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Can We Talk About Religion, Please?

by RANDY COHEN
Posted: October 27, 2009.

Print: New York Times

Echoing the call of many “New Atheists”, Randy Cohen says that religion should be open to the same sort of criticism that any other institution is subject to.

Excerpt:

The passionate intensity unleashed by religious matters is evinced in responses to The Ethicist, my other column for The Times Magazine. When I take up a secular question that provokes broad disagreement, I typically receive a few hundred responses by e-mail that begin: “Dear Sir, I am appalled…” When I write about religion, I cause a tidal wave. The week I rebuked an Orthodox Jewish real estate agent whose beliefs forbade his shaking the hand of a female client, I stopped counting after receiving 4,000 ferocious messages…

My political beliefs, my ideas about social justice, are as deeply held as my critics’ religious beliefs, but I don’t ask them to treat me with reverence, only civility. They should not expect me to walk on tiptoe [when discussion religious institutions].

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Comments (8)

well said.

posted on October 28, 2009
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“When I write about religion, I cause a tidal wave.”

That tidal wave of hostility is based in doubt not certainty, when I write my words the atheist, materialist, scientist, and religious attack often with personal insults. These insults are based in doubt not certainty. Certainty has no need to attack, doubt does see a need to defend its beliefs at all costs even personal attacks if needed.

Example given below. This was written for an atheist blog and the personal attacks were very real not from the religious but the atheists. And so it goes. J


Consciousness as the hard problem.

Consciousness is not only the hard problem for the materialist but also for the atheist, scientist, and the religious. This is what they all have in common. This is why I often state that the atheist and the religious are two sides of the same coin. Now neither side knows that they share this “dilemma” that they are more alike than different in the intensity and similarly of their beliefs. In fact both sides are often hostile towards one another.

The atheist desperately tries to prove consciousness has its origin in the brain despite the evidence and the religious wants to bypass consciousness completely and just make a God (King) in his or her image. If one looks closely the religious are more interested in having a King to care for them then the study into the mysteries of consciousness. Buddhism and Hinduism may be somewhat the exception but they are another story.

An interesting observation is that the atheist may be more advanced in understanding of the mysteries of the universe at least at an intellectual level than the religious fundamentalists. But intellectual aptitude is not intelligence contrary to popular belief. Atheism may be one path to discovery. First one must reject religious dogma and seek deeper meanings into life. I.e. consciousness and awareness.

If consciousness is the hard problem then awareness is a real dilemma. One must stand outside of materialism, scientism, atheism and religious dogma to see this interesting phenomena play out on a daily basis. Few it appears are able to do this. Most it seems want to believe in something and defend it to their last breath. I.e. very human thing. Many will even travel the world to defend their cherished beliefs. I.e. evangelicalism defined.

An interesting side note: evangelicalism is based in doubt not certainty.

To show how hypocritical religious dogma can become the United States is considered one of the most (thee most) religious of the industrial countries. We have wars for profits, mega military, mammoth industrial military complex, mega profits off the sick and needy, millions without health care, over flowing prisons, and indeed capitalism goes against everything their “king Jesus” taught. Countries that have fewer people that call themselves religious are much more interested in the welfare of their citizens. I.e. Denmark.

Few will understand my words very few.

posted on October 28, 2009
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The line “merely designating something “religious” does not exempt it from ethical analysis” sums up this article well.

posted on October 29, 2009
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http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/23336/


A very good article by William James on phenomena. James was able to see how beliefs and paradigms can affect our view of the world and personal experiences are our best teacher.

Worthwhile read by the religious and materialist alike.

posted on October 30, 2009
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I have to take issue with what “researcher” wrote: “The atheist desperately tries to prove consciousness has its origin in the brain despite the evidence…”  Actually, there is a TON of evidence that consciousness arises from the brain. See (for starters): “Making up the Mind: How the Brain Creates Our Mental World” by Chris Frith, “The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach” by Christof Koch, and “A Physicalist Manifesto: Thoroughly Modern Materialism” by Andrew Melnyk.

posted on October 31, 2009
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Tilbarian, that’s researcher for you. Why would anyone have to admit to their own inability of forming a coherent and thought-through argument, when you can just blame the readers? Beforehand, even!

By the way, researcher, that insults against you are based on doubt and not your apparent arrogance or your poor argumentation is quite funny.

posted on November 3, 2009
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