: Perhaps I'm biased by my skeptic leanings, but it is much more logical to believe "God" (at least the Judeo-Christian-Islamic) doesn't exist, given the God/Devil dilemma of Good creating Evil, or Perfection creating Corruption (War is Peace?), than it is to logically assume that a god in the likeness of the dominant culture exists.
By the very act of posing the "good creating evil"problem, you have presupposed the existence of good and evil as transcendental, objective values. If good and evil are merely subjective attributes that depend on the opinions of society, then the poroblem doesn't arise; what one age sees as good, another sees as evil, and vice versa. So the good/ evil problem doesn't seem to have force unless you acknowledge at some level that there is a God. Given that, I don't think that the question poses a problem for the existence of God. Given that humans create so much evil by their own free will, given that other natural processes create viruses and other plagues (it's silly to talk about viruses and illness being "evil" in any case) and given the promsie of ultimate justice, i don';t think that evil is something that needs to be associated with God in any way. Somewould argue that evil is only a temporary illusion; others that it is an outhrowth of our distancing ourselves from God-personally, i think both make a lot of sense. anyway, i don't think that the good and evil problem poses a problem for the existence of God.
: NIKHIL: The problem with being anti-religion is that it takes away a major source of transcendental values, and leaves people like Ayn free to exploit others for personal gain.
: RABBLEROUSER: Interesting, considering the colonialization of North and South America, Africa, and Asia by Christians with "transcendental values,"
1) Religion was possessed as much or more by the inhabitants of Asia, Africa, and the Americas as by the Europeans. religion is an essentially universal phenomenon.
2) Much of the colonialism was carried out in the name of science and/or rationalism, not in the name of religion. Secular intellectuals like J.S. Mill, Locke, Darwin, etc. were supporters of colonialism. Observe how European scientists of the 19th century used pseudo-science and invalid interpretations of biology to jsutify arcial hierarchy and class division. (Social Darwinism for example). Science has served to justify exploitation and oppression as much as religion. The misuse of neither science nor religion invalidates its value as a source of truth and guidance.
: though I think their greed was merely cloaked in esoteric garbage called religion.
Do you have anything to back up your characterization of religion as esoteric garbage? If a divine being and trancendent moral truths exist, as I believe they do, then religion cannor be garbage, esoteric or not.
: Let's not forget fine Catholic gentlemen such as Mussolini, Franco, and William Buckley;
Incidentally, the Catholic Church was one of teh only forces to oppose eugenics in America. Science at the time was bitterly divided on the question; liberal intellectuals tended to support eugenics; the Catholic Church on the other hand opposed the effort to selectively breed society. Can you give credit to them? Also don't forget the Book of Acts and the Sermon on teh Mount, two of the earliest manifestations of Christianity, and the most truly communist examples for a long time- there are few better directives for socialism even today. Liberation theology? Oscar Romero in El Salvador? the Catholic Church ahs generally been in the forefront of social justice and efforts to make the world better. The Catholic Church has improved the lives of millions of suffering people worldwide. Graham Greene once commented on teh similarities between Catholicism and communism.....
: or fine Protestants like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and the Ku Klux Klan. All profess to have the "transcendental values" you seem to cherish.
I don't understand. You can deride my phrtase, bt are youy denying the existence of objective moral truths? If so, tehre's no reason why Ayn Rand is any less right than you are. Selfishness can only be recognized as wrong if we recognized that objective morality exists.
: Conversely, David Hume, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, and Bertrand Russell had ethical philosophies without the mystical baggage of religion.
1) Are you denying the existence of teh mystical? Mystical experience? Albert Einstein himself said something about "the highest experince is the mystical", something like that.
2)I don';t knwo much about Hume. Many secular thinkers accepted natural law as a substitute for religion; therefore, tehy accepted the exsitence of transcendental valeus. However, modern science has shown that evolution does not trake place according to group-selection rules, casting doubt on the idea of morality coming from evolution. Karl Marx's philosophy, I think, would have been stronger and virtually impossible to argue with if he had been a little mroe willing to sue transendental truths as a way of strengthening his position- i.e. if he'd tyried to show taht capitalism was evil as well as self-destructive.
: If anything, religion probably makes one more vulnerable to fascism given that one forsakes skepticism for leaps of faith.
You can't live your life by skepticism alone. Do that and you eventually falkl into solipsism, e.g. how do I KNOW that you exist? arguab;ly I have stronger evidence fo teh existence of God thamn I do of the existence of you or me. Fascism is a twentieth century phenomenoen that arises in teh absence of religiion; its preciursor, imeprial Rome, was actually quite non-religious and religiously tolerant. Look at Ottoman Turkey, wnhile tehy were Muslim their minority populations (Jewish, Greek, Armenian, Arab, etc.) were treated fairly well, when the secular government acceded to powerf and substituted nationalism for religion, that';s when uyou got repression of the armenians, Kurds, etc. True religion is the enemy of fascism.
: I believe one is more likely to be socially responsible if one approaches ethics from a logical perspective (or at least as logical as humanly possible) than if one chooses social responsibility based on bribery of heaven or threat of hell.
Stalinism is not Communism, just as the Inquisition is not Christianity. A philosophy must be judged as a whole, absed on ist good as well as its evil fruits, not based on the perversions committedby those who use its name. It's my contention that religion has done the world a lot more good then harm.