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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:06 pm 
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of Vinyamar
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[Note: I moved this thread to the Tol Eressëa forum because it clearly belongs there, despite the introductory comments by Alatar, as it is thread about religion - VtF]

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The name "Lasto Beth Lammen" is from a spell that Gandalf used to try to open the doors of Moria. It means "listen to the words of my tongue". It is a reminder to people to try to really listen to what other people have to say, and not just talk past each other.


I quote this because I chose to bring this up in the "non-religious" area of HoF, even though the topic is essentially of a religious nature.

This was prompted by a recent encounter with a family of fundamentalist faith. I was working in Bunratty Castle as usual when I was made aware that one of the young women at the banquet was a contestant in the recent Rose of Tralee Festival. Before continuing, I should explain that the "Rose of Tralee" festival is an Irish institution and although ostensibly a Beauty pageant, it has more to do with the Irish diaspora, and what they and their subsequent generations have chosen to pursue. Naturally, all the girls are attractive, but personality and goals have a huge part to play in the competition. There is no "swimsuit round"! :)

Anyway, I was chatting to the Arizona Rose, a lovely girl called Danielle McBurnett. Her parents and sister were with her and we were having a grand old chat. While discussing the problems in the north and issues between Catholics and Protestants, I remarked that most of those issues were consigned to the past, and that I felt the US had bigger problems than us, particularly regarding the "Fundamentalist Right". Well, as you may have expected by now, the family promptly informed me that they were Fundamentalists. My response was "Well, yeah, but surely you don't believe in a 7000 year old Earth". They did.

Not only that, but over the next half an hour, they informed me of the following:

They believed that Dinosaurs and Humans lived on the Earth simultaneously. (Proven apparently by the fact that diamonds can be created in a lab)
They believed that the Grand Canyon was created by the actual events of the Flood.
They believed that there was no possible rationale to excuse abortion, even if their 16 year old daughter had been raped. In fact I was informed that they would feel privileged to raise the child and that their daughters would be both happy and thrilled to raise the child of a rapist.
They believed that Jesus Christ and God were personally known to them and that they "could not wait to die" so that they could "meet him face to face".

Now, I consider myself to be a Christian, and a Catholic, but these proclamations seemed to me to be the ravings of lunatics. Lovely people, yes, but inherently unstable. But then I stopped and considered. In a strange way, these people are more Catholic than I. They believe the literal truth of the bible, while I believe its a guide at best, and more likely a parable to be pondered rather than a fixed instruction. More so, I found myself wondering if an atheist finds my beliefs as incomprehensible and absurd as I found those of a Fundamentalist.

So why have I posted this here? Because I want to examine religion from a purely practical angle. My religion, yours, those none of us believe. Is Scientology more irrational than Christianity? Or Judaism? Or Buddhism? Aside from what we believe what is there about any religion that makes it better than another? If we strip back to the provable facts, what makes one religion superior?

(No offence intended here. I simply wanted to give an honest reaction to what prompted this post.)

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:31 pm 
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Best friends forever
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My one comment is: I think all religion is superstitious nonsense.

And with that, I'm outa here. 8)

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:32 pm 
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I would not be surprised that if we REALLY stripped to provable facts - how many would we actually find which form a basis for our respective religions. I mean, how many of those "facts" can be proven? And in that sense, isn't all religion irrational?

I am a Hindu. Loosely speaking. I have encountered Hindu fundamentalists (the ISKCON gang comes to mind), and have felt exactly the same way you do. What always bugs me is that a lot of Hindu followers consider their religion superior to other religions. Not unlike the Christians who come and ask me if I have been saved. Now why do they consider it superior, reasons range from a)its a very old religion, b)it's a way of life, not a religion, and c) we do not convert.

Now, I am trying to figure out what are the basic tenets of Hinduism that I could list here to answer your question. We have so many "books", that it would be tough to call each one Hinduism - the Vedas, the Upanishads, Ramayana and Gita.... the ones that I know of.

What do you have in mind? Basic principles that people live by (would they be any different across religions). Core beliefs? Specific actions (like not eating beef)?

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:50 pm 
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I bailed on religion in general because of all the insanity that it seems to generate. Sometimes, people even kill each other over it. How nuts is that?

In my 11th grade American literature class, we talked about the Puritans and the Reformation and Martin Luther and John Calvin because they've had an influence and, anyway, discussing the Puritans is useful when reading The Scarlet Letter. The whole idea behind John Calvin's concept of The Elect had me completely baffled and finally the teacher told me, in these very words, "Stop trying to apply logic to it." :help:

I later figured it out - part of the problem was the teacher explained it poorly. But it still strikes me as crazy.

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Last edited by River on Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:50 pm 
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I think the difficulty I have with religion in general (none in particular) is the strange melding of ethical standards (which naturally vary between cultures and historical periods) and belief in odd supernatural happenings. It's sometimes as if the belief in odd supernatural happenings is more important than the ethical standards.
I can quite understand that each religion is based within a cultural background and the histories and legends and customs of that background have some influence. We are all creatures of our particular histories. I just find it odd that ones needs supernature to back up ethical standards and a sense of right and wrong.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:58 pm 
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Yes. My religion is nuts. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 11:05 pm 
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Anthriel wrote:
Yes. My religion is nuts. :)


I agree, but mine isn't as nuts as everyone else's.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 11:33 pm 
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Alatar, can you say how much the strength of your reaction is due to the dinosaur stuff?

I can't really comment on the relative craziness of Christianity/Scientology, as I don't know that much about Scientology. Maybe it would be more useful to gauge the relative craziness of more accepted religions? Is the idea of reincarnation any crazier than the idea of dying and going to heaven? Offhand, I'd say they're about the same. Believing strange things about the dinosaurs doesn't strike me as that much stranger than believing bread and wine can be changed into someone's body and blood. I think it all comes down to whether or not one is prepared to accept the idea that what we can apprehend with our senses is not all there is. Someone who isn't will probably regard everything in the other realm as equally crazy.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 11:47 pm 
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Catholic are supposed to believe that the bread and wine in communion is the literal body and blood of Jesus, no?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:06 am 
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Yes, my religion is nuts, because it deals with matters of the spirit that can't be pinned down materially.

That does not mean that I reject the findings of science. Not at all. I have absolutely no problem with evolution, for instance. But I believe that there is a reality deeper than what can be measured, a reality that creates, shapes and intersects with the world we see and touch.

Some would call that nuts. Black matter and string theory and quantum physics all sound nuts too, at least to people who like to assume that what they perceive is all that exists.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:19 am 
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Oh, Alatar...GREAT topic.

And I really want to respond...and I will.

But I have about a billion things that need doing and my post will require some time. So stayed tuned.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:44 am 
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Well, yeah, but surely you don't believe in a 7000 year old Earth".

This is a scientific question, not a religious question. We have evidence, plenty of it, for the age of the earth. I guess if you insist on making it a religious question, even in the face of scientific evidence, then that could kind of be nuts. The problem comes when people try to get this insanity taught in schools.

They believed that Dinosaurs and Humans lived on the Earth simultaneously. (Proven apparently by the fact that diamonds can be created in a lab)

Well, it was in the Far Side, so it must be true!

They believed that the Grand Canyon was created by the actual events of the Flood.

You know back in the day a lot of scientists who looked at the Grand Canyon thought that it was impossible it was all done by erosion, that there had to have been earthquakes and things. But nope, all erosion. But all at once?

They believed that there was no possible rationale to excuse abortion, even if their 16 year old daughter had been raped. In fact I was informed that they would feel privileged to raise the child and that their daughters would be both happy and thrilled to raise the child of a rapist.

This is a political question, isn't it? This hypothetical fetus/child would also be their grandchild. Why is it nuts for that to trump the "child of a rapist" bit?

They believed that Jesus Christ and God were personally known to them and that they "could not wait to die" so that they could "meet him face to face".

This is just a spiritual question and not any nuttier than any other truly religious belief, is it?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:47 am 
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Faramond wrote:
This is a scientific question, not a religious question.


Lots of religions have dogma regarding things that would be called "science" AKA physically observable phenomena.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:54 am 
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yovargas wrote:
Faramond wrote:
This is a scientific question, not a religious question.


Lots of religions have dogma regarding things that would be called "science" AKA physically observable phenomena.


Yes, true, true, but it doesn't bother me one bit what the Catholics say about bread and wine becoming the body and blood because they aren't trying to have it taught in schools. If it is nuts to think that, and I'm not saying it is, but if it is, it is a benign form of nuts. I'm not allergic to those nuts. I'm allergic to the nuts that pretend to be scientific nuts.

And how is the age of the earth Christian dogma? Or freaking dinosaurs? What does that have to do with Christian Salvation?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:40 am 
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Some flavors of Christian believe that every word in the Bible must be taken as fact. No metaphors, no myths. The insanity Alatar described can follow from that.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:43 am 
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Faramond wrote:
And how is the age of the earth Christian dogma? Or freaking dinosaurs? What does that have to do with Christian Salvation?


Nothing. But it sounds nuts, so it's fun to focus on that. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:08 am 
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Well, we do have proof that humans lived with dinosaurs.

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Religion is nuts because it deals with things other than can be tested and established empirically. As humans find more ways to test and establish things, it may appear that there is little left for religion to do.

And really, religion was not meant to be just about ethics or being a better person or finding yourself. It was born in the days when gods were real to people, more real than people, not just emanations of collective faith that want us to be nice to each other. These people do religion right, in a certain light, and they do science completely wrong, and they are confused over the two.

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‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
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Last edited by Frelga on Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:10 am 
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Boy, he woulda if he coulda. :)

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"A cage," Éowyn said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:14 am 
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OK, sorry about the first version of the last post. I meant to see if the picture was to big, and submitted instead of previewing. I fixed the size, and added some text.

And Anthy, he totally woulda.

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‘There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’
‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:25 am 
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I blame Zoroaster. Once you set up a a dichotomy between an impure, even evil physical world and a pure, godly spiritual world, you've poisoned the well of empiricism. "Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"

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