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Religion-erasing magic wand?

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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Lord Muck oGentry
Posts: 633
Joined: September 1st, 2007, 3:48 pm

#21 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » October 8th, 2007, 12:15 am

Latest post of the previous page:

DD,

Sorry for the delay.

Let me deal with the CofE joke first. The clergyman is a stock figure, who finds himself in a quandary when he is challenged about eternal suffering in Hell. He can't deny the dogma without impiety, but his natural kindness rebels at the thought of such suffering. So he resorts to the idea that God prompts penitence in the wicked in their final moments, so cutting the sentence from Hell to Purgatory. He isn't very bright, perhaps, but there isn't much harm in him.

On to my definition of religion. Off the top of my head, I'd say it was a set of beliefs, values and practices, relating to the supernatural and often to a deity or number of deities seen as having created the world. In a wider sense, it would include religious sentiment or impulse- for example the common thought that " There must be something out there."

You will see that my definition distinguishes belief or impulse from practice. That, I suspect, is what divides us here. In my view we are entitled to use force, including lethal force in the extreme case, to protect ourselves from practice that turns to violence. And if the magic wand question had been about stopping attacks on the WTC or London Underground, my answer would have been different, because these are examples of violent practice.

But what people believe in the privacy of their own thoughts is another matter. There are many religious people who wish me no harm at all, and do not deserve to be subjected to mind-control. There are also those who dither about religious belief. They are potential allies, but I don't want them godless if godlessness has been forced on them. And there are those atheists who, like me, entertain religious thought or sentiment
or impulse precisely in order to be sure that our godlessness is honestly won. I don't imagine that my mind will change, but I want to be able to make it up myself.

Thanks again for your thoughts. I shall have to finish for the time being, but I'm enjoying this discussion.

Regards

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

#22 Post by Nick » October 8th, 2007, 2:24 pm

Re: C of E and belief in Hell.

I think [ ] that there are two different items which are quite essential to anybody calling himself a Christian. The first is one of a dogmatic nature -- namely, that you must believe in God and immortality. If you do not believe in those two things, I do not think that you can properly call yourself a Christian. Then, further than that, as the name implies, you must have some kind of belief about Christ. The Mohammedans, for instance, also believe in God and in immortality, and yet they would not call themselves Christians. I think you must have at the very lowest the belief that Christ was, if not divine, at least the best and wisest of men. If you are not going to believe that much about Christ, I do not think you have any right to call yourself a Christian.

[ ]

But for the successful efforts of unbelievers in the past, I could not take so elastic a definition of Christianity as that. As I said before, in olden days it had a much more full-blooded sense. For instance, it included he belief in hell. Belief in eternal hell-fire was an essential item of Christian belief until pretty recent times. In this country, as you know, it ceased to be an essential item because of a decision of the Privy Council, and from that decision the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York dissented; but in this country our religion is settled by Act of Parliament, and therefore the Privy Council was able to override their Graces and hell was no longer necessary to a Christian. Consequently I shall not insist that a Christian must believe in hell.
Bertrand Russell: "Why I am not a Christian"

:hilarity:

Lord Muck oGentry
Posts: 633
Joined: September 1st, 2007, 3:48 pm

#23 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » October 8th, 2007, 7:29 pm

Good one, Nick. :)

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Deacon Doubtmonger
Posts: 84
Joined: July 29th, 2007, 6:09 am

#24 Post by Deacon Doubtmonger » October 11th, 2007, 6:14 am

LMoG: OK if I wait till the weekend also? Such few functioning brain cells as I have left are overburdened from my job and rapidly losing millivolts ...

Lord Muck oGentry
Posts: 633
Joined: September 1st, 2007, 3:48 pm

#25 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » October 11th, 2007, 7:47 pm

Deacon Doubtmonger wrote:LMoG: OK if I wait till the weekend also? Such few functioning brain cells as I have left are overburdened from my job and rapidly losing millivolts ...
Yes, of course. In fact, I may be busy for a few days myself.

And look after those brain cells- they're all we've got. :)

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