Re: Religion and evidence

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Fri 20 Jan 2006 - 06:51:41 GMT

  • Next message: Ben Dawson: "Re: Dawkins on Channel 4 tonight"

    >From: Kate Distin <>
    >Subject: Re: Religion and evidence
    >Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 16:42:34 +0000
    >Richard Brodie wrote:
    >>Kate wrote:
    >><<In that one of us says eating meat is morally unacceptable, and the
    >>that it's morally acceptable. I'm assuming it can't be both.>>
    >>It can if you have different morals. One of the problems with these
    >>religions that assert certain writings are orders from God is that
    >>eventually someone gets the idea to start converting and/or killing the
    >>with the "wrong" morals from the "wrong" God.
    >>Richard Brodie
    >I assume you'd be prepared to say that killing the guys with the "wrong"
    >morals/god is morally unacceptable. (So would I, needless to say.) So
    >you're not a hardline relativist/subjectivist about morals. In other words
    >you do believe that there is some sort of criterion against which we can
    >judge morality, even if that's not an absolute criterion like "God's will".
    >In which case, judged against whichever criterion you have chosen, you will
    >either agree or disagree with eating meat. Even if you say that eating
    >meat is a morally neutral action, this contradicts the vegetarian position.
    >That's really all I meant. I am open to the idea that it is me who's wrong
    >about vegetarianism. I just don't see how we can both be right.
    *Vegans* would hold that eating meat is morally wrong. Many vegetarians have no moral basis for their choice of diet. It could be a matter of health-consciousness and not conscience. My dad went on a vegetarian kick when I was a kid and I followed suit. He wasn't doing it because of views on animal cruelty. Strangely enough we attended several classes on vegetarianism at a Seventh Day Adventist church. It's been a very long time since then, so my memory is a little foggy on the details, but I think some of the folks running the show thought that the reason people in so-called Biblical times lived so long (supposedly hundreds of years) was because of diet. Maybe for a handful of people belief in God and vegetarianism do go hand in hand. To a certain degree if one stems from the other (belief in a certain view of the Bible results in vegetarianism) this could be a moral choice.

    My dad attended more for culinary ideas than religious ideology. It was my first introduction to soy milk. It wasn't very impressive back then. We were also introduced to variations like ovalactarianism. My dad was being pragmatic. He wasn't interested in joining the Adventists, he just wanted o learn more about vegetarian cookery *per se*.

    I went several years without eating red meat recently, but wore leather shoes. I still ate poultry and fish, but tried to add more vegetable based protein into my diet (high fiber lentils, limas etc.). If I could exercise the amount of discipline required I'd make a try at full-on vegetarianism for a while, but I'd still wear leather shoes, belt and wallet with no remorse. Vegetarianism is a mixed bag. On a continuum you would go from the hardcore vegan militant animal rights activist towards the other end where someone might not pay too much attention to incidental animal matter content in their food or even eat a hardboiled egg, some cheese or a yogurt once in a while (veering into ovalactarian territory).

    Switching topics, religion is a social instituion. Christians tend to gather on Sunday mornings and hang together with family, friends and acquaintances. Is a true belief in God necessary to mingle with the town folk? People go to bars for the social atomosphere and don't drink, like the music or dance. In church, one need not imbibe the holy spirits to attend. In junior high and high school I stopped attending formal church services, but did enjoy a youth group on Sunday nights. It was a place to hang with friends and go on the occassional field trip to the mountains or the Keys. On one of those field trips I enjoyed poking fun at the counseler's arguments about devil music (Zeppelin played backwards, evil Ozzy, etc).

    I'm not sure how judgemental I could be about parents bringing their kids to church at a young age. In many communities its a part of the social fabric and pretty much the accepted norm. It probably depends on the church and how fundamentalist the views are. If it encroached upon the kids schooling, especially in cases where parental views on sex ed and evolution conflict with reality, then I think there's cause for concern. But as a place to gather and rub elbows with people, churches serve a social function.

    Could we really look down on Amish communities for putting their children through their ways of life? If Amish children began drifting away after rumspringa and the Amish churches folded (highly unlikely, but hypothetical), that would be the loss of a entire mindset, which would be analogous to a species going extinct. Someone driving through Lancaster, Pennsylvania might never again encounter one of their buggies being pulled along the road. In some respects the Amish are a reservoir of tradition.

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri 20 Jan 2006 - 07:12:45 GMT