Open thread on episode #860: Does Christianity need suffering?

In my reading about the “Spirituality in Healthcare” debates, I have started reading books from proponents. I’ve already read a number of articles on both sides of the issue, including more than a handful of articles published in peer reviewed journals covering claims of evidence, and also expert opinion pieces. But now it’s time to dig into the motives, ideas and points that are being made in the more in-depth way that books supply. To me, books are where authors speak in a personal voice about their honest, and to some degree, personal perspectives on these topics.

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Open thread on AXP #827, with guest, Rob Poole, MB BS, FRCPsych

I’ve embedded a number of links below, and I would urge you to explore them. I initially had included far more quoted material, but the post became too long, and I finally decided that links and brevity were best. However, the linked information is highly relevant. Most of the links are to summaries or small items I think you can investigate without too much time lost—so please review them if this topic interests you.

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How We Can Really Prevent Fetal Pain

The religious conservatives are once again being dishonest in their quest to control others’ reproductive organs in Texas. In the 60s, the religious conservatives argued that the Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds would help with juvenile delinquency (by blatantly violating the highest law in the land). In the Texas Legislature, they are working to close down Planned Parenthood clinics because they provide abortions. They don’t seem to care that Planned Parenthood actually prevents more abortions than the Christian God, the Bible, Prayer, rosaries, holy water, or Christian bullying in the name of “love”, combined, has ever prevented.

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Inviting pedophiles into homes with children, a good idea?

I promised to keep this person anonymous and also asked permission to share this. It’s a good message about common sense, child welfare, and how religion can be used to cloud people’s better judgement:

…My very religious Evangelical Christian mother-in-law called last night. Her husband, my father-in-law, is a pastor and their church hosts some refugees from [insert Third-World Nation here]. They are really involved in “ministering” to these refugees and dealing with them is the joy of my mother-in-law’s life at the moment…It really makes her feel that God is using her.

One of these refugees, a middle-aged man, allegedly molested a child. The child called child protection services, and the man was arrested. He is currently in jail until his court date.

As my mother-in-law was explaining, she kept defending the man. She explained how nice a man he is, how faithful he is and how, if true, it was simply a mistake due to cultural differences. She tried to tell me his life story, about how he had a hard life and was, himself, abused as a child, etc. She was making excuses for him, empathizing with him, and then giving him the benefit if the doubt. She proceeded to explain how she suspected the child was setting him up or lied, etc.

I was so angry inside as she was explaining that I had to ask her to hold as pass the phone to my wife to help regain control, so I didn’t bite her ear off.

I recently found out that when I was a kid, my parents used to have Bible studies at our house…they’d invite all the church misfits. People with psychological problems, etc. My Dad felt he was being like Jesus by bringing all the undesirables into our house. Many of them really creeped my brother and I out, but there was one we feared. He would come to chat with us in the basement and ask us personal questions about our bodies, etc. He never touched us. Well, my dad recently admitted this man was a pedophile, and he knew it at the time. But through the power of the blood of Jesus, felt he was taking a healthy risk in faith by bringing him into our home.

This madness infuriates me to no end. I no longer feel comfortable letting my children be in their care, because of this!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Guess that was venting. There aren’t many people I can talk to around here about this stuff.

Theists Have the Best P.R. Machine Ever.

At the Denver meeting, one thing I did was encourage other atheist anti-theists to step up and make sure other people–especially those who weren’t raised in religion–understand the doctrines that are taught within religion.

With that in mind, I’ve been doing more of it. When I see a person promoting a religious doctrine that is horrible, as though it’s wonderful, I’m calling them out on it. I’m telling them they’re not going to get away with claiming religion is good where it’s hideous. They’re not going to get away with giving religion credit for things that religion did not invent, but hijacked from nature.

Recently during an exchange on a social network site, where I was arguing for anti-theism, I was confronted with a claim I wanted to share, as a golden example of what I think needs to happen every time religion is praised for hurting people–not just hurting people in obvious ways, like restricting people’s rights or killing people, but in promoting harmful ideas that are absorbed by the public as “good” and “upright.” It’s the insidious toxic crap that slides in under the radar that does the most lasting damage, because the inability of so many to even see it makes it go unaddressed. With that in mind, I bring you my response to this assertion on a thread (and please note the person is not, as far as I’m aware, a theist; he is simply arguing for the “good” of religion):

Assertion: They [religious theists] also show insight by recognizing that Man is sinful. Who can argue with that?

My response: I can and will argue that man is not only not sinful, but the doctrine of sin is one of the most wicked ideas ever hoisted upon human societies.

Sin is defined as disobedience to god. Euthyphro put forward a dilemma that demonstrated a very big problem with this concept. If god commands genocide, is it good because god commanded it or is it commanded by god because it is good? Either way, I would sin and not commit the genocide. So, what good is sin as a concept? It is only useful if you agree that no matter what atrocity god commands, people should obey god in order to avoid being sinful. If being sinful can also be moral, then what is the use of “sin”?

If I agree whatever god commands is good, then I stop using my own human moral judgment and sensibilities, and just obey a list of rules that may or may not actually be moral. How is that “good”? I agree religion dreamed up this monstrosity–but it seems wholly wicked to me to tell people to obey any command from god, and not question, and it’s evil to disobey, no matter what your personal assessment of the situation is.

This is VERY different than morality which is identified in other social species (without religion–so religion gets ZERO credit for “inventing morality”–since it’s evolved as a trait in social species) as empathy, compassion, a sense of fairness. Dogs and chimps have demonstrated some or all of these tendencies as well as a slew of other animals. Religion comes a long with “sin” and completely undermines this, and tells humans to disregard it and just obey.

So, I would argue sin is a giant load of toxic crap.

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Please feel free to post any of your own examples of things for which religion is broadly lauded, where it is clearly damaging. I’m on a mission here.