The Larger Issue of Bad Religion

| 386 Comments

by Mark Isaak

One contributor to this board has commented that religion is never addressed critically here. That’s about to change. Below, I define a criterion for bad religion, explore reasons for its prevalence, and suggest means of combating it. I’m sure many people can find much here to disagree with; I hope they can find things to think about, too.

First, let me clarify that there are really at least two battles for evolution. The first battle is science vs. apathy and poor education generally. That battle, though important, is uncontroversial. The same battle exists for mathematics without excessively raising ire. I will not consider it further here.

The second battle is sometimes called science vs. religion, but such a characterization is grossly misleading. Really, the battle is science, religion, and just about everyone else vs. bad religion.

What is “bad religion”? Everyone has different ideas about what is good in a religion, so it might seem that defining bad religion would be impossibly contentious. But there is one simple criterion which gets to the heart of most religion-related problems and which must be embraced by anyone who accepts the Golden Rule: A person is practicing bad religion if he or she, uninvited, attempts to impose any of their religious beliefs on another. A bad religion is any religion which condones such behavior. Other bad practices and beliefs can appear in religion, but by sticking to that one criterion, we can keep this simple and hopefully less controversial.

On this board, we see bad religion mainly in the form of attempts to ban the teaching of evolution and/or to force the teaching of miraculous creation (aka “intelligent design”). But, as anyone who pays any attention to the news in the United States knows, the battle is far more wide-ranging, covering issues such as putting graven images of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, prohibiting certain love-based marriage, and allowing pharmacists to impose their religious practices on their patients. In other parts of the world, bad religion imposes strictures on every aspect of life and kills people for noncompliance. The problem of bad religion is already widespread, and it appears to be spreading. It must be fought.

To fight it, it might help to understand how bad religion got the prominence it has. Part of the reason is simply because bad religion attracts zealots, zealots make lots of noise, and the media and policymakers pay more attention to noisemakers. It would help, then, if we make more noise ourselves, and emphasize as well that the silent people are with us. Lists such as Project Steve can help here.

Bad religion has also claimed, falsely, the moral high ground. We need to take that away from them. We need to ask why churches today should act as though the Taliban is a role model. Most people believe that there is an intrinsic link between religion and morality, and that belief is going to be hard to dispel. But it hardly matters, because what bad religion pushes is more religiosity than religion. People can tell the difference between doing what is right and pretending to be right.

Bad religion also thinks it has the spiritual high ground. Again, this claim is false. I could go on at some length about how creationists’ attempts to show evidence for God are attempts to bring God himself into the realm of the very naturalism which they disparage, and how creationists often view faith as uncritical acceptance indistinguishable from gullibility, while they practically define themselves with their rejection of a truly valuable faith in the sense of accepting the world as it is. But let us stick to the point of bad religion as religion pushed on others. It is perhaps enough to point out that declaring that one’s own religious beliefs must apply to others, the hallmark of bad religion, is invariably hubris (and creationists go further to declare that their personal views determine the operation of the entire universe). We might also point out that bad religion pushes religion as an end in itself. This puts them in the same category as the hypocrites whom Christ berates in Matthew 23. The spiritual ground taken by bad religion is the lowest of the low. The spiritual high ground goes to those people (and I know many among evolutionists) who go through life cheerfully without mentioning their religion unless asked.

Bad religion becomes particularly prevalent during hard times, when people go to religion for hope, and bad religious leaders find in their followers’ desperation an opportunity for personal power. We need to show people the power-hungry nature of their leaders, but even more than that, we need to educate people that hope is not served by power grabs.

We must recognize that good religion is an ally. Religion, after all, is common to all cultures and has been around many millennia longer than science has. It is not going away any time soon. Nor should it, when it serves people’s needs. Since bad religion and good religion share a common tradition, the perspectives and contacts of good religion can be a valuable asset. But then, good religion should not be our only ally. Our allies are anyone who may be adversely affected by bad religion, and that includes very nearly everybody. We should encourage alliances with politicians, journalists, human rights advocates, popular writers, and anyone else who is willing to help.

Good religion is a particularly effective ally because creationists are scared to death of it. Creationists base everything on the message that they have the one true way to God. Every instance of a religious evolutionist calls that message into question (and exposes creationists as damned liars when they equate evolution with atheism). In Scientific Creationism, Henry Morris spends most of the book arguing against science, but his real vitriol is reserved for the section where he complains about other religious views.

Some people think religion cannot be rational and thus cannot be a true ally in science teaching. To them, I will point out that the irrationality they see, even though it may exist more than you like in good religion too, is not an essential part of religion. People can and do practice religion rationally. Others among the religious may object to working with atheists. To them, I suggest that they are approaching the criterion for joining bad religion. More generally, if you cannot cooperate with other decent people, the problem is not with the other people.

The issues here are far more complex than one can cover in one thread. I believe they should at least be introduced, and I encourage people to think about them more.

Mark Isaak is a contributor to the TalkOrigins Archive.

386 Comments

How do people whose faith is a “good religion” get that religion to begin with? Why, it was imposed on them uninvited. They were too young to know what was being done unto them. Perhaps Mark Isaak has an age limit beyond which the inculcuation of a religious faith becomes “bad”? If so, he keeps it a secret here.

OK, now let’s say you have a religious faith. Does it provide you with anything you consider true and important? If it did not, it wouldn’t be a religion at all. Should you share what you have found with anyone else? Nope, can’t do that, that would make your religion “bad”, Isaak says so. Does your faith imply any way that the world around you might be improved? If it did not, it wouldn’t be a religion. Should you act on these implications? Nope, Isaak says this would make your religion “bad”.

So what Isaak is opposing here is any faith that goes beyond providing spiritual comfort to those who had it imposed on them young enough to pass Isaak’s muster, and insists on being extroverted, trying to actively inspire other people and improve the world.

Please understand, I’d be overjoyed if we could even eliminate this weird age limit, and let people evolve their own personal (non-prosletyzing, of course) religion when they’re old enough to dream one up. Beyond that, I’m sure I’d be more comfortable if we could eliminate religions whose followers lack the good manners to mind their own business (“bad” religions).

But I suspect that Isaak’s problem goes a bit deeper than this. Religion doesn’t provide the motivation to meddle with other peoples’ lives, it only provides the pretext. Surely the world provides enough examples of people seeking control and influence, for any reason or none, to see that “bad” religion doesn’t create the desire to meddle, it only channels it.

And what’s “bad” isn’t even the desire to change peoples’ behaviors or beliefs; the whole advertising industry is dedicated to that, as is the political system. What probably bothers Isaak is when responsible adults don’t consider themselves properly included in the decision-making process.

A suggestion: The book “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris should be required reading for all. It’s just a plain ol’ fun read, and well-written to boot, with some pretty pithy stuff in it. Stuff like:

The only reason anyone is “moderate” in matters of faith these days is that he has assimilated some of the fruits of the last two thousand years of human thought (democratic politics, scientific advancement on every front, concern for human rights, an end to cultural and geographic isolation, etc.). The doors leading out of scriptural literalism do not open from the inside. The moderation we see among nonfundamentalists is not some sign that faith itself has evolved; it is, rather, the product of the many hammer blows of modernity that have exposed certain tenets of faith to doubt. Not the least among these developments has been the emergence of our tendency to value evidence and to be convinced by a proposition to the degree that there is evidence for it. Even most fundamentalists live by the lights of reason in this regard; it is just that their minds seem to have been partitioned to accommodate the profligate truth claims of their faith. Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever. - Sam Harris, “The End of Faith”

Gotta love it.

He even quotes one of my personal favorites, copied out and saved into my quote file years ago whilst reading “The Age of Faith” by Will Durant:

Intolerance is the natural concomitant of strong faith; tolerance grows only when faith loses certainty; certainty is murderous.…Compared with the persecution of heresy in Europe from 1227 to 1492, the persecution of Christians by the Romans in the first three centuries after Christ was a mild and humane procedure. Making every allowance required of an historian and permitted to a Christian, we must rank the Inquisition, along with the wars and persecutions of our time, as among the darkest blots on the record of mankind, revealing a ferocity unknown in any beast.

Will Durant, The Age of Faith, p. 784

From that I would toss out the first sentence of Will Durant as being the most important to the discussion of “bad” religion, and for a reason why fundamentalism and intolerance seem to go hand in hand. And why science, which has such a systematic and rational way for dealing with uncertainty, is so threatening to it.

And off we go…

Is a “good” belief that I’m suffering a medical emergency and require immediate assistance only a “good” belief I apply the Golden Rule and do not, uninvited, attempts to impose this belief on another? How about the belief that genocide is being committed in Darfur – is that one acceptable if and only if I don’t get too preachy about it?

This is weak special pleading. A belief is good or bad depending on whether it is true or false. Or is the author prepared to say that all Abrahamic monotheisms are “bad” religions because God explicitly and unambiguously and unmistakeably declares that religious belief is and ought to be forced upon all people after death for all eternity?

This argument, as I understand it, is that bad religions are intolerant of other beliefs, and by inference good religions comfortably coexist with non-believers. The problem is that the argument begs the question - tolerance is one of the issues in dispute.

My understanding of creationist arguments is that creationists are not willing to endure evolutionist beliefs, and feel a moral obligation to eliminate what they feel are immoral beliefs that prevent people of attaining heavenly reward. Tolerance is not important to the debate - if evolution is an immoral belief then toleration is a vice, while if evolution is not an immoral belief then toleration isn’t required. As Jamie Whyte notes in “Crimes Against Logic” everyone favors tolerance - but only of what should be tolerated.

My feeling is that the essential conflict is between naturalistic epistemology and authoritarianism, i.e. whether knowledge is derived by empirical methods such as the scientific method, or whether knowledge is derived by interpreting an authority such as God or the Bible. Those belief systems I think of as religions are unequivocally authoritarian, so I am not as sanguine as the author about the reconciliation of science and religion.

I do not see this as a matter of education - there are a lot of really bright and educated creationists (although I do not think Dembski is one of them). These people actually do understand the technical details of evolution, but they still reject the notion, usually for reasons of epistemology in my experience.

Already I admit I’m fascinated.

I see this issue as being one of power, with religion only a vehicle for achieving and applying power. hiero5ant sees it as a matter of correctness, whether the teachings are objectively accurate. Doug Jones frames the issue in terms of process - whether the belief is determined empirically or by received wisdom - whether or not it is true, and whether or not the results are imposed unilaterally.

Flint,

Parents need not impose religion on their kids, any more than they must impose a profession or political party. True, many do, but most people are aware that it is wrong to do so.

You can share beliefs and values without imposing them. For example: I like Gilbert & Sullivan. There, I just shared a value, and you didn’t have to listen to a note. Religion can be shared the same way. I have no idea where you got the idea that religion requires one improve the world around them. It’s not part of any definition I have ever seen.

I agree that much religion encourages meddling. But unwelcome meddling is bad. So a religion that encourages something bad is a bad religion. Is that so hard to grasp?

hiero5ant Wrote:

Is a “good” belief that I’m suffering a medical emergency and require immediate assistance only a “good” belief I apply the Golden Rule and do not, uninvited, attempts to impose this belief on another?

Hm. Let’s look at this one closely.

Would you consider “my leg is broken” a religious proposition?

Come to think of it, is it a belief? You could use objective evidence to plead the case of a leg being broken, such as bones sticking out of your knee. Other indicators of a broken leg, such as “I am in intense pain”, might be harder to prove to others, but I’m not exactly sure they count as beliefs.

On the other hand, if someone goes to the doctor, the doctor X-rays them and finds that their leg is just fine, and the patient continues to state a belief that their leg is broken, that would probably be just a belief. And we probably wouldn’t take them all that seriously on that count.

On the other other hand, let’s say that the medical emergency you’re suffering which requires immediate assistance, is that your body is full of Thetans. That would be a religious proposition, a belief, and might even be something we could perhaps reasonably ask not be imposed on others.

Just saying.

Parents need not impose religion on their kids

Ah, but they DO need to if they’re CERTAIN their religion is correct. If you were CERTAIN that there was a Heaven and a Hell and that the only thing between your children, and Hell was correct belief, you’d be ramming it down their throat for the good of their immortal souls. Judging by how many people do that very thing, you can hardly say they are aware that force-feeding religion is wrong. It ISN’T wrong in their minds at all. And therein lies the problem to MY mind.

I go back to the REASONS bad religions - ie, intolerant-ram-it-down-your-throat religions, are the way they are. Like the blind men and the elephant we can go all day about what constitutes a bad religion. I would say its every bit as important, and probably MORE more important to understand WHY they are that way. I think it is because religion in general allows one to schizophrenically hold essentially irrational propositions as CERTAINTIES, even while the rest of the time one must bow to things like gravity.

Part of the reason is simply because bad religion attracts zealots

I would also put forth that not only does bad religion attract zealots, it MAKES zealots. It is attracting those who have an aversion to making sense of the world on their own, (a process that requires quite a bit of interior work and thought to be done well) - those who have trouble dealing with ambiguity and shades of gray. It appeals to those who crave certainty and who desperately want to be TOLD what to think. And THAT is a problem I don’t think anyone has an effective way to address. Only being allowed and encouraged from birth to think one’s own thoughts, no matter what those are, and not being slapped down for it or told that you will go to hell, will alleviate that to some degree. But even then, there will always be those who would rather be TOLD what to believe and won’t be able to be good without the threat of hell, or reincarnation as a beetle, or somesuch. It also tells you that you are part of an “in” group, and that the rest of the people can be disdained or in many cases even killed, with the approval of the deity. So…it’s appealing to our laziness, fear, and wish to be special and above others. A lethal combination most of the time.

For the record, I live in Oklahoma. You may live in a similar place, but I can guarantee you, there may be places AS Bible “buckle-y” as here, but not many, and none more. My experiences with Christian fundamentalism are personal and visceral, although fortunately always as a perplexed outsider - I at least had that going for me. (Love ya Mom!!) Virtually all my friends come from that background, either currently or in the past. For those of you not from this part of the country, I assure you it’s very different from most others, religiously speaking. It permeates EVERYTHING. Government offices, businesses, (I just love the “Jesus is Lord Pawnshop” here), football games, everything.

I, for one, while considering religion the source of much of the misery in this world, can see the worthiness of the religious impetus as a positve force. In my own case, it is the music that is the source of whatever spiritual life I have. As a physicist with an early career applied to cosmology, I can’t help thinking about first causes (I am deathly afraid of this possibly being a closed universe), but I cannot abide the idea of a personal God, Who listens attentively and says, ‘Yessuh, Massuh’, whenever you pray. That I think is the ultimate expression of presumption, and probably the defining characteristic of ‘bad religion’. No one who knows beyond doubt that they are right can be. On the other hand, I could see my parents and grandparents seeking out religious comfort as they reached the ends of their lives, and I may be no different. I may not believe in God, but I hope to hell that He believes in me.

Now, this sort of confessionalism aside, the problem with ‘bad religion’ is its inability to doubt, its insecurity in its own faith that is too fragile to tolerate a polite conversation about faith and ‘truth’. It is very difficult to reach people who are afraid. To tell you the truth, I am sympathetic with the sincere bad-religionists (as I am not with their leader-exploiters), and expect that, if they were comfortable with thinking without someone looking over their shoulders, some progress toward understanding could be achieved.

I think that Mark has opened a very important topic, that probably is the real elephant in the room. No one seems to have addressed it directly, and from the rationalist viewpoint, there is just the exasperation with rather ignorant attacks on science that lead to patronizing the ‘bad-religionists’. Which leads to ever increasing animosity between the two sides. THere is no solution until the authoritarianism of much organized religion is put aside. Fat chance of that, but let’s give a heartfelt cheer for the American Episcopal Church and its newest (female) bishop, who started out her career as an oceanographer. Remarkable lady. It’s not quite hopeless, really.

Any religion or philosophy which includes a concept of faith, and deems faith to be a virtue, I consider to be a bad religion.

And what I mean by “faith” is very precise: faith is believing something to a degree of certainty which exceeds that warranted by the available evidence.

The “faithful” will hem and haw and dodge and weave, and generally equivocate like crazy around the word “faith” precisely in order to attempt to avoid this definition of faith which no sane person would consider to be a virtue, but at the bottom of it all, this is the precise defintion of faith of which they are all victims.

To vjb, about your entire post in general and this in particular:

It is very difficult to reach people who are afraid.

Word.

Doug Jones Wrote:

My understanding of creationist arguments is that creationists are not willing to endure evolutionist beliefs, and feel a moral obligation to eliminate what they feel are immoral beliefs that prevent people of attaining heavenly reward. Tolerance is not important to the debate - if evolution is an immoral belief then toleration is a vice, while if evolution is not an immoral belief then toleration isn’t required. As Jamie Whyte notes in “Crimes Against Logic” everyone favors tolerance - but only of what should be tolerated.

I agree with most of this. What I am arguing is that we should make it loud and clear that the creationists’ attitude towards tolerance (or lack thereof) is completely unjustafiable. If they said, “I like broccoli, so therefore by God you are going to eat broccoli, too,” we could see how cruel their attitude is. But creationists say just that, except subtituting broccoli with the age of the earth, the evidence about evolution, etc. This goes directly against the Golden Rule. Creationists’ behavior is based on the complete rejection of one of the most important teachings of the Bible. (And I can’t resist saying, if they admit by their actions that that part of the Bible is wrong, why accept any of it?)

Except the analogy above is not quite accurate. Really, what creationists say is more like, “God likes broccoli, so therefore…” (i.e., your point about authoritarianism). But this just shows that they have a hard time telling the difference between themselves and God. At the very least, it shows incredible hubis in its implicit assumption that God never communicates to the people they are arguing with. And it doesn’t change the argument at all because the claim really boils down to, “I like a view of God in which God likes broccoli, so therefore you will eat broccoli.” It’s a matter of basic decency not to treat people like that.

Mark Isaak:

OK, I’m fairly certain we have a sincere disagreement here, but I’ll try to clarify it anyway.

Parents need not impose religion on their kids, any more than they must impose a profession or political party. True, many do, but most people are aware that it is wrong to do so. You can share beliefs and values without imposing them. Not with very young children. They are not yet ready to be told “Here is what I believe, but you are free to believe differently.” And my notion of religion is, it’s something you sincerely believe to be true. It’s not some kind of artificial affectation you can put on or take off as the occasion requires. You believe it, you live it, you take it as Truth. You cannot help imposing this. It permeates your interaction with your children.

For example: I like Gilbert & Sullivan. There, I just shared a value, and you didn’t have to listen to a note. Religion can be shared the same way. I simply don’t think so. A complex set of superstructures embodying your basic value system, what you KNOW is right and wrong, isn’t as superficial as a taste in operattas. I can assure you that I can attend religious services, listen to sermons, read scripture nonstop for years on end, and I will not adopt that faith. At best, I’ll be equipped to fake it. Religion can NOT be shared the same way as Gilbert and Sullivan. It is qualitatively very different, deeply and usually inextricably internalized, almost always extremely early in life.

I have no idea where you got the idea that religion requires one improve the world around them. It’s not part of any definition I have ever seen. I regard this as so trivially true that explaining it is an interesting challenge. Religion is a set of values - how people OUGHT to behave, what things are true and why. It tells you the proper way to live your life. So I didn’t say that it “requires you to improve the world around you”, I wrote (you can check on this very thread) that it “implies ways that the world around you might be improved.” Then I asked, should you ACT on these implications? Even behaving according to the precepts of your faith *by definition* makes the world a better place - at least, by the definition provided by your faith. The most virulent religions, I agree, define “right behavior” as spreading the good word.

I agree that much religion encourages meddling. But unwelcome meddling is bad. So a religion that encourages something bad is a bad religion. Is that so hard to grasp? No, it’s not hard to grasp. We should all be as tolerant as we can, we should mind our own business as much as we can, we should all take the golden rule to heart and follow it to the best of our ability and understanding. And if we do all these things, we’ve come as close to not having or following any known religion as is humanly possible. Either that, or I have just espoused the One True Religion.

If you were CERTAIN that there was a Heaven and a Hell and that the only thing between your children, and Hell was correct belief, you’d be ramming it down their throat for the good of their immortal souls. Judging by how many people do that very thing, you can hardly say they are aware that force-feeding religion is wrong. It ISN’T wrong in their minds at all.

Bad religion tugs on the most primal darwinistic survival instincts in all of us, and is therefore an immensely powerful tool for those who understand how to use it.

Bad religion tugs on the most primal darwinistic survival instincts in all of us, and is therefore an immensely powerful tool for those who understand how to use it.

What primal darwinistic survival instinct are you referring to? Where exactly were you going with that? I’m truly curious. You left me hanging.… :)

K

Bad religion tugs on the most primal darwinistic survival instincts in all of us, and is therefore an immensely powerful tool for those who understand how to use it.

What primal darwinistic survival instinct are you referring to? Where exactly were you going with that? I’m truly curious. You left me hanging.… :)

Life and death. Immortality vs eternal suffering. The same darwinsitic survival instinct that is present in all animals, including us. Their is no stronger mental hook you can use to control someone. I wonder how many fundamentist christians there would there be if their religion didn’t promise them immortality? Maybe five? It’s actually a very selfish thing, when you think about it. Nevertheless, it’s the hook that cohesively unites them, and forces them to take their religion so seriously. It compels them to go around knocking on their neighbor’s doors, and makes preposterous things seem credible.

Steve Wrote:

And what I mean by “faith” is very precise: faith is believing something to a degree of certainty which exceeds that warranted by the available evidence.

As a person of faith, I can say that you defined faith precisely and accurately. Another word for it is “trust”. But either way, the magnitude of it far exceeds the physical verifiable evidence.

JeffW -

Not sure I would call it a darwinistic survival instinct. I think it’s more correctly identified as a flavor of fear. Fear of death is unique to us humans, (as far as we know anyway) as is contemplation of our own demise. So yes, fear is a great motivator. Neat how concepts like immortality or eternal suffering can motivate so strongly when there is no real evidence of either. Talk about yanking yourself up by your own bootstraps…

Steve Wrote:

Any religion or philosophy which includes a concept of faith, and deems faith to be a virtue, I consider to be a bad religion.

And what I mean by “faith” is very precise: faith is believing something to a degree of certainty which exceeds that warranted by the available evidence.

More and more I find myself agreeing with this.

And I’m sorry, Mr. Isaak, but it seems to me if you begin with these faith-based beliefs about the nature of reality, the only logical, rational course is to make evangelization the absolute top priority. If you honestly believe that after your pitifully short existence on this earth you are going to be eternally consigned to a fate characterized by extreme pain or extreme bliss based on some choice you made while on this earth, then it makes perfect sense that you would subordinate ALL temporal values to evangelization. Fuck truth, fairness, justice, peace, love, understanding, compassion, respect, equality, honor, warmth, puppy dogs or youthful innocence - the only thing that really matters in this life is what arrangements you’ve made for your “real” life which begins sometime after you “die” and then lasts forever. Your eternal life.

Take any number - 78…86…90…104 - and divide it by eternity, and what do you get? You get nothing. That is the only logical value of this worldly existence within the Christian cosmology. There is no value to this life beyond how it can affect your eternal life.

If you accept the cosmology of Christianity, then you’re being logically inconsistent if you place any value above that of evangelization. The only logical religion is bad religion.

Karen wrote

Ah, but they DO need to if they’re CERTAIN their religion is correct. If you were CERTAIN that there was a Heaven and a Hell and that the only thing between your children, and Hell was correct belief, you’d be ramming it down their throat for the good of their immortal souls. Judging by how many people do that very thing, you can hardly say they are aware that force-feeding religion is wrong. It ISN’T wrong in their minds at all. And therein lies the problem to MY mind.

See my piece two years ago on parents’ fear of evolution here on PT.

I am beginning to understand that the core motivation driving the supporters of such proposals is fear. Not fear for themselves — they are too strong in their faith to be corrupted by evolutionary science. It is fear for their children and in particular, fear for their children’s souls.

RBH

If you accept the cosmology of Christianity, then you’re being logically inconsistent if you place any value above that of evangelization. The only logical religion is bad religion.

Yessiree bob! And if you look at the main swath of the history of Christendom, you’ll see that by that definition, Christianity has, until relatively recently, been quite internally consistent in that regard. A “bad religion” if you will. In light of pograms, forced conversions, crusades, witchhunts, official scriptural support from the pulpit of slavery, and a notable sin of omission/spinelessness regarding the Holocaust, let’s just say that tolerance hasn’t exactly been a core tenet of the faith…

when Man evolved to the point that he became aware of his own existance, he also became aware of his mortality, that he will die. A means to live beyond life became necessay as the fear of dying approached. Wala, the first religion

When this afterlife does arrive, what will it be like, what kind of job will you have, or will there even be a choice or will you merely be a lapdog for god. The radical Islamist has it easy, all he has to do is satisfy 72 virgins (without a body).

I would say that any religion that doesn’t provide details of what to expect for “everlasting life” is Bad.

Is therea job application for heaven?

If true religion involves a humble and grateful acknowledgement of ones own utter dependency upon the loving creator of the Universe, and an acknowledgement that one’s fellow creatures are equally loved and cherished by that creator, then the hubris which so often appears in bad religion has the foundations knocked out from under it.The evidence that we are creatures of a benign creator may - or may not - be discerned from what is generally called ‘natural theology’. But most religions also involve a claim to ‘special revelation’. This is where the problems often arise, with exclusive claims being name on behalf of the Torah, the New Testament or the Koran. For Christians, though, the revelation is not a book, but a Person - Jesus Christ. And if true religon involves a relationship with him, then it should not seek to disparage or belittle that which is genuinely good in all other spheres of life, including good science. We all know there is bad science (Lysenkoism, for example) as well as bad religion. I greatly value and applaud the work being done by those deeply embedded in both good religion and good science, like Fr. Robert Spitzer of Gonzaga University. There are the most wonderful resourses available on the net to help those who are perplexed about these matters, and it is good to have such remarkable evidence that one can indeed be a scientist of complete integrity and a humble follower of the one who summed up our religious duty as being to Love the Lord our God with our whole heart and mind, and our neighbour as ourself.

RBH -

Yeah, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time and energy over the years contemplating and analyzing the religious impulse and the fundamentalist mindset. A hazard of my natural bent, and where I live I guess. I’ve always found it fascinating.

A few years ago a church I used to go to - the most (only really) liberal Christian church in OKC, Mayflower Congrational, had a public debate addressing Oklahoma’s then attempt to put an evolution disclaimer on the inside covers of biology texts. On the panel was a science teacher, a local biology prof, and the guy who authored the bill trying to get the label affixed.

Long story short, the audience had been loaded with local highschool students from fundamentalist churches, who promptly went on the attack when the question and answer session began. They lined up in droves to attack the biologist with scripture. But the one I remember most clearly was one young man who got up and rather defensively said something to the effect that “I want to be a scientist but I’m afraid that the theory of evolution will eventually destroy my faith.” It was very sad. But out of the mouths of babes, tis said.…

So yeah, fear is the prime motivator here, for sure.

And thanks. Will definitely read your article. :)

Re: Is there a job application for Heaven?

Maybe these guys got it right :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afterlife_%28game%29

I think we need a clarifying definition here. I propose:

Impose (v. tr.): to evangelise a position in a fashion involving sanctions or threat of sanctions if the evangelism is not accepted

So telling kids “Jesus loves you” wouldn’t be bad in this sense, but telling kids “believe in God or you’ll get my belt buckle to your arse” would be. Telling kids “believe in God or you’ll burn forever” is extremely borderline - a valid argument could be made that this threat is only meaningful if you already believe in the religion, but it’s debatable as to whether kids would be sophisticated enough to recognise this. Needs further debate.

One point that a couple of people have raised is that, if these “bad” religions were actually true, the aggressive proselytising would actually be beneficial, and calling it “bad” would therefore be somewhat oxymoronic. There’s two responses to this. Firstly, it’s extremely questionable as to whether sanctions can ever actually encourage people to believe in a religion, or whether they just encourage the pretense thereof. Thus, even according to the precepts of most of these religions, such enforcement is relatively pointless.

Secondly, and more philosophically, the question of whether a moral system is “good” when viewed from the inside is essentially meaningless. It’s actually logically invalid for Christians (to pick a religion at random) to say that Christian morality is good. The question of whether a moral system is “good” or “bad” only actually makes sense from an external point of view, and hence it’s valid to primarily think about how someone outside the moral system would regard it. The Golden Rule of reciprocity can therefore be applied regardless of the claims of any given moral system.

(P.S. This all made sense when it was inside my head. I suspect it’s suffered in translation - please yell at me if I’m giving you a headache.)

So much thought and so little time to write. Oh well.

I’m going to go with a variation of Lenny Flank’s religious opinion question, and what has been hit on already by several of you, such as Corkscrew above.

Find an adherent of, and who is actually practicing, what you have decided is ‘bad’ religion. Ask them to define what they think a ‘bad’ religion is.

Now, whose opinion is right?

No matter what, this will always, ultimately boil down to an application of power (of the Nietzschean, will to power, variety, either through politics or violence) to settle.

Sincerely, Paul

PS (Obviously, our society, in this country, is presently in a ‘settle the problem politically’ stage. May it always be thusly so.)

Find an adherent of, and who is actually practicing, what you have decided is ‘bad’ religion. Ask them to define what they think a ‘bad’ religion is.

Now, whose opinion is right?

Fortunately, we have another tool: whose opinion is most consistent. That’s why I mentioned the Golden Rule - it’s one of the few consistent ways of thinking about interpersonal relationships.

(By “consistent” I mean lacking in special pleading - if it’s OK for you to do something to me, it’s OK for me to do it right back to you)

So after you’ve asked your religious adherent what they think is acceptable behaviour for an adherent to their religion confronted with, say, an adherent to another religion, ask them how they’d feel if that behaviour was applied to them. If their reaction would be negative, their approach is therefore inconsistent and can thus be reasonably considered to be “bad”, even inside their moral system.

Thanks for your essay. I’ll be directing many of my ‘moderately religious’ friends, all of whom practice what you call good religion, to it. I think you’ve laid out a clear way to view the issue.

You say…

“Religion, after all, is common to all cultures and has been around many millennia longer than science has. It is not going away any time soon. Nor should it, when it serves people’s needs. Since bad religion and good religion share a common tradition…”

What I would say, and do say to my religious friends, is that the two are really the same pursuit, and likely share a common ancestor in our first curious, meaning-generating predecessor. We human beings look around us and ask why. We observe the world, and we draw cause and effect conclusions based on the information to hand. I think of religion as having taken one evolutionary path and science another: Religion looks for answers in intuition and utilizes magical thinking. Science looks for natural, material causes using observation, correlation and the scientific method. I also tend to think that religion’s evolutionary path is ultimately a dead-end – clearly malaladapted to the modern world.

I agree that a “bad religion” uses fear to force compliance. Teaching children that “Jesus loves you” and “try to live your life by His teachings” is okay, but using Hell and the Devil to scare children into behaving is a form of child abuse, in my opinion. After working with teens for 20+ years I have no use for shame either, as kids will feel guilty if they have a conscience and they will not if they are those rare individuals without a conscience (sociopath). Berating them and trying to use shame as a punishment (or public humiliation, which is far worse) is both cruel and ineffective. Using reason and an appeal to their developing adult values, reaching out with firm love and approval for who they are in spite of their mistakes, and letting them suffer appropriate punishments for those mistakes will hopefully teach them to treat others and themselves with respect and care.

The Buddhists reject suicide because it is just another act motivated by ignorance and blind desire.

No more or less than meditating to end attachment. If suicide is motivated by the desire to end attachment, then it’s the same desire, blind or not, to meditate. But suicide, like any act, can have multiple motivations, so if “Buddhists” claim this then “Buddhists” are fools. But I doubt that every Buddhist is so dumb as to not recognize that someone might be motivated to commit suicide by a desire, for instance, to end immense unavoidable pain.

but you don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize that there is something morally problematic about killing yourself

Whether it’s “morally problematic” is moot, since no one here recommended suicide. But the argument you offer is ridiculous and blatantly intellectually dishonest, since it is universally recognized that acting against one’s own interests may be foolish but it isn’t immoral.

Sorry for interjecting a comment that isn’t obviously part of flame war.

What a twit.

Jim Harrison wrote:

While I do think that suicide is morally problematic, I haven’t yet figured out how to turn a buck out of my opinion.

Then you need to study the lives of people like L. Ron Hubbard and Joseph Smith. L. Ron Hubbard told some other science fiction writers, who were writing for pennies a word, that the best way to get rich would be to create your own religion – and that’s exactly what he did and then he did indeed get quite rich, just as he said he would.

This might be a help if you want to create your own religion: http://www.clambake.org/archive/boo[…]bfmconte.htm

…they do in fact oppose suicide for the reasons I stated above. You can look it up in the Pali canon and umpteen Mahayanist sutras.

Ummm… my question was: “And who decides what is motivated by ignorance and blind desire versus what is motivated by wisdom and informed desire? Is there any way to tell, or do you just accept what some authority figure tells you?”

Your answer seems to be “authority figure” and not rational method. Or, are the Pali canon and umpteen Mahayanist sutras you note works of logic and reasoned argument like Darwin’s “Origin of Species”?

The fact that the doctrines of Buddhism or Christianity are based on highly dubious assumptions doesn’t mean that all the ideas of Buddhists or Christians are absurd or valueless.

I never said they were all absurd or valueless. And I think L. Ron Hubbard had a few good ideas too. Actually, he might have created a religion that will outlive Christianity and Buddhism. Scientology is still growing.

Just as one can learn a lot about history from the Marxists without being a Marxist, one can learn a great deal from the Buddhists or the Christians without believing in rebirth or the ressurection or any other dogma of those faiths.

And one might learn a lot from L. Ron Hubbard too.

The Pali canon and Mahayana sutras are not offered because they authoritatively establish the morality or immorality of suicide. I’m not a Buddhist. They aren’t scripture for me. They are very good evidence of what the Buddhists have had to say about suicide, however. Which is why I cited ‘em.

Steviepinhead:

Jim Harrison:

…a theologian or pandit

While I’ve not previously heard of this creature or profession, it certainly seems site-appropriate: a panda with a yen for forbidden stalks?

Clearly, a pandit is any regular contributor to this blog. Especially one who thinks s/he is cleverer that s/he really is.

I am the author of a new book, The First Scientific Proof of God.’ I teach and expand this book on http://georgeshollenberger.blogspot.com/. Your subject and this article are important because I show the single religion of the future. So, religions can now be compared and classified with the perfect religion. I also show why people have become divided on the subject of religion

George Shollenberger wrote:

I am the author of a new book, The First Scientific Proof of God.’

Take it here: http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bi[…]?act=SF;f=14

This thread will soon be shelved.

fnxtr:

Especially one who thinks s/he is cleverer that s/he really is.

While I’m not sure one was really needed, you have now furnished a succinct and reasonably-accurate definition of (at least one sub-species of) pinhead.

And yet there are those who still dare to claim that nothing is really accomplished on threads like this!

I am the author of a new book, The First Scientific Proof of God.’

Here’s an example of ol’ George’s “scientific” reasoning:

Currently, the US economy is inconsistent with this teachings of Jesus Christ and my scientific proof of God. How did the US economy become inconsistent with God? I can explain this inconsistency. The US government began as a government of believing people, by believing people, and for believing people. This beginning is confirmed by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions of all of the States. However, in time, the US government transformed itself into a government of, by, and for both believers and nonbelievers. This illegal transformation was made possible by the US Supreme Court because it (1) does not consider the US Declaration of Independence as a ‘law of the USA’ and (2) separates State and God. This illegal transformation has led to a laissez-faire US economy, which is inconsistent with God.

Ah, good ol’ George–what can I say?

Some have drifted farther into pinheadedness than is good for them. And some of those have now gone so far beyond that fuzzy-but-remorseless boundary that they’ll never drift back. The very tip of the pin acts something like a singularity, it seems.

Which seems not to stop these lost ones from gesticulating, tossing off the odd message in a bottle, and engaging in other futile behaviors.

The Pali canon and Mahayana sutras are not offered because they authoritatively establish the morality or immorality of suicide. I’m not a Buddhist. They aren’t scripture for me. They are very good evidence of what the Buddhists have had to say about suicide, however. Which is why I cited ‘em.

You actually cited them as authorities on suicide, but you’re apparently too intellectually dishonest to realize it – “The Buddhists reject suicide because it is just another act motivated by ignorance and blind desire” states their reason as if it were fact. “you don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize …” – as if being a Buddhist in and of itself gives one the power to recognize what is morally problematic. We weren’t discussing what Buddhists say about suicide, but rather suicide as a means of ending “the desire and turmoil”. What Buddhists say about it isn’t relevant, unless you think it has merit and present it for the sake of its merit. And your subsequent comments about “morally problematic”, referring to yet authority – a psychologist, wow, how impressive (except he wasn’t one, he was a psychiatrist) – further indicate that as your intent. “suicide requires somebody who wants to die and somebody who wants to kill” – oh, that’s brilliant question begging, when the morality of an act hinges upon whether the one whose interests are hurt is oneself or “somebody” else. And Dr. Menninger did not, as far as I can tell, make that statement with the intent of passing a judgment on suicide as being “morally problematic” – that was your own silly addition to your mined quote.

Beats me how to deal with unmotivated hostility. I don’t recall having picked a fight with anybody, and in any case I don’t care who wins the arguments in these parts. After all, there’s small glory in outstripping donkeys, a sentiment we can perhaps agree upon even if we differ on which one is the donkey.

A bit more on the argument from authority: Since no one here is an author of the Pali canon or the Mahayana sutras, the views of the authors are utterly irrelevant. The relevance they might have is if they were being offered as what other Buddhists should believe or accept – and why would anyone do that unless they considered the canon and sutras as authorities on what other (than those authors) Buddhists should believe? (A possible answer – they are too dimwitted to think through and understand the implications of what they write.) And even then it would be irrelevant here, because no one here is a Buddhist … certainly not that sort of Buddhist, who aligns their own beliefs with what is stated in canons, sutras, or other “gospel”. Karen, in particular, started off here quoting approvingly from Sam Harris’s “End of Faith”, and throughout expressed her criticism and disapproval of dogma. Her specific comments about Buddhist practices were quite cautious: “the emphasis in Buddhism as I understand it”, “according to Wilbur, from what I can recall”, “although I know Wilbur is hardly the first or last word on Buddhism”. And on her view of Buddhism and belief (and thus arguments from authority): “Belief is irrelevant to them for the most part. They have some, to be sure, but those beliefs are considered ephemeral, being a construct of mind, and should always take a backseat to practice.”, “Buddhism does not REQUIRE you to BELIEVE anything.” Whether or not she’s correct, that’s her view of it, so its unlikely that she would give much credence to an argument merely because it appears in Buddhist canons.

BTW, this statement of hers was certainly prescient:

What theory guides the practice? Ah, read some stuff Norm. If I do much more you²re just going to get the wrong idea and immediately try to refute it.

Beats me how to deal with unmotivated hostility.

You might try responding to the content … what a novel thought. But apparently you are in the habit of throwing out stupid, fallacious, and dishonest claims and not having them challenged or identified for what they are. My hostility toward intellectual dishonesty is hardly “unmotivated”.

Some Christian Nationalist who cares little about truth. Wrote:

The US government began as a government of believing people, by believing people, and for believing people.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

Thomas Jefferson: In a letter to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787, he wrote, “Question with boldness even the existence of a god.” In a letter to Ezra Stiles Ely, 25 June 1819, he wrote, “You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.”

Yes, and he wrote his own Bible for his sect of one in which he denied the divinity of Jesus.

John Adams: “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. … It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”

or “… Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”

James Madison: “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

“What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.”

Benjamin Franklin: “… Some books against Deism fell into my hands… It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a through Deist.”

In an essay on “Toleration,” Franklin wrote:

“If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. These found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here [England] and in New England.”

Thomas Paine: “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my church. “

“Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. “

Jefferson on the Establishment Clause:

Thomas Jefferson interpreted the 1st Amendment in his famous letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in January 1, 1802:

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

James Madison on The Establishment Clause: “And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

And years later as observed by de Tocqueville:

“They all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet a single individual, of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point”

-Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835

Chiefley on The Establishment Clause: The roots of our Constitution is based in Common Law that predates Christianity’s influence on law, and also on subsequent Enlightenment principles which favor empiricism. Ironically, in adhering to these principles, the US has become the most religous nation, and the most religiously diverse nation on the planet.

Anyone who wants to criticize The Establishment Clause has a perfect right to do so, but they should keep in mind that in so doing, they become an enemy of liberty. Why do these people hate America so much?

The lie that America is founded upon Judeo-Christian principles is one of the most egregious pieces of crap ever to be propagnadised upon the American public.

I am British, and in our short syllabus on American history we learned repeatedly that the major difference between American and European governments of the time was its insistence upon the values of the Enlightenment - namely that government should be seperate from whatever religious ideology may be dominant in the country at the time, and that it should not represent a certain class or ideological element but simply be a force for regulation of whatever exists thrrough free will. The seperation of church and state was a truly revolutionary development, and it saddens me immensely that America has regressed from such a foresighted standpoint to one of religious fundamentalism and irrationality.

America was once called the beacon of hope in a world of darkness. Now it seems to me that that beacon has been extinguished at the same time as torch fires of rationality are created all across Europe and thinking societies everywhere. What a terrible loss for not only Americans, but all of us.

P.S. Even the irrelevant claims as to what the Pali canon says about suicide are wrong; see, e.g., http://urbandharma.org/udharma/suicide.html

Various attempts, for the most part along similar lines, have been made to explain why suicide is prohibited for the unenlightened but permitted for the enlightened. In 1965 Lamotte wrote:

The desperate person who takes his own life obviously aspires to annihilation: his suicide, instigated by desire, will not omit him from fruition, and he will have to partake of the fruit of his action. In the case of the ordinary man, suicide is a folly and does not achieve the intended aim.

This situation is compared with the suicide of an enlightened person:

In contrast, suicide is justified in the persons of the Noble Ones who have already cut off desire and by so doing neutralised their actions by making them incapable of producing further fruit. From the point of view of early Buddhism, suicide is a normal matter in the case of the Noble Ones who, having completed their work, sever their last link with the world and voluntarily pass into Nirvaa.na, thus definitively escaping from the world of rebirths (1965:106f).

So the Pali canon appears to hold that suicide is the ultimate form of detachment.

It’s difficult to argue with people who are so poorly informed of the most basic general facts of comparative religion. My comments on what the Buddhist tradition has to say about suicide are hardly controversial. If I’m begging the question, I’ve got an awful lot of company. Maybe the previous poster is just having a bad hair day, that is, he’s writing as if his hair were on fire.

Religions don’t have unchangable essences so that any generalization about them is liable to have exceptions. And if some Americans read a couple of paperbacks and decide they’re Buddhists, I won’t quarrel with that either even if what they identify as Buddhism differs in important ways from the beliefs and practices of Asians–that’s no affair of mine. That said, there’s lots of interesting stuff in the huge scholarly literature on how Americans and Europeans created their own versions of Buddhism.

Actually I should have said “According to the arguments of some Buddhist scholars, the Pali canon …”, since the author of that piece disagrees. But in the end it’s much as if I had pointed out something hypocritical in Christian behavior and someone who didn’t even believe in the bible themselves referred to the bible for justification.

Even in their own terms, religious fables are notoriously self-contradictory. Anyone who does take Buddhist dogma seriously has to deal with the fact that even the Buddha slit his own throat to become tiger food.

It’s difficult to argue with people who are so poorly informed of the most basic general facts of comparative religion.

I don’t have trouble arguing with people who are poorly informed. Perhaps it’s that you’re stupid, inept, and wrong.

My comments on what the Buddhist tradition has to say about suicide are hardly controversial.

And yet I just quoted an article that documents such a controversy.

If I’m begging the question, I’ve got an awful lot of company.

Yes, there are plenty of other fools.

Religions don’t have unchangable essences so that any generalization about them is liable to have exceptions. And if some Americans read a couple of paperbacks and decide they’re Buddhists, I won’t quarrel with that either even if what they identify as Buddhism differs in important ways from the beliefs and practices of Asians—that’s no affair of mine.

And yet you made it your affair by inanely referred to “the Pali canon and umpteen Mahayanist sutras” when the discussion of Buddhism here, to the degree there was any, was about Buddhism of the Ken Wilbur variety. And you did that as part of your own argument that suicide is “morally problematic” – something that, supposedly, “Buddhists” recognize – as if Buddhism had some “unchangable essence” by virtue of which all Buddhists necessarily believe exactly the same things.

“In the case of the ordinary man, suicide is a folly and does not achieve the intended aim.” Like I said. The logic of the Pali canon is pretty clear in re garden-variety suicide, which is what I assumed we were talking about. What the already enlightened do is another matter, although the underslying rationale is similar, i.e. the crucial thing is whether one acts out of ignorance and desire. One could also look at instances such as what Durkheim called altruistic suicide (martyrdom, for example) where the intention is also different.

I still don’t get what it is you don’t understand or what there is to disagree about.

I still don’t get what it is you don’t understand or what there is to disagree about.

That’s because you’re the sort of moron who thinks that consensus gentium, e.g., “If I’m begging the question, I’ve got an awful lot of company”, is a valid form of argument.

Beats me how to deal with unmotivated hostility.

Laugh at them.

That’s one thing I’ve long noticed about extremist ideologues, whether it’s Maoists or fundies or evangelical atheists. It’s pointless to respond and argue with them when they try to harangue you, since that only gives them the chance to do what they WANT to do – preach at you. But there is one thing they absolutely cannot tolerate and will not stand for — simply laugh at them. They will instantly get all bristly and start sputtering “Stop it! This is SERIOUS!!! This is a SERIOUS DISCUSSION !! It’s SERIOUS, I said!!!!” Then, once everyone is giggling and no one is paying any more attention to their preaching, they go away.

I don’t have trouble arguing with people who are poorly informed. Perhaps it’s that you’re stupid, inept, and wrong.

Still winning friends and influencing people, huh Puppy.

It sure must be awfully lonely, being the only guy in the world who’s smart, ept and correct.

(snicker) (giggle)

That said, there’s lots of interesting stuff in the huge scholarly literature on how Americans and Europeans created their own versions of Buddhism.

And I doubt many Buddhists would be bothered by that. ;>

Buddhism, particularly the Zen schools, are intensely individual. There simply is no “right” or “wrong” way to be Buddhist.

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This page contains a single entry by Guest Contributor published on July 9, 2006 6:48 PM.

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