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Atheists sue to keep 'In God We Trust' off Capitol Visitor Center


Achilles
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I was just demonstrating that it did not fit the first definition. As for the second definition, I'm not convinced one can call it a misunderstanding (or erroneous) if the belief does not necessarily entail the possibility of "steering one wrong".

 

But religion (christianity specifically because that's the topic) does entail this possibility.

 

Which points of christian doctrine do we have any evidence for? If we have no good reasons for thinking that any of them are correct, then it stands to reason that every single one of them "necessarily entail the possibility of 'steering one wrong'".

 

If I accept the story of the virgin birth, either through childhood indoctrination or a momentary lapse of skepticism, then unless there are good reasons for accpeting this story, I have been "steered wrong". Granted the virgin birth is a very risk for me. Accepting it probably won't be the end of the world. But what about when we start getting into the heavier stuff like accepting jesus as being the only way to avoid eternal torment in a lake of fire? None of this sounds like superstition to you?

 

For example, if the belief that a spell will protect you from physical harm leads you (or will lead you) to hurt yourself, that belief was superstitious (def. 1). But modern Christianity entails no such necessary gamble.

 

Apologies, Samuel. I don't see the whole "accepting jesus as your personal savior" (and all it's repercussions) as being anything other than such a gamble.

 

That your example entails a physical body which is known to a exist and mine involves a non-physical soul which the believer believes exists seems irrelevant.

 

It is these facts alone which I am saying cannot be superstition.

 

And again, I think this sounds like special pleading. Claims should be tested. If claims cannot be tested, they should not be accepted. And claims that are accepted without good reasons would certainly seem to invoke the first definition of superstition, per your source.

 

My point in all of this talk of history of Christianity was to show that the things said by Christianity are not necessarily claims about the nature of the world, even if they are couched in the terms common to such claims.

 

I guess I would be interested in knowing how you think we should distinguish between claims and things that couched in terms common to claims?

 

"jesus was a man, born of a virgin, and the son of god who lived ~2,000 year ago in the Middle East" sounds like a claim. It sounds like a very specific claim. It does not matter that the original claim made very different proclamations thousands of years ago when first uttered by human lips, it is the claim made today.

 

"Bobby stood on the street corner, wearing a blue shirt" and "Bobby stood on the street corner, wearing a blue shirt with purple shorts" are two separate claims. Even if we were to verify the first claim, it doesn't make the second claim is automatically true (in whole) also.

 

And that's the only thing I've tried to say: that some - not all, perhaps not even very many - Christians do not hold superstitious beliefs.

 

My test remains as it was before: show me a single rational component to christian doctrine and I will hopefully be able to see your point.

 

In this case I am not saying that the origin of these religious beliefs changes their current truth value; I am saying that their current truth value (or lack thereof) can only be evaluated through the social practices within which they exist-- and a look at the history of the phenomena helps bring this out.

 

And I don't see how this is anything other than special pleading. These beliefs should be subject to the same tests and consideration as any other belief. I have yet to see a good argument for exception.

 

God's omnipotence is entirely natural given the sort of being he is in the framework of the religions that describe him.

 

This reasoning seems circular. It is natural to consider god to be omnipotent because that's how we should expect god to be. Please help me understand what I'm misunderstanding.

 

However, merely because some Christians try this approach does not mean all must, implicitly or explicitly.

 

This goes back to a point I tried to raise earlier. All christians adhere to some part of christian doctrine. Otherwise their just humanists. I don't see how anyone taking on the mantle of "christian" can escape unscaythed. :(

 

I realize that it's typical for something which is not rational to seem as if it were irrational, bad, or somehow lacking in rationality that it needs in order to be respectable. This is simply a metaphysical prejudice carried over from dualistic thinkers who held that (untenably) the mind was superior, or at least separate from, the body. Curiously enough, Christianity has been fighting such teachings at least since the Manichean heresy, roughly AD 387. Modern analytic philosophy has been trying to rid itself of dualistic ways of thinking for at least 70 years now; it's a lot harder than it sounds. Many ideas which seem very significant, like Descartes' "I think, therefore I am" (everyone loves that, I know), solipsism, and any other radically subjective ideas must be abandoned completely.

 

I think this confuses "dualism" and "dichotomy". I think you and I have discussed dualism in the past, and hopefully you'll recall that I don't accept it. However that doesn't mean that trying to frame things in a "rational vs. irrational" dichotomy is also intellectually bankrupt.

 

Am I the only one here who thinks that there are bigger fish to fry than worrying about what's carved on a wall? I think Californians should worry more about saving their state from going broke.

 

Indeed, the list of things more important than this is long and wide. If Dan Lungren wasn't lobbying to get his religious sentiments permanently etched onto a goverment building with taxpayer money, there probably wouldn't be very much to discuss, would there?

 

I think you are right. Clearly someone has their priorities mixed up.

 

Personally, although I am no fan of the Christian right or organized religion for that matter, I couldn't care less if "In God We Trust" was displayed on or in a government building.

 

And that's your right. Hopefully you won't begrudge those of us who have a right to care.

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I'm not sure what you mean by this. My intention was to show that some religious practices are simply natural results of the sort of creature human beings are. Much like if I, when angry, throw something on the ground. It's not that I expect anything to change because I do this-- it's just something that I do. It makes me feel better, true, but that's not why I do it. The best explanation I have is that such behavior is instinctual. So you see why I'm having difficulty understanding what you mean by saying it's fictional; I don't think that the practice of a religion rises from a belief, but that the two develop concurrently.

 

Of interest to this idea is this essay by Anscombe, particularly section I.

 

Obviously the idea that there exist some sort of invisible beings is flawed (I remarked there wasn't any reason to believe in such things), but that's not what I was interested in.

 

I had to re-read the passage again, because, like I said, I could have understood it wrong. :)

And I think I understand what you ment there now. Although, the way it was written sounded like you were stating that a persons body would die but his soul would live on was a fact of nature. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well this thread should be considered dead, but I'm going to revitalize it because I saw some interesting statements I wanted to comment on.

 

Which points of christian doctrine do we have any evidence for? If we have no good reasons for thinking that any of them are correct, then it stands to reason that every single one of them "necessarily entail the possibility of 'steering one wrong'".

 

Does this have to with people not believing in god being the reason not to carve 'in god we trust' in a government building, or is it because there are others who have different beliefs? If this state is meant to be a melting pot, then such words essentially paint everyone as believers of god... even if they're not.

 

My quarrel isn't so much in a slogan that doesn't apply to me, but because believing in god isn't important enough to make an issue of it. I would be satisfied if some hooligan just spray-painted the words on the building and they just left it alone. If they squander government funding and carve the words, then I don't care at that point... the mistake was already made.

 

Apologies, Samuel. I don't see the whole "accepting jesus as your personal savior" (and all it's repercussions) as being anything other than such a gamble.

 

And again, I think this sounds like special pleading. Claims should be tested. If claims cannot be tested, they should not be accepted. And claims that are accepted without good reasons would certainly seem to invoke the first definition of superstition, per your source.

 

Exactly. Faith is something that people can have to their selves, but it is not meant to be an excuse for people to act without the need for proof. If you wish to have your faith respected, then you must not attempt to force it upon others.

 

 

My test remains as it was before: show me a single rational component to christian doctrine and I will hopefully be able to see your point.

 

And I don't see how this is anything other than special pleading. These beliefs should be subject to the same tests and consideration as any other belief. I have yet to see a good argument for exception.

 

This reasoning seems circular. It is natural to consider god to be omnipotent because that's how we should expect god to be. Please help me understand what I'm misunderstanding.

 

A very good point that I keep trying to emphasize, but is always taken as 'atheist prejudice.' When you introduce an omnipotent being into any equation, then it essentially makes everything else moot. If god can do anything, then you essentially can answer every question with 'god did it.' That would make just as much sense as evolution, creationism, heaven, hell, everything.

 

It all hinges upon one small, but critical factor... it is usually accompanied by the presence of a god. You cannot use the existence of the universe as proof in itself, because no one can prove beyond a doubt that god was responsible for all that.

 

-------

 

I really don't care one way or another if someone wants to put religious words on a government building, provided that they do it with private funding. Once they use public funding for something so insignificant as religious words and detract from more important issues, you defile everything that those words are supposed to represent. Spending all the money in suing the state and wasting that money on carving those words speaks volumes on the reasons why religion should be kept out government priorities.

Edited by Darth_Yuthura
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I really don't care one way or another if someone wants to put religious words on a government building, provided that they do it with private funding. Once they use public funding for something so insignificant as religious words and detract from more important issues, you defile everything that those words are supposed to represent.

 

:raise:

 

 

So you'd be alright with it if I paid for "In God We Trust" on a government building?

 

_EW_

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Does this have to with people not believing in god being the reason not to carve 'in god we trust' in a government building, or is it because there are others who have different beliefs?

 

I don't think it has to be one or the other. Anyone who values the First Amendment has cause for concern.

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  • 3 months later...

I really cannot believe I just read this entire thread. I really need to get a life.

 

Not trying to resurrect, and my apologies for necromancy, but after all the argument here, I wonder what official result is, and whether or not the building is all Goddy.

 

Some good arguments here, some fair and some less so.

 

The only thing I have to add - a motto is a slogan, a tag-line: It is trying to sell you something. Companies change tag-lines all the time, but only very rarely do they change their mission statement.

 

"In God We Trust" is a slogan, not a mission statement.

 

It is all well and good to blithely say that no harm is done, and maybe none is, maybe we should all trust in God more.... all of that still ignores the fact brought up in the OP - it is obviously, categorically, shadelessly unconstitutional, and a pork-barrel to boot. I hope it did not happen.

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Well as for calling it a superstition, some people follow Christian values but do not believe in the supernatural nature of god or even the concepts of heaven and hell. They look at the religion as a moral guide rather than "Do this to get to heaven." There are several religions that do not require superstitions.

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