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Old 01-24-2009, 05:39 PM   #91
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As usual this thread has developed a life of its own, and has wandered far from msmith's original courteously-phrased question.

I think that a very important issue has been raised, which is exemplified in msmith's original question and in the various replies.

If you are an atheist, agnostic, Buddhist (or member of a faith which doesn't claim an exclusive path to salvation) then tolerance is a straightforward matter of principle. In western liberal societies, each person is largely left free to decide what is their good (with caveats, such as, provided that they don't cause harm to others, etc.). And it is fairly easy for the atheists, agnostics and others to be tolerant. They may feel (as Mr Dawkins does) that the believers are believing in a fairytale. But that a choice that believers are entitled to make. So Mr Dawkins publishes his views and leaves others free to dissent.

On the other hand, if a person is a believer in a faith that claims it has an exclusive path to God, then they can sometimes have a much harder time being tolerant. This is because they are operating in an entirely different paradigm.
If a person honestly believes that all unbelievers are damned, then they can feel an imperative moral duty charitably to try and prevent damnation at all costs.

This explains the intolerance shown in certain non-liberal societies like 17th-century Calvinist Geneva, or Afghanistan under the taleban. If, say, dancing is sinful, then a religious authority would 'charitably' ban it. A lot of religious censorship is motivated by the desire to 'save people from themselves.' If the religion has an exclusive hotline to salvation, then it makes sense for church and state not to be separated: it is the state's job to do the best for its citizens, and the church provides the blueprint.

But in a liberal society, then a believer is faced with a problem. He or she can be surrounded by people who are apparently heading for destruction, in his opinion. Yet the society is based on the idea of leaving people free to choose their own paths. A thoughtful religious person can be pulled in two directions. And there is no easy answer for them.

We can see this clash of paradigms in the conflict between some (not all) Islamic perspectives with some liberal western values. And between some (not all) Christian perspectives and secular values. I suspect that resolving these conflicts will be one of the major challenges of the 21st century. And I honestly do not see how it ever can be resolved.
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:02 PM   #92
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Msmith, IMO you either were looking (very hard) to be offended or you just wanted to stir people up with a good contraversy by making your original post.

DixieGal, I can , have and do take exception to the Golden Rule. Please follow this example;
I'm walking down the street and see a beautiful woman coming toward me. I think to my male heterosexual self that I would really like for her to kiss me. Therefore, following the Golden Rule, I grab her as she goes by and kiss her.
The probably results of my following the Golden Rule like this are:
  • She is grossed out by a strange, dirty old man
  • She slaps me & files charges against me
  • Her husband comes to my house and beats me up
  • The police come to my house and arrest me and throw me in jail
  • In jail I meet Bubba who, following the Golden Rule, has sex with me
A better rule, IMO is "Do onto others as they would have you do unto them." Of course that does require more effort and ingenuity.

All this discussion tends to verify some of my youthful thoughts - That in our USA society, the nonreligious have no right to religious freedom.

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Old 01-24-2009, 10:12 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by slayda View Post
DixieGal, I can , have and do take exception to the Golden Rule. Please follow this example;
I'm walking down the street and see a beautiful woman coming toward me. I think to my male heterosexual self that I would really like for her to kiss me. Therefore, following the Golden Rule, I grab her as she goes by and kiss her.
The probably results of my following the Golden Rule like this are:
  • She is grossed out by a strange, dirty old man
  • She slaps me & files charges against me
  • Her husband comes to my house and beats me up
  • The police come to my house and arrest me and throw me in jail
  • In jail I meet Bubba who, following the Golden Rule, has sex with me
A better rule, IMO is "Do onto others as they would have you do unto them." Of course that does require more effort and ingenuity.
This was brilliant.
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:49 PM   #94
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Was that what they call a "straw man" argument?

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This was brilliant.
I'll admit, it was funny, but the logic doesn't really hold up.

Having a young, beautiful girl haul off and kiss a stranger isn't really the same as having a "strange, dirty old man" (direct quote, Slayda!) haul off and kiss a stranger!

Since the phrase is "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", unless Slayda would like the equivalent of a "strange, dirty old man" haul off and kiss him unexpectedly, it's not a parallel!
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Old 01-24-2009, 11:22 PM   #95
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Coffee break. I hope the video does not offend anyone, but here is fair warning: The video contains explicit images of a distinctly (gasp!) Catholic nature, including habits, skull caps, and sundry religious icons. If things like these things offend you, don't click on the video!

Rock on, ladies!

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Old 01-25-2009, 12:04 AM   #96
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As usual this thread has developed a life of its own, and has wandered far from msmith's original courteously-phrased question.

I think that a very important issue has been raised, which is exemplified in msmith's original question and in the various replies.

If you are an atheist, agnostic, Buddhist (or member of a faith which doesn't claim an exclusive path to salvation) then tolerance is a straightforward matter of principle. In western liberal societies, each person is largely left free to decide what is their good (with caveats, such as, provided that they don't cause harm to others, etc.). And it is fairly easy for the atheists, agnostics and others to be tolerant. They may feel (as Mr Dawkins does) that the believers are believing in a fairytale. But that a choice that believers are entitled to make. So Mr Dawkins publishes his views and leaves others free to dissent.

On the other hand, if a person is a believer in a faith that claims it has an exclusive path to God, then they can sometimes have a much harder time being tolerant. This is because they are operating in an entirely different paradigm.
If a person honestly believes that all unbelievers are damned, then they can feel an imperative moral duty charitably to try and prevent damnation at all costs.

This explains the intolerance shown in certain non-liberal societies like 17th-century Calvinist Geneva, or Afghanistan under the taleban. If, say, dancing is sinful, then a religious authority would 'charitably' ban it. A lot of religious censorship is motivated by the desire to 'save people from themselves.' If the religion has an exclusive hotline to salvation, then it makes sense for church and state not to be separated: it is the state's job to do the best for its citizens, and the church provides the blueprint.

But in a liberal society, then a believer is faced with a problem. He or she can be surrounded by people who are apparently heading for destruction, in his opinion. Yet the society is based on the idea of leaving people free to choose their own paths. A thoughtful religious person can be pulled in two directions. And there is no easy answer for them.

We can see this clash of paradigms in the conflict between some (not all) Islamic perspectives with some liberal western values. And between some (not all) Christian perspectives and secular values. I suspect that resolving these conflicts will be one of the major challenges of the 21st century. And I honestly do not see how it ever can be resolved.
Good analysis and well put, although I think the original post was really a little confused with regard to the idea of tolerance. I still believe that there was nothing intolerant about Sony's putting that particular book excerpt in as a sample. My opinion and I'll stand by it.

But, what you say about those religions that have, as a tenant of faith, a view that they are the only path to "god" (and that is, after all, what makes it a religion rather than a philosophy) are less likely to tolerate expressions of views contrary to their own. It's the nature of the beast and not likely to change.

It really becomes more a matter of how the individual chooses to express their faith. If they express it with intolerance directed at others, then that's what we get from them. If they express it with kindness and understanding ... then, they usually end up being friends of mine.

I was in a discussion with someone in Berkeley about the difference between a religion and a philosophy. The two main distinctions I could think of (and, anyone who can add to this, please chime in) were the definitive one -- a "religion" being defined as a reunification and path to a god, and a more subjective one concerning the mythos. In any religion I could think of, believing in the mythology was a necessity to be a true member of the faith. I think that was when I knew I wasn't going to be a Christian anymore .... right about the time I turned 15 and started having serious doubts about the Christian mythos.

With a philosophy, on the other hand, if the myth stories are disproved, you are free to go on believing them, if you like, or leave them in the dust. They are not key to the core beliefs. For example, whether Buddha sat under a tree and meditated for 7 minutes or 7 years is of no real importance ... no one really cares, certainly not enough to start a war. But, whether or not Mary was a virgin impregnated by the Holy Ghost, that makes a big difference in the basis of the Christian religion.

I had a long talk with my mom when I was in my teens because I had to work to convince her that the Christian church really didn't want people like me, who just saw Jesus as a really nice guy who had some good ideas, sitting in at their services every Sunday. She finally got the message after the pastor came over and asked that she not allow me to set foot in their church because I kept asking questions that were making people "uncomfortable." Things like, "if Jesus got half of his DNA from Mary, where did the other half come from? If there was some magical parthenogenesis process, then why didn't Jesus have two X chromosomes?" And, those were some of the easier questions.

Well, night night all. Long day tomorrow.
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:04 AM   #97
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Ah - an apatheist. :-)
Aha! It's perfect. That sounds much better than my usual "well, normally I could care less and don't bother ever thinking about it, but if you strapped me down and I had to choose I would say polytheist who believes in reincarnation." Now I can sound much more eloquent.

I missed some good stuff while I was sleeping.

Zelda, you got my point on the judge thing. I wasn't insinuating that he was making his decisions based on his religion, more that he shouldn't be bringing god into it when commenting on a case because of the position he holds. He can think whatever he wants and say so to family and friends, but that's different. He probably also thinks the kid is going to burn in hell, but for some reason it wouldn't be acceptable for him to say that, right? Double standard.

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Originally Posted by DixieGal View Post
I would prefer that my judges and elected officials base their principles on the Holy Bible, instead of anything else. Even without faith, surely no one can deny that the Golden Rule and Ten Commandments are clear instructions for living a life of good morals.
Are you kidding? One, it's nice of you to assume that everything should be following the Bible, even though not everyone in the country follows the same belief. Two, which Bible are you referring to that you would like them to follow? The King James version? The American Standard version, the New International version, the New Living version, the New Revised Standard version, the New World Translation version? Which set of ten commandments? Sure, they say the same thing more or less, but let's look at the bottom of the list. If I'm Jewish or Greek Orthodox, the tenth commandment is I shouldn't covet my neighbor's wife or anything that belongs to my neighbor. If I'm Roman Catholic, coveting my neighbor's wife is number 9 and coveting the rest of his stuff is number 10. If I'm some versions of Lutheran, I'm not coveting his house for number 9 and not coveting his wife, workers, cattle, or anything that is his for 10. They all say roughly the same thing, but which set of commandments specifically did you want your elected officials to follow? Some say I shall not kill, others say I shall not murder - that makes a big difference if they're deciding my fate if I killed someone in self-defense.

I'd probably be able to argue this better after dusting The Year of Living Biblically off from my TBR pile (well, TB bought pile...), but you get my point.

I too will be adding the book that started this whole thing to my TBR list. My Sony didn't come with it and I hadn't heard of it until this thread.

Slayda – I likes.
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:23 AM   #98
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Coffee break. I hope the video does not offend anyone, but here is fair warning: The video contains explicit images of a distinctly (gasp!) Catholic nature, including habits, skull caps, and sundry religious icons. If things like these things offend you, don't click on the video!
Ok.. that was one awesome movie!

BOb
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Old 01-25-2009, 02:25 AM   #99
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That's true, Sparrow.
But one can worry about the way that some believers don't appreciate that tolerance works both ways.
I've long been mildly fed up with religious advertisements on British public transport. Buses and trains often have advertisements from Christian evangelist sects. But I wouldn't dream of making a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority.

But when the British Humanist Society recently advertised on a few buses with the slogan, "There's probably no God," there were hundreds of complaints, and one driver refused to drive his bus.

I believe that there must be a parity of tolerance.

The story is here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7813812.stm
and here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/h...re/7832647.stm
Can everyone see the difference between an advertisement being PRO religion, or God or spirituality and an advertisement ATTACKING the same by saying "There's probably no God"? That is like taking out an ad saying "athiests are morons". There is a big difference between being FOR something and ATTACKING something in an offensive way, which was the point of my original post. Even DixieGal expressed her faith in an honest an open way, complemented the people in this forum as being "good people" and then the "good" people in this forum proceeded to attack her and mock her beliefs. I don't get it.

My only point was the preloaded material should be NEUTRAL and tolerant to all points of view. I really do not think that is so radical an idea.

I have been called "intolerant" numerous times here, but I do not think that I have been the one who has been intolerant. I simply and respectfully brought up a topic that was not addressed on this forum for discussion, and there have been several regrettable comments aimed towards me. I am a new member and do not know anyone here. And now, for merely bringing up an issue, somehow I deserve this sort of treatment.

My ONLY point was to say that in MY opinion (and respecting that others may have a different opinion), it was a curious choice to have a book loaded on the reader that clearly attacks a particular group of people. THAT'S ALL. What if there was a preloaded book that attacks Hispanics or Indians or African-Americans? Is everyone OK with that? If so, then fine. That is YOUR perspective and you are entitled to express it. I would vehemently disagree, and say that I believe NO ONE should be attacked in a particular book that is preloaded. There shouldn't be anti-Obama or anti-Bush books on the Reader either.

Should they be available in the Sony store? Sure. Should someone be free to purchase that book if it was offered? Of course. I just think it is a curious choice to PRELOAD on a Reader to a general audience of everyone. Someone at Sony made that choice, and I was wondering why it was made. Period.

As a new member, I really didn't expect to be tarred and feathered and have a hundred posts after mine in a matter of 24 hours for expressing a simple opinion.

I certainly do appreciate the few members who pointed out that I was ONLY politely bringing up a new topic, and were kind enough to respectfully reply to me. Thank you for that. I wish you all well in the future, and in growing your community. Good luck to all of you.
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Old 01-25-2009, 03:25 AM   #100
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Can everyone see the difference between an advertisement being PRO religion, or God or spirituality and an advertisement ATTACKING the same by saying "There's probably no God"?
This is mostly a matter of perception. To you, an advertisment that says "there is no god" is an attack, while an advertisment for religion is neutral, if not even positive. Many people apparently perceive this in the opposite way - they feel being continuously attacked by various preachers and missionaries while "there is no god" seems neutral to them.

As far as I am concerned, "there's no god" is pretty much the same as "theory of relativity is not valid" - it may or may not be true, but in either case, it is NOT an attack at Einstein himself, nor at people who think that Einstein was right. I may be inclined to agree with that statement or disagree with it, depending on my personal set of beliefs, but I can't really imagine being insulted by it. At worst, I'll just think "what an idiot" about the person who said it.
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Old 01-25-2009, 03:25 AM   #101
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Can everyone see the difference between an advertisement being PRO religion, or God or spirituality and an advertisement ATTACKING the same by saying "There's probably no God"? That is like taking out an ad saying "athiests are morons". There is a big difference between being FOR something and ATTACKING something in an offensive way, which was the point of my original post. Even DixieGal expressed her faith in an honest an open way, complemented the people in this forum as being "good people" and then the "good" people in this forum proceeded to attack her and mock her beliefs. I don't get it.

My only point was the preloaded material should be NEUTRAL and tolerant to all points of view. I really do not think that is so radical an idea.

I have been called "intolerant" numerous times here, but I do not think that I have been the one who has been intolerant. I simply and respectfully brought up a topic that was not addressed on this forum for discussion, and there have been several regrettable comments aimed towards me. I am a new member and do not know anyone here. And now, for merely bringing up an issue, somehow I deserve this sort of treatment.

My ONLY point was to say that in MY opinion (and respecting that others may have a different opinion), it was a curious choice to have a book loaded on the reader that clearly attacks a particular group of people. THAT'S ALL. What if there was a preloaded book that attacks Hispanics or Indians or African-Americans? Is everyone OK with that? If so, then fine. That is YOUR perspective and you are entitled to express it. I would vehemently disagree, and say that I believe NO ONE should be attacked in a particular book that is preloaded. There shouldn't be anti-Obama or anti-Bush books on the Reader either.

Should they be available in the Sony store? Sure. Should someone be free to purchase that book if it was offered? Of course. I just think it is a curious choice to PRELOAD on a Reader to a general audience of everyone. Someone at Sony made that choice, and I was wondering why it was made. Period.

As a new member, I really didn't expect to be tarred and feathered and have a hundred posts after mine in a matter of 24 hours for expressing a simple opinion.

I certainly do appreciate the few members who pointed out that I was ONLY politely bringing up a new topic, and were kind enough to respectfully reply to me. Thank you for that. I wish you all well in the future, and in growing your community. Good luck to all of you.
msmith, you might very well know that religious belief is quite a sensitive subject which inevitably arouses passions. In my experience, online forums are not the best places to hold such discussions because of the highly complex nature and wide scope of the subject, and also because of the anonymousness. (A discussion like that might not have been your original intent, but it is what this has turned out to be.) This means that any discussion of the subject on an online forum, at it's best, is doomed to to fizzle to a very unsatisfying form. At it's worst, well, it just gets plain ugly. In either case, a "Godwin" would be a merciful event.

I am trying to understand where you're coming from, while at the same time trying to be cautious, because I abhor extremism on both ends. (And, no, based on the limited information in your posts, I do not consider you a religious extremist.) I must admit that my initial knee-jerk reaction to your original post was not very generous, but I bit my tongue. But I think that it reflects well on you that you have tried to argue your side in a calm manner. Reading your posts, I think that I can understand where you're coming from. However, I still strongly disagree with the conclusions you made about Sony in your original post. I wouldn't give Sony the credit of actually thinking about issues like those you raise. They are out to make a buck (they're a business, after all), and Dawkins's book is selling extremely well.

msmith, I do hope you're not saying goodbye to us for good (which is what you sound l like in your post). I think that diversity is highly desirable in this or any other forum, so I hope you stick around.

And about the "There's probably no God" campaign, I'm curious to know why they have the word "probably" in there. It sounds like the campaign still has some lingering doubts about their belief, and leaves room that there is a finite probability that there is a God. Just sayin'.

Last edited by Seabound; 01-25-2009 at 03:27 AM.
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Old 01-25-2009, 05:04 AM   #102
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I actually feel that the originating poster seems to have little faith to go around criticizing the existence of any given challenge to their faith. Quite clearly the originating poster is fully aware of the book and is kicking up a stink hoping someone will turn around and censor it so they can live in a wonderland where everyone never questions their faith in anything, thereby shielding their weak faith.
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Old 01-25-2009, 05:07 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by AprilHare View Post
I actually feel that the originating poster seems to have little faith to go around criticizing the existence of any given challenge to their faith. Quite clearly the originating poster is fully aware of the book and is kicking up a stink hoping someone will turn around and censor it so they can live in a wonderland where everyone never questions their faith in anything, thereby shielding their weak faith.
Totally agree. Any "faith" that can't stand being questioned is one that's not worth holding in the first place.
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Old 01-25-2009, 05:30 AM   #104
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Dear, dear, dear mssmith,

What has being a new member got to do with being "tarred and feathered"? If you quietly, discretely and demurely walk into a theatre and choose to shout "Fire" where there is no fire - thereby causing a stampede in which people get injured, should the polite and courteous manner of your entrance and the fact that you are a new entrant to the theatre mitigate prosecution for the damage you have done?

Hannibal Lecter was the epitome of politeness and courtesy as he prepared his meals. His delicate incisions, his tender dissections, as he made carpaccio while listening to Bach or Mozart or Beethoven were in the most wonderful taste. Those dined upon might have chosen to disagree with what was being done to them, but you would be happy that the courtesy and kindness with which he treated his meal provider should excuse Mr. Lecter from any legal retribution afterward?

Your argument was not simple. The U.S.S.R., China, Germany before and during W.W.II, not to mention many other regimes, had from time to time efficient methods of removing dissent or "attacks on their rightly held beliefs". Do you hold that they were correct in so doing? Perhaps we should create a literary Siberia or Guantanamo for Sony and their like, where all rights could be removed and they could ski or bathe in the sun to their heart's content in their gulag of choice?

Having a London bus displaying a banner which says "There is probably no God" is not an attack on any who might believe or choose to believe that there is a God. It is an invitation to discuss the arguments over a nice coffee and croissant

If I, as a person who might passionately believe that George W. Bush is the greatest human being in human history, want to read a book which does not agree with my rightly held belief that no one has done more to promulgate the cause of freedom, to safeguard the right to privacy and the safety of the world's citizens: why stop me? Why stop Sony publishing an extract from such a book, a book which might help to correct the beliefs of many of the planet's sadly misguided?

Be at peace ma petite.

Last edited by kesey; 01-25-2009 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 01-25-2009, 06:05 AM   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Totally agree. Any "faith" that can't stand being questioned is one that's not worth holding in the first place.
The original poster clearly said they had no objection to the book being generally available.
I'm puzzled why people are going out of their way to twist what was said, and then get themselves aerated about it.
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