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As long as we don't wind up with a theocracy, I see no problem with individuals believing whatever they please.
I should make it clear that I too have no problem with individuals believing whatever nonsense (or sense) they feel comfortable with. My objection is largely with the institutions and vast societal resources that are wasted on supporting and propagating these various mythologies. (Not to mention the few egregious examples of religious institutions interfering with science education and meddling with the political system).

In fact, despite the fact that I see the belief system as no more valuable or likely to be true, I'd like to see more social resources allocated to preserving (if not propagating) some dying myths (like the First Nations myths) simply out of my (perhaps irrational) belief that information should be preserved, and cultural history and anthropology are valuable studies.

Cheers.
 

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So Beej - what's the difference between religious belief and astrology, card reading, tea leaves?

What other system human structures ie the legal system, government, education do not at least attempt at some point "proof and evidence" as a pre-requisite for a specific action.?

Even gambling has a rational structure to the actions and results.
You seem to make a generalised implicit assumption that religion does not "at least attempt at some point "proof and evidence" as a pre-requisite for a specific action." Look to your starting assumptions.

Religion can, depending on the person, involve much rational structure or little, given one or more starting assumptions. Such starting assumptions are also used for things like legal systems.

Assumptions that cannot be proven or that do not have good evidence are quite common. Some are "needed" to develop social frameworks, others are needed for personal frameworks to live with.

Hand held cellphones while driving = bad
Handsfree = okay due to non-existence of total accident rate increases
Note: bad argument but would also apply 'badly' to hand held
And, despite theoretical and real world evidence of handsfree reducing capabilities increasing accidient likelihood.

You've got your own irrationalities MD. We all do.

It comes down to really wanting something, and many people really want there to be more to us than just being bags of bone and flesh. Others create irrational objective moral standards (sans beard and lightning bolt) that express personal environmental wants. The list goes on and on.

That is why it looks very much like racist/fanatical thinking when so much energy, narrow views and generalisations are used in anti-religion discussions instead of say, looking at underlying causes. A lot like random guy A who likes to point at crime stats and make racial conclusions. With a narrow enough view, the argument is rational and data-based, but the underlying racism/fanaticism etc. pre-spins the analysis. Suddenly, differences are an illness (implicit 'goodness' and 'badness').

Thus the pedestal/pit starting point for debating religion whereby people rig their analysis.
 

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Even gambling has a rational structure to the actions and results.
Like the guy who is afraid to miss a lotto purchase, but will run through a lightning storm to buy the ticket?
 

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What other system human structures ie the legal system, government, education do not at least attempt at some point "proof and evidence" as a pre-requisite for a specific action.?
Speaking from an evangelical perspective I can tell you that proof is everything when it comes to people adopting and staying in our churches.

As I mentioned earlier, we believe that trying to follow the teachings of Jesus allows for people to lead a more full life and if newcomers to the church don’t feel that it is providing that for them, they leave….and they don’t give it much time.

We don’t just say “have faith in God and after you are dead you will see we were right”, we put all of our cards on the table and say that the benefits of evangelicalism are not just in the afterlife, but, as per what Jesus said, if we follow His teachings we will have a more full life in the current world.

The result of this evidence centered approach has been a growing church, compared to most non-evangelical churches that have either stalled or are shrinking in attendance.

Consider that the Pope’s current visit to South America, despite the media focusing on the abortion issue, is actually to try to shore up support for the Roman Catholic Church due to the inroads that evangelicalism in general and Pentecostalism in particular have made in a region that was once almost entirely Roman Catholic (and still is predominantly). A papal visit, the naming of a Saint and switching some Roman Catholic masses to a Pentecostal style are some of the things they are trying.

Pope unveils plan for rebuilding Church in Latin America. 12/05/2007. ABC News Online

When you talk to people as to why they switch, they say that the evangelical approach has had a positive affect on their lives that the Roman Catholic approach didn’t.

Evidence of an improved life is everything to us.
 

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Evidence of an improved life is everything to us.
More good points.

My take: It's about what people want, and we get what we want in different ways. To put religion on a pedestal (or in a pit) to point and shout at is quite similar to racist/fanatical approaches to "rationalising" an underlying belief (more sky-daddies) or, put another way, pre-spinning one's analysis.

Start with the basics. One example: why do people want meaning, rules etc.? Is this a bad thing, and what are the implications for religion, politics or, more generally, how we approach discussing our ideas and opinions? What if this mechanism were gone (ie. full implications such as taking away that nasty competitive thinking)?

Note that no one is assumed to be infected yet. ;)
 

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zoziw: bryanc will want to filter out the religious aspects of what your church offers, then distill the benefits into a super-concentrated atheist formula.
 

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If god does exist he has a mean streak. On the show Great Home Giveaway they had a family who really wanted that house because they weren't doing so good. They had to come within $5000 of the appraised price. They put their faith in God and prayed for a number. God gave them $349900. The price was $344000.
 

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They put their faith in God and prayed for a number. God gave them $349900. The price was $344000.
They would have accidentally set fire to the house, killing themselves. Their lives were spared in this fashion.
 

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This is me... this is what I believe, I will not be shaken! I'm not imposing my beliefs on anyone here, all I'm saying is look at the facts... from many different sources not just 1 named Darwin!
As opposed to say looking at the facts from 1 source named Jesus?

Darwins theories have been tested probably millions of times, and never been proven wrong. How many 'theories' from the bible can say the same thing?

I'm not saying their isn't a God, but I don't believe ANY religion on earth has the facts to prove that he exists or in what form. Just because we can't prove God exists, doesn't mean he doesn't, but it also doesn't mean he does.

Personally, I believe all religions are just manifestations of man's imagination, with ideas and rituals passed down from generation to generation. We know for a fact for instance that the bible was heavily edited by the early church, and there's a good possibility that some of it's content was embellished. The fact that men (who may have been biased) played such a role in the editing process for the Bible calls the accuracy and validity of it's contents into question. In other words, did God really say homosexuality was a sin, or did that make it in there because the editors wanted to make people think it was a sin? What about the role of women? I think allowing 2000 year old ideas play a strong influence in the way we live today seems kind of counter-productive to us developing as a species.
 

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Does God exist?

If you need to believe in a God to get you through your life so be it. I however do not believe in Gods. Just don't push your beliefs on other people.
 

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I think allowing 2000 year old ideas play a strong influence in the way we live today seems kind of counter-productive to us developing as a species.
Yeah, I agree - to a point. "Thou shall not kill" still possesses a certain moral resonance for some of us.
 

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Yeah, I agree - to a point. "Thou shall not kill" still possesses a certain moral resonance for some of us.
Progress works by us keeping and building on the ideas that are best, and abandoning old ideas that don't work. So my point wasn't that we should abandon every idea that was developed 2000 years ago, it was that we shouldn't be afraid to question those ideas and abandon the ones that we don't think are so great today.

In other words, the bible is more of a history book than an instruction manual. We should look to it for an idea of what life was like for those people back then, not as a strict guideline of how we should live our life today.

No one should ever answer a question by saying, "because the Bible says so."
 

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I'd like to say "of course, you're right" but then that would be discriminating against those who tend to interpret the Bible literally.

Some of the prescriptive notions for sorting out the dynamic relationship between religion and science seems worse to me than the condition itself.
 

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I always laugh at the idea that we are "developing as a species." Thin veneer and all that, then canines at the ready.
 

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I have no problem with the idea that the species is evolving... development along "progressive" lines is quite another thing altogether. Progress is one of those notions where the goal posts are forever changing, depending on whom one is talking to.

However, anything which ensures the survival of the species would have to be considered good for that species - as being indicative of its general hardiness as a life form. Look to cockroaches and many other insects as being role models in this respect.

But on the question of what's good for humanity being good for the planet? Well, I have some concerns in that regard. So far I see little proof that we have the requisite intelligence to act as proper stewards for the planet. We may in fact be its most troublesome pestilence. In any case, the planet has the resources to survive us. It remains to be seen whether we have the resources to survive the planet.
 

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In other words, the bible is more of a history book than an instruction manual. We should look to it for an idea of what life was like for those people back then, not as a strict guideline of how we should live our life today.
Evangelicals, and most other Christians, derive our primary beliefs from the New Testament in general and the Gospels specifically.

With the exception of small parts of The Gospels and the Book of Acts, what we find is pretty much an instruction book. The Gospels centre on the instructions of Jesus to his followers and Apostles on how to live and the epistles represent letters written by Apostles to the various churches in the area with instructions on how to operate and handle certain situations.
 

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God lives in California and his name is Steve Jobs. (or Bill Gates, if your into that PC religion).
 
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