Monday, November 13, 2006

He so Seldom visits

"Seldom" provided food for thought in the comment section of my Elton John post, so I thought I'd try my best to give him an answer since he so ~seldom~ visits my blog.

Seldom quoted me and then commented:
"Is he completely blind to the immense amount of good things that come from religious organizations? It appears by one of his comments that he has considered that fact."

Clearly he did consider that fact. Perhaps he has reached the conclusion that so many of have, which has been best stated recently by Sam Harris--religion provides bad reasons for people to do good things, when good reasons to do them are available. If the results of religion were only these good works, then that would be great. But that clearly isn't the case.
Hmmm... and I guess if we both compile a list of what religious organizations vs. atheist organizations have accomplished for the common good, your list will be longer? Not a chance, and you should be well aware of that. As for the Harris and Dawkins claim that religious differences are the root cause of war, bear in mind that in the 20th century secular regimes were responsible for more blood shed than any other group. Look, wars happen. Even if the entire world held atheist beliefs, we would still be at war with one another. I’ve read on-line dialogue between atheists who differ considerably on various matters. Are you trying to tell me that wars and violence would never occur if we all held a common belief that there is no God?

But, we should not be pointing the finger at each other and making comparisons like that in the first place. Neither should we be making statements like “religion is the root of all evil” or “atheism is the root of all evil”. That completely closes the door to all meaningful and respectful dialogue.

Do you think that because a person believes in God that they believe themselves to be without sin and everything they do or the mistakes they make are justified because they believe in God??? Of course not. We turn to God due to the fact that we are aware of our sinful nature, and we look to Him for help and guidance.

BTW, “good works” are not the only positive result of Religion. Our faith in God also provides us with a connection to Him that an atheist doesn’t understand. His word (the Bible), provides us with answers as how to live a life that will benefit His creation. We find that when we follow His guidelines, they benefit us in numerous ways. God didn’t give us a set of unreasonable demands to live by. As our Creator, He knew what would lead us to live a more fulfilling and healthy life. I’ve known many people, myself included, who have turned their back on biblical truth or morality at various points in our lives and have made decisions which in turn led to consequences that were not pretty.

I am quite aware that atheists pull random verses from Old Testament laws that sound immoral and shout with outrage that anyone would consider them moral, but unless one takes the time to thoroughly understand what was going on during that time in history and how that ties in with the rest of the old and new testaments, you’re not going to get a clear picture of the entire message. If you’re interested, here’s a post in which I addressed a few of those issues in an on-line forum.

Let’s look closely at this particular statement you made:
“religion provides bad reasons for people to do good things, when good reasons to do them are available.”
I’m not sure how Sam Harris supports that statement, but through random evolutionary causes, there is no reason to believe that there are “good reasons“ to do anything other than what is of benefit to one’s self. It seems to me that evolution would support a very selfish lifestyle.

An atheist would support the notion that morality has evolved in the same way we have supposedly evolved - through natural selection. But, there is very little to support this sentiment other than "just so stories".

We have a moral law written on our hearts. Instincts might often push us to choose less noble alternatives in some situations, but something else often tells us to ignore that stronger instinct and do something more noble (for example help someone being mugged rather than following the survival of the fittest instinct and scurrying from the scene.)

There is obviously something more going on here than natural selection. There is very little evidence that evolutionary mechanisms can account for altruism or morality in general.

Seldom wrote:
You may tell us that you don't "hate" homosexuals, but yet most religious people is this country demand that they be descriminated against. I don't know what else to call this but "bigotry". I have yet to hear a decent argument against gay marriage that doesn't stem from Bible verse. And I don't know a single non-religious person who shares the Religious Right's bizarre obsession with homosexuality. Roman history aside, I see nothing to suggest that religion isn't solely responsible for the current way homosexuals are treated. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. Sorry if I missed any discussion of this topic in the past.
Just a quick comment before I go any should be careful not to throw the word “bigot” around too freely. I don’t want to have to remind you that two authors you support (Harris and Dawkins) are extremly bigoted when it comes to those who hold various religious beliefs. We hold opposing worldviews and we should try to learn from one another rather than accuse each other of "bigotry", etc.

So, you want arguments that don’t “stem from a Bible verse”. Okay, I’ll give this one a shot...

When I think of marriage, I also think of family. Only a relationship between a ~man and a woman~ will result in procreation. Then there is the fact that men and women differ in many ways, and children need the influence of both genders. Sure, a gay couple could get someone of the opposite sex to spend time with their child just as a single parent could. But, the ~best~ situation for a child is a Mom and a Dad in the household caring for the children.

Here are a couple links to consider:

The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage
Same Sex Marriage is Harmful to Children
The End of Marriage in Scandinavia

You might also consider Rosie O’Donnell’s comments as well:
ABC television did a "Primetime" special with lesbian comedienne Rosie O'Donnell. In that program, she talked about her lesbian relationship with her "partner" Kelly, and the children they've adopted.

During the program, host Diane Sawyer asked Rosie if her then-6-year-old son Parker ever asked why he can't have a daddy.

Rosie said, "Yes he does, all the time." And Diane said, "What do you tell him?" And Rosie tells him, "You can't have a daddy, because I'm the kind of mommy who wants another mommy."

Same-sex marriage and parenting really comes down to those two words: "I want." We're talking about a radical social experiment. America's kids would be the lab rats.

---Psychologist Bill Maier,
Look, I have friends and relatives who are gay, and of course I love them just as I would anyone else. My personal opinion is that there are social factors that cause some people to choose partners from their own gender, and I don’t rule out the possibility that there are those who are genetically predisposed to choosing partners of their own gender.

But, I do not condone those relationships for a variety of reasons, and I‘m also aware that many homosexuals have benefitted greatly from counseling. I’m certainly not out to stop what goes on in someone else’s bedroom, but at the same time I don’t approve of homosexual marriage.

Thanks for commenting, Seldom. Don't be a stranger...