Why does the existence or non-existence of god matter?

Discuss atheism, religious apologetics, separation of church & state, theology, comparative religion and scripture.
sohy
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Post by sohy » Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:19 pm

Dear gawd Koy. You're making atheists look like complete assholes.

When you describe religious indoctrination as the worst sort of child abuse, that says something quite disturbing about you. If you want to clear things up, just admit you were being hyperbolic and stop trying to rationalize what you meant when you said that.

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Post by Greatest I am » Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:21 pm

[quote=""sohy""]Dear gawd Koy. You're making atheists look like complete assholes.

When you describe religious indoctrination as the worst sort of child abuse, that says something quite disturbing about you. If you want to clear things up, just admit you were being hyperbolic and stop trying to rationalize what you meant when you said that.[/quote]

Many pundits found what you see in this link as immoral and child abuse. Do you?

Jesus Camp 1of 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LACyLTsH4ac

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DL
God is a cosmic consciousness .
Telepathy the key.
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Koyaanisqatsi
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:18 pm

[quote=""sohy""]Dear gawd Koy. You're making atheists look like complete assholes. [/quote]

Irony. Big fan.
When you describe religious indoctrination as the worst sort of child abuse, that says something quite disturbing about you.
When you ignore the reasons provided to support that assertion and instead attack the man, not the argument it says you should f.o.
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Post by Politesse » Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:33 pm

[quote=""sohy""]Dear gawd Koy. You're making atheists look like complete assholes.

When you describe religious indoctrination as the worst sort of child abuse, that says something quite disturbing about you. If you want to clear things up, just admit you were being hyperbolic and stop trying to rationalize what you meant when you said that.[/quote]

Don't worry, I think everyone here knows that Koy does not represent all atheists on this.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:18 pm

Here are two important pieces to consider. The first is in regard to a famous study conducted by Solomon Asch back in the fifties on conformity that was recreated recently with similar results. From What Other People Say May Change What You See:
A new study uses advanced brain-scanning technology to cast light on a topic that psychologists have puzzled over for more than half a century: social conformity.

The study was based on a famous series of laboratory experiments from the 1950's by a social psychologist, Dr. Solomon Asch.

In those early studies, the subjects were shown two cards. On the first was a vertical line. On the second were three lines, one of them the same length as that on the first card.

Then the subjects were asked to say which two lines were alike, something that most 5-year-olds could answer correctly.

But Dr. Asch added a twist. Seven other people, in cahoots with the researchers, also examined the lines and gave their answers before the subjects did. And sometimes these confederates intentionally gave the wrong answer.

Dr. Asch was astonished at what happened next. After thinking hard, three out of four subjects agreed with the incorrect answers given by the confederates at least once. And one in four conformed 50 percent of the time.

Dr. Asch, who died in 1996, always wondered about the findings. Did the people who gave in to group do so knowing that their answers was wrong? Or did the social pressure actually change their perceptions?

The new study tried to find an answer by using functional M.R.I. scanners that can peer into the working brain, a technology not available to Dr. Asch.

The researchers found that social conformity showed up in the brain as activity in regions that are entirely devoted to perception. But independence of judgment -- standing up for one's beliefs -- showed up as activity in brain areas involved in emotion, the study found, suggesting that there is a cost for going against the group.

"We like to think that seeing is believing," said Dr. Gregory Berns, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta who led the study.

But the study's findings, he said, show that seeing is believing what the group tells you to believe.
...
As in Dr. Asch's experiments, many of the subjects caved in to group pressure. On average, Dr. Berns said, they went along with the group on wrong answers 41 percent of the time.

The researchers had two hypotheses about what was happening. If social conformity was a result of conscious decision making, they reasoned, they should see changes in areas of the forebrain that deal with monitoring conflicts, planning and other higher-order mental activities.

But if the subjects' social conformity stemmed from changes in perception, there should be changes in posterior brain areas dedicated to vision and spatial perception.

In fact, the researchers found that when people went along with the group on wrong answers, activity increased in the right intraparietal sulcus, an area devoted to spatial awareness, Dr. Berns said.

There was no activity in brain areas that make conscious decisions, the researchers found. But the people who made independent judgments that went against the group showed activation in the right amygdala and right caudate nucleus -- regions associated with emotional salience.

The implications of the study's findings are huge, Dr. Berns said.

In many areas of society -- elections, for example, or jury trials -- the accepted way to resolve conflicts between an individual and a group is to invoke the "rule of the majority." There is a sound reason for this: A majority represents the collective wisdom of many people, rather than the judgment of a single person.

But the superiority of the group can disappear when the group exerts pressure on individuals, Dr. Berns said.

The unpleasantness of standing alone can make a majority opinion seem more appealing than sticking to one's own beliefs.

If other people's views can actually affect how someone perceives the external world, then truth itself is called into question.

There is no way out of this problem, Dr. Ariely said.

But if people are made aware of their vulnerability, they may be able to avoid conforming to social pressure when it is not in their self-interest.
Now consider this from In God we trust? Neural measures reveal lower social conformity among non-religious individuals:
Non-religious vs religious undergraduate subjects completed an experimental task that assessed levels of conformity in a domain unrelated to religion (i.e. in judgments of facial attractiveness). Findings showed that, although both groups yielded to conformity pressures at the self report level, non-religious individuals did not yield to such pressures in their neural responses. These findings highlight a novel link between religiosity and social conformity, and hold implications for prominent theories about the psychological functions of religion.
...
A defining feature of religiosity is that propositions about the nature of reality are accepted on faith (i.e. in the absence of empirical data). Thus, the transmission of religious doctrines likely occurs through mechanisms other than the personal examination of available evidence. An important clue about the factors that promote religiosity involves recognizing that the vast majority of religious individuals adopt the faith of their specific communities and social networks (e.g. families), quite often from childhood (Dawkins, 2016). This raises the possibility that religiosity is supported through conformity to the norms of one’s social networks. If this is true, then a reduced general sensitivity to social conformity could decrease individuals’ proclivity towards religion.

Social psychologists have long understood that individuals adopt the beliefs and behaviors of the surrounding group (Sherif, 1936; Asch, 1951). Conformity has been shown in a broad range of domains, including perceptual decisions (Moscovici et al., 1969), moral judgments (Kundu and Cummins, 2013), and bodily postures and facial expressions (Chartrand and Bargh, 1999). Conforming to the group appears to be intrinsically rewarding as it engages reward-related neural circuitry, particularly the striatum (Klucharev et al., 2009; Mason et al., 2009; Stallen et al., 2013). Indeed, the tendency to conform may be a fundamental human motive arising from evolutionary pressures that favored social learning (Henrich and Boyd, 1998; Henrich and McElreath, 2003).
...
One key question about social conformity is whether conformity pressures merely lead individuals to alter what they say they think or believe, or whether they produce a true change in private judgments (Cialdini and Goldstein, 2004). Researchers have held that such changes can arise from distinct motives to conform: individuals may simply alter their outward behavior to be liked by others (normative conformity), or alter their private judgments to incorporate valued information provided by others (informational conformity). Recent neuroimaging research supports this distinction as well.
...
These findings demonstrate for the first time a link between religiosity and social conformity....Our findings attest to this: among non-religious participants, peer-influences altered self-reported ratings but did not affect LPP responses. A plausible interpretation of this finding is that, among non-religious individuals, conformity pressures modified outward responses but not private appraisals of facial attractiveness. In contrast, religious individuals yielded to conformity pressures in both their outward responses and private appraisals.

As several authors have posited (Cialdini and Goldstein, 2004; Zaki et al., 2011), these two types of conformity may reflect different motivations: individuals may wish to avoid social exclusion and thus alter their outward responses to simply appear consistent with the group (normative conformity); alternatively, they may want to use social input to inform their judgments of the world, and modify their actual private appraisals accordingly (informational conformity). A plausible interpretation of our findings then is that both groups displayed sensitivity to normative conformity, but that non-religious individuals were unaffected by informational conformity.
In a nut, both of these studies demonstrate that humans, as a species are highly susceptible to group conformity, so much so that a disturbingly large percentage of people will actually deny their own judgement of reality in favor of supporting the majority opinion. And that’s just a baseline component, without the notion of this psychological phenomenon being manipulated in any way.

What the second study demonstrates, then, is that such effects are evidently amplified by cult indoctrination and—more importantly to the discussion—decreased in regard to “non-religious individuals” specifically as it relates to informational conformity; one’s own “private appraisals” (aka, one’s own critical thinking abilities).

Iow, empirical evidence of exaclty what I have been arguing; that destroying/altering a child’s ability to critically (privately) appraise reality is the root of all manner of harms later in life—of man’s inhumanity to man, either inflicted by the individual or by the group that the individual conforms to and thereby permissions directly or indirectly—and therefore constitutes one of the worst forms of child abuse (i.e., psychological/cognitive/emotional abuse).

Rape (incestuous or non) is unquestionably bad for the individual; rape culture and its component conformity by the majority—in spite of that same majority’s alleged high moral code—is arguably worse for not just the individual raped but for the society as a whole, as it not only contributes to the trauma of the survivor, it protects the predator and even allows the predator to force conformity to their sociopathy. That is precisely the psychological foundation of rape culture that we are currently dealing with for the first time in the #metoo movement. It hides and even permissions rapists ffs.

In the original experiment by Asch, he found 75% of the test subjects denied their own “private appraisal” abilities in favor of the group lie at least once. 75%! And that was in regard to something completely trivial (the length of a line on a card) among college educated men. And since it was conducted in the fifties and the men were all white, it’s a safe bet (though I could find no control for this factor) that most of the test subjects were also religious.

Add in the findings of the second study and you have a clear empirical demonstration of just one aspect of the harms of cult indoctrination that are clearly delineated between the religiously indoctrinated and those that were not.

In short, cult members have a higher propensity to conform to and support a lie—in direct contradiction to their own abilities to discern otherwise—than non cult members and specifically as it relates to their own “private appraisals” (i.e., critical thinking). The only variable causing this is the effect of their cult indoctrination.
Last edited by Koyaanisqatsi on Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:01 pm, edited 8 times in total.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:52 pm

Here, too, are relevant points—if indirectly—from The sad, twisted truth about conservative Christianity’s effect on the mind:
To understand the power of religion, it is helpful to understand a bit about the structure of the human mind. Much of our mental activity has little to do with rationality and is utterly inaccessible to the conscious mind. The preferences, intentions and decisions that shape our lives are in turn shaped by memories and associations that can get laid down before we even develop the capacity for rational analysis.

Aspects of cognition like these determine how we go through life, what causes us distress, which goals we pursue and which we abandon, how we respond to failure, how we respond when other people hurt us—and how we respond when we hurt them. Religion derives its power in large part because it shapes these unconscious processes: the frames, metaphors, intuitions and emotions that operate before we even have a chance at conscious thought.
...
Because the child’s mind is uniquely susceptible to religious ideas, religious indoctrination particularly targets vulnerable young children. Cognitive development before age seven lacks abstract reasoning. Thinking is magical and primitive, black and white. Also, young humans are wired to obey authority because they are dependent on their caregivers just for survival. Much of their brain growth and development has to happen after birth, which means that children are extremely vulnerable to environmental influences in the first few years when neuronal pathways are formed.

By age five a child’s brain can understand primitive cause-and-effect logic and picture situations that are not present. Children at this have a tenuous grip on reality. They often have imaginary friends; dreams are quite real; and fantasy blurs with the mundane. To a child this age, it is eminently possible that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole and delivers presents if you are good and that 2000 years ago a man died a horrible death because you are naughty. Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, the Rapture, and hell, all can be quite real. The problem is that many of these teachings are terrifying.

For many years, one conversion technique targeting children and adolescents has been the use of movies about the “End Times.” This means a “Rapture” event, when real Christians are taken up to heaven leaving the earth to “Tribulation,” a terrifying time when an evil Antichrist will reign and the world will descend into anarchy.

When assaulted with such images and ideas at a young age, a child has no chance of emotional self-defense. Christian teachings that sound truewhen they are embedded in the child’s mind at this tender age can feel true for a lifetime. Even decades later former believers who intellectually reject these ideas can feel intense fear or shame when their unconscious mind is triggered.

Harms Range From Mild to Catastrophic. One requirement for success as a sincere Christian is to find a way to believe that which would be unbelievable under normal rules of evidence and inquiry. Christianity contains concepts that help to safeguard belief, such as limiting outside information, practicing thought control, and self-denigration; but for some people the emotional numbing and intellectual suicide just isn’t enough. In other words, for a significant number of children in Christian families, the religion just doesn’t “take.” This can trigger guilt, conflict, and ultimately rejection or abandonment.

Others experience the threats and fear too keenly. For them, childhood can be torturous, and they may carry injuries into adulthood.

Still others are able to sincerely devote themselves to the faith as children but confront problems when they mature. They wrestle with factual and moral contradictions in the Bible and the church, or discover surprising alternatives. This can feel confusing and terrifying - like the whole world is falling apart.

Delayed Development and Life Skills. Many Christian parents seek to insulate their children from “worldly” influences. In the extreme, this can mean not only home schooling, but cutting off media, not allowing non-Christian friends, avoiding secular activities like plays or clubs, and spending time at church instead. Children miss out on crucial information– science, culture, history, reproductive health and more. When they grow older and leave such a sheltered environment, adjusting to the secular world can be like immigrating to a new culture. One of the biggest areas of challenge is delayed social development.

Religious Trauma Syndrome. Today, in the field of mental health, the only religious diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is “Religious or Spiritual Problem.” This is merely a supplemental code (V Code) to assist in describing an underlying pathology. Unofficially, “scrupulosity,” is the term for obsessive-compulsive symptoms centered around religious themes such as blasphemy, unforgivable sin, and damnation. While each of these diagnoses has a place, neither covers the wide range of harms induced by religion.

Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a new term, coined by Marlene Winell to name a recognizable set of symptoms experienced as a result of prolonged exposure to a toxic religious environment and/or the trauma of leaving the religion. It is akin to Complex PTSD, which is defined as ‘a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim’.

Though related to other kinds of chronic trauma, religious trauma is uniquely mind-twisting. The logic of the religion is circular and blames the victim for problems; the system demands deference to spiritual authorities no matter what they do; and the larger society may not identify a problem or intervene as in cases of physical or sexual abuse, even though the same symptoms of depression and anxiety and panic attacks can occur.
...
Why Harm Goes Unrecognized. What is the sum cost of having millions of people holding to a misogynist, authoritarian, fear-based supernatural view of the universe? The consequences far-reaching, even global, but many are hidden, for two reasons.

One is the nature of the trauma itself. Unlike other harm, such as physical beating or sexual abuse, the injury is far from obvious to the victim, who has been taught to self-blame. It’s as if a person black and blue from a caning were to think it was self-inflicted.

The second reason that religious harm goes unrecognized is that Christianity is still the cultural backdrop for the indoctrination. While the larger society may not be fundamentalist, references to God and faith abound. The Bible gets used to swear in witnesses and even the U.S. president. Common phrases are “God willing,” “God bless,” “God helps those that help themselves,” “In God we trust,” and so forth. These lend credence to theistic authority.

Religious trauma is difficult to see because it is camouflaged by the respectability of religion in culture. To date, parents are afforded the right to teach their own children whatever doctrines they like, no matter how heinous, degrading, or mentally unhealthy. Even helping professionals largely perceive Christianity as benign. This will need to change for treatment methods to be developed and people to get help that allows them to truly reclaim their lives.
Here’s more on Religious Trauma Syndrome for anyone interested.
Last edited by Koyaanisqatsi on Sat Jan 27, 2018 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Jackrabbit
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Post by Jackrabbit » Sat Jan 27, 2018 8:55 pm

[quote=""Koyaanisqatsi""]
Delayed Development and Life Skills. Many Christian parents seek to insulate their children from “worldly” influences. In the extreme, this can mean not only home schooling, but cutting off media, not allowing non-Christian friends, avoiding secular activities like plays or clubs, and spending time at church instead. Children miss out on crucial information– science, culture, history, reproductive health and more. When they grow older and leave such a sheltered environment, adjusting to the secular world can be like immigrating to a new culture. One of the biggest areas of challenge is delayed social development.
[/quote]
Mine wasn't quite this bad. I got to watch the Beverly Hillbillies and read a lot of science fiction. But on the delayed social development...I was forced to go to a biblebanger high school and therefore didn't know any normal females, so I didn't know how to relate to them. The result was that I didn't kiss a girl until I was 27 years old, and didn't have non-paid sex until 30. My brother fared a little better, got married years before me despite being four years younger, but he told me later that it had been hard for him too.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:19 pm

And while such experiences (much like sohy’s and others) may seem comparatively benign in some people’s opinion—at least in comparison to something like incestuous rape as I have been on about—they do illustrate the fact that cult indoctrination inflicts serious psychological/emotional harms.

For you, not having kissed a woman until you were 27 and having to go to prostitutes for decades before ever having mutually dersired sex was, I’m sure, traumatizing in many various ways. Now just imagine someone a notch or too more unstable than you in the same situation. It’s not a giant leap to see how such a person could turn all of that dysfunction and frustration into anger and instead of seeking mutually desired physical interraction or prostitutes, seeking the release of violent aggression. Iow, raping.

And yes, of course, there are all manner of experiences a person goes through in life that molds them and they act out against (i.e., anyone loading up a tu quoque fallacy), but this is something that absolutley does not need to be inflicted. No one needs to be indoctrinated into a cult the second they are born and certainly not throughout their childhood/formative years.

If you want to offer courses in college and/or books in a bookstore or library for people to find on their own, great. Ritualized indoctrination, however that openly and purposefully targets children and is intended to last their entire lives? Well, let’s put it this way; if the harms were not as subtle—not as psychologically, emotionally damaging—and were instead more immediate and vocal, like torture, let’s say; if every Sunday the harms being inflicted in church could be heard in screams not songs, or every time a parent proselytizes the children ran in terror, we’d be shutting this shit down (hopefully) within months if not days.

Just because certain psychological harms are more subtle and do not have obvious outward signs, however does not in any way mean they don’t exist or they are not torturous.

And it’s important to point out that there are at least two avenues to harm here; one is the more intangible and perhaps abstract harm of destroying an individual’s critical thinking abilities (their “private appraisal” capacity). It is deeper and a more fundamental harm—the first unforgiveable sin—because it can actually wire a child’s brain permanently in the vast majority of cases (billions of people, no less, over the centuries).

This is what I believe is the most serious, of course and lays the groundwork for man’s inhumanity to man in a myriad of different ways and means.

The other is the more direct, tangible harms of Religious Trauma Syndrome (i.e., harms of seclusion and stunted social growth when children finally confront secular society or are otherwise exposed to anything other than the cult programming). No less insidious and equally unnecessary.
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Post by Roo St. Gallus » Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:22 pm

And, a 'cultist' is someone who fervently believes something you don't?
IF YOU'RE NOT OUTRAGED, YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!

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Post by Politesse » Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:35 pm

[quote=""Roo St. Gallus""]And, a 'cultist' is someone who fervently believes something you don't?[/quote]

It's the other way round; people who believe in God are all "cultists".
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Jobar
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Post by Jobar » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:41 am

I'm reminded of something I quoted in post #367 in this thread-
In exchange for obedience, Christianity promises salvation in an afterlife; but in order to elicit obedience through this promise, Christianity must convince men that they need salvation, that there is something to be "saved" from. Christianity has nothing to offer a happy man living in a natural, intelligible universe. If Christianity is to gain a motivational foothold, it must declare war on Earthly pleasure and happiness, and this, historically, has been its precise course of action. In the eyes of Christianity, man is sinful and helpless in the fact of God, and is potential fuel for the flames of Hell. Just as Christianity must destroy reason before it can introduce faith, so it must destroy happiness before it can introduce salvation.
...

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that Christianity has a vested interest in human misery. This central theme manifests itself again and again in Christian doctrines, and most Christian doctrines are unintelligible unless viewed in this context. The spectacular success of Christianity has been a topic of heated debate among scholars, and it is certainly true that definite historical factors influenced that success. I suggest, however, that much of Christianity's success can be accounted for in another way: Christianity, perhaps more than any religion before or since, capitalized on human suffering; and it was enormously successful in insuring its own existence through the perpetuation of human suffering.
...

Since the foremost aim of Christian ethics, psychologically speaking, is to cultivate a mentality of obedience, Christian ethics, to the extent that one adopts it, will cause and contribute to a variety of psychological problems. It encourages intellectual passivity, fear that one's thoughts and emotions may be sinful, guilt at the thought of sexual assertiveness, and the pervading feeling that one is basically helpless, unimportant and evil.
That's from G.H. Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God. In fact, Sohy gave me the book, and I expect she agrees with all that.

But we can't impose an authoritarian solution to this monstrous problem- not least because the authorities in most English speaking countries are Christians themselves. And even if such was not the case, I don't think any attempt, by even the most enlightened secular government, could succeed in some massive re-education program, tearing children away from parents who are not physically abusing their kids- no matter how great the psychological abuse the parents are guilty of.

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Post by Roo St. Gallus » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:43 am

[quote=""Politesse""]
Roo St. Gallus;683232 wrote:And, a 'cultist' is someone who fervently believes something you don't?
It's the other way round; people who believe in God are all "cultists".[/QUOTE]

You don't believe that though, do you?
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Post by Politesse » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:02 am

[quote=""Roo St. Gallus""]
Politesse;683235 wrote:
Roo St. Gallus;683232 wrote:And, a 'cultist' is someone who fervently believes something you don't?
It's the other way round; people who believe in God are all "cultists".
You don't believe that though, do you?[/QUOTE]

Of course not. But to Koy, that just proves how deeply ingrained my cult programming is. My defense of my programming is reflective, instinctual... brainwashed into my cortex! I have been the victim of a massive global conspiracy since I was a child, and only brilliant lone wolves like Koy can see through to the truth and save us all from ourselves. :rolling:
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Post by Jackrabbit » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:23 am

Here's a dictionary definition I found for cult:
a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister
I have always said that the only difference between a cult and a religion is the number of members. I've said that for decades.

I consider all religious beliefs and practices to be strange and sinister.

Relative to religion, I am an other.

Therefore I am somewhat amazed how well my statement works with that definition.
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Jobar
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Post by Jobar » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:51 am

What do you see as the difference between religion that causes trauma and religion that doesn’t?

Winell: Religion causes trauma when it is highly controlling and prevents people from thinking for themselves and trusting their own feelings. Groups that demand obedience and conformity produce fear, not love and growth. With constant judgment of self and others, people become alienated from themselves, each other, and the world. Religion in its worst forms causes separation.

Conversely, groups that connect people and promote self-knowledge and personal growth can be said to be healthy. The book, Healthy Religion, describes these traits. Such groups put high value on respecting differences, and members feel empowered as individuals. They provide social support, a place for events and rites of passage, exchange of ideas, inspiration, opportunities for service, and connection to social causes. They encourage spiritual practices that promote health like meditation or principles for living like the golden rule. More and more, nontheists are asking how they can create similar spiritual communities without the supernaturalism. An atheist congregation in London launched this year and has received over 200 inquiries from people wanting to replicate their model.


From https://valerietarico.com/2013/03/26/re ... s-it-real/.

I'm willing to accept that it's possible to have religions which don't cause the social and individual traumas we see so often. But I strongly suspect that Stevie Wonder was right when he sang
When you believe in things
That you don't understand
Then you suffer!
Superstition ain't the way.

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Post by Jobar » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:14 am

On a more positive note concerning the quandary we're discussing-

https://www.christianpost.com/news/gen- ... ds-214856/
Teenagers today are the most non-Christian generation in American history as only four out of 100 teens hold a true biblical worldview and one out of every eight teens identify as non-heterosexual, a new survey released by one of the nation's leading evangelical polling firms has found.

The Barna Group announced Tuesday the findings from its new research project, "Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation," sponsored by the Georgia-based Impact 360 Institute.

Barna's research discovered that more teens today who are part of Generation Z (born from 1999 to 2015) identify themselves as agnostic, atheist or not religiously affiliated.

The study indicates that 35 percent of Generation Z teens considered themselves to be atheist, agnostic or not affiliated with any religion. By comparison, only 30 percent of millenials, 30 percent of Generation X and 26 percent of Baby Boomers said the same.

The study shows that almost twice as many teens in Generation Z (13 percent) claimed to be atheist than millenials (7 percent).

"Gen Z is different because they have grown up in a post-Christian, post-modern environment where many of them have not even been exposed to Christianity or to church. So that is a really unique shift," Brooke Hempell, Barna's senior vice president of research, said during the survey's rollout event at Grace Midtown Church in Atlanta.

"There are a lot of churches that are empty in this country. Gen Z is the one who is really showing the fruit of that. There are many of them [who] are a spiritual blank slate. For the first time in our nation's history, that is more and more common."
So we might hope that the problem gets solved from the bottom up, rather than the top down.

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Post by Roo St. Gallus » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:51 am

[quote=""Politesse""]
Roo St. Gallus;683250 wrote:
Politesse;683235 wrote:
Roo St. Gallus;683232 wrote:And, a 'cultist' is someone who fervently believes something you don't?
It's the other way round; people who believe in God are all "cultists".
You don't believe that though, do you?
Of course not. But to Koy, that just proves how deeply ingrained my cult programming is. My defense of my programming is reflective, instinctual... brainwashed into my cortex! I have been the victim of a massive global conspiracy since I was a child, and only brilliant lone wolves like Koy can see through to the truth and save us all from ourselves. :rolling: [/QUOTE]

You mean like all the subjects of public school education? They too, have been subjected to extended cultural indoctrination which could certainly be called an attempt to inculcate unreflective, instinctual responses in its subjects through persistent propaganda. I'm attempting to suss out the distinction Koy wants us to make.
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Post by Jackrabbit » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:46 am

[quote=""Roo St. Gallus""]
Politesse;683251 wrote:
Roo St. Gallus;683250 wrote:
Politesse;683235 wrote:
It's the other way round; people who believe in God are all "cultists".
You don't believe that though, do you?
Of course not. But to Koy, that just proves how deeply ingrained my cult programming is. My defense of my programming is reflective, instinctual... brainwashed into my cortex! I have been the victim of a massive global conspiracy since I was a child, and only brilliant lone wolves like Koy can see through to the truth and save us all from ourselves. :rolling:
You mean like all the subjects of public school education? They too, have been subjected to extended cultural indoctrination which could certainly be called an attempt to inculcate unreflective, instinctual responses in its subjects through persistent propaganda. I'm attempting to suss out the distinction Koy wants us to make.[/QUOTE]
Claims of a supernatural, infallible, unquestionable source for religious shit versus just ordinary fallible humans in public school education? Threats of eternal torment for disobedience vs. getting sent to the principal's office?
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Post by Hermit » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:38 am

Secular schools can be just as deleterious to the mind of a growing child than any other institutions that indoctrinate. They can be crippling too.

On average, religious brainwashing is probably more consistently done and more severe, but the situation is not black and white. Not all religious indoctrination is anything like Jesus Camp.

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:54 pm

[quote=""Jobar""]I'm reminded of something I quoted in post #367 in this thread-
In exchange for obedience, Christianity promises salvation in an afterlife; but in order to elicit obedience through this promise, Christianity must convince men that they need salvation, that there is something to be "saved" from. Christianity has nothing to offer a happy man living in a natural, intelligible universe. If Christianity is to gain a motivational foothold, it must declare war on Earthly pleasure and happiness, and this, historically, has been its precise course of action. In the eyes of Christianity, man is sinful and helpless in the fact of God, and is potential fuel for the flames of Hell. Just as Christianity must destroy reason before it can introduce faith, so it must destroy happiness before it can introduce salvation.
...

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that Christianity has a vested interest in human misery. This central theme manifests itself again and again in Christian doctrines, and most Christian doctrines are unintelligible unless viewed in this context. The spectacular success of Christianity has been a topic of heated debate among scholars, and it is certainly true that definite historical factors influenced that success. I suggest, however, that much of Christianity's success can be accounted for in another way: Christianity, perhaps more than any religion before or since, capitalized on human suffering; and it was enormously successful in insuring its own existence through the perpetuation of human suffering.
...

Since the foremost aim of Christian ethics, psychologically speaking, is to cultivate a mentality of obedience, Christian ethics, to the extent that one adopts it, will cause and contribute to a variety of psychological problems. It encourages intellectual passivity, fear that one's thoughts and emotions may be sinful, guilt at the thought of sexual assertiveness, and the pervading feeling that one is basically helpless, unimportant and evil.
That's from G.H. Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God. In fact, Sohy gave me the book, and I expect she agrees with all that.

But we can't impose an authoritarian solution to this monstrous problem- not least because the authorities in most English speaking countries are Christians themselves.[/quote]

Indeed.
And even if such was not the case, I don't think any attempt, by even the most enlightened secular government, could succeed in some massive re-education program, tearing children away from parents
Again, two separate issue that do not necessarily coincide.

As I keep pointing out, cult indoctrination/brainwashing is a psychological/emotional form of child abuse and because (as you noted) most in power are cult members themselves, specially protected. At least in America we have the embedded idea of cult and state being separate to help us in the education program (we need to first start with an education program before we can get to a “re-education” one for deprogramming).

The struggle to keep cults out of our schools is an ongoing one as everyone here is well aware of. And I think a good argument can be made (and your subsequent post supports it) that there has been notable success in the “West” in regard to recent generations finally rejecting cults and cult programming precisely because of an education program of sorts, having a lot to do with the internet and sites like IIDB and the so-called “new atheists” getting the word out combined with the backlash against anti-science and anti-alternative lifestyles and rise of fundamentalist terrorism (both domestic and abroad), etc., that we’ve seen of late.

All of which shares the same commonality; for the first time in human history a significantly larger percentage of people are speaking out against the cults in numbers too big to ignore or, more importantly, suppress. That and the ridiculous “new age” type reformations that have progressively dominated the “West” since the seventies (if not sixties) that are really just rungs on the ladder of deprogramming. Hence the stark relief of fundamentalism—hopefully in its death throes—desperately trying to claw back adherents by escalating their extremism (e.g., Westboro Baptists).

IOW, you’re absolutely right that it takes—first and foremost—a “re-education program,” but that’s exactly what has already been occurring over the past few decades. And part of that continuing progress should be (imo) using the proper labels, e.g., “cult” for “religion” and properly categorizing cult indoctrination as a form of psychological child abuse and the like.

Calling these specially protected institutions what they really are is an important next step in this ongoing destruction of cult dominance over society. Just like slave owners in the South would only publicly refer to slavery as their “peculiar institution” and seeing right now how the POTUS uses false and misleading labels like “fake news” to hide his own crimes should tell us exactly how feared and important proper labels—that accurately reflect what is being hidden—truly are.

There is a long history of cult apologists deliberately twisting words (labels) such as these in order to obfuscate the true nature of their cults. This is no different.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:16 pm

[quote=""Jobar""]
What do you see as the difference between religion that causes trauma and religion that doesn’t?

Winell: Religion causes trauma when it is highly controlling and prevents people from thinking for themselves and trusting their own feelings. Groups that demand obedience and conformity produce fear, not love and growth. With constant judgment of self and others, people become alienated from themselves, each other, and the world. Religion in its worst forms causes separation.

Conversely, groups that connect people and promote self-knowledge and personal growth can be said to be healthy. The book, Healthy Religion, describes these traits. Such groups put high value on respecting differences, and members feel empowered as individuals. They provide social support, a place for events and rites of passage, exchange of ideas, inspiration, opportunities for service, and connection to social causes. They encourage spiritual practices that promote health like meditation or principles for living like the golden rule. More and more, nontheists are asking how they can create similar spiritual communities without the supernaturalism. An atheist congregation in London launched this year and has received over 200 inquiries from people wanting to replicate their model.
From https://valerietarico.com/2013/03/26/re ... s-it-real/.

I'm willing to accept that it's possible to have religions which don't cause the social and individual traumas we see so often. But I strongly suspect that Stevie Wonder was right when he sang
When you believe in things
That you don't understand
Then you suffer!
Superstition ain't the way.
[/quote]

Which is why I noted that there are (at least) two avenues of harm. One is the deeper programming; the destruction of critical thinking in exchange for “magical thinking.” This is the foundation of most world cults; the destruction of the individual, basically. It’s similiar to the way militaries destroy individuals in order to essentially reprogram them into soldiers, only the military uses physical stressors—exhaustion, primarily—in combination with psychological stressors in an intensive short term method (aka, “boot camp&#8221 ;) .

Cults have done the same, only the process is longer and more subtle and has a much greater success rate. A soldier is programmed for relatively short duration control (e.g., six month rotations/deployments). They’re expendable pawns, iow, for the most part. Those with more value are subjected to longer term programming (aka, “officer school&#8221 ;) .

Cults target for life and they begin with this same technique; destroy the individual in favor of the cult and to do that they have to destroy/alter the individual’s ability to critically assess their situation; to know—for themselves—what is true and what is not. Hence “faith” and belief through authoritarianism (parents; community; cult leaders; etc) and believing—in spite of the evidence against—that magic is real, etc.

The other avenue of harm is the more tangible one; the harms of Religious Trauma Syndrome and the like noted earlier.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:18 pm

[quote=""Jackrabbit""]
Roo St. Gallus;683257 wrote:
Politesse;683251 wrote:
Roo St. Gallus;683250 wrote:
You don't believe that though, do you?
Of course not. But to Koy, that just proves how deeply ingrained my cult programming is. My defense of my programming is reflective, instinctual... brainwashed into my cortex! I have been the victim of a massive global conspiracy since I was a child, and only brilliant lone wolves like Koy can see through to the truth and save us all from ourselves. :rolling:
You mean like all the subjects of public school education? They too, have been subjected to extended cultural indoctrination which could certainly be called an attempt to inculcate unreflective, instinctual responses in its subjects through persistent propaganda. I'm attempting to suss out the distinction Koy wants us to make.
Claims of a supernatural, infallible, unquestionable source for religious shit versus just ordinary fallible humans in public school education? Threats of eternal torment for disobedience vs. getting sent to the principal's office?[/QUOTE]

Aka, “false equivalence.” It’s a woefully often used fallacy around here, but it does show close to the bone.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:21 pm

[quote=""Hermit""]Secular schools can be just as deleterious to the mind of a growing child than any other institutions that indoctrinate. They can be crippling too.[/quote]

Tu quoque, but agreed in part (though the motivation/intent and techniques are markedly dissimilar). You’d need to support the “just as deleterious to the mind” equivalence. Secular schools may teach a certain historical narrative, for example, with the desire that the majority of students learn one particular version of a country’s history (or a cult’s history for that matter), like the still repeated falsehood that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America or the like.

I don’t see how that is on par, however, in the “deleterious to the mind of a growing child” sense and the harms that result from it as cult programming (i.e., destroying a child’s “private appraisal” capacity for critical thinking in regard to the nature of reality/existence/etc). One institution is teaching false history out of laziness on the part of the teacher, more often than not, but sometimes out of an “official” restraint at the State level; the other is systematically and deliberately destroying a child’s ability to independently assess reality.

Iow, one is teaching a lie, the other is destroying the ability to discern lies. While I agree that neither should be acceptable, I don’t see how they are equally deleterious.
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Post by Jackrabbit » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:50 pm

[quote=""Jackrabbit""]Here's a dictionary definition I found for cult:
a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister
I have always said that the only difference between a cult and a religion is the number of members. I've said that for decades.

I consider all religious beliefs and practices to be strange and sinister.

Relative to religion, I am an other.

Therefore I am somewhat amazed how well my statement works with that definition.[/quote]
Also, forgot to mention: the primary reason we are being asked not to use the word "cult" is to avoid upsetting those who are in the cult. Which would also apply to those in "traditional" cults, i.e. those that everybody thinks are cults.

By that logic, we shouldn't call anything a cult and the word should be stricken from the language.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:01 pm

Which is exactly what cult members would want, of course. I’ve heard it many many times over the years (and from pretty much the exact same members, too).

My response is pretty much the same as well. If you don’t like being in a cult, you should get out. But of course calling it what it is just triggers their cult programming and it becomes a whole series of denials and flurries of righteous indignation and blah blah blah. Same old, same old.
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