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We of little faith - Comments

PeterK's Avatar Comment 1 by PeterK

"Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence" or in Merriam Webster as "firm belief in something for which there is no proof".

I feel this is just scratchimg the surface of what the hideous province of religious faith entails. The actual distorting, altering and ignoring of premises that would lead to a desired conclusion which cannot ever change, is where its evil lies. Faith is the heinously abominable act of viewing reality with mistrust and contempt.

Fri, 08 Jun 2007 16:13:00 UTC | #45762

Dr Benway's Avatar Comment 2 by Dr Benway

Tony Blair:

Some of the most distinguished scholars and religious leaders the world over are gathered here. I ask people to listen to them. They are the authentic voices of Islam. The voices of extremism are no more representative of Islam than the use, in times gone by, of torture to force conversion to Christianity, represents the true teaching of Christ.
I listened to Blair on NPR. The words, "They are the authentic voices of Islam," made me go, "Whaaa?" I must have missed the memo naming Blair arbiter of Islamic authenticity.

When Blair eloquently pledged friendship to the US after 9/11, I regarded him as one of the most well spoken, inspiring statesmen I've ever heard. I still feel a debt to the Brits for that speech. But Jesus, what happened to the man.

Pre-mass media, politicians didn't have to do their fence sitting and dancing right in front of us all the time. Maybe even Churchill would have come off as a putz in today's world of 24 hour hyper coverage.

Fri, 08 Jun 2007 18:31:00 UTC | #45803

MIND_REBEL's Avatar Comment 3 by MIND_REBEL

I find it interesting that Mrs. Blackmore calls herself an athiest, yet is a follower of Zen Buddism, which is the same irrational faith that drove the kamikaze bombers and the Japanese rape of China.

Fri, 08 Jun 2007 19:36:00 UTC | #45812

bouwe's Avatar Comment 4 by bouwe

Comment #48726 by MIND_REBEL
I find it interesting that Mrs. Blackmore calls herself an athiest, yet is a follower of Zen Buddism, which is the same irrational faith that drove the kamikaze bombers and the Japanese rape of China.
Huh? Firstly, if Zen Buddhism does not postulate the existence of a deity, then it is consistent with being an atheist, so saying she "calls herself an atheist" as if she isn't due to an adherence to Zen Buddhism doesn't make sense.

Secondly, you haven't demonstrated that Zen Buddhism is the thing which "drove the kamikaze bombers and the Japanese rape of China." Just because some of them were adherents to Zen Buddhism doesn't follow that that is what caused their behaviour. Even if you make a strong case that Zen Buddhism is "irrational" it still doesn't prove the effect. Love is irrational, but does that mean that it is the cause of all the ills of the world?

Anyway, I thought it was the Cult of the Emperor and blind allegiance to the nationalist cause that was the main problem in this case, rather than too much Zen meditation.

Fri, 08 Jun 2007 22:59:00 UTC | #45827

CloudedHills's Avatar Comment 5 by CloudedHills

Many forms of Buddhism are entirely atheist. Stripping away mysticism, there is a lot to be said for it.

I really think Blackmore's hair is fantastic. Whoever said scientists couldn't be cool?

Fri, 08 Jun 2007 23:53:00 UTC | #45830

Logicel's Avatar Comment 6 by Logicel

Spot on, Ms. Blackmore! Excellent article.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 01:10:00 UTC | #45843

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 7 by pewkatchoo

I will be writing a very angry letter to my mp to ask him if he thinks it is a good use of public funds to give money to a religious organisation for 'further study'. What the fuck is there to study anyway. I am getting so angry with this government and it's so-called opposition.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 02:10:00 UTC | #45856

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 8 by pewkatchoo

Bouwe, it was not zen buddhism which drove the kamikaze, it was militant shinto and emperor worship.

Zen is a personal discipline, it has very little to do with religion and nothing at all to do with deities.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 02:26:00 UTC | #45862

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 9 by pewkatchoo

Dr Benway, Blair is searching for his legacy just now and will say absolutely anything that he thinks people want to hear. He is only elloquent if you are not prepared to analyse exactly what it is he is saying.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 02:32:00 UTC | #45864

bluebird's Avatar Comment 10 by bluebird

About six months ago a poster made mention of this woman's good work, and pink hair. Nice to see another article, avec photo.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 04:40:00 UTC | #45893

Vinelectric's Avatar Comment 11 by Vinelectric

I will be writing a very angry letter to my mp to ask him if he thinks it is a good use of public funds to give money to a religious organisation for 'further study'. What the fuck is there to study anyway.


That really cracked me up.. thanks pewkatchoo !!

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 05:16:00 UTC | #45905

bouwe's Avatar Comment 12 by bouwe

Comment #48777 by pewkatchoo
Bouwe, it was not zen buddhism which drove the kamikaze, it was militant shinto and emperor worship.
pewkatchoo, I was aware of that but didn't get around to mentioning it. You should really be addressing
Comment #48726 by MIND_REBEL ...I'm still trying to get my head around his Zen comments....he has taken his rebellion a little too far I think....

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 05:37:00 UTC | #45911

Greg23's Avatar Comment 13 by Greg23

Ah, Susan

Always one of my favorites.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 05:49:00 UTC | #45917

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 14 by Cook@Tahiti

9. Comment #48780 by pewkatchoo

>Blair is searching for his legacy

Looks like his legacy is searching for him. This latest Saudi weapons sale corruption with Blair shutting down the investigation due to "national interest" stinks. The whole cabinet should be in the slammer. It reminds me of the ending to the 'Lord of War' movie.

So much for Blair having Christian values.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 06:25:00 UTC | #45929

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 15 by the great teapot

Sue Blackmore was on a radio 4 program earlier this week, I forget the name and date but it was at 11pm. I was only half listening to it as it was only intended to be a lightweight stocking filler type of program.
The programe was about people who believe in strange things joining the real world.
She described how she believed all the new age nonsense ,Tarot cards etc and was a champion of these beliefs.
Then one day she had a eureka moment and no longer believed. She then was a champion for the skeptics and became the celebrity rent a quote for skeptics. Since then she has not changed her views but claimed to have given up on the rent a quoting - obviously not completely.
She wrapped up with what I thought was the only telling point of the program (loosely quoted) "Skeptics don't send hate mail, believers do"
Funny how you never hear a name all your life, then bang twice in 1 week, spooky.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 06:42:00 UTC | #45932

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 16 by pewkatchoo

vinelectric:
You are welcome

bouwe:
sorry, I did get you mixed up with rebel because your post was straight after his. I must be in my dotage.

Rtambree:
yes, I saw that movie too. I did not make the connection that you did, but you are absolutely right. What a shocking affair that is.

After posting my own responses on the Graudain site I read some of the posts from the 'faithful' and, to paraphrase Weinberg:

'Without religion you would have clever people saying clever things and stupid people saying stupid things, but for (apparently) clever people to say totally, braindead, off the wall, stupid things, it takes religion.'

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 07:05:00 UTC | #45936

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 17 by pewkatchoo

DejaFu
I am a 3rd Dan Kendoka and 1st Dan Karateka, which is why I know a wee bit about Zen Buddhism. I try to use it to help my concentration, with mixed success of course. )^8

I also studied Japanese culture, history and mythology to try and get an insight into how they think. I even did two language courses so that I could try and make the visiting sensei feel more comfortable when they came to our club. I find it a fascinating society, wide open in some areas, totally repressed in others. Full of contradictions.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 07:12:00 UTC | #45939

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 18 by Cook@Tahiti

>'Without religion you would have clever people saying clever things and stupid people saying stupid things, but for (apparently) clever people to say totally, braindead, off the wall, stupid things, it takes religion

Good one - you're churning them out pewkatchoo. Compile them into another atheist book and with sales the way they are, you won't have to work again.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 07:32:00 UTC | #45943

MIND_REBEL's Avatar Comment 19 by MIND_REBEL

I think you guys are falling for the Western Religion=Bad, Eastern Religion=Good. They're both bad. Buddhists have a tendency to just sit around, and justify the most horrible governments in the history of the world. The government could slaughter 100K people, and some monk would respond with some meaningless bromide like "two grapefruits with yellow skin are one orange in training".

And Buddhism is irrational. Many forms of Buddhism have a concept of hell, believe in the afterlife through reincarnation. And it was that same believe in reincarnation which drove the kamikaze planers and submariners during WWII. And what Buddhism allowed the Kamikazee pilots to carry out during WWII isn't that much different in principle than other events where religious lunatics used planes to suicide themselves. It just that instead of 72 virgins they get reincarnationed as super models lap dog or a hawaian tropic tan boy.

And you can call me stupid all you want, but the facts are facts and i'm more concerned with the truth than looking cool or hip in some nonsense mystical faith. No disrespect, but Buddhism is pretty stupid, and for a religion that aims to dissolve the ego, they tend attract some real egomaniacs.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 08:30:00 UTC | #45950

Donald's Avatar Comment 20 by Donald

Blair: "religious faith is not inconsistent with reason, or progress, or the celebration of diversity."

Blackmore: "But religious faith is inconsistent with reason (and much more that we value as well)."

This is a good article from Sue Blackmore. But I would have liked to see it longer, and tackle the other two of Blair's three assertions:

Blair: "religious faith is consistent with progress"

Not if it's based on ancient scripts that are claimed to be the unchallengeable, unchanging, right for all time, word of god, it isn't. Especially Islam.

Blair: "religious faith is consistent with the celebration of diversity"

Not if divides humans into two camps: believers who will go to heaven, and unbelievers whom god hates and will go to hell, it isn't. Especially Islam.

Blair entered politics as a naive orator who found a neat way to advance the labour party. He leaves it as a deeply deluded and corrupted politician.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 09:21:00 UTC | #45959

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 21 by pewkatchoo

Mind-Rebel
You may think that you are stating facts, but you clearly are not. I do not know where you are getting your knowledge from, comics by the look of it, but you are sadly wrong. Buddhism is not an irrational faith system. The Gautama Buddha laid down 4 truths and 8 paths. These are all to do with building the mind and the moral way to do things. There was no god involved in the process, simply human enlightenment. Gautama Buddha did not believe in reincarnation and it is not actually a central tenet of the original teachings. Zen buddhism is purely a mental discipline based on the 8 paths. It is intended to improve wisdom and concentration in the hope of eventually achieving enlightenment.

These disciplines are easily translated to modernistic morality, self-discipline and the search for knowledge. Pretty much what you need to better yourself. No mumbo-jumbo need be applied.

If we take your course, we are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That is nihilism and anarchic.

I don't know if I have explained this very well, but I am sure that there are others more knowlegeable who will correct anything I have got wrong.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 09:29:00 UTC | #45960

pewkatchoo's Avatar Comment 22 by pewkatchoo

Donald
Excellent summation. There is a danger sometimes to pick the most obviously nonsense phrase and ignore the rest with Blair. Brown is very similar in that regard. Politics is just another form of irrational belief.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 09:32:00 UTC | #45961

Logicel's Avatar Comment 23 by Logicel

pewkatchoo wrote: Bouwe, it was not zen buddhism which drove the kamikaze, it was militant shinto and emperor worship.

___________

I read that many pilots were coerced to do the kamikaze flights because the Japanese authorities threatened their families in various ways.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 09:36:00 UTC | #45962

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 24 by Bonzai

Zen Buddhism is not a "faith". In fact it is quite the opposite. One is trained to doubt everything, even the teaching of Buddha.

Not all schools of Buddhism believe in reincarnation. Even though I don't believe in reincarnation myself, but I think it is at least infinitely more interesting a possibility than a Christian after life. And it is actually not that outlandish if you take it as a metaphore. Afterall matter does get recycled and not all schools of reincarnation insist that one retains a memory and personhood in the process of death and rebirth.

The belief in Hell in some buddhist sects is probably a corruption arising from being mixed up with folk worships. Taoism suffers the same fate.

Some Chinese folk religions believe not only in hell, but on a complete underworld bureaucracy. They think the underworld is very much like the real world, with governments, offices, banks, police and department stores etc. To live a comfortable life while dead you need money and all kinds of amenities.

In any China town you can find shops that sell a kind of fake money that looks like monopoly money, it is supposed to be burnt as offering to the dead. When I grew up in Hong Kong, I remember people making life size paper cars with bamboo frames and stuffs like paper refrigurators, paper washing machines and even paper servants,--which are life size paper dolls. All to be burnt as offerings. Rather vulgar supersitition it is for sure, but the paper maches are a lot of fun to look at. I think it is a waste to burn up all these artistic creations. In a sense folk religions at least add some colour and charm to life. A completely rational society would probably be very boring.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 09:48:00 UTC | #45966

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 25 by Cook@Tahiti

25. Comment #48888 by Bonzai

> a completely rational society would probably be very boring.

Spock: That is illogical Captain

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 09:59:00 UTC | #45967

Logicel's Avatar Comment 26 by Logicel

Mind_Rebel wrote: No disrespect, but Buddhism is pretty stupid, and for a religion that aims to dissolve the ego, they tend attract some real egomaniacs.
___________

Similar in the way that health food stores attract unhealthy people.

Reincarnation is a part of what religion then, if not buddhism? Hinduism? Was Buddha a reformer of Hinduism like Jesus was of Judaism?

I consider Buddhism to be both a philosophy and a religion. Since philosophy for the most part leaves me cold, I have been little attracted to that aspect of Buddhism. The focus on that we are all one--though I do not disagree in principle, we came from stardust and will return as stardust--can be achieved by studying science and not just Buddhism. I prefer the study of science.

I have been doing yoga postures and breathing for decades, because I find them fun and effective in stretching muscle and keeping me limber. I also embrace the golden rule so touted by Christianity as a rule of their making. However, I am neither a practicing Christian nor a Hindu.

If Ms. Blackmore had flirted with new age religion in the past, it would suggest that she is receptive to some aspect of the power of the mind as being able to transcend the shackles of matter. I think that Sam Harris is also open to this possibility.

I do agree with Mind_Rebel that buddhism as embraced by westerners, is an often odd spectacle of their feeding their egos, instead of suppressing them. I also find the Buddhist training riddles of which Mind_Rebel so adeptly parodied to be tiresome and silly.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 10:03:00 UTC | #45968

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 27 by Bonzai

Comment #48890 by Logicel

Buddhism is many things, a philosophy, a religion and a mental discipline. There are many schools of Buddhism as a result of blending with other philosophical and belief systems. The Hindu root is almost unregonizable in Buddhist sects practised in China and Japan.

Not only Westerners selectively adopt and rework Buddhism. The Easterners do it too, that's why different schools exist and as noted, Chinese and Japanese sects are so unique in flavour that a superficial observer wouldn't even guess they have their roots in Hinduism. It is pretty much the way how civilization gets transmitted and evolves.

Myth has a role in human societies. It is not always undesirable. Without role playing and make beliefs human civilizations would probably not have existed, and if it managed to survive it would probably be very sterile and oppressive,--like modern designer cities where all the streets, all the houses are exactly the same, orderly and efficient but lifeless. I find the kind of barren world of rationality advocated by the likes of Mind_Rebel frightening and it represents a complete ignorance of human nature. If one wants to understand humans as a species she has to engage the subjects on their own terms. This should be basic to anyone claims to be an adherent of the scientific method.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 10:32:00 UTC | #45971

Logicel's Avatar Comment 28 by Logicel

Bonzai wrote: I find the kind of barren world of rationality advocated by the likes of Mind_Rebel frightening and it represents a complete ignorance of human nature. If one wants to understand humans as a species she has to engage the subjects on their own terms. This should be basic to anyone claims to be an adherent of the scientific method.
_______

Being an artist and a writer, I fully embrace the human imagination. I also view emotion--as shown by neuroscience studies--to be the fuel to ignite our rationality to achieve solid results. Obviously, the imagination that was required to initiate myths for various reasons--for explanatory purpose, or societal cohesion--became trapped within specific religious dogma which are present today.

It does seem that Mind_Rebel, in his admirable desire/efforts to not be trapped within a gray-walled prison of dogma and faith, fails to see that elements that dogma 'prostitutes' to its advantage for its continuing its noxious memes, are also wonderful aspects of the human experience and can be harnessed to improve the human lot a great deal.

As Anne Druyan, Carl Sagan's widow, has said, human spirituality, needs to be wrested back from the theocrats. Spirituality can be defined also in a secular sense, but the faith-heads have fully adopted it as their own bastard child.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 11:28:00 UTC | #45982

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 29 by Steve Zara

And you can call me stupid all you want, but the facts are facts and i'm more concerned with the truth than looking cool or hip in some nonsense mystical faith. No disrespect, but Buddhism is pretty stupid, and for a religion that aims to dissolve the ego, they tend attract some real egomaniacs.


I don't think you are stupid. But, I think your posts here sometimes do a disservice to the cause of rational atheism. You latch on to a simplistic view and defend them even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Sometimes your views seem so simplistic that they almost seem to be parodies posted by those who who wish to attack atheism. I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but this has also been pointed out by others. Personally, I have no doubts that your motives are good, but I would suggest you take more time, and do more research before you post.

I also find the Buddhist training riddles of which Mind_Rebel so adeptly parodied to be tiresome and silly.


I am rather disappointed by this point of view. It is easy to dismiss as silly that which you don't understand. I recently have detected an attitude on recent threads on this site that philosophical arguments are somehow against the spirit of rationality and clear thinking. That just isn't the case. Discussions about reality involve more than just practical science.

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 16:13:00 UTC | #46022

Smith's Avatar Comment 30 by Smith

Hi, here is an link to the article "Killing the Buddha" by the "pro-torture neo-Zionist" Sam Harris. I think some of you might be interested in learning how crazy he can be.
http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2903&Itemid=244

Sat, 09 Jun 2007 16:28:00 UTC | #46023