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Go to: Stark warning emerges from science summit

M69att's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by M69att

Comment 2 by Helga Vierich :

I doubt that most people, at conception, are destined to be (expletive deleted). Something happens to a lot of them that causes this, don't you think? Maybe we might consider what this might be, and change it?

Wonderfully put.

It strikes me that it is worth asking the question, is the overwhelming tendency of our species to in group/out group thinking perhaps one of those things that does happen to people which enhances their 'unreasonabilty' and turns them into deleted expletives? Or to go one further that most of us are, it seems, quite deeply deluded about ways in which we ourselves differ from others. There are many well known experiments that show how people so frequently overestimate their own performance in certain circumstances and how many of us succumb to peer group pressure against our own better judgement; even in obvious situations. Equally, we all know how easily we can become hung up on our own defects be they small penises, flabby bottoms or concerns about our shortcomings of personality.

We all have blind-spots and issues over which we are unreasonable. It seems possible or even probable that in any community, even a community dedicated to reason and science, emerging cultural blind-spots can very quickly develop and start to become almost invisible to community members whilst representing a red flashing light to 'out-groupers'. Thus the reason and science community becomes unreasonable. Unless we continually remind ourselves of what the science tells us; that we are an innately unreasonable species and given to serious errors of judgement. We should never be complacent and claim that we are the reasonable ones. Our position maybe, and I believe is, much more reasonable than many but that is not the same thing as immunity to 'unreason' nor is it the same as having a sole claim to 'the' reasonable position.

And finally, back on topic...

I like your point of view SommersetJohn.

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 00:02:04 UTC | #924197

Go to: Religion for Atheists: a Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion

M69att's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by M69att

Comment Removed by Author

Thu, 23 Feb 2012 14:41:03 UTC | #921057

Go to: Religion for Atheists: a Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion

M69att's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by M69att

OK, I’ll put on my flak jacket before I even start because I’m going to disagree with the overriding flavour of this thread or at least I'm going to suggest that many contributors have totally missed the point. It seems many contributors here are only prepared to allow a single definition of religion and obviously have an immediate mental overload the moment anyone starts from a different point of view.

On the whole it seems most dictionaries agree with you all (I’ve just checked several of the online ones to be sure) In short...

Religion is a set of beliefs.

However, it is also reasonable to say...

Religion is a set of practices.

This second definition whilst perhaps not the one which immediately springs to mind (or at least not in the west) is still recognisable to many people and clearly distinct from the first. Of course, one can adopt a set of practices because of an already held set of beliefs but it is equally possible to adopt a set of practices with no prior belief.

Anyone who has actually read Alain De Botton's book and not just John Gray’s review should understand that his use of religion is very much based in the 'practices' definition and has nothing to do with what one believes. He simply suggests that some of the practices that have been dominated by religious institutions for millennia such as, marking the seasons, celebrating a life’s milestones, spending time in contemplation, architecture that has specific aesthetic qualities etc. could be reclaimed by the secular community. He certainly makes no religious apologia; as has been suggested here. He simply says that whilst we certainly don’t have to adopt any of the nonsense beliefs that religious institutions are pedalling, it is just possible that some, some mind you, certainly not all of the practices that are chiefly followed in the religious sphere may have beneficial effects for human beings individually and for wider society. Whilst I am a as wary as, I guess, most other contributors here are of de Botton’s gratuitous use of the word soul and indeed his decision to use the term religion, I do think that the secular community should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Like the majority here, I do not subscribe to any supernatural beliefs, I do not consider faith a virtue and I do think that the sooner that kind of nonsense is abandoned the better. I do, however, also think that psychological/emotional health of human beings, which (rightly or wrongly) de Botton might refer to as the needs of the soul, may require certain ‘grounding’ practices that religious institutions currently hold the monopoly on. I do not claim to know precisely what those practices are but it is certainly something worthy of discussion and further study.

Wed, 22 Feb 2012 16:22:12 UTC | #920780

Go to: In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011

M69att's Avatar Jump to comment 444 by M69att

Goodbye Christopher Hitchens, the world rarely sees your like and you will be sorely missed.

Sat, 17 Dec 2011 23:44:57 UTC | #900467

Go to: New children’s book on evolution, fact-checked and with foreword by moi

M69att's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by M69att

Articles like this are costing me a fortune (or as it turns out not). Sadly Amazon.co.uk say, "Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock." and the results are similar on other UK based bookseller websites. Looks like I'll have to search a little harder for this one but if anyone knows anywhere that it's available in the UK I'd greatly appreciate a tip off.

Thu, 27 Oct 2011 22:48:04 UTC | #884730

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