Don’t Force Your Religious Opinions on Your Children

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By Richard Dawkins

Last week the local government council of the London borough of Islington was reported in the Islington Gazette as having banned pork products from primary school dinners. The rumor of an outright ban has since been denied, and the truth is unclear. A good case could indeed be made for a ban, on humanitarian grounds. There is persuasive evidence, after all, that pigs have levels of intelligence and awareness comparable to our much loved domestic pets. But no such humane considerations have been mentioned here. Councillor Joe Caluori, the Council’s executive member for children and families, was quoted in the Gazette as saying: “By not having pork on the menus in our schools, we can keep down costs and reduce food waste, maximising the schools meal budget in tough financial circumstances.”

The underlying point was clarified by another spokesman from the council, as quoted in the Gazette and requoted in The Independentone of Britain’s most respected national newspapers: “Young children, some as young as four-years-old, of different religious and ethnic backgrounds may not know which foods contain pork, or may not realise the importance of avoiding it due to their culture or beliefs.”

Whatever the truth or falsehood of the original report of the ban itself, there is something in that quotation that should leap out and hit you in the face. “Their” beliefs? The “beliefs” of four-year-old children? Did it not occur to this spokesperson that children who are too young to realize the importance of “their” beliefs might also be too young to possess those same beliefs in the first place? How can the “beliefs” of a four-year-old child be “important” to her if she doesn’t even know what her beliefs are?

Would you ever speak of a four-year-old’s political beliefs? Hannah is a socialist four-year-old, Mark a conservative. Who would ever dream of saying such a thing? What would you say if you read a demographic article which said something like this: “One in every three children born today is a Kantian Neo-platonist child. If the birth rate trends continue, Existentialist Positivists will be outnumbered by 2030.” Never mind the nonsensical names of philosophical schools of thought I just invented. I deliberately chose surreal names so as not to distract from the real point. Religion is the one exception we all make to the rule: don’t label children with the opinions of their parents.

And if you want to make an exception for the opinions we call religious, and claim that it is any less preposterous to speak of “Christian children” or “Muslim children”, you’d better have a good argument up your sleeve.

What might such an argument look like? First, some say that labeling a child Muslim, say, or Catholic, is no worse than labeling her French or Swedish. But it’s not a good comparison. Citizenship of a country, whether we like it or not, has legal implications. Your country issues your passport, you are allowed to vote in its elections, you may even be drafted to fight its wars. But if you know somebody’s nationality that doesn’t tell you their opinions about anything. That French person may be left wing, right wing, pacifist or warlike, pro or anti abortion, the death penalty, vegetarianism, Windows, Macintosh or Linux.

Unlike national labels, religious labels carry a baggage of personal opinion. Catholics believe Jesus was born of a virgin mother who never died but was “assumed” bodily into heaven. Mormons believe Jesus visited America and that Native Americans migrated from Israel. It is high-handed and presumptuous to tie a metaphorical label around a tiny child’s neck stating, in effect, “this child believes Jesus rose from the dead”, as calmly as you might write “Blood Group AB.” At very least it negates the ideal, held dear by all decent educationists, that children should be taught to think for themselves.

Second, there will be people who argue that, setting religious doctrine aside, we should still treat a child as belonging to the samecultural tradition as her parents. Jewish families observe a calendar of festivals and rituals, which are different from those of Christians, Muslims or Hindus. It is reasonable that children will participate in traditional meals on Friday evenings, will hang up Christmas stockings, will help make Diwali cakes on the appropriate day. I get that, and would be sorry to see many ancient traditions die (although I would draw the line at making children fast or chopping off babies’ foreskins). Many of my Jewish friends (almost all are atheists) see no harm in celebrating traditional festivals, and I enjoy a Carol Service in a great cathedral, or Harvest Festival Evensong in a country church.

But there really is an important difference between including your children in harmless traditions, and forcing on them un-evidenced opinions about the nature of life or the cosmos. Tradition is fine where it amounts to songs or literature, styles of dress or architecture. But tradition is a terrible basis for ethics, or beliefs about the origin of the universe or the evolution of life.

Indoctrinating your opinions into the vulnerable minds of your children is bad enough. Perhaps worse is the defeatist assumption, almost universally made by society at large, including secular society, that children as a matter of fact do automatically inherit the beliefs of their parents and our language should reflect this. Non-religious as well as religious people buy into the notion that children should belabeled with one religious name or another.

Even labeled for life: when you enter hospital, or join the armed services, you fill in a form where you have to nominate your religion (which can be “none”).

We regularly read demographic projections like, “By the year so-and-so France will be 50 percent Muslim.” Such a forecast can only be based on the assumption that all children born to a Muslim couple are little Muslims who will grow up to raise their own little Muslims in due course.

Divorce courts may be asked to decide whether a child of a broken marriage should be “raised Catholic” or “raised Protestant.” Nobody ever asked a divorce court to rule on whether a child should be “raised soccer” or “raised rugby”; “raised ornithologist” or “raised stamp collector”; “raised liberal” or “raised conservative”; “raised Macintosh” or “raised Windows.”

Feminists have successfully raised our consciousness about sex-biased language. Nobody nowadays talks about “one man one vote,” or “the rights of man.” The use of “man” in such a context raises immediate hackles. Even those who use sexist language know they are doing it, may even do it deliberately to annoy. The point is that our consciousness has been raised. Our language has changed because we have become aware of hidden assumptions that we previously overlooked.

Let us all raise our consciousness, and the consciousness of society, about the religious labeling of children. Let’s all mind our religious language just as we have learned to over sexist language. “Catholic child,” “Muslim child,” “Hindu child,” “Mormon child” — all such phrases should make us cringe. Whenever you hear somebody speak of a “Catholic child,” stop them in their tracks: There’s no such thing as a Catholic child. Would you speak of a “Postmodernist child” or a “States Rights child”? What you meant to say was “child of Catholic parents.” And the same for “Muslim” child etc.

If, when you first read the quotation from the Islington Council spokesperson, nothing jumped out and hit you in the face, please do so again. Is your consciousness raised now?

458 COMMENTS

  1. I strongly agree with this article, and found the alternative (philosophical) labels really help to demonstrate how ridiculous and damaging religious labels are.

    Tradition is fine where it amounts to songs or literature, styles of dress or architecture.

    I would go further and say that these traditions can also be incredibly damaging to children at times. Certain music is considered of the devil or haram and styles of dress are used as religious identity and also make people superstitious about not wearing the right garb. As for visual arts, I realise that as a figurative artist I am consigned to the Islamic fires of hell for painting animate objects.. but what I don’t know is if young children raised by Muslim parents are forbidden from drawing the people and animals that come so naturally to them.
    I’d be interested to hear if anyone knows the answer to that.

    I’ll be sharing the article, because I do feel that children’s rights to be free of beliefs and religion is sincere, and religious rights to indoctrinate are bogus, and it’s a crying shame that governments have got that one upside down.

  2. @OP – The “beliefs” of four-year-old children? Did it not occur to this spokesperson that children who are too young to realize the importance of “their” beliefs might also be too young to possess those same beliefs in the first place? How can the “beliefs” of a four-year-old child be “important” to her if she doesn’t even know what her beliefs are?
    . . . . .
    Last week the local government council of the London borough of Islington was reported in the Islington Gazette as having banned pork products from primary school dinners.

    Damn! They’ll just have to eat those sacred cow-burgers!

  3. When I was a lad, I experienced forced religion via my mother. I was made to attend church services, Sunday “school,” and the like. I distinctly recall once, while attending a family gathering at the age of 5 years, my mother was asked if her children attended church regularly. Her response, “Oh yes, all of my children are good Christians.” She grabbed both my shoulders roughly, maneuvered me in front of her, and said, “Donn has been blessed with a gift for singing. God certainly has blessed my family, and my Christian children are proof of that.”

    This, despite the fact that I constantly questioned whether there was any viable reason to waste half of each Sunday on the massively uncomfortable gathering known as church. I would much rather have spent the time learning something useful – biology (specifically entomology, herpetology, and arachnology), astronomy, physics, psychology, etc. When I expressed my disdain for church and interest in science, I was beaten in the hopes that it would change my mind. It did. Not only did I not believe, but as of that moment, I developed a strong disdain for Christianity.

    I have always had a fondness for science, because science actually makes sense. Religion makes enormous claims for what happens after death, how the universe operates, and the like – but there is literally no solid evidence for the truthfulness of any religion, which can withstand scientific scrutiny. None. I was never a Christian. I was forcefully labeled as a Christian by a parent whose insecurity about her own beliefs drove her to shove them down my throat without my consent.

    My mother contends that I grew up in a “Christian” home. This was not the case. My father is an Atheist. None of my siblings believe in any of the Christian fairy tales. We had religion force-fed to us, and we spat it out as soon as we realized the food tasted like crap.

    My lesson was simple. Religion has literally nothing useful to offer. It is unnecessary, and often damaging to the creative and intellectual development of children.

  4. I suppose I was lucky with a lapsed CoE mother, and a renegade Catholic dad. The home was godless, as was the school. Religion was what others did. As my brother and I regularly trespassed on the nearby railway land through holes in the fence, the words of the Lord’s Prayer seemed to take on extra significance: “Forgive us our tresspasses“, not that we were ever bothered !

    Reading between the lines of the Islington Council’s actions in withdrawing pork from the school meal menu, am I paranoid in suspecting creeping Islamification through political correctness ?

  5. I recall as a pre-schooler having conversations with my Dad. One was about communism vs capitalism. My Dad was a capitalist. I learned toward communism. Dad’s response was I might change my mind as I got older and learned more about the drawbacks of communism. We were both atheists, though I was more willing to consider the possibility their might be a god. Dad put no pressure on me to change my views. We also debated the value of engineering vs pure science. (He favoured the importance of engineering. I pure science.)

    I really liked it that Dad treated me as a fellow adult, without patronising as nearly all adults did. I think my Dad’s approach was very good. He did not hide his own opinions, and he did not impose them. More than anything he wanted me to reason and hold my own opinions.

  6. If you are going to ban a meat, beef is the ecologically most damaging one.

    Beef is an order of magnitude harder on the environment than other types of meat. For example, it takes 27 times as much land. It takes 3.3 times as much feed. It takes 9 times as much water. It produces 2.5 times as much CO₂ greenhouse gas. Further, because of their special cellulose-digesting four-chambered stomachs, cattle burp up enormous quantities of methane CH₄ a greenhouse gas 26 times more potent than CO₂. If you don’t want to give up meat entirely, at least switch to pork, lamb, goat, rabbit, chicken, eggs, fish… or even dairy.

  7. The poor kids. They are taught at home that pigs are evil filthy creatures to be avoided at all costs. Then they show up in their school cafeterias and find a pork chop on their plate. They are caught in the cultural crossfire. Once they are indoctrinated, can they be reeducated at that point? Even the adult Muslims I know can sometimes acknowledge that it must be safe to eat pork since the rest of the human population has managed to survive it, but they say that they still can’t stop gagging at the thought of them doing so themselves.

    If a school has a sizable number of children who have been indoctrinated in this way, what is the right way to handle the situation?

  8. At age 5, you knew you were an atheist, with understanding of your position in the cosmos, and had discussions about leaning towards communism?

    Has anyone else had such advanced philosophical considerations and discussion just several years after being born?

  9. As an adult, I am a competent at avoiding certain foods that I hate (brussels sprouts with their toxic fumes) and various other items that are presented as food but that I don’t consider to be actual human food (dorritos, marshmallows, etc) but as it says in this quote from The Gazette and The Independent:

    “Young children, some as young as four-years-old, of different religious and ethnic backgrounds may not know which foods contain pork, or may not realize the importance of avoiding it due to their culture or beliefs.”

    What good would a choice of food do for children who are so young that they couldn’t tell a pork nugget from a chicken nugget? I might be hard pressed to identify it correctly myself! When in the past I’ve been asked to taste someone’s Chinese food in order to identify the variety of meat mixed into it, (person asking inevitably has panic expression) I’ve been completely stumped. My first impulse, in a selfish way, is to laugh at their discomfort. Then I imagine that the dish I’m eating is mixed with frog meat or ground up cockroaches and then it’s not so funny anymore. 🙁

  10. Forcing children to be exposed to religious dogma and ‘teachings’ is just plain straight up child abuse. These vile institutions indoctrinate them into believing in invisible spirits and magic. At least with Santa, everyone eventually admits it’s just mom and dad pretending.

  11. LaurieB Feb 19, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    What good would a choice of food do for children who are so young that they couldn’t tell a pork nugget from a chicken nugget?

    When schools publish a menu like the one I linked, nutty parents could provide packed lunches, or ask for one of the alternatives, on days when they claimed the food was a “cultural problem”.

    There is no need to mess everyone else’s diet about.
    Some of these menus already have fish on Fridays, to accommodate Catholics, but in that instance, I really don’t see why anyone else should care what day fish is on the menu.

    I would personally object to the animal cruelty of everyone being forced to eat halal or kosher meat.
    Once public services start bending over backwards to accommodate religious nuttery it quickly gets to be very silly!

    They often have to deal with genuine medical dietary requirements already.

  12. Some of these menus already have fish on Fridays, to accommodate Catholics,

    Oh wow. Are they still accommodating the Catholics then? Hmmm.

  13. I agree.

    Sometimes I can not believe how much injustice, violence in any form, and abuse we adults bring to them. Also, sometimes it seems as adults treat children like some sort of puppets, puppets not able to feel. Like they are not mature enough to feel properly, and so if they can not “understand” abuse inflicted upon them it is not harming to them. But they feel, feelings are not “understanding”. Children are hypersensitive human beings, and almost always, adults are the one who has their own feelings distort.

    Adults (in this case religious) are not giving a child a chance to grow up healthy, they are depriving them the right to form themselves into a person, into THEIR self.
    It is time we declare “religious freedom” of children as non-existent and a form of serious abuse! No one has right to kidnap them their freedom.

  14. Hello Liz,

    I am also an artist. I find your question on children drawings very interesting, but I do not think that islam forbids to draw or display any persons, just the one that are sacred to them. So I presume children can and they draw persons. But what if they draw a person and come all happy and innocent to their religious parents saying: “look, it is muhammad”! Oh, boy.

  15. I have never met a muslim or jew who knows why they can’t eat pork.

    Sheep, cows and goats crop the leaves of plants but a pig will use it’s cloven hoof to dig up the root and eat that too.

    The plant is completely destroyed.

    In a dry country this leads to deserification and soil erosion making the land unable to sustain the people.

    It therefore makes sense to ban pigs in dry countries and the best way to enforce the ban among un-educated people is to use religion.

    God is watching you – Don’t eat that bacon buttie.

  16. HellFireFuel Feb 20, 2015 at 5:29 am

    I have never met a muslim or jew who knows why they can’t eat pork.

    In tribal subsistence farming, pigs often root around in human excrement, which can promote parasites such as tape worms and other diseases. This fits with the term “unclean”!

  17. pigs often root around in… excrement, which can promote parasites…

    Indeed, even today, whilst beef is often served near raw, it would be dangerous to do so with pork.

  18. Also, trichinosis is a major problem with eating undercooked pork. With limited wood (fuel) available in desert societies (Arab, Semitic) it makes sense to ban pork to avoid disease

  19. Atul Feb 20, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Also, trichinosis is a major problem with eating undercooked pork. With limited wood (fuel) available in desert societies (Arab, Semitic) it makes sense to ban pork to avoid disease

    This charity is looking to fix the wood-fuel problem, help conserve trees, and provide pasteurised water.

    http://solarcooking.org/plans/

  20. Frogs’ legs are delicious. not unlike chicken. I think they could go well with sprouts….yum. Ground up cockroach paste spread on sliced bread then coated with sesame seeds and fried. Viola, sesame prawn toast for those far from the sea.

    What got me at school was being served heart sliced into distinctly heart shaped pieces. Sausages solve a lot of problems for kids (and me).

  21. In the US, we have numerous states that are reluctant to prosecute parents of children who have died as a direct result of their parents’ sole reliance on Faith Healing. We annually have some deaths occur, and I should state that some states indeed do prosecute.

    The children that die are US citizens, and that comes with expectations of certain rights, just like the parents have their right to believe and practice as they see fit, with no interference. Here’s my question: At what age does a US citizen in the form of a child get to “declare” a religious belief? What if the child doesn’t share the beliefs of Faith Healers? These children are essentially doomed to suffer each and every malady to its fullest extent, until they die. The reflection on any nation that allows innocent kids to die as a result of their parents’ religion is poor, at best.

  22. Excellent article that makes a lot of sense. Allow me to use myself to illustrate: I can say that I was born a French-Canadian Catholic, but that’s not exactly true. Canadian, definitely. I was forced to become a Catholic through baptism 3 days after my birth. I became French-speaking at the age of around 10 months according to my mother. So, my defining characteristics are all basically accidents of geography: I was a French-Canadian Catholic because I was born in a French-speaking town to Catholic parents (who represented 90% of the local population), in Canada.
    I was a practicing Catholic until the age of 15. I learned all the rules and rituals and dogma. The main lesson I’ve learned from my early education is this: the Catholic religion (and I’m sure this applies to all religions) is exactly like a virus. Like all lifeforms, religion’s absolute primal instinct is to survive and reproduce itself. Why was I a Catholic? Because my parents were. And why were my parents Catholic? Because their parents were and so on and on. In case you’re not familiar with this particular religion, Catholics have the 10 commandments of God that everyone knows but they’ve also got the 10 commandments of the Church which are just about as important. The Church commandments relate mostly to membership: attending mass, paying tithes, raising children, etc. The question of child-rearing is particularly important and has a whole system of rewards and punishments. Not everything is written down but all the rules are passed along from one generation to another through priests. For example, if you’re a mother whose son becomes a priest, you get a free pass to heaven. And there’s dozens more like this meant to keep parents in line.
    Like other viruses, the only cure is a vaccine: REASON. Unfortunately, with religion there is a greater number of anti-vaxxers than even with measles. It seems that Reason works best in societies that are educated and informed. However the USA seems to contradict that. Nonetheless, as more and more people become inoculated we can stop the spread of the virus. I’m thinking about 200 years or so, but it will happen.
    I conclude with a quote from Dr. House: “If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.”

  23. Hi Modesti.. I do hope that’s true that only sacred images are forbidden as I’d read that the reason Mohammed’s image is off limits is because all ‘image making’ of anything animate is haram. But as you say.. what if children wish to draw the prophet they’ve been taught to love. It’s a minefield. I hope your artwork is going well.. I’ve got a big show next week so am knee deep in framing!

  24. liz Feb 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    If you look at Islamic art and decoration, it is all (with very few exceptions) geometric. The “no portraits of people or animals” is a “no graven images / idols thing”, carried to fundamentalist extremes.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aniconism_in_Islam

    Interestingly, the Puritan Xtians at the peak of their activity, ran around white-washing over earlier paintings on church walls!

  25. In Mildenhall in Suffolk, the puritans actually used their guns to shoot off the ornamental stonework on the outside of the main church. Luckily the guns weren’t too accurate in those days, but they also went inside and did their vandalism, but it is still a beautiful building.

  26. Yes Alan4d, sadly that is the case.. I’ve also just found this site among many, telling parents to raise their children to know that they can’t draw people and animals at all ages.
    http://islamqa.info/en/102277
    While iconoclasm from all sources is a sorry waste of cultural heritage, it seems pure child abuse to stop them drawing, and again to be made to believe that portrait painters can expect the worst torment in hell.. brought up in fear and hate.

  27. ~glares~

    It just goes to show that people who would eat such a thing as “shepherd’s pie” would eat anything at all…just sayin.

    😛

  28. The Church commandments relate mostly to membership: attending mass, paying tithes, raising children, etc.

    As a matter of information, tithing isn’t a requirement of the Catholic Church.

    With regard to the main question, when someone is baptised in the Catholic Church then that person becomes a member of the Catholic Church. Describing them as a Catholic is a matter of fact rather than a description of their understanding of the Church’s teaching.

  29. LaurieB Feb 20, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    ~glares~

    It just goes to show that people who would eat such a thing as “shepherd’s pie” would eat anything at all…just sayin.

    In my school days we used to reckon that they left the boots on the shepherd when they put him in the pie! 😎 😛

  30. Describing them as a Catholic is a matter of fact rather than a description of their understanding of the Church’s teaching.

    Do I read you writing that baptism of infants is something absolutely useless wherever it’s mandatory to report and register a birth?

  31. Sarcastic note: interesting that bovine meat is not getting banned, although I’m positive that some of it goes to waste because of some Hindu children scattered around the county… we aren’t still smarting from the colonies’ independence, are we? And way more, since they bought Jaguar Land-Rover, not too long ago… 😀

    ===

    That said, I’m really bored with the special position religion got itself in: untouchable because it’s holy, holy because it’s untouchable.
    Religion is a tale, one of the many. In some way interesting (even inspiring), in some other really nothing remarkable, at times even repugnant. But surely nothing even remotely special in itself: nothing worth picking out and believing in, nothing worth getting offended about.
    Forcing it onto children as The Unquestionable Truth is already bad enough, nobody needs a State that plays along or even gives its blessing.

    ===

    There is persuasive evidence, after all, that pigs have levels of intelligence and awareness comparable to our much loved domestic pets.

    Actually, I’m given to understand that pigs usually outsmart the rest of the domestic animals -dogs and cats included. There are even some regulations, in my country (but I think it’s EU) stemming out of the recognition of pigs’ intelligence and awareness -and it’s less unusual to have a pet pig than you might think. As a matter of fact, I’d prefer a pet pig to a pet dog…

  32. One of my earliest memories was Halloween when I was two years old. I was sent to live with my aunt while my Mom was in hospital. Someone gave me a monkey mask and a sucker. I could not get the sucker through the mouth hole of the mask, so I took it off, put the sucker in my mouth, and put the mask back on. I went into the living room where many relatives were assembled. They all cooed about how brilliant I was to solve this problem. I remember feeling utter contempt at them for being impressed by something so obvious.

    Similarly I remember feeling contempt for my mother chatting away on the phone when I sat at her feet. She acted as if I could not understand a word she was saying.

    In general I felt quite a bit of frustration. I felt equal to adults, just not as informed. I wished they were not so patronising and bullying.

    My Dad treated me as a tiny adult. As a preschooler I owned my own electric drill, and it was my job to cut the lawn with the gas mower. Dad taught me to solder and use woodworking tools. I don’t know anyone else who had a dad like mine. I think many parents are like helicopters hovering over their kids trying to protect them from every danger, never letting them do anything the least bit dangerous.

    The other nice thing about my dad is he would take huge amounts of time to answer my questions, being careful never to BS me. He was not embarrassed to say he did not know or to say he would have to look that up. He never belittled my opinions or ideas, though he would debate me. I have so many parents squash their kid’s by saying “that so because I said so”. It takes infinite patience to handle all the questions of a pre-schooler. Parents today are too busy to devote that much time to their kids.

    He was always building something or repairing something. He did not ban the kids. He let us participate. He explained what he was doing.

    Both my parents were not afraid of a bit of mess. Kitchen projects, hobby projects, painting, carpentry… I see modern parents trying to coddle their kids in an antiseptic cocoon.

    If had found a tide pool, I could be absorbed for hours studying the creatures. My parents just left me alone to explore. I have seen other people’s parents treat their kids like brain-damaged infants in a similar situation thinking they have to supervise every move and talk about “Mr. Starfish”.

    The thing perhaps I appreciate most now is just being left alone to explore the territory for miles around including tall trees, rivers, canyons, cliffs, dogs, forests, other kids. Today’s parents want to supervise their kids like prison wardens, even arranging “play dates” with “suitable” playmates.

    When I talk to kids, I too treat them as equals. If you don’t do that, you never let the kid out of his “idiot child” role.

  33. As adults, conforming believers have to know how to avoid the taboo foods. Kids need to learn this skill.

    Logically parents should bring home some cooked pork and let the kids look at it and sniff it, and not be too horrified if the kids think it smells delicious.

    Consuming the taboo food does no harm. It is not like peanuts.

    This is a religious skill. It should be taught in a religion context, not in public school.

  34. Actually, Hitchens addressed this in God is Not Great, pp. 37-41. To quote a relevant paragraph from p. 39:

    This helps to make nonsense of the usual “secular” explanations of the original Jewish prohibition. It is argued that the ban was initially rational, since pig meat in hot climates can become rank and develop the worms of trichinosis. This objection –which perhaps does apply in the case of non-kosher shellfish– is absurd when applied to the actual conditions. First, trichinosis is found in all climates, and in fact occurs more in cold than in hot ones. Second, ancient Jewish settlements in the land of Canaan can easily be distinguished by archaeologists by the absence of pig bones in their rubbish tips, as opposed to the presence of such bones in the middens of other communities. The non-Jews did not sicken and die from eating pork, in other words.

  35. As a matter of fact, I’d prefer a pet pig to a pet dog…

    Is bringing children up to believe that it’s morally acceptable to keep animals as pets another of those opinions that we shouldn’t be forcing on them?

  36. Dear Liz,
    I have never studied this phenomenon. As much as I know Islam art is engaged one, it is completely in service of religion and I do not know for any painting, mosaic or else that it is not related to religion. Unfortunately. I must say that it would be very interesting to know how they managed to control spontaneous drawings of children. Actually, in view of contemporary prohibitions and violence of Islam, maybe it is better that I do not know ;).

    About Your show next week, pity I am not in UK (I think that you are) so I can come to see it. Good luck, and all the best!

  37. Yes. Islamic art is all engaged one. It is all religious art. It is difficult to say that it is art at all. Art is emotions, and “Islamic art” is reason. Art is a form of (free) communication, and their communication channel is directed and designed (constructed). Even there is no freedom.

  38. I also agree that it is a child abuse stopping them from drawing animate objects. But this prohibition is also a proof that their religious beliefs are wrong and unnatural. Children are not born Muslims, because if they did they would have natural instinct of not drawing animated forms. Children are born free and any restriction regarding their natural communication channels are violence and abuse. Well, as far as I am concerned.

    It is amazing how religions are trying to prove how their beliefs are natural ones, they are constantly obsessed with trying to prove everyone how their religion is deeply in human nature, how it is a part of our instincts. But, obviously it is not otherwise there would be no need for restrictions in human behavior.

  39. Is bringing children up to believe that it’s morally acceptable to keep animals as pets another of those opinions that we shouldn’t be forcing on them?

    Unless you’re talking about keeping snakes for Catholic exorcism rituals you’ve missed the point.

  40. Isn’t the point about parents forcing opinions on their children?

    I wouldn’t use the word “force” myself but I think there are all kinds of opinions which children are expected to live with without them having much say in the matter (the moral acceptability of keeping animals as pets being a fairly random example.) It’s part of being brought up in a family.

    As children gradually gain their own knowledge and experience of the world, they develop their own opinions and ideas. That’s part of growing up.

    The fact that people might end up disagreeing, sometimes strongly, with opinions they were expected to live with as a child doesn’t necessarily mean that the parenting they received was terrible and abusive.

  41. Isn’t the point about parents forcing opinions on their children?

    No it isn’t Ewan. We’re discussing why indoctrinating children is harmful to their emotional and intellectual development, not keeping pets.

    As the great polymath Robert Briffault said many years ago, “The effects of childhood indoctrination are like syphilis and never completely cured.

    Kids deserve education not indoctrination.

  42. Isn’t insisting that children accept a particular view of the relationship between humans and other animals (i.e. that other animals are subservient to humans) a form of indoctrination?

  43. Isn’t insisting that children accept a particular view of the relationship between humans and other animals

    No. Pet keeping is a family choice. Respecting children involves nurturing and education while religion is contraindicated from a mental health point of view.

  44. Pet keeping is a family choice.

    I would have thought that it was more a parental choice. Parents make choices of all sorts for their children; and usually they make those choices with the children’s benefit in mind.

  45. I get the philosophical concept that children are not born into any particular religion. That point has been well made. In reality they are and to use this ban/non ban with children as cannon fodder is wrong. If something is not being eaten then the school has a responsibility to cut costs and not buy it. There has been similar decisions made in fried chicken establishments in the UK, and form what I have heard, Australia too. Pork is not on the menu because their main custom comes from muslims and they made a business decision to do so. We can cut out religious teaching in schools on the grounds of discrimination but we must still cater for for it. Work on the parents in the mean time. This is an adult issue. Leave the children alone.

  46. As long as you don’t threaten them like “either you keep a pet or you go to hell” it’s not the kind of forcing we are talking about here.

    Going a bit beside the point, I think it’s harmless to keep some kind of animals as pet -and you may be doing them a favour as well. Of course, there’s a difference between a pet Felis Catus and a pet Panthera Onca: if you keep a cat in a not-too-small flat you’re not doing much harm. If you keep a Jaguar in the same flat you’re probably ending up as dinner -and the poor cat is going to be executed, which is adding insult to (her) misery.

  47. As long as you don’t threaten them like “either you keep a pet or you go to hell” it’s not the kind of forcing we are talking about here.

    There isn’t a lot of threatening going on in the religious upbringing I have experience of. On the contrary.

  48. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 2:49 am

    Is bringing children up to believe that it’s morally acceptable to keep animals as pets another of those opinions that we shouldn’t be forcing on them?

    Children don’t need to be forced to keep pets. They like pets and learn about the functions of life and death.
    They do need to be taught to respect pets and look after them properly in suitable accommodation, to keep them healthy, to stop them spreading diseases to humans, and avoid suffering or ill-treatment. Animals are not toys!

    Done like this, it is not only morally acceptable, but morally desirable and educational.

  49. Isn’t the point about parents forcing opinions on their children?

    Perhaps you should look up in the vocabulary what “to force” means. Here it is: look at the verb.

    1) to make (someone) do something that he or she does not want to do.
    It doesn’t really apply here: children upon whom religion gets forced are usually too young to care -or the forcing begins before they care.

    2) to make it necessary for (someone) to do something.
    Now we are talking. I’d say this above is what happens when you blackmail some child with some Truth that’s True because the Principal said it is and if you disagree you’ll roast forever (or similar).

    2) to make (something) necessary.
    See above.

    ~~~

    If you happen to live with a pet and have a child you’re not forcing opinions onto her. She’s totally free, in principle, to buy into Peta’s propaganda and think it’s a crime to keep a small dog in a flat. And the family is totally free to discuss the matter and reach the conclusion that “freeing” the poor beast is a better option, because it will be surely more happy spending its days starving and ultimately ending up under a car’s wheels.

    Would you be open, after some discussion with your progeny, to let go of your faith? Would you happily accept their apostasy -and their regarding your faith as mumble jumble? I don’t think so. I think you’d do anything to prevent that happening, by actively feeding them your faith even before they can speak and giving it a special status of untouchability, because “it’s about someone’s deepest feelings and you shouldn’t hurt them -besides, it’s True”.

  50. As children gradually gain their own knowledge and experience of the world, they develop their own opinions and ideas. That’s part of growing up.

    I don’t think you have this early experience thing quite in perspective, Ewan.

    Human babies are born prematurely compared to the higher primates. We are born early to get our heads through the birth canal, then from 0 to 18 months our brains grow threefold creating a huge amount of unwired brain. Human infants are hugely vulnerable compared to say chimp kids being unwired. They have unique strategies to cope, though. They copy as much as chimp kids do ( as shown by Dr Victoria Horner) but they believe what they are shown as chimp kids don’t. They believe what they are shown even when their eyes and reason tell them it is false. Human kids trust. They are trainable in any way desired. (I can talk in detail on this if you wish.) Their vulnerability due to lack of wired brains is managed by this.

    What it means is that early training of children is close to hardwiring brains for the future. Teaching hands together eyes closed and thanking God for a four and five year old, kneeling at the foot of the bed, becomes a substrate for all future learning. The associated mindset is there for life and discovering the lack of evidence for Gods in later life will just hurt the more. Early training reduces later life choices, which is why we need to be very circumspect in what we offer at this age. We cannot escape that the environment we offer children is part of training. Religious folk like Quakers are rather more circumspect in what they habituate their children to, others are grimly oppressive and manipulative, seeking to narrow future choices in a purely dirigiste way. Most do this quite unwittingly.

  51. If you happen to live with a pet and have a child you’re not forcing opinions onto her. She’s totally free, in principle, to buy into Peta’s propaganda and think it’s a crime to keep a small dog in a flat. And the family is totally free to discuss the matter and reach the conclusion that “freeing” the poor beast is a better option, because it will be surely more happy spending its days starving and ultimately ending up under a car’s wheels.

    Doesn’t that apply equally to religious belief? Children brought up in religious families are free to buy into non-religious ideas.

  52. What it means is that early training of children is close to hardwiring brains for the future.

    Does that mean that denying children access to ideas about God at an early age can impair their ability to recognise and understand faith when they experience it (in the way that children denied access to language at an early age can struggle in later life to use it effectively?)

  53. Yeah, that was kind of an hyperbole: threats of those kinds are not so explicit -or cannot even happen, if there’s a lack of hell in the doctrine.
    My point is: there’s always a punishment for those who dare not believe in some particular god or set of gods, and that is embedded in the faith’s tales and fables.

    Example: how would you feel if I asked you to be an atheist for a week? Just for a week, but you’d be required be absolutely honest about your lack of faith for that week. It’s only a week, after all, but I’m betting on some deep-reaching discomfort.
    That deep-reaching discomfort is the legacy of forced indoctrination, and is the ultimate point of this discussion, I think.

  54. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 6:30 am

    What it means is that early training of children is close to hardwiring brains for the future.

    Does that mean that denying children access to ideas about God at an early age can impair their ability to recognise and understand faith when they experience it

    It is probably better to let them look at the myths about lots of gods, so they can learn to tell evidence from fiction.
    There is a good source-book here:- http://richarddawkins.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-magic-of-reality-paperback

    (in the way that children denied access to language at an early age can struggle in later life to use it effectively?)

    Those who have only been indoctrinated in one religion to the exclusion of wider knowledge, are certainly handicapped in their acquisition of knowledge, reasoning skills, and objective learning capabilities.

  55. Children brought up in religious families are free to buy into non-religious ideas.

    No. Of course they have those ideas, but they are going to face the heat and the disappointment of their faithful parents for a very long time because of those ideas.
    And it doesn’t matter if that heat and disappointment is of the passive-aggressive christian sort: it’s there.

  56. Of course they have those ideas, but they are going to face the heat and the disappointment of their faithful parents for a very long time because of those ideas.

    Isn’t that the same for children from pet-loving families who believe that keeping pets is a form of animal slavery?

  57. The show is in west France, Modesti.. if by any chance you’re near there I’ll send an invite. (It’ll be choc full of animate human images!!)

  58. “Those who have only been indoctrinated in one religion to the exclusion of wider knowledge, are certainly handicapped in their acquisition of knowledge, reasoning skills, and objective learning capabilities.”

    Has that been shown through research? It’s not something I’ve experienced personally.

  59. Does that mean that denying children access to ideas about God at an early age can impair their ability to recognise and understand faith when they experience it

    Quakers aren’t thriving as a community (sadly) whilst fundementalist religious societies have geared up to secure their future by closing off anything but their own training. So that is one answer to your question.

    Being presented with choices even when young is great. Just knowing they exist and the kids next door lead different lives…. Introducing the idea that you will have choices when older and that the church/meeting services that mummy and daddy go to, you could go to when older. Kids could be studying the UK RE national curriculum in the church hall whilst their parents do their grown up thing.

    Quakers may make fewer Quakers but they make more moral and robust kids than do Fundamentalists.

  60. Quakers may make fewer Quakers but they make more moral and robust kids than do Fundamentalists.

    How would you test such an idea?

  61. Modesti Feb 21, 2015 at 3:38 am

    I also agree that it is a child abuse stopping them from drawing animate objects. But this prohibition is also a proof that their religious beliefs are wrong and unnatural.

    Prohibiting draws, is quite an effective way of inhibiting learning about anatomy, or the structures of evolutionary related species.

  62. Kids could be studying the UK RE national curriculum in the church hall…

    Anyone who could come up with such an idea is a child-hating monster.

  63. The difference between religious education of children and non-religious is in lying. Religious beliefs are lies. Why would anyone raised their children on lies? Parents who does, deprive children of their rights to the truth and truthful being. Religious lies have consequences which are unhealthy for children (physical and mentally), in this case they are deprived of healthy nutriment as red meat. There is other red meat? Yes, but why not pork? Free person has no limitations. I would remind you of the few sound words from our friend Sam Harris:

    To lie is to intentionally mislead others when they expect honest communication. People lie so that others will form beliefs that are not true.The more consequential the beliefs—that is,the more a person’s well-being depends upon a correct understanding of the world—the more consequential the lie.
    Most forms of private vice and public evil are kindled and sustained by lies. Acts of adultery and other personal betrayals, financial fraud, government corruption—even murder and genocide—generally require an additional moral defect: a willingness to lie.
    By lying, we deny others a view of the world as it is. Our dishonesty not only influences the choices they make, it often determines the choices they can make. Every lie is a direct assault upon the autonomy of those we lie to.

  64. Isn’t that the same for children from pet-loving families who believe that keeping pets is a form of animal slavery?

    No, don’t be absurd. Perhaps a parent could have a life-long disagreement with her child over animal rights -and I’d say that is very likely to happen, as well. But I really can’t think that a “sane” parent would engage in a life-long disappointment because of that disagreement. You need faith for that, because faith implies that what the child is rejecting is the absolute Truth, and faith requires implicitly to be disappointed because of that.

    On an unrelated note: animal rights is a subject very open for discussion and, to such discussion, I’ve taken part extensively (elsewhere, for now). Like any other rational discussion, there are a lot of facts and a lot of empathy to consider, and reaching a sound moral position is far from an easy task.
    That said, in my experience, those who subscribe to extreme forms of animalism are not extending their empathy to animals but, in contrast, hold a very deep despise of humans and are suspending empathy for the vast majority of the species. As for the root of such despise, I think a professional should be consulted because, I suspect, some very deep psychological scar due to some harsh rejection experienced during childhood may be the cause.

  65. Anyone who could come up with such an idea is a child-hating monster.

    True.

    My daughter, however, loved it. It was the only place for moral discussion. She went on a voyage of religious discovery, being most shocked at the immorality of Buddhism and ideas of Karma and deserved suffering, then finding the same thread in much of Christianity.

  66. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 7:05 am

    “Those who have only been indoctrinated in one religion to the exclusion of wider knowledge, are certainly handicapped in their acquisition of knowledge, reasoning skills, and objective learning capabilities.”

    Has that been shown through research?

    Look at the AIG website for examples of indoctrinated ignorance – particularly from the Bible-Belt home-schooled.

    It’s not something I’ve experienced personally.

    How would you know what you don’t know?
    (Such as the details of the Catholic Church’s severe problems, with the incompatibility of the science of evolution and their dogmas.)

  67. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 8:09 am

    “Religious beliefs are lies.”

    In what sense?

    Many of them are self contradictory or refuted by scientific evidence, that claims are untrue, or documents are fakes which do not match claimed dates of writing. Relics of “saints” are frequently fakes, but supported the “pilgrimage tourist trade” to bring in money!

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100229231/the-holy-foreskin-the-relic-of-the-true-cross-and-other-wonderful-forgeries/

  68. Being presented with choices even when young is great. Just knowing they exist and the kids next door lead different lives…. Introducing the idea that you will have choices when older and that the church/meeting services that mummy and daddy go to, you could go to when older.

    I’m not sure that presenting a young person with a choice and then denying the possibility of it to them until they’re older is really any better than making a choice on behalf of the young person which they can reject at a later age.

    For a believer, there is no lowest age limit for faith. The youngest of people have a relationship with God and it would be a feeble faith parent who didn’t support that.

  69. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 8:33 am

    For a believer, there is no lowest age limit for faith. The youngest of people have a relationship with God

    . . . If they have been indoctrinated in the the local cultural beliefs after being born atheists.

    and it would be a feeble faith parent who didn’t support that.

    That’s one of the irrational features of “faith”!

    The more ridiculous the claim, the stronger the faith needs to be to believe it!

  70. I’m not sure that presenting a young person with a choice and then denying the possibility of it to them until they’re older is really any better than making a choice on behalf of the young person which they can reject at a later age.

    Religion should be like sex, known about and deferred until ready, when choices can be made.

    For a believer, there is no lowest age limit for faith.

    Monsters.

  71. For a believer, there is no lowest age limit for faith. The youngest of people have a relationship with God

    . . . If they have been indoctrinated in the the local cultural beliefs after being born atheists.

    You seem to be suggesting that newborn children can be labelled as atheists.

  72. It’ll be choc full of animate human images!!

    hahahahaaa… Exelent!!!
    Unfortunately, I can’t come, I live kilometers away, in a stupid country called croatia. But, I hope it all goes well at exhibition.

  73. In what sense? Is there more than one sense? If you do not know what lie is than I suggest you look it up. Can you prove that your religious beliefs are truth? Anyway, if they would be truth they will not be called beliefs.

  74. Very interesting link Olgun. Thank You. If only religious people knew more about their “sacred” texts they consider to be truth.

  75. If you do not know what lie is than I suggest you look it up.

    For a lie to be told, the person telling it must know that it is not the truth. That is not generally the case with religious beliefs.

  76. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 8:55 am

    For a believer, there is no lowest age limit for faith. The youngest of people have a relationship with God

    . . . If they have been indoctrinated in the the local cultural beliefs after being born atheists.

    You seem to be suggesting that newborn children can be labelled as atheists.

    Atheism is a lack of belief in gods.

    No child is born with preconceptions of any particular god.
    It is only when they are indoctrinated in: Shinto, Hinduism, Mohammedanism, Catholicism etc. , that they acquire a religion, or a belief in some god or gods, from their local culture.

  77. If something is not being eaten then the school has a responsibility to cut costs and not buy it.

    Should the school stop buying vegetables because some go to waste? Or try to balance the food orders against the likely demand?

    There has been similar decisions made in fried chicken establishments in the UK, and form what I have heard, Australia too. Pork is not on the menu because their main custom comes from muslims and they made a business decision to do so.

    Is pork not on the menu because they opened a fried chicken establishment or did they initially cater for other tastes? Perhaps they removed pork from the menu because the demand was so low that they were not making sufficient profit due to economies of scale. Or perhaps they felt they could increase their sales overall by removing pork from the menu and gaining more Muslim customers who would previously not have eaten there due to disapproval of the menu.

  78. Yes. I had long conversations with my mum at that age. She was born Catholic but lapsed and we were brought up to question everything and think for ourselves. As much as I hate to be a cliche, I am a research scientist now. I went to a standard CoE primary school with all the accompanying Christian traditions. I enjoyed the singing but it didn’t mean anything to me. I was then fortunate enough to go to a secondary school which thought religious education should be exactly that; teaching you facts about the different world religions rather than shoving any particular one down our throats. I am not a rabid atheist, live and let live is my policy and I do believe children at that age can tell the difference between reality and fairy stories if given the right environment.

  79. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 9:16 am

    If you do not know what lie is than I suggest you look it up.

    For a lie to be told, the person telling it must know that it is not the truth. That is not generally the case with religious beliefs.

    You seem to be confusing lies, with wilful lies!

    When a scientist “looks it up”, they use reputable reference texts. –

    Whereas theists usually just make-it-up to deflect the question away from aspects they don’t want to look at!

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lying

    Definition of LYING
    marked by or containing falsehoods :

    Synonyms
    dishonest, mendacious, untruthful

    Please note: The definition says nothing about KNOWINGLY presenting or repeating falsehoods.

  80. I suggest a balance of intelligent thinking Mark. The answer to ‘ why won’t you eat your vegetables’ and the equivalent question on pork is two different things. One has the backing of the parents while the school and parents can work on the other. Simple.

    These are already established fried chicken places. One Australian, I was talking to, was up in arms about it. I think the trend of the west looking at cutting out fatty foods had an effect. If you go to Tottenham, near the stadium, on a Sunday, there are about five fried chicken places there full of muslim women and their children. It must be a treat of some sorts.

  81. When I was growing up, wicked people would be going to ‘cehennem’ ( pronounced; gehennem). You can see the link.

  82. Olgun Feb 21, 2015 at 9:37 am

    These are already established fried chicken places. One Australian, I was talking to, was up in arms about it. I think the trend of the west looking at cutting out fatty foods had an effect.

    I don’t think “fried” is cutting out fatty foods.

    It is more likely that chicken is simply cheaper than pork.

  83. *You seem to be confusing lies, with wilful lies!
    When a scientist “looks it up”, they use reputable reference texts. –
    Whereas theists usually just make-it-up to deflect the question away from aspects they don’t want to look at!

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lying

    Definition of LYING
    marked by or containing falsehoods :

    Synonyms
    dishonest, mendacious, untruthful

    Please note: The definition says nothing about KNOWINGLY presenting or repeating falsehoods.*

    Thank you for that, Alan. Did you read further into the links provided by the website? For instance:
    According to a paradigmatic analysis of lying, as set out by philosophers such as St. Augustine (354–430 ce), lies are statements that the speaker believes to be false and that are intended to cause the person toward whom they are directed to accept them as true.

    At any rate, do you know all religious beliefs to be falsehoods?

  84. I suggest a balance of intelligent thinking Mark. The answer to ‘ why won’t you eat your vegetables’ and the equivalent question on pork is two different things. One has the backing of the parents while the school and parents can work on the other. Simple.

    If a majority of the children’s parents had a religious objection to sprouts, should the few (very few) sprout lovers be denied their pleasure? It’s not as if the children get much choice in the school they attend.

    If you go to Tottenham, near the stadium, on a Sunday, there are about five fried chicken places there full of muslim women and their children. It must be a treat of some sorts.

    Good for them. I like a bit of fried chicken occasionally. But this is a choice and hopefully a treat rather than a regular meal. A school canteen is a different situation. I have no problem with a school deciding that it is uneconomical to have pork on the menu but I don’t see why they should take it off, if the only reason is that the majority of the children’s parents have a religious objection. Some parents may have a religious objection to beef on the menu and I expect there are other food issues in religions but they should not be catered (pun) to any more than those who have religious issues with the teaching of science.

  85. Sorry Alan, think you misunderstood. The western people are cutting out fried fatty foods. Pork is not the main dish of these establishments so the chicken wins.

  86. As I said Mark, it does not make real sense but it is a reality that has to be catered for. It is not just an objection but a religious belief. If the schools can balance the books and sell more school dinners to people who are concerned about ‘ contamination’ from pork then they have to take that decision. This is not something we can just stick our heads in the sand and ignore. The children should not be on the front line this way. We had special meals for Jewish children in our school and no doubt they would have catered for me had my parents requested it. We were by far the minority.

  87. For a lie to be told, the person telling it must know that it is not
    the truth.

    In that case religious persons are delusional, and than they are mentally ill.

  88. If the schools can balance the books and sell more school dinners to people who are concerned about ‘ contamination’ from pork then they have to take that decision.

    I don’t think school canteens should be run in the same way as a commercial establishment such as a fried chicken outlet. The school should have more of a duty to provide a balanced meal and yes, to some extent, a reasonable choice. It’s actually a good thing that the children are given the choice to try foods that they would not normally be served at home.

    This is not something we can just stick our heads in the sand and ignore.

    Questioning the wisdom of allowing religious dogma to dictate school policy on the provision of school meals or any other issue is not sticking our heads in the sand.

    The children should not be on the front line this way.

    I agree, that’s why I don’t think religious beliefs should dictate school policy.

    We had special meals for Jewish children in our school and no doubt they would have catered for me had my parents requested it.

    What if some religious group required a special meal, which included pork, in one of those schools where it had been removed from the menu for religious reasons? Tyranny of the majority?

  89. The Orthodox Jews have duke kitchens. On one side hey prepare meat based foods and on the other they prepare dairy based foods. I am not saying that anything should be banned but in order to sell more food to muslims, in a country that has contracted canteens, the menu comes down to cost. Then you can haggle with the contractor to provide the special meals for the few with little cost. It can be done and with a limited budget, has to be done. Well done the person who can negotiate that sort of deal.

  90. Oh, boy. It was “active” even than.
    Yes, interesting root of the concept of hell.

    …the place in which the people would “burn their sons and daughters
    in the fire”

    There were many social conditions which have occurred in history and have been adopted and transformed by religious people in order to fit their beliefs. Later I shall read it all in Your link.

  91. Please do. There was another link, that I have lost, that described the valley as the municipal dump. It was always smouldering and smoking, another reason for eternal flames. Will try to find it again

  92. All religions require lying which is characteristic of believers.

    I’m not sure that my faith or my Church has ever required me to lie. On the other hand, it’s not too hard to imagine hypothetical situations in which telling a lie might seem the appropriate moral act.

    That’s the thing about moral quandries; they can be complicated, with no easy answers.

  93. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Please note: The definition says nothing about KNOWINGLY presenting or repeating falsehoods.

    Thank you for that, Alan. Did you read further into the links provided by the website? For instance:

    According to a paradigmatic analysis of lying, as set out by philosophers such as St. Augustine (354–430 ce), lies are statements that the speaker believes to be false and that are intended to cause the person toward whom they are directed to accept them as true.

    I am well aware of theologians posing as philosophers, using obfuscating language to narrow down definitions muddying the clarity of the definitions, to promote their points of view and agendas.

    Lies (other than by accident), are statements that the speaker believes to be false and that are intended to cause the person toward whom they are directed to accept them as true, BUT they are also simple falsehoods, regardless of if the speaker knows they are false or not. – Particularly when they are second-hand from an initial liar, and being passed on by the gullible who have accepted them on “faith”!

    Science (unlike “faith”), using evidence, rejects falsehoods, regardless of who may, or may not, believe them or be promoting them.

    That is one of the points being made!
    Truth is not dependent on belief! It is dependent on independently confirmed objective factual evidence about the underlying reality.

    People who step off high buildings, fall to the ground, regardless of if the BELIEVE in gravity or not!

  94. Science (unlike “faith”), using evidence, rejects falsehoods, regardless of who may, or may not, believe them or be promoting them.

    You seem to be saying that Science is falsehood built on falsehood. Generation after generation of lying scientists, determinedly rejecting previous falsehoods in order to impose their new ones, but – given that there is always more to learn – never achieving Absolute Truth; and so fated to eternal mendacity.

    That seems a rather miserable depiction of those responsible for some of the most most glorious achievements of the human race.

  95. You seem to be saying that Science is falsehood built on falsehood.

    Wow. That’s an unbelievable take on Alan’s comment. Only Heineken (sorry, religion) can do this.

  96. @Marktony

    Wow. That’s an unbelievable take on Alan’s comment. Only Heineken (sorry, religion) can do this.

    In fairness I think Ewan is spoofing Alan’s definition of lying.

  97. I just don’t think that “lying” should be applied to someone representing the truth as they know it as best they can.

    You may think that religious beliefs are nonsense but those professing them are, in general, genuine in holding them.

  98. Marktony Feb 21, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    You seem to be saying that Science is falsehood built on falsehood.

    Wow. That’s an unbelievable take on Alan’s comment. Only Heineken (sorry, religion) can do this.

    Yep! Science updates calculations and refines calculations by figures at several decimal places, and according theological obfuscation, that proves the original calculations “false”! .. Unlike err – Bible stories .. . . … . . . . . . . made up centuries after events and called “history”, or fake artefacts called “relics”!

    BTW: – Do you know any good sources for replacements for overloaded irony meters?

    . . .. Given that my original comment was on theologists shifting and shuffling meanings, to obscure clarity of definition and communication!

    Of course readers of the “Catholic Herald” are regularly fed this drivel, as a role model of “troooo faith thinking” about fake relics! –

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2013/11/20/what-in-the-end-is-the-point-of-relics/

    In “faith”, – Trrooooth, is after all, whatever you want to sincerely believe – whatever the evidence you have ignored or refused to look at!

  99. In fairness I think Ewan is spoofing Alan’s definition of lying.

    He may well be, but where does Alan say or imply that science is falsehood built on falsehood?

  100. I have read the whole text. Interesting isn’t it? Although it is not yet known the exact location, it was obviously some sort of place of human sacrifice since pagans. Children were sacrificed also. I have read some times ago that bible text of sacrificing of Isaac is also a recollection upon children sacrificing rituals. Some place of punishment ha?

  101. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    I just don’t think that “lying” should be applied to someone representing the truth as they know it as best they can.

    You may think that religious beliefs are nonsense but those professing them are, in general, genuine in holding them.

    So in your view, all the fake relics and forged documents are “true”, if the gullibles genuinely believe what they have been told? ? ?

    That explains all the thousands of “interpretations” of THE Bible which have no resemblance to independent historical records or archaeology!

    Religious TRrrroof personified!!!

    Lies converted to trrrooof, by chains of gullible believers who aren’t bothered about evidence, because they have “faith”!

  102. Islam art is engaged one, it is completely in service of religion

    In the same way that Islamic art is completely in service of religion, so are Jewish art and Hindu art and Christian art in service of their religions. The Vatican has been a major source of funding for art in their domain and now we have masterpieces that were paid for by them for the glorification of their own bottom line. That’s how it goes in art, whoever signs the check gets to dictate the content of that artwork. When we see mosques, administrative buildings or other public architecture in places where there is a majority Muslim population then we can’t be surprised to see exactly what the powers that be want us to see.

    But don’t you think that there is religious art and secular art going on at the same time?

    As a tourist, I am thrilled to see the glorious state and religious sponsored art on a grand scale but after that I need to wander the back alleys to find what the ordinary people create. It is in these back alley studios and local craft markets where we can see the artistic expression of the common folk. I wonder, what do you think local artists are producing in Algiers, Tunis, Alexandria, Ramallah and Beirut? All calligraphy? Only colored tiles? Of course not! There are painters who produce excellent pictures of the people and animals all around them. I have a beautiful watercolor painting on my wall in front of me here of an old man walking in the casbah. He is wearing a turban and native dress. It was painted by an Algerian woman artist who lives in Algiers.

    But when I think about the tone of the comments above this one, I wonder why my fellow artists think they have the right to scorn the art of a whole society. Even if there was no representation of humans or animals, who are we to say that their art is inferior? Calligraphy, ceramics, weaving and fiber art, architecture and drawings and paintings of subjects other than humans are all perfectly valid art forms.

    I can also tell you from experience that children in North African homes draw whatever they want. When I’m in Algeria I enjoy drawing with my nieces there. One game we like is when I draw charactures of family members and then they guess who it is that I’ve drawn.

    It is not so much the sanctimonious preaching from fundamentalists that limit the art of these children. More likely is that the family can’t divert funding for art supplies when they struggle to put food on the table, pay rent and bills, and they also may know nothing about art in the first place and don’t value it and don’t know where to begin even if they do decide to encourage it. I’ll bet that when children who grow up in art deprived environments get to school in the West and find themselves in a classroom with buckets of crayons, beautiful colored paper, finger paints and neon colored markers, and surrounded by their creative peers, and with some adult technical guidance, those kids will hit the ground running. This is very inspiring to me.

  103. I just don’t think that “lying” should be applied to someone representing the truth as they know it as best they can.

    Not a hint of doubt. Not a hint of decent doubt. Unlike the scientist straining for the disproof. Good enough to lead a four year old, a five year old a seven year old into false certainty.

  104. @ LaurieB

    If you haven’t read it, get a copy of ‘ A History Of The World In 10 1/2 Chapters’ by Julian Barnes. Chapter 5 entitled ‘ Shipwreck’ explores the painting ‘ The Raft Of Medusa’. Julian Barnes gives a fantastic account of why the painting was ‘cropped’ to depict hope rather than the true horrors of what went on in the real story of the wreck. The rest of the book is amazing too and in my top ten.

  105. where does Alan say or imply that science is falsehood built on falsehood?

    Alan defined lies as “simple falsehoods, regardless of if the speaker knows they are false or not.” So if a scientist suggested a flawed model of some aspect of existence (such as the Sun being at the centre of the Universe), that suggestion would be a lie, according to Alan’s definition, and the scientist a liar. And if another scientist, starting with that model, developed a more accurate but still flawed model then that would be a lie built on a lie – according to Alan’s definition.

    I don’t agree with his definition. For me, a lie requires some intent to deceive on the part of the liar.

  106. Modesti Feb 21, 2015 at 11:12 am

    For a lie to be told, the person telling it must know that it is not the truth.

    In that case religious persons are delusional, and than they are mentally ill.

    I wonder if a Judge in court would swallow that story?

    “I didn’t KNOW the gossip about a bomb on the plane was untrue.
    It’s not a lie because I was just babbling what I had heard and believed!”!

    “Case proven – pay the damages for the delayed flight and the guard will escort you to the van”, – or
    “Not guilty by way of insanity” – see the chaps in the white coats for a nice ride to a new home!!

  107. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    *where does Alan say or imply that science is falsehood built on falsehood?

    Alan defined lies as “simple falsehoods, regardless of if the speaker knows they are false or not.”
    So if a scientist suggested a flawed model of some aspect of existence

    Scientists don’t pick claims out of the air like that. Conclusions may be wrong or calculations inaccurate, but scientific measurements and recorded objective observations are usually true.

    (such as the Sun being at the centre of the Universe), that suggestion would be a lie, according to Alan’s definition, and the scientist a liar.

    No scientist has ever suggested the Sun is the centre of the universe, and nobody using scientific methodology would make such a claim.
    That is a theological claim based on human egotism.

    And if another scientist, starting with that model, developed a more accurate but still flawed model

    If some factor or law was missing from the calculation, that would not make the other in-putted observations false. The new information could be added to make the adjustment needed.

    then that would be a lie built on a lie – according to Alan’s definition.

    Nope ! It is just a strawman argument based on ignorance of science.

    Anyway, enough of these diversions and side-tracks selecting inappropriate definitions.
    Religions tell lies which believers like to believe, so shall we come back to the fake relics and the forged religious documents I linked earlier to illustrate this.
    Do you agree that presenting fake relics and forged documents is lying?

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100229231/the-holy-foreskin-the-relic-of-the-true-cross-and-other-wonderful-forgeries/

  108. I so wish that I could send you that chapter to read. It is so on topic to your post and very important. Here’s a taster of someone else’s opinion if you like.

  109. Alan defined lies as “simple falsehoods, regardless of if the speaker knows they are false or not.” So if a scientist suggested a flawed model of some aspect of existence (such as the Sun being at the centre of the Universe), that suggestion would be a lie, according to Alan’s definition, and the scientist a liar.

    Is a flawed model a falsehood? The whole point of the scientific method is to ensure that such flawed hypotheses are not propagated. People are prone to accepting ideas that agree with their world view or rejecting ideas that seem incomprehensible. Science is the best way we have found so far to overcome these human weaknesses.

    Alan has said as much many times before and did not imply that science is falsehood built on falsehood. You made that accusation because it was useful to you in refuting Alan’s definition of a lie. Was that a little lie on your part? Or the truth as you saw it?

  110. Olgun,
    Read the article. Very interesting. I’ve seen the painting but wish I had known more about it at the time. Next time in Paris I’ll check it out in more detail. The Barnes book is not in my local library but it’s for sale on Amazon for the bargain price of one cent! (confession: I tried to read chapter 5 for free but was blocked)

  111. No scientist has ever suggested the Sun is the centre of the universe, and nobody using scientific methodology would make such a claim.

    Copernicus did.

    “Do you agree that presenting fake relics and forged documents is lying?”

    I would agree that doing so knowingly is lying.

  112. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    No scientist has ever suggested the Sun is the centre of the universe, and nobody using scientific methodology would make such a claim.

    Copernicus did.

    Copernicus claimed the Sun was at the centre of the Solar System, (which is approximately correct) – not at the centre of the universe or centre of the galaxy.
    The term “scientist” was not invented until the 1800s.

    “Do you agree that presenting fake relics and forged documents is lying?”

    I would agree that doing so knowingly is lying.

    That is ducking the question by reverting to your personal cherry-picked definition, rather than using the wider standard dictionary definition.

    As I pointed out earlier, “truths” – such as “gravity acts on material bodies”, are independent of human beliefs!

    So – going back to my link about the religious lies you questioned earlier: –
    Did Jesus have 12 foreskins, and was the “troo cross” made of whole ship-loads of wood, as adding up the relic claims suggest? – Or did the fraudulent pilgrim tourist trade, just sell mugs trips to see fakes in churches and monasteries?

  113. I would agree with Ewan that lying is a deliberate act, other than just the spreading of falsehoods unknowingly.

    Sorry about the dictionary, but that’s my understanding of “lie”.

    That said, there are so many falsehoods claimed by the religions as “truth”, that perhaps Ewan should look more closely at his dearly beloved RCC and its outrageous claims.

  114. LaurieB, thank you for saying about the varied culture you have experienced on your travels. It’s very encouraging.. I didn’t realise that muslim artists not funded by mosques had full freedom to paint figures.

    I wonder why my fellow artists think they have the right to scorn the art of a whole society.

    I didn’t express or intend to that one type of art is inferior to another, and I certainly don’t scorn any society’s art. I am only concerned that choice is restricted for children through religious dogma. If that isn’t the case for many then I’m very pleased. It is a fact that the Quran says that image makers are to be the first in the fire on the day of resurrection (and on islamic websites I found that is interpreted to mean artists who paint animate souls of humans or animals).. of course not everything that is written in the Quran or the Bible is taken literally by all their followers. It is always important to remember that people are individuals and varied whatever their religion, but I worry when fundamentalism has an easy route to oppress individuals through what is written in sacred text.

    Restricting choice can often be a means to greater creativity not less.. I’m not worried about the state of the world’s art. I do however worry when children are taught that anyone will go to hell, and for something so natural. So if I’m wrong, I’m more than glad.

  115. “Copernicus claimed the Sun was at the centre of the Solar System, (which is approximately correct) – not at the centre of the universe or centre of the galaxy.”

    In his Commentariolus, Copernicus published seven axioms which he used as the basis for his heliocentric theory. The third was: All the spheres revolve about the sun as their mid-point, and therefore the sun is the center of the universe.

    “…did the fraudulent pilgrim tourist trade, just sell mugs trips to see fakes in churches and monasteries?”

    Yup. Fraudsters are found in most walks of life. It’s a fairly prevalent human trait.

  116. Mr DArcy Feb 21, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Sorry about the dictionary, but that’s my understanding of “lie”.

    merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lying – is the standard English academic reference. .. . . which I linked in this comment.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/02/dont-force-your-religious-opinions-on-your-children/#li-comment-169701

    merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lying is quite explicit, that knowingly (ie wilful) is contained within the definition as one aspect, but the wider definition of LYING is that it is “marked by or containing falsehoods”.

    When we are talking about evidence, lies do not become truths, because some gullible or chain of Chinese whispers, is repeating them with sincerity!

  117. The term “scientist” was not invented until the 1800s.

    …the wider definition of LYING is that it is “marked by or containing falsehoods”.

    So now you seem to be suggesting that a) Copernicus wasn’t a scientist and b) he was lying when he published his heliocentric model.

    I can’t say that I agree with you on either of those matters.

  118. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    “Copernicus claimed the Sun was at the centre of the Solar System, (which is approximately correct) – not at the centre of the universe or centre of the galaxy.”

    In his Commentariolus, Copernicus published seven axioms which he used as the basis for his heliocentric theory. The third was: All the spheres revolve about the sun as their mid-point, and therefore the sun is the center of the universe.

    He did indeed use the term “universe” (incorrectly by its modern meaning) because astronomers at that time were unaware of the scale or existence of the galaxies or the universe. They were still arguing about a “universe” of “Celestial Spheres” going around a flat Earth.

    http://dbanach.com/copernicus-commentarilous.htm

    However, it is obvious from the context of the Sun being at the centre of planetary orbits, that he was talking about what we now call the Solar-System.

    As I pointed out previously Copernicus was not a scientist, he was a mathematician and philosopher. The term scientist (like the term solar-system) had not been invented at that time.

  119. Ewan Feb 21, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    “…did the fraudulent pilgrim tourist trade, just sell mugs trips to see fakes in churches and monasteries?”

    Yup. Fraudsters are found in most walks of life. It’s a fairly prevalent human trait.

    It would have been much simpler if you had agreed in the first place, that some religious claims are lies, rather than arguing about standard dictionary definitions.

  120. Liz,

    Is this the quote you are referring to?

    Allah’s Messenger said: “Those who make these images will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said to them, ‘Make alive what you have created.’” [Bukhaari and Muslim]

    I think that is the one most well known. It’s not from the Koran. It’s a hadith. Do you have a quote from the Koran that you would like to post here? I don’t say that as a challenge, just that if there is one from the Koran then I’m just not aware of it. There’s an important distinction between quotes from Koran and quotes from Hadith. If this prohibition exists only because of that quote above then fear not, it’s a no-brainer to argue against these. You may find some of these challenges and arguments against this hadith on the internet sites. If there is a clear quote from the Koran then it’s an uphill slog to “interpret” our way around it.

    not everything that is written in the Quran or the Bible is taken literally by all their followers.

    Yes, this is my observation as well. I’ve observed Muslims in the process of discussing their differences of opinion regarding the correct course of action when presented with conflict between religious rules and human behavior that they encounter. Moderates seek an acceptable compromise. In the family they pick their battles, especially with children and teens. On the topic of prohibition of creating images, there is just no way to live in modern society without creating and observing images, not to mention the substantial vanity of humans everywhere who enjoy viewing images of themselves and others (selfies!). This will be the undoing of this annoying hadith. It’s weak and not enforceable.

  121. We already have a thread on a school banning pork. Surelly banning drawing would have hit the headlines at some point.

  122. agree! agree! agree! i agree even with the perceptions of seemingly sexist language. however, the changes made or being made to this latter are ugly and clumsy, and can be quite absurd: he/she sprinkled through a piece of discourse; or one paragraph containing he whilst the following contains she just for balance is quite absurd.

  123. As I pointed out previously Copernicus was not a scientist, he was a mathematician and philosopher.

    According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a scientist is: a person learned in science and especially natural science : a scientific investigator.

    It’s hard to see how Copernicus doesn’t fit that definition.

    It would have been much simpler if you had agreed in the first place, that some religious claims are lies, rather than arguing about standard dictionary definitions.

    I would have agreed had that been the claim being made; but in fact the claim was “Religious beliefs are lies.”

    There is a difference, just as there is a difference between “Some scientific claims are lies” and “Scientific beliefs are lies.”

  124. For example resurrection is one of main doctrines of the believers. So, if religious person believe that they can resurrect themselves, that they can die and than revive, it must be a lie or delusion.

    If a religious person believes it to be 100 percent truth than they are delusional because natural laws are unchangeable. Once dead, you are always dead. Returning to life after you die would constitute a breach of the basic laws of nature. The occurrence that a dead person can be revived, would require suspension of the laws of nature. But that is impossible. Delusional people believe something to be truth when the FACTS clearly do not support those beliefs.

    Delusions like hallucinations, are found in people who are mentally ill. Some of these people have delusions of grandeur (when they believe that they are some famous and important person), and others delusions of persecution (when they believe somebody or something is following them).

    If religious person do not believe that resurrection is 100 percent true and they are not delusional, than they are knowingly lying.

  125. If a religious person believes it to be 100 percent truth than they are delusional because natural laws are unchangeable.

    Another possibility is that there are aspects of existence which are beyond human comprehension – just as there are aspects of existence which are beyond ant comprehension – and so aren’t covered by human laws.

  126. Ewan wrote:

    That’s the thing about moral quandries; they can be complicated, with no easy answers.

    Ewan, all religion is characteristically dishonest but Catholic moral theology is the only one I’m aware of that prescribes lying in their doctrine. Such ‘Mental Reservation‘ is most commonly used to protect clerical rapists. Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary says the justification is secrecy. Evidently Catholics consider protecting the perpetrator is paramount, officially at least.

    Cardinal Desmond Connell tried to defend child rape in Dublin’s Murphy Report by claiming that mental reservation is “a matter of trying to deal with extraordinarily difficult matters that may arise in social relations where people may ask questions that you simply cannot answer.” It is an approved method that “allows clerics (to) mislead people…without being guilty of lying” according to the report Church ‘lied without lying'”, by The Irish Times, 11 November 2009

    These are just some of the reasons children deserve protection from indoctrination. This is especially so with respect to fundamentalist cults like Catholicism or Wahabism.

  127. Ewan Feb 22, 2015 at 2:47 am

    As I pointed out previously Copernicus was not a scientist, he was a mathematician and philosopher.

    According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a scientist is: a person learned in science and especially natural science : a scientific investigator.

    As I have previously pointed out, that is the modern term for those using scientific methodology, which involves peer-review. – That is checking of published work by experts in that field of science.

    The problem at the time of Galileo and Copernicus, was that their works were being reviewed by ignorant theologians and philosophers uneducated in those subject areas and technologies.

    It’s hard to see how Copernicus doesn’t fit that definition.

    He was doing some work we would now describe as “science” but at that time such studies were called “Natural Philosophy”. Nobody was referred to as a “scientist” until the 1800s.

    It would have been much simpler if you had agreed in the first place, that some religious claims are lies, rather than arguing about standard dictionary definitions.

    I would have agreed had that been the claim being made; but in fact the claim was “Religious beliefs are lies.”

    As it did not say “ALL religious claims are lies,” I don’t see why this should be a problem with admitting some are lies.

    There is a difference, just as there is a difference between “Some scientific claims are lies” and “Scientific beliefs are lies.”

    The difference is that when scientists discover dishonesty or error, they expose it and correct it.
    Religions usually evade the issues and cover it up – often starting a new sect so two groups both doggedly defend opposing viewpoints or interpretations – hence thousands of Xtian denominations and cults with conflicting beliefs.

    Earlier I linked an article from the Catholic Herald, where an apologist, was defending the use of fake relics on the grounds that “they were useful in spreading the faith”!
    No honest scientist would promote falsehoods as a useful way of deceiving readers, and any dishonest one (like Andrew Wakefield), would be exposed as a fraud!

    “Scientific beliefs are lies.”

    Science does not work on “faith” or “belief”. It works on repeat testable objective observation and confidence in interpretations.
    Errors in interpretations, deductions or calculations, are corrected when discovered – by other scientists who are actively looking for flaws.

    Religions are the exact opposite – the more ridiculous the claim, the stronger and “better” the “faith” needed to believe it”!

    Unfortunately many religions claim to have answers without evidence, and are not prepared to say, “I do not know”! so make-up fake history and pseudo-science miracles.

    Hence:- as Olgun linked earlier the Bible is full of mistranslations and falsehoods, on all manner of subjects – such as Hell! http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gehenna

    Religious followers lie about their religions – sometimes wilfully, sometimes negligently and carelessly, and often quite oblivious to the source of the lies, due to accepting them on blind faith without making any effort whatever to check their accuracy!

    Lies, however do not become “truth” due to the sincerity or carelessness, of those who passed them down the chains of followers, and arguing about the definition of the word “lie” does nothing to recognise the reality of the the situation.
    If anything, if creates a façade of mock innocence based on sustained ignorance, maintained by a negligence or refusal, to look at, or understand, the evidence.

    It threatens my beliefs, – so I sit in denial and won’t look, is a common attitude.

  128. “Religious beliefs are lies.”
    In what sense?

    Yeah, I’d go with you on that one: saying that religious beliefs are lies is somewhat an oversimplification and reductive.

    Religious beliefs find themselves in the intersection of at least three sets: Lies, Mental masturbation and Delusions.

    Let me add to the already rich list of examples reported -and excuse me if I peek on the Big Three, but they are the closest source I have:

    1)Lies: The Earth was made for humans to use (or humans are meant to dominate the Earth). That is a massive lie: we are not the only animal requiring some sort of territory for sustainment, we aren’t the only one who use the resources and, ultimately, there is a sizeable number of species that would be a lot happier without humans around. So we are but guests on this planets, just like any other living being out there.
    I should stress at this point that I didn’t use the fact of evolution in the above argument, nor I implied it in any way. It’s mere observation out of my window.
    Furthermore, the above lie is also a self-centered delusion, because it inflates our own species’ importance beyond any decency and is also a kind of mental masturbation, since you take an arbitrary idea out of the many popping into your mind and caress it until it becomes a very pleasurable belief -in a narcissistic outlook over the world, being on top of all the rest is obviously pleasant.

    2)Mental masturbation: Let me report a quote, retrieved from The God Delusion:

    In the unity of the Godhead there are three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons being truly distinct one from another. Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: ‘the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God’.

    That covers both accepted definitions of mental masturbation spectacularly. I mean, so much that whoever came up with that period phrase must have stopped, panting and sweating, to wipe the ejaculate off his ears. It’s the ultimate babble to fondle one’s unjustified opinions: one postulate entity contains three “truly” separated ones -one of which is a ghost-, each of which with its own personal individuality. And yet the starting entity is one, and one only… Something that schizophrenia could only dream about. In conclusion, a very pompous semantic null.
    It is also a lie, since three separate personal entities cannot form a single unique personal entity -I’d refer you to 1+1+1 = 3 and not 1. And it’s a delusion, because believing that summing three ones gets you another one just flies in the face of factual experience. If you have three individual stones you don’t have one stone, but three of them.

    3)Delusions: There’s a personal god with whom you can, basically, phone. In other words, there’s some entity that listen to prayers and may decide to act as suggested in them.
    And, I should add, not only that, but it gets very crossed if you don’t do it very often -not unlike your grumpy old grandma.
    I can think of a wide variety of psychiatric conditions where the exchange of vocalism with imaginary entities is a symptom and is classified as a delusional state -or hallucinations. Curiously, some of those delusional state involve conversations with god. But, for some reason, if you call it “being faithful and devout” you can still get a driving licence…
    The concept of a personal god that listen to prayers is a lie, since there’s not a shred of evidence for such an entity -it can’t also be disproved, but you have a pretty good indication that there’s something wrong because, if such an entity is postulated, an absurd is verifiable. It is also a kind of mental masturbation, since the main purpose of praying is to request something to happen and, afterwards, fondle oneself either with the expectation of that happening or -if verification is impossible- the self manipulation into believing that one’s wish came true.

  129. “…the main purpose of praying is to request something to happen.”

    That’s a fairly limited view of prayer, Lorenzo. Prayer is essentially spending time with God. While that may involve asking him for help it may also involve worship, thanksgiving, adoration and, most importantly of all, listening.

  130. Ewan Feb 22, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Prayer is essentially spending time with God. While that may involve asking him for help it may also involve worship, thanksgiving, adoration and, most importantly of all, listening.

    Yep! Those god-delusions can talk to your conscious mind and give you plausible answers on anything – providing you shut down the rational parts of your brain, go for warm fuzzy feelings, and ignore outside evidence!

    University of Missouri-Columbia“We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, but it’s not isolated to one specific area of the brain,”

    Buddhist meditators and Franciscan nuns with normal brain function have shown that people can learn to minimize the functioning of the right side of their brains to increase their spiritual connections during meditation and prayer.

    In addition, Johnstone measured the frequency of participants’ religious practices, such as how often they attended church or listened to religious programs. He measured activity in the frontal lobe and found a correlation between increased activity in this part of the brain and increased participation in religious practices. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm

  131. Can you please explain how all those things work in the world, especially the listening?

    I’m not sure that I understand your question, Olgun. But, for me, listening is the most important part of prayer. God is pretty good at stuff and is happy to offer guidance and help. But we need to i) listen to the guidance and ii) follow it – and we’re not so good at that.

  132. Oh sorry. I suppose that doesn’t qualify as delusional behavior, lies and mental masturbation, since is not only asking for help to an imaginary entity but also… Hanging out with it. Yeah, that doesn’t make things worse. Not at all.

  133. Well, I find it hard to understand why it would take all this praising and adoration unless it is a selfish act to get the asking part done. I am also wondering if you understand that what I hear when I am listening is my own mind running through a few things and coming up with a possible answer if not the obvious one?

  134. Well, I find it hard to understand why it would take all this praising and adoration…

    Is it not a natural response to love? It doesn’t necessarily have a particular purpose or end in mind.

  135. Ewan, do you encourage your children to pray? What do you teach them about it?

    I did when they were young. We would pray as a family and, of course, when we went to church. Catholicism has lots of set prayers and the children picked some of them up as they went along, but I also shared with them some other ways of praying which I had found effective.

    I’m not sure that I taught them anything very specific about prayer. It’s something you learn by doing and it’s different for everyone, in the way that relationships are all different. Perhaps the only specific thing I did was remind them, when they went out into the world, that God was always with them and available when needed.

  136. Is it not a natural response to love? It doesn’t necessarily have a
    particular purpose or end in mind.

    Do you have an equivalent to all that is not good in the world. Do you admonish anyone for all the wrongs?

  137. Do you admonish anyone for all the wrongs?

    To be honest, I’ve never felt that condemnation is a particularly helpful response to a situation. When I’m aware of troubles and difficulties, I usually turn to prayer and then consider what I might be able to do from a practical point of view.

    This morning during Mass, we heard about CAFOD’s Lent Fast Day (where we are encouraged to fast for a day and give the money we save to CAFOD) which, this year, is focussed on people around the world who have suffered from devastating natural disasters. This combines the three spiritual disciplines which we are encouraged to maintain during Lent – prayer, fasting and alms-giving.

    Hopefully, when the CAFOD envelopes are returned next week, the collection plates will be groaning!

  138. I hope so too. It does seem strange that you can ignore responsibility to wrongs and just get on with the solutions but then have to thank god for your goodness. Do you think you could make the decision to be giving without prayer or do you think you will turn into something unspeakable without it?

  139. Do you think you could make the decision to be giving without prayer or do you think you will turn into something unspeakable without it?

    I tend to find that my life gets in a muddle without prayer.

  140. @Ewan

    That’s a fairly limited view of prayer, Lorenzo. Prayer is essentially spending time with God. While that may involve asking him for help it may also involve worship, thanksgiving, adoration and, most importantly of all, listening.

    You never answered Olgun’s question. When you are spending time with God, how do you listen to him? I presume he never physically appears and that you never hear him audibly – is that correct? Do you merely attribute thoughts you have had and decisions you have made to God’s influence or do you hear a voice in your head which guides you?

  141. Do you merely attribute thoughts you have had and decisions you have made to God’s influence or do you hear a voice in your head which guides you?

    The difference I find between thinking a situation through and praying about a situation is that, in the former case, I end up with a conclusion and, in the latter case, I end up with a response. (I write that knowing that it sounds trite but there you go…)

  142. The difference I find between thinking a situation through and praying about a situation is that, in the former case, I end up with a conclusion and, in the latter case, I end up with a response. (I write that knowing that it sounds trite but there you go…).

    It sounds like you refusing to answer some simple questions. Are these the sort of trite responses you would give to your children in the event of similar questions?

  143. In that case, pretend you are talking to your children and give honest and straightforward answers to the questions. I’ll repeat, just in case you forgot:

    When you are spending time with God, how do you listen to him? I presume he never physically appears and that you never hear him audibly – is that correct? Do you merely attribute thoughts you have had and decisions you have made to God’s influence or do you hear a voice in your head which guides you?

  144. In that case, pretend you are talking to your children and give honest and straightforward answers to the questions. I’ll repeat, just in case you forgot:
    When you are spending time with God, how do you listen to him?

    I open my mind to him.

    I presume he never physically appears and that you never hear him audibly – is that correct?

    Yes.

    Do you merely attribute thoughts you have had and decisions you have made to God’s influence or do you hear a voice in your head which guides you?

    Neither. I open my mind to God and, in due course, I find that there has been a response.

  145. Ewan Feb 22, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I open my mind to him.

    How do you know you are not simply opening part of your mind to another subconscious part of your brain?

    I presume he never physically appears and that you never hear him audibly – is that correct?

    Yes.

    Do you merely attribute thoughts you have had and decisions you have made to God’s influence or do you hear a voice in your head which guides you?

    Neither. I open my mind to God and, in due course, I find that there has been a response.

    How would you distinguish this from a response from a subconscious part of your own brain?

  146. I open my mind to him.

    Is your mind normally closed to him? What is the process of opening your mind to him?

    in due course, I find that there has been a response.

    What does that mean? How do you detect a response?

  147. I open my mind to him.

    Is your mind normally closed to him?

    When I am thinking about myself and my wishes and my needs, my mind is normally closed to God.

    What is the process of opening your mind to him?

    It’s mostly a matter of clearing my mind and letting God fill the space.

    in due course, I find that there has been a response.

    What does that mean? How do you detect a response?

    It’s there in my mind.

  148. Neither. I open my mind to God and, in due course, I find that there has been a response.

    How would you distinguish this from a response from a subconscious part of your own brain?

    By the love which accompanies it.

  149. How would you distinguish this from a response from a subconscious part of your own brain?

    By the love which accompanies it.

    Back to the trite responses I see.

  150. Ewan Feb 22, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I open my mind to him. When I am thinking about myself and my wishes and my needs, my mind is normally closed to God.

    Is this not simply the shutting down of the rational side of your brain which I mentioned, and then basking in warm feeling of closeness using the spiritual areas which are given enhanced priority, – as explained in the link on my earlier comment?
    (to which you have not responded).

    You may recall I mentioned earlier (on “lies are supposedly not lies” if the teller remains unaware of the falsehood), the reluctance of theists to look at evidence which challenges their asserted beliefs!

    How would you distinguish this from a response from a subconscious part of your own brain?

    By the love which accompanies it.

    How is that any different to the dopamine induced warm fuzzy feeling I described earlier?

    Those god-delusions can talk to your conscious mind and give you plausible answers on anything – providing you shut down the rational parts of your brain, go for warm fuzzy feelings, and ignore outside evidence!

    Buddhist meditators and Franciscan nuns with normal brain function have shown that people can learn to minimize the functioning of the right side of their brains to increase their spiritual connections during meditation and prayer.

  151. if you raise your children to be atheists, you are actually “forcing your religious opinions on your children.” i’m not really sure what characteristics of a secular upbringing would make it a neutral option.
    since professor dawkins is not an expert on religious traditions, it would seem logical that he would not comment on whether they are good places to get your “ethics” from.

  152. Actually the non mention of gods/God in my household apart from the parents’ disbelief in them, never caused any problem. My offspring were brought up to try to deal with the real world, not with the fictional one.

    I love the way the words “ethics” and “morals” are thrown around by the believers as if the godless are by some mysterious process, denied access to them. OK a cheap shot, but the USA has the highest number of prisoners in the world, including China, – yet most of them are Christians ! Hardly an advertisement for Christian morals !

  153. Ploni Feb 22, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    if you raise your children to be atheists, you are actually “forcing your religious opinions on your children.”

    Atheism is a lack of adherence religious opinions, although atheists are often critical of damaging effects on people caused by religious opinions.

    As is explained in detail earlier in this discussion, atheism is an absence of belief in gods. It is not a religion, any more than OFF is a TV channel!

    i’m not really sure what characteristics of a secular upbringing would make it a neutral option.

    A secular upbringing is one with no bias towards a particular religion, so it is very much a neural option.

    since professor dawkins is not an expert on religious traditions,

    Perhaps you should have read some of his books on religious traditions before demonstrating such ignorance of his expertise.

    it would seem logical that he would not comment on whether they are good places to get your “ethics” from.

    I’m afraid it would only be ignorant to try to cite logic as authority for opinions picked out of the air without even basic research of the topic.
    Religions have no monopoly on ethics and given the bigotry, strife, inter-religious wars, and irrational denials of science, in many religions, their claims to be oracles of ethics are dubious to say the least!

  154. OK, maybe it’s me, but a lie is a deliberate act of spreading a falsehood. A falsehood can be spread by just plain ignorance, which I think is the case by most religios. They just don’t realise what bollocks they are talking, and I think that is what our friend Ewan was referring to.

    The likes of Ray Comfort, Ken Ham, and other interested people in making a buck, lie quite happily, spreading their falsehoods as if there were no hell !

  155. Ploni Feb 22, 2015 at 2:56 pm
    .
    since professor dawkins is not an expert on religious traditions, it would seem logical that he would not comment on whether they are good places to get your “ethics” from.

    Could I recommend some educational background reading, so you can avoid making such howlers in future:

    .The God Delusion is a 2006 best-selling,[1] non-fiction book by English biologist Richard Dawkins, professorial fellow of New College, Oxford,[2][3] and former holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Delusion#Religion_and_morality
    The second half of the book begins by exploring the roots of religion and seeking an explanation for its ubiquity across human cultures.

  156. well, lack of a religious belief is actually a religious opinion. your opinion is that there are no gods, and that is your particular stance on religion, which is fine, if that’s what you’re into. i wouldn’t compare it to off being a tv channel, since that would imply that you have no opinion on the subject whatsoever, which is clearly not the case. atheism may be the absence of belief, but it is not the absence of an opinion. the article’s title referred to religious opinions, and i was careful to word my response accordingly.

    a secular upbringing would indicate an atmosphere which is certainly hostile towards religion in general. the parents opted not to have any religious beliefs presumably because they didn’t agree with any of them. therefore you are not raising your child in a neutral atmosphere. you are raising the kid with the religious opinion of having no religion, because you believe religion is wrong. which is what you will teach your children when they ask you. i would assume professor dawkins didn’t arrange for religious experts from various faiths to give presentations to his child about their systems of belief so that the young dawkins could make a decision based on his/her(?) own preferences. i assume he taught the child according to his best knowledge of the world, like most parents do.
    you actually don’t know what i have or haven’t read, and my not agreeing with you doesn’t mean that i am ignorant.
    i am 100% confident that professor dawkins’ understanding of judaism is at best superficial. perhaps watch him debate former uk chief rabbi sacks, where this is explained to him in very brief but polite terms by a man who was educated at cambridge, oxford, and king’s college. i cannot comment on his knowledge of any other religions, but i assume that since he doesn’t get judaism, it is possible that he has problems with some of the other faiths as well.
    you may think that religious views are taken out of thin air. however, the study of religion, morality, and their relationship are covered by various academic fields. as far as i know, professor dawkins has published one article in a philosophical journal, and none in a peer reviewed social science, theology, or religious studies journal. he is a biologist, and that’s great. his writing on biology is awesome, and he certainly helped a layperson like me find out more about how the world works.
    if you are discussing religion, it would seem logical that the reality of religious life and thought are what you would be responding to, and not what you think religion is. if you are dismissing religious expertise (which is just as intellectually gruesome to acquire as expertise in any other field) as irrelevant in the discussion of religion because you yourself wish to define what religion is or isn’t, then you are tilting at windmills, sorry.
    all the things that you have listed are also present in the secular world. for example the bloodiest conflict in the history of the world was waged without any religious motives.

  157. i don’t think that you can’t be a moral or ethical person without religion. there are plenty of good people out there that aren’t religious. i just think that labeling religious tradition as a terrible source for morals or ethics is not an entirely fair thing to do. especially when you don’t identify an alternative and empirically proven source.

  158. Ploni Feb 22, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    i don’t think that you can’t be a moral or ethical person without religion. there are plenty of good people out there that aren’t religious. i just think that labeling religious tradition as a terrible source for morals or ethics is not an entirely fair thing to do.

    Did you have a particular religious tradition in mind. There are, and have been, thousands of them! There are no default gods or default religious traditions.

    especially when you don’t identify an alternative and empirically proven source.

    Were you offering empirical evidence for some a particular religious tradition or moral code?

    (I think the Inca and Aztec human sacrifices were rather poor morally, and the jihadists and inquisitors were much the same!)

  159. So for example, the Bible is a good source of moral and ethical behaviour ? A book more full of death and destruction, and a warped view of human nature unparalleled in other literature, than any other I can think of.

    Not in my book. I might not be “entirely fair”, but that is my view. Oh and my offspring seem quite happy not to believe in gods/God ! I don’t think they were “forced” anywhere mentally.

  160. We should probably start calling it “organized religion” and not just “religion” or you will probably starting tripping into semiological traps in the middle of debates.

  161. Oh dear ! So many words and such little time to deal with Ploni’s pontifications ! I see Don Quixote has been evoked, he of the windmills ! Whatever delusions Don Quixote might have had were rudely interrupted by reality. I wish that view were taken by more who believe in a “higher power”.

  162. Are there only two choices – ignorant or lier? If so, which is Ewan? Could there be other options? For instance Ewan & Ray etc could have an ability which you and I don’t, allowing them to spend time with God (as Ewan puts it).

  163. Oh yes I saw that debate with Sacks. I thought Dawkins did pretty well with Sacks’ arguments, who is, as you say, a well educated man. The rabbi even played the wrong card when it came to the holocaust and Dawkins’ attitude towards it. But then Dawkins is not one of God’s chosen people.

  164. Ploni Feb 22, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    well, lack of a religious belief is actually a religious opinion. your opinion is that there are no gods, and that is your particular stance on religion, which is fine, if that’s what you’re into.

    Actually, it is a view, that on the lack of evidence for gods, and the multitude of contradictory claims of different religions. There are probably no gods, and the universe does not need gods to explain its workings.

    i wouldn’t compare it to off being a tv channel, since that would imply that you have no opinion on the subject whatsoever,

    The OFF channel refers to the dogma content of the position. Human beings have opinions on the world with or without religions.
    Some are dominated by religious creeds and dogmas.
    Others regard religions as irrelevant to their philosophies.

    which is clearly not the case. atheism may be the absence of belief, but it is not the absence of an opinion. the article’s title referred to religious opinions, and i was careful to word my response accordingly.

    The article referred to pandering to religious food fads, which are pure nonsense from a dietary point of view.

    a secular upbringing would indicate an atmosphere which is certainly hostile towards religion in general.

    That is simply not so! Secular states are generally neutral and tolerant of a diversity of religious beliefs. It is theocracies which discriminate against religions and philosophies, other than their own.

    the parents opted not to have any religious beliefs presumably because they didn’t agree with any of them. therefore you are not raising your child in a neutral atmosphere.

    Of course they are neutral. They are favouring no particular religious dogmas, but are educating children how to think things out for themselves. Failure to show bias in favour of your religion is not a lack of neutrality.

    you are raising the kid with the religious opinion of having no religion, because you believe religion is wrong. which is what you will teach your children when they ask you.

    You are projecting a reversed version of religious indoctrination. That is not how secular education works.

    It starts with verifiable scientific information and logical reasoning and builds up a world view which can be checked and tested for accuracy. Frequently it looks at various religions to compare their mythologies.

    It does not start with the dogmatic preconceptions of “faith” or the irrationality of circular “faith-thinking”.

    if you are discussing religion, it would seem logical that the reality of religious life and thought are what you would be responding to,

    You would have to specify which religion, sect and culture ,you were talking about, before any coherent objective discussion of social structures or anthropology could take place.

    and not what you think religion is.

    I don’t know what religion(s) you are talking about so can offer no thoughts!

    if you are dismissing religious expertise as irrelevant in the discussion of religion because you yourself wish to define what religion is or isn’t,

    It is your comment which does not define which religion(s) you are talking about. There are no “standard”, or “default”, religious views. Religious wars are fought over differences.

    I would expect any “expert” pronouncements on any subject, to start with a basic definition of the topic!

    all the things that you have listed are also present in the secular world. for example the bloodiest conflict in the history of the world was waged without any religious motives.

    That seems doubtful, but unless you specify which conflict you are talking about, the comment has no substance.

  165. It is interesting that amongst American professors it is psychology professors who are the least religious. It is those who understanding the nature of delusion and self deception that are the least deluded and deceived. Having been present on separate occasions when SSRI medication deficit resulted in culturally appropriate deulsions of Godly presence and intervention, I am as convinced as they that these are distortions of simple cognitions (The sunlight on the book was no different than sunlight, not special nor discernibly full of a Godly transfer of information). These tendencies to experience moments of significance, presence and oxytocin release are everyday for very many of us, albeit at a milder level, but without a cultural explanatory tag, they mostly get lost in the noise of all the other experiences. With an explanatory tag they are gathered and by a process of Hebbian learning reinforce their own detection.

    Imagine the wealth of reinforcement when four to seven year olds are given these (strictly culture specific) explanatory tags as a hard-wired substrate to their as yet incompletely developed cognitive processes…

  166. actually there are lots of books that are more depraved than the bible.

    the bible presents you with real world moral dilemmas and conflicts. (let’s not talk about the “science of the bible.” that’s a different issue, and it’s not connected to what i’m talking about here.) it would be rather foolish to have a bible describe a type of humanity which simply doesn’t exist. in real life, you have to navigate between difficult choices and through difficult situations. that’s what the bible is about, too. it’s not about portraying an ideal world.
    like i said, if that’s what you believe, that’s fine by me. if your children are happy, then that’s great. but just like i don’t tell you how to raise your children, i would appreciate a little less applause from you when people tell me how to raise mine. but that’s a personal issue.

  167. the parents opted not to have any religious beliefs presumably because they didn’t agree with any of them.

    How do you opt not to have a belief? Surely the arguments for/against a proposition along with your current knowledge leads to a belief or non-belief? Do you really have a choice in what you believe?

  168. There are probably no gods, and the universe does not need gods to explain its workings

    probably being the operative word. what the universe does or doesn’t need to explain its workings is actually beyond human capacity to understand at this point, objectively speaking. i think if people figured out how the universe worked in its totality that would have made the headlines.

    The OFF channel refers to the dogma content of the position. Human beings have opinions on the world with or without religions.

    you did not specify that your version of atheism only refers to dogmatic content in religion. if the off channel refers to dogma only, then you are not an atheist.

    The article referred to pandering to religious food fads, which are pure nonsense from a dietary point of view

    “religious food fads” have been with us for quite some time, so they aren’t really fads. they are also not pure nonsense from a dietary point of view. there are plenty of religious dietary laws that promote a healthier lifestyle.

    Failure to show bias in favour of your religion is not a lack of neutrality.

    i actually don’t care what you think about my religion. but let’s not pretend that an atheist household has no effect on a child’s later view of religion. somehow a religious upbringing affects a child, but an atheistic one doesn’t?

    You are projecting a reversed version of religious indoctrination. That is not how secular education works

    i am not. i’m turning your argument back on you. i’m just coming from a different vantage point. i am familiar with how secular education works. also with how it doesn’t.

    It is your comment which does not define which religion(s) you are talking about. >

    the article didn’t differentiate, so neither did i.

    That seems doubtful, but unless you specify which conflict you are talking about, the comment has no substance. >

    world war 2.

  169. religion is culture, and culture is value.
    i will teach my children about my religion to give them a culture and values.
    if there were better ‘secular’ values, then i would embrace it. but secular values are not good nor healthy.
    secular british values are only about hedonism.

    religious fundamentalism and atheist fundamentalism are both, ultimately, fundamentalist.
    the foundation of olde england was the church. without the church, there is no england, so it seems to me. there are not British values without christianity.
    likewise, pakistani or arab parents want to keep their children muslim because they think muslim values and culture are better than western ones.

    thats my point of view. i saw Dawkins deal with subject on TV, and wanted to get my view. thanks

  170. Were you offering empirical evidence for some a particular religious tradition or moral code?

    no, and i won’t. but then again, i don’t have to. it is dawkins who needs to answer that question. he’s the positivist here, not me.

    I think the Inca and Aztec human sacrifices were rather poor morally, and the jihadists and inquisitors were much the same!

    i think you are quite right. but i’m going to stick with what i said below: dawkins didn’t differentiate, so neither will i.

  171. Oh, I know what you are talking about. Sacks said Dawkins description of the old testament God in “The God Delusion” was anti-semitic.

    Here is the passage:

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    And here is the discussion on this web site:

    Dawkins and Sacks in ‘anti-semitic’ row

  172. the bible presents you with real world moral dilemmas and conflicts.

    They were not even real world moral dilemmas when they were written thousands of years ago.

  173. Ploni Feb 22, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    *There are probably no gods, and the universe does not need gods to explain its workings

    probably being the operative word. what the universe does or doesn’t need to explain its workings is actually beyond human capacity to understand at this point, objectively speaking.

    This is pure assertion!

    i think if people figured out how the universe worked in its totality that would have made the headlines.

    Because science does not understand everything, that does not mean it understands nothing, or that unevidenced god-gapology offers any credible alternative.

    The article referred to pandering to religious food fads, which are pure nonsense from a dietary point of view

    “religious food fads” have been with us for quite some time, so they aren’t really fads. they are also not pure nonsense from a dietary point of view. there are plenty of religious dietary laws that promote a healthier lifestyle.

    You are just making up irrelevant diversions. The OP was specific, and so were my earlier links.

    Failure to show bias in favour of your religion is not a lack of neutrality.

    i actually don’t care what you think about my religion. but let’s not pretend that an atheist household has no effect on a child’s later view of religion. somehow a religious upbringing affects a child, but an atheistic one doesn’t?

    Nobody made that claim! However a scientific upbringing which values evidence-based rational thinking avoids the vulnerabilities to quacks and charlatans, unevidenced irrational “faith-thinking” inflicts upon children.
    Children who have looked at several religions certainly have a more balanced view of the subject than those indoctrinated in one.

    You are projecting a reversed version of religious indoctrination. That is not how secular education works

    i am not. i’m turning your argument back on you.

    Trying to turn the argument back is what back-projection is!

    i’m just coming from a different vantage point. i am familiar with how secular education works. also with how it doesn’t.

    Your earlier comments clearly indicate that you don’t!

    It is your comment which does not define which religion(s) you are talking about.

    the article didn’t differentiate, so neither did i.

    It distinctly mentioned pork, which is specific to certain religions. I also mentioned fish!

    all the things that you have listed are also present in the secular world. for example the bloodiest conflict in the history of the world was waged without any religious motives.

    That seems doubtful, but unless you specify which conflict you are talking about, the comment has no substance.

    world war 2.

    In that case your claim is clearly false!

    The haulocaust was NAZI and other Xtians against Jews, British and American (mainly) Xtians V German and Italian Xtians, with Mussolini in cahoots with the Vatican, and Hitler an ex catholic altar-boy, with ambitions to unify the German Protestant churches in NAZI anti-Semitism!

    Gott Mit Uns (God With Us) Nazi Buckle

    The Japanese worshipped the emperor who commanded their sacrifices, and while in adult life Stalin was a communist- atheist, Stalin was raised devout in the Greek Orthodox Church. His parents hoped he would become a priest.

    Manipulated religious factions and individuals, and religion based ideologies, played a huge part in WW2.

  174. it would be rather foolish to have a bible describe a type of humanity which simply doesn’t exist.

    Why do you think a religious text, supposedly written by God to his people, has to describe humanity as it was at the time or even now?

    in real life, you have to navigate between difficult choices and through difficult situations. that’s what the bible is about, too. it’s not about portraying an ideal world.

    Why not? Why is it that when we read the bible today, we read a book full of immorality and violence? Surely if it was written by God, it would be as inspiring and full of moral teaching today as the day it was written. Instead we find the world has moved on, and it is now a book that even religious people are ashamed to read to their children.

  175. mahmoud Feb 22, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    religious fundamentalism and atheist fundamentalism are both, ultimately, fundamentalist.

    I think most would recognise the lack of substance and circularity of this assertion!

    it seems to me. there are not British values without christianity.
    likewise, pakistani or arab parents want to keep their children muslim because they think muslim values and culture are better than western ones.

    Would that be because they have been so narrowly indoctrinated, and left uneducated, that they have no concept of other cultures, or of morality beyond religious dogmas?

  176. Ploni Feb 22, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    it would seem to me that you can decide what you believe.

    You can, but reality does not respect beliefs!

    Those who choose not to believe in gravity tend to land with a bang!

    Using objective scientific evidence is a much better option!

  177. This is pure assertion!

    as opposed to “there are probably no gods?”

    Because science does not understand everything, that does not mean it understands nothing, or that unevidenced god-gapology offers any credible alternative.

    i never said that science is not credible. this is not a debate about the validity of religion. i really have no intention to get into that in this forum. this conversation is, as per my original comment, about 1. dawkins thinking that he is providing a religiously neutral household when he is not, and 2. dawkins not having the necessary credentials to make objective comments about the validity of all religion.

    You are just making up irrelevant diversions. The OP was specific, and so were my earlier links

    i responded to an inaccurate comment that you made.

    Nobody made that claim

    i thought that you did, when you said “A secular upbringing is one with no bias towards a particular religion, so it is very much a neural [sic] option.” neutral would indicate that it has no effect. according to merriam-webster, neutral means “not supporting either side of an argument, fight, war, etc.” so that would mean that the child receives absolutely no information from his/her parents that could affect his religious outlook.

    However a scientific upbringing which values evidence-based rational thinking avoids the vulnerabilities to quacks and charlatans, unevidenced irrational “faith-thinking” inflicts upon children.”

    a “scientific upbringing” has nothing to do with religion. you can bring your kids up quite religiously with great admiration for science. the two are not mutually exclusive.

    Trying to turn the argument back is what back-projection is!

    i was trying to explain that if you say that (some?) religious people indoctrinate their kids with religious ideas, from my point of view secular parents indoctrinate their kids with irreligious ideas. just because you see no value in the religious perspective, it doesn’t mean that religious people are unable to make a well-informed choice to raise their kids in a religious environment. A large portion of them end up raising wonderful and happy children.

    Your earlier comments clearly indicate that you don’t!

    let’s not go ad hominem, please. i think i’ve done nothing to deserve it, except for not sharing your personal opinions.

    In that case your claim is clearly false!

    actually, the nazis differentiated jews not based on their religious beliefs but on their descent. also, since we are here arguing about facts and reason and logic and all, i would make a brief note about how both hitler and stalin were fiercely secular, and how that’s fairly basic historical knowledge.

    haulocaust

    it’s spelled “holocaust.”

  178. This is pure assertion!

    as opposed to “there are probably no gods?”

    Because science does not understand everything, that does not mean it understands nothing, or that unevidenced god-gapology offers any credible alternative.

    i never said that science is not credible. this is not a debate about the validity of religion. i really have no intention to get into that in this forum. this conversation is, as per my original comment, about 1. dawkins thinking that he is providing a religiously neutral household when he is not, and 2. dawkins not having the necessary credentials to make objective comments about the validity of all religion.

    You are just making up irrelevant diversions. The OP was specific, and so were my earlier links

    i responded to an inaccurate comment that you made.

    Nobody made that claim

    i thought that you did, when you said “A secular upbringing is one with no bias towards a particular religion, so it is very much a neural [sic] option.” neutral would indicate that it has no effect. according to merriam-webster, neutral means “not supporting either side of an argument, fight, war, etc.” so that would mean that the child receives absolutely no information from his/her parents that could affect his religious outlook.

    However a scientific upbringing which values evidence-based rational thinking avoids the vulnerabilities to quacks and charlatans, unevidenced irrational “faith-thinking” inflicts upon children.”

    a scientific upbringing has nothing to do with religion. you can bring your kids up quite religiously with great admiration for science. the two are not mutually exclusive.

    Trying to turn the argument back is what back-projection is!

    i was trying to explain that if you say that (some?) religious people indoctrinate their kids with religious ideas, from my point of view secular parents indoctrinate their kids with irreligious ideas. just because you see no value in the religious perspective, it doesn’t mean that religious people are unable to make a well-informed choice to raise their kids in a religious environment. A large portion of them end up raising wonderful and happy children.

    Your earlier comments clearly indicate that you don’t!

    let’s not go ad hominem, please. i think i’ve done nothing to deserve it, except for not sharing your personal opinions.

    In that case your claim is clearly false!

    actually, the nazis differentiated jews not based on their religious beliefs but on their descent. also, since we are here arguing about facts and reason and logic and all, i would make a brief note about how both hitler and stalin were fiercely secular, and how that’s fairly basic historical knowledge.

    haulocaust

    it’s spelled “holocaust.”

  179. Such as?

    god forbid you take literary advice from one of us…

    They were not even real world moral dilemmas when they were written thousands of years ago.

    that makes no sense at all, sorry….

    Why do you think a religious text, supposedly written by God to his people, has to describe humanity as it was at the time or even now?

    because if it doesn’t offer us any clues about how things are, then it’s quite useless.

    Why not? Why is it that when we read the bible today, we read a book full of immorality and violence? Surely if it was written by God, it would be as inspiring and full of moral teaching today as the day it was written. Instead we find the world has moved on, and it is now a book that even religious people are ashamed to read to their children.

    if you want utopia, that’s in a different section of the book store. the bible is not that.

    Really????
    You seem to be looking through the blinkers of “faith”!
    There is a list of biblical morality here:

    yes, really. if you don’t know any, then you aren’t that well-read.
    thank you for the list, but if i’ll ever experience a shortage of biblical commentaries, i’m not going to remedy that issue through this site. i’ll be very happy to read anything on it about science though.

  180. Surat An-Nisā’ (The Women) 4:34

    Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

    Mahmoud says:

    likewise, pakistani or arab parents want to keep their children muslim because they think muslim values and culture are better than western ones.

    Hey Mahmoud, that quote that I posted above is from your holy book the quoran. That was the word of Allah giving you the right to beat your women. How’s that for family values? I’m not a Brit but I’m willing to bet that British law doesn’t allow men to beat the hell out of their women just because you “fear arrogance”. In fact, British guys probably don’t have the right to beat women at all. That’s the law in the US too and rightly so.

    Think about what you are defending. Remember that you have a mother, sister, and daughters who are at risk of being beaten for no reason and you won’t be able to stop it as long as you stand by this savage passage in your savage book. Be a real man and denounce this barbaric book if you have any courage at all.

    Don’t even try to say that this is out of context or bad translation. I understand the Arabic version and you know that the use of the word “strike” is the softest translation of the word that they could find. The word “beat” is more correct than “strike”.

  181. Ploni Feb 22, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    This is pure assertion!

    as opposed to “there are probably no gods?”

    Nothing to say in support of your pure assertion?

    my original comment, about
    1. dawkins thinking that he is providing a religiously neutral household when he is not, and
    2. dawkins not having the necessary credentials to make objective comments about the validity of all religion.

    Does anybody have the knowledge of all the content of thousands of religions? It seems unlikely. The only common factor, is the neuropsychology and biology producing a religious mentality.

    Nobody made that claim

    i thought that you did, when you said “A secular upbringing is one with no bias towards a particular religion, so it is very much a neural [sic] option.”

    A secular upbringing has no bias towards any particular religion – Is that so hard to grasp?

    neutral would indicate that it has no effect.

    No it wouldn’t. A neutral country still has an effect in international relations. It is simply an unbiased effect.

    according to merriam-webster, neutral means “not supporting either side of an argument, fight, war, etc.”

    This is the discontinous theistic thinking, which can only envisage the false dichotomy of two viewpoints, when in reality there are thousands of viewpoints.

    so that would mean that the child receives absolutely no information from his/her parents that could affect his religious outlook.

    This is nonsense! They receive unbiased information, based on objectivity rather than dogmatic mythology from one religion.

    However a scientific upbringing which values evidence-based rational thinking avoids the vulnerabilities to quacks and charlatans, unevidenced irrational “faith-thinking” inflicts upon children.”

    a scientific upbringing has nothing to do with religion.

    Perhaps you should try telling that to the Young Earth Creationists, and the purveyors of theistic evolution who keep making up pseudo-science, to try to fudge science and dogma!

    you can bring your kids up quite religiously with great admiration for science.

    But only if they have compartmentalised minds to separate the scientific methodology from the mythical preconceptions of the circular thinking fallacies of faith-thinking.

    the two are not mutually exclusive.

    Actually the evidence-based logical reasoning of science, and “faith” (belief without evidence or proof) are diametrically opposite processes.

    *Trying to turn the argument back is what back-projection is!

    i was trying to explain that if you say that (some?) religious people indoctrinate their kids with religious ideas, from my point of view secular parents indoctrinate their kids with irreligious ideas.

    There are no “standard religious ideas” and no “standard irreligious ideas”. You are again conflating your personal religious beliefs with religion and philosophies in general

    Your earlier comments clearly indicate that you don’t! {understand secular education]

    *let’s not go ad hominem, please. i think i’ve done nothing to deserve it, except for not sharing your personal opinions.

    The false Ad-hom accusation is usually the last resort of the ignorant who have no reasoned answer!
    You false dichotomies and claims demonstrating ignorance of secular education are obvious to those well informed on the subject.

    In that case your claim is clearly false! [WW” -religion]

    actually, the nazis differentiated jews not based on their religious beliefs but on their descent. also, since we are here arguing about facts and reason and logic and all, i would make a brief note about how both hitler and stalin were fiercely secular, and how that’s fairly basic historical knowledge.

    No! Its theistic pseudo-historical self delusion!

    Hitler was baptised, was a Catholic altar boy and never excommunicated. I gave you this information earlier. The history of 1930s Xtian anti-Semitism is readily available to those who research information rather than making stuff up!
    The Deutsche Christen (German Christians) were a German Protestantism movement aligned towards antisemetic principles of Nazism. The DC were sympathetic to Hitler’s goal of uniting the individual Protestant churches into a single Reich church. The DC was first formed in 1931 and the flag was flown during marches and demonstrations.

    As the war went against Germany and Hitler became more repressive, the churches became more divided and less supportive of his regime.

  182. Religion is culture, and culture is value.

    Religion is a small-ish part of what a culture is. And, often, it has to do with the lower ends of the culture one should really not be proud of.
    There’s a huge amount of culture and values that either have nothing to do with religion or fly right in the face of any random holy book.

    If there were better ‘secular’ values, then i would embrace it. but secular values are not good nor healthy.

    Euphemistically, this is superficial. Very much so.
    Let’s take something that too many take for granted: personal and collective rights. All of those rights, all of them, are secular. They have been formulated in a secular frame and even the concept has secular birth.
    Modern European constitutions have sizeable sections stating those rights and, to some extent, European law systems stem from those rights.
    The very fact that you’re entitled with your opinion and disagreement and not suffer any consequence -and, in case someone would try to restrict you, you have the right to ask the State to prosecute her- is uttery secular.
    There’s no space for disagreement among those who are positive about the Truth of their beliefs and values -and they are swift to punish, often inhumanely so. I really don’t have to point at examples of religious oppression of speech freedom because even these pages are full of them.

    Religious fundamentalism and atheist fundamentalism are both, ultimately, fundamentalist.

    Fundamentalism requires a doctrine and, frankly, atheism is about rejecting doctrines and dogmas, thus making a properly intended fundamentalism impossible by definition.
    Leaving technicalities aside and stretching the terms beyond their natural semantic niche, I may argue that fundamentalism has to be judged from its practical consequences. Let’s admit an atheist “fundamentalism” about freedom of speech, or freedom of choice upon one’s own body: is that really gonna do as much harm as religious fundamentalism is doing?
    I could also argue that atheist fundamentalism, if such a thing existed, would require you to oppose strenuously death sentences as barbarian and unnecessary -and, possibly, life imprisonment. You know… if you’d like to call me an atheist fundamentalist and those because those are my opinions and causes, be my guest.

    Without the church, there is no England, so it seems to me.

    This is an historical falsehood. England or any other state might look different if they were secular from the beginning, but they would exist and flourish -perhaps in a much better way they do now.
    Besides, it’s a fact that national unity didn’t readily occur where the church was at its strongest and was not firmly under control of the local monarchy.
    Furthermore, the most precious aspect of a State, the capability to administrate justice righteously is at its highest wherever the church is kept as far away as possible from court.

    Likewise, pakistani or arab parents want to keep their children muslim because they think muslim values and culture are better than western ones.

    The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike that those who think differently.
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

    You see, I came to realize that there’s utter beauty in each and every culture on this blue little planet. Likewise, there are horrible things and legacies embedded in each one of them. It’s part of the game.
    It took a lot of effort to recognize that, self discipline and self instruction -as well as education from schools and parents.
    In the position I’m currently in, though, I have the luxury to decide what’s best, what’s beautiful and what’s despicable in the world culture and -peer judgement aside- I’m reasonably free to pick and choose those aspect I like best. The “down” side is that I have to think a lot and, ultimately, trust my humanity and trust the other to have something very similar wired into them. Also, I’m going to be badly wrong some of the times… but I’m not going to hell because of that: I’m going to have to apologize and correct myself.
    I couldn’t do any of that if I believed a book, any book, to contain the ultimate truth -or if I had a god to judge me and mandate my morality.
    And I’m, sure that, even though I wrote in the first person, there are many around here for whom what I said holds.

  183. The term I use to describe what we are taking on most of the time is institutionalized religion.

    Arguably, the term “religion” itself should mean only the institutionalized form: I suspect that there’s a lot of apologetic work behind the stretching of the term to cover just about any human behaviour that doesn’t involve calculating a QCD loop integral…

  184. Nothing to say in support of your pure assertion?

    no, not really, seeing how my statement was actually factual and that you’ve not raised any concrete questions about it. the fact in my statement was that we don’t have a complete understanding of the universe, so you don’t actually know what it needs to function.

    Does anybody have the knowledge of all the content of thousands of religions? It seems unlikely. The only common factor, is the neuropsychology and biology producing a religious mentality.

    no, they don’t. that’s kind of the point. “neuropsychology and biology producing a religious mentality” really doesn’t help you when you are addressing social issues concerned with the widely varying beliefs of billions of people. so maybe you can understand why i’m not so into dawkins’ argument here.

    A secular upbringing has no bias towards any particular religion – Is that so hard to grasp?

    no, i understand what you are saying. you’re just wrong. why is it so difficult to understand that being biased towards having no religion is a bias nonetheless?

    A neutral country still has an effect in international relations. It is simply an unbiased effect.

    and if you put your car into neutral and park on a flat surface you won’t move in any direction. like i said before, being biased towards no religion doesn’t mean you are unbiased. you are certainly biased towards a religious preference of atheism, which is a religious opinion based on the absence of religious belief.

    This is the discontinous theistic thinking, which can only envisage the false dichotomy of two viewpoints, when in reality there are thousands of viewpoints

    the definition of the word neutral or my mentioning it do not assume a binary approach to the world. it would mean in this context that you are expressing no preference about religious attitudes or lack thereof towards your child, which is impossible, seeing how making a choice about your religious views has a severe effect on your and your children’s lives.

    This is nonsense! They receive unbiased information, based on objectivity rather than dogmatic mythology from one religion.

    again, we were just in agreement that no one can know the contents of all religions. so you can’t exactly state that all religion is dogmatic, which it isn’t. you just stated a highly subjective opinion not based on empirical knowledge. so no, i wouldn’t trust you to give my child “unbiased information, based on objectivity rather than dogmatic mythology from one religion.” your arguments here (stemming from your religious views) have been very dogmatic.

    Perhaps you should try telling that to the Young Earth Creationists, and the purveyors of theistic evolution who keep making up pseudo-science, to try to fudge science and dogma!

    no, i shouldn’t, because i’m not arguing for young earth creationists or the purveyors of theistic evolution. i really don’t have to. that’s your job, and i’m quite happy to let you do it. and by the way, just as these people can’t prove that there is a god, you can’t prove that there isn’t a god, which dawkins himself has said. so, maybe your argument here is a double-edged sword. i wonder if dogma plays a part in you not seeing this.

    Actually the evidence-based logical reasoning of science, and “faith” (belief without evidence or proof) are diametrically opposite processes.

    it’s completely possible to understand the physical world in scientific terms and have a spiritual life in faith-based terms. reconciling these beliefs is not the object of science, and it doesn’t have to be either. but if you want to base your morals on scientific terms, i would point you towards dawkins, who has said that science is not concerned with right or wrong, it only cares about that which is true. and things that people generally tend to consider wrong are nonetheless true. i would also challenge you to empirically identify the concrete sources of fundamental human rights, which i assume play a part in your secular vision of the world.

    There are no “standard religious ideas” and no “standard irreligious ideas”. You are again conflating your personal religious beliefs with religion and philosophies in general

    surely there are. for example, religious people think there is a/are god/s, and irreligious people don’t think so. deciding to pick one of these options has many very tangible consequences on the way you lead your life.

    The false Ad-hom accusation is usually the last resort of the ignorant who have no reasoned answer!

    which is why i didn’t make any comments about your person.

    No! Its theistic pseudo-historical self delusion! Hitler was baptised, was a Catholic altar boy and never excommunicated. I gave you this information earlier. The history of 1930s Xtian anti-Semitism is readily available to those who research information rather than making stuff up!

    no, it isn’t. please don’t link me to random websites desperately trying to prove their religious preferences; i certainly haven’t done this. you can give me citations to scholarly journals, primary resources, or serious works of history (so not popular history, thnx). christian anti-semitism is not the only form of anti-semitism. hitler’s and the nazis’ views on religion are very well-documented. just because christian anti-semitism made it easier for germans to accept nazism doesn’t mean that ww2 was a religious war. a religious war indicates that it is a conflict based on religious disagreement. in this case, hitler had no theological conflicts with poland. if ww2 was a religious war, german christians would not have allied themselves with japan, and the us wouldn’t have joined forces with a fiercely atheist soviet union.

  185. i’m actually not going to buy a book in which a christian-turned-atheist provides erroneous explanations of jewish sources.

  186. If you raise your children to be atheists, you are actually “forcing your religious opinions on your children.”

    Atheism is not a religion, it’s the lack of it. Forcing it onto someone who doesn’t have a religion yet would be impossible: it would be like trying to remove a sticker from a surface where there aren’t any stickers. Or scratch away the paint from a bare metal slab. Futile endeavours.

    I’m not really sure what characteristics of a secular upbringing would make it a neutral option.

    Treating the religion for what it is: a collection of tales and not making excuses to treat the Bible differently to the Girmm’s fables collection. Actually, I did read some extract of the latter and I would never ever give it to a young child in its original form, because it’s rather… unsettling, let’s go for unsettling. Nor I would give her the Bible, for the exact same reasons.

  187. as i’ve said before, atheism isn’t a religion (although some of its adherents tend to exhibit a religious devotion to it), but it is a religious opinion/preference. in the question of religion, the atheist holds that there are no valid religions and there are no gods.

    the bible, in its original form, is not a children’s book, you are right.

    for the rest: see my comments in this thread.

  188. And this is the whole problem in your thinking. Sure you can believe what you want but to then turn your face away from facts is an act of denial. For your belief to stay, you have to ignore some details. That is not belief but a desperate attempt at hanging on to an addiction.

  189. i’m actually not going to buy a book in which a christian-turned-atheist provides erroneous explanations of jewish sources.

    Borrow a copy from any reputable library.

    Although Hitler’s Xian troops fought Orthodox Russians they shared a contempt for Jews.

  190. right. because if i don’t read your book, i can’t be privy to the one absolute truth? does that ring any bells?

    you know my time and money are scarce resources. before i made this decision, i did a good amount of research. i’ve heard dawkins speak on it a number of times, i’ve read what people who are actually familiar with religion had to say about it, and i’ve contrasted what i’ve heard from the author with my knowledge of my own religion. so i’m actually not turning away from facts. i’m turning away from a line of argument which i know to be based on erroneous assumptions made by a person who has no scholarly merit in the field of religion.

    i’m not ignoring any details. in fact i am always quite curious about any and all details available which would relate to my world view. i’m just not going to read a biologists’ pop-book on religion which was widely criticized for being wrong on a number of faiths.

  191. Although Hitler’s Xian troops fought Orthodox Russians they shared a contempt for Jews.

    yes, that’s true. and?

  192. Anything positive about it?

    are you asking me if there is anything positive about a book on religion by a guy who doesn’t understand religion?
    sure. i guess publishing it helped people in a few companies to sustain their jobs. with the economy today and all…

  193. but [atheism] it is a religious opinion/preference.

    No it isn’t. The position on religious matters of an atheist’s in her ground state is non existent. We just don’t bother. And I think it’s true for a number of atheists: the question about religion does not come spontaneously under normal circumstances.

    That should be the whole point of the privative alpha in front of the word itself: it’s the same old story as with a-moral and in-moral: the first word indicates someone who doesn’t bother with morals, has nothing to do with it; the second, on the other hand, indicates someone who acts against morals -most likely, willingly so.
    Practical example: a lion eating a child is amoral, a priest having sex with that child is immoral.

    Of course, if an opinion about religion and a deity is requested, it will be given. But that opinion is formulated a posteriori.

  194. So nothing of substance to say but then it was a trick question because I knew you hadn’t read it.

    What you are mistaking it for is a bible of some sorts. All it is is reassurance, for me, that what I was thinking has a base. As I have said on many occasions on this forum, I can’t remember ever being religious. I had the option but option A made no sense but option B did. I was not and am not looking for a book to tell me what to believe but am reading all I can to understand what I know. It is a dynamic process and fascinates all the way. Can I ask if you believe everything you read in your holy book or can you select parts that fit and which parts you can adopt or change?

  195. Ploni Feb 23, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Does anybody have the knowledge of all the content of thousands of religions? It seems unlikely. The only common factor, is the neuropsychology and biology producing a religious mentality.

    no, they don’t. that’s kind of the point. “neuropsychology and biology producing a religious mentality” really doesn’t help you when you are addressing social issues concerned with the widely varying beliefs of billions of people.

    Neuropsychology and biology along with scientific anthropological studies do however give a better understanding than any other methods.

    so maybe you can understand why i’m not so into dawkins’ argument here.

    I recognise your lack of understanding of the science and dedicated use of the “god-did-it, gap-filler, quite clearly

    A secular upbringing has no bias towards any particular religion – Is that so hard to grasp?

    no, i understand what you are saying. you’re just wrong.

    Really?? This discussion is about removing pork from all the children’s diet to accommodate certain religions (2 in particular) and you can’t see that pandering to those by allowing them to dictate the diet of everyone else, would be a biased position.
    A secular position is neutral position where the rights of THE OTHER RELIGIONS and the non-religious, are taken into account!

    why is it so difficult to understand that being biased towards having no religion is a bias nonetheless?

    You are still thinking in terms of the false dichotomy of a single religious viewpoint and the refusal to give this dominance over everyone else.

    There is NO uniformity of religious viewpoint, except in to mind of those so biased that they refuse to accept there is a diversity of conflicting religious viewpoints.

    It might be self satisfying to believe the binary self delusion that the world runs on a religion v atheism scenario, but it does not.

    Most of the disputes and wars are between differing religious sects. Sunny v Shia, Catholic V Protestant, Moslems V God’s chosen Zionists, Buddist v Hindus etc.

    This is the discontinous theistic thinking, which can only envisage the false dichotomy of two viewpoints, when in reality there are thousands of viewpoints

    as I pointed out previously!

    the definition of the word neutral or my mentioning it do not assume a binary approach to the world.

    I suggest you re-read your comments, with particular reference to you use of the term, “religion”

    This is nonsense! They receive unbiased information, based on objectivity rather than dogmatic mythology from one religion.

    again, we were just in agreement that no one can know the contents of all religions. so you can’t exactly state that all religion is dogmatic, which it isn’t.

    You really love trying the fallacy of extension, to duck the issues! Most of the religions considered here ARE dogmatic. – and yours which you still have not identified probably is.

    you just stated a highly subjective opinion not based on empirical knowledge.

    Rubbish! I have sufficient knowledge of several religions on which to base that claim.

    so no, i wouldn’t trust you to give my child “unbiased information, based on objectivity rather than dogmatic mythology from one religion.”

    I am sure rational unbiased evidence based explanations from me, would indeed threaten the credibility of your dogmatic assertions.

    your arguments here (stemming from your religious views) have been very dogmatic.

    That just shows what those “faith-blinkers” do to enhance denial, when looking at objective views challenging “faith-beliefs”.

    a scientific upbringing has nothing to do with religion.

    Perhaps you should try telling that to the Young Earth Creationists, and the purveyors of theistic evolution who keep making up pseudo-science, to try to fudge science and dogma!

    no, i shouldn’t, because i’m not arguing for young earth creationists or the purveyors of theistic evolution.

    You keep using the word “religion” as if you speak for all religions, but won’t discuss your own!

    i really don’t have to. that’s your job, and i’m quite happy to let you do it.

    Really! That makes your claim that “a scientific upbringing has nothing to do with religion” false!
    Science clearly has a great deal to do with debunking the falsehoods of those religions.

    and by the way, just as these people can’t prove that there is a god, you can’t prove that there isn’t a god,

    The onus of proof is on those claiming the existence and properties of their gods.
    Negative proof fallacies don’t cut it!

    a scientific upbringing has nothing to do with religion.

    Actually the evidence-based logical reasoning of science, and “faith” (belief without evidence or proof) are diametrically opposite processes.

    if you want to base your morals on scientific terms, i would point you towards dawkins, who has said that science is not concerned with right or wrong, it only cares about that which is true.

    Science provides us with objective predictions of outcomes, on which moral decisions about competing interests can be made. It allows us to see probable consequences of our actions, rather than blindly responding to damaging knee-jerk dogmas.

    i would also challenge you to empirically identify the concrete sources of fundamental human rights, which i assume play a part in your secular vision of the world.

    In judging relative moralities, I can equally, challenge you to give concrete sources of human rights – (without blindly quoting dogmas, or claiming “god told me”!)
    There are no concrete sources – only culturally agreed conventions, respecting individual and group interests.

    There are no “standard religious ideas” and no “standard irreligious ideas”. You are again conflating your personal religious beliefs with religion and philosophies in general

    surely there are. for example, religious people think there is a/are god/s, and irreligious people don’t think so.

    You are showing your ignorance again! Buddhists don’t believe in gods (but they do believe in reincarnation as animals).

    deciding to pick one of these options has many very tangible consequences on the way you lead your life.

    You are back to the binary thinking of the false dichotomy again! (Yours and the other one!)
    There are NOT only two options in holding views!

    The false Ad-hom accusation is usually the last resort of the ignorant who have no reasoned answer!

    which is why i didn’t make any comments about your person.

    No! It’s why you are still dodging the issue of your lack of understanding of secular education and your false claim that you do understand it.

    No! Its theistic pseudo-historical self delusion! Hitler was baptised, was a Catholic altar boy and never excommunicated. I gave you this information earlier. The history of 1930s Xtian anti-Semitism is readily available to those who research information rather than making stuff up!

    no, it isn’t. please don’t link me to random websites desperately trying to prove their religious preferences; i certainly haven’t done this. you can give me citations to scholarly journals, primary resources, or serious works of history (so not popular history, thnx).

    Historical research 1.01 start with the records
    and Archaeology 1.01 – start with the artefacts!

    Random websites!!! – Comical!!!

    The links I gave you to the NAZI “God with us” army belt buckle is an artefact. So is the Deutsche Christen flag used on pro-NAZI marches! – the ultimate primary sources

    Here’s one of their badges with a swastika superimposed on a Xtian cross!

    Deutsche Christen Badge

  196. But tradition is a terrible basis for ethics…

    Why? I would have thought that one of the things going for tradition is that it has been tested over time. Wouldn’t a tradition which resulted in terrible ethics have a deleterious effect on the group which followed it over time?

  197. Ploni Feb 23, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Although Hitler’s Xian troops fought Orthodox Russians they shared a contempt for Jews.

    yes, that’s true. and . . . . ?

    . . . . . .. after making a vague claim that an unspecified blood-bath (which turned out to be WW2) was secular, and after heaps of obfuscating evasion and verbosity, having dropped Mussolini and the Vatican completely, you finally admit that religions were involved to a considerable extent!

    Disputing artefacts as primary sources, and asking me for academic papers to refute your brief vague unevidenced assertions, just makes it more laughable!

    Perhaps taking an honest approach and telling us which is your religion which you think you are defending behind your wall of vague assertions, misconceptions and fallacies, we then might be able to have a discussion of substance!

  198. Ploni Feb 22, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Really????
    You seem to be looking through the blinkers of “faith”!
    There is a list of biblical morality here:-
    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/02/secularists-were-fine-without-god-thanks/#li-comment-168512

    yes, really. if you don’t know any, then you aren’t that well-read.
    thank you for the list, but if i’ll ever experience a shortage of biblical commentaries, i’m not going to remedy that issue through this site.

    The list explains the immorality of the Bible.
    Some people come here and learn. – Others think they know it all and sit in denial learning nothing!

    i’ll be very happy to read anything on it about science though.

    Perhaps you picked the wrong discussion thread?

  199. Ploni Feb 23, 2015 at 9:07 am

    right. because if i don’t read your book, i can’t be privy to the one absolute truth? does that ring any bells?

    If you don’t read a science book you have no idea what it said.

    i’ve read what people who are actually familiar with religion had to say about it,

    So have I, and guess what?
    Droves of them have lots to say, but have not actually read it, but have copied nonsense from some others who have not read it, and from others who are too scientifically illiterate to understand it!

    i’m turning away from a line of argument which i know to be based on erroneous assumptions made by a person who has no scholarly merit in the field of religion.

    Ah! The knowledge of faith-thinking without any need for evidence or study!

    The God Delusion is a 2006 best-selling, non-fiction book by English biologist Richard Dawkins, professorial fellow of New College, Oxford, – amazon.com – A preeminent scientist – Rating: 4 star

    It just POPPED into your head that the work of an acclaimed author and academic professor, had no scholarly merit!

    are you asking me if there is anything positive about a book on religion by a guy who doesn’t understand religion?

    I’m reading a guy who cannot even define which religion(s) he is talking about, talking nonsense about an book he has not read!

    Perhaps you should learn to recognise psychological projection and the mirror-imaging I mentioned earlier?

  200. What a great idea

    Let’s do the same for food and clothes so they can make an unbiased choice when they are old enough to decide what they would like to eat or wear. let’s also wait with aborting them until they are old enough to decide whether they would like to be aborted or not. Let’s also wait until they are old enough to decide whether or not they want to be educated at all
    Atheists should be forced to tell their children that life is totally meaningless based on science and reason.

    If you would like me to again prove that based on science and reason life is totally meaningless I would be more than happy to do so. so just ask

  201. David Feb 23, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Atheists should be forced to tell their children that life is totally meaningless based on science and reason.

    Life is not meaningless.. We choose our own objectives and meanings, but that does not mean reading meaning into inanimate physics where none exists. Science and reason provide the tools to make predictions to achieve those objectives.
    (I am adding meaning to this text right now! – for those who can read English)

    Let’s do the same for food and clothes so they can make an unbiased choice when they are old enough to decide what they would like to eat or wear.

    It’s called unbiased “education”, so children can learn about healthy diets, and appropriate clothing for conditions.

    “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” (Sir Randolph Fiennes).

  202. Atheists should be forced to tell their children that life is totally meaningless based on science and reason.

    You know, I’ll totally do that. Without anybody forcing me, I shall add.
    The intrinsic meaninglessness of life is the best thing that can happen to a human being: only thus she will be able to fill the void by herself.

    It’s the same difference between a pre printed colouring book -with the instruction manual, if you want to throw in a doctrine- and a white, blank canvas. I’m sorry: I take the canvas.

    Because our lives are meaningless in themselves, we cannot afford to sit on our hands and let the time slip by without leaving a trace onto it. Because life is meaningless, every moment counts and every instant went to waste, it’s wasted forever. Because life is meaningless, it’s good to have friends and companions… because life is meaningless, it’s ultimately worth going to the tremendous effort required to pass on our own legacy -and it’s a high duty to make sure that past ones don’t disappear, and that those who will follow will have the best instruments and the best conditions to create their own meaning and their own legacy.

  203. I would much rather know what benefits I would get with religion?

    The message that benefits for others are more important than benefits for oneself.

  204. So you have understood enough of science to see that there is very likely no intrinsic meaning in life. But instead of realising that life is therefore what we make of it, you prefer to believe in an all-powerful supernatural being who gives you meaning, that way you don’t have to face making all those difficult decisions. Trouble is, you could end up with something far worse to tell your children:
    Welcome to this world

  205. Ewan Feb 24, 2015 at 2:01 am

    I would much rather know what benefits I would get with religion?

    The message that benefits for others are more important than benefits for oneself.

    Given that a lot of dogmas are wrong answers, imported from bronze-age ignorance, and are destructive or wasteful, which benefits do religions give that are not readily available in better forms, from other sources?

  206. Is there a sense in which indoctrination could be considered a violation of human rights? If one systematically closes off a child’s mind to the possibilities of life and enquiry for some such explanation as, ‘well the god did it’ or ‘the god says you must’ or ‘the god says do this not that’ or some such, is that not a kind of grooming into subservience to authoritarianism? The child is being denied the full choices open to being a human. No doubt all cultures do this to some degree: education in the broadest sense is induction into the goods and values of the society which hosts the culture. The key is to give children the critical tools to examine the world and the doctrines and ideologies in such a way as to increase their chances of flourishing in a way beneficial to them and the society. Failure to learn those things will leave one an outsider. On a side note, Islamic art is a testament to human ingenuity and creativity, but it is an example of what we can do when allowed to do so little.

  207. Ewan The message that benefits for others are more important than
    benefits for oneself.

    What benefits me would be the same for others so I can speak in the singular hoping it would have greater ramifications without sounding pious.

  208. Alan Given that a lot of dogmas are wrong answers, imported from
    bronze-age ignorance, and are destructive or wasteful, which benefits
    do religions give that are not readily available in better forms, from
    other sources?

    What is more telling is the number of questions left unanswered by people who come here trying to defend their faith.

  209. The message that benefits for others are more important than benefits for oneself.

    Comma, if you want to save your own personal bacon in the afterlife.

    Can you please come up with one example of a selfless act a religious being can do that a secular individual just cannot?

  210. Graham Feb 24, 2015 at 5:47 am

    If one systematically closes off a child’s mind to the possibilities of life and enquiry for some such explanation as, ‘well the god did it’ or ‘the god says you must’ or ‘the god says do this not that’ or some such, is that not a kind of grooming into subservience to authoritarianism?

    It provides pseudo-answers for weak, ignorant, and mentally lazy parents, to children’s curiosity and questioning. It also provides a façade of “authority” when coming from people who are themselves mentally servile.

    On a side note, Islamic art is a testament to human ingenuity and creativity, but it is an example of what we can do when allowed to do so little.

    It illustrates how narrow obsessive specialisms can produce high standards, when efforts are concentrated exclusively on those areas to the exclusion of wider objectives. – Probably a source of stories of the unrecognised superb artist, focussed on tiny details, while starving in the gutter!

    On a community scale, there were also plenty of starving peasants funding, splendid ecclesiastical architecture and Vatican paintings.

  211. Atheists should be forced to tell their children that life is totally meaningless based on science and reason.

    You know, I’ll totally do that. Without anybody forcing me, I shall add.

    I phrased it to mine a little differently, more along the lines…

    Life has absolutely no inherent meaning. Yours is a blank canvas. Fill it. Some, sadly, think they can’t do this. They think they have been given a purpose, like being given a job.

    Then we talk about how others found meaning. I talk about their gramps and nana and many others.

    The conversation was had many times, for each stage of development.

  212. The basic line is surely to reproduce. The rest seems to be an arms race with religious undertones that we still can’t let go of regardless?

  213. Is there a sense in which indoctrination could be considered a violation of human rights?

    Yes. I think we have flourished in Europe and through the Enlightenement by granting children greater opportunity to think playfully and creatively. It is entirely the realisation that our children by not being clones of our own mindset get. in their turn, to better solve the social and moral (and scientific!) problems that afflict us. Unlocking this potential will never be perfect. We don’t understand when we may be making an indoctrinating error, until we see that indoctrination wiped away. (Of course homosexuality is a product of nature. Slaps forehead.)

    The tragedy for me is certainly seeing little children fed powerful cognitive-skewing ideas with such reassuring confidence. Fed ideas that death is only a passing, is one of the cruellest. To believe this and then lose it…. (My two were never led to expect anything other than death. They have no problem with the idea, only a sense of urgency to get cracking.) Ideas of hell and a final judgement, as some feel bound to pass on, store up living torments of the worst kind…

  214. The basic line is surely to reproduce.

    Not at all. That is a species thang. Individuals do individual (or collective) things. It could be, more, important, life-filled-to-the-brim individuals didn’t reproduce than did.

  215. phil rimmer Feb 24, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Life has absolutely no inherent meaning. Yours is a blank canvas. Fill it. Some, sadly, think they can’t do this. They think they have been given a purpose, like being given a job.

    If we look at the legacies of knowledge left by the great scientists, on whose shoulders modern science and technologies stand, they have reproduced much more than offspring or the ability to kneel or prostrate themselves, while spending time regularly talking to their god-delusions.

  216. Production rather than reproduction gets this essence. Things are moved on and not just in the sciences but in the arts and as I said in the social and moral spheres. The idea that reproduction is some personal imperative, as our current Pope tragically emphasises, is, at last, being balanced by an understanding of our Malthusian folly and need to find personal fulfilment in other ways, ways that expand the whole idea of what flourishing is.

  217. The tragedy for me is certainly seeing little children fed powerful cognitive-skewing ideas with such reassuring confidence.

    The one that upsets me the most is when fundamentalists of all stripes crush the spirit of girls and women and grind their lives right down into the dirt. Deny girls an education, then force them into early marriage, make them feel dirty about their own sexuality, block them from the means to control their own reproductive system, and there you have it; an underclass of females that will exist as ignorant domestic and reproductive servants. It’s a human rights violation on a massive scale that is buttressed by rigid adherence to sacred texts.

  218. Let’s do the same for food and clothes so they can make an unbiased
    choice when they are old enough to decide what they would like to eat
    or wear. let’s also wait with aborting them until they are old enough
    to decide whether they would like to be aborted or not. Let’s also
    wait until they are old enough to decide whether or not they want to
    be educated at all

    Please explain what any of these things have to do with whether they’re raised to believe in a deity or not. People need food to live. No god involved for that. If they’re deciding whether or not they can be aborted, then chances are they can’t be aborted anyway. That’s just being ridiculous because you have a beef with a single issue. Education is also a necessity in a civilized (and as far as I’m concerned ANY) society and no god is necessary for that to be true.

    What does any of this diatribe have to do with atheists, aside from your misplaced personal issues regarding it?

    Atheists should be forced to tell their children that life is totally
    meaningless based on science and reason.

    Since through science and reason we discover far more about life, how it works and what we know of the universe, I would actually say the reverse is far more accurate. How much meaning can you have as a single soul in the predestined, predetermined, unchanging, omniscient universe where a deity knows everything about you and exactly what you’re going to do anyway? Is the fact that you’re somehow supposed to believe he loves you supposed to offer comfort when you have zero control over the course of your life when said deity already knows what you’re going to do with it?

    I will tell a child (as I have none) that they are free to make their meaning in their own lives, and that they will be far happier for it as opposed to a life imposed on them by rule of a supposed benevolent dictatorship.

    If you would like me to again prove that based on science and reason
    life is totally meaningless I would be more than happy to do so. so
    just ask

    Why would I ask you that when your whole post shows nothing but contempt for non believers? That you can’t comprehend meaning without some invisible force to tell you you’re special? If this is your thinking, atheists are not the ones with the problem. You are.

  219. Don’t be silly! According to Ewan:

    I would have thought that one of the things going for tradition is
    that it has been tested over time. Wouldn’t a tradition which resulted
    in terrible ethics have a deleterious effect on the group which
    followed it over time?

    😉

  220. OK. You win, Laurie. This is the most monstrous and obvious of religion’s sins against humanity (well half of it….The other half are feeling pretty smug.)

    What I wanted was Ewan to know that even his nicely nicely true-scots religion may well be abusive to kids. At least I certainly view it as such. I would love him to think again about the merit of saying to your own kids- “religion is for grown ups…ask anything you want and you can choose to involve yourself in it after your thirteenth birthday…”

  221. Nice.

    Of course, parasitised communities work for the benefit of the parasites, not the community.

    The least parasitised, like Scandiwegia, do get to work as he predicts on every significant moral score.

  222. Ploni Feb 23, 2015 at 8:37 am

    as i’ve said before, atheism isn’t a religion (although some of its adherents tend to exhibit a religious devotion to it), but it is a religious opinion/preference. in the question of religion, the atheist holds that there are no valid religions and there are no gods.

    as i’ve said before, A-LEPRECHAUNISM isn’t a religion (although some of its adherents tend to exhibit a religious devotion to it {ALLEGEDLY}), but it is a religious opinion/preference. in the question of religion, the A-LEPRECHAUNIST holds that there are no valid LEPRECHAUN STORIES and there are no LEPRECHAUNS.

    I’m not sure how that would have any significant effect on their world view or philosophy!

    the bible, in its original form, is not a children’s book, you are right

    the LEPRECHAUN FOLK TALES, in their original form, is not a children’s book, you are right. PERHAPS IT IS A BOOK FOR ADULT CHILDREN?

    I’m also having difficulty in finding the book of the doctrines of non-stamp-collecting!

  223. I think these ethical musings are made moot by the new understanding of wired “moral aesthetics”. Morality was ever a public discussion resulting in a consensus of sorts. I don’t believe the more compassionate Scandinavian states got there through anything other than a clearer eyed view of the harms and fairness within the workings of their society, religion no longer injecting its spurious post death consolations and punishments and concerns.

    Our wired moral aesthetics are understood at least by science fiction writers….

    All science fiction writers know instinctively that the morals of an intelligent species are rooted in the biology of their bodies and brains and the quirks of their environment. Oxytocin fueled niceness and the presumption of a specific parent child bond will yield irrelevant moral demands of a race of super parrot. Failing to eat your stillborn offspring or your father in a highly food marginal environment, freeing resources for others might be very bad form on Kepler 22b or in Liverpool.

  224. I bow to your superior knowledge. It would have been good if we could have also been hard wired to understand it all without the discussion.

  225. Can you please come up with one example of a selfless act a religious being can do that a secular individual just cannot?

    Pray for someone?

  226. I would much rather know what benefits I would get with religion?

    The knowledge that, no matter what happens in life, you are loved.

  227. Like an abusive parent loves? What would be your advise to a woman that is regularly being beaten by her partner/husband. Stay with him as long as he says he loves you?

  228. Ewan Feb 24, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Can you please come up with one example of a selfless act a religious being can do that a secular individual just cannot?

    Pray for someone?

    Sorry to have to break it to you, but this has been conclusively proved to have no benefit to the other party, but does make the person praying feel better about the situation, without actually physically helping the other party in any way.

    It is a displacement activity giving a self-delusion of helping, in place of giving actual help!

    So – when someone is injured on a mountain, you can either pray that they will be all right, OR you can be part of a rescue team which takes them to hospital.

    The first option has no effect on the injured person whatever, – the latter is effectively helping them!

    There is an old joke about this!
    A ship is sinking, so the captain says, “Is there anyone here who knows how to pray?”

    An enthusiastic evangelist chips up, “Yes I will pray”!

    The captain says, “Good! We’re one life jacket short. You pray while the rest of us put on the life-jackets”!

  229. Do you believe in the existence of the Spaghetti Monster?

    I am going to jump forward and take it for granted that you will answer ‘Yes’ to my question of, “would you pray for someone who doesn’t believe in God?”. If I am right then, this has nothing to do with the person you are praying for but a selfish act that only satisfies your belief and needs Ewan.

  230. If I am right then, this has nothing to do with the person you are praying for but a selfish act that only satisfies your belief and needs Ewan.

    I suspect that most things that we do are basically selfish. It’s intrinsic in our natures, sadly.

  231. I suspect that most things that we do are basically selfish. It’s
    intrinsic in our natures, sadly.

    Being honest about it is the key. Looking at the results is another. Prayer gives you solace and that’s it. It always starts with an ‘I’. ‘I will pray for you’. nothing tangible. A doctor giving me medicine will cure most of the time.

  232. Ewan Feb 24, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    I would much rather know what benefits I would get with religion?

    The knowledge that, no matter what happens in life, you are loved.

    Being loved by an imaginary friend, seems to me to be desperation for those who are unloved by their fellow humans for various reasons.

    Personally, I’m quite happy to be loved by my family and friends.

  233. Pray for someone?

    Lorenzo probably meant something tangible, something both sides agreed was of benefit. I suppose provided that the person being prayed for was aware you were praying for them and was a believer then it might be of benefit. And the prayee would get that benefit even if a non-believer did the praying, provided the prayee didn’t know it was a non-believer. So a non-religious person can pray for someone, even though they don’t believe in God (or the Spaghetti Monster). They can also wish someone well but again most people would consider that a very trivial selfless act. Of course, it always makes the religious person doing the praying feel better.

    Also, those being prayed for may not benefit, as was shown in a 2006 study:

    Largest Study of Third-Party Prayer Suggests Such Prayer Not Effective In Reducing Complications Following Heart Surgery

  234. Prayer gives you solace and that’s it.

    I think that, just as we tend towards selfishness in our actions, we also tend towards that which gives us solace. Not believing provides the great solace of being free to avoid all responsibilities which aren’t assumed through personal choice.

  235. Not believing provides the great solace of being free to avoid all
    responsibilities which aren’t assumed through personal choice.

    Quite the opposite Ewan. Because I don’t see myself as the protege of a god then I feel responsible for every little thing on this planet and the planet itself and even beyond. I cannot dismiss my responsibilities with a prayer and then wait for an answer, that might come or not. I wonder what the success rate of footballers would be if they stopped praying to God for a result and just got on with what they had to do.

  236. Ewan — perhaps the Catholic church simply doesn’t call it tithing, or uses some loose definition. I’ve always been atheist, but I had the Catholic religion forced onto me by my parents. I took the sacrament of First Communion, and I recall the confusion I had when they handed me my very own personalized box of donation envelopes, with just the right amount of envelopes so as to be able to give money every week of the year.

    I find that practice disgusting every way I look at it.

  237. I feel responsible for every little thing on this planet

    Yes, you’re free to take on that responsibility…and to drop it again whenever you choose.

  238. Pray for someone?(*)

    Talk is cheap, it doesn’t count.
    Try again. And don’t come around with “praying while jogging”: it doesn’t count either.

    I want something that takes you out of your individual sphere of comfort. But it doesn’t need to be epic.
    Examples:
    -Holding the door for someone counts.
    -Writing an essay against death penalty doesn’t count.

    Go.

    (*) Besides, there’s no measurable positive effect of praying, as Alan already explained -while excuses for why that happens are infinite. I want unambiguity on the worth exchanged.

  239. Talk is cheap, it doesn’t count.

    I think equating prayer with talk is a mistake. They’re very different processes.

  240. Not a winner/loser situation. I very much agree with your example of “death as a passing” to be a harmful lie told to children. If their belief carries over into adulthood then it’s beyond bizarre. My three were also never victims of that stupid lie either. At my grandmother’s funeral a few years ago, the Baptist minister was droning on and on at the gravesite. I was spaced out from listening to the drivel but then realized that my daughters had turned to me with expressions of horror. The minister had just said loudly that “she is not really dead because she is still here with all of us.” I shook my head no and rolled my eyes at the time but when we got home I realized how creepy it must be for them to be dropped into these situations with no prior warning of what outrageous statements they might encounter there.

    Funerals, weddings, circumcisions, sweet sixteen parties, baptisms, christmas, ayeed, childbirth, Ramadan, engagements, graduations, etc. They all have traditions swirling around them. Some of these traditions are downright negative and remind me of the bad old days or are just awkward in the current times for one reason or another. If they don’t work then let’s dump them.

    When I was a teen the feminists did a fine job of shredding many of these sexist traditions. As soon as I lost respect for these traditions the rest of religion fell like dominoes. But I still hear people say that traditions are soooo important to give meaning to our lives. I think they don’t realize the symbolic meaning of a young woman walking down the aisle of a church, wearing white, on the arm of her father and handed over to her husband to be (transfer of ownership). Or that my dead-as-a-doornail grandmother isn’t really dead and is still very much with us here and now (complete denial of reality). Or that it’s a deeply meaningful family tradition to cut of a little boy’s foreskin while he screams in pain because it means he’s truly one of their tribe after that (heinous human rights violation).

    Let’s think about the dark origins of these traditions and when they lose their relevance let’s kick them to the curb and create newer better ones that speak to the better angels of our nature.

    you can choose to involve yourself in it after your thirteenth birthday…”

    I would like girls to have a few more years than that to really establish themselves as independent freethinkers in their own right and I think they will need to hit sixteen or seventeen for that to happen. Society still exerts substantial pressure to follow along with the same old predictable milestones. I hope that if young people can steer clear of religion throughout their teens then they will recognize it as a creepy old system that intends to control them.

  241. a) I don’t want that: please get off. I’m as picky in choosing who I love as I am picky in choosing from whom I’m loved.
    And I can afford to be picky because I don’t need to love someone to be decent towards her, nor I expect anybody to need to love me to be decent with me -consideration that makes those who claim that necessity, even implicitly, very untrustworthy indeed.

    b) Even if I wanted that (or a very close approximation), religion is really not a requirement. Because if you’re stuck in a burning building, there won’t be a god or a fairy saving you from the flames, but a fireman (or woman) risking his (or her) own life to get you off there.
    And don’t bother with “god sent him”: a god didn’t deal the emergency number, a god didn’t ring any bell nor it drove the fire engine.

  242. I think equating prayer with talk is a mistake. They’re very different processes.

    Apologies. “To see or sense something or someone that is not really there(*)” is cheap. Etcetera, etcetera…

    I’m still waiting for a pertinent answer; anyway you would like to define praying, it does not count (as much as writing the mentioned essay against death penalty) since its worth is neither measurable nor unambiguous.

    (*)

  243. Ewan Feb 24, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    *Prayer gives you solace and that’s it.

    I think that, just as we tend towards selfishness in our actions, we also tend towards that which gives us solace.

    Such as prayer in the case of believers?

    Not believing provides the great solace of being free to avoid all responsibilities which aren’t assumed through personal choice.

    This sounds like self delusional wish-thinking.

    Not believing in gods did nothing to reduce my parental or employment responsibilities, apart from providing me with time which others wasted on attending churches and praying, and giving me a clearer rational approach to planning family life.

  244. These three are a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers we hear about coming out of N.Africa to join the Islamic State fighters. On the “news” here in Boston they showed film clips of those girls wearing some sort of black hejab but I couldn’t quite place it. I think they were still in the UK and wearing it then. Their family members were seen on the clip too in a state of panic and emotional upset. The females in the family were also wearing black religious garb. I’m going to assume that these are all fundamentalist families and I wonder how they didn’t see this coming. I’d like to know if they said supportive comments for Islamic State in the household in front of their indoctrinated children. Did they spend hours on end at their mosques too?

    You know, If the I.S. is presented to young people as heroes who are putting the haramis in their place and while they’re at it sending the kafar straight to hell in a handbasket, and then add that to the fact that these girls can communicate directly and secretly with these young men who must appear to them as irresistibly handsome, dashing and romantic with a soupcon of danger, then what the hell did these families expect would happen? Well! Goodness gracious! I just can’t figure out why these girls won’t just stay in their circumscribed little lives and guard their virginity until the day they meet their new husband that their daddy picked out for them. ~snort~

    Not sure if you’re aware of the situation in N.Africa in the past decade or so, but as far as marriage and relationships go, there is no way for young people there to date or associate freely. They can’t have a physical relationship at all until they are legally and religiously married. But with the high rate of unemployment for young men and a housing shortage that has gone on for several decades now, and the outrageous expense of their totally overblown weddings there, we have a whole generation of young people in that region who are blocked from moving forward with their lives and even from just a relationship with the opposite sex. This frustration is visible because young men are putting pressure on their fathers to come up with huge amounts of money to pay for the wedding and for the money demanded from the bride’s family. There are fights in families over this. Young people from that part of the world know that they’re stuck in an archaic system and they’re disgusted with it.

    Given all of this, it’s just not surprising that these guys have been walking away from an extremely frustrating and depressing home and made their way to what must seem an exciting adventure with the I.S. Young women are just as blocked as the young men so off they go too.

  245. What I wanted was Ewan to know that even his nicely nicely true-scots religion may well be abusive to kids. At least I certainly view it as such. I would love him to think again about the merit of saying to your own kids- “religion is for grown ups…ask anything you want and you can choose to involve yourself in it after your thirteenth birthday…”

    If you consider religion to be monstrous and potentially abusive, I wonder that you would allow the choice to someone barely into their teens.

    It’s interesting seeing such views about religion. I spend my days in a faith school working with delightful, bubbly, very individual children; it’s Lent so there are all kinds of activities going on at church where I associate with countless caring colleagues driven by curiosity and faith. Two such positive, happy, loving communities.

  246. It’s a human rights violation on a massive scale that is buttressed by rigid adherence to sacred texts.

    I consider it a crime against humanity as a whole, actually… Because I’m quite sure there’s malevolence behind it. Surely, holy books have it in spades woven into them.

  247. Ewan Feb 24, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    What I wanted was Ewan to know that even his nicely nicely true-scots religion may well be abusive to kids.

    Perhaps you missed the relevance of the “True Scotsman religion”! http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_True_Scotsman

    If you consider religion to be monstrous and potentially abusive, I wonder that you would allow the choice to someone barely into their teens.

    Many aspects of many religions are monstrous, but believers try to dissociate themselves and their religion from its damaging aspects.

    It’s interesting seeing such views about religion.

    Perhaps you should visit some African schools where children are kidnapped buy rival religious groups, and Pentecostal preachers encourage the witch hunting of children.

    I spend my days in a faith school working with delightful, bubbly, very individual children; it’s Lent so there are all kinds of activities going on at church where I associate with countless caring colleagues driven by curiosity and faith. Two such positive, happy, loving communities.

    They are on the surface. Young children spread happiness unless life is soured for them.

    Your use of the word “religion” to mean exclusively your religion, is quite common in Catholic faith schools. The underlying indoctrination of dogmas and domination of the schools by priests is potentially very damaging to young lives.

    Fortunately for many a large percentage of Catholics simply ignore the churches edicts on contraception etc and get on with their lives, but many are unnecessarily conflicted by guilt only arises because of the conflicts caused by indoctrination.

    BTW: I have considerable understanding of RCC and CofE “Faith Schools”.

  248. Lorenzo Feb 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Because I’m quite sure there’s malevolence behind it.

    It’s a bit like the happy and contented flock trusting their caring and loving good shepherd all the way to the abattoir and the butcher!

    (Nah! Our shepherd wouldn’t do that to us! – Paedophile priest denial syndrome?)

  249. Lorenzo,

    Yes, and you’re quite right to point out that men are also suffering from oppression of women. Also, I will point out that there are plenty of women around the world who are complicit with these crimes against humanity. They are gender traitors.

  250. Thanks for giving me an incite into your thoughts on it LaurieB.

    These three are a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers we hear
    about coming out of N.Africa to join the Islamic State fighters.

    Do you know if any of these girls are anything to do with the many schools the Gulen movement built?

    those girls wearing some sort of black hejab but I couldn’t quite
    place it. I think they were still in the UK and wearing it then.

    I have seen plenty of girls wearing the hejab in the Uk but, apart from the restrictions I know too well from my two younger sisters and not being allowed to go out on their own, they always have their faces made up and pretty fancy shoes or trainers. They walk along with mobile phones and seem pretty happy. There are some that are clearly not allowed makeup or shoes that are not the norm and if I have worked in any of their houses the atmosphere is much more of a religious one and the young girls are much more reserved. I guess its a bit of a mix. When I saw the pictures of this particular three, I imagined them to be from more liberal families?

    the fact that these girls can communicate directly and secretly with
    these young men who must appear to them as irresistibly handsome,
    dashing and romantic with a soupcon of danger,

    This is more of what I thought when I saw the girls but am glad you have confirmed the possibility. I am sure its not the only reason but somehow think it might have been quite a major one?

    in the past decade or so, but as far as marriage and relationships go,
    there is no way for young people there to date or associate freely

    Not sure if you are saying it has gotten worse in the last decade or so? Again, the Gulen movement?

    and the outrageous expense of their totally overblown weddings there,

    Have experienced this both in the Turkish community and the English. One of the reasons we decided to go get married in Indonesia. I don’t like being dictated to by wedding organisers or fashion. My memories of families getting together to make the food for the wedding are warm ones. The weddings themselves were more authentic with at least three fights per wedding….

  251. Ewan,

    I would like you to imagine the same scenario but with no religion involved in the school at all. What do you see?

  252. Olgun Feb 24, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    and the outrageous expense of their totally overblown weddings there,

    Have experienced this both in the Turkish community and the English. One of the reasons we decided to go get married in Indonesia. I don’t like being dictated to by wedding organisers or fashion.

    The younger generation of my family, don’t bother with weddings, christenings or any other religious nonsense. They spend their money on sensible things like houses.

    We had a nice family get together with people from hundreds of miles apart, for my grand daughter’s naming, and having everyone meet her, but that was in a hotel with a nice buffet, and no religious parts.

    Many were atheists, but the Xtian and Muslim friends/relatives, did not have a problem with that format.

  253. Not that there was any religion in Turkish Cypriot weddings Alan. It was a registry office and then on to the hall for the wedding. Its just this race to go one better that gets me.

  254. If you consider religion to be monstrous and potentially abusive,….

    …for young children most particularly when they are in that dependent phase and will believe an authority figure against reason and the evidence of their own eyes. This is the outrage. You won’t even defer it. (No need to defer a good moral education or being thoughtful about others at the end of the day or even an education about religion.) You know the stuff won’t go in else.

    Of course the kids are happy. Why would they not be? How shallow a point will you make next to justify indoctrination of minors?

  255. I think the apology should be mine, actually, Olgun. My ethics dismissal comes across as rather too “crisp”. Hey, I’m a bit aspie, so crisp gets out once in a whle but it also means I often miss other peoples’ crisp stuff back anyway.

  256. @Laurie

    13 was plucked out of the air rather. There would be an argument for pushing it back later as this is the start of the second phase of brain wiring when individuation starts to happen. If its right for girls to avoid coercion then it would be as right for boys to not think they could coerce.

    Any age would be a start but at the very least an establishment of a principle that religious indoctrination of “faith knowledge” is not for young children in the 0 to 7years of age could be the start of decency.

    The Quakers pretty much comply already in my experience (They have a guide for children at meetings where they show a separate room for them.) Who next? The C of E? (Come on Reverend Marcus Small, I can get you charity funding for those RE lessons in the church hall during your services…). The RCC??? No way. “Give me the child until 7 and I will give you the man”….Chilling.

  257. Olgun

    I haven’t heard of the Gulen movement until now. I read the Wiki page and i’ll take more notice of it in the future. They don’t seem to have much foothold in N.Africa from my reading.

    Not sure if you are saying it has gotten worse in the last decade or so?

    I don’t think it’s any worse. But add this on to the other factors and the situation becomes intolerable to them.

  258. “Give me the child until 7 and I will give you the man”….Chilling.

    A yes, the famous misquote. You do know that there is no evidence that it was a Jesuit maxim. In fact, the Jesuits adopted an entirely opposite view to the schooling of young children. Their plan for schools recommended that “no boy be admitted to a Jesuit school before he is seven. Children less than that age are troublesome and need nannies, not schoolmasters.”

    I think that’s a sensible approach. The current fashion for dragging children into education at the earliest possible age is depressing, in my opinion.

  259. Ewan,
    I would like you to imagine the same scenario but with no religion involved in the school at all. What do you see?

    A schooling which denied children any recognition or support for their faith.

  260. I think that’s a sensible approach. The current fashion for dragging children into education at the earliest possible age is depressing, in my opinion.

    Would that that applied to your attitude to indoctrination. You have the power to make children believe things against their reason and the evidence of their own eyes and you have no doubts, given the incoherence of conflicting religions clumped by geography across the planet? You would neuter their thoughts before they had a chance to think them?

    It doesn’t matter that it was said first by Ignatius Xavier or Aristotle. I heard the phrase first in the approving mouths of Catholics in Liverpool explaining Catholic loyalties. Early stuff sticks. And just reminder I am not excluding religious education. It is indoctrination I am complaining of. It is you in my sights. Tell them what you believe. Tell them when they know more about it they could make up their own mind as well. Don’t tell them what their religion is.

  261. LaurieB

    I am not absolutely sure what is going on with the Gulen thing. I am constantly changing my mind as to who is the bigger villain between him and Erdogan. The schools were attributed to Erdogan but the money came from Gulen. I met two N African people who were singing the praises of the schools and a TV drama series about the Ottomans.

    But add this on to the other factors and the situation becomes
    intolerable to them.

    A tragedy…

  262. I did say that no religion was to be involved so no depriving anyone. The end result would be the same. The religious factor to be left in the hands of their parents and, dare I say it, God.

    The fact that no other religions are catered for in your school gives me no reassurance that this thing of caring for others applies. It only says you will care for your own with token donations to other christian denominations with I guess, non christian faiths coming at the very end if at all. How is that caring?

  263. Ewan Feb 25, 2015 at 1:45 am

    I think that’s a sensible approach. The current fashion for dragging children into education at the earliest possible age is depressing, in my opinion.

    That depends on what you call “education”!

    Toddler groups, play groups, and nursery schools, give invaluable social skills and mental stimulation, along with introduction to basic scientific concepts of conservation of volume, and picking up listening skills and vocabulary, from story-telling, etc.

    In fact, the Jesuits adopted an entirely opposite view to the schooling of young children. Their plan for schools recommended that “no boy be admitted to a Jesuit school before he is seven. Children less than that age are troublesome and need nannies, not schoolmasters.”

    Young children certainly don’t need preaching or lecturing schoolmasters or boys only environments. They need teachers who understand child development, and the value of interactive play-learning with practical facilities available.

    Children are indeed “troublesome” when they are being taught badly by inappropriate methods!

  264. This is where I get annoyed at Ewan. I don’t care what he wants to believe the voices in his head are but, when he wants to take everything we know and have learned and throw it out because of some people’s ideas thousands of years ago and then not only inflict that on himself but others too. I really don’t understand why people would want to stop the process of getting things right.

  265. The current fashion for dragging children into education at the earliest possible age is depressing, in my opinion.

    Remember this part of the thread is a discussion about going to church with young children and not about formal education. It is about their religious training.

  266. Ewan, tell me about Canonical Law, the “age of reason” (after the seventh year) when children become morally responsible in the eyes of the Church and in the mode they require it. How is this possible without having carefully trained them up to fit them for this task?

    Have you seen Julia Sweeney’s bitter-sweet account of her Catholic up bringing in the piece “Letting go of God”? Its a kindly, even affectionate account of her journey to understand things more clearly, shot through with her nostalgia for the religious artifacts and folk of her youth. I do recommend it. She has some good jokes in it too.

    What struck me forcibly in her evocations is the totality of the Roman Catholic world that had been created around her as a child and the struggle involved to think another way, and how in the hands of someone less intelligent and determined “to find out more” this constituted a box outside of which no thinking would have been possible.

    Why is (say) Roman Catholicism not a powerful and persuasive enough doctrine, to win the minds and hearts, of a well educated, moral, critically-thinking young teenager, when presented?

  267. phil rimmer Feb 25, 2015 at 8:55 am

    What struck me forcibly in her evocations is the totality of the Roman Catholic world that had been created around her as a child and the struggle involved to think another way, and how in the hands of someone less intelligent and determined “to find out more” this constituted a box outside of which no thinking would have been possible.

    Why is (say) Roman Catholicism not a powerful and persuasive enough doctrine, to win the minds and hearts, of a well educated, moral, critically-thinking young teenager, when presented?

    I think you would have to ask someone who is prepared to look outside the box, in order to get a coherent answer!

    (I know Catholic Faith Schools – often next door to the church. – I have worked in some of them)

  268. I’m sure Ewan feels he is not boxed in in any way. I’d welcome his views.

    I know Catholic Faith Schools – often next door to the church. – I have worked in some of them

    I’ve worked in a few myself doing TIE (Theatre in Education). The experiences were quite mixed…

  269. The experiences were quite mixed

    Should they have been anything else?

    St. Johns school just up the road, touted as the best school in the area. We were excluded of course. Cost me in excess of £250,000 to educate my children. Worth every penny. Next door goes to their church every sunday. Does painting and repairs for them, if not for free then at knock down prices, and they refused his son because he has dyslexia. A lot of fuss and they took him in and he left still not being able to read properly. No special help at all.

  270. Should they have been anything else?

    No. My point. Whilst I am opposed to faith schools on principle, (schools, when sporting a religious brand, are an incoherent idea… how can they claim to offer rounded education if religious training is part of the mix?) some do a more enlightened job than others.

    St John’s Epping?

  271. Sorry Phil, should have made it clearer. Was being sarcastic on behalf of Ewan but at Ewan….If you see what I mean?

    St Johns Buckhurst Hill

  272. phil rimmer Feb 25, 2015 at 9:57 am

    No. My point. Whilst I am opposed to faith schools on principle, (schools, when sporting a religious brand, are an incoherent idea… how can they claim to offer rounded education if religious training is part of the mix?) some do a more enlightened job than others.

    That is the fundamental problem.
    While LEA schools teach religious studies ABOUT the various religions of the world, how can Catholic (universal) religious indoctrination teach a properly balanced view about all those other “false” gods and “wrong” beliefs, which they condemn!

    As I said in an earlier post, they commonly use the term “religion”, as synonymous with Catholicism.

    . . . A feature well illustrated in some of the false dichotomy postings on this thread!

  273. @Alan

    That is the fundamental problem.

    Indeed it is.

    I want Ewan to know I am open to any pragmatic arguments as well as those (seemingly) ideological.

    @Olgun

    St John’s Buckhurst Hill. Idyllic and good Ofsteds. I drive past it often. Its shocking, though, that dyslexia might still be being mishandled.

  274. Probably not recognised as a problem?

    If you pass the school on a sunday after the service, look to the small road opposite, you will find the vicar and a small congregation kneeling on the pavement praying/condemning to those that are being looked after in the abortion clinic there.

  275. The fact that no other religions are catered for in your school gives me no reassurance that this thing of caring for others applies. It only says you will care for your own with token donations to other christian denominations with I guess, non christian faiths coming at the very end if at all. How is that caring?

    I’m not sure what you mean by that, Olgun. Our school, as is common with many Catholic schools, has pupils, parents and staff from a fair range of different religions, as well as non-believers. The spiritual needs of all members of the community are considered important.

    The children learn about other world faiths, we pay visits to places of worship of the main world religions and their representatives visit us to lead assemblies and workshops. There is no question of tokenism.

  276. Ok. My mistake. I should have asked first. From what you have said I took it for granted that your particular school was of Catholic faith only regardless of the norm.

    So I will ask now, any atheists? How are they catered for in the sense of, is atheism taught as well?

  277. Ewan Feb 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean by that, Olgun. Our school, as is common with many Catholic schools, has pupils, parents and staff from a fair range of different religions, as well as non-believers. The spiritual needs of all members of the community are considered important.

    Can I ask you if your school admissions policy gives priority to Catholics who regularly attend church, confirmed Catholics, and Children of Catholic parents married in the Catholic church, thus ensuring that only a minority of other groups are fitted into any spare places,
    and do classes regularly say grace before meals, crossing themselves in accordance with Catholic custom?

  278. @ewan
    semantics is the commencement of an inconclusive arguement. so a debate must be based on facts rather than suggested meaning of words

  279. So I will ask now, any atheists? How are they catered for in the sense of, is atheism taught as well?

    I’m not sure how you would teach atheism but the children are taught about the wide range of beliefs which people have, including those who don’t believe in God. We have non-believers amongst our staff, parent and pupils and they are treated with the same respect and their needs are given the same consideration as everyone else.

    Parents, of course, have the right to withdraw children from acts of collective worship and RE lessons if they so choose.

  280. That’s what I meant by ‘teach Atheism’ more ‘ about atheism’ but at least thst shows that if you cannot teach atheism it cannot be a religion.

    So do you ask questions of these atheists like you have done here where it seems you think people without faith are lost in morals etc? I just don’t understand how you can teach children with any equality if you think they are lost without religion.

  281. So do you ask questions of these atheists like you have done here where it seems you think people without faith are lost in morals etc?

    I don’t think I’ve suggested that in anything I have written.

  282. While LEA schools teach religious studies ABOUT the various religions of the world, how can Catholic (universal) religious indoctrination teach a properly balanced view about all those other “false” gods and “wrong” beliefs, which they condemn!

    Where does the condemnation on this site about false gods and wrong beliefs come from; not from Catholics or other believers, but from non-believers. It’s hard to see how a balanced view of any religion can come from such an attitude.

    In fact, the Catholic Church shows a respectful attitude towards other religions and recognises in them the search, which it shares, for God.

  283. Ewan,

    Whether you know you are doing it or not doesn’t matter but saying things like ‘I get muddled without god’ (or worse to that effect) is yo trying to take the bullet fo