From evangelical christians (I refuse to capitalize it) to intelligent Deists, there are a wide variety of religions with their own sets of social ethics. If a person decides to become violent because of their faith, we obviously have a problem with that; but is it okay for someone to have the same kind of blind faith that leads to this kind of violence, if this person believes in a religion that does not promote violence? Aren't they one crazy preacher away from being manipulated?

My brother is an Agnostic Theist. He is intelligent and loving, but he will not make the jump to Atheism. Is he violating any logical principles? What about Deists? It is impossibly difficult to argue with them, because they point to the same absence of proof to prove their proof of existence that we use to prove our proof of absence (hope that made sense... i've reread it six times). When is a religion okay? When does a religion cause problems?

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How can we best discern between those religious people that pose no threat to me or my society and those that do? And isn't it best for a functioning society when all members believe in the application of logic to form a basis (whether religious or otherwise) for moral, legal, and ethical decisions? Furthermore, wouldn't it be more beneficial to society if I continued to promote Atheism in order for more people to become Atheist and thereby rely more stringently on logic?
I agree with you.
It's OK for anyone to believe whatever they want. Your brother does not require your approval,.nor the approval of anyone else.

Is he violating any principles? I have no idea and couldn't care less. I suspect the answer to that question will depend entirely on whom you ask. My answer is "'mind your own business". If you were my brother I'd deck you for impertinence and disrespect.

My atheism takes this form: "I do not believe in god(s)" I may be mistaken. I am not so much anti religion,as anti ORGANISED religion,which I believe often does as much harm as good,probably more.

However,I'm not arrogant enough or naive enough to attempt to deconvert anyone,believing they or the world would be a better off without religion.(IE if they were like me) Humans would immediately find something equally as pernicious such as a political personality cult.EG: Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, China or North Korea.
You make a great point here: "I don't think you can apply the same ethical standards to decisions of the ignorant, obedient or victimized"; and in the non-theist future I hope for, it is a world without ignorance or victimization. I further hope that I'm alive to see it.
For someone who says they don't need anyone else's approval, it's kind of funny that you went straight to 'decking me' for disagreeing with you, Tarquin. Plus, that kind of violent tendency goes directly against the 'mind your own business' mentality that you refer to. And finally, I disagree with your view of humanity. We are not necessarily prone to 'pernicious' acts or beliefs. We are simply a result of our bodily functions and the information/experiences we gain throughout our individual existence. As science progresses, so will the efficiency of society--from businesses, to government, to education. And therein lies the key to perfecting society. Focusing on the belief that humanity can improve itself is of great importance, and Atheism has a tendency to rely on logic (a scientific principle), which will lead more rapidly to the perfection of the society/human.
There is community which is about diverse people working together in mutual respect or there is a gang of people bound together by identity parameteters that are narrow. They surrender their sovereignty to a hierarchy, adopt signs to identify each other, and practice surveillance on each other. The gang works against the common good to further its own agenda. Hells Angels, Mafia, Police, military, political parties, religions are all gangs.

A society composed of gangs is dysfunctional. It's not a society it's a battlefield. You might ask 'Are Atheists a gang?' The answer is no. Atheists are a community, the parametres are wide, Atheists are plural, it is not a (very) hierarchical organisation, It is a community of opposition to gangs. Atheists and Anarchists have much in common.
I am a new comer to the atheist community but it strikes me that the "Richard Dawkins wing" of atheism engages in gang-like behavior. Don't get me wrong, I love Dawkins and am in the middle of an effort to read every book he has published.

I understand the battle he is waging in defense of sound education, but sometimes this "full court press" approach seems over the top. I say this knowing the potential for evil in religion is high but also there is potential for good. After all, it is the "opiate of the masses" with all the upsides and downsides that a powerful drug can induce.

It may be my own misgivings as a partially closet-ed atheist that are in play here. However, an argument with less "religious fervor" makes me more comfortable.
Well you know Richard is an individual. On his forum anybody is allowed to join and share that space after agreeing to abide by the very wide parameteres that are set. In any community you're going to get people who are more forceful than others but i think Richard speaks for Richard. I certainly don't regard him as 'the leader'. I respect him for the work and i respect him for setting up a forum. Especially one that i feel comfortable in for the very reason that it's not a gang. I note this forum is closed to theists, i think that's fair enough too for the reasons given. It's still a very open, plural, space.
When is it okay to believe in a Religion?
When is it okay to believe in a god?
Whenever that is the one thing that will save you life.
Lol. You make an interesting argument.
I do not feel that atheists should aspire to tell people what to think, this is dangerous ground to tread. Violations of freedom of conscience, of rights of conscience, are the reason why in many places atheists are at the margins of society, and the universal declaration of human rights mentions the right to a conscience so there's already a moral and legal foundation for this dialogue in the international human rights discourse.

We should start from there. I do think that a case for certain restrictions to religious acts and conspiracies (whether called 'doctrines', 'beliefs' or whatever they're called) can be made on the grounds of violence, physical or ideological. I speak of ideological aggression because some religious ideas do seek to penetrate the conscience of other people, and not of the believer in these ideas. Therefore, international legal and moral standards already have begun to tackle this issue, when they speak of rights of conscience.

My personal ethical philosophy uses NON-VIOLENCE as its ethical north, and I think all people, religious or non-religious can also agree to some extent on this. I think non-violence has had huge civilizing effects and can be the commonly-agreed-upon ethical polestar of human civilization, no harm done :) Non-violent political techniques (like boycotting, which is basically voting with your money and labor) produced the liberation of India and its modern secular constitution back when its religious groups were all but ready to erase each other from the map, and non-violent political tactics also produced the civil rights movement in the US.

Non-violence promotes conflict resolution techniques, fosters communication and diplomacy and respects freedom. And so non-violence should inform the way we measure the role that religions should have in society. I think this is fairly civilized and everyone can agree on this.

But violence can be ideological as well as physical, and this is where our 'public role of religion' discourse should focus: violating someone's freedom of conscience is a form of violence. Forcing women to wear burqas, without asking them if they believe in the need to wear them, or if they're even muslim or religious, is another example of an instance where freedom of conscience is ignored.

If a gay citizen is not Catholic, he should also not have to marry a woman when he knows that he loves a man, or be made not to wear a condom during sex. No one can tell another human being who s/he should marry, what hole to poke during sex, etc. This is another example of where the boundary between 'his' and 'my' conscience is crossed.

Homophobia, because it contradicts a huge corpus of empirical evidence, is a vile superstition. Libel against homosexuals should be treated as libel even if it's considered "religious". It is a form of ideological aggression, it's defamation and it destroys reputations and lives. Same with pious pretensions behind a colonialist agenda, whether it's disguised as 'salvific theology' or some other nonsense, for the same reason: it's ideological aggression.

I don't think that the notion of IDEOLOGICAL AGGRESSION has entered the public discourse on the role that religion plays in our society, but I think it should because historically it has been the lauchpad for vulgar and unnecessary hostilities between strangers time and again.

I know it's too late to save many Native American cultures from genocide and cultural or even physical extinction, but I do think that the modern state should still make it explicit and clear that religion must not be allowed to transgress these boundaries, based at least on the history of this country and in fact this entire hemisphere. It would not be unfair to expect modern states to clarify their position against ideological aggression in order to comply with the universal declaration of human rights. Even the education system would benefit from this: history today is (or should be) told from a more honest perspective where the moral superiority of European Christians over Natives of the continent is not presumed.

I don't think these boundaries for religious freedom would be considered unfair by any honest person today. We would all see the transparency, if anyone claimed that GOD wanted him to take the land and property that belongs to another class of people. And so the notion of the illegality of ideological agression fits as an extension of the right to a conscience.
Well said. You make a great argument. Wouldn't this 'right to conscience' agree that children should decide for themselves which belief system they prefer--rather than a parent determining it for them? And if every child was given a superb education and great parents (who promote questioning and the search for answers), wouldn't most of them choose Atheism or Agnosticism?


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