Religious Superiority

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Reply Fri 15 May, 2009 06:06 pm
The other day, my debate class (five) was discussing Scientology. All except me were of the Christian faith, and all strongly opposed Scientology, describing it as "stupid, retarded" and similar adjectives.

Whereas I'm not promoting Scientology or opposing Christianity, I don't know why they find themselves knowledgeable enough to disprove a religion due to the simple fact that it completely clashes with their religion.

Whereas it may be a new idea, seem absurd, or be completely based on controversial principles, there is no way that it can be rendered as 'wrong', especially when it has not been studied/practiced by these people, Christianity is the only religion they're familiar with to compare it to, and especially since in West Virginia, they don't know ANY Scientologists to determine whether or not these people are "crazy, ridiculous, wrong, insensible, unintelligent", etc.

So I suppose this incident inspired the following questions.
-Why are people (generally) attached completely to a religion, opposing all others?
-Is religion responsible for this sense of 'rightness', or was it simply all based on similar negative traits in their personalities?
-Are humans even capable of proving/disproving particular religious beliefs (God, the aliens, etc?)

(Apologies for the scattered thoughts and incoherent opinions :'D)
 
Lily
 
Reply Sat 16 May, 2009 07:53 am
@weidersenmeier,
People like to have one religous belief and not think so much about wether it's wrigh or wrong, because that's safe. Sometimes I envy them. Sometimes I just feel sorry for them. If you're brought up with one belief it's very easy to think that it must be the truth. Philosophers are those who find their own thruth. I don't think we should blame the religions. Do as I always do, blame everyone else but yourself:DHehe.
We will probably never be able to prove or disprove God.
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Sat 16 May, 2009 08:05 am
@Lily,
Personlly I hold my religous beliefs because of questioning, not because of my desire to live in a safe little bubble. Some people cling to religion like a blanket, but then again, some people do the same with scince- the idea that we live in a worked out rational universe where nothing that contradicts scintific logic, and nothing more than the material exists, comforts some people. Conversly such people tend to be frightended by the idea of things that contradict their cosy little world view.
Real scince and real relgion is never 'safe'. To live in a universe of angels and demons, or a universe of black holes and quantum mechanics, is equally terrifiying and captivating.
 
Lily
 
Reply Sat 16 May, 2009 09:18 am
@weidersenmeier,
I didn't mean that what they know is safe, it's knowing. It is very scary to not know what you belive. I think some people belive that a part of beliving is to belive without questioning. That's a bit stupid according to me.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Sat 16 May, 2009 11:29 am
@avatar6v7,
avatar6v7 wrote:
Personlly I hold my religous beliefs because of questioning, not because of my desire to live in a safe little bubble. Some people cling to religion like a blanket, but then again, some people do the same with scince- the idea that we live in a worked out rational universe where nothing that contradicts scintific logic, and nothing more than the material exists, comforts some people. Conversly such people tend to be frightended by the idea of things that contradict their cosy little world view.


True, but things that contradict their cosy world view are usually seized upon by scientists as the next thing that'll win the Nobel prize. People do make religions out of theories, but nothing has really contradicted the view that the world can be explained rationally, simply escaped it thus far, and that wedge is getting thinner.

Majority rules does win in religion. Christianity is superior to scientology because it has more people saying it is true and the other false. Both religions are incredible: neither seems to have a more intelligent argument than the other. But scientology is also easier to dismiss because we know its origins: we know the founder was a fraud (and a sci-fi writer to boot) because we watched it happen. Dianetics is presented as a scientific theory of mind, body and spirit, but was flatly rejected as such a theory, with absolutely zero support from the scientific community (like ID).
 
weidersenmeier
 
Reply Sat 16 May, 2009 11:42 am
@weidersenmeier,
Right, I know where Scientology comes from. What annoyed me with them, I suppose, was not the fact that they were opposing Scientology its self (I agree that it's probably not accurate), but the fact that they found themselves blatantly capable of putting down an entire religion.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Sat 16 May, 2009 12:44 pm
@weidersenmeier,
weidersenmeier wrote:
Right, I know where Scientology comes from. What annoyed me with them, I suppose, was not the fact that they were opposing Scientology its self (I agree that it's probably not accurate), but the fact that they found themselves blatantly capable of putting down an entire religion.

Yes, it strikes me they were rejecting Scientology on grounds of its lunatic story (aliens, telepathy, etc.) But a Scientologist could equally reject Christianity on the same grounds (talking snakes, living in a whale, walking on water, etc.). This would seem to be the wrong reason to reject Scientology if you're willing to accept Christianity... a pot calling the kettle black. Like I said, majority rules.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 16 May, 2009 03:49 pm
@Bones-O,
Or, how about we ridicule Scientology into the ground because it's inventor, Mr. Hubbard, spent his life using extreme amounts of drugs, having sex with women young enough to land him in prison in most developed countries, and that Mr. Hubbard admitted that he invented Scientology in order to make money.

Further more, to compare Christianity's talking snakes, ect with Scientology's aliens, ect is disingenuous. Except for fundamentalist Christians, the story of Jonah in the whale, for example, is not taught as a literal, historic fact. Meanwhile, Scientology holds their stories to be literal, historic fact.

Folks, no religion is inherently better than any other. Buddhism is not better than Christianity, Judaism is no better than Islam, ect. But Scientology is not a religion. Scientology is a business, founded by a money grubbing mad man.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 16 May, 2009 11:20 pm
@weidersenmeier,
I agree completely with Didymos Thomas here. I would not oppose a sect or a cult on principle, or because I didn't know anything about it, or thought it had a strange name and so on. But I would oppose it if I looked into it and found that it was started by a charlatan, taught utterly preposterous nonsense that no straight thinking individual could believe, and sued or attempted to smear or persecute anyone who criticized it, for example. So it would not be a matter of opposing it on principle, but of opposing it because it were a dangerous, malevolent sect that has damaged a lot of lives and created a great deal of suffering. Speaking hypothetically, of course.

It is certainly *not* true that all religious thinkers, or spiritual philosophers, are always intolerant of faiths other than their own. Classical Indian civilization was generally very tolerant of a wide range of religions. The Jesuits have always encouraged inter-faith dialog. There are a number of very interesting Jesuit Zen masters who incorporate elements of Buddhist teaching in their Christian faith.

Finally consider the instruction of the Buddha to the villagers of Kalama:

10. "Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias toward a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them."

Same goes for any teaching, in my view.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 01:59 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Or, how about we ridicule Scientology into the ground because it's inventor, Mr. Hubbard, spent his life using extreme amounts of drugs, having sex with women young enough to land him in prison in most developed countries, and that Mr. Hubbard admitted that he invented Scientology in order to make money.

Yes, I spoke of the Hubbard-the-fraud above, and suggested it as a better reason for rejecting Scientology than the 'stupidity' of the beliefs. Obviously you put it better than I, judging by the comparative receptions of our posts.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
Further more, to compare Christianity's talking snakes, ect with Scientology's aliens, ect is disingenuous. Except for fundamentalist Christians, the story of Jonah in the whale, for example, is not taught as a literal, historic fact. Meanwhile, Scientology holds their stories to be literal, historic fact.

I don't see the relevance. The question is about the religious beliefs people hold, not the guises under which they are taught. Many American Christians believe the Bible to be literally true, and I'm sure this is true of other countries and other religions. This is not the issue, unless you are claiming that the Scientologist mentioned in the OP believed his story to be literal, historic fact while the Christians mentioned did not, which is a claim not justified by the facts presented. Perhaps weidersenmeier can give us more insight into the nature of the argument to establish this, but he seems to be telling us that it is the stupidity of the Scientology stories that were the issue.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
Folks, no religion is inherently better than any other. Buddhism is not better than Christianity, Judaism is no better than Islam, ect. But Scientology is not a religion. Scientology is a business, founded by a money grubbing mad man.

Again, in the realm of organised religion, I concur, but the question is of people's personal faith. One might believe Hubbard was a fraud while holding that his teachings were on to something. WS Burroughs, for instance, believed Scientology had something going for it while recognising that Hubbard was a fraud, and despising him. Of course, Burroughs was probably on an interesting mixture of drugs at the time, and not of sound mind even when sober... Everyone has their reasons, I guess.
 
weidersenmeier
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 04:22 pm
@weidersenmeier,
This isn't specifically about Christianity and Scientology, nor am I classifying Christians as definitely intolerant. I told this story to provide an example. Again, I am not promoting Scientology, nor am I opposing Christianity. I'm aware of Scientology's origins and that each religion is composed of both possible and improbable elements.

My question is, who are they to determine whether or not an entire belief is right or wrong? Not just them, but anyone?

Perhaps Scientology would be easier to attempt disproving, since it was recently created and we've scientific evidence to oppose most of its speculation. But in regards to something older, such as Christianity, we're not capable of doing such a thing. For example, none of us were around when the bible was written; perhaps a man just like Mr. Hubbard decided it would be a good idea to compose this collection of stories. I'm not saying that that's the case, but we simply do not know where it came from.

Not only can we not trace the origins of every religion to test accuracy, but humans are often unable to absorb new ideas and concepts because their deep-rooted attachment to their religion prevents them.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 04:44 pm
@weidersenmeier,
Well, science can no more disprove Scientology than Christianity: in fact, Scientology has probably been less infringed by scientific discovery than Christianity. It is not the place of science to reject a religion's theological validity; however it can reject their scientific validity. Dianetics is sold to its followers as science; Christianity is not, though elements of it are supposed to negate scientific discovery. But again, while we can judge Hubbard, or any peddlar of misinformation, we cannot hold someone's personal religious beliefs to judgement, especially with respect to our own, if we hold any. By all means, disrespect Hubbard, but if we are to respect the faithful, that means all of the faithful else we are simply religiously intolerant. Hubbard provides an excellent target for attack and source of investigation because he exists; however for the believer, his actions and past can be denied or rationalised as easily as any non-existent or non-apparent deity or figurehead, and I doubt their reasoning would be any less compelling than in any other religion.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 06:00 pm
@Bones-O,
Bones-O! wrote:

I don't see the relevance. The question is about the religious beliefs people hold, not the guises under which they are taught. Many American Christians believe the Bible to be literally true, and I'm sure this is true of other countries and other religions. This is not the issue, unless you are claiming that the Scientologist mentioned in the OP believed his story to be literal, historic fact while the Christians mentioned did not, which is a claim not justified by the facts presented. Perhaps weidersenmeier can give us more insight into the nature of the argument to establish this, but he seems to be telling us that it is the stupidity of the Scientology stories that were the issue.


I would criticize those fundamentalist Christians just as I would adherents of Scientology. Those Christians who do believe that the Bible is literally, historically true hold some beliefs as absurd as Scientology.

Now, it is true that adherents of Scientology believe Hubbard's tales to be literally, historically true while many Christians understand that aspects of Christian scripture are fictional, didactic narrative often using metaphor and allegory. This is a crucial difference between the reasonableness of Scientology and the reasonableness of Christianity: Scientology is not reasonable no matter how you take it, while Christianity can be a most reasonable religion when well understood.

Bones-O! wrote:
Again, in the realm of organised religion, I concur, but the question is of people's personal faith. One might believe Hubbard was a fraud while holding that his teachings were on to something. WS Burroughs, for instance, believed Scientology had something going for it while recognising that Hubbard was a fraud, and despising him. Of course, Burroughs was probably on an interesting mixture of drugs at the time, and not of sound mind even when sober... Everyone has their reasons, I guess.


Such a person would have to believe that racism is good teaching, then. Hubbard's Scientology teaches racism. I pity such a person, with respect to that issue of personal faith.
 
weidersenmeier
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 06:26 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Quote:

Such a person would have to believe that racism is good teaching, then. Hubbard's Scientology teaches racism. I pity such a person, with respect to that issue of personal faith.


In the same respect, Christianity teaches hatred toward homosexuality. Would you consider one's pity toward the entire Christian faith justifiable based on that fact alone?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 06:43 pm
@weidersenmeier,
weidersenmeier wrote:
In the same respect, Christianity teaches hatred toward homosexuality. Would you consider one's pity toward the entire Christian faith justifiable based on that fact alone?


Some brands of Christianity teach hatred toward homosexuality, other brands of Christianity teach acceptance and love for homosexuals in the same way love is taught for all humans. In Scientology, on the other hand, racism is ever present.

There is the difference. Christianity can be used to justify homophobia and even racism, but Scientology necessarily teaches racism. Christianity can be perverted in such a way as to promote hate, while Scientology is inherently hateful.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 06:46 pm
@weidersenmeier,
All hail Xenu, the dark lord and master!
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 07:46 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:

Now, it is true that adherents of Scientology believe Hubbard's tales to be literally, historically true while many Christians understand that aspects of Christian scripture are fictional, didactic narrative often using metaphor and allegory.

I'm sorry, but this is unfounded. You can't dismiss an entire religion on the grounds that you say they understand it a certain way. I have, for instance, already offered at least one former Scientologist who never believed the stories and never believed in Hubbard, yet maintained belief in Scientology itself. You can't just state no such person exists as a justification for your argument, at least in any seriousness.

Didymos Thomas wrote:

This is a crucial difference between the reasonableness of Scientology and the reasonableness of Christianity: Scientology is not reasonable no matter how you take it, while Christianity can be a most reasonable religion when well understood.

Okay, that's at least debatable. Let's say, for instance, I take Scientology as a method: I adhere to it because I think it provides the right way to live, and take all of the sci-fi elements as nothing more than allegory, metaphor and inspiring illustration. This seems as reasonable a Scientologist to me as a Christian who doesn't believe the Bible is literally true. Where's the crucial difference?

Didymos Thomas wrote:
Such a person would have to believe that racism is good teaching, then. Hubbard's Scientology teaches racism. I pity such a person, with respect to that issue of personal faith.

Hmmm. Should have said some teachings. That said, I've never seen a Scientologist on the street waving a banner proclaiming that South Africans will be left behind when the mothership comes. I have seen Christians on the street holding banners proclaiming that all fags are going to hell. And like I said, it's a matter of personal belief... I don't imagine any Scientologists are in any danger of winning the coveted 'Most bigoted believer' award any time soon, do you?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 08:15 pm
@Bones-O,
Bones-O! wrote:
I'm sorry, but this is unfounded. You can't dismiss an entire religion on the grounds that you say they understand it a certain way. I have, for instance, already offered at least one former Scientologist who never believed the stories and never believed in Hubbard, yet maintained belief in Scientology itself. You can't just state no such person exists as a justification for your argument, at least in any seriousness.


If I say that I believe in Christianity, yet also maintain that the Gospels have no spiritual value, is my initial claim true or false? Obviously, it is false.

Similarly, regardless of Burroughs' claim, if he outright rejected the teachings of Scientology then he could not have believed in Scientology. I have no doubt that the man saw some value in Scientology, but to say he believed in Scientology while also rejecting essential Scientology beliefs is nonsensical. This comes to down what Scientology itself is: and if Mr. Burroughs did not believe that human bodies are inhabited by alien spirits and so forth, no matter what value he may find in some of the notions of the cult, Mr. Burroughs did not believe in Scientology.

Bones-O! wrote:
Okay, that's at least debatable. Let's say, for instance, I take Scientology as a method: I adhere to it because I think it provides the right way to live, and take all of the sci-fi elements as nothing more than allegory, metaphor and inspiring illustration. This seems as reasonable a Scientologist to me as a Christian who doesn't believe the Bible is literally true. Where's the crucial difference?


The differences is that when you do such a thing with Scientology you are no longer practicing Scientology. Scientology was invented by L. Ron Hubbard, and his teachings regarding Scientology are the gold standard. Any deviation from them, especially one as significant as reinterpreting his stories as allegory, is no longer Scientology, but instead a practice loosely based on Scientology. Just as we do not say that Buddhism is Hinduism, such an alteration of Scientology would not be Scientology.

Had Hubbard wrote the stories and presented them as allegory, perhaps you could pull this off. However, he did no such thing.

Bones-O! wrote:
Hmmm. Should have said some teachings. That said, I've never seen a Scientologist on the street waving a banner proclaiming that South Africans will be left behind when the mothership comes. I have seen Christians on the street holding banners proclaiming that all fags are going to hell. And like I said, it's a matter of personal belief... I don't imagine any Scientologists are in any danger of winning the coveted 'Most bigoted believer' award any time soon, do you?


No, Scientology is an openly, blatantly racist ideology. Whether or not you have personally experienced overt examples of racism from Scientologists is completely irrelevant, as is your experience of open Christian hatred. There are, after all, far more Christians than Scientologists.

Whether or not a Scientologists would win some hypothetical award is completely irrelevant: racism is core to Scientology doctrine.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 09:06 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Well to me it's all just a matter of opinion and being able to step back and listen to members of the various traditions all claim their's is the true, the only and the must while all the others are fabrications or evil. Just is one big laughable experience.

I just feel that religion was a product of inflating the power of law for a group of people trying to survive in a seemingly chaotic world.

If we only had laws from men to men, eventually a man will test the person who handed those laws. But if the clever law maker points to the sky and says, "I didn't come up with it, god did." The person who would want to object to those laws had no way to object. So as time went on faces were given to these so called gods...

But now that science has blown the lid completely off the can of religion we have an opportunity to transcend our bronze age ignorance. But there are many who refuse to move on to our next stage of mental evolution. They not only are dragging their feet but insist on turning us around to head back where we came. I tell you the past is full of hatred and bigotry, why would we want to go back?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 17 May, 2009 09:53 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple wrote:
I tell you the past is full of hatred and bigotry, why would we want to go back?


And the present is similarly full of hatred and bigotry. We have not left that behind us. Science has not emancipated us from violence and hate.

Nor has science "blown the lid completely off religion". Science is incapable of disproving an allegory no matter if the events in the allegory are scientifically impossible - scientific reality is beside the point in allegory. Jonah can live in the belly of a whale because the significance of the story is not a matter of historical record, but instead rests in the story's didactic virtue.

Perhaps Hubbard's Scientology might be a bit more reasonable had he presented his stories as figurative, didactic legend. But he did no such thing. We have to judge Scientology based on what it is rather than what it could have been. Scientology is a cult that relies on reality defying stories presented as absolute fact, relies on racism and elitism, and is fundamentally a business rather than a cult for the sake of spiritual growth. Scientology is not even a religion, regardless of the cult's legal status.
 
 

 
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