I don't believe in hell or heaven either, except as states of mind. Very few people outside of Christianity or Islam (and not even all of those) believe in heaven and hell.

I'm working on a memoir that includes a conversation with an atheist. Haven't figured out how to give you guys the link, but if you're interested you can find that conversation in the memoir section of SYW. It's called the wedding, and I think it's on the 2nd page of threads.

For more information on Sikhs and Sikhism, you can consult sikhnet.com or that book in my avatar. :)

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

PeterD

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Thanks for replying but I think the same comments apply. Your religion is also based on faith.

I have not seen any reputable and recognized studies that clearly show any value in prayer beyond a placebo effect. If prayer seems to work for you, then that is all cool. Just please do not be one of those parents who tests their faith my preventing their kids from getting medical attention and relying on prayer instead. We all know how that ends. And I am not talking about meditation, a calm mind reducing the body from an agitated state. We should not confused things. I am talking about miraculous healings etc. Instead, we have a multitude of faith healers and time after time after time they get exposed as frauds and charlatans.

Finally, again, science is not about disproving the existence of God. Anyone who is telling you that is not understanding science. But you seem to equate proving and disproving God as tasks of equal merit. They are not.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Or
That which can be asserted without evidence and also be dismissed without evidence.

You can pick which one you prefer, both apply.
 

Siri Kirpal

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1) I'm not a parent.

2) Yes, Sikhs use doctors. Some of us ARE doctors.

3) Yes, there are reputable studies that suggest the value of prayer. Not as a replacement for medical attention, but as an adjunct.

4) I have a brother who's a scientist. He has had his problems with religion, but he did tell me that since no one "prove the null hypothesis," that it is not scientific to claim God doesn't exist.

I'm willing to agree to disagree. But I have problems with anyone making comments about all religions by referencing the Bible or Christianity only.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

PeterD

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We are in agreement on the science thing. You seem to be agreeing with your brother, and I have said the same in multiple posts. It is not up to science to disprove God. So I think we both agree there?

As for the rest - we are not far apart. I suggest that Sikhism is a faith. You seem to have an issue with that for some reason. But that could be a misinterpretation on my part.

As for the value of prayer, I did not say it had no value, I said that there were no reputable and accepted studies that showed that it had value above a placebo. And I should have qualified, I am talking about third party prayer.

To clarify - there is no study that I have seen (I have looked, but correct me if I am wrong, I am always glad to learn something new) that shows that praying for the sick has any value whatsoever, above a placebo effect if the person prayed for is aware of the prayers. And to be explicit - I am saying that if my grandmother has cancer, and I organize a bunch of people to pray for her, I have seen no accepted and study that proves that the prayer helps.

If my grandmother prays for herself does that help? Perhaps. Does it help beyond the placebo effect? Again, I have seen no studies that show this to be the case.

There are questionable studies of course.


The irony is that there have been thousands and thousands and thousands of Gods mooted to be the creator and master of our universe.

Of those thousands and thousands and thousands of Gods, atheists choose not to believe in any.

The majority of religious folks choose not to believe in any, except for one.

As I say to my mother in law (and I did not come up with this quote) "When you understand why you do not believe in the other Gods (Thor, Osiris, Zeus, Baal et. al.) then you will understand why I do not believe in yours."
 

Amadan

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First, yes, science is science and religion is religion. My problem is when people use scientific arguments to decry religion. That turns science into the inquisition. It defeats science's purpose of helpful inquiry.

Science doesn't decry religion. It decries specific religious beliefs. I don't even know what "decries religion" means. Are you saying people claim that science disproves everything about all religions? I've never heard such a claim.

My problem is when people say you can't prove God, and then are bothered when religious types say, you can't disprove God. If it's scientific fact, you have to be able to do both.

Who are these people? I'm not bothered when religious types say you can't disprove God. Of course you can't disprove God. That doesn't mean God exists or that there is good reason to believe God exists, but anyone who understands science knows you can't disprove God. Any more than you can disprove unicorns.

Second, my main problem is with people who decry ALL religion based on (hmmm....what's the polite way to say this?) absurdities in the Bible or in Evangelical Christian thought.

Again, I don't know who these types are you are referring to, but I don't know many atheists who are unaware that other religions exist besides the Abrahamic ones, and that not all Christians are Young Earth Creationists.

Sikhism, for instance, specifically states in stanza #21 of Japji Sahib--the poem devout Sikhs (and some non-Sikhs) read every day--that we can't know when the universe came into existence. That's a far cry from the creationist's countdown of 6000 and whatever years.

That's nice and all, but not all Christians are creationists, so it seems you are trying to compare Sikhism favorably with a small branch of Christianity, while saying not much at all about its relationship to science.

And frankly, it's a lot more sane than the scientific passion for tracing it back as far as we can go. Point is, we weren't there. Sikhs know that.

So, you think scientists don't know we weren't there? Come on now. What's so insane about trying to trace back the origins of the universe as far as we can go? It's called scientific inquiry.

Third, believe it or not, atheists are every bit as likely to make "exclusive truth claims" as religious people.

I'm not sure what you mean here. If you mean atheists are as likely to be dogmatic as religious types, sure. I'd never claim being an atheist makes you a nicer person or even a more rational one. The large intersection between atheists and libertarians proves that.

My husband and I just took part in a sociological study of people in interfaith relationships. Now, the lady who did the study rightfully points out that she didn't get enough data to make any sweeping statements. But it's telling that of the 14 people interviewed, only one person said that "exclusive truth claims" on the part of a partner ended the relationship. The partner with the exclusive truth claims was an atheist.

So, the point of your anecdote from a sample size of 14 is that atheists are narrow-minded and hard to live with?

Fourth, ah, yes, speaking of studies: Loads of double-blind, correctly scientific studies indicate that people who pray or who are prayed for live longer and have fewer health issues, etc.

Highly questionable.

Okay, yes, I know, there might be other reasons, like people who pray might take better care of themselves. And that right there is telling too. Also, there are studies that meditation activates specific parts of the brain.

That says nothing about religion or God.

In other words, we're hardwired for the experience of God. THE EXPERIENCE OF GOD. Note, that I didn't say that therefore God exists.

I'm sorry, but this is the sort of nonsense that makes evolutionary psychology a joke.
 

Siri Kirpal

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To clarify: The studies I know about have been double-blind studies. In the one I remember best, one group of men having a particular surgery were prayed for and one group was not. The group that was prayed for recovered faster, used less medication and had fewer side effects than the group not prayed for.

Peter, we seem to be using faith in two separate ways. Sikhism is certainly a faith, if you are using faith to mean religion. No problem. However, faith, meaning belief, is not a big deal for us. We don't have anything even vaguely like a Credo.

Amadan, yes, as I stated in the OP, 14 people isn't a large sample. If you don't like anecdotal evidence, it will mean nothing to you. I understand that.

Some of the other posts in Escape Artist's thread have talked as if Christianity was the only other religion. My posts are merely a reminder that it ain't so. That pretty much covers all your other objections as far as I can see.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

cray

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mod note: i'm going to move this thread to the Comparative Religious Philosophy Discussion section (if i can figure out how).
 

ColoradoGuy

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Welcome everybody. Just a reminder: this is not the politics forum; respectful listening and exchange of viewpoints is how it works here.

I am aware of studies in cancer patients that suggest meditation and any other activities that promote a sense of well-being improve outcomes. The effect is not great, but it is measurable. Likewise, depressed and forlorn cancer patients do worse. But the improved sense of well-being is not specific to prayer.
 

RichardGarfinkle

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A few things:

Can someone put in a link to the thread this was branched off from, please? I'm kind of curious where this started.

Not all religions are faith based. That may sound hard to believe, but it's true. A number of religions (Buddhism and Taoism for two) don't require any faith at all. What matters in these religions is practice, what the person does in their minds and in the world.

I would also argue (having grown up in it) that Judaism is largely about practice and that faith is not the center of the religion.

Christianity and Islam seem to mostly be faith based, but not all branches are. A number of sects of Christianity assert that the most important thing in the religion is belief in Christ and in the Resurrection, but not all of them do. Unitarian Universalists certainly don't require this, and my exposure to Quakerism through attendance at a Quaker school implied that it is not required there either (but, IIRC, there is a higher power on this board that can comment on that better than I can).

There certainly are some dogmatic atheists. There are also a lot of battle-weary atheists who aren't dogmatic but are tired of having the same arguments over and over and tend to be short with people because atheism gets a lot of bad press.

Anyone who hasn't done so, may I recommend looking over the old threads on this board and the atheism board, they are eye opening about the relationship between atheism and religions.
 
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PeterD

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Not all religions are faith based. That may sound hard to believe, but it's true. A number of religions (Buddhism and Taoism for two) don't require any faith at all. What matters in these religions is practice, what the person does in their minds and in the world.

I would also argue (having grown up in it) that Judaism is largely about practice and that faith is not the center of the religion.

Christianity and Islam seem to mostly be faith based, but not all branches are. A number of sects of Christianity assert that the most important thing in the religion is belief in Christ and in the Resurrection, but not all of them do. Unitarian Universalists certainly don't require this, and my exposure to Quakerism through attendance at a Quaker school implied that it is not required there either (but, IIRC, there is a higher power on this board that can comment on that better than I can).

Our definitions of faith may be different.

If a Jewish person believes in God, then either that is faith, or he has proof of the existence of God.

We can say with certainty that he does not have proof of the existence of God, so therefore it is faith.

And the same applies to any deity.
 

Shakesbear

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Our definitions of faith may be different.

If a Jewish person believes in God, then either that is faith, or he has proof of the existence of God.

We can say with certainty that he does not have proof of the existence of God, so therefore it is faith.

And the same applies to any deity.

Does this not depend on what you mean by God?
 

benbradley

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Our definitions of faith may be different.

If a Jewish person believes in God, then either that is faith, or he has proof of the existence of God.

We can say with certainty that he does not have proof of the existence of God, so therefore it is faith.

And the same applies to any deity.
It's not the faith part - to quote Richard again (where you had already quote him):
I would also argue (having grown up in it) that Judaism is largely about practice and that faith is not the center of the religion.
If you just read the bolded part I think you would get it. Unitarian Universalism (which I've been a part of for 15 years) is similar (and perhaps shouldn't be called Christian, despite its clearly acknowledged Christian origins) in that it's about "social justice," helping the poor, and trying to right the wrongs in the world, and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." UU's do this not because "Jesus tells us to do these things" (as members of a more traditional Christian church might say), but because we believe it's "the right thing to do." This is pretty much humanitarianism.

One might argue that humanitarianism is also a faith (as opposed to a scientific fact), but I think many people would distinguish it from faith in a deity.
 

Shakesbear

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I am not talking about faith or belief - when you say god what do you mean?
 

PeterD

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Thanks!

My argument was that religion is based on faith.

Your argument seems to be that perhaps faith is not the central part of your religion. I did not know anything about UU's at all but I just had a quick read. It looks interesting, thanks. It appears to be something of a catch-all and it would appear that in your case it is correct - although it is so open that there obviously are UU's that do believe in the Christian God (and so I would argue that their flavour of UU is based on faith), some believe in no God, some believe in other Gods (also faith based).

I certainly applaud the right/wrong moral grounding based on something more than a fear of going to Hell.
 

PeterD

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I am not talking about faith or belief - when you say god what do you mean?

As a generalization, I am talking about God in the context of organized religion.

But I am open. :)

God - not god.

But I think that discussion perhaps leads down the paths of the different kinds of atheism and agnosticism. Maybe that is where you are leading?
 

Shakesbear

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That is not where I am leading! I'll try to phrase it differently - what is your concept of god? Up in the roof, humans in the middle and the devil in the basement? Spiritual*? Omniscient? Omnipresent? Omnipotent? I am just curious (polite way of saying nosey) about other views, is all.

:brit * you can get 100% proof if it is spiritual!
 

PeterD

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Hey, no worries.

There is no definition of god that I know of that I accept.

So the Abrahamic God? No.
The Norse Gods? No.
The Greek Gods? No.
The Roman Gods? No.
The Viking Gods? No.
The Sumerian Gods? No.
The Scientologist Gods? No.
And so on.

I cannot know that there is no God, but I do not accept any of the definitions I have seen. Even after consuming loads of spirits!

The concept of a fluffy spiritual God? That is another story. I do not believe in that either, but there that is where I was going with the agnostic/atheist angle.

Put it this way: My disbelief in a god and my disbelief in the God of Christianity (to pick an example) are not the same.
 

Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Yep, Colorado Guy gave the link to the right thread.

So, Sikhs and members of some other Eastern religions believe in a God that is present in all things, both immanent and transcendent, non-judgemental, without gender or form or etc. And really to talk about God at all in limited terms is, well, limited.

In other words, by my standards, atheism is a fish saying the ocean doesn't exist, a colorblind person who doesn't see what's so great about Renoir, a tonedeaf person who can't hear what's so great about a Beethoven symphony, etc. It's not bad. By my standards, God created atheists too.

For Sikhs, and members of some other Eastern "faiths," it's not about "faith;" it's about the practice that gives you the experience.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

PeterD

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Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Yep, Colorado Guy gave the link to the right thread.

So, Sikhs and members of some other Eastern religions believe in a God that is present in all things, both immanent and transcendent, non-judgemental, without gender or form or etc. And really to talk about God at all in limited terms is, well, limited.

In other words, by my standards, atheism is a fish saying the ocean doesn't exist, a colorblind person who doesn't see what's so great about Renoir, a tonedeaf person who can't hear what's so great about a Beethoven symphony, etc. It's not bad. By my standards, God created atheists too.

For Sikhs, and members of some other Eastern "faiths," it's not about "faith;" it's about the practice that gives you the experience.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Thanks for your reply.

Vāhigurū is the God is Sihkism. Your belief in Vāhigurū is based on faith, right?

I do not mean to disregard everything you said by highlighting this, I am just trying to illustrate a point. I understand that the Sikh representation of Vāhigurū might be somewhat different from the Christian representation of God (although it looks some overlap to me), I think it would be fair to say different gods, both require faith.

What is a Sikh without belief in Vāhigurū?
 

Siri Kirpal

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We wouldn't say it was different Gods; we would say it was the same God viewed in different ways.

I might even make the case that atheism is a-theism. A different view of God or god. Which makes atheism a faith too.

Probably doesn't answer your question. You know the old cliche about beating a dead horse... Semantics, my friend, semantics. That's all you're asking for. Sure, Sikhs have a faith that includes the word Waheguru (more Westernized spelling). That doesn't mean our faith is about faith.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

RichardGarfinkle

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

We wouldn't say it was different Gods; we would say it was the same God viewed in different ways.

I might even make the case that atheism is a-theism. A different view of God or god. Which makes atheism a faith too.

Probably doesn't answer your question. You know the old cliche about beating a dead horse... Semantics, my friend, semantics. That's all you're asking for. Sure, Sikhs have a faith that includes the word Waheguru (more Westernized spelling). That doesn't mean our faith is about faith.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

I understand what you're getting at, but I fear that the sentence I bolded is not beating a dead horse :deadhorse but reopening a can of worms (smiley for opening a can of worms needed).

The argument that atheism is a faith, religion, or belief because it is a view on God, gods, or religion has shown up I don't know how many times in threads around here. It always seems to have a conceptual break in it.

In these threads one or more people will usually assert that atheism is a faith because it is a persepctive on God. Then one or more atheists will try to explain that it isn't because religion isn't a part of their lives.

Here's the problem as I see it. One side of this debate thinks atheism is concerned with whether religious statements are True or False. This side assumes that atheism is the assertion religious statements are False.

This description is accurate for some atheists but not all or probably even most (I don't have statistics to back that up, it's purely from personal experience).

To most atheists religious statements are irrelevant. These atheists give no mental space or concern to the questions at all.

By way of analogy. Here in Chicago, which baseball team one follows (Cubs or White Sox) is a serious matter. I don't have any interest in sports, so I don't care, which earns me funny looks.

For a less theologically fraught example, consider that within particular genres of writing the relative qualities of different writers are matters of import and argument. But the matter is irrelevant to those who don't read in that genre.

I suspect that it is hard for a lot of religious people to accept the idea that something that is central to their ways of thinking and integral to how they perceive the universe can be irrelevant to other people.

But therein lies the real difference in thinking, not whether one thinks religious questions are true or false but whether one thinks about them at all.
 
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Shakesbear

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Hey, no worries.

There is no definition of god that I know of that I accept.

So the Abrahamic God? No.
The Norse Gods? No.
The Greek Gods? No.
The Roman Gods? No.
The Viking Gods? No.
The Sumerian Gods? No.
The Scientologist Gods? No.
And so on.

I cannot know that there is no God, but I do not accept any of the definitions I have seen. Even after consuming loads of spirits!

The concept of a fluffy spiritual God? That is another story. I do not believe in that either, but there that is where I was going with the agnostic/atheist angle.

Put it this way: My disbelief in a god and my disbelief in the God of Christianity (to pick an example) are not the same.

I think I understand. Thank you for explaining it. I used to teach Religious Education and was frequently asked by students if I believed in god. I always asked them to explain what they meant by 'god' so I could tell them if I believed in their concept. Very few were able to give me any explanation. One pupil did and he went on to get an A* in his exam. I confused them even further when they asked me what my religion was and I told them I was a Pantheistic Jew. Or a Jewish Pantheist.


In these threads one or more people will usually assert that atheism is a faith because it is a persepctive on God. Then one or more atheists will try to explain that it isn't because religion isn't a part of their lives.

I understand that (my bold) from a religious point of view but not from a social one. If you were a Catholic, Protestant or atheist living in Northern Ireland during the troubles then religion was inescapable. Religion touches our lives in countless ways, it is part of the fabric of society (apologies for the cliche). Is it god who is not part of their lives?
 

RichardGarfinkle

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I think I understand. Thank you for explaining it. I used to teach Religious Education and was frequently asked by students if I believed in god. I always asked them to explain what they meant by 'god' so I could tell them if I believed in their concept. Very few were able to give me any explanation. One pupil did and he went on to get an A* in his exam. I confused them even further when they asked me what my religion was and I told them I was a Pantheistic Jew. Or a Jewish Pantheist.




I understand that (my bold) from a religious point of view but not from a social one. If you were a Catholic, Protestant or atheist living in Northern Ireland during the troubles then religion was inescapable. Religion touches our lives in countless ways, it is part of the fabric of society (apologies for the cliche). Is it god who is not part of their lives?

Being a more or less Atheist, Jewish, Taoist (with a dash of Buddhist and anything else I find useful) I can sympathize.

Anyway, your last paragraph is important because it brings up one of the critical confusions. Atheists, on the whole, do acknowledge the fact of and importance of religion as a social force and social feature.

But that does not mean treating the subject matter of religion (God, gods, faith, etc) as being of importance. This seems to me to be confusing the outside of something (religion as part of society, creater of social movements, inspirer of art etc) with the inside (what the religions are themselves concerned with I.e. god etc.)

If I might bring up a really weird religion and science analogy. Most people see and regard as important some of the effects of science on society (in the form of technology, medicine etc), but very few people regard the matters science actually concerns itself with as relevant to their lives. They tune out discussions of science as nerd talk. To a lot of atheists what goes on inside religion is just god talk. It's nothing to do with them.
 
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