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Atheism as Religion

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by Maverick667, May 9, 2007.

  1. bds

    bds Warlord

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    Incorrect, pagan is represented as a civic in civ and there is no logic in saying that no-state religion cannot represent a atheist government.
     
  2. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Super Moderator

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    mjs0, I don't want to get into this debate here, but the Galileo affair was not really one of science versus religion; it was more an internal dispute within Chrisitianity (Galileo was a perfectly sincere Christian, and the vast majority of scientists disagreed with him too). Galileo was condemned not for his heliocentrism per se but for disobeying an order of the pope. Now there's an interesting issue there of authoritarianism and so on but not really one of science and religion. He was also condemned for his claim to be able to interpret the Bible better than the church, and, perhaps most of all, for his insistence that his cosmology was a true description of how reality actually is, rather than a predictive model, which is how most philosophers and theologians of the time understood science. Galileo insisted that he could prove heliocentrism by his theory of the tides. The ironic thing here is that Galileo was wrong about the tides and wrong in his claim that he could prove heliocentrism; furthermore, modern scientists generally disagree with him on his model of science too. Today, science is normally understood as the construction of predictive models which are never more than hypotheses; this is exactly how the early modern church viewed it, too. The preface of Osiander that you mention wasn't some kind of cynical lip-service to prevailing orthodoxy - it was how people at that time understood the nature of cosmological speculation, and it is how very many people today do so, too.

    The other figures you name were also Christians; to suggest that they were all treading carefully to remain within the confines of dogma is, I think, anachronistic. You say that Tycho Brahe wasted his time trying to reconcile what he saw through the telescope with Catholic doctrine; but Brahe believed that doctrine. Why shouldn't he have tried to reconcile them? There was nothing particularly irrational about his theory, which was in fact quite a popular one in its day - note, in particular, that the church was happy to entertain various cosmological theories during that period, and did not actually spend its time doggedly defending geocentrism in the face of all evidence to the contrary. As a matter of fact, the Catholic Church played a major role in the study of astronomy in the early modern period, with figures such as Riccioli and others pioneering the careful observation of celestial bodies, and all those Jesuits travelling the world looking at eclipses. And indeed, once it became clear that heliocentrism was true, the Catholic Church changed its tune on the matter.

    My point was not that religion does not inhibit science; of course it does, sometimes, and the example of fundamentalists rejecting evolution (which, as of course you know, only a small minority of Christians do, at least in the western world) is one of those occasions. My point was that it does not do so all the time, and as a matter of historical fact, modern science was hugely influenced by a religious worldview. Whether modern science would have occurred without that religious worldview is unknowable. The notion that the two are basic enemies was an invention of late-nineteenth-century anti-religious propagandists - as was the claim that Galileo's case was (a) all about nasty authoritative religion versus free-thinking science, and (b) typical of the relations between the two. People such as William Draper or Andrew Dickson White basically looked at the row then raging over Darwinism and assume that that was how science and religion had always interacted. They re-interpreted the case of Galileo in that light, and then used these two figures - Galileo and Darwin - to argue that religion has always tried to suppress science. In fact, of course, modern scholarship has completely overturned this understanding of Galileo, although unfortunately popular opinion has not caught up with scholarship on this matter. Moreover, of course, even if their view of Galileo were correct, that would hardly prove anything about the rest of the history of religion and science, which is probably why they also devoted much time to arguing for the view that people in the Middle Ages thought the world was flat. Despite the almost complete falsity of their thesis, Draper, White, and their ilk managed to create possibly the most pervasive and successful myth of our times, and one which is perpetrated today by certain popular writers already mentioned in this thread, who are equally ignorant about history.
     
  3. sylvanllewelyn

    sylvanllewelyn Perma-newb

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    MODERATORS! Please stop this discussion before it becomes a flam war and non-civ related!!!

    Sorry, had to shout.

    From a real history standpoint, paganism and free religion are close enough to "atheism" already. This is because:

    - more than half the world population are not in any organized religion, or that their religious or spiritual beliefs are not strong enough to incur cultural or hapiness bonuses (hapiness in CIV is really a proxy for the organizational level of a nation).
    - there are very few people in the world today that do not have any religious or supernatural beliefs, so few, that they should not be the "eigth" religion or not, regardless of whether they actually should or not. This is purely from a gameplay point of view

    Atheism should replace free religion:
    - minus 1 hapiness per religion
    - all religious buildings cease to function (including shrines), and religions do not produce culture
    - negative diplomatic modifiers with anyone that adopts an official religion
    - may not adopt any official religion
    - +25% science output
     
  4. bds

    bds Warlord

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    LOL :lol:, you just shouted at the moderator that just posted directly before you :lol:
     
  5. gettingfat

    gettingfat Emperor

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    I really find it difficult to understand why so many posters here claim atheism something very close to free religion.

    Atheism, in my own understanding, is the belief of non-existence of gods or absence of belief of existence of gods. In a sense it is a religion by itself, or at least a belief system. Whereas free religions is a condition that permits others' religious beliefs and practices even they disagree with one's own. It's a state of open-mindedness.

    I don't understand why in the game if you take free religion you have to give up the state religion. In some sense the US right now has a semi-state religion, or else you won't see the "in god we trust" stuff on their coins, but it doesn't stop it from being a free religion state (at least in principle).

    An atheist state, like Mao's communist regime, does not necessarily exercise free religion. When atheism becomes extreme, it will actively exclude the conventional forms of religions. I don't see why atheism = free religion.
     
  6. mjs0

    mjs0 The 4th X

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    Plotinus,
    There is actually not much to debate as I concur with much of what you say. I do not buy into the warfare theory of science versus religion, but I do believe there are specific instances where overstrict adherence to religious doctrine has inhibited scientific progress.

    Facts on which I believe we are in agreement. (Please correct me if I misrepresent you, or if you feel I have oversimplified)

    Religious figures throughout history have made large contributions to human knowledge.
    Religion does, in certain isolated cases, inhibit science.
    Outside of these isolated cases there is no reason for religion and science to conflict.

    Where I believe we disagree is on the finer details, for example:

    Galileo...I understand and am very aware that this was a complex situation. I use as the source for my claim not the works of Draper and White but the catholic church itself (http://www.catholic.com/library/galileo_controversy.asp). The issue is not whether Galileo was right or wrong (He was clearly wrong in the details, as was Copernicus for the most part!), it is the stifling of scientific debate on theories that contradict established religious doctrine. In 1616 an order was issued condemning Galileo's theory and a certificate was issued that forbade Galileo the right to hold or defend the heliocentric theory.
    In 1623 Galileo's friend Pope Urban VIII gave Galileo permission to write a work on the heliocentric theory but advised him not to advocate it. Galileo ignored this advice and made it worse as the Pope perceived certain elements of the work as ridiculing him. This led to the trial for heresy, but the underlying issue was clearly the fact that he had again advocated a theory that was at odds with doctrine and for which he had been condemned. It is for this condemnation that the catholic church today acknowledges it was wrong.

    As I stated in my original post this is an issue that is often exaggerated by those of an anti-religious ilk (not all atheists) and minimized by dogmatic theists (not all theists). The truth as always is somewhere between the two extremes and I believe we are circling it. :)
     
  7. mjs0

    mjs0 The 4th X

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    Sigh...this is not atheism, this is a civic that represents some rampant form of secularism or perhaps the warped form of communism seen under Stalin and his successors, although the +25% science does not fit that scenario in my opinion. Such a civic would be a valid option, but it is not atheism...a point I alluded to in an earlier post.
    The vast majority of atheists would totally reject this view of atheism just as the vast majority of theists would rightly reject some of the more demonic characterizations of their own beliefs.
     
  8. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Super Moderator

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    Then that's fair enough. And with that, the discussion can return to civ-related matters. Although first I must point out that paganism doesn't necessarily mean freedom of religion - paganism was effectively the state religion of pre-Constantinian Rome, when the Christians were persecuted for not adhering to it; and the Roman pagans conducted far worse witch hunts in antiquity than the Christians ever did later on. Paganism is a religion (or set of religions) like any other and can exist in the same range of relationships with the state, from official prescription to official proscription.

    For the record, moderators can wield their mighty powers in any forum on the site, but they aren't supposed to do so in fora where they are not assigned to moderate (except in emergencies). So since my fiefdom is Civ III C&C only, it's not for me to do anything about the discussion in this thread - although naturally, like all moderators, I adhere to the rules at all times and in all places.
     
  9. flyingchicken

    flyingchicken Deity

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    Atheism ≠ no religion
    Atheism = no god/s
    Pure animism ≈ atheistic beliefs (no god/s, just spirits)

    Paganism with no state religion = pagan state, may or may not be a/theistic
    Organized Religion with no state religion = secular state
    Theocracy with no state religion = ban on religious activities
    Pacifism with no state religion = secular pacifism, maybe like the Swiss
    Free Religion = everybody's free to worship anything, as long as the "Church and State" are separate, so to speak

    That's how I see it; anyone care to give a comment?
     
  10. gettingfat

    gettingfat Emperor

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    I generally agree.

    As I said, atheism to a certain extent can be a form of religion by itself. Most Chinese-linked religions actually have an atheist theme.

    For example, Confucius himself is in fact a doubter of the existence of gods. He commented on the religious rituals, "pray to gods AS IF the gods are there". He essentially treated the religious rituals as some sort of make-belief practices because he fully understood those rituals were powerful means to purify and amplify the spiritual side of human beings.

    Taoism is even more extreme. The term "tao" means the ultimate principle of the universe. There is not a personalized god here. That's why some famous quantum physicists actually were inspired by the cosmos theory of taoism.

    And people who study Buddhism deep enough will know the atheist element in this religion. Buddha is no god. That's why everybody including animals have a chance to become another buddha, maybe after the accumulated work of several re-incarnations.

    These belief systems become the so-called religions rather than just philosophies primarily because they also provide guidance of how people behave, and when their followers begin to form organizations (ie. an organized religion) and have strong impacts on the general public socially and politically. And these religions all have strong element of atheism.
     
  11. Ceritoglu

    Ceritoglu Janissary

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    Some very serious, eloquently opined arguments have been put forth in this thread - a rare occurence on the internet, where so often people just talk at each other rather than actually engaging in intelligent discourse. I've enjoyed reading the debate here, and I'd like to thank Plotinus and mjs0 in particular for their contributions.

    I think we can all learn something from a special somebody in civ...whether you're Theist, Atheist or Agnostic - you're always welcome to visit Mansa Musa.
     
  12. civvver

    civvver Deity

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    I don't get it- how does not believing in god or a god or gods make you 25% more productive and smarter?

    Or phrase it this way- how does believing in god or a god or gods make you 25% less productive and stupider?

    Sounds like some of the atheist in this thread are more close minded than the folks who think the game is fine.



    I'll go back to what I said before. Atheism is a personal choice, not a state religion. The closest thing to a atheistic state is one that endorses no religion, ie free religion. I mean, how do you endorse the absence of religion? I don't think you can.

    The problem in this thread is a couple players are bringing their own personal feelings into the game. Maybe they feel they're being treated as inferior because no one's overtly recognizing their belief system. Well ask yourself, why did you pick your belief system in the first place, so people could acknowledge and praise you for it? Or because it's what you found to be true, either through logical, emotion or spiritual reasoning and experience?
     
  13. flyingchicken

    flyingchicken Deity

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    Have you never heard of the Soviet Union? It banned religion, thus endorsing no religion.
     
  14. Ceritoglu

    Ceritoglu Janissary

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    That's a fair comment...and I join you in condemning those who perceive religion and science as opposites.

    The Soviet Union endorsed the absence of religion and repressed religion (it didn't matter whether they were Christians, Muslims or Jews). Marx characterises religion as a way in which the economic ruling classes manipulate the working classes in order to keep them oppressed - and purportedly it's based on this that Marxist regimes try (and have tried) to stamp out religion*. In Civ terms, I guess, this regime would be a civ with Atheism as its state religion, but using the Theocracy civic (as absurd as that sounds).

    *The oppression of religion by Marxist regimes was, however, just a way for those regimes to secure a system of thought entirely controlled by the government.

    EDIT: damn flyingchicken...beat me to pointing out the Soviets!
     
  15. flyingchicken

    flyingchicken Deity

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    No.

    If there was an Atheism religion and your Civ ran as a Theocracy, that would be forcing your people to believe that there is no God. It was more of a ban on religious practices.

    Like someone pointed out earlier, and I restated and now again restate for your convenience:

    Atheism ≠ no religion
    Atheism = no god/s


    You can have an atheistic religion; a notable example being Buddhism. Various animistic practices are also atheistic.

    You better be brief with your replies, then. :p
     
  16. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Super Moderator

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    Actually, the USSR didn't literally ban religion. As far as I know, the only country to do that whole-heartedly was Albania, which became the first truly atheist state in 1967.

    [Ceritoglu] Thanks for the comments. I actually started a thread in OT to try to have sensible discussions of such matters. I have to point out, by the way, that your sig is far too big - it shouldn't be more than five lines of normal-sized font or seven of small; remove the quote tags and it will probably be fine.
     
  17. flyingchicken

    flyingchicken Deity

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    ^
    What was the Soviets' stand on religion, then? I know I couldn't trust Wikipedia. ;)
     
  18. Zombie69

    Zombie69 Emperor

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    I don't know, but from your question it seems that believing in a god makes you incapable of seeing that if one is 25% greater, than the other one isn't 25% lesser; it's in fact 20% lesser.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.
     
  19. Yeekim

    Yeekim Moderator Moderator

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    Very interesting thread; I also do thank those who have contributed to it.

    I, however, beg to differ with those, who say, that Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism are atheist religions. As far as I know, these doctrines do not deny the existence of God(s) per se. These teachings just are not especially concerned with that issue; they deal with other questions.

    I do not think that Civ needs atheism as a civic. Or perhaps I just can't imagine, what should its (positive) effects be - for atheism is, in my book, not open-mindedness at all (to justify it boosting science). I see it about as ill-founded as religious zeal. While it is true, that the existence of God can not be proved using rational arguments (if we do not dive into the question "what caused Universe to be"), then neither can it be disproved that way.

    As one can not prove that the God does NOT exist, then such denial has a kind of negative and bitter ring to me. Reminiscent of Communist Albania, indeed.

    An agnostic.

    EDIT: Sorry if I might sound offensive. It is just that while I can understand people, who choose to believe in God(s), I have much harder time understanding those who choose not to. Because it is all it really is: choosing what to believe. Nothing to do with rationale at all.
     
  20. mrt144

    mrt144 Deity

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    i just take issue with the blanket "RELIGION DOESNT HELP TEH SCIENCE AND IS AT ODDS WITH IT" statements. There are cases where this is true and where it is not. If the hypothesis can be contradicted with several cases then its a bad hypothesis.
     

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