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Atheists, Agnostics, Religion and Spirituality ... oh my

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by neroden, Mar 19, 2013.

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  1. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    If you'll indulge me a bit... I've studied religion a certain amount. One of the hardest questions in religious studies is, "What is religion?" In other words, what's the definition of the field of study? !

    Some propose a definitions of "religion" which is based on rituals, practices, and community, centered around shared rituals. In short, a definition which does not require belief of any sort, and does not require exclusivity. According to this definition, Monday Night Football *is* a religion. For real. And so is Star Trek. I've come to conclude that this is the *correct* definition of religion for the purpose of studying religion. The advantage of this inclusive definition is that all the more restrictive definitions exclude something which is generally considered a religion, or exclude something where the practicioners consider it a religion!

    According to this definition, science can certainly co-exist with religion. Can science co-exist with *doctrine*, or with *belief despite evidence*? Probably not, due to the nature of science, which is all about getting accurate knowledge by questioning and testing everything. But does religion require doctrine or belief? I argue that it does not require either.

    Thanks for listening. I've spent a while studying this and it's an interesting topic.
     
  2. TampaLiam

    TampaLiam Secret Agent

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Neroden! Well explained.
     
  3. AWDtsla

    AWDtsla Active Member

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    Science is forcing your beliefs to conform to the evidence of reality.
    Religion is attempting to force reality to conform to your beliefs.

    When you refer to a person as "backwards" this is what it should mean.

    They are incompatible. There's no need to pander to the wishy-washy people in the middle. Star Trek is not religion unless someone is under the delusion that it is actually real. Football can be a religion when someone believes that it has some actual impact on their lives, much like playing the lottery because someone thinks there is a reasonable chance of winning vs throwing away your money. Major organized religions are just a more concentrated form of this.
     
  4. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I agree. Funny how recently I've come to view hero worship and obsession with sports as closely related to religion, especially when it becomes all encompassing and leads to irrational behavior.
    Since science is ever changing in the face of new evidence, or at least open to that possibility, and religion is based on tradition, faith, and belief without proof, I'm not sure they can or should be compatible.
    I'm an atheist, since I've never seen any evidence of any sort of god.
     
  5. qwk

    qwk Model S P2681

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    +1
    I bet the majority of posters here feel the same. It would be interesting to have a poll even though it is a really touchy subject to some.
     
  6. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    I have no idea how a poll could be designed that would be able to adequately encompass all belief systems (or lack thereof). For instance, when people say they believe in God ... is it the benevolent, loving one or the brimstone version? Spiritual and/or religious? Intensely private or believe in the social network provided? Spirits? Reincarnation? Blind faith or questioning? Atheist is just so limiting :). Non-atheist is much more complex.

    Personally I believe that whole discussion belongs somewhere besides a car forum, but we do have off-topic for a reason. Have at it. Over there.
     
  7. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Not really, it's all shades of the same thing no matter what you call it.
     
  8. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    Actually no. It isn't.
     
  9. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    #9 brianman, Mar 19, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
    Given this outlook, the rest of your post is completely unsurprising.

    - - - Updated - - -

    In my experience, those with a religious bent say yes. Those without say no.

    Perhaps a better question is "Why are some close-minded enough to assume they can't co-exist despite the evidence among a large portion of the current and historical population that demonstrate such coexistence daily (in their beliefs and integration of, for example, evolution and religion)?"

    This reminds me very much of the comment on the "foot has no logic behind it" assertion. Just because you don't understand it doesn't make it non-existent.

    Furthermore, I'm kind of amazed that people that don't leave room for faith ever end up married. Except for financial or political marriages.

    - - - Updated - - -

    And getting more directly on-topic, I'm kind of surprised Elon answered the question. More evidence his "damage control" skills need some honing. The only thing that can come of addressing Rainn's question is to offend someone (or perhaps many), and perhaps deeply.

    There's a term in the software industry (and perhaps others) of "adoption blocker." While I don't have a formal definition handy it's basically about avoiding building things into your product (or omitting them) that prevent willing buyers from using your software because of some critical requirement. For some people, there's a broader form that affects all of their purchases (organic-only produce, for example). Around here we've been joking with the term "deal-breaker", but this area of discussion is definitely a mine-field w/r/t legitimate deal-breakers for some buyers.

    Anyway, end of ramble.
     
  10. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Part of the problem with religion is people getting upset when you question it. The fact is more and more people are and the topic should not be verboten. I'm glad that Elon was able to simply state his answer without second guessing it. The only way religion is compatible with science is when people go against the aspects of their faith that contradict science, basically altering their beliefs to better fit reality. For example there are relatively few who actually follow the old testament, and those who do are considered to be a little off. We'll take children away from parents who ignore science and pray instead of treating their sick children with modern medicine when available. Why? Because their religion is incompatible with science.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Care to expand on that with an example? If any of it is based on faith in something that can never be proven, with no evidence of it's existence, is the difference between religion, superstition, spirituality, or any similar belief, that significant? You state:
    Those are all different versions of the same thing, some sort of belief in something that has no evidence to support it.
     
  11. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    Nah. This is a car forum. Lots of topics not appropriate here. Let's leave it at I believe a lot of things in life will never be proven, but that simple statement doesn't support or deny a larger force around us. It merely means that we, as humans, are limited.
     
  12. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    See, for purposes of religious studies this is a bad definition.

    Within many groups of "Orthodox" Jews, there is no requirement to believe in God, or the Torah, or anything else. You can believe what you like. As long as you practice the rituals, you are accepted as part of the community. There are actually quite a lot of atheist Orthodox Jews.

    "The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao". Belief is very much *not* part of Taoism. It's all about practice.

    Confucianism is about practice to an even greater extent. The Confucian is specifically instructed to perform the rituals to appease the ancestor spirits *regardless of whether the ancestor spirits actually exist*, which is deemed to be irrelevant.

    And then there's *modern* religions. Let me tell you about Discordianism sometime...

    The focus on "belief" is a Christian aberration, which has little to do with most world religion. I am really hostile to "faith", or belief despite the evidence; I think it is just terrible. I have come to realize that faith is not central to most religions and not really that important to most of them.

    When is Monday Night Football a religion? When the fan watches the game *religiously* (notice the common usage of the word?), to the point of carefully cancelling all other appointments, doing his best to get out of work, preferring watching the game to food or sex, and feeling extremely put-upon if he is somehow prevented from perfoming his weekly ritual.

    The ritual-and-practice definition also causes the old 19th century concept of "civic religion" to make sense.

    ----
    To get this back on topic, I could honestly see the possibility that a "Cult of Tesla Motors" could develop, if we start developing practices like "We will never drive any other car", or "It is wrong to leave your car undriven for a week!", or if people start taking pilgrimages to the factory, etc. etc....
     
  13. Rodolfo Paiz

    Rodolfo Paiz P85 "Plug and Play"

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    Overly simplistic definitions are the best way to ruin any chance of a discussion that actually explores the concepts and provokes thought.

    I see zero conflicts between my utter faith in God and my complete belief in science. For example, I believe that the natural laws of this Universe are inviolable and perfect, with no exceptions; and it is up to us to discover them and respect them because we cannot change them or fight them. That is the job of science: to understand reality and make the best possible use of that understanding.

    But how was this Universe created? Who defined those natural laws? What lies beyond the edge of the Universe? What was before the Big Bang? Or, is it all just a coincidence? Did nothing exist before the Big Bang? To those questions, I answer that I believe God created the Universe and wrote its natural laws. No other explanation fits the (scientifically) known facts better... in my judgment. The Universe is too huge, too complex, too perfect, to be just an accident. The more I learn and the more I live, the more I believe there MUST be a God even though I cannot see Him.

    That is faith, not religion. Some here have incorrectly stated that faith is belief despite evidence. That is incorrect. Faith is belief in the absence of evidence. Not the same thing. Religion is also not the same thing as faith... religion is the set of human practices Neroden explained so well, and is a clearly human structure with all of the baggage that comes with its humanity.

    Others are welcome to believe otherwise, of course. I cannot prove the existence of God. But then, no one can disprove it either. We each choose to believe something, and there is no reason to be hostile to any who believe differently. :)
     
  14. Objective1

    Objective1 Member

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    Can we leave off the discussion of religion? I agree with Musk on this, but do we really need to discuss this here?

    Many people have very personal attachments to religious or philosophical views. This makes for a lot of shouting.

    This forum is about Tesla Motors.
     
  15. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    I appreciate the extraordinarily respectful responses I've gotten from all of you, especially Rodolfo. I'll shut up about this off-topic matter now. :)
     
  16. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    That is your choice, but simply filling in the blank with "God" to an answer you don't know really isn't an answer. The more I learn the more I realize there is no reason for a god to exist. I see a disconnect in the reasoning that the universe can't be eternal and infinite but something else that created it must be. Essentially you are just moving the bar. Why can't the universe be infinite and eternal? Obviously something existed before the big bang, maybe the universe simply goes through changes, different states, possibly that we will never know, but maybe we will. There is a lot of interesting theorizing going on that does not require the existence of a god.

    To those who feel we should not be discussing this topic on this board, why not? Why is this the one subject rational people can't have rational discussions about? If the mods want to move this to the off topic section that's fine but I find it interesting and appreciate the opinions of board members on this subject, as on all other topics. The fact that the head of Tesla, a company we obviously all support, is an admitted atheist, seems to be relevant.
     
  17. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    I think some discussion of religion/atheism in the context of the video is acceptable, but if we're going to fly off into metaphysical arguments then please take it over to Off Topic...
     
  18. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Alright. Here's my BS opinion. The human mind is a tool that attempts to create patterns. Our minds take in information and then, to put it into a useful pattern for us to be use and interact with, creates a simple structure. I think this is where the concept of god comes in. The universe is infinitely complex. It is well beyond the human brains ability to understand. So much so, that to create a "creator" allows us to go about our daily business of eating, sleeping, procreating, and occasionally dying and to pass off the complexity of the world around us onto that creator. We can simplify that entity as "beyond us" so we don't have to really answer those large questions all the time. When people and things we care about cease to exist in our limited world we have a coping mechanism. God makes life easier to deal with.

    Here are a video on how the brain works that might help you to understand how I came to my conclusions:

    Jill Bolte Taylor: STROKE of insight: TED TALKS: documentary,lecture,talk: - YouTube

    If I offend anyone with my post, I apologize. It's just my personal opinion.
     
  19. AWDtsla

    AWDtsla Active Member

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    Because. Logic. FAIL.

    I apologize for extending the misery of this thread.
     
  20. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    You know what they say about agnostics being atheists without balls :wink: I'm not sure there is a real distinction since neither an agnostic nor atheist believes in god. A-theist means "without god".

    Quite agree, and our need to see patterns and make connections between events can also misfire and lead to superstition, which is creating false patterns and false connections.
     
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