I just joined. Over the last year I've re-read the Bible, read the annotated Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, most of the Book of Mormon (good grief that book is bad), and lots of books and articles on all the new-age crap that's been going around for year. I did this to (yet again) attempt to understand what people see in these religions and search for a shred of ANYTHING that made some sort of logical or believable sense. Of course I found nothing but fairy tales, but it did give me a better appreciation for what believers believe.
I'm hoping that THINK ATHEIST is a site I can explore questions and provide my own thoughts to the god problem with intelligent and respectful discussions. That's not asking too much now, is it?
Well, you have more patience than me. I was forced to learn about the Christian faith in school but was very happy to leave it behind me after that. Still, I think your background knowledge in these religions will make you a great asset to conversation here, I cant wait to see what you bring to the table to see what we can learn from each other.
Think Atheist doesn't seem to have a massive member group with many being inactive, but there is what you are looking for. The people here have great conversations and make their points very well while remaining respectful.
No, it's not asking for too much.
Welcome to TA
You did Christian, Islam, Buddhist, etc. and got nothing out of it? Nothing? Did you send in the checks like you're supposed to? The magic doesn't work if you don't send in the checks. There's your problem, right there.
Unconditional Love for paid subscribers only.
LOL. No checks from me.
I wouldn't say I found nothing. In all religions there are some real gems of practical knowledge that can help a person live their life, but they are often buried and obscured by nonsense. This knowledge is buried deepest in the Christian religions. Why? I suspect that historically it has been used largely as a political tool to control the masses.
Eastern religions seem to describe a spirituality that really does try to teach a person how to find happiness in this world with not too much "stupidity frosting" on top.
To echo @DavidSmith, you have more patience than me as well. Most people bog down in Leviticus or Deuteronomy in the Bible. I just can't quite get the cadence for the Quran, and I'll have to agree with you that the Book of Mormon I find almost unintelligible.
That having been said, if you really want to understand what people see in religions, you're going about it entirely the wrong way. If you went to pick up the original versions of Isaac Newton's works you'd find those to be an awful slog as well, and at least they were in English. (Thank goodness for Leibnitz!)
When you want to study something new, most rational people go and find a teacher or tutor. If no teacher or tutor is available, they try to find introductory texts written in modern vernacular, rather than ancient original texts in translation. That's a poor way, though; there's a reason we have schools and teachers, and that's because it can be hard to learn something foreign to us without another human as a native guide to the discipline.
So if you want to really understand religion, you need to go learn from someone with at least an advanced degree in religion, just like to learn physics you hopefully would turn to someone with an advanced degree in physics. Or at least start with something better than the Book of Mormon. Gack!
Thanks for the feedback Dr. Bob. I would agree that the subject matter is difficult and requires much knowledge to make sense of. In this case a learned teacher would seem the way to go, unfortunately religion is not math where 1+1=2. It is subjective interpretation. I can not rely on someone else to interpret such books and take their word as "truth".
Having said all that, I have read many many other books whose authors present what they have gleaned from reading the various holy texts. I have read books from authors on all sides of belief. I read what they have to say and store those as data points. I weigh their conclusions against my own from reading the same texts. If I had not read the original texts, I would only have their conclusions to form my own opinions of the basic religious texts. This is not adequate in my opinion.
In this case a learned teacher would seem the way to go, unfortunately religion is not math where 1+1=2. It is subjective interpretation. I can not rely on someone else to interpret such books and take their word as "truth".
Hmmm... Perhaps you need to be more reflective about your positivist notions of "truth."
All human knowledge is in some measure a construct, subject to human error and interpretation. If we take 1 to be a vector rather than a scalar, 1+1 might also be zero; if we assume two dimensions rather than just one, then 1+1 might be equal to 1.41 or any number of other things. In a biological context, 1+1 might yield a whole litter of new 1's.
That doesn't necessarily make things entirely subjective, but it does make the "truth" contextually situated, where a learned guide is useful.
One can learn from a good teacher without taking her word as "truth." I'm not sure that you can really learn anything well just from book learning. The practice of any discipline, including science, is a form of socialization. Some of it is transmitted directly, person-to-person, through social interactions.
This is not really the way to conduct a healthy, productive debate.
You could have used advanced mathematical concepts to undermine his statement, or you could have had a more relevant conversation about beliefs and forms of study.
This guy clearly shows he has done a lot of leg work in his search to understand and debate religion and beliefs. You, however, show only a dedication of the knowledge in ways to disagree with people.
I imagine I would disagree with both of your belief structures equally. Your method of debate, however, is something worthy of special note here. It is something that does not encourage mutual learning or understanding and which, as a result, I feel is in conflict of the aims of the TA community as a whole.
"What is truth" is indeed an important question. Everyone determines what their own truths are based on some sort of analysis. I see this as one of the biggest differences between theists and atheists. (yes, I know there are lots of exceptions). In my mind, using logic and rational thinking is a more stringent test of truth than relying on the veracity of ones elders and teachers. When it comes to religion, virtually everyone has an axe to grind or an agenda. I trust my own intellect and faculties more than I do teachers in this case. I do try to understand other viewpoints and interpretations, but ultimately I'll use my own judgement to decide my beliefs.
I'm also the type of person that would rather learn something on my own by reading multiple good books on the subject than take a class. That's just the way I am. I don't believe this is any harder to do than taking a class. If the author of a book is good, they can teach whatever they want through that medium equally well as a human teacher would. I do however enjoy having discussions with my atheist friends and my pastor friend who engages me in thoughtful conversation rather than trying to convert me.
I suppose I should introduce myself as well. I'm an occasional guest/visitor to ThinkAtheist, a practicing Catholic, and a university faculty member in natural science (physics) with an increasing interest in science education issues in the U.S.
I wouldn't want you to be surprised by my theist tendencies, though I am (obviously) not a fundamentalist.
"but it did give me a better appreciation for what believers believe"
Never had the inclination to read any more of that nonsense than I was forced to read by my Catholic education. I'd always assumed that, the more I read, the more incredulous I would become at how ANYONE can accept such nonsense.
Of equal importance, I've read nothing of substance on leprechauns.