Erik Richardson

Teacher, Richardson Ideaworks, Inc.


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If these guys (and others) are right and religion is delaying human progress, how do we move forward?

1.Are the churches too deeply embedded into our nervous systems to ever be able to shut them down?

2.If not, how do we succeed in shutting them down?

3.Where are the scholarships to support the next generation of religion's critics?

4.Where are the communities with positive, shared vision/values to support a more rational, scientific future?

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    Apr 27 2011: How do we move forward?

    Just keep discussing it.

    As Steven Hawking said:

    "There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works."

    The more that people hear religion discussed, the more they will see the irrationality behind it. It may take generations to die out, but eventually the truth will emerge.
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      Apr 27 2011: Tim, please present here only an irrational thing on which the religion is relying on .

      I have now a real pleasure to contradict the says of this great scientist : the religion isn't based on authority, the religion is based on everything else but not on authority , it couldn't be religion if it is based on authority (i have to say that somehow in this way I understand the religion).
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        Apr 27 2011: One irrational thing: That God would send his son/prophet(s) to earth and he or his followers would write a book which would serve as God's message to mankind.

        You think he'll post a YouTube video when he sees we're not getting the message?
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          Apr 28 2011: It's very easy to see why God has used prophets and some kind of people for sending His message , He could choose others ways of doing it but ..............I don't see what's so irrational in the fact that He used some people for sending His message , He's a divine being , He had to send His message somehow (through some people called prophets even through Himself ).
          If you will type the word Bible for example on youtube you'll surely find His message................ and we have got His message (I'm talking now about the christianity), we have the Bible , it exist whatever we do ,we don't listen to it, that's the problem .

          I would like to hear a real irrational thing about the Bible for example.
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        Apr 27 2011: You've got an uphill struggle here, Eduard, as most religions admit themselves to contain truths which go beyond the reach of reason.

        For concrete examples, we need only look at things that cause contradictions in our normal logical understanding: creation from nothing is a pretty big trump card, as are any of the various paradoxes created by the claim of an infinite being or of souls lasting an infinitely long time.
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          Apr 28 2011: Erik, the fact that what says the Bible for example contains truths which go beyond the reach of reason doesn't mean that this things are irrational ok? , it only means that we can't understand that kind of things , this things are rational for a superbeing and not totally for us (we are dealing here with a God).................... and so your argument goes nowhere, but Erik I agree with you about the existence of the paradoxes(in fact if we explore carefully everything we will reach only at paradoxes, I know it from my experience) , and this is a question for the atheists : How can we explain the existence of the paradoxes without appealing to a god ?(if you (the person who read this message) are atheist and you can't answer to this question you just reduce yourself to nonsense ).
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          Apr 28 2011: Hi Erik
          "creation from nothing is a pretty big trump card,"
          Agreed; but surely materialistic science has the same problem ?

          We used to believe that the universe was eternal. The bible has always claimed it as finite, even giving the approximate time of it's existence. Science has now agreed it is finite, & has postulated a Big Bang. Not that scientific.

          What is wrong with the idea that an eternal being created a material universe ? Surely it is more likely than a material being creating a material universe. Or worse still; a material universe springing into existence all by itself.

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        Apr 28 2011: In all complete fairness to Ed,

        when a child is born and his/her parents are telling them God before the alphabet that child has a significantly less chance to breaking through those thoughts. Even if one said God is considered to be reality that would be far more beneficial than using a man made book to describe God, indeed science would be encourage then! Just not fair to tell babies God is the answer before they hear all sides of the story. Traditionalized belief systems are devastating to human advancement. Sorry, that was rational.

        Irrational: 1. The earth was made 6000 years ago, but there are pyramids that are older.
        2. God makes man with free will, then kills them for being free.
        3. Two people made all men and women; a variety of skin tones.
        4. A modern fundamentalist error is Jesus was white..
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          Apr 28 2011: About your first bring some proofs .................... and if you don't like it you could believe that the Earth is billions of years old , it won't bother you in your supposed faith.
          "God makes man with free will, then kills them for being free." sorry Nick but you don't know what you are talking about because how you present the problem ins't at all suitable with what says the Bible about it.
          Jesus Christ was a jew that's sure.............
          "Two people made all men and women; a variety of skin tones" about it even the evolution theory could explain you how it comes(and I think any doctor who know his job).

          If you know really an irrational thing about the Bible for example I'm very glad to find out which it is.

          Let's suppose that we have free will, someone could argue about it (I'm personally tempted to believe that we have levels of free will but I don't wanna talk about it). So supposing that God created us with free will do not excuse anyone for doing something wrong , God do not punish/kill us (if He do it) for having free will but for using it wrong what you said isn't at all true because as I said He do not kill us for being free but for using the freedom in a wrong way.
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      Apr 27 2011: Yes Tim
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        Apr 29 2011: you wrong the person about me as fundamentalist(I'm not sourcing only one book , idealogy...I'm tying to source myself with everything what is true) and I don't know why do you think that God in my opinion is reality/love/a force , I really don't know , I would like to find out and I don't see where it is said in all what you've sent me that some pyramids are more than 600o years old, perhaps i didn't notice can you share me the quote?
        And i would like to know more about your theory(even though perhaps I will criticize it ) and about how the Bible for example belittles the idea of an all-powerful God (to not believe that now I'm thinking that God is all-powerful) .
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        Apr 29 2011: It do not sound like a mockery.................. I will answer you with a question: why do you think that God have this job: to help the humans being(we should consider the whole picture I think as much as we know it) ? If the Bible is true neither 5% from the all humans do not listen to Him , this God isn't a fool..............and I would like to know your opinion, why this God doesn't make sense for you?
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        Apr 28 2011: "Look, the fact you are going about God fundamentally" more specifc

        "Jesus being a Jew means what exactly about his skin color, he would of been Arab-skin color, not a white male with blue eyes, so ridiculous"..........perhaps you are right , it doesn't matter in my opinion.

        "and the pyramids pre-date the Bible's creation story and that is an accepted fact"...........share me a historical proof.

        you are really a fun guy ........look:"So if we have something like Free Will we used it wrong although he made us have it in the first place." we could use it right , we could use it wrong , we have to pay when we use it wrong ............. but we are the guys (lol), ok?
        The Bible is non-sense , the Bible does too much sense , what's the point? ...........Nick you are really a fun guy.......................I like to laugh sometimes............
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    Apr 28 2011: If other people want to debate other irrational aspects of the holy books, why not start a new thread?


    I want to stick with this simple point - it is irrational that an all-powerful being would transmit his message via a book.
    • Apr 28 2011: Dear Tim Colgan,
      "it is irrational that an all-powerful being would transmit his message via a book."
      why? do you know better way?
      why irrational?
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        Apr 28 2011: An all-powerful being should be able to communicate directly. Why pick a pen and do it indirectly?
        • Apr 29 2011: yes it is able but he do not want to communicate direct.
          every one does not all is able.
          you communicate direct to some one when you be able and you "want" to communicate direct.
          maybe for some reasons you not want to communicate direct and want to communicate indirect.
          so it is not irrational.

          if you know:
          1- what is real God.
          2- what is human? and human is not only material and has spiritual aspect and spirit does not die never and is possible enter new body after death.
          3- what is life.
          4-what is life in world.
          5-where you were before you come in world.
          6- why you are here
          7-where you (not your body) will go after death.
          8- what is goal of God for creating human
          9-what is goal of God of creating life and world

          then you will say:
          I know the best way of communicate of God and human is book.

          also a note:
          the only way of communicating God to human is not book. some times God communicate in dream of sleep or other way for example sending a think in the mind. but this is not for all.
          God wants to human not see God and find God by his wisdom and rational thinks.
          if human see and communicate God then God will not be known.
          God was alone and "Intended to be known" so created every thing.
          God is ext ream of all good attributes. if no bad then good has no meaning.
          and good can be known just in life of world.
          and by direct communicate all ensure God and all will obey God because all know God ia absolute power and then no evil will exist and then no good will be known and then the ext ream good (God) will be known.
          and the best place good can be known is "life of world"
          this world is as you see knowingly ; purposely ; wittingly
          war is needed
          evil is needed
          lie is needed
          all on earth is vanity but the face of your God
          there is nothing valuable but God and you and your deeds.
          each individual human will be responsible for one by one of his deeds after death.
    • Apr 28 2011: "why not start a new thread?"
      very interesting suggest.
      what can be the title?
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        Apr 28 2011: Just a separate thread within this conversation I meant.
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      Apr 28 2011: @ Ed,


      Evolution doesn't apply when you want it to or not, and the pyramids pre-date the Bible's creation story and that is an accepted fact. Jesus being a Jew means what exactly about his skin color, he would of been Arab-skin color, not a white male with blue eyes, so ridiculous.

      So if we have something like Free Will we used it wrong although he made us have it in the first place. Ed, if that is the case we are not using our free will RIGHT NOW to the most of our ability in that respect and the whip out is past due.

      Reread your own logic back to yourself sometime Ed.

      I read the Bible, it was a bad story, I can offer you many many better stories to read and see how/what crazy pre-bronze age folk-lore really consisted of.

      Look, the fact you are going about God fundamentally is making you wrong every time here.

      God is love, God is reality, and/or God is a force.... FINE!

      But god is not some story book character from the Bible. The Bible is non-sense.

      I know what I am talking about I was a Christian and a good one, I actually read the book, unlike a lot of Christians the readings are just bulls*** and taken out of context constantly. Cannot be real, just stories. No science in scripture at all. Jesus would hate a large percentage of Christians if he was real and re-resurrected.
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      Apr 28 2011: ok , now I could tell you that He transmit His message not only via a book , this is if you want only His main message to us , but what's the point? ...................
      why is it irrational ? because in my opinion is very rational to write a book , isn't it? are thousands of books in print or do you want to say that the fact that God use this mean is irrational? for us is very normal and rational , why wouldn't be it for God normal and rational? ......................... I don't think that is so important the way in which a message is send.........................anyway
      I could say that He communicate directly with some , but again what's the point? ..................... and the fact that He do not communicate directly in a way in which we expect to happen it doesn't mean that He isn;t able to do it .......................... I mean, Tim I think it's more important the message itself than the way in which this is send , if you have something irrational about the sent message........... that's really more important.
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        Apr 28 2011: Eduard: The very foundation is irrational. An omnipotent being writing a book to communicate to man.

        If you can't understand the point, it's senseless arguing the details.

        Religion denies rational thought.
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          Apr 28 2011: perhaps it is irrational , perhaps it isn' my opinion is very rational this very foundation :"An omnipotent being writing a book to communicate to man." I would like to enlightened about your opinion.............. but even it is as you say what?

          Why do you say that religion denies rational thought ?
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        Apr 28 2011: OK. Let me try to understand. We have this omnipotent being. He wants to communicate a message to humankind. So he (through his intermediaries) writes a book. The book is written in languages that are destined to change or disappear, so people in the future won't understand it. In addition, many other books appear that are all claimed to be the word of God. Everyone disagrees on which one is the true book. In fact many people understandably doubt if any of these books are the book of God.

        Now somehow this makes sense to you? That an omnipotent being, wanting to communicate his message to humankind, would take this approach?

        And this is the foundation of religion? This is irrational, nonsensical, just plain silly. For anyone to believe this fabrication is an act of self-delusion.
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          Apr 29 2011: Hi Tim

          God needs a format that will inform us throughout all history. Starting with simpler societies & moving to computers etc today. What format would you use? When I was in engineering there was a bit of a problem regarding the long-term storage of drawings. The mighty "AutoCAD" updates just like "Windows" to maximise profit, but very soon there is no software to read the old drawings. The only safe solution is to print them out & store in drawers. You loose much of the information, but at least you have an idea.

          We have scripts that are very close to the dates of origin, & are referred to whenever the bible is 'updated'. We have the dead sea scrolls which just popped up & verified the scripts we have. The bible is the best verified piece of literature we have; if it is wrong then we cannot trust any history. Study of the bible & other 'Holy Books' soon sorts out the wheat from the chaff, but of course that takes time & interest.

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          Apr 29 2011: you are right Tim , you are very right to ask yourself and others this kind of questions . According to what I know(you know , I'm not putting this kind of questions to myself because I'm too usual with this religious stuff) I can tell you a simple answer: God consider that His message to mankind is sent , it is OVER , and He didn't want to use His omnipotence to reveal Himself otherwise (and He still don't) this is obvious for everyone, maybe it seems absurd and irrational but it isn't from my perspective because in my opinion His message is perfect true and being so don't matter the time when it was sent , don't matter
          the language in which this was wrote...........don't matter anything but only the truthfulness of I think that is more appropriate to talk about the message itself.
        • Apr 29 2011: "Everyone disagrees on which one is the true book"
          why say that?
          each religion has many believers ad all believers agree that their book is from god. for example torah, bible, koran and other books of God. all are from one God to all human.(all messengers immediately sent letters to all countries). just different times. the books (original) have no conflict with each other. the conflict is between follows of each book. each group of follower say we are true and all other people should follow what we say. problem is from human. not from books.
          please consider a writer wants to write one book for all age groups and for different languages of world. so makes many book with the same message but in different language and different levels and distributes them in all countries of word. then 5000 years later people from each country have their books but some still original like the 5000 years ago and some by changed text for any reason and now after 5000 years each group say my book is true and other groups should follow us and pay us money to supply our activities.
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        Apr 29 2011: Hello Peter:

        Good to see you again.

        I don't know about the bible being the most reliable. According to another tedster, the Koran far exceeds it both in reliability and scientific predictions.
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          Apr 29 2011: Hi Tim

          I know; don't you just love him.
          I guess we all have to decide for ourselves, & it will depend on childhood biases etc. We really have to try & start with a clean sheet if at all possible.

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        Apr 29 2011: Eduard:

        I've already read the Bible and found it kind of boring. I'd rather spend some time learning about Confucius. That seems like a more appropriate message to talk about to me.
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          Apr 29 2011: what could I say?.................... and I like to talk about Confucis
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        Apr 29 2011: I've always found Mormons to be the nicest of people. I guess that does prove that God actually did give Joseph Smith that book of golden plates!
        • Apr 29 2011: Dear Tim Colgan,
          I not heared Joseph Smith.
          a prophet should have miracle to prove is not liar.
          what is his miracle?
          I read wiki but I not consider it prophet. the max. he is church leader.
          if some one say is prophet of God and is not a liar should have 2 thing: miracle, book.
          which has he?
      • Apr 29 2011: "living prophet"
        oh really? who is he? where is he? does that prophet have any miracle? can he rise sun from west?
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          Apr 29 2011: S.R. Ahmadi:

          You haven't heard about the mormons? You can read about them here:

          The religion is based on the USA's very own prophet - Joseph Smith. God sent him a book written on golden tablets. So I guess you'll have to add it to your list of divine books.

          And yes, they have a living prophet:

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          Apr 29 2011: S.R

          Watch Religulous

          Indeed there are many living "prophets" even those whom claim to be the second reincarnation of Jesus. Starting new religions (mini-cults) every once in a while.

          Are you aware of the Manson family? A cult whom committed mass suicide.

          Are you search engine'ing what people are telling you? I haven't found many non-believers who disprove God on TED to be wrong thus far when disclaiming fundamentalist ideals.

          Are you truly absorbing off of TED S.R?

          How much proof would anyone need for you to believe that religion is subjective to perspective(s) and educations AND NOT a non-changing practice?

          You and Eduard are doing the same fallacy,

          Referencing a dated literature book meant for teaching and not preaching. By teaching I mean looking at these stories and gaining moral lessons. And by preaching I mean taking the word literal.

          It is easy to disprove a book, it is not easy to disprove ideas that start with an "omnipotent force of a being". You go on and on about God this and that, but it is because of those who believe in God that the Islamic world was placed on a pause of scientific advancement (as a fellow TEDster already dictated to you or Eduard). It was due to conflicting ideologies that cause a huge population of people to revert and shut themselves in culturally.

          I am not against the idea of God, I am against God being referenced to literature created by MAN. Which no events after the Bronze age seem to be proof of God's existence.
      • Apr 30 2011: Dear Nicholas,
        what is your definition of prophet? prophet is who have messeges from God. there are many fake prophets every some times in Iran one of them appear. also some weeks ago one in Saudi arabia appeared. but all of them are liar. the final prophet was Muhammad and before him Jesus, before him Moses, David, Ibrahim, Noah, Idris, Adam (all of them are 124000 messenger in history) (peace on them). if a liar is messenger so I am Bill Gates.
        "mass suicide."
        God told them or Satan? or they were crazy?
        do you know Satan comes in mind and cheat people in name of God and they go direct to Hell.
        this is punish of who not accept truth.(Hope God forgive them)
        "I haven't found many non-believers who disprove God on TED to be wrong thus far when disclaiming fundamentalist ideals."
        many people think they are doing many things.
        say them disprove this:
        not search. please send me them. happy to talk them.
        I am truly absorbing off of TED. I am learning from you all.
        "NOT a non-changing practice?"
        no proof needed. already agree 100%/ non updating religion is not real religion and is like an expired date food.
        do not know Eduard. should read about it. thanks. is he Muslim?
        "Referencing a dated literature book meant for teaching and not preaching. By teaching I mean looking at these stories and gaining moral lessons. And by preaching I mean taking the word literal."
        "It is easy to disprove a book"
        oh really? so welcome here. disprove Koran:
        "it is not easy to disprove ideas"
        if you cant so do not deny them. maybe they are true. it is impossible to disprove truth.
        Islam was independent of science pause. no relation. what was cause of pause?
        "It was due to conflicting ideologies"
        no, people are wise. people are rational they see truth (Koran) and accept.
        Good, human not accept God in book. human use wisdom to find God.use it
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    Apr 25 2011: this guys (and any others) aren't right and will never be in my opinion , I think that they are more repressed than any other religious people....
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    Apr 18 2011: We must first educate those that are willing to learn. Teach them how its affecting the world, war and politics. That will create positive role models in our communities. Due to the biological war fare and lab made dieseases spreading around the world I think there's a lot more skeptics around today than there were before.
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      Apr 18 2011: Great line of thinking, Panton. I have to admit that in my opinion the prominent figures at present—Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins—are a little too aggressive and antagonistic to be good role models for rational change. The danger, of course, as with many minorities, there are negative consequences to be "out" early in the transition.

      How would you go about identifying those ready to learn (besides attending TED!)?
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        Apr 18 2011: Strike the youth while the questioning is still of value, internet is already doing this as we speak, and those willing to learn are those who remain open minded. The last part is tricky because as my other thread suggest, non-religious people start to make fun of faith holding people due to some need to be intellectually superior. The real intellectual would show through logic they both really have the same underlining values of what is right and wrong, which is crazy difficult sometimes.
  • Apr 17 2011: Religion is delaying human progress. If I put forth the ideology that "god"(or anything intangible for that matter) should be put above humanity, and also that humans are "above" their environment(i.e. "god" made the earth and the animals
    for man) especially at this time in our history, and call it anything other than religion I doubt I would find many people championing that thought.

    I have myself asked this question because of the danger that religious belief imposes upon the earth. I believe with that neuroscientists will crack this soon.This is clearly a phenomenon that we as a species need to overcome if we plan to survive long-term.Religion is obviously the most dangerous, but any superstition should be considered a type of mental weakness from belief in ghosts and goblins to fate and luck, to astrology and religion. The people of earth will only realize I highest potential when we decide to move forward with plans based on fact and observable reality.

    Religion will die off over a long period as people become more and more educated, and the less people who believe in it the faster it will dwindle. Religious people are very confident in their ideas and spread a sort of propaganda that religion is a good thing, so some of us start to believe them. I think people need to start being more open about this when they talk with people face to face. We have made it a sort of taboo to speak of religion in public. Religion is a political and ideological force and it should be taken as such, it's not rude to disagree.

    The fear is that our species won't be around long enough to see religion dissipate though.
    For me when I think about how American Republican candidates find it necessary to make clear their fundamentalist views, to the point where they claim the earth is 5000 years old, and also make it a point to claim that they do not trust Muslims, whilst 3 military operations take place in the middle east, and Iran builds nuclear while America already has it is scary
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    Apr 10 2011: There is nothing wrong with religion, religion is faith based belief and faith is good. The problem is that so many religious people have the need to impose their beliefs on everyone else. The way we move forward is by having belief and letting others live in peace with their beliefs and not bring our own agenda of religious beliefs to the table evrytime their is a major problem in the world.
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      Apr 10 2011: An interesting option, Kathy: to push on through the dangerous stage(s) of religious belief to something more meaningful that still keeps alive the quest to understand our fuller natures. Always love seeing alternative solutions :-D
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      Apr 11 2011: Kathy did you even watch the piece on militant atheism...or did you judge the book by its cover? Your argument indicated you are misunderstanding Dawkins at the base and are too closed minded to even give it a chance. I don't have to be religious to be moral and neither does a scientist or a Christian or anybody else. Maybe you should actually watch the TEDTALKS before jumping on the Dawkins hating bandwagon.
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        Apr 12 2011: If we regress to personal attack, we have all lost what might have been cool about TED and the potential learning from debating people with different viewpoints.
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        Apr 14 2011: 'How is propagating that anyone "stop being so damned respectful" being moral?'
        Let's see... are you being respectful of people in a psychiatry? Is that moral?
        "Oh, let them think they have an imaginary friend that tells them to go in circles and screams at them when they go in a direction other than the one he tells them to go to. It's not like he'll also order them around into murdering someone, right?"
        You don't think that, right? Hopefully, you don't think an asylum is actually the best place for them, right? No, you think you need to find a way to cure them from their delusion, for their own good.

        Now, I know what you'll say, so forgive me for summarizing your likely responses
        - "Christians aren't crazy!" - but imagine you were the only one Christian left and really took the bible literally to the point where you were willing to punish people on God's behalf as per his word... wait, you don't have to imagine it... I recall there was a case of a fundamentalist killing a doctor because the doctor performed abortions... How can anyone have a respect for that?
        - "This guy was not a true Christian" - on the contrary. He did what the bible demanded he do. The thing most people who call themselves Christians don't do, because they still have common sense.
        - "But Stalin was atheist!" - yes, without religion, people can still be wackos, but that's still one less reason to turn into a wacko.
        - "But religion being able to produce wackos is not a reason to abandon it!" - It is, because it strengthens the belief in the wackos that what they're doing is the right thing to do. Atheists aren't strengthened by their lack of belief in gods. They also aren't strengthened by science, because science doesn't claim to be infallible, and doesn't really give direct moral and/or legal answers anyway (it just informs moral discussions).
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          Apr 17 2011: It's a weak straw man argument, Vasil, if you reduce all Christians to either fundamentalist or not-really-Christians.

          It's also fallacious to argue that a religion itself is to blame if someone's (mis-) interpretation of it leads them to extremist/wacko behavior. Especially since there are often prohibitions in the religion against some of those very things.

          As to your claim about science not giving moral/legal answers? You need to read a little about the history of psychology. For a long, long time homosexuality was considered a mental illness requiring treatment. That it didn't call it a moral issue doesn't stop it from being one.
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          May 7 2011: Vasil, your rational for this argument can be taken both ways. As a Christian, I truly with all my heart, believe that without a relationship with Jesus Christ, there is an eternal punishment waiting. I also believe that with Jesus Christ there is an incredible reward waiting. So the question for me does a man that is supposed to be about love and compassion, not share this important news with everyone around me? You see...I can't not share it.

          But I agree with the fact that there are extremist in any group. Unfortunately, there are factions of "Christianity" in this world that has corrupted the message of Love that Christ brought to this world. They have tainted it with hate and condemnation to the point that they have accepted this "better than thou" attitude. I believe Christianity to me is about adopting a life of servanthood to those around me...yes, even my enemies. My telling someone about heaven and Jesus are not ways of rubbing it in their face, but rather sharing them the great news of those that come to Jesus. If I believed you were about to be hit by a bus, how wrong would I be if I didn't warn you about it. Now if you get mad at me for warning you and choose to stay in the road anyway...well, I guess that's your problem if you get hit.

          Too many groups feel as though they have to force Christ or God on the world. Shame on them. God wants willing worship. If you don't want to hear it...Okay.

          With that said though...You can't get upset with someone sharing the message of Jesus Christ with you if they truly feel like they are trying to bless you with what they know. But I do see the problem in the world with the forceful nature of how Christianity seems to be portrayed today. It has become offensive and sinful the mean hateful attitudes that are projected all in the name of Christ.
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        Apr 14 2011: "I know all too well the problems of organized religions. I am not a part of them, so spare me your judgemental assumptions."
        Fair enough... explains why I was wrong in what you'd say... people who ARE part of organized religions would have that kind of response though. They typically do, so I wanted to save some time should that be imminent.

        And what Dawkins says is exactly in regards to organized religion. On the danger of someone imposing a view of something on you and you being unable to question it and choosing to believe it instead, calling us to not be so damn respectful towards such kind of views. If you identify yourself as Christian, regardless of whether you actually follow the dogma, you're strengthening Christians' positions of which you are aware.

        And if your definition of God and the dogma is different from the dogmatic one, identify it with a word other than Christian. Call yourself just "believer" or "religious" (without specification). Reject the bible and Christianity (especially when explicitly asked), keep God if you so wish. While atheists will still find you delusional, at least that's not a position as harmful as organized religions.
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          Apr 17 2011: Vasil, why can't we disagree with someone and still be respectful? Maybe Dawkins should have grabbed a thesaurus and chosen a better word.
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        Apr 16 2011: "The point about Dawkins is that he doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to religious doctrine. "
        Example of that?

        "His opinion has nothing to do with science, so why does he use his standing and authority as a scientist to promote militant atheism?"
        Because organized religion hinders science. And there's evidence for that which Dawkins doesn't talk about in his TED talk, but which we can see in the people who favor creationism over evolution despite the evidence.

        Keep in mind that no one is really an "authority" in science. Everyone is free to reproduce researches.

        "How does that represent science?"
        How does organized religion represent science? It doesn't. But it affects it, and in a negative way too. That's enough of a reason for him to speak against it.

        "How is that moral?"
        How is what moral? Militant atheism? I already answered you in the form a metaphor. But I was also recently reminded of an extra reason, applicable mostly in the US - atheists are being oppressed by organized religions, in the case of the US that being Christians. Christians try to impose their beliefs on all, and merge with government as they were once in Europe. They've had successes to a degree in that no atheist could now be elected in any political position because of the common perception that atheists are immoral or worse.

        That may not be the case for you, but that's exactly because you're not part of the core organized religion itself. That said, my previous statement about the stats stands - the reason Christians succeed in their agenda is because people who identify themselves as Christians are a majority.

        "My atheist friends do not think I am delusional;"
        They simply wouldn't use the word... but they don't agree with you. They don't say anything, because your kind of God is not harmful in any way. It's personal - you aren't trying to impose it on anyone. That's a kind of God I can also approve. I still don't think it exists, but if you think it does, fine.
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        Apr 16 2011: "Dawkins is certainly not alone in his ignorance, as many a 'believer' fail to recognize these distinctions as well."
        Exactly the reason he is mocking it. If people were seeing the metaphorical meaning, they wouldn't see anything in the bible as true, therefore Christianity wouldn't be hindering science as much as it does.

        "Why listen to a scientist about religion when said scientist is obviously just as ignorant as the average lay person when it comes to comprehension of holy docrine?"
        Who would you rather expect to be right in advocating for militant atheism? As far as I'm concerned, it's not Dawkins I support, but the idea. It wouldn't have made a difference regardless of who said it. Besides, Dawkins is not alone. Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and more... all say the same things in a different fashion: Stop tolerating organized religion, and put it on its place, which is the same place that they put the rest of today's religions - reveal the facts, all facts, and let people question it and make up their minds. If they choose to believe in any God, that's fine, as long as they don't use it as a barrier of any sort.

        "Do you think it is moral to mock the doctrine upon which religions are based?"
        Until recently, I would have said "No", but seeing people can't differentiate between "mocking" and "questioning", I'm forced to say "Yes". Religious fanatics and fundamentalists will be offended even of the thought that something that they believe may be different from what the book tells them.

        "Do you think it is moral to mock people for their faith?"
        If that kind of faith is forced upon or used as a barrier for others, yes.
        Otherwise, I feel it's moral to question them (which for the most part is what we're doing here at TED Conversations), not necessarily mock them.

        "Do you think it is moral to incite disrespect?"
        If by "disrespect" you mean "mocking and questioning", yes, because apparently, there's no way to question God without disrespecting it.
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        Apr 18 2011: @Erik Richardson
        I actually separate Christians into four groups...

        Fundamentalist/fanatical/wacko Christians - the kind no one hopes to ever see. Once someone becomes such kind of a Christian, they typically can't be de-converted under any circumstances and are a danger to any non-Christian around them.

        Harmful Christian - the kind that's actually pushing the envelope. The kind militant atheists are actually trying to weaken. They have good intentions in mind, but don't realize what they're doing is a cause for fundamentalism to arise and that they're oppressing good people who don't share their views. They are visible in the form of everyone people like Dawkins and Dennet debate against.

        Non-harmful Christians - the kind that harmful Christians are trying to turn every person into. The kind of Christian who doesn't consider people from other religions and atheists immoral, the kind who doesn't try to impose his view on others, but still follows the dogma and believes it happened as described.

        not-really Christians and apologists - the kind of Christians that educated people actually are. People who believe in a God... but not the one from the bible. Whether it's a being, a force or something else, we're talking about people who don't believe the bible is true and don't believe in God as described there, but still identify themselves as Christians when asked for their religion.

        And the same grouping can be applied to Muslims also.

        "Vasil, why can't we disagree with someone and still be respectful?"
        How do you do that, and challenge them to reevaluate their beliefs at the same time? How can a person from one religion challenge a person from another religion without being disrespectful in the process?

        Disrespect is in the eyes of each party. When I'm arguing with a theist, I'm not feeling disrespected when I have my lack of belief challenged. But the theists feels disrespected for his belief being challenged. But there is no reason he should be in my view.
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          May 7 2011: Wow...I actually like the way you broke that up. And believe it or not, I fairly happy with placing myself in the almost fanatical...not necessarily wacko group. My heart belongs to God and Jesus...proud to proclaim it to everyone...and I do mean everyone I meet.

          with that said...I have to agree with you on the disagree and respect clause of things. I am passionate about my religious beliefs, and as a result...very committed. And just like anyone else, if you tell me I am wrong about something, you better have both barrels loaded and tons of ammo to prove it. I'm stubborn and pigheaded...especially in regards to Christ. And just like billions of other people in the world...I hate being wrong. But I also hate being alone. So I share my views with like minded individuals...and then I share them with people that aren't like minded. It is a debate. I try to do it with love and respect, but to be honest...If i think they are wrong...I am hoping to convince them of that fact.

          People tell me they think I am wrong all the time in this world. Unfortunately, Christianity is not near as popular as it used to be. It doesn't offend me so much, but it does get me worked up. But I do believe there can still be a certain respect held between two people that differ. Resorting to insults or character attacks is a coward attack though. I think when we run out of evidence, we turn to cheap attacks. Surely we can show a little more diplomacy than that.
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        May 7 2011: "Resorting to insults or character attacks is a coward attack though. I think when we run out of evidence, we turn to cheap attacks. Surely we can show a little more diplomacy than that."
        How many times have you seen THAT coming from atheists (not just here, overall...)?

        The only kinds of insults an atheist might throw at you are generic insults (that is to say, applicable to any theist; like "close minded", "arrogant", "ignorant" or "deluded"), never personal insults (like "a-hole", "son of a...", etc. *). And even the generic insults are not meant to be taken personally, but they are rather meant to be taken as just another claim to be proven or dis-proven. I would not be offended if you call me "deluded" and would welcome any evidence that would shatter a (non-blind) "belief" I hold in a certain scientific theory.

        If you are stubborn and yet present no evidence for any claims other than the claims themselves (i.e. the Bible), you've essentially admitted you're close minded. The position that God exists or that any holy scripture claim is true is not equal to the proposition that this claim is false. It is equal to the claim that unicorns, fairies or [insert mythical creature] exist, or that spirits/Gods exist, or that there is a teapot around Saturn. In other words, there is zero evidence that suggests it is true.

        * Exceptions may be towards people who push religious agenda politically, like "defund Planned Parenthood" or "teaching the controversy". Personal faith is fine, but pushing politics with it is a whole other deal. I'm just lucky such stuff doesn't happen where I live, or else I would've protested in an instant.
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      Apr 17 2011: Hi Kathy,

      You make a good point, but I disagree with you that these men are hypocrites.

      Their is a difference between religious fundamentalism and using fundamental principles of human well being as a guide to understanding Human rights and our responsibilities in relation to them. For one, it is a belief in the fundamental tenants of a religion, one that offers little by way of external verification. Which is fine, if you choose to believe in those tenants. For the other, it is based on evidence, and the rigorous examination of that evidence to find the metrics and patterns within them that are indicative of human happiness and well being. To do this, Sam Harris used mostly statistics of physical brutality in response to contravening a religious doctrine. As this is a new area of scientific inquiry, I expect that there will soon be standard tools to use in assessing the welfare of others.

      It seems that Harris's argument comes down to (and maybe what's gotten Dawkins so riled up) is choice. If a person chooses to believe in something, that's fine. If someone is forced to practice the tenants of a faith they do not believe in, that's not. All too often, the form of force used to enforce the religious tenants are brutal torture, subjugation, and death. In that situation you cannot use someone's acceptance of the social norm to imply their consent to that norm. A person under those conditions will do what they must to survive. So if we see such a situation, then we must at least offer them the opportunity to escape religious tyranny.

      Sam Harris's argument is logical and rational, and says nothing about what a person should believe, so long as those beliefs do not infringe on the rights of others (with the caveat that someone can choose to forfeit their rights for their beliefs, and so long as they can choose differently in the future they still retain their fundamental rights)
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    Apr 10 2011: Just the opposite. I believe that decline of the acceptance of God and Christianity has led to the decline of our society today. We have become so self absorbed in greed and progression that we have our children killing each other. There is this severe case of hate in our society, and for some reason it is always blamed on God. When we were "One Nation Under God" we flourished as a country. We became the one true SuperPower nation in the world. We prospered in nearly everything we tried. But as soon as we started taking God out of our schools, and our governments and our basic principles, our nation began its decline. Our economy is terrible; almost every country in the world (even the ones that we have come to thier aid) seem to hate us; we have some of the highest crime rates in the world; divorce rates are outrageou; family values are terrible; (we rule when it comes to latchkey kids left at home to take care of themselves), and our prisons are all full.

    You say that God is holding back our progress...I believe God was the only factor enabling our progress, and we as a nation turned our backs on Him, told Him to get our of our lives and leave us alone; and then when He backed off, we blame all the problems on HIm. If you ask me, I think we are just ungrateful. Bring God back; show HIm the respect He deserves; and I believe we would see our Nation prosper all over again.
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      Apr 10 2011: Oh... sorry... I did not realized all natural disasters, viruses and wars started in the last few decades.

      I did not realized there were no plagues at times where everyone believed in God.

      I did not realized Steven Pinker is a liar when he suggests violence has decreased in history and not increasing*, again keeping in mind more people believed in God then than now.

      I didn't knew the great depression, at a time where the US was still "one nation under God" did not happened.

      And most importantly, I didn't knew that without God, I'd have no moral compass.

      Thanks for enlightening me and making me see the connection.

      (sarcasm... obviously...)

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        Apr 27 2011: I did not say that God pampered us with bonbons and champagne...I said that our country prospered. You look at how far we advanced socially around the world. We went from a nothing country with hardly enough guns to defend itself to the ONLY true superpower in the world in less than 200 years. We overcame nearly every obstacle before us. We landed on the moon and have now stretched beyond. And then just as we usually do...We took the God we served and spit in His face. We took all the credit for ourselves and denied that even existed. The freedom we found "UNDER GOD" became a freedom to do whatever we wanted regardless of the consequences. And now look at us. Our government can't even get along on the budget. Hundreds of men and women elected to serve the desires of a nation, and they can't do it. You want to know why...because we all used to want the same thing, and now we all just want to protect ourselves. We could care less about "the other guy". United States of America...I don't think so...we aren't even close to being United about anything. Our mothers are killing their children; our children are killing each other; our prisons are full, our borders are hostile, and our bank accounts has been overdrawn for too many years to count. By all accounts, we are the very depiction of a disfunctional family on the verge of emotional collapse. All the prozac in the galaxy couldn't help this nation. And the one God that could help us...well...we just don't think He is important any more.

        But that is okay. Spit in God's face. Live however you want to whatever you want to do. Believe as much as you want that there are no consequences. But for the time being, I'm not going to worry about warning you about Hell or anything like that...but I will ask you this one question...

        How's your Chinese. Because what God giveth...God always has the power to take away.

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      Apr 11 2011: This is simply ridiculous.
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    Mar 31 2011: I believe that the bible tells us that we are the church...not the building, but the person. You may be able to take the person out of the building, but you can't take Jesus out of the man (or woman). People are not threatened by Christianity, but rather by the limiting concept that it brings to thier lives. We have a country that was built on a strong Godly principle, but because of the way we wrote our founding documents, permitting "freedom of" anything we could want or imagine, we have corrupted societies views on Godly living. Now we have become a country that will not tolerate anyone telling us how we can or can't live our lives. Therefore the threat of any livestyle that actually tries to keep some order to the scheme of things, has become a "delay to human progress".

    Since this is my opinion of course, I believe that our human moral code was established through the concept of a higher power or diety. If we work to take that away from society, you truly will see a shut down of humanity.
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      Mar 31 2011: Your point seems to rely on the standard assumption that morality and religion are necessarily conjoined, and that without religion there would be no morality. At the same time you are making claims about the nature of moral knowledge and the human potential for social and intellectual progress — both in relation to the capacity of rules given to small Middle-Eastern societies and to colonial American society to sufficiently apply to the complexities of the modern world. Rather than attempt to resolve the entire religion vs. atheism debate, however, I would like to steer back to the original spirit of my questions:

      It seems that you are saying we can't shut them down, they are holding back progress, and that progress is actually bad and we should be moving backward rather than forward (returning to the simple, purity of the Godly founders, and away from our corrupt modern lives).
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          Apr 10 2011: Science doesn't deny "mind", "spirit" and "soul". It simply has a different view of it.

          Whereas a religious person thinks of it as a separate thing that is given to your man-made body by God, for scientists, your mind/spirit/soul is your brain, with the four words being used interchangeably. In other words, the brain/mind/spirit/soul is a mechanism. We don't yet know exactly how it works, but in the case of psychology, the inputs and outputs are studied - "Blue makes people feel relaxed", "When we're angry, we're more inclined on committing stuff we wouldn't otherwise do". All statements like that assume a state of mind/brain/spirit/soul, a certain input given to it, and a typical result of it.

          "Atheists aiming to shut down organized religion ... hmmm ... seig heil, anyone?"
          Haha... well, that's precisely why I for one don't want to shut down organized religion, but instead want to let it shut down naturally by deconverting its followers... same as many atheists.
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          Apr 13 2011: "How many people have to have NDE for science to accept that the body is but a vehicle through which our consciousness expresses itself? "
          One is enough, as long as (s)he shows evidence for a soul, ideally in a preset environment. So far, the scientific disciplines involved with the brain or consciousness think "consciousness" is "the product of your brain activity", because that's the only thing we have evidence for.

          "Science can study the brain all it wants; it will never find the soul in there."
          You're right. It won't, because what we call soul is most likely just consciousness, with that being defined as currently by science.

          "For all it's brilliance, science still has a very fundamental comprehension of the brain in exactly the same way as organized religions express a fundamental comprehension of the doctrine upon which their beliefs are based."
          If anyone ever finds a way to test if there's a soul, science will do the test, and if the test confirms it, science will accept there is such a thing as a soul.

          "While fundamental knowledge of anything is necessary, it is still the lowest level of knowledge and something to build upon."
          The fact science constantly reshapes itself to match new evidence is by itself evidence that science is doing just that.
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    May 1 2011: Humanity has outgrown religion almost a 1000yrs ago. What has religion achieved other than being a cause for perpetual disintegration. We have fought wars over it, criticize hatred over it and fail to alleviate poverty yet all of religions teachings have a common goal and that is to remedy all mankind's social ills.

    None of these issues are advancing even within its own religious groups. Perhaps this is due to clergymen or perhaps to individual self. Either way it fails.
    How do we shut it down? be an intrinsically aware of what it is we support.

    As for your question No4. Humanist Manifesto III would be good to look into.
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      May 2 2011: Religion may no longer be a direct cause to war but a causing correlation of war can be associated with religion still.

      How do we shut religion down?

      By understanding the distinguishes and differences between spirituality and science while understanding their relations and similarities is a start.
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    Apr 29 2011: (Pyramids out-date creation story)

    Taking God fundamentally means you are sourcing one book, one religion, and/or one ideology. If God exist he is not limited to just a few thoughts of man, he is beyond man.

    *The way in which God is presented in religions belittles the idea of an all powerful God, it makes me assume a creator made God and there is some sort of system of Gods. I also believe God could just be a highly advanced alien, so the system in which made this alien and the degrees/level of power of the aliens is still philosophically sound, especially if God/alien creator(s) are a reflection of human consciousness. (This is my science fictional "God above a God" theory)

    Religion fundamentalism is nothing new to man, even the Egyptians were associated with it, but there commandments were even better. They included into law more than just about worshiping but about to teach one another.

    these are stories my friends, that is the point of fundamentalism. If your argument was, again, that God is reality/love/a force. TEDster's of the atheist military would have far more trouble dictating there is no God then.

    I am not knocking your faith, but it isn't a sound one. I personally have faith in man even though they are the most destructive creatures to walk the earth, we just don't know any better on a large scale.

    My friends, quoting the Bible to me will only work against you. Go outside of religion and you can have a chance of convincing you are not just a craze fundamentalist.

    Additional readings:
  • Apr 29 2011: when speaking about religion you are speaking about a very general topic. each human has his own Image of religion in his mind and if speak general we judge about all religions as our Image and this maybe not true about all religions generally. and any judgements has many results in our decisions and doings.
    it is like you go to a restaurant and the food make you seek and then you say:
    if restaurants are delaying human progress how do we succeed in shutting them down?
    just who can use the world "religion" that know and understand all religions.
    please look here:
    before this questions better to ask:
    what is religion and is religion useful?
    if religion is useful then why so many religion exist and is there any religion help moving forward human progress?
    if no then should have a religion delaying human progress, how do we move forward?
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      Apr 29 2011: "we judge about all religions as our Image and this maybe not true about all religions generally. and any judgements has many results in our decisions and doings."
      That's sort of the problem... that many religions influence our decisions and doings... in a bad way. Even if you yourself don't practice or believe in all the bad stuff, you're still supporting those who do. You're part of the brand if you will.

      To go with your restaurant analogy, if "McDonald's" has a worldwide reputation of being a main driver towards obesity, and publicly announces this as true on their packaging by showing the calories, you eating in the one "McDonald's" restaurant that also serves healthy foods (haven't seen that one, but anyhow...) and encourages them over the traditional "Big Mac" doesn't mean that everyone will eat the healthy foods (plus, that doesn't say how often you yourself eat which meal). Plus, the food chain, with its bad meals, survives with your money - you're still perpetuating the problem and are part of it.

      There may be another food chain across the street, but what guarantee is there that their food is also not a cause for another health related issue? Maybe it isn't. Maybe it's in fact such a "healthy" food that it lacks the necessary ingredients your organism needs (to map this back to religion, Buddhism is a very, if not the most, peaceful and moral religion even by today's standards, but it too leads to ignorance of humanity's problems if practiced to its fullest).

      But what if you cooked your own food? What if there was no chef of any kind to make food for you? OK, so you might not be a great cook, but you'll at least have the decency to not poison other people, and if you're curious, you can always learn other recipes to actually diversify your own diet and those of the people around you that choose to eat your food.

      The analogy sort of breaks here though, because no restaurant punishes you for going to another restaurant or choosing to cook for yourself.
      • Apr 30 2011: Dear Vasil Rangelov,
        agree you generally.
        well known brand is for huge advertise and reputation not necessarily being true.
        people go to a restaurant because they "think" it is health. not because food is really healthy. its all the magic of advertise. no user really analyze a food in his lab to know if it is health or not. just advertise.
        guarantee not means food is healthy. maybe you not get sick in short time, but get cancer in long time.
        better to spend enough time and research enough with "No" notice to advertisements and with clear mind and study all restaurants and find the best of them and enjoying it.
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          Apr 30 2011: 'well known brand is for huge advertise and reputation not necessarily being true.
          people go to a restaurant because they "think" it is health. not because food is really healthy. its all the magic of advertise.'
          Couldn't agree with you more... exactly the case with religious propaganda.

          It's like an advertisement that says "it's delicious and healthy" while independent researches show that's not the case, at least in regards to the "healthy" part.

          "no user really analyze a food in his lab to know if it is health or not. just advertise."
          There's a vital difference between science and religion here... if religions are advertising themselves, wanting you to trust them, science is like an independent research group (huh... science in both the analogy and the original... interesting coincidence) that gathers evidence for the advertisement's claims, or any claims in general really, and lets you make up your own mind based on the gathered evidence.

          'better to spend enough time and research enough with "No" notice to advertisements and with clear mind and study all restaurants and find the best of them and enjoying it.'
          If the independent research group shows that "fast food" by its very definition is unhealthy, I don't think going to any such will solve anything.

          Non-fast food restaurants (spirituality) is a separate thing, because each meal can be studied independently, and they will sometimes be more healthy or nutritious than your own food. But going to a single restaurant and/or always ordering a certain meal is surely not healthy (e.g. doing Yoga is fine, claiming it's you experiencing God or another supernatural entity or making it the only state in which you can relax are both not good things to be doing and/or believing permanently).
      • Apr 30 2011: Dear Vasil Rangelov,
        are you sure "independent researchers" are not partner and friend of restaurants in background? to send more customer to restaurant?
        usually restaurants have much money and can buy "independent researchers" as much as needed.
        or maybe restaurants and "independent researchers" both are bought by other.
        "going to a single restaurant and/or always ordering a certain meal is surely not healthy "
        what if you can find the most advanced complex (restaurant, sport, fun,...) with the most advanced foods that not even include all your needed body elements, but also has foods upper than your need?

        there is a poem:
        "searcher is finder"

        the best food not come to you. you should find it and go to it. then eat it and enjoy it with peace of mind.

        best food usually is not well known.

        majority not think and follow advertise.
  • Apr 28 2011: It seems most probable to me that religion be viewed as simply the evolution of superstition. I was adopted by a roman catholic family when I was 3 months old. I have since then been reevaluating my view of religion in general. Only by pure chance was I adopted by catholic parents. I could have easily been taken in by a family with any type of faith, or one without faith. This should make it quite obvious that no one religion can claim sovereignty over another. The only reason I believed that catholicism was true was because I was raised or programmed that way. It comes down to ethnocentrism. We live in an "us" vs. "them" world, needing to feel that our way is the right way. My hope is that someday religious dogma may evolve away from a god/creator mentality. Some ways to accomplish this might be through communication, technology, science education, philosophy, cooperation, empathy, and reason, through the sharing of thoughts and ideas. Isn't this what "TED" is telling us?
  • Apr 28 2011: This conversation is really interesting. I would rather say we are trying to find the "TRUTH" of what is true!!!

    Christianity is a practice “FAITH”. Science (from Latin: scientia meaning "knowledge") is an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the world (scientific knowledge was a body of reliable knowledge that can be logically and rationally explained).

    With faith, you must go beyond your senses while with science you must use your senses.

    Science will deny faith even when people get well after a prayer in the hospital.

    Scientists are yet to discover the creation of the atom that formed the Big Bang or event matter. So many discoveries are based on speculations and not facts.

    You’ve heard of cases of someone who loses his wife, gradually dying even when they are medically okay. You’ve heard of cases of the AFTERLIFE with people telling something’s that would happen on earth because they were given the chance to see a glimpse of it.

    My take on it is you can’t use science to define religion or Christianity because Christianity defines itself in the Bible.
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    Apr 27 2011: I still feel as though people are clouding the line between religion and Christianity. Religion is a bunch of people fighting for the priveledge of being "RIGHT". Society has completely corrupted religion. As soon as mankind, in his infinite wisdom, realized how powerful a little thing like "FAITH" can be, they started to prey on the masses. Religious organizations sprouted up faster than Mcdonald Restaurants. There was a church and a "new faith" on every corner. Mankind had begun manipulating the weak minded nature of man. But that is not Christianity. Christianity is, granted, a religious belief system to; but it is taken from text that have been proven to have been written nearly 2000 years ago and later, and some how has had facts about things that we are still discovering to be true. Stuff that mankind had no record of. It has also show uncanny ability to predict the nature of man, as well as things of this earth. The Bible has been proven to be true over and over again by men and women that were set out to show it as a failure. Christianity is the practice that holds this doctrine as true and worthy of living one's life to. It is about living a wonderful life of love built under a loving and giving...yet jealous and vengeful God. He made us and thus...rightly so...deserves our allegiance. Religion has corrupted this value system. The sad thing is...everything about Christianity has evolved a wonderful set of principles for living. People can deny it, but the fact is that this country was established on its very foundation. And now we want to get rid of it. Well, I'm all with getting rid of religion. In most cases, it is corrupt and easily manipulated. But as for Christianity....well, as Charlton Heston said..."they will have to pry it out of my cold dead hands."
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      Apr 27 2011: Personally, when I say "religion", I use that as a synonym for "organized religions and cults". Any religion/cult that has a recognizable name, dogma and followers that believe the claims of the religion/cult as described. Even if the person himself/herself is not part of the organized religion, if he still identifies with that religion's name, he's still supporting the people who do believe that dogma and use it as a motivator for stuff such as "teaching the controversy" (Christians), "hitting your wife if she doesn't obey you" (Muslims) and others.

      "Mankind had begun manipulating the weak minded nature of man. But that is not Christianity."
      You're right... it's not JUST Christianity. It's every religion, starting with the polytheistic gods. If you're noticing more frequent discussions with Christians, that's simply because there are more of them than, say, Muslims.

      "and some how has had facts about things that we are still discovering to be true."

      "The sad thing is...everything about Christianity has evolved a wonderful set of principles for living."
      You mean like slavery? Yeah, that was wonderful, wasn't it?

      Religions don't evolve... we do. Religion's teachings (whether it's Christianity's teachings or Islam's teachings or any other religion's teachings) don't evolve. Our teachings do. It is we who decided to take "all men are born equal" with preference over "salves, serve your master as they'd serve Christ", not Christianity, Jesus or the Bible, and the same can be said for every other stupidity that's in holy books (Genesis being just the best other example).

      I am happy to be living in a country where religion's status is down to what you describe, and yet even we have the misconception you have - we take it as a virtue ("enrichment" if you will), and consider Christians as something that more closely resembles Buddhists, while we consider Muslims something that more closely resembles the harmful Christians in the US, but with fancier clothing.
  • Apr 11 2011: I would never want to shut it down, and more than shutting down an astrologist or fortune teller. Shutting down what I don't believe in is scary. I don't know that we need scholarships. Especially something like this that one could fake a believe in just to get a scholarship. In reality, I think we have nothing to fear about religion, but much to fear from people who claim to speak to God. I have religious friends who I love dearly. And they don't push it on me, hence they are friends. I do wonder sometimes if they think I will not go to a magic place after I die, but I prefer not to ask or to know. I don't believe in the magic place.
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      Apr 12 2011: . . . but they vote.

      Consider how you would feel if the astrology people used star-charts and planetary alignment to make decisions about U.S. foreign policy, or if our children's education was decided by which Tarot cards were turned over for them on the day they started school.

      As for the scholarships: we provide scholarships to fight disease, to support capitalism against socialism, and to protect investors against shady financial practices. Why is this case so different?
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    Apr 11 2011: 1 - No, it is too embedded in our society at the moment. America is the most religious first world country on Earth. Not surprisingly, we show the least competency in standardized testing.

    2 - We wait. Intelligence will win over mysticism eventually..

    3 - I'm not sure this question is even valid. Scholarships should have nothing to do with criticisms of religion.

    4 - Unfortunately, here in the U.S. these communities are limited at best. You have to actively search for them.
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    Apr 6 2011: Great question,
    Not only is religion a shackle on the human race, it has led human nature to become a gray topic instead of a black and white one.

    In nature humans are animals, animals work together to share, help, and achieve. By believing in absolution we deny thought, we deny progress, we deny true love. Human nature now can consist of evil because we separate ourselves based on what we believe and not what is right. What is right is everyone is equal until proven otherwise.

    The evil of human nature can be seen in murder, rape, taking advantage of others, or anything else you would obviously not want done to you.

    So now we have evil, but the creator is man so thus man can be the corrector. By understanding and thinking about what drives someone to kill or rape we could correct it. However instead we just label it evil and think people are just bad and good. No, people are blank until the environment alters them. Thus if the environment was open, constructive, positive, and accepting how could evil exist?

    Yeah I can easily say organized religion is one of the causes of a lot of evil in the world, however the job now of those who realize it is to simplify this in respect to human nature.

    I tend to use the law of species. We are one species we should not separate but support one another.

    Now with all that said, your question. Teach free thought to children; during childhood is the most fundamental phase in which the mind is developing. Teach them how to think, then teach them facts. Don't teach facts and call that teaching, it is but it is limiting. TRUE education requires free thought from start to end.

    Conformity is a nice way of saying control; a control on the mind, the person, and a nation!

    Teach children or anyone willing to be open minded to think from every angle and not only left or right. Connecting the world together should be a part of everyone's education, is it a part of yours?

    Love + Free Will +Transparency = Freedom
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        Apr 12 2011: Thanks for agreeing Kathy

        Edited: You realize the rainbow goes in between black and white on the color spectrum?
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        Apr 17 2011: Lol, okay.
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      Apr 17 2011: Nicholas, sorry to break it to you, but animals do things like murder, rape, stealing, bullying, abuse, deception, and so on all the time.
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        Apr 17 2011: Don't apologize, I agree thus it is apart of nature, 2000 characters isn't a lot of room Erik cut me some slake. If you have a bigger claim than the nature of animals I would enjoy discussing it.

        When I meant by man creating evil was we created the understanding/term/word usage of evil, we labeled those actions as evil which you cannot deny in the masses those things are unacceptable (of course there are those who find amusement in such deeds as well). So, if we understand as a truly acceptable basis of moral codes and what we do not enjoy as a result of nature and even labeled it, I consider humans to be above instinctive needs to "murder, rape, stealing, bullying, abuse, deception and so on" due to our superior intelligence in comparison to the rest of the animal kingdom. Our intelligence is what allowed us to recognize doing these acts to one another as a negative practice. The majority of lists of commandments from Egyptians to now have these things as a law against it (except the Christians who forgot rape, abuse, and deception). Moral coding due to intelligence is where we separate from the rest of the animal kingdom, in my opinion.

        Also grouping, communities, and herds are far more common than "murder, rape, stealing, bullying, abuse, deception and so on" with any type of animal within the same species.
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          Apr 18 2011: Still not with you in thinking that our behavior is unique in some way. By 'evil', don't we mean some variety of 'unacceptable for the group to survive and thrive'? We may differ in degree, but animals have a variety of ways they fight back against such behavior, show group disapproval, punish, and ostracize offenders.

          We should separate the issues of a) whether we need religion in order to teach our children socially appropriate behavior and b) whether we can teach them critical, free thought before we do that. A is the foundation for a good argument, but B runs into problems with the actual process of intellectual development and is better left to other arguments on other days.
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        Apr 18 2011: That I absolutely agree with and I guess I was tip toeing around the same conclusion.

        I feel involving A. we do not need religion at all to teach appropriate behavior but instead installing science as the primary value (science as eliminating the unlikely to make the likely more likely) for dealing with every field of thought.

        If we did that, B. wouldn't be a question or a problem. I believe.
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          May 7 2011: I will fight my religious zealot side for a moment and just say this: The problem with removing the principles of religion and creation from the picture is this...Religion instills in us a reason to protect humanity. Because if all I do is live out my life on earth and then it is over, then what is the point of being good in the first place. Let's just have the best life you can have while you got time. Steal, kill, rape, whatever it takes for personal gain until you are out of time. Religion doesn't just offer incentive, but also consequences.

          Now the religious side I suppressed...LOL...Religion for me has instilled in me the very fabric of giving and love toward not just mankind, but also everything that is around me. Instead of looking at the "Laws of Obedience", I feel the joy of loving and sharing encouraged by lessons from Jesus Christ. It is from this instilled understanding that I become a valuable part of society instead of a menace. Without a true reason for living, then all that is left would be selfish ambition
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    Mar 25 2011: My answers on 1 to 3 fully overlap with those of jag s, and yes, even the one to 3 - like WTF are you talking about?

    On 2, I must add that If they become unpopular enough, they'll be eventually be shut down by their owners. Government can help by privatizing all religious buildings (churches and mosques alike), but that's unlikely to happen while there's still a majority of supporters. Also (for the sake of any theists reading this and being appalled by this statement), for a religious building to be shut down doesn't have to mean its destruction... it could mean its reformatting as a museum, similarly to the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul, which was once a mosque, and previously than that a church.

    On 4... They're everywhere, they're just not identified via religion, but are instead identified by the kind of science field they're in. They're commonly referred to as "scientists". You know, biologists, physicians, doctors, mathematicians, chemists, philosophers, etc.
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      Mar 25 2011: Those are Interesting points brought up so far. Thanks for the push back. Seriously. Let me, work from number 2 outward, as I think that will build the clearest chain of connection.

      If we believe that churches and religions are the moral equivalent of harmful psychology or snake-oil medicine practitioners, as a number of prominent thinkers like Harris, Hitchens, et al., argue, then the solution, "don't go" is hardly adequate. Consider our response to a pharmaceutical company selling fraudulent placebos.

      Because there is an inescapable information war to win over the hearts and minds of our children, our present and future legislators, and the public, there must be an active effort at counter-information. Reflect on the value of the anti-smoking campaigns over the last 20 years. If we want to successfully move past the superstition paradigm, there must be scholars trained and practicing in the field.

      With regard to the point about scientists, that is like saying priests are the only religious people. What I am talking about are efforts to bring laypersons into active learning, practice, even a sense of community with science and scientists. Why is it so much easier for me to go hear a free lecture on some city being wiped out by a pillar of fire for their sexual practices than one on nuclear energy? Yes, part of it is that there is less demand, but that's sweeping it under the carpet. Why aren't we generating interest? Why not coffee and bagels with a chemist? Why not opportunities to join a weekly coffee group with a learned scholar on cosmology that are as friendly and socially meaningful as those to join a weekly coffee group with a highly-trained creationist? Because one group is reaching out and trying to win over the laymen and women, and one group is not.

      That's just one idea, and I'm hoping for other, better ideas from brighter minds than mine, but it gives you an idea of the framework in which I am posing the questions.
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        Mar 30 2011: Hi Erik

        When you float the idea of 'Shutting down' churches etc. you are unlikely to win many hearts & minds. I don't play golf, but if the government passed legislation to shut down golf courses I would stand with my golfing buddies against the idea.

        You have to win hearts & minds. To me the scientific community has shot itself in the foot by applying Darwins ideas on natural selection to everything, including the sun. Natural selection is there to let species adapt to their environment, & overcome mutations which creep in. To me it is nonsense to endow it with the ability to create novel creatures.
        I'm sure you will disagree, but until you can come up with some hard science, rather than conjecture then I will stick with my bible. Until then I'll enjoy my tea & buns with the Creationists; & feel free to join us. After all, we've been commanded to love you, & that can't be bad.

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          Apr 6 2011: So churches are like golf courses?

          They both waste materials, they both have an elitist system, both are considered something but do not at all have the qualifications of such.

          Good analogy.
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          Apr 11 2011: This is why you don't argue with Christians about God. Their logic goes right out the window. Open minds become closed.
        • Apr 11 2011: Erik, re: "Why not coffee and bagels with a chemist?", you could ask the local university campus to start a "Science in the City" (or something similar) lecture series or coffee shop talk series. It could be held on campus or a coffee shop or be hosted by one of the bookstore chains with coffee shops.
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          Apr 12 2011: Again, folks, work with me here on the idea of civilized discourse. This sounds more like a political campaign :-D

          Julie Ann, good heavens, I'm a schoolteacher and a grad student. I'm lucky if I can organize a matching pair of socks on my way out the door most days!
        • Apr 12 2011: Hi Erik,
          "lucky if I can organize a matching pair of socks on my way out the door most days!"
          Been there many, many times - full time Mom/teacher, full time college educator, full time higher degree - good times.

          I'm sorry, I didn't mean for you to organize it. Maybe just a quick email to the science faculty to suggest it as an outreach activity, if it is something you would like to see happen :-)
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        Mar 31 2011: I'll have to agree with Peter Law on the first point.

        You can't win someone's heart and/or mind by shutting down a building that symbolizes what they or their peers believe in. That's exactly the reason people need to be targeted, not buildings. To go with the golf metaphor, one would need to turn golf into an unpopular (almost unpracticed) sport before they can even consider closing down golf courses.

        As for why science is not as accessible as religion... I think it has to do with the fact fairy tales (religious or not) don't require knowledge to be grasped, whereas a lecture on nuclear energy will typically require you to be familiar with some basic chemistry.

        But I disagree that scientists aren't generating interest. All documentaries essentially generate interest, as well as providing some basic knowledge required for the interest spark to occur. I may not be an astronomer, but I'm breathless every time I see cosmos visualizations on the Discovery channel. Same can be said for most scientific fields. Unfortunately, if one is already lead to take fairy tales (religious or not) as true, then documentaries don't help.
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          Apr 1 2011: 1. Or, they could just stop making golf courses tax free.

          2. I enjoy a good documentary too, but "watching" is nowhere near "human interaction", "hands-on play" and "cooperative participation" for creating engagement and support.
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          Apr 11 2011: Very good analogy with the fairy tales and the nuclear energy.
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          Apr 29 2011: It's really ignorant and disrespectful to call people who refer to religion as fairy tales ignorant and disrespectful.
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        Apr 6 2011: 1. Hah. Good point. But again, it boils down to having believers and church goers be a minority. Without that, no politician is going to risk it because they'll want to attract voters in the coming elections.

        2. Agree, but again, doing so requires more preparation. The barrier of entry is higher if you will. But yeah, even if the interest is there, few places offer stuff like Khan Academy's "learn science at your own phase" kind of thing. But that's an education issue which should be tackled with or without religion being involved in it.
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        Apr 13 2011: @Kathy K
        (is that what you're saying?)
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    jag .

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    Mar 25 2011: 1. No
    2. Dont need to shut them down, just dont go.
    3. ?
    4. It doesn't neccesarily have to be religious or scientific, it can be freedom from emotional suffering, then seeing the more natural loving side (love/spirituality/happiness) The community is inside yourself :P
    • Apr 28 2011: Dear jag s,
      "it can be freedom from emotional suffering"
      is it possible to we be free? until we are forced to die we are not free.
      if we died and Heaven and Hell were real and we went into Hell can you help us?
      do you have any evidence Hell not exist?
      is not it needed to possibility of that and research about it?