View Full Version : infidels - from all religions
03-14-2003, 07:43 AM
Should religions become more tolerant?
I'm an atheist, I do not believe in any of the existing religions. However, I respect everybody's beliefs, as long as they are not harmful to any other person.
I know some, not all, religions state that if you are not part of their religion, or do not believe in their God, you are an infidel, and therefor will go to hell.
I find this spiteful, and dangerous. Or can someobe give me another view on this? Should religions in this day and age not be a bit more tolerant? How right is it to threaten people with hell and damnation? Is that not psychological terror?
I know some people will argue that if you already believe in one of those religions, you're off the hook, but which religion is the "right" one?
For instance, will "believers" of whatever religion all end up in the same "heaven"? Are there seperate "heavens? for different religions?
I'd love your take on this...:)
03-14-2003, 09:49 AM
The obvious counter being, of course, that atheists usually teach that after death, the personality disappears, and it doesn't matter if you were a good or bad person.
Wouldn't it be better to teach an afterlife, as a motivation for good behavior and to comfort those whose loved ones have died?
Unless you value the truth above comfort, in which case it would be stupid to teach something you knew wasn't true because of its effects on the feelings of others.
Apply the same logic to religion. If it were true that non-adherents to the First Church of the Apocalyse are doomed to hell, wouldn't you agree that they should cling to the truth even if it hurt someone's feelings?
If you knew someone was about to hire a baby-sitter who had convictions for child molestation, wouldn't you warn that person? Even if it hurt their feelings?
It is only "psychological terror" to "threaten people with hell and damnation" if the hell and damnation isn't real. If it is real, it is more on a level with fair warning, or giving someone a change to avoid an undesirable fate.
Or put it this way - most people who smoke don't get lung cancer. Is it psychological terror to put warning labels on cigarette packs? No, because we know that the threat of lung cancer from smoking is real. Similarly, people who believe in exclusivist religions believe the threat of hellfire is real, too.
Besides which, if you don't believe in the other tenets of an exclusivist religion, why would you be bothered by threats of hellfire? It would be the same as someone saying to me that flying saucers would burn down my house if I wear green on Thursdays. I don't believe in flying saucers, so I am not particularly bothered by threats about them. So it is not psychological terror to tell me this, as I don't believe it, based on my estimate that the likelihood of actual flying saucers is quite low.
If I am wrong about the flying saucers, and my house disappears after I choose the green shirt, this is still not psychological terror, but a valid warning that I was foolish to disregard.
Same with warnings from adherents of other, exclusivist religions. If they are wrong, I can disregard them without being frightened. If they are right, my tough luck.
FWIW, Christianity (my tradition of it, anyway) have a doctrine of the "virtuous pagan", which covers non-Christians who, for valid reasons, are not members of the Church. And the doctrine is not that they automatically go straight to hell - do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
As for your other questions, which religion is the right one? Well, the one I practice, obviously. :)
03-14-2003, 10:32 AM
All interesting, but...
- yes, i'm an atheist, so i'm not bothered by heaven and hell, as i have my own versions of them, and am quite pleased with them.
- if more then one religion claims to be the rigth one, and if you don't believe in them, you'll go to hell (or so they claim), then only 1 of those can be right, right? Or not? That's what's bothering me. Is there a muslim heaven? Is there a heaven where everything is kosher? A christian one for all the christians? Cos if everyone beliefs they've got the right religion, and they're the ones that are going to heaven, then something doesn't add up, surely!
I just think that most sacred text were written when the religion was still in its infancy stage, and therefor need all "believers" they can get. I also think it's one of the reasons why most religions preach large families and no contraception (more kids = more believers = more power for that particular religion).
please correct me if i'm horribly wrong
03-14-2003, 11:17 AM
This is a perfect example of the observer affecting the observation. If you have no belief in God how can any person of faith give you a satisfactory answer? If you ask believers you will get their beilefs. If you want to know which is the true faith you have to get your answer from God.
03-14-2003, 11:18 AM
until they use it to justify killing "infidels" for the Glory of Allah, Cthulu, Jehovah or any other mythical diety.
03-14-2003, 06:37 PM
Are you calling me mythological? BTW, you spelled it wrong.
03-14-2003, 07:24 PM
Most religions are moving away from this image of Hellfire and Brimstone as a tool for conversion, since people who aren't of the faith just don't buy it anymore.
Moreover, people of all faiths say all manner of things, and poeple of no particular faith say things as well. Unless Jerry Falwell is driving past your house at 3 AM screaming "BURN IN HELL YOU ATHEIST BASTARD!!" it's not really psychological terrorism. Even if he was, responsibility sits with Falwell in this case, and not with Christianity.
An important point here is the fact that while I might say you'll go to Hell if you're not in with my Guy, I'm not really threatening you, except perhaps spiritually. It makes no real difference if you don't buy it. It might be unsettling, and of course I can't speak to the 'witnesses' and 'missionaries' in your area, but they probably aren't committing psychological terrorism(At least if they're like folks around here).
In the mean time, you base your decision on the religion that you think is correct and can determine to the best of your ability, just like any other intelligent decision you might make, and it seems you have.
Tarantara: That's a bit derisive, don't you think? People find all kinds of reasons to kill other people. Anyone who uses one of the established religions that I'm familiar with to end human life is obviously false in their claims. Still, I don't consider it psychological terrorism.
03-14-2003, 07:54 PM
It seems to me that "religion" at it's core is about control. It's a way of regulating the behavior of the masses. The old"carrot and stick approach". It might have had a valid purpose at one time but that time has passed. We don't need it anymore. Heaven and hell should go the way of the poor Dodo.
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