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Science and Religion

Churches actually supported science

Centuries ago, most religious institutes were patrons of science.
They created universities which where centers of scientific research.
Churches sought to validate the literal bible with natural science research.

Religious Support of Science Now

Many theists like to point out that all of the early pioneers of science were Christians.
Imagine if those Christians understood evolution.
Imagine if being an open atheist was not a ticket to a death sentence.
As scientific work generated problems for religions such as evolution and cosmology
such support for research waned.
Ministerial institutions such as AIG and ICR attempt to apply science to
validate literal views such as historical Genesis.
Those institutions are the only opposition to the theory of evolution.
Most of their efforts are geared towards trying to prove young earth and disprove evolution.
Because those stances are not testable and falsifiable,
they will be relegated to websites and journals of those institutes
and not ever be published by scientific institutes.
Scientific institutes strive to answer questions.
Religious institutes strive to validate ‘answers’.

Religious Scientists

There are plenty of successful scientists who are theists,
but they keep their religion out of the lab.
They do not let their theology influence the interpretations of any findings.
They know that science can not provide any evidence for the supernatural.

Religion Science Conflict

Religious ‘scientific’ institutes are usually constrain by statements of faith.
These statements put a priority on scripture over scientific findings.

Religious Institutes are Evolving

Some churches, in attempt to stay relevant are adopting a
supporting stance on scientific stances such as evolution and big bang.
In 2005, the Catholic Church accepted evolution.

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Religions Need Overhaul

The Bad Parts

Most religous text have bad parts.
The Bible has a chapter for slave managment.
The Quran as a verse on wife beating.
Both of those text that place women subserviant to men.
Both veiw homosexuality in a negative light
Most text use a reward of afterlife to drive good behavior.
Some use some form of eternal punishment for bad behavior.
Major harm comes from literal interpretation of text
being used to justify harming/killing others and
opposing science such as theory of evolution.

Political Corectness

The term “Regressive left” is a pejorative to describe an ideology that defends cultural tolerence
which among other things gloss over the bad parts of that culture (religion).
An example is some liberals will take great offense to anyone criticizing Islam or using the term “Islamist” or “Islamic terrorism”.

Reform

Most religions, in order to stay relavent with current culture need to reform.
This process would include:
– jetisoning the bad parts
– get rid of the supernatural unbelievable stuff, not needed
– emphasized compassion
– defend all human rights
– allow and promote critical review of religion
– promote happy coexistence of all world views and religions

Religions can be a powerful positive force for humanity.
A good place to start is Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion.

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Is Atheism a Religion?

Yes

One of the definitions of religion is
“a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.”
“consumerism is the new religion”
To some overly zealous sports fans,
football is a religion.
Many atheists will say
atheism is a religion like
not playing football is a sport,
not collecting stamps is a hobby,
or
abstinence is a sex postion
but the problem with that is there are
thousands of meetups for atheism but none for
not playing football, not collecting stamps or abstinence.
Even though the definition of atheism is
“not a theist”
its usage is more like a worldview, identity or area of keen interest.
Even though Neil deGrasse Tyson is technically an atheist
he does not dwell on atheism
and thus does not identify as one.

No

The main definition of religion is
“the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power,
especially a personal God or gods.”
which is more than just a pursuit or hobby.
The word has connotations of a god or a place/act of worship.
Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are popular religions.
Atheism does not involve a god or a place of worship.

Why Do Theists Call Atheism a Religion

Click bait or provocation is a popular reason for using the word religion.
By calling atheism a religion, they are implying that atheism
has a lot of the properties of religions such as
faith, dogma or intolerance.
They want atheism to look like a religion.

Does It Really Matter

Pick your battles.
If time is spent on a small issue such as a definition then
big battles such as human rights, evolution and age of earth get diminished.
Whether atheism is a religion or not is a hair-splitting argument
which is not important and shows a level of over sensitivity.
Don’t take the bait, move on.

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Is Faith Reliable?

Many churches still hold the word “faith” in high esteem.
Do they believe it to be a reliable path to truth?
Do they value faith because of the lack of convincing evidence?

What is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) says
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
which means
believing in something because we want it
and
believing in spite of the lack of proof or evidence.
The common usage is the second part, believing without evidence.
Trust is not the same as faith.
Trust is established with either evidence or a good track record
whereas faith is believing without requiring either.

Use of Faith

Faith is used primaraly to support beleif in religions.
This is because religions have no evidence that most poeple can agree upon.
Religious institutions not only depend on faith but glorify it and
demonize the antitheses of faith, doubt.

Popular Uses of Faith

Faith can be used to believe in true and false things.
With faith, one can believe:

  • The Earth is 6000 years old.
  • Someone rode to heaven on a winged horse.
  • A con man read gold plate letters from an angle using a seer stone and a hat.
  • Martyrs are rewarded with 72 virgins.
  • 75 million years ago, a galactic ruler killed millions of people by flying them in DC-8 like space crafts and stacking them around volcanoes and dropping H-bombs.
  • Faith vs Trust

    Do you have faith in a chair?
    Belief in the reliability of a chair is trust, not faith.
    Trust is built on some form of evidence,
    such as a good track record
    Faith is believing without any form of evidence.

    Conclusion

    Since faith can be used to believe in false things as well as true,
    it is an unreliable methodology to seek knowledge or truth.
    Doubt, on the other hand, is the core of the scientific method with a good track record.
    Doubt is a reliable tool to seek knowledge and truth.

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    Birth of Cognitive Biases

    If you want to believe, then you will

    Let’s say that you purchase a new vehicle every 3 years and
    alternate between Ford and Chevy.
    Let’s also assume that you believe the quality differences between the 2 are negligible.
    Let’s also assume that you believe that sticking with one brand will save you money.
    You have the desire to believe that one brand is best.
    You arbitrarily pick Ford.
    If you want to believe that Ford is best, eventually you will come to that belief.
    Because of Anchor Bias, it will take much more effort to change your belief to Chevy.
    Even if someone gave you unarguable evidence of Chevy’s superiority,
    you will still be anchored in the Ford belief.
    Because of Confirmation Bias, you will also see patterns of Ford’s superiority
    ignore patterns of Chevy’s superiority.

    You Can’t Choose What You Believe, Well, Sort Of

    If you somehow had a strong belief that Ford was better than Chevy
    that belief cannot be changed immediately, even if you wanted that belief.
    If a Chevy dealer hooked you up to a perfect lie detector and then said
    if you believe Chevy is better, you win this new ZR1 Corvette
    you would not win the Corvette.
    But, if that dealer said you can take the test in 2 months then
    you could achieve that belief by spending the next 2 months reading
    positive articles on Chevy and negative ones on Ford.
    With particular actions and particular echo chambers
    you could achieve any beleif.

    If you seek God or Jesus, you will find Him

    Many religions implore people to seek their beliefs in order to achieve those beliefs.
    Once that belief gets anchored some experience the “Holy Spirit” which validates their belief.
    Conversion into religion is often quick and emotionally driven.
    Deconversion takes more time, months or years, and is driven by critical thinking.
    Conversions happen when people read religious text with emotion, like a love letter.
    Deconversions happen when people read religious text with objectivity
    Slow critical reading of the Bible and the Quran are a part of many atheists origin stories.

    It is difficult to seek truth when carrying baggage of cognitive biases.

    Bias from faith

    The 1st half of Hebrew 11:1, biblical definition of faith is
    “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for”
    which is to establish belief in something that you hope for, desire.
    So rather that believe in something that is true regardless of desirability
    some believe because they want to.

    Ford Child Indoctrination

    What if your father put in man loyal years of service at the GM plant and was laid off.
    All of your life you hear disparaging remarks about Chevy and praise of Ford.
    This Ford indoctrination sets up an Anchor bias for Ford and against Chevy.
    You would face evidence that Ford is not better with rationalizations.
    You then to go an out of town college that is not sponsored by automotive industry.
    With much reflection on why you believe Ford is better that you can reduce biases.

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    Why am I an atheist?

    No Child indoctrination

    My parents never went to church and never talked about relgion.
    They sent my siblings and me to bible school for a few months,
    not enough time for any influences to settle in.

    Santa and collateral damage of other beliefs

    One year, a week before Christmas my brother and I found the Santa stash.
    I lost belief in Santa and other supernaturals, like Jesus, tooth fairy and God.
    I still had a faint God/Jesus belief, but just didn’t think about it.

    I got baptised

    One year in high school I went to church with an evangelizing girl.
    After a month or so, I got baptized in a big fish tank in front of a large congregation.
    Before the dunking, I was evangelized by a 9-year-old, that turned me off.
    I stopped going a few weeks after that.
    I had always found church tedious.

    Mother Teresa treatment

    In college, I lived with a bunch of Christians who asked me to ask God for faith.
    I asked for a sign and got the same as Mother Teresa, no Holy Spirit, nothing.
    I tried to read the Bible, but could not get out of Genesis,
    it was too tedious.

    The closer

    I few years after college, I read
    “A History of God” by Karen Armstrong.
    It was clear then that the Bible and other religious text were
    not God influence and just inventions of man.
    I then identified myself as an agnostic atheist.

    In a Godless World

    In a World without a god (Don LaFontaine voice).
    What if …
    Big Bang led to the creation of planet systems
    Water formed on one planet
    Abiogenesis happened
    Evolution happened
    One social species developed a high level of consciousness via collective learning
    This social started asigning agency to non-agents which may have inspired religion
    That species invented many various religions to deal with different problems
    So …
    How is that world different than ours?

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    Why do atheists hate God?

    Atheists don’t hate God

    Atheists don’t hate something that does not exist
    Imagine hating some non-existent entity like tooth fairy, or leprechauns.
    Many atheists don’t even hate religious people or their relgion.

    There are several reasons that theists still think that atheists hate God.

    Fake Atheists

    Those ‘atheists’ that claim they hate God are not atheists.
    You have to believe the existence of something in order to hate it.
    Many Christians were dealt bad hands in life and rejected God,
    but still, believe in his existence.
    Most of them eventually ‘kiss and make up’ with God
    and some will claim they converted from atheism to theism.

    Some atheists hate religion

    It is common for an atheist who converted from a religion to hate that religion.
    They are mad at themselves for being in a false belief for so long.
    They typically are the angry, militant atheists.
    Eventually, some of them cool off lose their hate.

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    Agnostic Atheist?

    A simple analogy with black and white marbles

    Two guys are walking in a mall and see a huge jar with black and white marbles.
    One guy says “there are an even number of black marbles”.
    The other guy says “I don’t believe you” or “I don’t know”.
    He is not asserting an odd number, he just doesn’t have confidence in the initial assertion.

    Two flavors of atheism

    There are two types of atheists, gnostic and agnostic.
    Agnostic says
    “I don’t believe in the assertion that there is a God”.
    or
    “I don’t believe there is an even number of black marbles”.
    Gnostic says
    “there is no God”
    or
    “odd number of black marbles”.

    Antitheism

    An antitheist is one who opposes belief in a god or gods,
    they can be gnostic or agnostic.
    Christopher Hitchens, an antitheist, says religion is harmful to society.
    “Even number of black marbles are a bad thing and should not be allowed”.

    Academic Definition of Atheism

    I am using the colloquial, popular internet definition of atheist.
    If I were using the Stanford Encylopedia definition then
    an atheist is one who positively asserts “there is no God”.
    I value lowering the friction in a conversation, so
    I will go with the internet version unless
    the person needs the proper version.
    I’m good with either.

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    Good without God?

    Do we need God to be good?

    Goodness via evolution

    We have evolved to be social animals. Evolution favors those that provide benefits to the society. Those that go against society are shunned (naturally selected) out of the gene pool.
    Humans feel the pain of others which gives them empathy.
    Empathy is a product of evolution.

    Pain Projection

    Humans naturally feel the pain of other humans and animals.
    If someone sees someone else suffering,
    they will project some of that suffering to themselves and feel pain.
    That projection is deeper if they had actually suffered in the same way
    that they are witnessing.
    A person would feel more towards someone broken down on the highway
    if in the past they broke down and needed help.
    This empathy is achieved via mirror neurons.

    Is the Bible a good source of morality?

    Morality is based on current culture.
    The culture during the bronze age included
    slavery (Exodus 21),
    misogyny (1 Corinthians 14:34)
    and negative view on homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13).
    Some of the more progressive churches are adjusting to culture but some are not.
    One of the reasons cited for millennials leaving the church
    is this outdated moral stance on current issues.
    Whenever a good person does a bad thing,
    it can usually be blamed on religion.

    Are non religious kids nicer?

    According to a study, Yes.
    Altruism Is Negatively Influenced by the Religiosity of Children.
    Some Christian parents promote good behavior with reward (heaven) and punishment (hell).
    This would generate egocentric morality and not empathy for others.

    Public Perception

    Atheists remain one of the least trusted groups in America
    mostly because of a perception that they have no moral compass,
    but a poll show that this perception is changing.

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    New New Atheism

    new new atheism

    New trend in positive atheism

    There is a slow but positive trend towards effective atheism.
    Focus is shifting away from attacking religious people
    and their religion.
    Attention is being spent on reviewing the belief in religion,
    the value of faith.
    The goal is to get people to think about their beliefs,
    not attack them or their religion.

    One movement was started by “A Manual for Creating Atheists” by Peter Boghossian
    whose book introduces “Street Epistemology”
    championed by Anthony Magnabosco with his videos.

    The key is to get the person to listen and think,
    not defend and double down on their stance.
    Atheists who use terms like ‘religitard’ or ‘creatard’
    are doing harm to the atheist community.
    The hateful comments fuel the distrust/hate towards atheists.
    By disrespecting theists, atheists are propagating the characterization of the
    angry, hateful atheists as seen in many Christian movies such as ‘God’s Not Dead’.

    If more people saw atheists as normal friendly people:
    – more atheists will come out
    – more atheists will identify as atheist
    – identifying as an atheist would not be political suicide
    – some religious people would rethink sources of morality and purpose in life