Agnostic.com

29 7

Unbelievers. Are there any moral flaws in Jesus?

Unbelievers. Are there any moral flaws in Jesus?

I can understand how unbelieving works. Unbelievers see people who do believe in a supernatural fiction, --- whom believers must emulate and obey. Believers must believe what is told to them by proxies. Proxies that the bible tells us are likely not accurate.

Gnostic Christians knew that the reality of a supernatural God can never be proven, --- without one popping up. We also recognized that one God popping up would be a proof of concept for the many Gods theories that Gnostics favored.

In other words, debating the reality of God or Gods of a supernatural type was a waste of time, and that his moral fibre should be where we put our debate and arguing skill.

Moral arguments can have an end game, --- where people learn how to live better, --- instead of learning about a supernatural God that we can never emulate or believe in.

I think that is how an atheist thinks like, from my own past.

From a moral view, with open minds, Gnostic Christians found moral flaws in Yahweh. Those same flaws, to some extent, were put into the Roman Jesus. Not so for the Gnostic Jesus.

This question is more for the unbelievers because I expect less bias from those who do not expect Armageddon.

Regards
DL

Greatest 5 Mar 9
Share

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account

29 comments

Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.

0

I think I'll wait and see. There might be more stories made up, yet to come about the guy. Who knows? The swirling bullshit never ends !

twill Level 7 Mar 11, 2022
17

The morals of fictional characters are irrelevant.

14

The question does not seem to be very clearly put, since you list at least five Jesus persons: the biblical, the Roman, the Gnostic, the one who is identical to Yahweh and the possible original one behind the myth. Does the question in the first line refer to all of them, or only one ?

As to the biblical Jesus of the textual account, which is the one which interests me the most, I would say yes, quite a few moral flaws: the promotion of racism, (It is better to give food to dogs, etc.) the promotion of belief in inherited original sin, the promotion of the idea of making no investment because of the immediate world ending, the idea of thought crime (Thinking of adultery is committing it.) the promotion of violence ( Cleansing the temple.) and several others.

Do I think that on balance the Jesus of the text was more morally good than bad, especially in the effects of his legacy on the following ages ? Yes, in the later Roman empire, the dark ages an the middle ages, perhaps, after that, into modern times, perhaps not, and into the future almost certainly not.

Above is an example of why I follow the FernApple.

@Garban Thank you, I hope you will not be disappointed.

Apt and salient points!

@Garban Yup, that dude is brilliant.

@Garban same 🙌

"Do I think that on balance the Jesus of the text was more morally good than bad, "

How do you get more good than bad, when Jesus will return to use Armageddon and yet another genocide against man?

Regards
DL

@Greatest I was thinking more of his effects on the morality of others, but thank you for reminding me that the original post was about his personal morality, which was without a doubt appalling. Though it has to be said of course that Armageddon etc. is not part of the Jesus of the Gospels, but that only comes later in the theology of later Christians and the Apocryphal books.

10

Debating whether Jesus had any moral flaws is beside the point. Don't get me wrong; Jesus is alright with me. But if he ever existed, he's been dead for over two thousand years. So-called Christian's, however, continue to plague us with their militant sanctimony, their "I know better than you" hubris, and their rank hypocrisy. So instead of arguing about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, let's talk about how we can purge superstition from the human psyche.

Stays show that 94% of us think in a material dualism way. A body/soul/spirit way.

What can be done when we are basically programmed to think as we do by nature?

Look up the Princess Alice experiments to see the depth of our programming.

What will you use, other than education, to change our instincts?

JUST SO YOU KNOW.
MODERNIZATION IS ALREADY KILLING STUPID SUPERNATURAL BELIEFS.

Regards
DL

@Greatest
Education is basically it. Flogging doesn't seem to work 🤣

10

Now that's the great thing about fictional characters, they can be exactly as flawed as you need them to be.

8

Jesus that you read in the Bible is an amalgamation NOT a person. He was fabricated in the first century as propaganda. Much like Robin Hood, King Arthur, and The 3 Bears. Fictional characters can have whatever morality traits the reader wants to assign.

A morality story told to promote an immoral agenda.

I really like the three bears...lets hear some three bears stories ok?

4th. Century in fact, somewhere between the years of 325 and 326-327 C.E. by the members of the Council of Nicaea.
There have been numerous tomes written by quite a number of Non Religion following Scholars regarding the entire story of the invention of the bible, the Jesus myth, the Apostles, etc, etc, and all based completely upon proven to be factual historical documentations FROM the 3 Councils of Nicaea as well.

@Triphid the 4 gospels are attributed to 80 to 120CE by the biblical scholars from my recollection. I concur with your dates for the canonization of the Bible however.

@creative51 I've got one: There once was a family consisting of three bears. Dad, and mom (of course), and a son on his eighteenth birthday. They were aristocrats, you see, and therefore may be inappropriate for this discussion. Funny but inappropriate.

@Garban And YOU choose to believe these Biblical Scholars do you, I hope not for your sake.
The entire so-called " New Testament PLUS sections of the Old Testament were composed, debated, re-composed , etc, etc, at the 3 , THREE, Councils of Nicaea chaired, so to speak, by none other than Emperor Constantine himself.
My one enquire as to whether or NOT they actually have LIBRARIES in Florida and IF they are open to all U.S. citizens?

@Triphid are you ok?

@Garban No, I'm from Australia...LOL. Of course I am okay,
Why are you asking?
It is , perhaps, because YOU doubt the veracity of my comments and sources?
Well, before you go ANY further may I suggest that you RESEARCH what these letters that I am PERFECTLY, BY LAW, PERMITTED, should I so desire to PLACE After my name, ThD.
Now WHEN and IF you have done so, then PLEASE get back to me.

@Garban Not usually. I'm often bearly tolerable!

@rainmanjr Oh yes ...The Aristocrates! Of Course!

@Triphid I’m asking because you’re recovering from what sounded like a serious condition. Is your medication causing your hostility, to me and skado? However, I do value your opinions.

@rainmanjr Do you not see Triphid response? Not for you.😜

@Garban No "hostility" towards you what-so-ever and NONE of it has ANYTHING to do with recent, as now diagnosed, T.I.A.
I do, however appear to get somewhat annoyed when I see people, either by lack of actual knowledge OR deliberately, making grave errors with things that are historical facts.
Ergo, I offer my apologies should I have or do in future cause you any distress, etc, in my manner of TRYING to correct any perceived errors.
As to @ skado, well that is a horse of a very different colour as I see it.

@creative51 I think there's only two: the one with the cunt who steals their food and squats in their home, and the one where Republicans made it legal to kill them while they are hibernating.

@Triphid I equate religious stories to a parent mixing a sweetener in bitter medicine to get a child to swallow it. A lot of made up stuff sprinkled with a few reasonable things to get control for the benefit of the "leader" of the time. What is know today a "political speak and bait and switch".

@Triphid after looking I find over whelming evidence to support my statement “He was fabricated in the first century as propaganda.” The ranges I find for the original 4 gospels are from 66 to 110CE. I never disputed your dates for the canonization of the Bible.
Given your preoccupation with assigning the intellectual capacity of people based upon their geographical location and the lack of letters after their name perhaps you’ve taken on the mantle of fact checker without actually reading what I actually stated?

@Betty The first time ever my nephew, Henry, ever got in to trouble was when he was 4 and 1/2 years old and was "attending the Pre-school Easter Pageant.
They did a supposed re-enactment of the mythical J,C. rising from the dead and amidst it all young Henry merely shouted out as loud as his little voice would allow him, "Bullshit" at the top of his lungs and then calmly sat back down.
And I always thought that I was an outspoken Atheist but Henry took the cake, the tray and the crumbs as well that day.

@Triphid How proud you must have been. Four and a half, so little yet so brave. 🙂

@Betty Always been proud of the little bloke ever since the day I first got to hold and give a bottle, and even when he burped and pucked the over-fill on the front of me as well.

7

Is not the concept of Jesus, in itself, a moral flaw?

It’s a flaw in critical thinking…because morality predates and is unrelated to belief in any and all gods, including the “son of God” Jesus.

Morality is a human evolutionary attribute, developed because our earliest ancestors found than unless we empathised and acted in accord as part of a unit or tribe we could not survive. Those who acted immorally and didn’t follow the code of the tribe were punished and either cast out or killed. That imperative to act morally to survive in society over time become an innate evolutionary trait and is why we know right from wrong instinctively without having to be taught it.

Our modern legal systems are based on that morality principle, but because religions, especially the Christian religion has assumed a monopoly on morality they claim that our laws are based on Christianity, when in fact they are predicated on human instincts and natural justice.

@Marionville Sing out, Sister! You win today's prize; my applause.

@rainmanjr Well, thank you kind sir!

6

Yes.

He disses his mother. He rejects his family.

He hates Samaritans.

He tells his followers that anybody not with him is against him.

He murders a fig tree because he's hungry for figs which are out of season.

He encourages his followers to not wash their hands before eating. Since he's God, he knows about germ theory, which means he's deliberately spreading disease.

Jesus is petty, paranoid and vengeful, just like his dad. Oh, wait. He IS his dad. So let's also give him credit for all the heinous shit perpetrated by Yahweh in the Old Testament.

That is a really good list, well done.

6

I don't know, but as far as I know, anyone who claims to be the the son of a supreme being is in a mental hospital (schizophrenia), leading a cult (sociopath), or just really arrogant (narcissism). 😁

We are all the children of a system larger than ourselves, are we not?

Or just stepped up to his spiritual destiny.

=========

Are you a God in waiting, or have you stepped up to your destiny?

If one is created in God’s image, as you and I are, and can know good and evil, as most of us do, then if you believe the scriptures, you have reached Godhood.

Gen3;22 Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil;
Note the “Us”.

Those foolish Christians who believe in the one supernatural God can never live their true naturalistic religion.

Those Christians can never be “Us”, as they see some major immoral sins as good. Homophobia and misogyny.

Unfortunately, they will never gain a Jesus consciousness or be elected to Christ.
Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

I find more Jesus consciousness in non-believers, than in the right-wing believers.
This is not to say that the right are not mostly good.

Most are not quite the best good, as they have let supernatural belief have them forget their predestined legacy.

Their single eye is closed.

Religiously speaking, if Christians are fearful of becoming Jesus like, it is no wonder that the only Christian denomination that does live his and her Christian religion, are Gnostic Christian.

Christian who are unaware of how he is supposed to interpret and live Christianity, should ask a Gnostic Christian.

What the inquisitors wrote into history to justify themselves, are mostly lies.

We died because we were the good Christians, who recognized our religious due and destiny.

We also died for naming the supernatural god, evil.

Jesus died for Gnostic Christians, not Constantine’s Christians.

As Jesus asked in the bible, have you forgotten that you are a God?

Step up to your destiny and single your eye.

The supernatural is killing our eco system.

Natural might be a lesser evil than un-natural supernatural.

Regards
DL

@skado

We are indeed parts of larger systems.

As Jesus said though, the Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath.

IOWs, we are to control the tribe and not let our tribes control us.

Politically speaking, we must have the leaders fear the people and not have things the opposite, as they are today.

Regards
DL

5

The only flaw here is your assumption that a dude that never existed can be or not be anything, except in a fictional world.

4

Wrong site

Not when an honest evaluation is sought.

Regards
DL

4

Xtians argue that Jesus was human, but if he were, he was subject to the same flaws/sins that humans are subject to. He said that to think of adultery/sex was to commit it. Jesus obviously understood the act of sex; when he considered it, did that not make him a fornicator? Even if he did not include himself in the act, isn't that like watching porn? If he thought about sex without getting aroused, then he was not human. If he got aroused, how could he not imagine having sex? That's also not human.

I would like to respond to your comment, but I have too many moral flaws to do so and not get myself into a whole lot of trouble.

@creative51 I have no morals. I am ethical most of the time, but not "moral."

Can a human even willingly control their thoughts anyway. It is in some ways, once more , about that boring old issue that the religious can not get over, free will. And even if there was such a thing as free will, it certainly stops at actions, and does not extend to thought.

@Fernapple agreed!

Good point.

Take it to Yahweh setting all sexual rules.

Having one who knows nothing of sex, set the rules for it, is the dumbest thing we could do.

Regards
DL

4

Will you people quit commenting on this turds posts. He is playing you, getting points and moving up levels, but he is still a turd. So quit now.

He said with his second consecutive comment. 😝

@JeffMurray I have moral flaws dude.

@creative51 Just fuckin' with you. I feel the exact same way though. Just this morning I wanted to propose everyone block a new super toxic member so they floated around with no one to talk to, except maybe the Trumpers.

3

Well whilst I don't accept the movement of the goal posts you're attempting there it's not that hard to state moral flaws in the character of Jesus. He seems to have some anger management issues for a start. Cursing fig trees throwing trantrums at the money changers at the temple. He even got angry at a leper that asked to be healed.

3

I'm so glad you asked. He promoted the concept of infinite punishment for finite crime, encouraged followers to abandon their families in pursuit of reward in an imaginary world which never came to be as he promised (Second Coming), upheld inhumane the laws of the Old Testament such as slavery, broke the 5th Commandment with his condescension toward his mother, and showed anger to those who would not listen to him. For a more detail examination of his flaws, I refer you to the video below which is an excerpt from Robert Ingersoll's ABOUT THE HOLY BIBLE, of the parts :
VIII. THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHRIST
IX. IS CHRIST OUR EXAMPLE?
X. WHY SHOULD WE PLACE CHRIST AT THE TOP AND SUMMIT OF THE HUMAN RACE?

Religious literalism is a misreading of mythology, whether theists or atheists do it. And they seem to do it in equal measure.

@skado Then the atheist is justified in doing so since he is responding to a prevailing understanding of religion on the theist's part, and the one which intrudes upon him to the most deleterious effect. And the metaphorical, shifting goalposts, tennis without a net approach, seems nothing but a frustrating time waste.

@Rossy92
I understand. From my perspective, it was the literalists who shifted the goal post.
Atheists are justified in rejecting what the literalists offer, but no more justified than them in assuming the literalist view was the original, authentic interpretation. Or in thinking literalism is synonymous with religion. No one is obligated to be interested, but I think there is a certain responsibility to recognize and acknowledge the whole truth.

@skado The issue of literalism / mythology is irrelevant, since the moral example stands whether it be the literal account, a mythological metaphor or an influential fiction.

@Fernapple
Not sure which moral example you’re speaking of. The moral example can be entirely different depending on whether it is taken literally or figuratively.

@skado I'm dubious that the metaphorical represents the orginal intent, and view much of such efforts as desparate revisionist attempts to stay relevant in the the face of modern progress. Even allowing for that, who is to be the authority to say what parts are literal and which are metaphorical? The Bible is a big f-ing book! And surely a large portion was indeed intended literally. And if the absurd admonitions to hate your family but yet love your enemies are metaphorical, then they are BAD metaphor. For all those who would defend religion by arguing for a more non-literal, or sophisticated, or philosphical, or esoteric approach, I notice that they never give equal time denouncing all of the bad within the doctrines. At best, they only denounce those who they claim have misunderstood and misapplied the doctrines. It is they who rarely feel obligated to tell the whole truth.

@Rossy92
You're right, it's a big book. And very few simple statements could be made about it without caveats. But when people speak about it in general, they are usually either taking it mostly literally or mostly metaphorically. This video is approaching it very literally, and while that is understandable, it's just not the only way to see it.

And yes, the metaphorical approach may be even more hazardous, because once you leave literalism, anything goes. You could interpret it to mean anything you want, and of course, many people do just that. Even the literalists take certain parts metaphorically.

So my approach is not to read the text and try to guess how to interpret it. Instead, I reverse engineer it. I look at science and history first, and then look for a way to interpret scripture (not just Christian) that makes sense in light of the science. And the amazing thing is... once you view it that way, all that stuff that made no damn sense at all when taken literally suddenly snaps into focus and makes perfect sense.

From this perspective, not only does Christianity make sense, but so do all other religions, and they all are perfectly harmonious with a scientific-materialism worldview. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't believe it either. I spent my whole life as an atheist. And as far as literalism is concerned, I still am. But art is a different animal altogether. Religion is art. It's art about human evolutionary psychology. A deep dive into evolution theory makes religion make perfect sense.

All the terrible stuff people do in the name of religion is so obviously wrong that it doesn't need my voice to point it out. Even so, I denounce religious fundamentalism often, and in the strongest terms. You won't have to look far to see that in all my posts and comments. But on this site, there is no shortage of people doing that. What there is a shortage of is an awareness of the most recent science in the field.

I'm not "defending" religion. I'm really trying to raise awareness of the related science. The Dawkins era is over. A new scientific consensus is emerging, and it sees religion strictly in evolutionary terms - not good or bad - just "what is".

@skado Some few of the stories may depend upon literal interpretation, including sometimes for the harm they do, but only a very few, for most, literal or metaphorical is irrelevant, and they are just as bad or good either way. ( If I take the 6th commandment literally, it is probably a good thing that I do not murder people. While if I take it metaphorically, that I should not terminate good things wilfully for poor or selfish gain, then it is still, probably for the most part, a good one.)

Yet for most for those myths that can be, or should certainly be, interpreted metaphorically, it depends entirely upon who it is doing the interpreting, which is why, since they are so much more dependent upon interpretation, the metaphorical are by far the most beloved of the criminal and evil of intent.

As an example. For every one of the rare fundamentalists who takes the story of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, absolutely literally, and wonder if Adam and Eve used a stone or metal knife to peal it, there are a hundred preachers who take it metaphorically. Indeed nearly everyone, even those sitting in the pews understands that that one is a metaphor. Yet it can still be read metaphorically, to mean that our shared religion, and subculture, believes in and approves of the idea of original inherited sin, that humans are born broken, and in need of the repair services only a deep committed involvement in that sub-culture can give. Either literally or metaphorically it is still a method and aid for the criminally intended to entrap people, for their own profit and gain.

While the academic view that the history of theology , inculding religious metaphor, is a usful tool to understand the human psyche, is of little interest on an atheist/agnostic site. Since most people are concerned for the vast majority of their time with the immediate, large impact of religion as practiced today on the world they encounter daily, even specialists in the field have to go outside on to the streets some of the time.

@skado Why does everyone want to pick on poor Dawkins? I think the era of Dawkins and the rest of the "New" Atheists will never be over as long as Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism are prevalent. I get that one can find truths in religion and compatibilities across religions, especially if one squints really hard to blur out the parts which are counter to modern day sensibility. Whether one should do that is unclear. The elephant in the room remains those religions which make hard TRUTH claims, where subscription is not OPTIONAL, and the PROSCRIPTIONS can be absurdly barbaric. There are just simply certain hard incompatibilities amongst the various faith which I would never want to gloss over as someone who personally values truth.

@Rossy92 Dawkins has his limitations and has made errors. Who has not ? But the claim that the era of the new atheists is over, in the sense that they have been shown to be making false speculations, and their ideas can now be forgotten, is simply an example of echo chamber thinking. It naturally takes time for the opponents of any ideology, to form a concerted rebuttal, and so a lot of people from different backgrounds, including science, religion, apologetics and political social science, etc. who had issues with the New Atheists, eventually came together and formed an echo chamber, and they took to using Dawkins as the figure head of all that they opposed. It also takes time for rebuttals to be answered, it will probably take time for the supporters of Dawkins and the new atheists to regroup, and start the pushback.

This has happened before, in Natural History for example. A large movement with its own echo chamber was formed in the late nineteenth century, to oppose Darwin's thinking, and by the nineteen thirties Darwin was quite out of fashion, and being declared redundant and out of date by many. Including scientists who really should have known better. But of course the personal benefits of going with fashion, and joining the echo chamber are very great and carry a lot of weight, especially for those with families to feed. Eventually though realism began to come forward and the pushback took place. So that now Darwinian thinking is once more regarded as the core of biology, and it is many of the fashionable anti -Darwinian biologists and naturalists who are forgotten.

Having said that, there is a lot to be said which is good on both sides, and like many who invent new ways of looking at things, the New Atheists were probably very proud of their ideas, they were their babies after all. So that they were bound to overestimate their scope and importance.

@Fernapple
Yes, metaphor leaves texts open to misinterpretation. But it simply does not follow that therefore all interpretations must be wrong. Yes, criminals are attracted to the ambiguity metaphor provides, but it is logically fallacious to then assume that therefore the original intent must have been criminal. What we are capable of now that people were not capable of two thousand years ago is supplying a scientific perspective on the original purpose, and removing the ambiguity of metaphor.

@Rossy92
I'm with you 100% on the erroneous truth claims, and I don't at all gloss over them. Error is error. And error will always need to be avoided. The problem with Dawkins and the New Atheist movement is that he/it doesn't clearly see the full cause of the problem. They think, like Fern, that it is just simple, criminal behavior, that can be dealt with by fighting it head on by force, the way we do with bank robbers. But it's not the same phenomenon.

E. O. Wilson, on the other hand, could see the real root of the problem. It's a biological problem - not a social problem. All of the energy we use trying to fight it with force is not only wasted, but actually makes the problem worse by making it a social problem in addition to a biological problem. Biological problems can't be fought by force. They can only be counterbalanced by wisdom.

By not realizing it is a biological problem (embarrassing for an evolutionary biologist) Dawkins is unwittingly acting as a fundamentalist evangelical himself. He has stooped to their level, let them set the agenda, and has adopted their tactics. It hasn't worked, and it won't ever.

I'm putting my money on the Wilsons (E.O. and D.S.). They are the scientists who see the larger picture. Evolutionary Psychology illuminates the error of all fundamentalisms - both theist and atheist. Dawkins is, and Hitchens was, a fundamentalist atheist, taking their cues from the fundamentalist theists. The Wilsons didn't take the bait. They made their own assessments of the problem from a purely scientific perspective.

The propensity for supernatural explanations and egoic identity is in our genes, and howling about it in books and public speeches for ten thousand years won't make it go away. It's something we need to learn how to live with wisely, and THAT is the original purpose of religion. But of course, our animal nature doesn't want to be resisted, so it immediately infiltrated all religious institutions and twisted their message to suit its purpose and the general understanding of the undereducated masses, making only enough compromises with the original content to maintain plausibility.

Just as E. O. Wilson was fought tooth and nail by the establishment, and then was proven right by the science, David Sloan Wilson will be proven right by science in the coming decades. The best way to fight wayward religion will be by practicing authentic religion, which is, at its core, nothing more complicated than seeking the whole truth.

@skado I did not say that all interpretations are wrong and criminal, did you not read my first paragraph, which gives an example of a very good one. Specifically to pre-concede that point. Which I will repeat.

"Some few of the stories may depend upon literal interpretation, including sometimes for the harm they do, but only a very few, for most, literal or metaphorical is irrelevant, and they are just as bad or good either way. ( If I take the 6th commandment literally, it is probably a good thing that I do not murder people. While if I take it metaphorically, that I should not terminate good things wilfully for poor or selfish gain, then it is still, probably for the most part, a good one.) "

@Fernapple
You do still (correct me) conclude that all religion is somewhere between wrong or useless.

@skado As I see it, the primary issue is not of right or wrong so much as of a supposed decree from the supernatural. There derives religion's impetus toward intolerance, arrogance, and abuse. Whichever methods are used to show the folly of that belief is good in my opinion.The more the merrier. I'm just not quite connecting the dots to how a biological approach would accomplish that.

As for the New Atheists, personally, I think most of their critics are simply "butt hurt" that they can't mount rebuttals which have a corresponding immediacy of impact. Because the New Atheists largely bypass engaging the argument on their highfalutin metaphysical terms, they deride them as unsophisticated and lacking an understanding of religion. As an example, supposedly Dawkins is dismissive of the Ontological Argument, the argument which tries to define God into existence, and which surely ranks among biggest loads of crap I've ever heard IMO. I must admit though that I've never found the "Then who created God" argument as compelling as does Dawkins. Ditto Hitchens' assertion that morality preceded religion. What Theist's actually argue, or perhaps have learned to argue, is that religion is necessary for the grounding and reinforcement of morality. But otherwise, I consider most of their opinions to have been invaluable to me.

@skado No, I conclude that religions, like all human institutions, are a complex mixture of beneficial and harmful parts, sometimes connected inseparably and sometimes not. And that in the deep past they were probably very beneficial, but became gradually more harmful over time until today they probably do as much harm as good, and will probably become almost completely harmful in the near future, but also probably hopefully fade in importance.

That is not however a plain path, there have been times when religion was very good, and times when it was not. In part because, one of religions great strengths, is as an alternative voice to the nation state. So that it hit an especially low period, when, during classical times it became little more than a number of profit addicted cults, almost entirely subservient to and supportive of the nation states. Which failing on its part, led almost certainly in part to the invention of classical philosophy, to compensate for religions inability to provide needed wisdom and ask pertinant questions. Rome then fell for many reasons, but in part because fanatical new monotheist cults, which at first arose to address the growing rich poor divide, in the end became anti-intellectual because philosophy was seen as elitist, and having gained as share of power, decided to side the the increasingly corrupt state against secular thinking.

In the dark ages which followed however, when the nation state became little more than badly organized armed thuggery, religion had perhaps its greatest high spot, becoming the resort of those who opposed the culture of violent mindlessness, and sought to keep alive a vestige of knowledge and humanity. By the middle ages however the nation states began to become real communities again, and religion, once more became a servant of the state, trying to gain a share of the power and wealth which now could be gained again without resort to violence, in consequence it became corrupt and anti intellectual once more and forcing the initiation of the Renaissance, the rebirth of secular thought.

Now however, in part because of the revived interest in democracy, but for other deeper reasons, the nation states of the West and most of the developing world, see their main function as human welfare, and the protection of human rights, supported by the increasing power of secular charities. ( America and the other fading super power, are no doubt, to different degrees, exceptions, but it is a bad idea to see things just from a purely local perspective. ) Then as the nation states increasingly take on those roles, and see welfare as the basis of both their power and prestige, then religion if it is to offer anything at all, must turn to those who oppose welfare and rights, and, or, fade into being a tiny bit part player.

@skado, @Rossy92 I think that you are very correct about the critics of the new atheists. But I do not agree with you completely about gods and the supernatural. I think that they are only a tiny part of the problem with religion, and not the most important one. ( Some religions do not even have gods after all, like Buddhism and Scientology. ) The main harm in religion is a cultural one. Which is the problem of claiming authority without justification. Whether that comes from an old book which claims to contain all wisdom, from ritual, from tradition, or supposed racial superiority. To claim authority in most realms of life, you have to justify that authority in some way: in philosophy and maths by logical rigour and the reviews of your peers, in science by those, plus experimental evidence, in politics by earning the support of your pears and public approval, in engineering by making things that work, etc. .

But in religion all you have to do is say. "I believe." And you can immediately tap into all that authority, that comes from tradition, ritual, respected old sources and yes, even god. And that is especially useful if you want to promote ideas, like say racism or sexism or your own narcissism, which can not get past the tests required by all those other institutions, or at least not without a lot of effort and deception. And I do not need to tell you what sort of person, has ideas that will not pass those tests, and wants to support them with authority they can gain without cost or effort.

@skado Not quite connecting the dots YET, I should say. I do intend to give the work of the Wilsons a look though. Thanks.

@Fernapple Fair point, and perhaps I didn't express myself with as much clarity as I could have. I certainly don't mean to imply that religion is the main source of intolerance, and certainly the issue of abeyance to and faith in authorities of all kinds plays a major role in producing intolerant dogma, which is precisely opposite of the vetting processes of the scientific method. But the point I was trying to make is that this appeal to authority can become all the more entrenched when there is not just faith, but faith that the belief derives from the anything ranging from the mere supernatural to command of a supreme God. There is then no "evidence" per se which can be objectively verified. And once the faith becomes a part of accepted scripture, the ratchet tightens even further. It seems to me that it reaches its most entrenched in Monotheism, and becomes its most insidious when that monotheism weilds a great share of the power.

@Rossy92 We are on much the same page.

@Fernapple
"...then religion if it is to offer anything at all, must turn to those who oppose welfare and rights, and, or, fade into being a tiny bit part player. "

I don't see anything that constrains religion to only these options. It still performs a number of vital functions that no state or other institution even pretends to supply. All religion would have to do in order to be maximally relevant again is to simply walk its own talk. That is still one of the options on the table.

@skado If you know of any such functions please list them, for I can think of none.

@Fernapple

To understand those functions requires a broad familiarity with the relevant evolutionary psychology, which I'm not able to convey to anyone in a few paragraphs on social media (not to pretend I am qualified to do so in any case, but I can understand the implications when I read about them). It requires lots of personal study. But I can sum it up under the umbrella of evolutionary mismatch. Today's (organized) religions arose as a response to the agricultural revolution and the environmental changes it generated.

Nomadic hunter/gatherer Homo sapiens was not biologically/behaviorally well adapted to living in stationary farming communities consisting of thousands of strangers with whom they must cooperate peacefully in order to survive, but that is what the agricultural lifestyle required, and still requires. But ten thousand years is not enough time to biologically evolve new instincts, so a cultural patch had to be created that modified our instinctual behavior. Enter "Thou Shalt Nots".

Hunter/gatherers were egalitarian. There were no personal possessions, so stealing was not an issue. In agrarian societies stealing is a huge issue, so rules had to be made and upheld. City life introduces all kinds of psychological pressures that H.sapiens was not equipped to deal with in nature, so the new religions had to provide psychological workarounds, even if that meant taking up a belief in imaginary beings. Humans also had to learn how to envision strangers as kin, in order to function as a team in complex societies. So most of religion's contributions fall into two main categories, personal wholeness practices and social cohesion practices. And both of those practices serve the overarching need of countering evolutionary mismatch.

Surely, certain religious people and certain religious institutions do the horrible things the new atheists rightly complain about, but all of those misdeeds are the result of religion breaking its own rules. Therefore, those actions are not due to religion but to the corruption of religion. And the corruption of religion is only our naturally evolved instincts resisting the artificial constraints that religions impose. As E. O. Wilson said, we are a conflicted species, and our survival depends on it. The original sin that the Christian Bible talks about is just evolutionary mismatch. It's not a failing at a personal level - it's just a quirk of biology at the species level. The redemption religion offers is nothing more or less than a program of behavior modification to counterbalance the biological consequences of outrageous adaptive success.

And yes, it is the unfortunate nature of religion that it is largely unaccountable, in any immediate sense, but if people stop participating, which in some areas they are, then religion is accountable to its membership. If they disappear, it disappears. If it wants to remain relevant, it will ultimately have to be accountable to reality.

So all religion has to do to regain favor is to accept responsibility for its corruption and do whatever it takes to remove it from their institutions.

Since I agree with the Wilsons (and others) that religion performs a vital role which no other institutions do (the counterbalancing of evolutionary mismatch) and since I'm convinced that that need isn't going away, I support a reform position rather than an abandonment position relative to religion.

At least until we have had time (maybe a hundred thousand years?) to biologically evolve away from our mismatch problem. If you don't understand biological mismatch, you don't understand religion. While religion's failures are atrocious, mismatch is always worse. Mismatch is the main ingredient of all species extinctions.

p.s. Mismatch is only getting worse, not better, over time, so it is not likely ever going away.

@skado I am sorry to say that I do not think that you have understood the relevant evolutionary psychology, at all. Certainly religion did help to address the mismatch, and certainly it was needful to create some, "thou shalt nots" . But that would have occurred anyway, with or without religion, because people do fulfil their own needs, and there is quite a bit of evidence that religion, at least as a thing separate from tribe and state, was quite late into the game of ethics. Only taking up the business of morality in imitation of the nation states, when it saw that there was power and profit to be gained. Certainly the best known set of, "thou shalt not", in the western world are clearly plagiarised from earlier state legal systems, and in conventional history it has always been universally accepted that early religion was mainly amoral.

While in the world in which we have lived for the last ten thousand years or more, the nation states and the civic institutions have been much more proactive, more progressive and done a much better job, in the field of moral guidance than the religious institutions. I live in a country where religion has faded much more into the background than it has in yours, and the societal and moral progress that has been made in that time has been massive to an astonishing extent. While one of the few things that have held that moral progress back, has been resistance from the ultra conservative religions. One of the main problems with religion is not just, to quote, "horrible things the new atheists rightly complain about" but the fact that they act as breaks on moral progress and lower the moral standard. While it is also obvious that secular charities and other such institutions, do a much better job, of influencing the national moral compass, and holding the state accountable than the churches, in part because they are not burdened by ritual, and in part because they have far greater unity of purpose.

Accountability is not just a check upon institutions and and a way of testing the veracity of their ideologies, but also a great driving force for the development and spreading of ideas, and institutions which lack it are doomed to become irrelevant, or merely criminal.

The main drivers of early cooperation between peoples beyond the extended family, were forces outside of the control of both nation states and religions, ( Especially organized religions, which probably were only themselves products of nation states.) Both agriculture, of which the earliest forms were heavily dependent on irrigation, as needfully a cooperative venture, and trade networks, depended upon agreed moral and ethical frameworks. And they therefore, probably forced the development of both the nation states and the organized religions, in response to that need, indeed it is observable that nation states first arose mainly in agricultural areas, and only later and to a lesser extent, if at all, among nomads. It is a delusion to think that religion counters the evolutionary mismatch in a way that most other institutions ca n not, indeed it is probably the worst of all our institutions at doing so, as is evidenced by the extent to which those nation which abandon it, do a much better job at addressing the problems of the mismatch and generating happiness for their populations.

Not only that, but of course the whole argument ignores the far greater evolutionary to cultural mismatch, which occurred with the development of language. Which created a new environment in which it was possible to generate, retain and spread a huge volume of misinformation with far greater ease than it ever was before. To a degree which make modern worries about the ability of electronic media to disseminate misinformation and create sub-cultural echo chambers trivial . Language was an environmental change to which we could have no pre-evolved response, and of which, religion was perhaps one of the worst symptoms. The post agricultural mismatch perhaps will get worse, yes, but the worlds which are addressing that, and will continue to address that best, are those who free themselves from the symptoms of the earlier mismatch. Like you say. "If you don't understand biological mismatch, you don't understand religion."

I agree whole heartedly with your. "If it wants to remain relevant, it will ultimately have to be accountable to reality. So all religion has to do to regain favor is to accept responsibility for its corruption and do whatever it takes to remove it from their institutions." The only problem with that is that if religion becomes relevant and removes its corruptions, then it no longer exists, since the promotion of the irrelevant and corrupted, is the only thing that it consists of. Because, if an idea is revenant and uncorrupted and accountable, then it does not need religion, it can and will create its own institutions. Since creating institutions, communities and ritual are built in to human nature, they are part of our DNA, and humans will always create institutions to fill their needs.

There is no need to burden the human race with unaccountable institutions, which only exist to promote their own existence, by preserving the irrelevant baggage they carry from the past. If there are needs humans will create cultural institutions to address those needs, that is a given.

@Fernapple
Before you and I can have a meaningful discussion we will have to agree on a word to describe the subject. I use the word religion, but clearly it means something very different to you than what I have in mind. Until then we are just wasting time talking past each other. I’m not talking about morality or conservatism. I’m talking about philosophy of biology. You are talking about history.

@skado We have been here before, and if you remember, you described religion, at that time, as for you a synonym, for the greater part of human culture.

I describe it for me, as a synonym for the fallacy called, the argument from authority, especially when that authority is not supported by evidence, but only by things such as tradition or supernatural belief, which is probably close enough to the popular definition of religion, to not usually require a qualifying statement when I use it.

However I do think that yours should, since it deviates so far from the popular definition that it would seem disingenuous to use it without explaining it each time.

The other problem I have with your choice is that it does not match with your claim that you are not an apologist. Since if you define religion as a synonym for human culture, and you certainly, like most people, support some parts of human culture , including apologetically, as I have often witnessed, then that would make you a religious apologist. While if you claim that you are not an apologist because you oppose only, literal fundamentalism, which is though a subset of culture. Then you are flip flopping between two definitions. Sorry but that is trying to have it both ways. And honesty would at least require that you state clearly, with a qualifying statement, each time you use the word which one you are using.

I know that that is a big burden, but that is what you get if you deviate from the widely understood definitions.

@Fernapple
I don’t recall making any claims relative to being an apologist. Maybe you can send me a link so I know what you’re talking about. Thanks.

@skado Memory loss can be a truly terrible affliction. If that is the case then perhaps you should see a doctor. If lying, then I have no intention of doing your homework.

@Fernapple
Sometimes you are able to resist the temptation to resort to ad homs and sometimes you are not.

If you want to discuss the ideas, let me know.

@skado Ad homs are sometimes the ideas which really matter, especially when you wish to offer help. You no full well that you were attempting to make a snowball on me, if you resort to that, do you really expect any better.

@Fernapple
When you accuse someone of lying or being disingenuous, the burden of proof is on you. No one remembers every word they have ever spoken, but I remember quite well what my position has been and I ask you to present evidence because I'm confident you have none. You could find the discussion in which someone accused me of being a "closeted apologist" just as easily as I could, but you won't bother because it would demonstrate that you misread my reply.
When people just want to engage in ego contests, I lose interest quickly and ignore them. But when people accuse me of saying things I didn't, I challenge them to prove it, and so far... not once have they produced evidence to support their claim - which makes them the liar. Would you like to defend your lie, or get back to discussing ideas? I'm just offering you some "help".

@skado The supply the link to the "closeted apologist", and I will take a look at it, and decide if I am mistaken.

@Fernapple
The burden is on the claimant. I have nothing to defend. Would you like to discuss apologism, or maybe religion?

@skado Then I will take it that since you refer to someone accusing you of being a "closeted apologist" , and since I presume that you denied it, I will present your last statement as evidence, that you have denied being an apologist. ( The qualifier "closeted" being of no relevance in this instance.) And if you did not deny it then, my first point that it as logically inconsistent with one of your stated definitions of 'religion' still stands.

@Fernapple
You, and you alone, have responsibility for your presumptions. If you make pronouncements about my position without verifying them, your claims are without standing. It really doesn't have to be this hard. If you think you know my position better than I do, maybe you can explain how you have such powers. If you aren't sure what my position is, you could just ask.

@skado But I have just verified them.

You asked for the evidence, and I thank you for then supplying it yourself, which saved me the trouble.

@Fernapple
Please do let us know what you’ve concluded my position is.

@skado By your position, am I to take that you mean your core ideas ?

@Fernapple
Whatever you think you just verified.

@skado That I am dealing with a person who does not understand or appreciate, the idea of personal or intellectual integrity.

@Fernapple
How do you normally deal with people like that?

@skado I normally try to lead them to the mirror, because I think that that is the best humanity.

@Fernapple
You must be a very busy guy!
Please tell me why you have come to this conclusion about me. You must be basing it on something. First you said it was just presumed, then you said you had verified it. Can you tell me how you verified it? Please share your thinking.

@skado No I am not very busy, such meetings are very rare, such people are very rare, only three so far, and of course it never works, but there is no alternative.

As for how I verified it. That is is very simple. You said you did not remember denying being an appologist, so I stirred up a little ire, and lo, you did remember it. That made a second untruth, in one day. ( The ad hominem did its work, you must use the right bait in your trap ).

@Fernapple
You have a very active imagination, friend. You place values where no such value exists and then blame your misperceptions on others. Now let's walk through this carefully, ok? I still do not remember ever denying being an apologist. What I remember is being accused. And there was never a time when I didn't remember being accused. YOU are the one who supplied the imagined denial. I think it's time you go and collect some data, my friend. You know... like a scientist would, or dare I say, a person with intellectual integrity. You have whipped up a great strawman, and as is typical (by definition) tried to claim they were my words. I believe you are a person of integrity, and I believe you can do better. If you're going to accuse me of something, you're going to need evidence, or it's just going to reflect poorly on you. Come on now, you can do it!

@skado No like I say I have no intention of being snowballed, I would not respond to such a cheap sleazy trick which is itself more than enough to prove my case. And as you, should know the site does not store responses to comments only the first comments on the members list. And I have more than a good enough memory to remember at least two occasions, maybe a third but I am not sure of that.

I could perhaps even believe that excuse, if it was not for the hundreds of other examples of disingenuous behaviour I have had the displeasure to observe.

@Fernapple
I see you went looking for it. The reason you didn't find it is because it wasn't there. The only place it has ever existed is in your imagination. You have not been able to substantiate your claim.

Unlike yourself, I don't set myself up as the moral judge and corrector of humankind. If I think a person is not committed to personal integrity, I realize no constructive dialogue can take place. I wish them well and disengage. Likewise if someone lets me know they think I'm not operating with sincere intentions. Nothing of value can come from battling egos.

Best wishes.

@skado " I don't set myself up as the moral corrector. " From the site bully who does not even draw the line at bullying new members before they have even found a footing. LOL

" upheld inhumane the laws of the Old Testament such as slavery,"

I have debated the opposite view, because I could not have suggested anything better for a slave in those days, where slavery was the only social safety net.

If you would have any good advice that a slave back then could uses, please tell us.

Regards
DL

@Greatest That's quite the softball you throw my way. For starters, if slavery was the only social safety net, then let it be completely voluntary, and not something forced upon another for a lifetime, or a condition one could be born into for a lifetime. For all of the attributions to Jesus of kindness, and loving one's neighbor as oneself, he was strictly status quo. He was passive in the face of massive injustice. Is it any wonder that the church is always steps behind in confronting the injustices of today from racism to pedophile clergy. It's all a part of the same mindset of temporizing, from it's gutless passivity toward wrongs in this life, to the cheap promises of justice in an afterlife.

3

He, Santa Claus and Tinkerbell all have the same moral flaws, the same as any other fictional character since they don't exist and never did.

As far as the fables go, if they were real, would they have moral short-comings .... I think the answer is an obvious "Yes".

The Bible claims Jesus was sent as a messenger to all mankind ..... so why didn't he leave a note, a stone tablet or 10 foot eternally flaming letters? His mission was to be a messenger to all mankind, those would have been successful if he were who he was claimed to be. Having failed that mission, signing up for the mission in the first place would be a moral failing.

Please do not makes a comparison between a homophobic and misogynous genocidal prick of a god, and good imaginary characters that like women and gays.

The former still does a lot of harm while the latter do not.

Regards
DL

@Greatest The former does no more or less harm than the latter. They are fictional any harm they do is fictional!!

It's the belief and the manner of belief that people apply to them that leads to harm. If these people would realize they are equally fictional, then the harm they do in the name of these fictional beings would be equal.

3

I have not been looking for any moral flaws in Jesus lately. This is not a subject I give a lot of time to, but maybe I would if I was worried. I'm not worried.

3

Made up people or animals can have any flaws or strengths that you care to give them. Jesus or Harry Potter, Woody, or Buzz doesn’t matter. They are not real.

True, but they will do harm to women and gays,--- in even your family --- with their homophobic and misogynous ways.

Pay attention. and act against it when you can.

Regards
DL

3

Since it is all fiction, how about skipping only what is in the bibly and look at other stories, the ones left out, like Jesus's earliest miracle: as a child, getting angry and pushing a friend off a roof. Then, after the kid died, bringing him back to life.

All irrelevant to current harm from religionists.

Do try to be relevant.

Regards
DL

2

One would expect…

skado Level 9 Mar 9, 2022

@Triphid Is it possible that he hopes to persuade some to join him, believing they may be on the fence in their rejection of a deity? If that is his intent then I think he is barking up the wrong tree.
If he were questioning his beliefs, then he would be in the right place to help him think more critically.
Since I can not see a valid concern in his post, then I tend to think as you do that he is trying to gain points.

Imo YES, I've formed that opinion quite some time ago regarding a few certain members here but also, imo, skado tends to drift and dribble rather than actually TRYING to discuss/ debate a subject, i,e, imo, he lacks the mental acumen to be able to hold firm to any topic in conversation or debate but that is my opinion here, based upon what of his innumerable postings (?) and my observations as a Psychologist.
Now as to the "root" cause of the problem I can only hazard a guess since, unfortunately I somewhat lack any real background information regarding him and his lifestyle/s in the past.

2

Jesus is folklore in a book full of universal truths and good morals; an idiosyncrasy used to camouflage lies and crowd controlling agendas!

1

I do not think it is an accidental flaw, however, the indoctrinated mindset that religion has imposed on people of "blaming the victim and not holding the guilty accountable" has caused major problems in society.

It is actually in their doctrine. Supposedly, an innocent man was tortured and executed so that the guilty may go free.

Wrong doctrine for sure.

The truth you will prefer is in the bible this time.

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

Deuteronomy 24:16 (ESV) "Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.

That was the Jewish teachings and what a Jesus would have taught if he were real.

Christianity screwed things up really good to do the dodging we both complain about.

Regards
DL

1

Yes, assuming he actually existed, he told people to drop everything and follow him. Caring for family and children and the future didn't matter because the world was soon going to end anyway. Christianity is nothing more than a death cult that got lucky.

1

Oh!

Here's another--

Telling me he loves me but is going to burn me alive forever if I don't love him back.

1

Yes. He took 12 men from there families leaving their children to the scourges that women & children suffer without a man to pseudo protect & provide for them. He spent time in a desert hallucinating & hearing voices. Off his meds no doubt. A "fisher of men"? Sounds like a gay bar.

1

He shoulda wrote his own shit down. As it was, he could be too cryptic to boot.

Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text q:654811
Agnostic does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content. Read full disclaimer.