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Topic: The Awesomesauce with Religion (Read 114462 times)

  • Frenzie
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The Awesomesauce with Religion
I suppose we need one of these.

Edit (20-02-2014): maybe a more positive title will make some difference? :)
  • Last Edit: 2014-02-20, 18:13:52 by Frenzie

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #75
Obligation? Wow. I thought we were just asking questions.  :-X

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #76
Two videos for those who think religion isn't "falsifiable" (or whatever supposedly scientific word you have for "provable").

Can you prove a negative? The answer is of course "yes", if you use logic, i.e. rational argumentation rather than assumption and presumption.

What counts as evidence? It should be a no-brainer that empirical evidence is only a fraction of evidence, and can not serve as the basis of all knowledge. Particularly useful in this video is the explication of what the other bases or methods of knowledge are and how they work.

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #77
It should be a no-brainer that empirical evidence is only a fraction of evidence, and can not serve as the basis of all knowledge. Particularly useful in this video is the explication of what the other bases or methods of knowledge are and how they work.

According to the following video...well, give is a quick look.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #78
Meh, Sam Harris (general comment; haven't watched the vid yet).

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #79
Sam Harris is justifiably scorned upon in the scientific and philosophical academic communities for giving them a bad name. To the religious community he has become irrelevant by now. In the speech linked by Jim, Harris says that Christian God tortures souls in hell, kills helpless children, doesn't answer prayers, condemns imaginary witchcraft, is a cruel psychopathic invisible monster like the Taliban, has no regard to human well-being - and does not exist. Meaning: No arguments with premises and conclusions, just colourful demonstration of his own gross misunderstanding of how religion works, both in the general sense and any religion in particular, individually, socially, historically. And all this without inherent consistency or logic, without connection to the topic of the event and without connection to what his opponent speaker had said hitherto at the event (if you care to watch the full context).

Why this preoccupation with Christianity, Jim? Do you have any interest in truth as such, or is it so much fun to laugh at your own forefathers? Does this ridicule serve to make a point?

Truth is universal, devoid of cultural idiosyncracies and phenomenal variance. Like the law of gravity that applies uniformly everywhere, even though the word "gravity" is different in every language, philosophical and metaphysical truths are omnipresent, can be found anywhere anytime with the same universal methods accessible to everyone willing to give some honest thought to the reality beyond apparent formal differences. In principle it's simple: The only thing to do is to discern between relevant and irrelevant, essential and accidental, topical and digressive.

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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #80
How it works? Take people with issues - and pour the mythical broth unto their brains. Dry for 24 hours.
Seriously, those influenced could learn something about the past. There are religions - and there's their past -- HISTORY OF RELIGION: how they emerged, evolved, merged, sprouted, such crap.
They could take something about psychology: the types of dealing with reality, for example, the homo sapiens's evolution in the context. Most people don't give shit about their thinking - far less they care about the evolution of people's thinking patterns and social psychology. I mean our "forefathers" - rather "foreGRANDfathers" - tended to construct mythical concepts in order to "apprehend" reality: less know - less understand - therefore try to fill the gaps with whatever you imagine.
I don't say that religion can't be useful - it can, in the way as a lie can be useful in some situations.

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #81

I don't say that religion can't be useful - it can, in the way as a lie can be useful in some situations.

You have it nearly the same as Harris, but with a slight difference. According to him:

1. Lies are bad or, at best, useless
2. Religion is entirely a lie
3. If you disagree with him (particularly on his tenet #2), you are defending the Taliban, suicide bombers, and Christian crusaders

Tell me how his views are useful in some situations.

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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #82
I didn't care to read/listen to him - I express my own thoughts.

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #83
Good. At least you are not giving anyone else a bad name.

  • string
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #84
Sam Harris is justifiably scorned upon in the scientific and philosophical academic communities for giving them a bad name. To the religious community he has become irrelevant by now. In the speech linked by Jim, Harris says that Christian God tortures souls in hell, kills helpless children, doesn't answer prayers, condemns imaginary witchcraft, is a cruel psychopathic invisible monster like the Taliban, has no regard to human well-being - and does not exist. Meaning: No arguments with premises and conclusions, just colourful demonstration of his own gross misunderstanding of how religion works, both in the general sense and any religion in particular, individually, socially, historically. And all this without inherent consistency or logic, without connection to the topic of the event and without connection to what his opponent speaker had said hitherto at the event (if you care to watch the full context).
Would you care to be specific and address what Harris said in that clip?

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #85
Sincerely, how was I not specific? I summarised pretty much everything that Harris said in the clip. Did you watch the clip?

Without further ado, I dismiss everything the dude says, because there's no philosophical argument in him. Everybody else dismisses him for the same reason. As to what a philosophical argument is, see any video I have linked in the topical threads.

Edit: For example he says in the video that God is evil and does not exist. These two things don't go together. Either God is evil or he doesn't exist. Which way is it? Harris has insisted on that God is both evil and doesn't exist throughout his public career. To qualify as a public speaker, your statements should at least be internally consistent. And on that particular event, his tirade was off topic. I don't know why he is allowed to perform.

Also, I don't want to dwell on Harris, because I personally am completely uninterested in Christianity, as I hope I have made clear. Universal truth is what matters, that which applies everywhere at all times like a law of nature. If not, it's not really truth, so whining about the history of Christianity is a non-starter for me.
  • Last Edit: 2014-02-17, 11:36:45 by ersi

  • string
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #86

Sincerely, how was I not specific? I summarised pretty much everything that Harris said in the clip. Did you watch the clip?

Without further ado, I dismiss everything the dude says, because there's no philosophical argument in him. Everybody else dismisses him for the same reason. As to what a philosophical argument is, see any video I have linked in the topical threads.

Edit: For example he says in the video that God is evil and does not exist. These two things don't go together. Either God is evil or he doesn't exist. Which way is it? Harris has insisted on that God is both evil and doesn't exist throughout his public career. To qualify as a public speaker, your statements should at least be internally consistent. And on that particular event, his tirade was off topic. I don't know why he is allowed to perform.

Also, I don't want to dwell on Harris, because I personally am completely uninterested in Christianity, as I hope I have made clear. Universal truth is what matters, that which applies everywhere at all times like a law of nature. If not, it's not really truth, so whining about the history of Christianity is a non-starter for me.
Yes of course I watched the clip - thank you for asking.

But no - you did not answer the points he made. The nearest you come is in the paragraph you mark as "Edit", so thank you for that. But even there you merely quibble over one facet of his thesis and miss a point he was  making that omnipotence in a God and goodness in a God (any God, not just the Christian God) are incompatible with the real world. Is that something you would agree with?

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #87

But even there you merely quibble over one facet of his thesis and miss a point he was  making that omnipotence in a God and goodness in a God (any God, not just the Christian God) are incompatible with the real world. Is that something you would agree with?

First, I didn't merely quibble. Either God is evil or he doesn't exist. You have to make these two separate arguments, if you want to use these arguments, but they cannot be the same argument. In Harris' case, neither of these is an argument. An argument has premises and conclusions. Harris merely asserts. His presentation can be called cumulative emotional argument, if you insist that it is an argument.

Second, no, I didn't miss that he brought up Euthyphro dilemma and actually managed to get it formally right at some point when it was already too late. This is how close he got to an actual philosophical argument, borrowing an ancient historical one.

The thing is, the Euthyphro dilemma may engage you, but it doesn't engage me. The dilemma rests on the assumption that creator has obligations towards creation rather than the other way round, and that we as people have no obligations to each other and to the rest of environment we live in. Wrong assumption. God has no duty to miraculously save people from their self-caused calamities. If he still chooses to, then in his own manner and at his own time, not when we feel like it. Case closed.

  • string
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #88
You are still quibbling:

Do you agree that "that omnipotence in a God and goodness in a God (any God, not just the Christian God) are incompatible with the real world."?

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #89

You are still quibbling:

Do you agree that "that omnipotence in a God and goodness in a God (any God, not just the Christian God) are incompatible with the real world."?
The short answer is no, I don't agree that they are incompatible. The longer answer would quibble with the form of the question and some of the terms therein. I can expand on my answer to the Euthyphro dilemma, if needed.

The problem of evil never posed any problem for me, whether in my atheist (or more like agnostic) times or now. It has taken lots of effort for me to even begin to understand how this is a problem at all. Absolutely good God and apparently evil or non-caring world have always been perfectly compatible for me.
  • Last Edit: 2014-02-17, 12:59:00 by ersi

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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #90


You are still quibbling:

Do you agree that "that omnipotence in a God and goodness in a God (any God, not just the Christian God) are incompatible with the real world."?
The short answer is no, I don't agree that they are incompatible. The longer answer would quibble with the form of the question and some of the terms therein. I can expand on my answer to the Euthyphro dilemma, if needed.

The problem of evil never posed any problem for me, whether in my atheist (or more like agnostic) times or now. It has taken lots of effort for me to even begin to understand how this is a problem at all. Absolutely good God and apparently evil or non-caring world have always been perfectly compatible for me.
That sounds a bit like a "God moves in mysterious ways" type of answer but yes, please, give the longer answer.

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #91
That sounds a bit like a "God moves in mysterious ways" type of answer...

He does, indeed, particularly for dyed-in-the-wool believers...not the sort we find in DnD.

Quote
Pastor Jamie Coots, who was part of a fundamentalist church (in Kentucky) which believes Christians can handle serpents without being harmed, has died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a service.


Nothing to laugh about and hardly normal for religious folk. Every group has its extreme advocates.

  • Macallan
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #92

First, I didn't merely quibble. Either God is evil or he doesn't exist.

Fictional characters can't be evil? :faint:

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #93
Meh, Sam Harris

I was wrong. This was a good Sam Harris.

The problem of evil never posed any problem for me, whether in my atheist (or more like agnostic) times or now. It has taken lots of effort for me to even begin to understand how this is a problem at all. Absolutely good God and apparently evil or non-caring world have always been perfectly compatible for me.

It's a problem for Christians like Craig, not for anybody else.

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #94
omnipotence in a God and goodness in a God (any God, not just the Christian God) are incompatible with the real world. Is that something you would agree with?

So, this is the way you phrase the Euthyphro dilemma. Take a look at Wikipedia if any of the responses sound good for you. Even if they don't, it's good for you to know that there are responses, always have been. The following response is mine, totally independent from the Wikipedia article.

Everything in philosophy is about relevant distinctions. At least that's how it works for me. You make the distinction between "goodness in a God" and "real world".

QUIBBLING

First, supposing that God exists, it's unfair to assume that God is any less real than the world, so "real world" distinguished from God won't wash.  Second, "goodness in a God" assumes there could be room for other things in God too. Perhaps evilness? That would be anthropomorphic. Third, "a God" assumes there could be other gods. Then you could always quibble about which god takes precedence in this or that case. So that phrase won't wash either. There's only one God who is relevant to everything in accordance with singular nature.

THE PREMISES

Let's rephrase it now: God's omnipotence and omnibenevolence are incompatible with the way the world appears to us. This is your contention. The premises must be that the world is not good to everyone as it should and, if God is omnipotent, he should intervene to make the world a better place than it is. So, I have to make the case that God's omnipotence and omnibenevolence are not mutually contradictory and that evil in the world is not as bad or unjust as it appears to be.

GOOD, PLEASANT, JUST

A relevant distinction here. What is good? Is it the same as pleasant? "I want it" = "good for me"? I disagree here. You could want chocolate, but is it good to have only chocolate? After a few hours of chocolate-eating you would be puking or, if you eat it in more moderate amounts, malnutrition would soon show.

Therefore, when "good" converges with "appropriate" and "just", things hopefully begin to make more sense. Justice is good. Everything in its proper measure, place, and time.

MORAL ONTOLOGY

Considered in light of the concept of justice, omnibenevolence is not contradictory with omnipotence. They both converge with justice. Justice is good because it distributes the  fruits of good and evil ultimately in an appropriate way, and only an omnipotent being can wield such justice.

God has singular nature, i.e. God's attributes are inseparable. Consider his qualities ontologically as one single thing. The attributes are distinct only verbally when translated into human language. It's like a geometrical plane which is a single thing, but has two sides. The two sides form a single plane. So, there appears to be three things - two opposite sides plus the plain itself -, but the distinctions are merely verbal. Ontologically it's all one.

Ontologically, absolute justice accounts both for omnibenevolence and omnipotence. If the qualities were separable and mutually competing, you could endlessly quibble about which quality should take precedence in this or that case. Multiple attributes raise the same logical problem as multiple gods.

MORAL EPISTEMOLOGY

It's just to punish evil and to reward good. For justice to operate, relative good and evil must exist. Therefore, good and evil deeds and their doers (agents) must exist. And they do.

People in this world commit evil deeds, thus defining themselves as evil. If not stopped before the act, the thief or murderer exercises his will and choice to follow through with the act, thus defining himself as a thief, or murderer, evil-doer. Otherwise it would not be possible to tell a criminal apart from a respectable citizen, but in our world it is.

FREE WILL AND RESPONSIBILITY

The complaint is that God doesn't intervene to prevent people's evil acts. However, non-intervention makes sense for many reasons.

First, it's compatible with free will. We are supposed to choose good or evil freely. This makes us directly responsible for our good and evil deeds. Everybody can do as per one's own will, thus becoming responsible for one's own acts. This is what agent means. Only this way it makes sense to even begin to consider what this or that person perhaps ultimately deserves and devise complaints based on perceived sense of justice.

Second, if evil acts were stopped by God, shouldn't he also intervene with good acts? Why be partial? Maybe God should improve half-good acts to make them all-good? Such intervention would of course neuter in us all sense of good and evil.

Third, when only some acts are intervened, wouldn't this make the world a random place rather than something that would make perfect causal sense as it is now? When all acts are intervened, this would make all causal links and free will totally moot. People's intentions could be good or evil, but when God intervenes everywhere, the world wouldn't reflect the way people are. God would perhaps still know people's hearts, but people wouldn't know each other and themselves.

Fourth, if God intervened to stop evil acts, he would intervene according to his own definition of evil, not by people's definition. So, divine intervention actually would not eliminate the complaints of people who perceive justice differently than God does. And, of course, the complaint originates in the first place from the fact that concepts of justice and definitions of evil differ.

Fifth, God has no obligation to intervene. Assuming that God's relationship with the world is that of creator and creation, then it's like a potter and a pot. The potter serves his purpose by creating the pot, whereas it's the pot's responsibility so to speak to serve as the pot. If the pot fails, it will be cast away, re-done or replaced. Simple. There's no obligation for the potter to make a half-broken pot feel nice and cosy or such. If you want to construe the obligation the other way around or on a par, go ahead and try to make a case for it.

AGENTS AND VICTIMS

Hopefully you see that it clearly follows from the above that the way the world appears to us right now actually makes best sense. People can define themselves good or evil by means of their own acts according to their own free will and the effects of this will be in plain sight. The problem of evil therefore is not in the mere fact that good and evil agents operate in this world, but rather in suffering of the hapless victims. The collateral damage of evil acts, so to say.

THE PROBLEM OF SUFFERING

So, now I have narrowed the problem of evil down to the problem of suffering. The contention is that suffering is horrible and painful, innocent suffering is futile, unjust and such. It's horrible that helpless people die. It's futile and senseless to bury a host of people in natural catastrophes (legally, "acts of God"). It's unjust when totalitarians kill innocent masses while they themselves live to old age peacefully. Etc. (Note that the injustice now is only human sense of injustice. Above I have already sufficiently argued that there's no injustice in that God appears to not intervene. Divine non-intervention is perfectly rational.)

My answer to the problem of suffering is threefold. First, evil and suffering is not the only force in the world. The same way as evil deeds bring forth evil fruit, good deeds bring forth good fruit. Let's remember that in this world it's not only evil people being allowed free reign to spread evil, but also good people to spread good. Both are free to define themselves and operate. It's only just that God is impartial here: Free will for everyone. Impartiality is just and justice is good.

PLAIN ACTS, HIDDEN SEEDS AND FRUITS

Second, behind the effects in plain sight there are hidden causes. Causes are hidden by their very nature. What we see in the world currently is effects of prior causes. The causes of this are in the past, i.e. hidden. You could say that the current state of affairs is the cause to the state of affairs in the future. This is true, based on our past experience, but the future state of affairs is not manifest yet, so it's also not manifest yet that the current state of affairs is a cause of anything. Still, agreed, based on our past experience it's implied that the current state of affairs is the cause of future state of affairs - it's implied, i.e. hidden in that sense.

Therefore, assuming that everything in the universe is causally linked, past causes have ripened to current events, and similarly current plain acts plant the seeds for future fruits.

MORAL PSYCHOLOGY AND METAPHYSICS

The third answer to suffering is to put it into psychological and metaphysical context. The manifest sense of injustice implies justice. Good and evil are manifestly allowed free reign, but if justice be served, evil fruits are distributed - implicitly, behind the scenes - to evil agents and good fruits to good agents. When we see injustice happening, based on the events apparent to us we may not properly know who is in the really good or really bad role, because we don't see the hidden causes. Nor do we see the way the fruits of good and evil are distributed in the ultimate sense, because this distribution of fruits is a hidden cosmic law operating eternally rather than temporally.

Either way, this point is to clarify that at least half of the relevant explanations for any particular events are hidden from us. An immediately apparent situation may upset us, but the extent or amount of unknowns should invite to further reflection. Science can explain the phenomenal causal relations, the rest is explained by philosophy (direct logical implications based on what is manifest) and religion (prophetic revelations and otherworldly promises), or, if you have none of those things, you will accrue blind faith, hope, doubt, desperation, etc. to compensate for your lack of science, lack of philosophy, lack of intellectual and spiritual culture.

The arrangement of the world the way it is now motivates people to figure out its true constitution and their own place in it, to make the relevant distinctions, to perceive the hidden causes behind the visible effects, to find out the way logic operates and learn to rely on it and build on it. The current arrangement of the world helps to understand the relevance of this all in the first place, i.e. the relevance of the concepts of good and evil, the relevance of responsibility and free will, hidden causes and manifest effects, the concept of relevant distinctions, the roles of science, philosophy, religion, of intellectual and spiritual culture. It stimulates the mind and motivates to work, so that you can die an accomplished human being who has even figured out death so that there's no fear of it, and no psychological suffering at the event.

CONCLUSION

The purpose of suffering is to provide a sense of accomplishment. We get a sense of accomplishment by overcoming difficulties, by producing some fruit by means of work. In this world of ours, if difficulties and work did not exist, the sense of accomplishment would not exist. If evil would not exist, good would not exist. But we surely want good to exist, so much that it feels, right? 

This world displays causal links and logical correspondences. Both are necessary to make full sense of all states of affairs. Instead of a problem of evil, I see how evil makes sense as a causal result of the acts of evil agents. And there's also good in the world to counterbalance the evil in the world. Evil as such makes logical sense in metaphysical conjunction with good as such. Phenomena make sense in conjunction with noumenon, the temporal in conjunction with the eternal, the world in conjunction with the otherworldly, life in conjunction with death (and/or pre- and afterlife), creation in conjunction with the creator, etc. It's all logically self-evident and, in their own contexts, all these concepts are relevant as necessary implications of each other.

In conclusion, God is good in balance with justice, and so is the world when we consider the eternal rather than the temporal. Temporally the world seems good and evil in turns, just and unjust in turns, but from the eternal point of view it's all in balance. If God intervened, it would be partial, i.e. unjust, but inasmuch as he appears not to intervene, he is impartial, i.e. good.

And how is it atheists' business to complain about God they don't believe in anyway? It isn't. It only makes sense to issue complaints and demands regarding someone or something if that someone or something exists. This last thing was crystal clear to me when I was atheist (or agnostic), so I didn't issue such complaints. The so-called problem of evil is irrational at its core. Only irrational people make a problem of it.

Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #95
Regarding @ersi's comment on "making fun of your forefathers", that is a dangerous path to take, as you are assuming his ancestors were Christians.

I had assumed the same (same train of thought as you posted) for most of my life, but come to find out of late, such was not the case.
My ancestors were Cherokee Native Americans, and worshiped no such deity.

Obviously I cannot speak for Jim, but the same could perhaps be true in his case?

After all, assuming runs the risk of "making an ass out of you and me", as my Grandfather used to say. :)

  • Macallan
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #96

Regarding @ersi's comment on "making fun of your forefathers", that is a dangerous path to take, as you are assuming his ancestors were Christians.

He's from Estonia, you don't have to go all that far back to find pagans in the area. The eastern baltic was pretty much the last part of europe that converted to christianity, and even then, especially outside the cities, it was mostly for show.
So, christianity started no more than 2000 years ago. In western europe a couple hundred years later. Northern europe got it much later, parts of central and eastern europe held out even longer - what's now eastern .de didn't convert until the 12th century, parts of Lithuania resisted into the 1400s.
In other words, everyone has non-christian ancestry.

  • ersi
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #97
@Frenzie, my long post is a response to the Euthyphro dilemma. Atheists tend to believe that the dilemma is a knock-down argument against theism. You implied that the dilemma should involve an intellectual struggle for theists like Craig. Sam Harris emphatically presents the dilemma as such. String also seemed to believe so and asked for my response.

For me personally the dilemma was always a non-issue. I can see how it may upset one's sensibilities, but intellectually it's completely uninteresting. I have only elaborated the response over time in discussion with others who had an issue with it. It continues to baffle me how the Euthyphro dilemma manages to pose an obstacle at all. It must be that Plato knew human psychology better than me. He knew what kind of tensions between concepts pull the strings in most souls.


Regarding @ersi's comment on "making fun of your forefathers", that is a dangerous path to take, as you are assuming his ancestors were Christians.

I had assumed the same (same train of thought as you posted) for most of my life, but come to find out of late, such was not the case.
My ancestors were Cherokee Native Americans, and worshiped no such deity.

If your forefathers suddenly turned out to be something different than you thought, then they are not forefathers in the relevant sense. You know your forefathers, end of story. If you don't, you can't call them forefathers. Jim looks Irish, not Cherokee. Catholicism of his kins further solidifies the assumption that he is Irish. Up to him to make himself appear something different. Edit: And, to stay relevant, this is not about his Irish looks, but about Catholic past and present. He is amply proving this point by his preoccupation with Christianity.

@Macallan, I am not making a case for Christianity. Not because I think it's indefensible (it actually is defensible), but out of sheer intellectual honesty - I'm not a Christian myself, never was, never had a reason myself nor was I ever given any reason. And I shouldn't need to repeat this point too much, because it makes it appear that you are not paying attention.
  • Last Edit: 2014-02-18, 06:00:09 by ersi

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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #98
History is fucked up, thank you very much.

  • string
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Re: The Problem with Religion
Reply #99
@ersi - thanks for the reply; a substantial reply.

I'm off on a trip today and also tomorrow; that plus an interesting football match to watch prevents a proper response, so sorry for that. I'll get back to it when I can.