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Why I am a Unitarian Universalist





gandalfthegrey
I am a Unitarian Universalist because I am free to believe whatever I want. Why is that good?
Because as human beings, our believes always changing throughout our lives.

I am happy to have a share a community with fellow spiritual explorers, together supporting and finding our own personal truths.

I am happy to be a part of a community of christians, buddhists, wiccans, satanists, atheists and agnostics.
Bikerman
The principles of this 'religion' are:
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

Well, ermm, hmm....
Firstly, this is all a bit apple-pie and motherhood. Platitudinous even. Sure, who is going to speak against peace, liberty and justice?
What about the situations where conscience is in conflict with democratic process? Exactly HOW do you search for truth and how would you know it when you see it?
The last principle seems to me to be a bolt-on to keep the pagans and new-age druids happy.

I think that , by trying to exclude nobody and include everyone, you have the classic problem that this always results in - bland and fairly meaningless principles based on platitude and wishy-washy 'hopes' and 'wishes', without any real concrete identity or distinct principles.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:

I think that , by trying to exclude nobody and include everyone, you have the classic problem that this always results in - bland and fairly meaningless principles based on platitude and wishy-washy 'hopes' and 'wishes', without any real concrete identity or distinct principles.

Bland and wishy-washy isn't necessarily bad, though.
I'd greatly prefer that over overbearing and dogmatic. Let people find their own answers when the answer is unclear. What's wrong with that?

If forced to join an established religion (atheism included) I'd choose something like this.
(Since I'm not forced to join an established one though, I made my own.)
Bikerman
Yes, I'm not really that down on it - but I just wonder why one would wish to belong to such a 'religion'. I do think that there is a problem of 'pick'n'mix' though. For all my criticisms of religion I do recognise that some religions do try to be consistent. Simply nicking a bit out of Buddhism, combining it with a bit of new-age paganism and topping off with a bit of Christianity - well that strikes me as slightly patronising. To really 'learn' a religion you have to spend quite some time at it - I speak from experience. Cherry picking bits and bobs is unlikely to lead to any coherent world-view and strikes me as a rather self-indulgent back-slapping exercise.
deanhills
gandalfthegrey wrote:
I am a Unitarian Universalist because I am free to believe whatever I want. Why is that good?
Because as human beings, our believes always changing throughout our lives.

I am happy to have a share a community with fellow spiritual explorers, together supporting and finding our own personal truths.

I am happy to be a part of a community of christians, buddhists, wiccans, satanists, atheists and agnostics.
I agree, probably much more of a chance for people to be tolerant of one another's beliefs. But maybe Bikerman also has a point, what would the point be.
SonLight
gandalfthegrey wrote:
I am a Unitarian Universalist because I am free to believe whatever I want.


My question may be more about the name than the substance of your so-called "belief system". Being free to believe whatever you want is definitely a good thing. It is not clear from your post if you actually do believe anything, yet the name is based on Christian ideas and seems to imply specific differences from most who call themselves Christian.

I consider myself a Trinitarian, and that definitely means something. Bikerman might reasonably consider himself a zero-arian (is there a Greek or Latin prefix for that?). What does Unitarian imply to you?

Quote:
Why is that good?
Because as human beings, our believes always changing throughout our lives.


That is good, within limits. I would expect to see a pattern of increasing understanding of whatever worldview you hold.

Quote:
I am happy to have a share a community with fellow spiritual explorers, together supporting and finding our own personal truths.


"Truth" is clearly a reality that holds for everyone, though no one can know it fully. Truth is "Universal", perhaps?

Quote:
I am happy to be a part of a community of christians, buddhists, wiccans, satanists, atheists and agnostics.


We are all in a community which includes all of these. I hardly think most of them would want to live within your tent, no matter how large, with the name you have given it. I understand your "religion" to imply a single organizer of all reality, with everyone existing beyond our physical lives in some beneficial way. If that is not what you mean, perhaps we do not understand your terminology.
achowles
Bikerman wrote:
The principles of this 'religion' are:


That list needs an escape clause of "until the other person / people prove themselves undeserving of such kindness". Which is where it falls apart pretty quickly as there are a lot of people who will very quickly prove undeserving of such things and some of them are more than happy to show you just how undeserving they are. Especially if you act like your head is in the clouds.

Bikerman wrote:
Sure, who is going to speak against peace, liberty and justice?


I'd be more than happy to give it a shot. But this isn't really the right thread for that.

ocalhoun wrote:
If forced to join an established religion (atheism included)...


You can't really join atheism though can you? It's also not a religion seeing as the only universal quality all atheists share is the absence of belief in a god. Buddhism is open to theists too, but is mostly comprised of atheists. Unitarian Universalists could be atheists (they don't have a core creed). So you're effectively saying you'd prefer one kind of atheist religion to all forms of atheism. Which doesn't really make sense, if you see what I'm saying.
ocalhoun
achowles wrote:

ocalhoun wrote:
If forced to join an established religion (atheism included)...


You can't really join atheism though can you? It's also not a religion seeing as the only universal quality all atheists share is the absence of belief in a god. Buddhism is open to theists too, but is mostly comprised of atheists. Unitarian Universalists could be atheists (they don't have a core creed). So you're effectively saying you'd prefer one kind of atheist religion to all forms of atheism. Which doesn't really make sense, if you see what I'm saying.


By join, I mean 'accept the beliefs of', if you want to be pedantic about it.
achowles
ocalhoun wrote:
By join, I mean 'accept the beliefs of', if you want to be pedantic about it.


To be even more pedantic: there are no set beliefs held by atheists, as per the examples I included. Even atheists who fit the "there is no God" description of strong atheism* could still have strong beliefs that are not theistic in nature. For instance they could believe in spirits and the afterlife or reincarnation but one that is devoid of any creator.

Now while it's true that there are many people who fit the definition of atheist who would much rather be described as something else instead - after all, why would anyone want to be described by what they're not instead of what they are - the description nonetheless fits. For instance, the vast majority of those who insist they're agnostic** and not atheists are in fact atheists. They just don't understand the terms they're using.

*Weak, or agnostic atheism being those who don't believe but make no claims of certainty that god(s) don't exist.

**There are agnostic theists too. But typically they refer to themselves by their chosen faith, not as agnostics.
deanhills
achowles wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
By join, I mean 'accept the beliefs of', if you want to be pedantic about it.


To be even more pedantic: there are no set beliefs held by atheists, as per the examples I included.
But if atheists did not hold any set beliefs, wouldn't they then be disinterested in the beliefs of others? In other words, they would not be interested to discuss the beliefs of others, as when they do, that becomes like beliefs in reverse or contra-beliefs or anti-beliefs?
achowles
deanhills wrote:
But if atheists did not hold any set beliefs, wouldn't they then be disinterested in the beliefs of others? In other words, they would not be interested to discuss the beliefs of others, as when they do, that becomes like beliefs in reverse or contra-beliefs or anti-beliefs?


Like I said, atheists don't have any set beliefs, ethos, moral or political outlook. That doesn't mean they don't have any of those things. Merely that they're not shared universally by all atheists. I mentioned that an atheist could believe in reincarnation or other forms of afterlife. There are many beliefs that are not inherently theistic.

In a nutshell, you can't really generalise atheists any more than you can generalise people who don't have ginger hair. Lacking a particular belief that many others have tells you nothing more about that person other than they lack that belief. It doesn't tell you what they are like or what they do believe - merely on of the things they do not.

Sure, there are those who haven't found any religious beliefs simply through disinterest in religion. But many more have shown an interest. Have questioned and pondered and simply have not found anything they believe in. They might not be any more inclined to accept scientific theories on the origins of the universe or life on Earth, but nonetheless see science as the best and indeed only way to get those answers.
ocalhoun
achowles wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
By join, I mean 'accept the beliefs of', if you want to be pedantic about it.


To be even more pedantic:

MORE pedantic!?!



...

Truth be told, I was kinda hoping for less pedantic...
I think everybody understands what I meant to say.
Bikerman
deanhills wrote:
But if atheists did not hold any set beliefs, wouldn't they then be disinterested in the beliefs of others? In other words, they would not be interested to discuss the beliefs of others, as when they do, that becomes like beliefs in reverse or contra-beliefs or anti-beliefs?
This makes no sense.
a) Atheists may hold many 'set' beliefs. They just don't believe in God.
b) The notion that only those people who hold a belief in something would be interested in discussing that 'something' is weird. I don't believe in little green men abducting earthlings, but I am very interested in any evidence of UFOs.
c) Theist belief impacts on the life of everyone - whether they are atheist or not. Atheists would be foolish to ignore something which has such a profound impact on their own lives.
achowles
ocalhoun wrote:
Truth be told, I was kinda hoping for less pedantic...
I think everybody understands what I meant to say.


You'd be amazed at the level of ignorance surrounding a simple lack of belief in god(s). Sorry, but going by past experience, I have learned not to take it for granted that people know that atheism isn't a religion you can join. Many actually think like that; and forums are an ideal place to address misconceptions. I appreciate that probably wasn't the case here, but even so. Others might learn from it.
deanhills
achowles wrote:
In a nutshell, you can't really generalise atheists any more than you can generalise people who don't have ginger hair. Lacking a particular belief that many others have tells you nothing more about that person other than they lack that belief. It doesn't tell you what they are like or what they do believe - merely on of the things they do not.
Yet you seem to be able to generalize Christians? I don't understand that if Christians, theists, etc. etc. can be generalized, that for some or other reason atheists can't be touched? Sounds like a very convenient position to be in, almost like NO position, or a default position. But then "NO position" has to be A position?

achowles wrote:
Sure, there are those who haven't found any religious beliefs simply through disinterest in religion. But many more have shown an interest. Have questioned and pondered and simply have not found anything they believe in. They might not be any more inclined to accept scientific theories on the origins of the universe or life on Earth, but nonetheless see science as the best and indeed only way to get those answers.
I have no problem with this. Except you have just generalized atheism. Atheists don't believe in anything. But then that has to be a belief: that atheists don't believe in anything? And they see science as the only way to get answers. That also has to be a belief of a kind. That they see science as superior to faith.
achowles
deanhills wrote:
Yet you seem to be able to generalize Christians? I don't understand that if Christians, theists, etc. etc. can be generalized, that for some or other reason atheists can't be touched? Sounds like a very convenient position to be in, almost like NO position, or a default position. But then "NO position" has to be A position?


Christians do (or at least should) have set beliefs and moral outlook determined by the Bible and, to a lesser extent, their denomination's interpretation thereof (should they have a denomination).

There are of course those that don't adhere to these things, but through their not doing so their lack of genuine belief becomes apparent. Maybe they just like the idea of there being a god and an afterlife? Maybe it's just an easy explanation for everything? Maybe it's just all a lot nicer when you try and forget about the Old Testament? Whatever the case, a true believer wouldn't just pick and choose the bits they like and discard the rest like it's nothing to worry about. The Bible does after all tell us that God doesn't let just anyone into Heaven.

I appreciate that goes for the majority of people who describe themselves as Christian. Which is ultimately why you can't generalise them. Their beliefs simply don't conform to Christianity and could be anything within the realms of theism.

deanhills wrote:
I have no problem with this. Except you have just generalized atheism. Atheists don't believe in anything. But then that has to be a belief: that atheists don't believe in anything? And they see science as the only way to get answers. That also has to be a belief of a kind. That they see science as superior to faith.


No, I was just giving examples. Again, I cannot know what every atheist's outlook is any more than I do those who label themselves Christian. Again, I'm not saying that atheists don't believe in anything. I've even given many examples to the contrary already.

Also, confusing science with a religious belief simply doesn't work. The second you hold firm to a scientific theory and uphold it as truth - it is at that point you abandon science, not embrace it. At that point, yes it would become something more akin to a religion than science.

Nobody would love to disprove an established scientific theory more than a scientist. Science is about our everlasting quest for the truth. It brings us closer to the truth through discovery and analysis. Essentially science is about learning; educating ourselves; as opposed to taking a conclusion and trying to warp our perception of reality to fit that conclusion. Which makes it practically the antithesis of faith.

So it's not so much a matter of believing that science is superior to faith as believing that our ability to learn is superior to blindly following baseless, yet convenient conclusions. If you really want to question which is superior, perhaps you want to take a moment to realise all that scientific discovery has brought us. Including the fact that you're reading this right now instead of being out tilling the fields all day.

It's not really up for debate when even your ability to debate automatically decides the conclusion. Very Happy
deanhills
achowles wrote:
Christians do (or at least should) have set beliefs and moral outlook determined by the Bible and, to a lesser extent, their denomination's interpretation thereof (should they have a denomination).

There are of course those that don't adhere to these things, but through their not doing so their lack of genuine belief becomes apparent. Maybe they just like the idea of there being a god and an afterlife? Maybe it's just an easy explanation for everything? Maybe it's just all a lot nicer when you try and forget about the Old Testament? Whatever the case, a true believer wouldn't just pick and choose the bits they like and discard the rest like it's nothing to worry about. The Bible does after all tell us that God doesn't let just anyone into Heaven.

I appreciate that goes for the majority of people who describe themselves as Christian. Which is ultimately why you can't generalise them. Their beliefs simply don't conform to Christianity and could be anything within the realms of theism.
See here you've lost me again. It's almost as though Christianity is what defines Atheism by exclusion. It's the empty part in the circle that cannot be explained to atheists' satisfaction. Atheists' proof mostly rests on Christians not being able to deliver the goods to atheists in terms of evidence that can be measured and observed.
achowles wrote:
Also, confusing science with a religious belief simply doesn't work. The second you hold firm to a scientific theory and uphold it as truth - it is at that point you abandon science, not embrace it. At that point, yes it would become something more akin to a religion than science.
OK, now this makes GREAT sense to me. I can wrap my brain cells around this one. Thanks for this. I hope this won't sound trite. But tonight when I was watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, while he was teaching his class he said that archaeology is the search for fact - NOT TRUTH. The truth is what philosophers are searching for. So what you are saying makes real sense to me. I guess archaeology has to be a science as well. Very Happy

achowles wrote:
Nobody would love to disprove an established scientific theory more than a scientist. Science is about our everlasting quest for the truth. It brings us closer to the truth through discovery and analysis. Essentially science is about learning; educating ourselves; as opposed to taking a conclusion and trying to warp our perception of reality to fit that conclusion. Which makes it practically the antithesis of faith.
I don't completely agree with this, although you put it very well. I don't think faith has to be excluded from science. Or the other way round. You find Christians who also use science in their quest for the truth. They however ask different questions than atheists do.

achowles wrote:
So it's not so much a matter of believing that science is superior to faith as believing that our ability to learn is superior to blindly following baseless, yet convenient conclusions. If you really want to question which is superior, perhaps you want to take a moment to realise all that scientific discovery has brought us. Including the fact that you're reading this right now instead of being out tilling the fields all day.
Well said again. I would agree with you that there are a large number of Christians who blindly follow baseless conclusions, but then there are also atheists, who don't even know what atheism is except that it is "cool" and different, and they get to be in with the right crowd. I don't think the ability to learn is exclusive to atheists. There are Christians who are also sincere in their quest for truth.
achowles
deanhills wrote:
It's almost as though Christianity is what defines Atheism by exclusion. It's the empty part in the circle that cannot be explained to atheists' satisfaction. Atheists' proof mostly rests on Christians not being able to deliver the goods to atheists in terms of evidence that can be measured and observed.


Theism as a whole (including Christianity) is what defines atheism by exclusion, yes. Hence why it's spelled with an "a" in front of "theism". That really is all there is to it. Without theism there would be no atheism simply because it would be a completely redundant term (even more so than it is already).

As for proof, I can only confirm your suspicions by saying that the burden of proof lies with those making the claim that something exists when there is no observable evidence to support it.

Mankind has created many thousands of religions. You cannot expect them to all be individually disproved by those who don't believe in them. It can only be up to those making the claims to provide the evidence to support those claims. There are no realistic alternatives to this. Otherwise I could make up rubbish all day and expect others to prove me wrong. It's an unrealistic expectation.

deanhills wrote:
I don't completely agree with this, although you put it very well. I don't think faith has to be excluded from science. Or the other way round. You find Christians who also use science in their quest for the truth. They however ask different questions than atheists do.


It's not so much the questions that are the problem. It's acceptance of the answers you get. It's only human nature to anticipate a certain outcome to an experiment. What is important is that you accept that your misconceptions have been disproved by your findings. Allegedly even Einstein fell foul of this and ignored findings that ran contrary to his beliefs. But that could be an old wives' tale.

deanhills wrote:
Well said again. I would agree with you that there are a large number of Christians who blindly follow baseless conclusions, but then there are also atheists, who don't even know what atheism is except that it is "cool" and different, and they get to be in with the right crowd. I don't think the ability to learn is exclusive to atheists. There are Christians who are also sincere in their quest for truth.


Unlike Christians who only really claim to be Christians for the social benefits, dumb kids claiming to be atheists probably are regardless. Because, well, there's not a lot to it really. Lack belief in god(s)? Check. Problem solved.

I'm not saying that Christians can't learn. But their beliefs can be inhibitive to their ability to learn if there's a conflict between their beliefs and the subject matter at hand. Somebody without those beliefs is free of any such barriers.

It's sad how much science can be hampered because it's seen as an enemy of religion. If the quest for knowledge is an enemy to what someone believes, then isn't it about time these people admit they're wrong? I can't help but picture someone with their fingers in their ears shouting "LA LA LA LA LA". Razz
deanhills
achowles wrote:
deanhills wrote:
It's almost as though Christianity is what defines Atheism by exclusion. It's the empty part in the circle that cannot be explained to atheists' satisfaction. Atheists' proof mostly rests on Christians not being able to deliver the goods to atheists in terms of evidence that can be measured and observed.


Theism as a whole (including Christianity) is what defines atheism by exclusion, yes. Hence why it's spelled with an "a" in front of "theism". That really is all there is to it. Without theism there would be no atheism simply because it would be a completely redundant term (even more so than it is already).
OK, this is how I understand it as well.

achowles wrote:
As for proof, I can only confirm your suspicions by saying that the burden of proof lies with those making the claim that something exists when there is no observable evidence to support it.
Yes and no. If a theist makes a claim about creation for example, yes, the theist needs to back up his statement with reasoning/proof. If an atheist makes a claim about evolution, then the atheist needs to back this up with reasoning/proof as well.
achowles wrote:
Mankind has created many thousands of religions. You cannot expect them to all be individually disproved by those who don't believe in them. It can only be up to those making the claims to provide the evidence to support those claims. There are no realistic alternatives to this. Otherwise I could make up rubbish all day and expect others to prove me wrong. It's an unrealistic expectation.
Conversely, if those religions are not challenged on any of the aspects of their religion, then why would they need to defend their religion?
achowles wrote:
It's not so much the questions that are the problem. It's acceptance of the answers you get.
Right. But then one would probably need to check the questions as well. I know they usually do that with research projects. The quality of the questions usually determine the quality of the answers along the lines of garbage in, garbage out. You don't necessarily accept defeat. You start from scratch and rework the theory.
achowles wrote:
[Unlike Christians who only really claim to be Christians for the social benefits, dumb kids claiming to be atheists probably are regardless. Because, well, there's not a lot to it really. Lack belief in god(s)? Check. Problem solved.
I don't agree. It is one of the one or one of the other. I'm certain there are an equal number (percentage wise) of atheist children who mock Christians for their "silly" beliefs than Christians who feel the need to make fun of atheists. One of the one, and one of the other. Seems almost like a learned behaviour to me. Like all walks of life you get those who are genuine and sincere and those who feel they have to prove who they are by judging and mocking others. It seems to be a human failing.
achowles wrote:
I'm not saying that Christians can't learn. But their beliefs can be inhibitive to their ability to learn if there's a conflict between their beliefs and the subject matter at hand. Somebody without those beliefs is free of any such barriers.
I agree with what you say in general, but not that non-theists have no barriers. There are barriers of bias, barriers of intelligence, barriers of funding, barriers of culture differences, barriers of time and space, etc. The only time when there would be no barriers (in my opinion) would be when we turn off our thinking machinery.

achowles wrote:
It's sad how much science can be hampered because it's seen as an enemy of religion. If the quest for knowledge is an enemy to what someone believes, then isn't it about time these people admit they're wrong? I can't help but picture someone with their fingers in their ears shouting "LA LA LA LA LA". Razz
And the other way round. Quite often atheists see theists as an enemy to progress, bigotted, responsible for killing of people, etc. etc. Now if both can point to the lighter side of the other, instead of only the darker sides, then perhaps the world can make some progress? I must say however, we would probably only get to that point if all people can be educated properly. In spite of all the progress there still seems enormous gaps between those who have, and those who don't and those who are educated and those who are not.
achowles
deanhills wrote:
If an atheist makes a claim about evolution, then the atheist needs to back this up with reasoning/proof as well.

True. But then the theory of evolution has been on the go for about 150 years and has withstood no end of attempts to disprove it. Microevolution has actually observed. So denying evolution is denying what you can, potentially, see with your own eyes. No theistic religion can make such a claim.
deanhills wrote:
Conversely, if those religions are not challenged on any of the aspects of their religion, then why would they need to defend their religion?

That is actually a very good point and why it's sometimes necessary to go on the offensive, so to speak; rather than just keep stating your own standpoint and hoping some of it gets through. Religion is still far too dominant for its followers to be ignored and left to their own devices. But if I wanted to prise appart a religious argument I wouldn't use science, as in many cases it's already aparent it is being ignored. I'd use that religion against itself.
deanhills wrote:
Right. But then one would probably need to check the questions as well.

Oh yes, you do need to be asking the right questions too for that research to be worthwhile. But you can conduct unproductive research to scientific standards all the same. I think that Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy actually sums up best how much time and resources can be wasted by not first properly understanding the nature of the questions you're asking.
deanhills wrote:
Like all walks of life you get those who are genuine and sincere and those who feel they have to prove who they are by judging and mocking others. It seems to be a human failing.

It certainly is. But as we've already agreed, atheism is simpply a lack of theism. While you might have to understand and follow Christianity to be considered a Christian, it doesn't require any effort or understanding to not follow a theistic belief.
deanhills wrote:
I agree with what you say in general, but not that non-theists have no barriers.

I meant any such barriers and in any barriers akin to those of having a preconceived notion of how something is / came to be and the burning desire to leave that perception unchanged. I didn't mean to imply there are no barriers whatsoever. As you point out there are always barriers.
deanhills wrote:
And the other way round. Quite often atheists see theists as an enemy to progress, bigotted, responsible for killing of people, etc. etc. Now if both can point to the lighter side of the other, instead of only the darker sides, then perhaps the world can make some progress? I must say however, we would probably only get to that point if all people can be educated properly. In spite of all the progress there still seems enormous gaps between those who have, and those who don't and those who are educated and those who are not.

I completely agree with you that proper education can solve many of society's problems, including prejudices. It's something that does need to be improved upon, even if it has come a long way already.

But that wasn't really my point. I wasn't equating atheism with science as an atheist might be as adverse to learning about science as a Young Earth creationist.

My point was those who see science itself - the search for greater knowledge and understanding - as an enemy to what they believe. If they feel so threatened by what could be learned then that's a clear acknowledgement that what they believe isn't true. So then you have to wonder how they manage to cling to their beliefs at all. But then I suppose I shouldn't look for a logical explanation where logic has been replaced by brainwashing dogma (note: I'm only applying this to the science-hating fundamentalists out there).
ocalhoun
OP wrote:
gandalfthegrey wrote:
Unitarian Universalist


everybody else wrote:

ocalhoun wrote:
atheism

achowles wrote:

atheists, atheists strong atheism* theistic agnostic** atheists atheists. agnostic atheism

agnostic theists agnostics.

deanhills wrote:
atheists

achowles wrote:


atheists atheists. atheist atheists

Bikerman wrote:
Atheists Theist atheist. Atheists.

achowles wrote:
atheism

deanhills wrote:
Christians? Christians, theists, atheists atheism. Atheists atheists

achowles wrote:


Christians Christian. Christianity theism. atheist's Christian. atheists

deanhills wrote:
Christianity Atheism . Atheists'Christians Christians atheists Christians atheists, atheism atheists. Christians

achowles wrote:


Theism Christianity) atheism "a" in front of "theism" theism atheism Christians Christians Christians

deanhills wrote:
atheist Christians Christians atheists. non-theists atheists theists

achowles wrote:
theistic atheism theism. Christianity Christian, theistic atheism


I AM DISAPPOINT.


(Yeah, I know I kinda started it, but still...)
Ankhanu
ocalhoun wrote:

I AM DISAPPOINT.


(Yeah, I know I kinda started it, but still...)


I've been working very hard at not getting involved in that thread of discussion... it's been hard, and I've had to delete posts that I'd begun writing, but, I've managed to not contribute Razz



To address the OP:
I'm kinda with Bikerman on this, in that it seems to wash away everything that makes a religion a pursuit of spiritual truth... basically, it looks to water everything down such as there is no truth to be found, just your own take on things, whatever that may be.

While that's fun... hell, I kinda went through a phase like this when I was exploring eclectic paganism; the choose your own adventure style of religion can be interesting to explore, but, ultimately, it doesn't have a whole lot to say. It did lead me to some (apparent) truth, however, in that rational skepticism is a far more interesting, rewarding and informative path to the truth of reality. It's not always nice, but it is solid Wink

Basically, what good is "personal truth" in the context of reality? Why not come to understand reality, rather than building up a personal fiction that may or may not coincide with reality?

"Unitarian Universalist" almost sounds as terrible at defining someone as "atheist", i.e. practically a non-label. (This isn't intended to contribute to the atheism chat up above!!)
achowles
ocalhoun wrote:
I AM DISAPPOINT.


Well it would help if the OP contributed something. Hell, it was left to Bikerman to actually describe the, uh, spiritual philosophy... thingy? I doubt he cast it in the most favourable light either. So we might as well discuss something.
Bikerman
I tried to describe it as factually and impartially as I could - hence I stuck to definitions found in wiki which is not, I think, particularly partial on this..
I'm grateful for the opportunity to correct my original ommision, however. I forgot to include the source for the principles I quoted - a mistake for which I must apologise, and which I must rectify:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalist
deanhills
achowles wrote:
My point was those who see science itself - the search for greater knowledge and understanding - as an enemy to what they believe. If they feel so threatened by what could be learned then that's a clear acknowledgement that what they believe isn't true. So then you have to wonder how they manage to cling to their beliefs at all. But then I suppose I shouldn't look for a logical explanation where logic has been replaced by brainwashing dogma (note: I'm only applying this to the science-hating fundamentalists out there).
So who are the they that you are referring to? And who is to say that you have not been brainwashed too? Twisted Evil
Bikerman
Science rules-out brainwashing at the 'first principles' stage - that is one of its great strengths. If one were to be brainwashed into believing a particular theory, despite the lack of empirical evidence, then one would always be open to attack when the correspondence (or lack of it) became apparent.

Now, it is certainly true that, at times, scientists have gone 'with the man' rather than with the evidence. Sometimes too much importance has been given to a new theory because of its originator rather than the evidence. In such cases, however, it is only a matter of time before the self-correcting nature of science corrects the mistake.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Science rules-out brainwashing at the 'first principles' stage - that is one of its great strengths. If one were to be brainwashed into believing a particular theory, despite the lack of empirical evidence, then one would always be open to attack when the correspondence (or lack of it) became apparent.

Now, it is certainly true that, at times, scientists have gone 'with the man' rather than with the evidence. Sometimes too much importance has been given to a new theory because of its originator rather than the evidence. In such cases, however, it is only a matter of time before the self-correcting nature of science corrects the mistake.
A friend of mine is a biostatistician, and the guy who helps people with their research projects, including questionnaires, databases and analyses of data. He can testify that really good scientists are rare. So really good research projects are rare as well. And only the popular research projects get to be investigated and/or challenged. So there must be plenty of research projects out there that just slip through the cracks without being challenged.

I have no doubt that your standards are high, but the notion that all scientists produce science that get tested by default for me is misleading. Even peer reviews of articles in well known scientific journals can be a joke. As that would depend on the scientists who are doing the reviews.

There are plenty of scientists who are mediocre, and some dishonest and fraudulent in their research. Some of them get caught, but there are scientists who get away with it. Depends how high profile the study is. If it is something that is quite popular and has the interest of your really great scientists, then I agree, they would challenge the research, but not all research gets to be challenged.
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
... really good scientists are rare. So really good research projects are rare as well. And only the popular research projects get to be investigated and/or challenged. So there must be plenty of research projects out there that just slip through the cracks without being challenged.


This is true... to an extent.
The thing about it is, though, that almost everything will, in time, be challenged. If nothing else, the impact of those that falls through the cracks without challenge is nil... because no one else has used that research in their own efforts. It's like that dime that fell into the cracks in the floor... no one noticed it went missing, no one knows where it went, and no one will ever put it back into circulation... that dime (or research) is a dead end.

deanhills wrote:
I have no doubt that your standards are high, but the notion that all scientists produce science that get tested by default for me is misleading. Even peer reviews of articles in well known scientific journals can be a joke. As that would depend on the scientists who are doing the reviews.


You're confusing journal editing with the overall peer review process. Peer review only really starts once the research is actually published. Every scientist who critically reads an article is involved in the peer review process, and many, many papers come under heavy fire after being published. There is some pre-publish review, and a lot of papers don't make it through this screening, or require substantial re-working to get published, but that's not where things stop.

Peer review is an ongoing process, it does not stop at publishing. It continues until, and even after, findings are discredited. We still peer-review Lemarck, for example.

deanhills wrote:
There are plenty of scientists who are mediocre, and some dishonest and fraudulent in their research. Some of them get caught, but there are scientists who get away with it. Depends how high profile the study is. If it is something that is quite popular and has the interest of your really great scientists, then I agree, they would challenge the research, but not all research gets to be challenged.


Truly, I fall into that first mediocre category. I'm not being self-deprecating, I simply know where I stand in the spectrum of things... hell, even within my immediate sphere of scientific friends. That said, even mediocre science can bring about interesting results, even if they only serve to bolster existing ideas... even more interesting if they lay the ground work for abandoning existing ideas to build new ones!

All research gets to be challenged, no matter how low profile (granted that it's published, if it's kept secret, it's kind of a pointless exercise anyway, knowledge is to be shared). It's not a question of being challenged, it's a question of being noticed. Even if some poor science gets by without challenge because it's really low profile, it almost doesn't even matter, because it also has 0 influence. If it's low enough profile that it doesn't get challenged, it's likely low enough profile that it's not being used by anyone anyway. When they do surface, you'd best believe that they'd be investigated.

Like Bikerman said, Peer review is a self-correcting process. It may take time, but it does work.

Eventually, frauds are caught... if they're not, their efforts weren't important enough to even be mentioned.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
You're confusing journal editing with the overall peer review process. Peer review only really starts once the research is actually published. Every scientist who critically reads an article is involved in the peer review process, and many, many papers come under heavy fire after being published. There is some pre-publish review, and a lot of papers don't make it through this screening, or require substantial re-working to get published, but that's not where things stop.

Peer review is an ongoing process, it does not stop at publishing. It continues until, and even after, findings are discredited. We still peer-review Lemarck, for example.
Agreed. But you are talking high standard ideal. There are still papers that get published and never should have, that don't get to be touched even after the fact. Not all peer-reviewed Journals are of the same standard either.

deanhills wrote:
Truly, I fall into that first mediocre category. I'm not being self-deprecating, I simply know where I stand in the spectrum of things... hell, even within my immediate sphere of scientific friends. That said, even mediocre science can bring about interesting results, even if they only serve to bolster existing ideas... even more interesting if they lay the ground work for abandoning existing ideas to build new ones!
I'm almost certain that "mediocre" by your definition would be "great" by some of the definitions of academia at Universities in third world countries. And ironically quite a significant percentage would be academia who did not make it in first world countries. They then get to mine data in the third world country and all of a sudden become experts in their fields. I agree that if one were in Canada or the UK, one won't get away with it easily. But third world countries can be a different story. Some "scientists" even go to third world countries to improve their academic rankings.
Ankhanu
I wish Gandalf would pop by and answer some of our questions and clear up our misunderstandings on the actual topic Razz

deanhills wrote:
... you are talking high standard ideal. There are still papers that get published and never should have, that don't get to be touched even after the fact. Not all peer-reviewed Journals are of the same standard either.


What do you mean "can't be touched after the fact"?

No, not all journals have the same standards, and anyone who makes use of them (or submits) recognizes this. Different calibres of work go to different journals. My current research, for example, will likely be submitted to something like Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, rather than Nature or Oikos. It may or may not even be accepted there Razz

deanhills wrote:
I'm almost certain that "mediocre" by your definition would be "great" by some of the definitions of academia at Universities in third world countries. And ironically quite a significant percentage would be academia who did not make it in first world countries.

Nah, I'm just more of a naturalist than a scientist in many ways. I'm kinda... what's the word I'm looking for... lax(?)? in my standards to a certain degree. I do some pretty basic, exploratory and monitoring type work, nothing too stringent.

deanhills wrote:
They then get to mine data in the third world country and all of a sudden become experts in their fields. I agree that if one were in Canada or the UK, one won't get away with it easily. But third world countries can be a different story. Some "scientists" even go to third world countries to improve their academic rankings.


Don't underestimate the value of data mining. Some fantastic findings can come from it. Same with meta-analysis of other research. If nothing else, it's a great way to review the efficacy of various methods and analysis techniques and to detect long-term trends that are not apparent in single studies.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
I wish Gandalf would pop by and answer some of our questions and clear up our misunderstandings on the actual topic Razz
Who is Gandalf? Angel

Ankhanu wrote:
deanhills wrote:
... you are talking high standard ideal. There are still papers that get published and never should have, that don't get to be touched even after the fact. Not all peer-reviewed Journals are of the same standard either.


What do you mean "can't be touched after the fact"?
I'm in a society where people are quite desperate to publish their materials. I think in quite a number of cases they just manage to scrape through. And then possibly people just aren't interested to respond. Is it possible that they see where the article originated from, and then probably felt sorry, and thought to let it go? For the bigger studies and important subjects this won't happen. One of the local Government agencies would be certain to pick up on it. But not really commenting on it. They'd go for the person who published the article, who then has a lot of explaining to do to the Government agency. It rarely happens, but it happens. But usually off the record.
Ankhanu wrote:
Nah, I'm just more of a naturalist than a scientist in many ways. I'm kinda... what's the word I'm looking for... lax(?)? in my standards to a certain degree. I do some pretty basic, exploratory and monitoring type work, nothing too stringent.
That is difficult to believe. With my experiences at Frihost I get anything but the feeling of lax. Almost like you have your eyes peeled, and you don't miss anything. Anyway, I knew a bunch of guys at an environmental firm in West Vancouver, BC - Hatfield Consultants, and most of them were biologists with a scattering of scientists. I think they probably would have described themselves similarly. Except when it got to writing up reports, they dotted every "i" and crossed every "t". They were the ones who got to explore all the far out places like the Queen Charlotte Islands etc. spending months there at a time on unpaid leave. I think they would have described themselves as lax too. *grin*

Ankhanu wrote:
Don't underestimate the value of data mining. Some fantastic findings can come from it.
Totally agreed. This Biostatistician I was referring to has been trying really hard to get access to the medical insurance data for example. There is a wealth of data available for above board type of research studies. I'm a bit horrified however, as I'd hate those people to go digging in medical records, which I'd always thought were kind'a confidential. As yet, they have not been made available for studies yet.

Ankhanu wrote:
Same with meta-analysis of other research. If nothing else, it's a great way to review the efficacy of various methods and analysis techniques and to detect long-term trends that are not apparent in single studies.
Agreed. The Biostatistician is into that as well. Although not much has been happening in that either. Partly also because although one would have thought there were billions of oil dollars for research available, this is not really the case around here. And what is made available is also not very wisely allocated and distributed. Guess the United States is probably one of the countries in the world who can set a really great example of excellence in research.
Bikerman
deanhills wrote:
I'm in a society where people are quite desperate to publish their materials. I think in quite a number of cases they just manage to scrape through. And then possibly people just aren't interested to respond. Is it possible that they see where the article originated from, and then probably felt sorry, and thought to let it go? For the bigger studies and important subjects this won't happen. One of the local Government agencies would be certain to pick up on it. But not really commenting on it. They'd go for the person who published the article, who then has a lot of explaining to do to the Government agency. It rarely happens, but it happens. But usually off the record.
You are confusing publishing with scientific publishing. Completely different animal.
Scientific Journals have the most critical audience there is - other scientists. The reputation of the journal stands and falls by the decisions it makes (or more correctly the peer-review jury and the editor make). If a journal starts to print badly researched, or badly carried-out science you may be VERY sure that this is noticed immediately by other scientist readers in the field. From that point on the Journal is doomed.
This has happened on several occasions - the last time involved a Climate Journal which printed a really poor 'denier' paper and was subsequently shunned by most climate scientists.
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
Ankhanu wrote:
I wish Gandalf would pop by and answer some of our questions and clear up our misunderstandings on the actual topic Razz
Who is Gandalf? Angel


Our Unitarian Universalist who started the thread.
gandalfthegrey
I use to be a Christian minister. I hated the dogmatic, unquestioning nature of Christianity and most other organized religions.

After I began exploring other religions, I found them no different - even eastern religions and religions of the new thought movement I found allowed little room to question. Buddhism, while I admire their focus on being desireless, I did not see the point of their statues or offerings (as they could take any form).

The only religion I have found not be be dogmatic and to allow questioning was Unitarian Universalism. The only other religion I found actively encouraged questioning was Satanism (Church of Satan). I found Satanism thought too self-indulgent (as I had always had a social conscience) and dogmatic in its belief system.

Throughout of lives, our beliefs do not stay the same. Unitarian Universalism allows thinking people to explore different faiths, maintain their own belief systems, and grow together by learning about different faiths and truths. (I think this is why most Unitarians though define themselves as Humanists and Agnostics, as they are wise enough to realize it is too difficult to know anything for sure regarding a creator, meaning or an afterlife).
Bikerman
The question I find interesting is - given those views, why ANY religion?
Why would an agnostic want to be a member of a religion at all? It seems to be more of a discussion/social group than a religion per se (not that there is anything wrong with that, of course).
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
The question I find interesting is - given those views, why ANY religion?
Why would an agnostic want to be a member of a religion at all? It seems to be more of a discussion/social group than a religion per se (not that there is anything wrong with that, of course).
Which goes to show maybe he is not agnostic at all.
loremar
deanhills wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
The question I find interesting is - given those views, why ANY religion?
Why would an agnostic want to be a member of a religion at all? It seems to be more of a discussion/social group than a religion per se (not that there is anything wrong with that, of course).
Which goes to show maybe he is not agnostic at all.


You should know that agnosticism can coincide with certain religions and an agnostic can in fact belong or not belong to a certain religion. Though many would place agnosticism in the group of atheists and non-religious but agnosticism is about not being committed and not claiming a side or stance to certain questions like an existence of God. There are many kinds of agnosticism such as agnostic atheist, agnostic theist, apathetic, strong, and weak agnosticism. Agnostic atheist don't believe in god but doesn't claim that he knows God don't exist. Agnostic theist doesn't claim to know that God exist but they believe in God thus being agnostic doesn't stop them from belonging to certain religions. Strong agnostic would say there is no way to know the existence of God. Weak on the other hand, would say I don't know maybe impossible, but I don't close the possibility that there maybe an evidence.

I for one have gone through becoming a theist to atheist to agnostic atheist to strong agnostic and finally to weak agnostic.

So I think, unitarian universalism is still a decent belief. Everyone has different views in life and believe according to what their brain can process. If their intention is good then let them be. You can not assume that they're delusional for you might as well be delusional. Nobody's mind or brain is dead accurate in everything about the world.
Bluedoll
loremar wrote:
Everyone has different views in life and believe according to what their brain can process. If their intention is good then let them be. You can not assume that they're delusional for you might as well be delusional. Nobody's mind or brain is dead accurate in everything about the world.
I do agree with what you are saying and this statement might be very close to what prompted me to post a question in the philosophy section http://www.frihost.com/forums/vt-126771.html

The dilemma is though that not everyone with a different view in life will believe or agree with your entreaty. They will say, that what you believe is untrue and that you are delusional, they will say that what they believe is completely accurate and they will not let you be. Not everyone will accept “The inherent worth and dignity of every person” and for those that oppose equality/respect, - how to address this?
deanhills
Bluedoll wrote:
The dilemma is though that not everyone with a different view in life will believe or agree with your entreaty. They will say, that what you believe is untrue and that you are delusional, they will say that what they believe is completely accurate and they will not let you be. Not everyone will accept “The inherent worth and dignity of every person” and for those that oppose equality/respect, - how to address this?
It's quite easy to get vulnerable people who are highly strung to be diagnosed as mentally unstable and have them institutionalized. Or if they are not institutionalized, for society to brand people who think slightly different as insane.
watersoul
Bluedoll wrote:
The dilemma is though that not everyone with a different view in life will believe or agree with your entreaty. They will say, that what you believe is untrue and that you are delusional, they will say that what they believe is completely accurate and they will not let you be. Not everyone will accept “The inherent worth and dignity of every person” and for those that oppose equality/respect, - how to address this?


I struggle to find any worth or dignity in these types of folk...

Westboro Baptist Church
The Army of God
Hamas

...all of whom seem to oppose equality themselves and yet should have their beliefs 'respected' ??

Yes, of course we all believe different things to be true or not, but some peoples truths cause much pain to others and therefore do not command any respect from me.
I respect anyones right to believe whatever they wish, but I would never offer a blanket respect for the beliefs of others. To do so would be absolutely deceitful if I think they're beliefs are horrible.
Bluedoll
Sorry, this post got so long - I’ll be quiet after this post. Smile

@watersoul
We only communicate with words correct? How many people actually read what we produce? I do not think any of it is so serious as to have a large effect on the world. This is my guess. But for one moment let us hypothetically suggest that what we write will affect the world. We only pretending this to be possible but for the purpose of a discussion, can we do this?

Now, you have made a comment about these people you linked to. (I do not know a lot about them, honestly) Terry (the Army of God) communicated that the abortion doctor George Tiller calling him a "baby killer" hoping he would be tried and executed "for crimes against humanity”. I agree, pretty nasty stuff.

However, lets say, one of us, that being, you or me, wrote something nasty too and it had a negative effect on someone. This will not happen because we do not have great media coverage but if we can pretend it did, are we not as guilty?

Now, the Baptist Church does not believe in gay rights, I do not share the belief but like you said, their right. If they protesting illegally or too forcibly I think perhaps they should be sued and it should stick. Protesting is a right as long as it done lawfully without harassment. What if we had a little protest here in the forum and it caused so serious harm (hypothetically) are we just as guilty?

Now Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, I think we both will stand side by side on this one. I would have liked it very much, if we could go back in time and stop the bomb from going off. I think of the dude on the airplane a long time ago, who set his crotch on fire, no one was hurt except him and for me, that was happy news. Looking at the picture of Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, I see an angry man whom I do not like very much, but I also see a lost boy that did have a mother.

I would like to make a point here.

I think, there is a solution though not saying it is easily achieved. Firstly, any persons family or country should be threatened. Secondly, a martyr can not act as a martyr, if respect is given to his belief. Allow me to be understood here. From his religious view, Allah’s way is that of peace, so those fighting for the sake of just fighting is not being faithful to Allah but only to themselves. This includes all of Islam.

Quote:
Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve, excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfil their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him).([Qur'an 9:1])


If a shahid is not intimidated with reason to fight, then they will then have a duty to be peaceful or they themselves will not be showing respect to Allah.

What I am saying is (hypothetically) if we start out by producing disrespectful words and this caused a reaction are we not just as guilty as any of the other folks?



In the end can not a little respect be shown?

I often find that respect is withheld for the wrong reasons. It does not mean bowing down, submitting to, subject to or giving in to but it might mean minding our own business and not being so darn hostile towards someone else’s religious belief. I really do not think it is the belief that wrong, I think it is the actions (I am not justifying or saying any of the acts here are right) and yes I agree, we can denounce actions and we can do something about selfish actions.

But really, what is wrong to ask for some humanity. Who can not throw the towel in, instead of a stone at another belief, for the sake of peace. Perhaps somewhere in the words, if we look long and hard, there is love in them?
Bikerman
Bluedoll wrote:
From his religious view, Allah’s way is that of peace, so those fighting for the sake of just fighting is not being faithful to Allah but only to themselves. This includes all of Islam.

Quote:
Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve, excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfil their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him).([Qur'an 9:1])


If a shahid is not intimidated with reason to fight, then they will then have a duty to be peaceful or they themselves will not be showing respect to Allah.

That is the most blatant misunderstanding of a text that I have seen in a considerable time.
What it ACTUALLY says is:
All non-Muslims will die painfully, except those who agree not to oppose muslim domination.

This message is repeated in 9:5
Quote:
But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving,
Same message - pray to (the Muslim) God or die.
deanhills
Bluedoll wrote:
I think of the dude on the airplane a long time ago, who set his crotch on fire, no one was hurt except him and for me, that was happy news. Looking at the picture of Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, I see an angry man whom I do not like very much, but I also see a lost boy that did have a mother.
If that bomb had gone off, what about the the mothers of all the people that would have died in that plane? I do have compassion, but with something like this there is a boundary to my compassion.

Bluedoll wrote:
I think, there is a solution though not saying it is easily achieved. Firstly, any persons family or country should be threatened. Secondly, a martyr can not act as a martyr, if respect is given to his belief. Allow me to be understood here. From his religious view, Allah’s way is that of peace, so those fighting for the sake of just fighting is not being faithful to Allah but only to themselves. This includes all of Islam.
You're on the right track here. I'd say the majority of Islamists are for peace, as much as the majority of Christians or any of the other theists are for peace.

Bluedoll wrote:
What I am saying is (hypothetically) if we start out by producing disrespectful words and this caused a reaction are we not just as guilty as any of the other folks?
I'm all for being respectful, but I don't have respect for terrorists. Taking the lives of other people to me is wrong. And I'm almost certain that terrorists couldn't care any less whether you respect them or not. They're on a totally different wavelength. It would hurt you to death to know what they really thought about you. Particularly since you are a woman as well. There is no reasoning with them. You're less than a zero as far as they are concerned.
Bikerman
Quote:
I'd say the majority of Islamists are for peace
And I'd say that is either incredibly naive nonsense, or you don't know what an islamist actually is.
Quote:
Leading Islamist thinkers emphasized the enforcement of one interpretation of sharia (Islamic law) on Muslims against their will if necessary; of pan-Islamic political unity; and of the elimination of non-Muslim, particularly western military, economic, political, social, or cultural influences in the Muslim world, which they believe to be incompatible with Islam.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamist
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Quote:
I'd say the majority of Islamists are for peace
And I'd say that is either incredibly naive nonsense, or you don't know what an islamist actually is.
I'm speaking out of experience. I've lived with Islamic people for a good sized period of time. They would tell you the same.
Bikerman
As I said, you clearly don't know the difference between a Muslim (IslamIC) and an IslamIST.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
As I said, you clearly don't know the difference between a Muslim (IslamIC) and an IslamIST.
I don't have a clue what you are talking about here Bikerman. Maybe you could explain? I'm talking about all Muslims of the world (as indicated by the 21% red portion in the graph below). What are you talking about?

Bikerman
Why don't you follow links when I take the trouble to look them out. The wiki link explains it all perfectly well.
gandalfthegrey
An agnostic is someone who is not sure, as they feel the truth is largely unknowable to us. That does not necessarily mean that an agnostic does not wish to learn about or explore spirituality, truth or the nature of reality.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Why don't you follow links when I take the trouble to look them out. The wiki link explains it all perfectly well.
Let's replace Islamic with Muslim then. The majority of Muslims are for peace.
Bikerman
deanhills wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
Why don't you follow links when I take the trouble to look them out. The wiki link explains it all perfectly well.
Let's replace Islamic with Muslim then. The majority of Muslims are for peace.
Islamic means Muslim so why bother?
Look,since you seem disinclined to follow the link and see what I'm saying I suppose I'll have to explain:
an ISLAMIST is a completely different thing to ISLAMIC/MUSLIM.
An ISLAMIST is one who wants, at the very least, total Muslim rule across the Arab lands (by which I mean religious, judicial (Sharia) and political. They want islamic sharia states. Most of them want something along the line of the taliban (hell, many of the Taliban and Al-Queda are certainly islamists. The less moderate Islamist want Jihad against the 'west' - a battle to the death, followed by driving the infidel from ALL lands, including the one I am currently using.

ISLAMISTS are very dangerous people.

As for 'normal' Muslims. Are they peaceful? Yes, as long as you don't piss them off by drawing a cartoon or writing a book. If you do that then the suddenly peaceful neighbour of 10 years suddenly becomes ready to kill. It was obviously a minority of Muslims who took to the streets and called for the Danish Cartoonists to be killed. It was a pretty big minority however.

ocalhoun
Perhaps we could get back on topic?

The (oft repeated) good muslim vs. bad muslim debate doesn't really have all that much to do with unitarian universalism.
deanhills
Apologies Ocalhoun, you're right of course. Maybe the thread could be locked? I think it was on topic for a few posts only and then it went into several different directions. Unless someone else thinks it's still worthwhile pursuing of course.
gandalfthegrey
The strength of religion is the creation of a community - one where you are mandated or through habitual routine, go once a week.

Atheists groups have caught on and are creating Centre of Inquiries offices and chapters across North America - where atheists and agnostics can be part of a community where they are free to express themselves amongst like minded people.

The basic human need of community and belonging is met. I joined because I found a community of those interested in social justice and where we could work on such projects together.
boinsterman
What IS the Unitarian view of higher powers and divine forces? That is, what role do higher powers and divine forces play? Who are they? I ask because my own faith is supposedly very similar to Unitarianism. I am seeking information for those who come to us but for whom our church is not a good fit.

The question seems to need a context. By comparison, I am a student of the Saint Germain Foundation. Our concept of God seems similar to that of the Hindus, who apparently believe the UNIVERSE itself is God. We believe in the Mighty "I AM" Presence over our heads (each individual's personal connection to God), in discarnate entities and black magicians (like rats--ubiquitous but with no real power), in karma, in physical negativity, in chakras inside the physical body but apparently not outside, in vegetarianism, in the importance of harmony and positive attitude as opposed to discord, and the like. How is Unitarianism different?

Thanks for your attention,
Boinsterman
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