TED Conversations

Farokh Shahabi Nezhad

CEO & Co-Founder at Idearun, TEDxTehran


This conversation is closed.

Is there any way to prevent religious debates from turning into a big fight?

People discuss lots of things, politics, sports, anything
But when they discuss religious opinions, most of the time, they get all angry and try to win even with fight.
why is that? why that can't be a normal subject?
and more important, How can we prevent this?


Closing Statement from Farokh Shahabi Nezhad

Tnx everyone for their replies. I enjoyed learning from different aspect for this problem.

I can only conclude this : Don't argue with someone unless they are open minded and ready to be changed and challenged.

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    Feb 20 2013: Probably difficult to have a meaningful conversation when one party believes they have the absolute truth about everything from gods and goddesses down to what to eat and how to manage slaves.
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      Feb 20 2013: No more difficult than having a conversation--meaningful or otherwise--with those who're equally convinced that "gods and goddesses" don't exist.

      I have seen the Niagara Falls of what some would call the supernatural, and the supernatural equivalent of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the Colossus of Rhodes--all the Seven Ancient Wonders of our Supernatural existence and more.

      One thing I've learned from my many excursions into the Astral World (so named by occultists and mystics), the only Absolute is the Abode of God--all other loci, and truth, are open to the individual and collective creative power, and energy, of consciousness, including the realm in which we're currently residing.
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        Feb 20 2013: True - confidence you have the absolute truth on any side of an argument is difficult to deal with.

        Although most non theists I know, don't claim to know gods or goddesses don't exist. But suggest they have a reasonable case that there is no compelling evidence for the existence of Zeus, Maduk, Yahweh, Allah, Isis or any other theistic or more generic deistic interpretation. Seems reasonable they don't have a belief in these gods, but good to be open to new evidence.

        Others are more certain.

        I do find it funny that with 6 billion living slightly to completely different religious supernatural belief systems today and many others held by those who have fallen, the odds are your particular religious or spiritual view is wrong completely or in part.

        Your experience sound wonderful and powerful. I might have a different working hypothesis as an explanation but its a wonderful part of the human experience. Perhaps for some, these or possibly related experiences may be out of control and they find it difficult to function in society.

        But even dreams are pretty cool. Just familiar and frequent so we tend to take them for granted.

        If an experience is enriching and hurts no one, perhaps the interpretation is not such a big deal.

        I guess I haven't had all the experiences such as yours, but do meditate and enjoy the different consciousness states I experience. I have also had amazing visions and hallucinations and one OOBE but discount some due to my state of mind at the time.

        Whether it is just going on in our brains, or we actually travel or contact other realms outside our mind, its pretty cool.
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          Feb 20 2013: "I guess I haven't had all the experiences such as yours, but do meditate and enjoy the different consciousness states I experience."

          With rumination, one quickly realizes that "consciousness" is the Alpha and Omega of existence. Without it, nothing exists. With it, all possibilities present themselves.

          Meditation, the act of going within, opens us to those possibilities, as it concentrates consciousness, and the vast energy stored within it.

          "I have also had amazing visions and hallucinations and one OOBE but discount some due to my state of mind at the time."

          As humans, we have all the potential of the divine, and, as such, are unlimited in all our ways, and capable of knowing all there is to know, and being all we choose to be.

          "Whether it is just going on in our brains, or we actually travel or contact other realms outside our mind, its pretty cool."

          Oh, the stories I could tell, and the wonders I have experienced, but, alas, few will believe or accept my tale, either because they're predisposed to disbelieving, or because it's too amazing to ponder.

          You're right: "it's pretty cool," by any standard of coolness.
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      Feb 20 2013: Yeah the details are very frustration specially when they can't accept to change their beliefs.
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        Feb 20 2013: Obey and Farokh,
        You have hit on an important factor regarding religious debates turning into a big fight.

        Obey, you write..."Probably difficult to have a meaningful conversation when one party believes they have the absolute truth about everything..."

        Farokh, you write..."details are very frustration specially when they can't accept to change their beliefs".

        I observe that the biggest struggles are when one person not only thinks s/he has all the answers, but ALSO tries get the other person to accept it as THEIR belief as well.

        Obey, as you say...no meaningfull conversation can evolve when one person thinks they have all the answers. They communicate as if THEIR truth has to be everybodys truth....and they are on a mission to convince us that they are "right". Nothing can come from that behavior except struggle. Trying to change the other person's belief because they think/feel they are "right" contributes to struggle. When one person in a conversation begins to struggle (fight) , it is common for the other person to struggle and fight to maintain their own perspective, and that is when the conversation beaks down.

        We CAN accept a belief as another person's belief without embracing it as our own belief. We CAN be open to thoughts, feelings, perceptions, ideas and opinions of others, without trying to pressure another person to believe as we do. To do that, one has to let go of the idea that our truth, or answer, is the one and only "right" information.

        Everything is information....sometimes learned....sometimes proven....sometimes speculation....sometimes beliefs for which there is no proof. Each and every one of us will take the information from our experiences, including what we have been taught by parents, society,etc., and use that information as we choose. We KNOW individuals have different experiences. We KNOW there is information passed down through families, societies, religion, cultures, etc. I experience the differences as interesting:>)
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          Feb 21 2013: "It seems like this conversation got hyjacked to NDE/OBEs rather than the topic question....
          "Is there any way to prevent religious debates from turning into a big fight?""

          Of course, you'll see it the way that you see it, and that's your perogative, but these discussions are playing out the question, can we have religious discussions, some of which include a notion of an afterlife, NDEs and OOBEs (which suggest such), the existence of a God, or what have you, and do so respectfully?

          If you take the time to re-read some of the comments, you'll find that yes we can sometimes, but not all the time.

          No thread was "hijacked," as you've accused, and I say that respectfully.
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          Feb 21 2013: "To do that, one has to let go of the idea that our truth, or answer, is the one and only 'right' information."

          I agree: There are as many "truths" as there are people on the planet. I think that it's the proselytizing, the almost relentless attempt to make others believe as you believe that creates the tension, especially when it's coupled with derision, or a denouncing of one's stated position.

          I believe that I can respect what you and others believe while at the same time still holding that my position is the "one and only 'right' information."
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          Feb 21 2013: "We CAN accept a belief as another person's belief without embracing it as our own belief"

          Good advice.

          During an actual discussion or debate it is rare for someone to admit or accept another point of view makes more sense. Kind of like losing face. Sometimes we argue not to be wrong, to win the argument rather than to test and examine ideas.

          But then on private reflection afterwards some things might stick and make more sense. Perhaps you can only delude yourself so long when in your heart, or unconscious you find a view counter to the one you espouse seems more correct, even if you argue against it.

          There was a stage before I fully renounced my previous religion that I was arguing for the religion, while privately having my own doubts. I'm a bit embarrassed it took me so long to realise I was completely mistaken.

          According to some speakers at my old church Henry Kissinger is the anti Christ and the second coming is already late. I guess some Christians have been waiting for the second coming for 2000 years, and expecting it in their lifetime.

          It is tempting sometimes to jump in and feel you have been there done that and perhaps frustrated others can not see what you saw years ago. Hurry up and catch up - its obvious. To be dismissive of peoples own realisations will or wont happen in their own time.

          One humbling realisation I had was my views over the years have changed a lot. Revolutionary say 10 years ago and refined over the last few,. I like to think they have improved and broadened. IF I was having a discussion with myself from a few years ago I might find the views of my old self some what simplistic. And perhaps in a few years I will look back at my current views, that I put forward in discussions earnestly, and think how naive I was.
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        Feb 21 2013: Thanks Obey:>)
        I'm interested in examining/exploring ideas. To me, the life experience is a wonderful exploration, so I wouldn't deny myself more information by thinking/feeling that I have all the answers. Often times, as soon as people think they have the answers, they stop exploring. I'm going to be open to new information as I take my last breath in this earth school:>)

        With that in mind, I see no reason for your embarrassment Obey. You know, when I was young, I used to think that by a certain age, things in life would sort of be in order. I got to that age, and realized that is wasn't how I had planned! Ok....next stage will be in order. OOPS....when I got to the next stage/age, it wasn't as planned either....on and on. At different stages in the beginning, I often asked myself....."why didn't I know that BEFORE".....how embarrassing that I did not figure that out sooner!!! LOL

        In my 40s/50s, I finally realized that it was the journey, and all I'm experiencing and learning along the way that is important. I no longer try to project into the future. I live one moment at a time. That is not to say that I do not PLAN for the future. It simply means that I realize that life is what happens when we're making other plans...LOL!

        I enjoy your comments Obey.....it "feels" like you are genuinely exploring life, and I admire that practice:>)
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      Feb 20 2013: Don't you think, this frequently applies to those who take pride in being "rational"?
  • Feb 19 2013: How can any discussion be done with civility? Listen more than talk; confirm what we hear is what is meant; respect the opinions of all, especially of those who disagree...and above all, refuse to engage or continue with anyone that is belligerent.
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    Feb 8 2013: One thing to keep in mind: our beliefs shape our world view. That is to say, the entire construct of what we feel and know is shaped by our beliefs, whether those beliefs originate from faith or reason.

    When you ask someone to change their beliefs, you're asking them to change their world view. This is not only incredibly difficult, even for the most open-minded, but often feels very threatening.

    As we know, when humans feel threatened (or their view of reality is threatened), they are more likely to speak or act in a defensive or hostile manner.

    I think very few people are actually open to having their entire world view changed, and it's not likely to happen from an online discussion.
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      Feb 8 2013: Exactly my point as well.
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      Feb 8 2013: ", you're asking them to change their world view" . Very good point
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      Feb 14 2013: Re: "When you ask someone to change their beliefs, you're asking them to change their world view."

      So why are we so casual about the beliefs we instill in children?

      Do you know the story of the "ham butt problem?"
      Woman's making a ham for a big, family dinner. She goes to cut the butt off the ham and throw it away, and she looks at this piece of ham and she's like, "This is a perfectly good piece of ham. Why am I throwing this away?" She thought, "Well, my mom always did this." So she calls up mom, and she says, "Mom, why'd you cut the butt off the ham, when you're making a ham?" She says, "I don't know, my mom always did it!" So they call grandma, and grandma says, "My pan was too small!"
      Let's focus on the mother, she imitated a behavior without the knowledge of why she was doing the thing she was doing. Isn't this true of many of our beliefs and rituals?

      We don't ask others to change their beliefs, as much as we invite them obtain the knowledge of their beliefs.
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        Feb 14 2013: I completely agree: I don't think we should be casual about the beliefs we instill in children. In fact, I don't think we should be casual about any beliefs we hold. We should always be willing to question them, and to dismiss them if they prove faulty.
  • Feb 20 2013: Religion is different than spirituality. Spirituality is a partial experience of the greater. All spiritual experience is incomplete, because it is not possible to know the whole of God. At its best, religion is a dull reflection of God in a little mirror made by the hand of man. At its worst, religion is a tool used by the unscrupulous to twist the will of others or a weapon to subdue ideas that rationality cannot.

    If any discussion begins with recognition that any spiritual perception is incomplete, then a discussion is possible. Then difference can be properly seen in the context that the reflections in two different little mirrors may not be different Gods, but rather reflections of different parts of the same God. God is one, but the one is infinitely complex.

    A pretty good rule of thumb is that the more confident the tone of the speaker on religion, the less he knows about God and the more he knows about how to use the tool of religion..
  • Feb 14 2013: Personally I think that when people discuss politics, sports, everything else, they get as angry.

    I dont think the subject of God is unique in this failing of mankind.
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      Feb 14 2013: Lol
    • Feb 17 2013: Tify,
      You are right as rain.
      People can get angry with a baleful glare.
      They certainly don't need subject matter.
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    Feb 20 2013: Beliefs are closely related to our identity. When our beliefs are challenged, we take it as a personal challenge - an assault on "who we are". Challenging or ridiculing other people's beliefs has the same effect as ridiculing physical appearance, race, sexual orientation, or tastes. I think, the same mental process is causing derogatory exchanges between iPhone and Android users, as well as soccer fan violence.

    I think, people need to spend more time thinking of "who they are" as humans and be careful associating their identity with things, people, soccer teams, bands, brand names, gods, etc. This is how I interpret the religious commandment forbidding to worship idols instead of "I AM WHO I AM".

    I like the quote from the film "Lorax":

    The Lorax: Which way does a tree fall?
    The Once-ler: Uh, down?
    The Lorax: A tree falls the way it leans. Be careful which way you lean.
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      Feb 20 2013: Claims in science can be challenged and are all the time without it being perceived as a personal attack. If a paper or hypothesis is presented and claims are made it is expected that the claimant demonstrate the truth of the claims, to provide evidence and a logical framework, and be prepared to respond to questions and dissenting opinions.

      So why should it be an insult to ask anyone making any kind of claim, especially within the supernatural realm to step up and demonstrate, rather than simply assert, that what they claim has merit, something more than just a meme embedded in the minds of a billion people by tradition.
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        Feb 20 2013: When people study external things, they often do not associate themselves with what they study. This is why people are more comfortable facing challenges of their scientific ideas than facing challenges about their beliefs about themselves or moral issues.

        Atheists have their own beliefs which are not to be touched. E.g. there is a widespread belief among atheists that all assertions need to have evidence. This is not true in general. E.g. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," does not need evidence and has none. I tried to question this belief in an atheist forum. I got insults and ridicule in reply and was banned as a "troublemaker". Core beliefs of atheists are not open to questioning.

        All people get touchy when their core beliefs are questioned. Scientists and atheists are no exception.
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          Feb 20 2013: never mind ...you missed the point
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          Feb 21 2013: "I tried to question this belief in an atheist forum. I got insults and ridicule in reply and was banned as a 'troublemaker'."

          We both have this dubious honor in common, having been "banned" from an atheist forum. In my case, twice.

          For all their supposed reverence of rationality, they behave irrationally, elevating their atheistic beliefs to the stature of a religion--the very institution they claim to repudiate and scorn.

          You could tell, after reading a few of the posts, that most were reticent--and fearful--to deviate from the teachings of their respective guru or mentor, or to question the canons of their faith, lest they invite the ire of the group.

          I haven't felt as much pathos for religionist as I felt for these seemingly lost souls, afraid of their own thoughts, and the unreliability of their own minds, as they struggle to place a certain prescribed atheistic overlay the full length of their day-to-day existence.

          In short, they were as bound to their beliefs as any religionist.
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          Feb 21 2013: Wilbert,
          You write about a certin group of people....

          "they behave irrationally"... "most were reticent and fearful"...you felt "pathos" for "these seemingly lost souls afraid of their own thoughts, and the unreliability of their own minds, as they struggle."

          Do you honestly think/feel this kind of labeling contributes to furthering a conversation? It appears that you effectively demonstrate why religious debates often turn into a fight.
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        Feb 21 2013: Peter, I understand your point. I agree that we should not be insulted when our beliefs are questioned. But reality is different. People ARE insulted or, rather, feel threatened when their beliefs are questioned. The question is what do WE do about it? I think, it's possible to have a rational response to irrational behavior.

        Consider a few analogies. Snakes can bite people for reasons that may not be obvious to us. What do we do about it? Get frustrated that snakes don't behave like people or the way we think they should behave? Declare snakes "evil" and kill them? Or, perhaps, study their behavior, find out under what circumstances snakes bite people and behave in a way that they don't bite us?

        All living creatures fear unfamiliar things which they cannot predict and often react with aggression. Same happens when people encounter behavior or beliefs that they cannot understand, explain, or predict. Why would we expect people to behave differently from any other living creature?

        Why shouldn't religion follow rules of science? Why shouldn't cats observe table manners? The obvious answer is "cats are not people, human rules do not apply to cats".
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        Feb 21 2013: "If a paper or hypothesis is presented and claims are made it is expected that the claimant demonstrate the truth of the claims."

        Take the God Particle (the Higgs Boson), for example, claims were made as to the Standard Model, but the "demonstrated" truth of such claims are still being examined, and which required the construction of the Large Hadron Collider for the claims to be examined and substantiated.

        "So why should it be an insult to ask anyone making any kind of claim, especially within the supernatural realm to step up and demonstrate, rather than simply assert, that what they claim has merit."

        I've seen ghosts. How do I "demonstrate" that without the assistance of the ghost? I travel outside my body. How do I demonstrate that, unless I take you with me? And there are other claims too numerous to recount, and just as hard to replicate in ways that natural science is required to demonstrate its claims.

        Should my claims be dismissed simply because "proof" exists differently in the supernatural realm than the natural, and harder to observe.

        Granted, you should exhibit skepticism when claims extend beyond your normal range, but we're faced with such claims daily, sometimes from those who subscribe to one conspiracy theory or the other, and we accept them, if we're predisposed, or we reject them, if we're not.

        You suggested it yourself when you use the term, "supernatural." These so-called "supernatural" things usually exist outside the "natural world," and can't always be neatly replicated as with natural events.

        All I ask is this: When I and others make supernatural claims, that you reserve judgment as to our sanity, and our veracity.

        Even some "natural events" puzzle science. Is light a wave or a particle, or both, for example? Does the observer change the behavior of that which is observed? And, then, there's quantum theory: "A theory in physics based on the principle that matter and energy have the properties of both particles and waves."
        • Feb 21 2013: Have you ever considered the possibility that while people share the same space they might not share the same reality or the same "rules?" That is, that consistency from person to person is not a requirement in this place. Is it possible that there is no exclusion? Is it possible that all answers are simultaneously right in the correct context?

          So is it possible that ghosts exist in your world, but that they don't in mine?
        • Feb 21 2013: You made a comment about atheism behaving much as a religion. You are correct about this. It is a belief system with the same kind of canon and experts and dogma as any established religion. Atheism even has its own saints....although unlike Catholicism or Judaism, they don't yet have funny hats.

          No matter what side of the issue you are on, there is no way to produce absolute proof for either position.

          So on one hand the religious zealots bang on the scripture that is on the table and the atheists just bang on the table.

          Those of us that have had direct experience just hear the noise of their banging.
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          Feb 21 2013: Wilbert, regarding our remarks about atheists, let's not generalize. I agree with Coleen's comment.

          To clarify the point, lack of religious prejudice does not guarantee the lack of prejudice. All atheists are different, just as are all religious people (that's, perhaps, the only generalization I can make). It is a mistake to label other people as "fundamentalists" or "creationists" or "lacking a moral compass" or "bigots" just by their faith or lack thereof.

          What fascinates me in these debates is how we start with views opposing hypocrisy, bigotry, dogma and end up doing exact same thing that we are opposed to. Didn't this happen to Christianity? When people go too far avoiding these vices, they approach them from the other side.

          It's like moderation - "excessive moderation" is self-refuting.
    • Feb 20 2013: This is a very incisive comment. It seems to me that so much of organized religion is about creating an identity. This is as much about who is "in" and who is "out." That is, there cannot be an "in-crowd" unless there are "dorks." You cannot have a "chosen people" unless you have someone that God does not like.

      You provoke a very interesting question: What is a person if you strip away all of their identities, or as you put it, their "brands?"
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        Feb 20 2013: Here is talk about it.

        This question intrigued humanity for ages. The concept of "self" is extremely fascinating. It always leads to circular reasoning and defies logic. It cannot be answered by science. I think, this "self-awareness" question is why religions exist with all the references to "I AM WHO I AM" and a host of other circular concepts.
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          Feb 21 2013: "I AM WHO I AM"

          Unconditional being or unconditional existence.
  • Feb 8 2013: Farokh,
    Perhaps we humans are foolish in the way we handle relations with others. We tend to judge others inaccurately, placing people in "pigeon holes" of identity according to what we understand. We try to force others, through varying techniques, to accept religions and doctrine. Humans have not developed an all-knowledgeable authority. Some have strong convictions even though humans are not omniscient. We tend to think there is something "wrong" with a person who does not accept conversion to his point of view.

    Perhaps we'd all be wiser to refrain from attempts to taking something OUT of a person, but be kind, loving and teach or share what we know is best from within ourselves. We'd be wise to accept a person "just where they are" in their present belief situation and look for the good in a person. Rather than make rules for others, become the best we expect of others.

    Fights involve failures of persons to listen well and lovingly understand a person's point of view. It's better to listen and respect than to jam a person into a jar he doesn't want. Let God do the judging; humans are not qualified to judge another's soul nor do we have supreme capabilities to see into the deeper reaches of people.
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      Feb 8 2013: Really liked your comment specially the last paragraph.
      • Feb 8 2013: Thank you. More could be said, i.e. history of racial conflicts, water and territorial claims, ego and false superiority concepts, et al. Humankind learns too slowly on some things. We'd all be better if we look to the future of peace and make peace deliberately through techniques other than harm or war!

        What human being has ever been granted ultimate supremacy over others for all things? We evolve. What is the goal of evolution of thought, of physical, of relationships? This is food for thought.

        Keep thinking!
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          . . 100+

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          Feb 12 2013: " Make peace DELIBERATELY through techniques other than harm or war " - that would be smart!
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    Feb 18 2013: Not wanting to single out any one religious for holding beliefs that need to be challenge I will add this note: there are 21 states in our country where corporal punishment in the classroom is legal, where it is legal for a teacher to beat a child with a wooden board, hard, and raising large bruises and blisters and even breaking the skin. And hundreds of thousands of children, incidentally, are subjected to this every year.
    Again Sam Harris weights in on the subject, "And the rationale for this behavior is explicitly religious. The creator of the universe himself has told us not to spare the rod, lest we spoil the child -- this is in Proverbs 13 and 20, and I believe, 23. But we can ask the obvious question: Is it a good idea, generally speaking, to subject children to pain and violence and public humiliation as a way of encouraging healthy emotional development
    and good behavior?"

    Shouldn't we be asking ourselves, "How can this be prevented?"
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      Feb 18 2013: I couln't agree more.
      What we should focus on is not necessarily how to prevent conversations about religion from turning into a fight as is it not the core of the problem. In my view, the core is the potentially harmful religious beliefs themselves, not the debate about them.
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        Feb 19 2013: Theodore and Anna,
        It is NOT acceptable to subject children to pain, violence and humiliation as a way to encourage healthy emotional development. It makes no sense, does not work, and in fact, encourages and reinforces the cycle of violence and abuse in our world. It is ESPECIALLY disgusting under the guise of religion, which often supposedly has a foundation of respect, compassion, kindness and love.

        I agee Anna, that it is the potentially harmful religious beliefs that are the problem...not the debate about them.
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      Feb 18 2013: Good morning Theodore,

      I was not aware that there were still 21 states which allowed corporal punishment.

      After reading your comment and Anna's, may I offer a thought?

      The scriptural principle you mentioned reads as follow: “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.”—Proverbs 13:24; see also Proverbs 23:13, 14.

      Note that the scripture is aimed at the parents, not adults in general. It is a terrible thing when sound scriptural principles are manipulated to suit the needs of those who want to control others. In this case control children in school.

      Look at the insight I found in an article: “Extremes of permissiveness are as bad as extremes of punishment,” so noted a professor of child psychology, “but the fact that remediation is easier with the overdisciplined than the underdisciplined child favors leaning on the side of discipline when in doubt.”

      The professor emphasizes that the motive for giving physical punishment should be loving concern for the child’s present and future welfare."

      This, in my opinion, is a balanced view, which is in harmony with the scriptural principle.

      A loving parent who communicates with their child, and has disciplined them by instructing them in the kind of behavior that is acceptable and the kind that is not, will seldom, if ever have to resort to the rod.

      This has been my personal experience.

      None the less, I am glad our state does not have corporal punishment in the schools.
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        Feb 18 2013: While I understand its intent, I question it application when the article also uses language like,
        "This is the "Spanking Proverb" now in much disuse and distaste by a permissive Pepsi Generation -- though more and more wonder if it ought to be reinstituted -- The Law of Moses as well as the Proverbs allowed for corporal punishment based on this principle: "Bruising wounds [KJ: blueness of a wound; NEB: a good beating] "

        ("Bruising wounds"?)

        "Spare the Rod, but Note the Consequences" was the title of an article appearing in The Natal Mercury, a South African newspaper, lamenting the modern trend of holding back physical punishment from children at home and in school. Who is responsible for this changed attitude toward spanking? Professor Smythe, a pediatrician at the University of Natal, South Africa, places the blame squarely on child psychologists. "Usually on delving into the roots of an emotional issue," Smythe explains, "one finds the change in attitude starting with psychological dogma. At first violently opposed to any form of physical punishment, then appalled by the consequences of the indiscipline resulting from a creed of no frustrations and no inhibitions."


        Smythe is a curious person to be quoting and there are more credible sources on this topic.


        "Parents who spank their children are more likely to use other unacceptable forms of corporal punishment." American Academy of Pediatrics

        My suggestion is that people view the modern scientific research instead of relying on ancient wisdoms and that we continue to abolish such abuse.
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          Feb 19 2013: I thoroughly understand your point of view.
          Unfortunately I don't think you understand mine.

          If hitting children was the only way to harm them permanently I would have to give in to your way of thinking.

          But, verbal abuse and also plain neglect do just as much harm. In neither case is the child struck by the parent, but the results are just as desastrous.

          I only remember being struck once by my mom. She struck me once in the arm.
          My actions that day were intolerable. I had done harm that was irreversible.

          I cried alot after she hit me. Not so much because her slap hurt me, but because I had done something to hurt her, and showed a lack or respect and consideration for her...my mom.

          I have never forgotten it. It caught me by total surprise that she would raise a hand to me.
          A stern look was all that she usually wore whenever we misbehaved, and sometimes she would verbally scold us.

          I know I will not change your thinking Theodore.

          But please understand, that when a parent hits a child under the right circumstances and for the right reasons, motivated by a love of the child and his future, the child somehow understands the the pain inflicted is not on him, but on the parent.
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      Feb 19 2013: American reality is schizoid; Capital punishment is legal in 35 state,yet you express indignation that corporal punishment is legal in 21 states.
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        Feb 19 2013: I oppose capital punishment also. There is however an interesting correlation between corporal punishment and violence and criminality in later life. We can stop the cycle starting with the abuse of innocent children.
        "The more children are spanked, the more anger they report as adults, the more likely they are to spank their own children, the more likely they are to approve of hitting a spouse, and the more marital conflict they experience as adults." Spanking has been associated with higher rates of physical aggression, more substance abuse, and increased risk of crime and violence when used with older children and adolescents."
        Wikipedia "Corporal punishment in the home
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    Feb 13 2013: There is a way. We can treat religion like something very personal, like, say, sex. Each has a position and a preference and each knows up to a certain time all are great and after that certain time it's not a priority anymore.
    • Feb 14 2013: this is a very good point. I feel faith is very personal and private. I certainly never discuss it . I feel it would dilute its value to me.
      I suppose in the same way we cover our nudity with most people.

      Faith by definition is connected to the feeling faculty. Perhaps there is either confusion,or overlap, between faith and belief ( more cerebral ?). We don't argue with someone else about a personal feeling, - perhaps a sexual one. e.g. "I am feeling such and such..."
      "Oh no you're not, you can't be, that is nonsense you can't feel such and such...." etc!
    • Feb 17 2013: Pabitra,

      You've actually won the HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.
      What a wonderfully expressed way to get to the point.

      Many years ago, I watched on TV Archie Bunker tear apart the morals of our time.
      I was shocked. But intrigued to see where this all would go.

      Last month, I watched on my computer, Shameless, a TV show.
      I was shocked. But intrigued to see where this all would go.

      We are an evolving humankind.
      Man made religions will have to change rapidly to keep up with the needs of their believers.
      God will still be here with us all.
      Religions will be here also.
      They will change, dragging their feet, but unwilling to take a back seat.

      Wars may be sparked by religions.
      They will not be sparked nor endorsed by God.
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        Feb 18 2013: Thanks Frank. I have no interest in the God that resides in Temples, Mosques or Churches, God in whose name there are fatwas and edicts, God who seeks to control every aspect of my life in public. Long live the god of small things and my secret awe for a wonderful oneness of the cosmos.
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    Feb 13 2013: If we remove the word "religious" or "religion" and replace with "a fundamental belief system" then we may get to a deeper level of the issue. It may not be religion but a core system of beliefs that we live our lives around. Catholicism, republican, vegan, pro-choice, etc. When a fundamental belief is challenged then we, as a species, tend to employ the more basic emotions. Anger, fighting etc.

    Perhaps we need to address that issue, and it may come about with evolution, social sciences, the advancement of morality and mental education.

    Can we debate religion? Sure, lets talk about Zeus or Thor etc... but we have socially evolved where those religions no longer hold sway. Hmmm... brings up an interesting idea. I wonder what some of the ancient debates on the Greek gods were. Was it heresy to talk about Zeus' philandering? I never really thought about the religious arguments of ancient times. I imagine that today we would find them rather silly. I wonder how we will be viewed in 2000 years.
    • Feb 18 2013: Leo,
      Please keep writing. You have the gift.
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        Feb 18 2013: Thanks, that is nice to hear.
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    Feb 13 2013: It's faith vs. faith. never a good combination.

    And don't let anyone persuade you that atheism isn't a faith in itself. It most certainly is, especially the 'militant' type from the gospel according to St Dawkins.

    The stronger one's faith, or belief, the further away from intelligent argument one gets.

    The only way intelligent discussion can take place is by genuinely wanting to understand an opposing view. It takes empathy to do that, plus the ability to question one's own standpoint.

    By definition, a belief system endemically has no intention of understanding its polar opposite, unless it has the courage to doubt itself - by which time it begins to move out of 'a belief', into a subject for stimulating discussion.
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      Feb 13 2013: Re: "don't let anyone persuade you that atheism isn't a faith in itself."

      How is the absence of a belief, a belief?
      What if one says they are a "non-believer" instead of the term atheist?" Is my "faith" now non-belief?
      One does not refer to one's self as a non racist.
      This is the reason Sam Harris does not use the term atheist.

      Re: "a belief system endemically has no intention of understanding its polar opposite"

      This too seems to be a questionable statement.
      A person with a belief system can understand an opposing belief system with out the intention of accepting.
      I understand communism, I do not accept it.
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        Feb 13 2013: Theodore, there are degrees of atheism just as much as there are degrees of religious faith. The more extreme or fundamentalist they are, the less likely it will be to want to understand their polar opposites.

        If a discussion descends into name-calling, belittling and elitist proclamations, there is usually some sort of faith/belief powering that argument. It may be because faith/belief moves too far away from rationality into emotion - thus being less open to a balanced discussion.

        We're getting into semantics here, but "non-belief" seems to me not the same as full-blown atheism. Atheism can no longer be regarded as a moderate stance and is almost used as a badge of honour in order to garner affirmations from like-minded others. Thus a preparation for "going into battle" in an argument, rather than seeking understanding.

        The very fact that you understand communism means that you can discuss it as much with a communist as you can with a capitalist without getting too heated, and with less likelihood of offense. Am I right?

        Understanding affirms or disproves emotional responses, and is a more effective way of approaching religious debate.
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          Feb 13 2013: Ahhh, the magic words, " seems to me."

          So when you write "Atheism can no longer be regarded as a moderate stance" you are really saying, "To me, Atheism........"
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        Feb 13 2013: Who else would it seem to? Should I be supporting every opinion I have with evidence? All evidence started life as opinion > hypothesis > theory before being accepted as mainstream. I enter debates with opinions just as much as you do. You are welcome to accept or decline them as much as you want.

        Yes you are right. To me, Atheism seems to be many things. Not least having a presumption towards ridding the world of religion completely, rather than trying to understand why billions of people subscribe to it in some form.

        I personally do not subscribe to any organised religion myself and am doubtful of the existence of God. But what gives me the right to devalue another person's way of understanding the universe without having prior understanding of them and why they believe it?

        I know you don't do this Theodore - but one never wins debates by inflicting injury on those who oppose. Injuring opposition in a debate is always a puerile, hollow victory.
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          Feb 13 2013: I think over the last 10-20 years atheism as evolved in its definition and use. It may be time to redefine. I understand both your points and agree with both as long as we modify the definition of atheism OR come up with a new word for one or the other.

          Atheism, as a simple lack of belief in a god, I do not add my belief systems. I do not believe in Smurfs either, but I certainly would not call my lack of belief a system. I also do not like classic cars, and I do not go to classic car shows, AND I do not go to seminars about why I hate classic cars and rail against those that do.... For me it is a non issue.

          Allan I would agree with your definition if you were to take the idea of Atheism and expand it to a belief system such as Dawkins prescribes. Militant Atheism. OK, that I interpret as something new and more in depth than the denotative definition of Atheism.

          Gay used to mean happy, but has evolved so that an individual can no longer use the denotative definition of the word. I wonder if the word "atheism" will go the same way.
        • Dan F 50+

          • +1
          Feb 13 2013: Hi Leo and Allan,

          The reason a person is an atheist is why this debate can be upsetting to the conflicting religious point of view. Please look at my post below for my explanation of why I am an atheist.

          World class naturalist like Richard Dawkins and academic types such as the late Christopher Hitchens take and took issue with religion because of what has been learned, especially since Charles Darwin about biology and how the human condition is less unique from other living organisms than religious belief authorities and systems want to concede, because of the implications.

          No one cares if you don't believe in Smurfs or like classic cars, but if you said you don't believe in the spaghetti monster, ears would perk up. Trust me.

          Atheism as a consequence of academic knowledge is only becoming better defined.

          I like Theodores's rational on this topic.
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        Feb 13 2013: Leo, I think you're right about redefining atheism. Especially since Dawkins seems to have commandeered the word almost as his own, distorting it to represent a blunt instrument with which to club religion to death - in spite of the known evolved capacity of the human brain to intuit the spiritual as much as it can the scientific.

        Because of the aggressive connotations many perceive in the word 'atheism', maybe 'unbelief' or 'non-believer' would be a better badge to wear when embarking on a debate that really does want to get somewhere, but can't, because of an almost studied refusal to empathize.
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          Feb 13 2013: You must be a therapist or something like that. Your statements are in the definitive when they are actually just perceptions, yours, as I have already pointed out. Why the reluctant to own your perceptions? I find it intellectually dishonest to frame the conversation in a knowingly distorted fashion. You do know better, but still resort to this "bad habit" even when your called on it.

          Re: atheism
          Atheist no doubt defend themselves, even in an agressive manner, because they are so discriminated against by an overtly religious world.
          Philosophers such as Plato argued that atheism (as we understand it today) was a danger to society and should be punished as a crime.
          During the Early modern period, the term "atheist" was used as an insult and applied to a broad range of people, including those who held opposing theological beliefs, as well as suicides, immoral or self-indulgent people, and even opponents of the belief in witchcraft.
          The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was expelled from the University of Oxford and denied custody of his two children after publishing a pamphlet on The Necessity of Atheism.
          Seventeen states still have a law which states you must believe in God to maintain public office of any kind despite the excerpt from the Constitution of the United States, Article VI, Section III: ”… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

          So who is doing the labeling here, isn't it those with atheophobia?
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        Feb 13 2013: You forbid me to have opinions, and now perceptions are barred too because you see them as 'distortions' and 'intellectually dishonest'...?

        A recipe for good debate is surely one rich in opinions and perceptions? If opinions and perceptions were forbidden, then such a debate would have to be anchored in evidence and dogma from past knowledge - and thus would not get anywhere. Hence the thrust of Farokh's original question.

        I don't think it's dishonest to proclaim doubts about current so-called certainties, without having to consult that ubiquitous monkey on the shoulder who keeps whispering: "Evidence! Everything you say must be supported by EVIDENCE!" That may be all very well for logicians in search of their holy grail of WHAT we are - but what about WHO we are?

        You might accuse me of being dishonest again, because here comes another opinion:

        I maintain that science - incredibly beautiful though it is, will not be able to get much beyond establishing "what" we are. "Who" we are, on the other hand, is not a scientific discipline and I further maintain because of that, such important existential questions render science impotent. Therein lies the problem: Science then morphs into atheism because of that widening gulf of understanding.

        I'm not particularly atheophobic. What bothers me are the extremities of both atheism and religious fanaticism, what might be the causes of them and why they cannot be discussed without getting overheated (see original question).

        Now, I've put forward some suggestions in an attempt to answer that question. I may be right, I may be wrong, but it certainly isn't intending to be distorted and I am not dishonest.

        Yes you're right. I am a therapist. Well spotted.
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          Feb 13 2013: Let's be clear, I never said you were "dishonest," (or used the word opinion).
          I wrote, "I find it intellectually dishonest to frame the conversation in a knowingly distorted fashion."

          Here is the evidence: Ahhh, the magic words, " seems to me." So when you write "Atheism can no longer be regarded as a moderate stance" you are really saying, "To me, Atheism........"

          This is what, "Your statements are in the definitive when they are actually just perceptions, yours," meant.

          Your framing "atheism" as being, a definitive, ""don't let anyone persuade you that atheism isn't a faith in itself."
          I am merely pointing out the difference between these two statements.
          1) Atheism is a faith
          2 I think, ( perceive, believe etc) that atheism is a faith.
          ...and claiming that you do understand the difference.

          Here you qualify atheism, ""non-belief" seems to me not the same as full-blown atheism. (underline seems to me), but again revert back to the declarative form of framing, by using "is," and writing:

          "Atheism can no longer be regarded as a moderate stance and is almost used as a badge of honour in order to garner affirmations from like-minded others..."

          So you mean "full blown atheism" and we are now informed that this is just opinion, even though it is a declarative statement, that left unquestioned constructs what "is" in a definitive manner? Correct?

          In psychology this is akin to me saying, "I make me feel angry."
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      Feb 14 2013: Very good point.
    • Feb 18 2013: WoW...

      You folks have cranked up a whole new offshoot. atheism !!!

      But I have to say that your arguments are closely aligned with Obama's..
      Idea of penalties for the non-purchase of Health Insurance Policies.

      In psychology this is akin to me saying, "I make me feel angry."
      hahahahahahahahahahahaha what a gas..

      Sorry, I am too tired to get involved with this... lol
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        Feb 18 2013: "I make me feel angry." is a correct albeit awkward sounding statement, as opposed to the more common misrepresentation of emotional understanding, "You make in angry"
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    Feb 12 2013: Basically it is the underlining fear of one's faith being shaken by the opponents reasoning and arguments. Those who have superficial or surface knowledge of their particular faith , are the ones who get more angry and agitated, and they are the ones more vulnerable to the machinations of unscrupulous religious so called leaders.

    However, it is very different with those who are learned in the truest of sense in their particular faith. Knowledge is power. They do not easily fall prey and are very steadfast in their own Faith and such people also respect the belief system of other religions.

    So I think true knowledge dispensed by the rightly guided leaders of each religion will go a long way in preventing animosity and hatred. Each to his own way in peace.
  • Feb 8 2013: Usually when people fight over their beliefs, it's because they're not secure in their beliefs. They don't know what they believe is true or not. I think you'll find that the people who fight over their beliefs have hidden doubts about them.
    • Feb 11 2013: Agree partly. There are also cases when people are certain of their believes but want to shove it down other people's throats. This causes fights many a times.
      • Feb 12 2013: They may look certain to you, Blue Spectacles, but as a religious person I can speak from experience here. If they're trying to ram it down other people's throats they're trying to shore up their insecurities with over-the-top zeal. If you know what you believe is true, it doesn't matter to you what other people say. They can say what they like, what's true is true. It's not going to change according to how we think. It'd be nice if other people believed as I do, and I'll try to show them how they can know as I do, but it's ultimately their decision and theirs alone.
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    Feb 20 2013: My answer is humility.

    Humility is a virtue in many religions and atheists would benefit from it too. I think, it is arrogant to believe that my beliefs are superior to anyone else's and force everyone else to believe the same way or ridicule them for their beliefs. This is MY arrogant belief which I would like to force on everyone. It is ridiculous that people don't understand this :-).

    This wonderful talk gives a great picture of what we "really know".
  • Feb 18 2013: There are different religions out there. Religions are instruments to tune people to reach God. But sad thing is people forgot what religion says actually and fight over religions. Most of those people never give a second to think what it is . this is the main problem. People should think a minute before fighting. Religions are nothing but different ways to reach same goal. Once people realize this, there will be no fights. These pontiffs are appointed to preach what religion says but sadly the pontiffs dont do that and people are misguided
  • Feb 17 2013: Over these past years, i have seen these conversation among people with different religions, cultures and ext. and I believe there is one thing to it...as long as they are just to share opinions and explore opposite sides on the matter of their approach to their beliefs and reasons for their way of thinking. the conversations goes just right.
    but when the moment comes that those who are involved in the topic start to force their ideas to each other the whole conversations goes to waste. since beliefs are not mathematics to be proven and therefor odd possibilities always exist.
    I believe, if one is in the middle of the conversation its just best to keep the subject in a way that everyone pay attention to actually learn each other not change. however, the result is different peoples' beliefs actually changes this way, as i have seen, cause they eventually start to question themselves.
    • Feb 17 2013: WoW.

      yashar kardar
      You've won the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.

      You've covered about all of it. Nothing more need be added.
      Thank you.
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    Feb 15 2013: Short answer, yes you can avoid a fight by not debating. By definition religions generally have faith as part of their cosmology. By definition faith is not provable. People allow themselves to be convinced by their parents or culture or rarely through long introspection or study. If any faith were objectively provable then we would have no free will and we would all belong to one religion. I have actually been told by a believer that the Bible is so clear that there is only one possible interpretation. If that were so then there would only be one sect of Christianity and also the Jews would not need so many Talmud commentaries to "Clarify" the Torah. Buddhist scriptures are somewhat better and there have been fewer wars but still there is ample disagreement. Same for all the other authorities or systems that I have heard of. In the end you have to find your own way that works for you.
    • Feb 17 2013: In the end every individual has to find his or her own way that works for him or her, without interfering with the freedom of other people. It is however not the end, in the beginning people should find their own way and we do not. We are trained, conditioned, embedded in a culture out of wich we start to think and argue. We identify our selfs with our cultural , scientifical , social, religious backgrounds and out of this identification we debate with life. Religions starts with the experience of an individual, often closely witnessed and confirmed by the people surrounding this individual. When the person initiating the 'religion' has past away the main aspect of direct experience, experience in the sense of being a living experience, is gone,.When the witnesses of the direct experience then also have past away, then all of direct experience is gone and what we then will have is tradition, culture. This is the dead corpse of the living experience before and so we see many religions turn out to become destructive as dead is destruction. When we, as individuals, cannot enter a living independent thinking based on independent inner life experience, we are condemned by our thinking lazyness, being a spiritual lazyness, to repeat dead thoughts. This is as living by the products of works of our ancestors in the idea we have nothing new to contribute, to create, to transform. As a Christian one can think one can rely on repeating the words of the bible, and even fight wars for this but one could also forget all those words and become a Jezus oneself in the most original way when truth is considered to be timeless and non-personal. As a Muslim one can endless repeat Qoran texts never realising Mohammed, as an individual, retreated in a cave to find his personal truth, related to the books Thora and Bible, a truth written down in the Qoran to be repeated since then.
    • Feb 17 2013: When the truth is a living truth, and not burried in 'religious statements', each individual would and could find this truth in direct life experience without being dependent on old regulations, traditions and laws. The big fight every individual is into is the inner fight, the everlasting inner fight to find truth, truth as a living experience being true in the actual moment of life. When people have no inner debate, no inner fight for this truth, thinking they already knew yesterday and will know for tomorrow, they will start to fight with the world around them.
      • Feb 17 2013: Alex,

        You missed me by a mile.
        I don't know a whit about inner truth, nor inner fight to find truth.

        I do know how to argue, and fight.
        I am not alone. Everyone can do the same.

        The key issue is whether or not we have to debate religion.
        We do not.
        But to allow another to have a bigger and better religion, is hard to bear.
        So we fight.
        We are fighting ideas only.
        We all know this. But we fight anyway.
        "C'est la vie", a French phrase, "Such is life"...
    • Feb 18 2013: Chad,

      You've done a great job explaining how we get involved in the first place.
      You've also covered how to avoid debating religions.

      Myself, I've spent too much time on the subject.

      I'd rather get into juicy scraps about government corruption....
  • Feb 14 2013: One's religious beliefs are deeply connected to their culture, upbringing and emotions. This is not an issue of lightly arrived at opinion. Religion is process in which humanity seeks to make sense of an often nonsensical existence. It gives reason to explain life's unexplainable rewards and misfortunes.

    Religious belief systems are too deeply ingrained for those who need to justify the vagarities of life. There is seldom a debate or convincing argument that will change their minds.

    Peace with our fellow man must rely on our own personal acceptance that others can follow their beliefs without criticism or debate. Extremism is the most troubling example of total non acceptance of other beliefs. It doesn't take much research to find that the core beliefs of most world religions are basically the same tools to get along with the rest of humanity.
    • Feb 17 2013: Valerie,

      You've said it all.
      We are plugged in at a young age to some belief system.
      Religion is the most popular.
      Nothing wrong with living a good life and respecting others.
  • Feb 14 2013: The believers forget that they are only the creature of GOD and not the GOD himself in all religions
    and everyone in this world want to believe in GOD (and upto some extent have that belief ) so by debating we all want to know how to strengthen that belief by seeking answers which we dont know and the person fighting will always be the one who is unable to answer or justify that answer.

    and "Belief" ( in this content religion ) in itself is the most powerful attribute of a person. .
    The difference (argument/fighting) comes when he wants to prove to others that he believes, by his actions

    Hope to get your views on this.
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      Feb 14 2013: They really forget sometimes....
    • Feb 17 2013: sumit sharma,

      I agree with you.

      Debate of any subject at all, is exactly the same as you've described so well.

      May I take license with this remark?
      "and religion in itself is the most powerful attribute of a person."

      I would however take exception with the word religion.
      Might I suggest instead "belief"?

      Would you perhaps allow this change?

      "Belief being the most powerful attribute of a person, and religion the vehicle a person uses.
      The argument/fighting (difference) by his actions, comes when he wants to prove (to others)
      that he believes...

      I hope this change will not offend you.
      • Feb 18 2013: Frank Barry

        I am grateful for this suggestion.
  • Feb 13 2013: Dialogues must have people who doubt their ideas on both sides. If one side is 100% sure of what he or she thinks, even if it is incorrect, the situation we have could not be called a debate. Religion often sinks deep in people's way of thinking. So when they talk, they are thinking in a system of religious thought. It is consequently very hard to get to their core and show them that there is a tiny probability that god (broad definition) does not exist. Also, hardcore atheists, who insist on the nonexistence of god, and are sure that there is no god, are unable to debate. The worst kinds of fight are seen when both sides are inflexible, and opposing. Two people cannot be both sure and right if they are opposing each other.

    There are times we are after the answer to simple questions, like "what", which is gaining definitions or new words for new concepts. Sometimes we are after harder questions, like "how", which is gaining mechanisms and relationships between the definitions and concepts we already have. Some people, take it to the next level by asking questions in the form "why", which is actually not that different from "how", but demands a humane purpose behind the phenomenon. When we ask "why" question about nature, we usually have to dump our lack of knowledge in words like energy minimization, entropy, etc. which are by the efforts of some brilliant minds, partly formulated and somehow structured. Still people demand "why", not knowing that they are actually still demanding "how". Religion comes in and gives them an answer "why" and wins their heart (metaphor). Science says "I don't know" and people are disappointed. Now, most people cannot bear the weight of "IGNORANCE", and rather have some answer, than no answer, regardless of what the answer signifies, because it gives them peace of mind. So religion is actually a powerful tool to satisfy the thirst of knowledge, only temporarily.
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    Feb 13 2013: Do Buddhist every argue religion?
    We might ask if Buddhism is actually a religion, or is it a philosophy? Buddhism is a practice.
    Buddhists don't feel complied to convert others into their beliefs the way other religions do.
    • Feb 18 2013: Theodore,

      I have the Feb 1st edition of the Watchtower.
      A nice elderly gent left it with me last week.
      "What We Learn From MOSES" is the subject.
      He said he would be back.

      I never had a Buddhist knock on my door.
      I know of no one else who has.

      A couple of Mormon young adults stop from time to time.
      They need to ask their important question...
      "Do you believe that Joesph Smith is the One True Prophet of the Lord?"
      I reply, ...
      and always ask them to stay for dinner, and a game of chess after.

      I've never found a religious solicitor of converts that wanted to argue religion...
      Lots of questions, but no arguments.
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    Feb 13 2013: Sure there is.

    Very few of the discussions or debates I have about religion end up as something I would call a fight.

    Disagreeing, even passionately is not necessarily a fight.

    Mind you most people I talk with don't claim to know they have the absolute truth. They may think they have the essence of it, but most acknowledge there are as many gods and goddesses in human culture and interpretations of these as there religious believers.

    But I take your point that it is a subject that can be heated.

    Suggest just keeping calm, not attacking the person or calling them stupid even if you think they are, and agreeing to disagree, or knowing when you are not going to get any where and calling it quits.
    • Feb 13 2013: If you are having a discussion , then there is no reason to think that anyone is stupid . You only think they are stupid if they are not adopting the same belief system you have, also if you think they are stupid then you are claiming to have the absolute truth. Trying to "get somewhere" is trying to prove you are right and they are wrong, which means you believe that you hold the absolute truth.
  • Feb 13 2013: When we become better at accepting things as they are and controlling our fear I think that this will no longer be a problem. Acceptance is generally what keeps us from reason. We refuse to allow something to be what it clearly is and we want to force it into something that we as an individual find personally pleasing. We do not want to accept that it is selfish of us to expect another to see things just as we do. And it's terribly egotistical to actually think that someone having a different belief than yours is the same as that person actively attacking your beliefs. We refuse to accept that we can not control the hearts and minds of others because we have not yet learned to control our own heart and mind. Their "defiance" represents the doubt we all carry within us as to whether or not we are "wrong". Instead of facing that doubt head on, and coming to a rational conclusion, most would rather not accept it and push on to comfort themselves without the use of logic. The fear of being wrong is so strong that we repeatedly deny the truth. It's truly childish behavior that our elders and peers allow to carry on because they do not want to accept that this is not the way to accomplish anything so the fighting continues. Obviously not everyone takes this approach, but there is still enough enabling and encouragement for this to be a problem. Basically it is taught.

    The sad part is that so many forget this is all a dream. Aside from nature all that we know to exist began as one person's dream. They took that dream and made it into something real. We are all playing in the longest running game of pretend where the only limits that exist are those which we choose for ourselves. Our accomplishments show that no matter what we believe we are capable of so much. To disagree is to deny what is. If only we could see that each person has only one dream and it is not our right to turn it into a nightmare. If only we could see the possibilities that wait just beyond our fear.
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    Feb 13 2013: Its better to be happy than right.

    Choose people for such a debate. For a healthy debate you need people who respect freedom of speech, can remain calm when abused.

    Otherwise avoid discussing faith.
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    Feb 12 2013: Debating my dog besting yours is less of thing than having you disrespect my most important basis for all that I am. The degree of my commitment to a belief causes my intense defense of it. I consider myself a reluctant believer and as such enjoy discussions with all about almost anything. They soon realize I care only to absorb from them (not persuade them) and only occasionally (superficially) push back on their weak flows but can quickly retract if they misinterpret my question.

    Therefore, my answer to your question on how to prevent the fight is simple. Keep your dog out of the fight then their dog has nothing to bite.
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    Nyla N.

    • +3
    Feb 11 2013: If a debate escalates into a fight, it's because the ego is involved (because it needs to be right). Religion is based on the ego, the need to be right and judge others. Spirituality (true spirituality) is based on the higher self, with no judgement or need to be right. It is a higher level of knowledge and wisdom that understands all matters, and accept people as they are, there is no right or wrong. Everything on Earth and in the universe is nothing but illusions, a training ground for us to grow in spirit and defeat the Ego.
  • Feb 8 2013: Hi FSN

    We can't prevent it. there are two topics that never ends, Politic and Religion. I think these two things are separate humanity. and I don't like it. Maybe that is who I chose to be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist. I chose to be flexible when it comes to religion.

    because this topic is a battle no one is going to be the winner, in this battle there is no left and right, right and wrong. there is simply one thing, Different Opinion.

    LOVE must have been the first and most accepted religion on Earth
    • Feb 8 2013: LOVE, yes indeed. Even for those who profess to have no religion. A smile is an international language common point for understanding and communicating that religion!
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    Feb 7 2013: One question you might ask yourself is what is at stake for a person to see his beliefs questioned? Often a person's faith is the fundamental structure that drives his choices and how he understands the world. Defending the faith is also, then, defending something very personal- more personal than politics or sports affiliations. Within faith I include any set of beliefs, whether connected to a specific religion or not.

    Another issue is that one person's assuming a posture of disrespect or ridicule tends to cascade into feelings of offense and retaliation. People are naturally less sensitive and vehement about someone's showing disrespect for a quarterback than for a diety or for your mother. How to prevent it? Respect other people and speak as if you do.
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    Feb 21 2013: I have read a delightful Zen story on the Internet recently:

    "Four monks decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. By nightfall
    on the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out. The first monk said,
    "Oh, no! The candle is out." The second monk said, "Aren't we not suppose to talk?"
    The third monk said, "Why must you two break the silence?" The fourth monk laughed
    and said, "Ha! I'm the only one who didn't speak."

    Frequently, those who try to stop the fight become participants. The fourth monk character is the most interesting. He is the bystander who just passes the judgment and is proud of himself that "he is not like the others". Ironically, he is a participant too :-) Luke 18:9-14 comes to mind.
  • Feb 20 2013: Point out the simple fact that, like language and eating utensils, a person's religion is a function of their culture.

    Pause for effect, then walk away. Or stay to argue which way a fork should be held, or that chopsticks are better - whichever your culture dictates is the One True Way.
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      Feb 21 2013: You are absolutely correct about culture. This simple fact should be obvious to most mature thinking adults, yet it is rationalized away or ignored even by otherwise bright people.

      time to take a walk.....