Debate:Religion as Psychosocial Control

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"Religion as Psychosocial Control" Sane Disputatimus[edit]

OK, I'm aware that you didn't make the template yourself, and I never normally argue about discuss this sort of thing on RW, but I have to say "psychosocial control" is a pretty lousy way to describe religion -- and "all religion" is way out. Granted, some religions have used less than savoury methods to swell their ranks in the past, but it's hardly an instrinsic quality of belief in God.
Oh, and have a Debate Pancake. I made several.
They are nice with syrup. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 03:59, 3 September 2008 (EDT)

Haven't you seen that one before? It's been around for ages. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 04:37, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
I have seen it before, but I thought now would be a suitable time to mention my doubts about it. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 11:22, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
It's my personal belief... :P :) --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 04:45, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Meanie. Play fair :( <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 11:24, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Which religions don't use some form of "psychosocial control"?--Bobbing up 06:12, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Good question. What exactly is "psychosocial control"? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 06:40, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Wait a moment please! *Editor goes and grabs a bucket full of popcorn* Ok, continue, I'm looking forward for this discussion... Editor at CPLiar at RP! 06:58, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
"Some form of"? I sense redefinitions coming. In any case, since people are very rarely forced to enter any particular religion, I don't think the moral stipulations most religions make (Ascetic stuff, basically. Was that what you guys meant by "psychosocial control"? I can't really think of anything else.) would ever count as control. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 11:22, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
I took it to include such things as threats and promises - heaven and hell and the like. Also the tendency religions have to indoctrinate children to follow the religion of their parents - associated with the aforementioned threats and promises of a good or bad afterlife. Some people tell me that Buddhism doesn't do this - but others claim it's not a religion. (With regard to whether people are "forced" to join religions or not, I suppose that's no longer common - but the majority of religious people had very little choice in the religion they hold - most simply accept their parents' beliefs.)--Bobbing up 12:02, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Civil society employs threats and promises as well - the threat of imprisonment or other sanctions if you don't follow the laws, and the promise of protection and civic rights if you do. It also usually indoctrinates children to follow the general values of society. Is this a form of "psychosocial control" and therefore "inherently bad for you" as well? If so, I'm happy to give some pointers on how to build a hermitage. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 12:11, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
(Edit conflict) The same is true of politics (and food preparation, I might add), but that doesn't make it psychosocial control. The idea of Hell is indeed quite manipulative on face value, but it isn't a concept you find in all religions. You can believe in God without claiming that his existence justifies any moral laws.
And under what justification is Buddhism claimed "not a religion"? Is it disqualified by atheists simply for encouraging people to think for themselves? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 12:18, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
The threats and promises offered by the state are in respect of real things. Those offered by religion are not - although if you'd like to give me some evidence for the existence of Heaven and Hell I'll consider it. Persuading people to behave in a particular way because of real things does not seem unreasonable to me - persuading them to modify their behaviour because of ancient stories seems less easy to justify.
I agree that "Hell" is not found in all religions - but the majority have an afterlife, and it serves the same function of keeping the believers in line.
I'n not an expert on Buddhism - for that reason I said "some people tell me". You tell me - is it a religion? I don't know.--Bobbing up 13:37, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Serves the same function? Not all versions of the afterlife feature judgement, so I can't see why the concept of an afterlife on its own would keep believers in line.
Classifying Buddhism is tricky. I would say that it is a religion, because it contains many transcendant (not to say spiritual) aspects, even if it does not claim the existence of a single God. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 13:54, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Actually, Wikipedia has a whole article about the subject -- it looks like its an even more complicated issue than I thought. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 13:55, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
As usual, when defining "religion" you conveniently ignore the uber-liberal branches that no one ever has any objections to. You know, public education is a form of psychosocial control—one used for the better. And as society progresses, religion is increasingly used as a force for positive psychosocial control, and from a utilitarian standpoint are no worse than public education. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 13:58, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Ironically, I disagree (strongly) with the examples of "good social control" that you and AK have mentioned :)
And I can't tell who you're addressing with your comment. Bob? Me? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 14:00, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
That would be to Bob M, atheist extraordinaire. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 14:16, 3 September 2008
Oh, be nice :) I agree that Bob M's definition of religion is a little skewed, but that article gives entirely the wrong impression. When you end up describing the most kind-hearted and civil people on RW in terms of a partisan conspiracy, it might be a clue that you took a wrong turn somewhere. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 14:23, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
*Shrugs* It's not my problem it's... whoever wrote that one. I thought you wrote it? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 14:27, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Apparently, a certain Mr Test is responsible. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:33, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Yes, I can see it is confusing as it's not clear if you and AKj are making the same point. The point about the difference between real and imaginary threats and promises was in response to AKj who - if I understand him correctly - agrees that religion has a strong influence but says it is no different to other influences. The second two points were to you - and I think you are arguing that religion has no such influence, or does not have to have such influence. Is that correct?--Bobbing up 14:19, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
More or less correct. Religion (especially fundementalism) can potentially have great influence in the way you described, but it is not a necessary or meaningful feature of religious beliefs. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 14:23, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
I think it is necessary for this debate to distinguish between the concept of religion as a system of beliefs on the one hand and religion as the organized exercise of such beliefs on the other. I'm sure we'll all agree that the former can't exercise any kind of control, psycho-social or otherwise. The latter, being a group of human beings, might be able to. On the other hand, the actualy physical reality of the beliefs in question seems to be only vaguely related to the point, since the people involved obviously have to believe in them for the alleged control to be effective in the first place.
With that out of the way, I'm still not entirely clear on what the exact definition of this "psycho-social control" is and how it is being done. Could this be elaborated upon in greater detail? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:31, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Uh oh. I think we'll need to contact MiddleMan to answer that question. Unless Eira or Bob can explain. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 14:36, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Considering they both use the template in question, I certain expect that they'll have given it some thought. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:44, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
We really do need to define our terms, in any case. As Bob mentioned, we appear to disagree fundamentally in the above conversation, but I suspect that is mostly because we're thinking of "psychosocial control" in different ways.
Also, I had hoped this would be an EPIC DEBATE, but it seems to have fizzled out. Maybe I should provoke Ghengis Khant, or something :) <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 17:02, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
I still have half the popcorn in the bucket, I'm deeply disappointed. And no blood! I should have rented a horror flick instead. Editor at CPLiar at RP! 17:05, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
I've yet to respond! --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 17:33, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
I'm just going to throw an oar in willy-nilly here, but here goes: P1: Unitarianism defines itself by it's refusal of dogma. ("Belief without Dogma") P2: A lack of dogma necessitates a lack of psychosocial control. (No party line to toe means no tools to regulate behaviour, real or imaginary) C1: There exists a religion which does not necessitate psychosocial control. (Full disclosure - I am a humanist who attends a Unitarian church - I like that congregational feeling, and the organist is really good) ~ guest
"Psycho-social control" psycho=pyschological, "social"=social, "control"=control. It means a method of controlling the populace through the psychology of society. Now, in America, in order to be a "good person", you need to oppose prostitution like it's murder (they're both illegal after all), you need to oppress and deny homosexuals the rights granted heterosexual couples when they enter into the EXACT SAME RELATIONSHIP, and a hojillion other things. If you don't think that Christian psycho-social control is happening outside of themselves, HAHAHAHAHAAHA, they subvert their believers with a story of "love and acceptance" by Jesus, and then turn it around and use it to condemn the bigoted beliefs that they already had. The whole matter that a Christian can come up with "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" is preposterous, because sometimes their "Sin" is such a fundamental part of their person that it cannot be intrinsically removed. It's like "Love the Christian, Hate the Church"... wait, without the Church, there would be no Christian... You cannot love the former with acceptance that the latter is the reason for what they are. As for religion being some sort of choice, there is a reason why religion is protected from discrimination in the United States, to change one's religion requires such a monumental shift of thinking that it is deemed to be sufficiently immutable. Thus, to discriminate against people because of that... And we're surrounded by Christian influence in America, whether we like it or not. Even Atheists grow up understanding certain Christian stories, because they are considered part of American culture. Imagine an Atheist who did not know who Noah and the Ark were? When a wish-to-believer has a religious experience in the United States, they are more likely to prescribe it to a Christian God than anyone or thing else. If one were in the Middle East, then the religious experience would be prescribed to Muslim beliefs. Of course, few take the note that it's an odd chemical imbalance of their brain that caused them to feel euphoric for some reason, and that it signifies nothing at all, and we give it the context of whatever religion surrounds us.
Society is "social control" not psycho-social control... as is education, etc. Anything that is backed up with real consequences is *duh* a form of control, and when it's controlling a society it's social control. That doesn't mean that they're using psychology to do it. They using REALITY. Religions on the other hand present consequences that are ephemeral, or entirely enforced by the community. As an adulterer, you have no consequence in religion until you are caught, then the community can either enforce their beliefs about adultery (if they don't like you), or they can overlook the transgression and not enforce it. (if they do like you.) Sometimes the law does the same thing, so that's not what makes religion bad, and law not. It's this whole inbuilt system of rules and regulations and biases and kneejerk responses that religion develops in someone from a young age that make it so bad. This is the root of homophobia, racism, sexism, classism, etc... that the religion that you are surrounded by, not even THE ONLY ONE YOU BELIEVE, is so oppressed into your beliefs that you being self-hatred for breaking any of the arbitrary rules. Do I feel bad when I speed? Do I have speedophobia? Do I think all speeders are evil and wrong, and sinners? No, I don't. Do I still have a kneejerk response of "omg! no I'm not a lesbian, ewww!" yes, I do. Do I still have a negative reaction to homosexuals and their conduct? Yeah, unfortunately I do. I don't want to, but I do. Why? Because American society has been so influenced by the Christian faith that they've managed to implant these ideas entirely against my will. I have never ever ever ever seen religion do a good thing. The best I've seen is in my own personal self where I had a hole missing in my "soul", which I used Christianity to fill, until I started realizing how bigoted everyone was, and how bigoted it was making me. Eventually I found what was really wrong, and I'm fixing it, but in some ways, the very issues and bigotries that Christianity instilled into me against my will? I still fight those every day. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 17:33, 3 September 2008 (EDT)

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Respectfully, Christianity didn't instill anything in you. Christianity is just a set of beliefs. Christians may have done so, but that's another question entirely. And if you've never seen religion do a good thing, you might want to look a little harder. There are a couple of small groups called Caritas and Oxfam, for instance. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 17:47, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
< draws deep breath... :) >
  • Firstly, I notice you've skipped straight past the "all religions" part and chosen to focus exclusively on Christianity. My point was that although religion has been used as a manipulative device, this is not because it is manipulative in of itself. Science, literature and entertainment have all been similarly misused. As AK very succintly pointed out, those are actions of Christians, not Christianity itself.
  • Despite your breaking down of the etymology (thanks, I was stuck), "psychosocial control" still doesn't seem to have been clearly defined.
  • "As for religion being some sort of choice" -- I have no idea what this, and the following sentences, mean. Are you suggesting that religion is not a choice?
  • Regarding your mention of "chemical imbalance" -- everything you will ever think or feel is a chemical reaction or property in your brain. This doesn't explain anything, it only describes it.
  • And finally: no, social law structures are certainly a form of psychosocial control if the moral guidelines of religion are. You mention that they are "using reality", but since morality itself is not objectively real, this cannot possibly be true.
And Eira, do you have to use such huge comments? Seriously, there are only a handful of issues in this discussion :) <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 17:58, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Christianity is simply a convenient whipping boy. All religions have the same problems I show with Christianity. No, religion is not a choice. The point is that there is some random chemical imbalance that causes a religious experience. Example, during near death, etc. It's explained by the simple fact of its randomness... It's not God, it's just random. No, social law structures are not moral. They are quite distinctly different from morality. Slavery was legal, but it's not moral, abortion is legal, however many claim it is immoral, treating farm animals the way we do is legal but just about anyone exposed to it will find it to be immoral. Christianity attempts to state "things are moral because God says so", but that doesn't make things moral or not. Morality is a very personal thing, and law does not attempt to prescribe what is MORAL, but rather only what damages the community. It's not immoral to fire a firearm within city limits, but it is illegal, because it's disruptive. It's not immoral to play your music too loud, but it is illegal (in some cases) because it's disruptive. Moral legislation is an exception and is always driven by haughty religious nuts, who insist that their morality be made law. You claim that there are only a handful of issues in this discussion, however, I will note that as religion is supposed to dictate strong beliefs across a broad range of topics, that religion has put its psycho-social controling fingers into everything. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 18:12, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
As stated before, I cannot separate people apart from that which they use to define themselves. "Christianity" is as much the people as it is their beliefs. As for your "small groups" doing "good"; there is a reason why Muslim nations didn't want our religious helping organizations to help them out after the tsunami. Because they either oppress, or imprint their values upon the people they help. You cannot tell me that they provide temporal help, while totally dodging the matter of spirituality. Also, good job on not bringing up Mother Theresa as an example of doing good. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 18:15, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
  • "All religions have the same problems I show with Christianity" -- Simply incorrect. Your refusal to seperate religion from fundamentalism is tiresome.
  • "Religion is not a choice" -- Yes. It is.
  • "the law does not attempt to prescribe what is MORAL, but rather only what damages the community" -- If that were true it would be legal to murder criminals. All legal systems are attempts to declare an objective moral system. Social laws are no more objective than religious laws -- they are just more widely accepted. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 18:22, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Even the most liberal religion offends me. Are you satisfied with that? There are philosophies of life that start with principles that are religionless... "do unto others what you would have done unto you", and other such philosophical debates... these are of course, philosophies, and acceptable modes of life. Thankfully, many Americans no longer follow Christianity as a religion, but rather simply as a philosophy. They've set aside the silly notions that their religion is perfect, and just focus on the practical everyday things based on the ideas that are taught by Christianity, although not focused on by the religion. "Love hope and faith, the greatest of these is love". That sentence says a lot, and if more Christians (especially fundamentalists) put this into effect then there would be no reason to harass Christians about being a psycho-social control... they wouldn't be practicing psycho-social control, but rather approach the world from a philosophical examination and description rather than attempting to DEFINE things and fit them into a model. Religion is enough of a difficult to change thing that it is indistinguishable from choice... at the very least, Homosexuality is the same way. One can chose to fight the current and make their own way, but in the end, the current will win out. Also, it is legal to kill criminals, a) if they have committed a capital offense by due process, and b) if they are in the process of committing a felony. Check your local state laws, it's usually true (if not universally across all states of the union) that killing someone in the commission of a felony is a justified homicide. Murdering is a matter of legal definition... by legal definition all murder is wrong. And a justified homicide is not a murder, as is one that is prescribed by law through due process. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 18:44, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
  • Philosphy and religion are not seperate concepts.
  • Was "if they have commited a capital offense by due process" a reference to execution? If so, see above :)
  • But anyway, it seems to me that the description "psychosocial control" might be explained by your own definition of "religion". In which case, this is all just an argument at cross purposes. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 18:54, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Yes, philosophy and religion are separate concepts... I can believe in the good ideas that Jesus had, like "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", and not believe that Jesus existed in any way shape or form beyond a convenient superhero invented by a few schizophrenic people. The philosophy of christianity is "love your neighbor as you would love yourself", namely, everyone is equal, don't treat anyone different just because they're not you. That's a good philosophy, in a philosophical debate it even makes sense, and it's a justifiable position, and tenant. It's just good moral sense. However that Jesus was the son of God, and since he said it we gotta do it? Yeah, that's schizophrenic nonsense. I understand that Western societies have a difficulty understanding the difference between philosophies and religions, the only philosophies we have are religions. However in the far east, there are things like Confucianism, which are secular philosophies. That hold that these things should be done, not because some imaginary being wants us to do them, but simply because they are good on their own merits. A philosophical study of ethics and morality is not a religion... it is however a philosophy. As for execution, yes, that's what I'm referring to, however I don't see what you're directing me to look towards... My definition of religion is not really any different than the pervasive understanding of religion (worldwide, not limited to the western ideologies). A religion is a belief system that contains stories which present a history or past that is supernatural. A philosophy is simply an outlook on life. The Christian philosophy is a good one... the religion however leaves much to be desired. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 19:28, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Wow. Your definition of philosophy excludes about 70% of what the term would normally be applied to. "Simply an outlook on life"? Just out of curiosity, how would you classify Buddhism, or Plato's conception of God? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 19:43, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
My definition of "philosophy" was not meant to be exclusive, but rather contrastive against "religion". Buddhism is a religion. It presents supernatural explanations for the world. Is it a philosophy as well? Yes, it certainly is. I already stated that Christianity has a philosophy as well, and there's nothing wrong with the philosophy of Christianity... it's entirely the execution and reasoning behind it that make it bad for you. (Any appeal to authority is a fallacy, even if it's to an imaginary authority.) Plato's conception of God... crosses me as an unusual idea, because Plato predates Christianity and Monotheism in Greece. Do you have any good links that discuss this "Plato's conception of God", that I can look at, because right now, it makes no sense to me. However, if it involves "God" being supernatural in any way, then yes, it's a religion. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 20:36, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Wikipedia has a great article on Timaeus, which I think is probably a good place to start. Essentially, Plato theorises about the existence of a creator based on what he knows or believes about the world, and uses negative theology to refine his ideas. As such, I think it would be impossible to classify it as either philosophy or religion -- it is a more "pure" religious idea than "you have to believe in Jesus to avoid eternal damnation". It's also very interesting, so do check it out ^_^ <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 20:53, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
That's just wrong. Both Oxfam and Caritas helped extensively after the tsunami. But yes, the Muslim countries do have many charities of their own... which also usually happen to be based on religion. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 18:35, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
WHERE did they help? In Acha? And yes, Muslims have similar organizations... the fact that all religions are similar doesn't help the defense here... I am not accusing Christianity itself of being wrong, I'm accusing religion itself of being wrong. By saying "look! other religions do the same thing! They go in and help, and imprint their faith upon those they help!" it's like, uh... yeah, that's what I'm saying... --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 18:46, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
So it would be better if these people died of hunger or something? It's all nice and well to have this academic discussion here in our presumably comfortable houses, but the fact is that there are tens of thousands of religious people out there, being motived by their religion to help people who might otherwise not have anywhere to go, using money that other people gave them for religious reasons. Your claim that religion has never done anything good is both Not even wrong and fairly insulting to them. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 18:52, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
There are some very fine secular organizations that help others... not out of some religious belief, but simply because, it's the right thing to do. Religion isn't necessary to be a nice person... it's just a stupid silly ribbon that some people put on things to make themselves feel like they are accomplishing something. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 19:30, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Only just found this thread and all I can say is: "Eira, I think I love you" SusanG  ContribsTalk 19:40, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Super. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 19:44, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Yeah, I saw that article on the Big Four, and I was like, "oh crap... will it be the big five now?" *laugh* :) I'm just tired of people holding religion like it's a necessary thing... it's not, it's a crutch, a social crutch, a mental crutch, etc. And as with real crutches, if a healthy person uses crutches for too long, it will do damage to them. Crutches are only necessary when it is the best possible route to recovery. And then crutches should be abandoned (unless the disability is permanent). If there is a sociopath, or mentally disabled person that will only behave if you tell them that a boogie man is out to get them, then good use of a crutch. But for a sane mentally stable person to stoop upon a crutch and hobble themselves? That's just stupid. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 20:39, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
It's also a control for those in authoritei to manipulate their subjects SusanG  ContribsTalk 20:42, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Can we just cut to the chase here? Belief in a loving creator does not automatically entail a set of moral laws.
There; finished. You can go home now. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 20:53, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Oh? It doesn't? If you believe in God does he want you to kill your children, wife, then commit suicide? Any belief in a supernatural imaginary being brings with it as a consequence a will of that being, and thus a code that he wishes us to follow. If you're just talking about the Christian philosophy, no, you don't have to believe in God and other schizophrenic ideas to believe that they're a good idea, or to follow them in your life. My brother specifically told me once that he refuses to read the bible because it would corrupt the idea of God in his mind... he is actually living the most ideal Christian life I've ever seen personally. He is entirely self-sacrificing, and puts everyone before himself. Again, why doesn't he want to read the bible? because he doesn't want to get dragged into religion, he's happy with the good philosophy that he's already following, and he doesn't need a book to justify that philosophy... it's good by its own merit. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 20:59, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
So he believes in God without subscribing to dogma... and in your mind that translates to "philosophy but not religion"? This is just you playing with arbitrary definitions of words again.
Shorter comment version: No, it doesn't. Go home. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 21:04, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Short response: Uh, no he doesn't really believe in God... beyond the quasi stupid schizo beliefs that some agnostics have. "I believe God exists, but meh". Longer response: I would help him the whole thing about believing in a mythical being, but he's got other bigger problems, and frankly, I do as well. We're all stupid in someways, and at least his dogma isn't to go around and fuck everyone in the ass because they disagree. As for "arbitrary definitions", all words are in fact arbitrary... and one needs to find common-ground definitions in order to debate anything... I'm giving you my definitions. A "philosophy" (as opposed to religion) is a set of beliefs that is justifiable in its own right without an appeal to anything supernatural. A "religion" requires the claimed existence of something supernatural. (Which is totally irrational. Occam's Razor "Do not multiply entities unnecessarily", if the world can work without a God, why invent one?) He would still live the same life anyways despite his beliefs... because it's his philosophy that guides his actions, not his belief in a supernatural imaginary friend.
For my final response to you: I am home, this is my talk page... you're arguing on my "turf", so you can choose to pack up and go home... however I am already home... confronting me here brings no retreat... I am here, and I cannot retreat. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 21:21, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
I suppose I get to make a final response as well? :) In the end, your argument rests on the redefinition of words to suit your opinion. Well done with that. And, in fact, there is much philosophy devoted to theories about the unprovable and unobservable, and there is no magic barrier between this and religion.
Anyway, goodbye then. I hope you enjoyed the debate pancakes. ^_^ <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 21:30, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
It is not a "redefinition" of words... it's a fairly common definition used by many people to distinguish secular philosophies like Confucianism from religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, etc. These secular philosophies do not prescribe nor require belief in anything supernatural. These have long been common in the Far East. While I am aware that there are non-secular philosophies, such as Christian philosophy, etc, by nature of them proffering the existence of an imaginary being are by nature schizophrenic hallucinations, and bad for nearly all people who should be seeking a rational basis in reality, rather than an irrational belief that makes them feel double plus good good. Speaking of which, 1984 presents a secular psychosocial control... that's bad too. There's nothing about being secular that means it's perfect, just that religion is a proper subset of psychosocial control, (not that there aren't other psychosocial controls) and that all psychosocial controls are wrong. Religion being a proper subset of those, means that it is therefore wrong. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 22:12, 3 September 2008 (EDT)

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You believe that all religion constitutes psychosocial control. I believe in God, but I neither convert nor am converted. The moral values I associate with my belief are ones I always held. Where is the control in this situation? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 22:39, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Quick point - Are you saying you had moral values at birth? Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member 15:35, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
No :) I suppose it would have be more accurate to say "ones that I have developed throughout my life". <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 15:56, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
Hmm, developed? Can you be sure you weren't indoctrinated or the values "imprinted"? Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member 16:13, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
Obviously, I couldn't guarantee that with absolute certainty, but I am fairly sure I haven't been swayed by anyone. I've never met someone of the same religion as me, and I come from a long line of disinterested atheists. It's much more likely (although still not anything approaching indoctrination in my opinion) that my values have been influenced by people outside the domain of religion -- but, if I understand your comment, that wasn't what you meant. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 16:21, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
American morals are entirely influenced by Christian values, whether you are Christian or not, or whether you were imprinted directly by Christian values. The idea that sex is a horrible thing, that children must be shielded from tragedy, etc etc etc, are all part of the puritanical ideology of America driven by repressive parents adults and community leaders. The control is inescapable, and I was raised entirely atheist, as well as my brother, yet both of us come up with the same moral answers... the Christian ones. If we had grown up in Iran, we would likely have both arrived at Muslim answers, even if we were raised atheist. I presume that you're a native speaker of English, and that was imprinted upon you by those speaking English around you... you acquired your morality the same way. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 23:45, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
I think you are imprinting your issues on "everyone else", to the detriment of your argument. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:52, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
Actually, I'm not American. I was raised in England, under very secular values. I certainly wasn't taught that sex was immoral. And even if that were the case, these are only Christian values, so I'm not sure why you mention them. I'm not a Christian, and Christianity is not the sum total of religion. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 23:56, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
Again, Christianity is just a convenient whipping boy... If there were another majority religion among English speakers then I would use that as an example. All religions do the same thing, they really do. They exert a control upon the people around them, even when said religion is not actively practiced by the individual themselves. Again, if I were to raise a child in Germany and only speak English to her, then she would learn two languages, English from me, and German from everyone else. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 00:04, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
They really don't. You have not explained where the control is in my situation, therefore "all religions" is only a massive, paranoid oversimplification. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 00:09, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Amazing. Nine screens of verbiage in this topic, and still no one has defined what "psycho-social" control is and how it works. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:22, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
BUT the popcorn bucket is empty now (and I feel sick of all that popcorn). Thus I declare this discussion/debate/flame war over, with no winners, just losers. Editor at CPLiar at RP! 15:24, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
That's not fair. I missed half of it. :-( --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 15:36, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
I think we have some way still to go, Editor. AK: feel free to join in any time :) <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 15:56, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
Thank you. However, to be honest, I really question the value of even having this debate. It's basically the same one that we've been having here over and over and over, practically since day one. Sometimes this place feels like Groundhog Day. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 16:33, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
It is a pretty widespread debate, though. It won't go away just because we stop talking about it, so we might at least try to find a common ground. Is "not all religions practise psychosocial control" really such a difficult idea to understand? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 16:40, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
Oh, I would love to find a common ground here. However, I think I might try something a bit more achievable first, such as finding the magical kingdom of Prester John where the precious stones are so large, you can make dinnerware out of them. And I still haven't gotten an explanation of what "psycho-social control" is and why it's bad for me. :-( --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 16:53, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
Who's Prester John? He sounds familiar.
Actually, this is a much better debate. I encourage everyone to leap in. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 17:01, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
In the Middle Ages, Prester John was believed to rule a great kingdom somewhere on the other side of the Muslim world, right next door to the Earthly Paradise. John Mandeville had some very interesting things to tell about the place. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 17:56, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
I see... This marvellous kingdom sounds like a veiled reference to Jellyville to me. Preach the controversy. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 18:14, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
BELIEF IN PRESTER JOHN IS JUST A FORM OF PSYCHOSOCIAL CONTROL, AND IS THEREFORE BAD FOR YOU! --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 23:40, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
You missed it? I already explained it. A form of social control that relies upon psychological force, and coercion by creating mythical consequences for undesirable actions. Any form of social control that must trick their followers into compliance just isn't good for you. Because you're being misled, lied to, and generally treated like you are incapable of rational discourse and discussion yourself. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 23:39, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
Oh good. In that case, your first proposal falls down immediately, since not all religions posit the existence of such consequences. I'm glad we got there in the end. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 23:52, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
I fail to see how my first propose falls down immediately without an evident counter-example. Please provide. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 00:01, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Example: Me. You lose. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 00:09, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
You are not an example... you are not a religion. I need a religion that doesn't exert psychosocial control over its believers. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 05:22, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Earlier (during that enlightening period in which you forcibly seperated religion and philosophy using nothing but stubbornness) you asserted that any belief in a supernatural deity was religion. I believe in God. Stop stalling and answer the question. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 05:41, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
We've established... you're a person who believes in a god that doesn't actually do anything, thus is indistinguishable from non-existent... yet you insist to yourself that he still exists... how is this NOT psychosocial control? --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 05:44, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Who is supposed to be controlling who? Am I controlling myself? If so, great! That would make a change. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 05:46, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Okay. Now I would like to have "psychological force" defined. I would also like to see actual, hard evidence that all religions trick, mislead and lie to their followers and treat them like they're incapable of rational discourse. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 03:20, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
I like how everyone resorts to all of these debate tactics to debate this, rather than attacking the fundamental clause of the sentence. "FOR ALL RELIGIONS, that religion is a psychological control upon its believers" you don't need me to prove anything at all, you can just provide one religion that isn't a form of psychosocial control, and no one seems able to come up with one. That's why you're resorting to "define this, define that". Psychological force is self evident from the two terms. It is a form of coercion using psychology against the person you're controlling. You all know full well that an assertion of "all" cannot be proven... however it can be disproven with a single counterexample... why haven't I received one? In the words of another... tons of pages of comments, yet no counterexample... suspicious isn't it? Recall, it's a userbox... it's simply an assertion of my belief... not necessarily a statement of fact. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 05:26, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
You had your example. Me. Now disprove it. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 05:41, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
That doesn't make a lot of sense. You believe this, but you don't believe it to be true... or what? Anyway, asking for definitions is not a "debate tactic". I think it's fairly essential that we all know just what it is we're talking about. And you're dodging the question. I would like to see evidence that all religions - or just one religion would suffice - trick, mislead and lie to their followers and treat them like they're incapable of rational discourse. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 06:54, 5 September 2008 (EDT)

Discussion branch[edit]

Jellyfish: Out of curiosity, do you consider yourself a theist or a deist?--Bobbing up 03:38, 4 September 2008 (EDT)

Eira, I'm too busy to join in this debate but I just thought that I'd drop by and lend my moral support. Religion just eats up too much time. Jollyfish.gifГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member 03:58, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
No problem :) I appreciate the feedback though. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 23:36, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
Somewhere between the two, Bob. God does not intervene directly, but it is not because of absence or diminished "power". <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 12:59, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
So... a God that is indistinguishable from nothing? If you "believe" in a God like that, why bother believing in a God at all. Surely, you can't be believing in the Christian God, who is claimed to have intervened directly quite often, and is said to intervene directly fairly often. So, one could presume, that you're not even taking the Pascal's Wager, in that you'd still be condemned to hell for not believing in the TRUE God. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 23:36, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
"indistinguishable from nothing" -- Not quite :) And yes, I would still be condemned to hell if Jack Chick's idea of God turned out to be true. But frankly, if God is that vengeful and petty (and human), I'd rather not spend an eternity with him. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 23:52, 4 September 2008 (EDT)
So we're back to which god don't you believe in? I see that you have a private definition of "God" - which is fine. But I don't suppose you have any evidence for the existence of this particular version of god by any chance?--Bobbing up 03:36, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Is there such a thing as a believer without a private definition of God?
Evidence? None whatsoever. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 03:45, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
With regard to your first point - well, don't many religions have jealously guarded "corporate" definitions of god? I know that you could argue that every individual's personal definition could be slightly different, but I'm not sure how you'd demonstrate it.
With regard to your second point - further debate would seem pointless. :-) --Bobbing up 04:10, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
You do realise we're not actually debating the existence of God? We're debating the statement that "all religions practise psychosocial control". I brought up my own beliefs as a counter-example. If the statement in the userbox is true, I am either being controlled or I am controlling someone else -- or I am not religious at all. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 04:19, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
This is not a debate page. The discussion/debate can and will go in any direction. Anyway, my comment about further debate being pointless was in specific response to your statement that you had no evidence whatsoever to support your belief in god - my comment was not about the issues in general. I'm sorry if it confused you.--Bobbing up 05:13, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
OK. I misunderstood you slightly :) <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 05:41, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
*points to the other userbox on her page* "That can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. In your own personal case, you are exerting psychosocial control over yourself with your religious views. You believe in a god that doesn't react with the world, and thus is unnecessary to explain the universe... so he's useless. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 05:21, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
I'm exerting psychosocial control over myself? Eira, this is like arguing with RobSmith. Is there any term in existence you won't redefine to put off admitting you're wrong? In any case, it appears you've loosened the criteria for "psychosocial control" to the point where any belief possible now fits the bill. You are controlling yourself by being a liberal, by being an atheist, and by being fond of goats. Free yourself from all these beliefs, Eira! They're inherently bad for you! <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 05:41, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
See, this is exactly why I keep asking for definitions. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 07:00, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
That should get you into the "Gang of Five" if nothing else Eira. :-) --Bobbing up 05:25, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
This debate has raised the interests of all four of the original gang... so, I don't doubt that I'd be the fifth column attack on Theism. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 05:27, 5 September 2008 (EDT)

(unindent) sorry all people who disagree with me... but it's my birthday, so I win... you can go home now. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 05:45, 5 September 2008 (EDT)

Not fair! I already did the "go home" thing. *sulks*
But seriously, if you want to step back from the discussion a bit, I could always move this to a proper debate page so you don't get bright orange boxes whenever someone comments here. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 05:50, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Look, belief in god does not neccessarily constitute being religious, so if your belief makes no demands of you nor places any restrictions on your actions then you are hardly an example of religion. Man is a social animal and societies need a degree of conformity to function and perpetuate. That conformity is efficiently enforced through a combination of incentives and disincentives. In a totalitarian state there are usually too many disincentives and too few incentives - which is probably one of the major failings of Soviet-style communism. Religion is not unique in exerting "psycho-social control", it is necessary for all societies otherwise they would descend into anarchy. However, for most religions many of the incentives and disincentives are not temporal. The major religions have evolved to be self-perpetuating structures with their authority dependent upon the continuity of certain doctrines and dogma. Religion has also connived with secular power to give itself a privileged position in most societies. The difference between democratic societies and religion is that change can be effected in a democracy while within religion it is almost impossible without creating a breakaway faction which then polarises points of view. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member 08:23, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Sorry, did you just say "belief in God does not necessarily constitute being religious"? Stop the world, please; I want to get off. Really, the problem here is that you and Eira have decided that the definition of religion includes this "psychosocial control" nonsense, so it isn't particularly surprising that you think all religions practise it (and that the ones that don't must not count). However, the fact that you now find yourself saying bloody stupid things like "belief in God does not necessarily constitute being religious" might be a hint that your internal definition is utter crap.
Er... sorry. Got a little bit carried away there. I apologise for the tone of the above comment.
But I mean honestly, people... <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 18:07, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Perhaps you could try a little comprehension, Jellybrain. Religion implies, amongst other things, a moral obligation, worship, and adherence to a particular creed/doctrine/dogma; mere belief that there is a god is not religious if it does not somehow impinge on your choices and actions. The religion only ensues when you act on the basis of the belief, either through your own interpretation of prior doctrine or under the direction of others, based on the notion that somehow god will punish you or reward you if you do not act in a particular way. The mere concept of a universal creator does not on it's own require adherence to a set of moral guidelines. If you think it does then you need to examine where those guidelines have come from. Maybe when you have investigated psychology and sociology a little more you will realise that the majority of people are the product of their culture and the idea of a truly free will is illusory. I recommend that you read Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely for further insight into this. I also said that the portmanteau phrase "psycho-social control" is practised by all societies as a means to ensure conformity and avoid anarchy, the only difference is the nature of the incentives and disincentives between religious and secular societies.
Sorry for calling you Jellybrain but it appears you never got past the first clause before responding. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member 19:07, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
No, I did read your comment, but that does not change the fact that your central argument is blatant sophistry.
  1. "Religion implies, amongst other things, a moral obligation[...]" -- No, religion may imply that. The idea that religion has to include moral guidelines is yours alone. This is not the recognised definition of the word, as religion is nothing like as straightforward as you think.
  2. "The mere concept of a universal creator does not on it's own require adherence to a set of moral guidelines" -- My point exactly -- see above. The belief in this universal creator is still religion, though, regardless of any moral extrapolation. As I mentioned in my last post, your argument consists entirely of the mistaken belief that these moral guidelines are part of the defintion of religion. In reality they are only part of your definition.
  3. "the portmanteau phrase "psycho-social control" is practised by all societies as a means to ensure conformity and avoid anarchy, the only difference is the nature of the incentives and disincentives between religious and secular societies" -- I agree, but I don't think this is really relevant to the subject.
  4. "Sorry for calling you Jellybrain" -- Don't worry about it :) <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 19:27, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Let's go to a more-neutral source: "A religion is a set of tenets and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature, and often codified as prayer, ritual, or religious law." Or we could look at Merriam-Webster's Etymology for the word: "Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back." Now, as for your personal "religion", let us consult this head on. a) You've said that you believe in God... so we can skip this question. b) Does your believed god have a personal will? c) What happens to you when your believed god's will is broached by your actions? --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 19:52, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
God may have a will, but it is impossible to guage. And in the absence of any objective communication from God, I think we can assume that violating His/Her will would not result in punishment. We have the faculties to form our own ideas of morality, as I'm sure you'll agree.
But, in any case, that is entirely beside the point. Wikipedia's defintion says "often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality", and MW's supports that. Moral laws are not required to fit those definitions, as I explained. Religion is a compex issue, and it is sometimes difficult to tell if a belief or practise may be called religion, but there are certain things that do undeniably fit the bill, and explicitly believing in a creator God is one of them. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 20:12, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
So, your god, with his will is impossible to gauge... ok, that's believable since he doesn't intervene in the world. Now here's the question for you, what happens when you die? You are no longer a part of the physical objective world, so can your god exact punishment or reward at that time? --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 20:18, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Sure. However, I don't think he would. If there is a God who is above the "physical objective world", why should it behave exactly like a creature from that world? <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 20:23, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
EC) ::::::::Well these [1], [2] definitions of religion certainly back up my definition of the word so I am not alone, it would appear to be you who is stretching the meaning. If the belief does not have implications and consequences then it is meaningless and isn't one of the points of religion to give life meaning? As for the nature of the incentives and disincentives then it is entirely relevant. Successful secular authority relies on a balance between the good of the whole with the good of the individual. At some point society has to return benefits to those who contribute. With organised religion (which is really the whole point of this protracted debate rather than your nebulous definition) much of the benefit is purportedly delivered in the afterlife or after-lives. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member 19:59, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
No, your first definition says "usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code", which is a far cry indeed from your claim that those aspects are necessary to the definition. Your second definition includes the "customs and rituals" part as one of several meanings. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 20:12, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Oh oh! that magic word again, "Sophistry", which from our more-neutral source states it is: "In the modern definition, a sophism is a confusing or illogical argument used for deceiving someone." Wait, so we're the ones committing sophistry, when you're the one presenting a confusing and illogical argument that you believe in some loving creator in the sky? Your argument is 100% illogical, you've already stated that you have no evidence, and that you do not believe that your God intervenes in the world. So, what purpose does he serve? Oh right... he's there so you can conform to the rest of the Christian society that still grasps at straws saying "Well, no, you're totally right about everything, but HEY! There's still a God!" It's like... you want yourself to believe in a schizophrenic notion alternative to reality, and you accuse US of sophistry? Why? Because we disagree with you? Because you know you're right? How, you don't even have evidence to support your belief in god, as if he did anything anyways. Is it logically plausible to believe that there is some non-active being superior to the entire world that doesn't do anything? Yes, it's plausible that he exists... but then WHY EVEN HAVE HIM?! It's like "I believe that there is a particle in the world, that travels at greater than the speed of light, but that it cannot react with this world." Wow... congratulations... you've managed to invent something that is improvable and infallible, simply by the fact that it does nothing. It's like someone gave you the question "All things in reality subset the Universe", and you added "All things in reality subset the Universe, as well as something that could totally violate all the rules and everything, just oh, he doesn't." --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 20:02, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
You've missed the point again. I am not arguing that my beliefs are rational or correct -- I do not expect to convince you there :) -- I am merely saying that they are religion and that they disprove your initial argument because they do not entail any control, psychosocial or otherwise. And yes, you have a remarkable talent for sophistry. In particular, dragging the argument back to Christian values when I challenged you to point out any "psychosocial control" in my beliefs was a stroke of genius. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 20:12, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Also -- "he's there so you can conform to the rest of the Christian society"? You're not even arguing with me when you say such bizarre things as this, you're slinging insults at some imagined enemy in your head. I don't live in a Christian society, and my values are far from conformist. You're clutching at straws again. <font=""; face="Comic Sans MS">Jellyfish!</font>Let's go down the waterfall 20:18, 5 September 2008 (EDT)

Another branch[edit]

Oh, really? Well, I guess the Catholic Church is exactly the same today as it was back in the 4th century, then, and the 21 ecumenical councils since then were just really elaborate debating clubs that never meant anything? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 10:14, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Come on AK, I said that religions have evolved, bringing up what happened 1700 years ago when the church decided to codify it's doctrine is a bit of a red herring. And the Ecumenical Councils probably have been debating shops and their meaning lost on the ordinary church follower. While they may have changed some items of dogma they have basically been an oligarchical group largely reinforcing the church's own authority (although I am sure you can come up with some exceptions). The Cathars were ruthlessly crushed for their heresies while Luther's challenge to papal authority resulted in a schism with a bloody legacy and whose effects are still being felt today. It has become much easier to establish a new church under the protestant banner but I don't see the wishes of millions who would like to use contraceptives in marriage being addressed in any meanigful fashion by the Catholic church. As they say (so I am told) in the Vaitcan, "We deal in centuries" - there is change but is excrutiatingly slow. But none of that was really my point. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member 11:04, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Sure I can come up with "exceptions". Council of Nicea, Council of Chalcedon, Fourth Lateran Council, Council of Trent and especially Second Vatican Council. All resulted in fairly radical changes for the average worshipper. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 12:02, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
Of course the Council of Nicea... which ended up deciding that the Trinity was a fundamental point of faith, and thus gnostics are heretics, and it's ok to kill them... Certainly, that's totally an example of non psychosocial control... --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 16:49, 5 September 2008 (EDT)
That's not really what we're discussing down here. But now that you mention it, you still haven't produced evidence that religions trick, mislead and lie to their followers and treat them like they're incapable of rational discourse. Do you need more time to look for it? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 04:48, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
Oh, and by the way, Nicea decided that it was ok to kill the Aryans. It had been ok to kill the Gnostics for a couple of centuries before that. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 04:50, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
Not to mention the Christians, of course. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 04:51, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
AKjeldsen: you state:"you still haven't produced evidence that religions trick, mislead and lie to their followers and treat them like they're incapable of rational discourse.". Is it your position that no religion has ever done this? Or that some religions don't do it? Or that most religions don't do it? Or what? --Bobbing up 05:16, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
It is my position that no mainstream religion has systematically and intentionally done so, which is what seems to be implied here. If that is not what is implied, I'm afraid I must once again ask for further definitions. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 05:29, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
And it is also my position that such a sweeping generalization ought to be backed up with some pretty strong evidence, since, as I understand the axiom goes around here, "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 05:32, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
I disagree with your position slightly, AK. I maintain that even though "psychosocial control" (under any of the various definitions it has taken during the course of this debate) might have been practised by some unscrupulous religions (Scientology for example), it is not an inherent part of religious belief, and therefore any references to it are simply straw men -- no different from arguing that "evolutionism" leads to eugenics. This idea is bad because bad people did bad things with it, and ideas have consequences, folks. New3.pngPink(Astronomy Domine) 05:37, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
To be honest, this discussion has been so much all over the place that I barely know what my own position is any more. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 05:48, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
I know what you mean. Nods.gif New3.pngPink(Astronomy Domine) 05:55, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
I think you verified that a while back. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member 06:05, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
I notice you still haven't cited anything to support your new defintion of religion, Genghis. New3.pngPink(Astronomy Domine) 06:09, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
Actually, I'm getting confused by your position Chaos. You said previously that "You can believe in God without claiming that his existence justifies any moral laws." and that you were "somewhere between" a theist and a deist. I think you also used your example to suggest that religion doesn't automatically control people. But looking at these previous comments I'm darned if I can work out to which religion you belong. Could you clarify for us to which religion you belong?--Bobbing up 08:51, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
Considering Chaos' affinity for musical genres that were abandoned by the rest of society decades ago, I'll bet his/her/it is similarly attracted to old, abandoned religions. Maybe a Mithraist. Have you ever killed a bull with your bare hands, Chaos? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 19:22, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
Certainly not. That's... bizarre. New3.pngPink(Astronomy Domine) 19:29, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
Well, not if you ask the Mithraists. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 19:33, 6 September 2008 (EDT)
Actually, I'm entirely confused by Chaos's definition of god... He exists, he doesn't interact with the world in any way. And after our death, he doesn't interact with us in any way. I've seen a few humorous depictions of how this could possibly work, on YouTube, but I would certainly dismiss such depictions as straw men, as they clearly are. Chaos: can you answer these two questions? a) What do you believe will happen when you die? and b) What exactly distinguishes your god apart from "nothing"? Your conception of god must have done something, or will do something in order to distinguish it from a vague hypothesis to fit into the "I believe in a god" post-Christian mostly-secular, yet-still-Christian-I-mean-your-queen-still-believes-in-him society while not suffering any consequences suffered when a god actually intervenes in the world. (a.k.a. evidence of existence) --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 04:36, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Okay. But I really must point out, this is not the subject of the debate. All that is relevant to the discussion is that I believe in God and am therefore religious.
Anyway, I'm going to answer your questions in reverse order, because it seems to make more sense that way. B: God created the ideal of reality, from which observable reality is derived. He/she/it does not interact further because it is not necessary. A: Death brings about enlightenment from our limited perception of existence.
Also, "still-Christian-I-mean-your-queen-still-believes-in-him"? No, that's not how it works. And since I'm not a Christian, that doesn't even support your point about indoctrination. New3.pngPink(Astronomy Domine) 05:30, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

(unindent)His definition is different from the one I proposed earlier. This is not a "new" definition. As for what you ask for... "religion tricks, misleads and lies to their followers". As standard fair, I'll grab a random person on the street and ask them their religion, then use that to critic your point. Ah, a Christian. Kind of guessed that was going to happen since I'm in America. Religion tricks: using apologetics to explain away details of the bible that critics use against the text. This is decisive trickery in the highest orders of sophistry as the term is enjoyed by Chaos. mislead: telling them that there is an afterlife for which they will be either rewarded or punished for their belief in Jesus. (note: modern protestant christianity claims no other criteria is required to enter heaven, simply the grace of their god.) This same misleading goes towards Kharma, etc. However, oddly enough not the Dao... the Dao says that you can push against the current and effect a temporary change, but the Dao will eventually flow how it so chooses. Some use that there are lean years after war, etc, etc, etc... however from a purely philosophical view, the waging of a war requires expenditure of resources. Those resources must be taken from some where. Really, the Dao is more just like "dude, the whole of earth will eventually be scattered into star dust anyway... so anything we do here is temporary... period." (which is what current modern science teaches.) As well, note that the Dao does not evoke anything supernatural, beyond a nameless formless "Dao" (path, way). It's akinned to a river. Nothing in the Dao is against science. Now, believing that Laozi the "author" was one man and various other mythical details of his life, that's misleading. lie: well, first of all, I don't think I should ever have to offer up proof of intentional deciet and lying by christianity. And lastly "treat their followers like they're incapable of rational discourse:" well, easily enough, priests. Even the most liberal Christian believes that there are details of the bible that must be studied and learned, and that a lay person is ill-fit to detail those. Honestly, I ask why? I just read a wikipedia article about quantum tunneling, I have a sufficient understanding to begin a rational discourse regarding it with a quantum scientist. If the bible is the world's "little" instruction book, then why make it so difficult to understand that one requires actual study in order to convey some of the more important messages... like the Trinity, etc. When I was a christian, I didn't believe in the eucharist, I told my parents "Jesus broke the bread and said 'everytime you do this, do it in rememberance of me.' and since jews break bread at EVERY meal, wouldn't that mean simply to not ritualize it and remember Jesus everytime we start eating? Even when we're not actually breaking bread?" The response was, "you're misinterpretting things." Eventually, I did take part in the eucharist after a while, my reason? "This is what christians do." No further discussion necessary. As well, when I told them I didn't believe in the trinity, because "it is entirely illogical that god can be jesus wholely. jesus was born on earth, and talked to god. Thus, jesus has a property that god does not, and since in order to be equal, each must subset the other in properties, jesus cannot be god." The response? "God is above logic, dear", and a referal to the pastor who was concerned that I disagreed on an important point of faith. How can a rational being answer "it's above logic"? Logic is not biased for or against christianity... it is however biased against self-contradiction. If god were to exist, then he would functionally need a definition, and that very definition would confine him, and limit him, yet we are told that he is infinite. So, for christians, logic is the best way to reason out all the details about christianity and how to live as a christian, however it is not to be used as a tool to analyse christianity itself. I find this as ridiculous as the Scientologists placing psychiatry and psychology as enemies of the church, ("subversives" as they call them) because psychology (psychiatry is just a medical degree + psychology) could be used to examine the effects that the church has upon them, and they could then challenge the authority of the church. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 05:07, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

If you're wondering why I haven't detailed this information sooner, its because when I look at it, it is a numerous as the grains of sand on a beach... it's difficult to pick just one pebble from the beach, and provide it for analysis. Rather, I study it statistically, because it all behaves the same. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 05:07, 7 September 2008 (EDT)

The userbox says "all religions". As I mentioned above, for this to be true you must illustrate how the very concept existence of God itself automatically implies such methods of control. New3.pngPink(Astronomy Domine) 05:30, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
And I'd still like to know what religion you belong to. You gave yourself as an example of somebody not controlled by their religion: "You had your example. Me. Now disprove it." So, it's valid to ask what religion you belong to. (And I honestly don't believe you're a Mithraist.) --Bobbing up 06:06, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
You are correct! I'm a Gnostic. New3.pngPink(Astronomy Domine) 06:15, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
I'm really very sorry but I still don't believe you. :-( In order to hold yourself up as an example of a person whose religion has not controlled his thinking or development you really should tell us to which religion you belong.--Bobbing up 08:27, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
I was serious.
And in any case, I'm not claiming that my religion hasn't "controlled" my thinking (I'm using a very broad definition of "control" here, so for the sake of clarity I must note that the word "guide" would be more suitable) I'm claiming that it doesn't constitute psychosocial control because I arrived at my religious beliefs without guidance. Me controlling myself doesn't count. New3.pngPink(Astronomy Domine) 08:40, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Well, this whole conversation is getting into definitions, but I would suggest that if you have a private set of religious beliefs which are personal to you, then I'm not sure that I would call that "a religion" in the accepted sense of the word - as I would have expected a church, rituals, holy books and that sort of thing. However, to be fair, if we look at the Google definitions of religion then we have multiple definitions. So I guess we call all pick, chose, and say "Yaa Boo".--Bobbing up 14:25, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Well, when discussions start with statements as sweeping as "all religion constitutes psychosocial control", we might expect to get bogged down in definitions for a while. I for one am satisfied that the statement is incorrect under any sensible defintion of "religion" (not to mention "psychosocial control"). New3.pngPink(Astronomy Domine) 09:23, 9 September 2008 (EDT)
Bob, I must admit that I'm a little confused about what the exact nature of Chaos' personal beliefs have to do with this discussion. Perhaps you could clear that up for me? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:31, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
By all means. I wouldn't normally push the issue of a person's personal beliefs like this, but he has several times offered himself up as an excellent counter-example of a person whose religion doesn't cause him to act in a particular way (or something like that). As he was offering his religion as such a good counter-example of what we claim about religion it seemed appropriate to press him on the nature of the religion he follows. But, to be honest, I rather think that we've squeezed as much life as we can out of that issue now.--Bobbing up 14:54, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
Well, that makes sense. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 15:19, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
That's all very nice, Eira, but that is not evidence for your assertion. The problem is that you're not assuming good faith. Unless we're also using non-standard definitions in this case, to "trick mislead and lie" implies that one intentionally misrepresents an untruth as the truth. But surely, if the person in question does not know or honestly does not believe that what he says is false, we can't accuse him of lying?
Also: "...I don't think I should ever have to offer up proof of intentional deciet and lying by christianity..." Oh really? That's interesting. Now, of course Christians lie on a daily basis. I lie on a daily basis. Probably all humans lie on a daily basis. But that is not the same thing as evidence that "Christianity" lies. For that, you will have to demonstrate that there is an intentional and organized policy on the part of the various Christian hierarchies to mislead their followers. And with documents, please. I'll wait while you dig that up. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:28, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
And while Eira is busy with that, Ghenghis can begin looking for evidence to support his assertion above that religion has its current place in society because it has "connived" (note the implied intentionality again) with the secular powers, rather than as a result of complex historical social mechanisms. Cheers. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:31, 7 September 2008 (EDT)
What so one must have intention to mislead? If I am standing at an intersection, and someone asks me which direction is north, and I mistakenly point them to east, and they proceed upon that assumption... have I mislead them? Certainly I didn't lie to them, lie requires intent... but mislead does not. As well, using sophistry even with every intent for it to be valid and appropriate is often labeled as a trick... chaos often accuses me of such action... is sophistry no longer a "trick"? but rather just an appropriate use of logic? Or is it only a trick when one does not believe the proposition? Because I've certainly believed in ever proposition that I have posited upon this talk page. Yet chaos still asserts that it is sophistry, and thus a trick of logic. As well as lying... let's presume this. Say I tell person B that the world is flat, even though I know such is not true... then person B thoroughly convinced thereof, proceeds to tell person C, who tells person D... the only person with intent here to lie is me... however does that make the proposition any less of a lie? Just because someone has told you information in earnest fully believing the material... if they received the information through a lie, then the information is still a lie... or do you disagree with my definition of lie in this case? Now, let us presume that someone learns palmistry... they have done so for no other reason than simply to gain a living wage from it. After a few years, the overwhelming positive response from readees begins to mold upon the practitioner the belief that palmistry is actually true. That palmist is now performing with full intentions that her readings are true and valid... does that make her any less of a liar? --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 07:33, 8 September 2008 (EDT)
Oh, goodie. Under your new definition of "mislead" you must now demonstrate that every possible variation of religion is incorrect in order for your original assertation to be true. I fear this may be a bit of a non-starter, rhetoric-wise. Perhaps you should stick to redefining your terms? New3.pngPink(Astronomy Domine) 09:23, 9 September 2008 (EDT)
While misleading someone does not necessarily happen by intent (M-W: "to lead in a wrong direction or into a mistaken action or belief often by deliberate deceit"), I think it's pretty clear from the context ("trick, mislead and lie") that the intentionality is at least implied. Even if not, that still leaves "tricking" and "lying" unaccounted for.
In any case, this is still just a lot of words. I don't see any evidence. As the Internet saying goes, "pictures or it didn't happen". --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 07:53, 8 September 2008 (EDT)

Yet another edit button[edit]

Hmm. This May 2004 report from Human Rights Watch should make a thoughtful man uneasy. Small sample:

As in the United States, abstinence proponents from within the Catholic church hierarchy have at times made false scientific claims about condoms in order to buttress their moral arguments. In an October 2003 interview with the BBC, the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, stunned AIDS experts when he suggested that HIV can permeate microscopic pores in condoms. Calling the use of condoms “a form of Russian roulette,” Trujillo stated: “The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon [spermatozoa]. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the ‘net’ that is formed by the condom.” Trujillo’s claim was not new. Since 2002, various bishops have claimed that HIV can permeate condoms, called for health warnings on condom packets, and cited anti-condom studies by the pro-“abstinence-only” Medical Institute for Sexual Health in the U.S. state of Texas. In fact, condoms are impermeable by the smallest STD pathogens, including HIV, and provide almost 100 percent protection against HIV when used correctly and consistently. In October 2003, the World Health Organization dismissed allegations of condom porosity as “totally wrong.”

In June 2001, UNAIDS director Peter Piot publicly asked the Catholic church to stop opposing the use of condoms against AIDS, saying that “when priests preach against contraception, they are committing a serious mistake which is costing human lives.” The Vatican nevertheless used the occasion of World AIDS Day 2003 to defend its anti-condom stand, stating that HIV prevention campaigns should not be “based on policies that foster immoral and hedonistic lifestyles and behaviour, favouring the spread of the evil.”[3]

It might be possible to dismiss the likes of the late Trujillo as lone cranks, but given that he posted the likes of this on the official Vatican website, then the wider hierarchy must bear some responsibility for (charitably) his scaremongering, or (uncharitably) his outright misrepresentation and deceit. In the interests of fairness, I'd like to salute the many priests, nuns and lay folk who fight tirelessly against such nonsense, and to invite you to join me in condemning those who attempt to perpetuate their orthodoxies by means of misinformation and fear. --Robledo 17:09, 8 September 2008 (EDT)

Seriously... I wonder if some people even READ Conservapedia, or are you just so blinded by "good faith" that you presume that everything everyone is doing is with a good heart? I'm sorry, but there's also a thing called NEGLIGENCE, which does not require intent. Willful refusal to accept scientific data because it offends one's faith or because one dislikes the consequences is a matter of negligence. If someone had the ability to learn fact supported by actual physical evidence and yet refused, and continued to teach their particular ideology in direct contradiction to physical evidence... that constitutes deceit in my book. Maybe not willful, but still intentional deceit. --Eira omtg! The Goat be praised. 18:04, 8 September 2008 (EDT)

Very good, Robledo! Concisely pointing out a serious problem, supporting evidence and a reasonable interpretation all in one post. This is something it actually makes sense to discuss, rather than the generalized "religion iz teh suxx0rz" crap we usually get here. The rest of you sorry lot could learn much from this.

As a matter of fact, Cardinal Trujillo was hardly a lone crank - the Council for the Family is a fairly high-profile institution, and he had considerable influence in the Vatican. I think he was even briefly considered a candidate for the papacy after JPII died.

I'd like to go a little bit in depth with this, however, because it's actually quite interesting. To properly understand why Cardinal Trujillo had the position he did, one needs to remember that the Vatican is by no means a homogeneous entity. Like any political body, there are lots of different factions, conflicts and shifting alliances, based on both ideology, theology and geography. In particular, Trujillo's career really has to be seen in the light of John Paul II's election in 1978. It's easy to forget now after a highly successful 25-year pontificate, but Wojtyla's election was very much a surprise at the time - he was young, he was non-Italian, and he was more or less unknown outside the Vatican. So like any other newly elected political leader, he needed a platform and he needed allies.

One of the things he did to get both was to focus on sound conservative issues like "the family". It's no coincidence that the very first motu proprio he issued was the aptly-titled "The Family is Instituted by God", which restructured the Curia a bit to establish precisely the Pontifical Council for the Family. Another thing was to give cardinal's hats to people like the then-Archbishop Trujillo, who like himself was young, conservative and very much both anti-Marxist and anti-liberation theology. Some ten years later, in 1990, these two were combined when Trujillo was made president of the Council for the Family, thus giving him the perfect platform for promoting the sort of views that we see in this report. He didn't limit himself to contraception, either; his views on homosexuality were also very interesting.

So does any of this mean that "Christianity" is lying or using trickery or deceit or whatever? No, of course it doesn't - Trujillo is hardly representative of Christianity as a whole, any more than any other individual is, and to suggest otherwise is just pure uninformed bigotry in my opinion. But it does show us that the Catholic hierarchy has an unfortunately large group of high-ranking members who see no problem with using these tactics to support the greater cause - probably even with the best intentions from their own point of view. Obviously, this in itself is a huge problem for the Church, and in the broader view, it is also very unfortunate that on a number of core issues, the conservative factions in the Vatican have managed to slowly but surely roll back the otherwise very promising reforms that came out of the Second Vatican Council.

Now, it is possible that things will improve in the future, but unfortunately I sort of doubt it. The current long-term trend seems to be that Catholicism is losing ground in Europe and North America, but not in Latin & South America, and is growing steadily in Africa and Asia. If this trend continues, clergy from these latter regions will gradually gain more influence in the Vatican, and generally speaking, they tend to be more theologically conservative than Europeans and North Americans.

Now, isn't this a much more interesting discussion that the one we've been having up until now? (I certainly hope so.) --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 20:58, 8 September 2008 (EDT)