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Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:16 PM

Why Sometimes Religion Should Be Criticized

Most people, understanding good manners, have distaste for those who are vocally critical of the religious beliefs of others. Theological decisions are recognized as deeply personal, and common decency dictates that we respect the rights of others to believe what they wish, assuming those beliefs cause no harm to others. The vast majority of humanists, even those actively engaged in the secular movement, share the general public's sentiments on this issue. Live and let live, right?

We should realize, however, that the social norm that discourages the criticism of religion can work to the great advantage of religious political activists. Social conservatives, for example, righteously claiming the highest moral authority grounded in religion, knowing that criticism of religion is considered off-limits, can demand that their policy positions be given legitimacy even when those positions lack any rational basis.

--snip--

Here we see the cost of our good manners. With social rules that say we shouldn’t criticize religion, any public debate with the bishops must ignore the theology that is the basis of the bishops' position and focus instead on the proper meaning of the term “religious freedom.” In essence, these men can use their theology as a means of jeopardizing the health of millions.

--snip--

Good manners are commendable, but silence in the face of efforts to deny basic health care is not good manners. Common decency certainly requires respect for the individual rights of others, but it does not demand that we let the arbitrary theological preferences of others shape public policy. In fact, when theology advocates harmful health policy, common decency may require that good manners be set aside.


http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/our-humanity-naturally/201302/why-sometimes-religion-should-be-criticized



35 replies, 2151 views

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 35 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Sometimes Religion Should Be Criticized (Original post)
cleanhippie Feb 2013 OP
skepticscott Feb 2013 #1
kairos12 Feb 2013 #2
ZombieHorde Feb 2013 #3
Demo_Chris Feb 2013 #4
truegrit44 Feb 2013 #22
hrmjustin Feb 2013 #5
meeshrox Feb 2013 #6
trotsky Feb 2013 #7
Fortinbras Armstrong Feb 2013 #8
Meshuga Feb 2013 #9
trotsky Feb 2013 #10
Fortinbras Armstrong Feb 2013 #11
trotsky Feb 2013 #12
Fortinbras Armstrong Feb 2013 #13
trotsky Feb 2013 #14
Fortinbras Armstrong Feb 2013 #15
trotsky Feb 2013 #16
mr blur Feb 2013 #19
Starboard Tack Feb 2013 #21
Fortinbras Armstrong Feb 2013 #24
Starboard Tack Feb 2013 #25
trotsky Feb 2013 #26
Fortinbras Armstrong Feb 2013 #27
EvilAL Feb 2013 #28
skepticscott Feb 2013 #29
trotsky Feb 2013 #30
skepticscott Feb 2013 #31
Fortinbras Armstrong Feb 2013 #32
skepticscott Feb 2013 #35
Starboard Tack Feb 2013 #20
Goblinmonger Feb 2013 #17
trotsky Feb 2013 #18
dimbear Feb 2013 #23
Fortinbras Armstrong Feb 2013 #33
trotsky Feb 2013 #34

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:20 PM

1. Excellent Post!

Very Good Read!

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:24 PM

2. Walling off ideas

Religious convictions that prevent vigorous debate of ideas using the guise of moral authority are the last refuge of scoundrels, not as usually thought, patriotism.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:25 PM

3. Personally, I think all ideas are up for debate. nt

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:11 AM

4. It is nonsense to suggest that good manners demands a hands-off attitude

 

It might be inappropriate to ridicule the personal faith of an individual so long as that faith is kept private, but the minute that faith is shared, either with society, friends, family, children, or even as the unstated foundation for "moral" principles, that individual's faith is fair game. Further, while someone's personal faith might be safe from discussion (assuming they manage to keep it a mystery), religion and faith in general should NEVER be granted this immunity by a rational society.

Religion might have had a beneficial role three-thousands years ago -- though I think this would be a difficult argument to make -- but it certainly has no beneficial role today. I believe that the sooner we move beyond magical thinking the better off we will be. It is up to us to create a more perfect world. It is up to us to fight for equality and justice and to end human suffering. It is up to us to care for the sick and the poor, nor because we fear post mortem retribution (or wish to purchase rewards with service), but because that is the kind of world in which we wish to live.

The homeless woman in the ally, freezing to death as I write this, is NOT heading off to paradise. She is heading to oblivion, and our chance to help her achieve her fullest potential is gone forever with her death. It's a horror, and religion provides the excuse to tolerate this loss. Religion tells us that she is somewhere better now, that we should accept injustice, we should welcome oppression and pain and poverty as proof of our devotion. We should give what little we have -- we must surrender both our wallets and our reason even to the point of killing ourselves in his name -- and He will take care of us once we are dead. It's evil, it's a con game, and it is time we put that bullshit in the trash where it belongs.

/rant

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Response to Demo_Chris (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 11:46 PM

22. Beautifully said + 1,000!

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 01:03 AM

5. Good argument.

Sounds completely reasonable to me.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 07:20 AM

6. I'm in agreement!

Well done!

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:07 AM

7. Great article.

Drives home so many points that we've been making in this group for years.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:53 AM

8. By all means, criticize religion and religious bodies

Indeed, I have to disagree with Mr. Niose on one thing. I do not know where he gets the idea that discussion, even critical discussion of religion, has no place in American society. Unless, of course, he is thinking of such things as "believers are ipso facto fools" or "bringing up a child to be a believer is worse than child abuse" or "those who stay in the Catholic Church are condoning pedophilia." That sort of thing is not helpful if you want a meaningful discussion, nor is it showing good manners.

But criticizing the Catholic bishops for their stance on birth control? That is commonplace among American Catholics. The day before yesterday, iin another thread, I quoted a column in the National Catholic Reporter as saying, "The only constituency remaining within the church that might — might — muster a majority in favor of the church’s teaching on artificial birth control is the bishops."

I have submitted a post, "What's more, Humanae Vitae is bad moral theology" that specifically criticized Pope Paul VI's encyclical on birth control.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 09:14 AM

9. A "Catholic reporter" may be able to criticize

But if Obama or any other politician expressed any criticism of the sort he would catch flak for being anti-catholic or anti-religion.

We all have to admit that, regarding any criticism of religion, the critic usually walks on thin ice. And I don't mean the insulting criticism but the important stuff that affect people's lives.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 09:44 AM

10. "bringing up a child to be a believer is worse than child abuse"

You realize, of course, that's a straw man position.

Let me ask you a question: do you think it's good to raise a child to believe that they could be tortured for eternity if they misbehave?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #10)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 10:20 AM

11. It is not a straw man

It is a direct quote from Richard Dawkins.

On edit: Sorry, what Dawkins actually said was "Raising your children as Roman Catholics is worse than child abuse." But it is essentially correct.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #11)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 10:26 AM

12. Prove it.

Find me the quote.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 10:30 AM

13. I see that you are unable to use Google

Not to worry, I can. Googling for the phrase "Being raised Catholic is worse than child abuse" returned over 36000 results

You can find the first one on the list here. Another one is at http://www.democraticunderground.com/12211448

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 10:35 AM

14. Thanks so much! Here's the FULL quote, IN CONTEXT.

‘It seems to me that telling children that they really, really believe that people who sin are going to go to Hell and roast forever – that your skin grows again when it peels off with burning – it seems to me to be intuitively entirely reasonable that that is a worse form of child abuse, that will give more nightmares, that will give more genuine distress because they really believe.’

So back to my question - teaching children that they will be tortured forever in horrible ways, do you think that's a good thing?

Two people who could hardly be called "friends" of mine in this group - okasha and Starboard Tack - both agree that teaching such a horrible concept is child abuse.

Do you agree with them or not?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #14)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 10:41 AM

15. The fact remains, Dawkins said it was "worse than child abuse"

Which is what I said.

My response is that Dawkins is attacking a caricature of Christianity, which is typical of atheist bigots like him -- and you apparently support him in his bigotry.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #15)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 10:54 AM

16. Why won't you answer my question?

Teaching children that hell is real and people are tortured forever there is hardly a caricature - surely you realize that there are many Christian faiths teaching that even today.

So will you answer my question, or just fling more names and insults?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #16)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 11:38 AM

19. I suspect that he won't answer because, other than the constant whine that atheists are bigots,

he has nothing to offer.

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Response to mr blur (Reply #19)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:54 PM

21. Did he say atheists are bigots?

Sounds like only a bigot would say such a thing. Do you have a link?

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Response to Starboard Tack (Reply #21)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 07:53 AM

24. What I said was SOME atheists, such as Dawkins, are bigots

I did not say ALL atheists were bigots.

I must say that in my last post I was rather intemperate. What I should have said is that the doctrine of Hell has been misused, but basically there is nothing wrong with it. What it says is "Actions have consequences".

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #24)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 12:36 PM

25. I agree that some atheists are bigots, especially Dawkins and his sycophants.

However, I find your equating of "the doctrine of Hell" with "Actions have consequences" quite disturbing.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #24)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 12:57 PM

26. I'm sorry to hear you believe in eternal torture for some people.

But not surprised. That's why I figured you didn't answer me. It's a despicable anti-human bit of theology indeed.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #26)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 11:24 AM

27. In other words, you believe that there should not be consequences for one's actions

Which is the attitude taken by all sociopaths.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #27)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 01:46 PM

28. lol, there are many

other ways to teach children that there are consequences for their actions without scaring them with the fear of eternal burning and torture at the hands of the devil and his minions. I also don't think it's ok to tell your kids that if they don't finish supper the monster in their closet will eat them.

Because hey, if you don't scare your kids about hell, they will become sociopaths.
lol.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #27)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 02:15 PM

29. Apparently you think

that there should be no relationship between the seriousness of wrongdoing and the degree of punishment.

Which is the attitude taken by all sociopaths.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #29)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 05:43 PM

30. +1000

Eternal punishment for a finite transgression - that is seriously disturbing.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #30)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 06:23 PM

31. Not to sociopaths..nt

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #29)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 09:10 AM

32. No, I didn't say that, but you obviously have no comeback except to lie about what I did say

Moreover, YOU make it quite clear that you feel that teaching children that actions have consequences is wrong. And, as I correctly said, sociopaths like to feel that actions should not have consequences. Now, before you lie again, and say that I am calling you a sociopath, I am merely saying that what you are saying is what sociopaths say.

I would merely suggest that you reconsider your view.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #32)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 08:49 PM

35. You response to post 26

clearly showed that you believe that thinking eternal torture is too harsh a punishment equates to thinking that there should be no punishment for wrong actions at all. I'll let the same people here decide how irrational that is.

And as far as making things up:

YOU make it quite clear that you feel that teaching children that actions have consequences is wrong.

I defy you to show me anywhere I said, implied or even hinted that. Not saying that you're a damned liar, but I would merely suggest that you check your trousers for combustion. And I seem to remember one of the 10 Suggestions saying something about bearing false witness. If I were a sociopath, I'd probably be very happy to see you burning in eternal torment for that offense..good thing I'm not a sociopath.

For the record (not that the sane and rational people here didn't get it the first time), I actually DO believe that actions should have consequences, AND that the severity of punishment for wrongdoing should be in line with the severity of the offense. Perhaps you'd be good enough to tell us what part of that you have a problem with.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #14)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 12:49 PM

20. And I thought we were friends.

You just ruined my day

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 10:58 AM

17. You realize that article doesn't support what you claim he said.

He did not say anything like "Being raised Catholic is worse than child abuse." He said making a child believe in the specifics of eternal damnation is a "worse form of child abuse" than being sexually abused by a priest.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #17)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 11:15 AM

18. As we've seen in many threads...

certain believers seem to have a need to make Richard Dawkins the ultimate atheist boogeyman. It doesn't matter one iota if the "quotes" they use to attack him (and by extension, any atheist who thinks Dawkins makes points worth listening to) are taken wildly out of context or even completely fabricated. It SOUNDS like something a horrible evil atheist bigot would say, so therefore Dawkins probably said it and by extension atheists suck.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #18)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 05:26 AM

23. I believe Dawkins main sin is having 600,000 twitter followers and teaching them

evolution and genetics for free.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #18)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 09:13 AM

33. Richard Dawkins has made it quite clear that he is a bigot

So calling him a bigot is merely stating a demonstrated fact. Certain atheists seem to have a need to defend Dawkins's bigotry. I do not know why this is, since any person of honor should condemn bigotry.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #33)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 10:00 AM

34. You've thrown that word around so much, and had so many posts deleted for incivility and intolerance

that I really don't think anyone takes any of your accusations seriously. A person of honor you are most certainly not.

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