I think the main point I want to make upfront, is that if an argument is put forward against Religion, we have to see if that same argument can be used about Science ( or anything else you already accept)
If the argument for not accepting Religion is just as relevant to Science, but you still accept Science as valid, then either:-
(1)there is a flaw in the form of the argument and you should reject the use of this form of argument (most likely)
(2) you ought not accept Science (unlikely) or
(3) you ought to accept Religion to the same degree that you accept science (difficult if you have a deep seated opposition to it in any way shape or form)

below, as I go through some of your points I will insert (*R*) to show I am reversing an argument used against Religion, & applying the very same argument to Science

@magsmagenta Science is not just about landing on Mars

A: Of course I know Science is not just about landing on Mars. The context of me raising the Mars project, was in relation to Science was to show that the priorities given to what happens in Science (which broadly speaking is a living idea) tend to be what is good for Science. It is as if it is more important to help Science evolve than to help relieve innocent human suffering. People are serving Science, and the externality is that people are suffering needlessly while funds are diverted to projects which are good for Science as an entity. To now say that Science is in fact alleviating suffering is a valid point, but I am talking priorities You would have to look at a balance sheet showing how much money is spent using Science to relieve suffering and how much is spent on Science for War, and on projects such as space programs and entertainment.

“but likewise it is not logical to criticize religion for what IT is not about.”The problem with this statement is that there is very little agreement about what Religion IS about, let alone what it is NOT about.”

There can not be any problem with opposing the criticism of anything for something that is not a defining attribute of it, but merely something you associate with it

Is tennis more real than a sub-atomic particle?
Is a triangle more real than a genius?
Is a knife more real than love?
Can the statement that Religion can not be attacked on the basis of what one chooses to associate with it, be said to collapse solely because it is harder to define Religion than to define Science?

Turning your objection around, as per my upfront statement, it would not be fair to criticise Science as such for the terrible weapons that have the whole world in fear, as just one example. The application of Scientific thought to business and economics has led to a worshiping of efficiency. Because unquantifiables like kindness and other ethical considerations can not be put into equations, they are totally sidelined. It is considered Scientific Logic, when businesses try to be Scientific, that people should suffer in sweatshops in Asia, because if they don’t you won’t be able to compete in price with your competitors. It is Scientific to replace thousands of workers in car factories, with robots. It is Scientific to spend millions researching more efficient ways to kill people.It is Scientific to use assembly lines and robotic machines to make guns affordable to the general public.

Clearly I go on and on about things that are related to Science that are clearly bad. Yet it could not be concluded that Science itself is bad.

So if the form of the argument is
“If negative things have been done using the techniques and approach of Religion, or if people have associated themselves with Religion and then done bad things, it must follow that Religion is bad and I can not accept Religion in itself or any form of Religion whatsoever”

..we then apply (*R*) and look at all the ways in which the very same argument could be used about Science.
It is say to say that bombs are “not really Science” and as easy to say “Child Abuse is not Religion” (*R*)
You can say Religion has been used to divert people from the Truth, and you can then look at how Psychology is employed in Political Propaganda (*R*)

“there is very little agreement about what Religion IS about, let alone what it is NOT about”
Firstly before even going on to (*R*) an obvious retort is that if you are not sure what religion is about, you are not sure what you are opposing.
But going with (*R*) on this form of argument, we would ask how much agreement there is as to what Science is about. Only a tiny percentage of people at the extreme right-hand end of the IQ Bell Curve, could be said to really know what Science is about, and yet that is exactly where there is the most disagreement. Sure the guy-in-the-street might know something about computers but really have no idea how to make one.
(*R*) Do we use the argument “Science makes people accept things on Faith without being able to prove to them the reasons for their Faith.”

“You can’t blame science itself for the failings of the people who control it.”

Is our guy above a Follower of Science? Does that guy have “Faith” in Science? ie would that guy buy a computer in the full belief that pressing the various keys will have predictable effects, even without knowing how that all happens? If that “Follower of Science” hacks into someone’s bank account and steals their life’s savings, is this a demonstration that Science tends to make people do evil things?
Is that guy “controlling Science” when he uses it to steal?
(*R*) If you can’t blame Science itself for the failings of the people who control it, it must follow that you can just switch Religion for Science in that statement, and henceforth you would be bound not to use that form of argument against Religion.
The principle we must now apply is that entities are not in themselves responsible for what can associated with them.

(not really quoting you directly here:)
“Religion demands a belief in things which are not actually experienced as real in this realm – they are just invented ideas”

(*R*) It is in response to this that I challenged the whole idea of what “really exists”
This particular anti-Religion argument runs like this:-
if we have no earthly experience of the thing, via our senses, or even by extension of our senses (radio telescopes etc) then it is wrong to use the idea of that thing existing
In response: There are many Scientific developments that could not have happened without using things that do not exist in the sense of it being possible to experience them.
The perfect circle is a purely mathematical ideal which is nowhere to be found but in theory. Do circles “exist” or do only things based on non-existent circles exist?
The Greek letter iota (lets use “i”) is the mathematical symbol for a number which, multiplied by itself, gives the result minus one. Nowhere will you see i oranges, or be asked for $i. i does not “exist” Without i your WiFi won’t work.
There are many many more complicated examples (“Imaginary Time” – Stephen Hawking) of things that do not exist in the usual sense, but which can be used to design or clarify the behaviour of things that do “exist”
So we can no longer say Religion makes no sense on the grounds that it requires consideration of things which do not exist in the sense of being observable in themselves in the “real” world. If you do want to say that argument is valid, we would have to say Science also makes no sense, because of the many examples like i and Imaginary Time, and mathematical perfections that can not be “sensed”
If we continue to accept Science we have to open our minds to there being another way in which things can “exist” even though they can not be directly seen to exist.

more later, but basically the point is that an argument is either valid or not in its form – it can’t be used only to get the results you feel it ought to get. If it can be just as well applied to produce results you are not happy with, some revue of either the argument form, or the unwanted results is reasonably warranted.

@JohnnyMalc Mar 06 @magsmagenta I hope we do not have to keep revisiting the false argument that anything done in the name of religion IS religion
But what exactly IS religion? You can’t just exclude the parts you don’t like just because they don’t fit your personal definition of what religion is

This response is a sidestep. The point being presented is not how we define religion. As I have said above, if you are not sure what it is, how can you be sure it is bad? You are asking for a personal definition of religion, at the same time claiming implicitly to have one by the fact that you are attacking it, and suggesting one’s understanding of religion can not be a personal view. This does not fit together as a consistent point.
The point being made, as I say, is not about definition, but is a rejection of a form of argument. The form of argument I am rejecting is Guilt by Association.
We have to know if we are trying to refute Religion ( or *R* Science) as an idea in itself or whether we are refuting the right of someone to claim they are being Religious ( or *R* Scientific ) while they are/were doing something we object to on reasonable grounds. We might be objecting because it is silly or because it is doing harm to innocent people. Nonetheless we are not demonstrating that Science or Religion are wrong, we are really just observing that a person can be a follower of EITHER Religion OR Science and still do wrong or be silly. They might just be claiming allegiance deceptively like the snake-oil merchant telling you his product works on scientific grounds. We can’t blame a method for its imposters, no matter how numerous they are.

@JohnnyMalc Not all religious people are evil, but I think basing your life and morals on unproven and outdated ideas is a very poor choice.
@magsmagenta Both religion & science have outdated ideas, please stop using this line
This annoyed me a lot to be honest. For a start, GOOD science, which is what I’m talking about, discards obsolete and outdated ideas as an integral part of the scientific process.

The line that I am asking you to stop using is not the line you proceeded to defend. The line I refer to is that to suppose that an ancient version of a discipline refutes the whole essence of the discipline is as invalid when applied to Science as when it is applied to Religion. Your response focused on the the idea that at the “expert” level of Science, disagreements are resolved more peacefully than are disagreements at the rabble level of Religion.

Daily, Religious people are ridiculed and even harmed by people who are led by Scientifically researched, formulated and broadcast propaganda. Social Engineering (for profit) proceeds along Scientific lines, even when it employs false representations of Religion.

A line on the ground need not even be actually drawn to be subject of a war.
It is a mathematical concept. There is not even such a thing as a line, only an adequate approximation of the pure, non-existent concept. It has more to do with Science than Religion.

Possession itself is an abstraction.
It is no less weird to say a person possesses a piece of land than to say the idea of defending it possesses a person.

Unproven – if one uses an approach which one judges for oneself to make them a better person, shake off destructive habits, be of more use to the people around them, then to that person this is a proof. It is the same thing when someone follows a Scientifically formulated diet or exercise program and starts to get results. The proof to the particular person is that it works for them. It may not even work for whatever reason, for someone else.

Scientific proof has gravitated towards numerical proof for the simply reason that you can’t make conventional equations with things you can’t put a number on.
It does not follow from this that only things that can be measured with numbers are worth thinking about, or are unimportant. The idea that quantitative and numerical considerations are somehow at a higher level than qualitative ones is in itself a kind of irrational faith.

Religion misleads people (*R*)
Even in qualitative discourse people claiming to be Scientific, create deceptions based on encouraging faith in something fanciful and unproven.
Modern Economics, particularly as perceived and preached from the Right, uses the concept of Free Market, and even draws up graphs to show how it works. The Free Market is a myth

The Free Market is theoretically a large majority group of fully informed consumers deciding what to buy on rational grounds. Yet, companies employ people schooled in Psychology (many an atheist’s answer to Religion) to deliberately undermine rational thinking. Chuck buys a car he can’t afford because he wants to be like the guy in the ad and have what this totally fictitious person appears to have. Bad luck about little Fifi’s education. he must have missed that ad or maybe it was a lower budget ad. Sure there is a tiny minority that do not fall for this but that does not change the argument. The Free Market is a myth, and people who have nothing to do with Religion are quite capable of misleading others. Since they use Science in surveying, researching, designing, producing, and finally broadcasting the ad, their ASSOCIATION with Science is there to see and can not be denied. If we acknowledge all this and yet do not conclude that Science is evil, (which is reasonable) how can we then use exactly the same kind of associations to say that Religion is in itself evil? (*R*) Everywhere on a huge scale we see harm associated with science, by virtue of it being employed by people of ill-will. Yet we wait for religion to trip up by association , so we can justify tearing it down completely

We don”t know what religion is – we do know what science is
We have to attempt to get to the essence of what Religion is.

In doing so we have to remember than most “Followers of Science” have a very loose understanding of the Science they employ or believe in. To them the little drawing of the atom as a mini solar system with electrons for planets, is quite sufficient. It is not “true” but it is as close to true as they will get to know. Jeez, they have dishes to wash and Fox News, or Walking Dead is about to come on!! The plasma screen will work, the particular channel they tune to will be filtered out of the huge number of digitalised messages in the very space they (including their brains) occupy. Even though some dirty cell phone conversation is right there in the room if they only had the right frequency to tune to, they see only the one they tuned to. None of this is questioned. Over the hill in the distance, a nuclear power plant is chugging away. it’s all Science and it all works, even deciding what is worth offering them is determined Scientifically. A huge number of murders are played before their eyes every day, both real and fictitious. Somewhere not far away someone is actually being murdered, probably with a gun the murderer is incapable of designing or making, but something in which he has faith.
Somewhere else some mentally ill person in religious garb says it wrong to be gay, and “Goodness Gracious!! See what Religion is??”

So what religion at first appears to be, is what a lot of very simple people appear to think it is. When we think of what Science is, however, we accept that most of the people using it to get results are not the same people who actually understand it. A little girl going to bed and imagining she is talking to “God” and asking that Grandma, who just died, be allowed to go to “Heaven” is using religion to the same degree that the kid watching Zombie Apocalypse is using Science. Neither kid is a reflection of what is really going on or an explanation of what Religion is or Science is.

So if Science is what a tiny minority of Scientists understand and put into practice for whatever reason, what is “really” Religion is possibly what a tiny majority of people understand or even are capable of understanding. In both cases even the understanding of the “expert” is probably only a sliver of what is actually “out there”.

What we do know about Religion is that it based on the idea that for everything a person is doing, there is a Right Way and a Wrong Way. The Right Way tends to be based on contemplation of what all the effects will be. The Wrong Way often tends to be based on the idea that oneself is more real than anything else, regardless of all the external input that made one into “one’s self”
I have spent a lot of time talking about ideas as alive. Whether you have more objections to this than you do against the planetary model of the atom depends mostly on whether you want to associate more with Science, or with Spirituality with all the conditioned responses that conjures up. It is actually possible to be open to both if we apply the same standards to both.

It is inconsistent to say a misuse or wrong understanding of Science is not a reflection of what (“good”) Science is, and having said that, to point to misuse and wrong understanding of Religion as proof Religion is bad. This cannot be dismissed by pointing out that there is not a satisfying definition of what full understanding of Religion is, because (*R*) very few really understand Science, most “followers” using very simple models.

So Scientifically, having proposed a model, we test it, all the while understanding it is a simplification of one part of “reality”
Having without qualms explained the atom in an oversimplified way, (*R*) we approach the beginner in Spiritualism with the model of ideas being living, evolving things with an evolutionary history. Suddenly a lot of History and current affairs are much easier to put into a framework. We no longer see each soldier himself being bad or good, but we see the good ideas fighting with the bad, both inside individual minds and on the earthly battlefield where mortals lay down their lives for the continuance of the ideas.

We see that a mind without an idea is as meaningless as an idea without a mind, and give up trying to prove minds are alive and ideas are not. A being with a mind is a being with ideas. The ideas may be right or wrong but a garden is not just a patch of earth, it may be weeds or flowers, food or poison.

In religion one uses the model of being actually the servant of ideas rather than egotistically the controller of them. We are the innkeeper of the mind. We can let thugs in but may have to get help to get them out before they wreck the whole thing.
To follow this line of thought one can not just keep getting carried away with associations, one has to stay at the heart of the matter, no matter how many billions have not.

We will not say say things like “I get upset when my ideas are threatened, I may even get violent. That’s the way I am, take it or leave it” This “I” we are talking about is nothing, it is a myth. It is a little fiction made of things we have been told that have interacted with other things we have been told. We see the way we have been taught to see, we think the way we have been taught to think, even the words and symbols we use are not “I” in any sense of a totally free Spirit. Far from aiming to control the individual ( something evil followers of both Science and Religion might do) Religion itself aims to open the mind of the individual to the fact that there is a deeper “I” that is more than a hotch-potch of brawling ideas. When the “I” is not the ideas themselves, an attack on a particular idea is not felt as an attack on the physical self. As with applying Science, how far one can go depends on one’s mental capacity, and also on other more subtle capacities that vary from individual to individual. (The Parable of the Sower -the seeds/ideas may not take for various reasons but still we throw the seeds out there.)

It is not necessary to use the model of an old man in the sky any more than a scientist must use Keppler’s Solar System Model, or try to use Newtonian Physics on electrons. Those models had their place but no longer reflect the essence of what religion or science are respectively. It is not a valid refutation of either Religion or (*R*) Science to point to faults, inaccuracies or blunders in its ancient history. ( We have already discussed Guilt by Association but can see the different point being made here)
I know this is rambling, I don’t have time to edit it all, but the common theme is that you can’t judge Religion with a set of principles that you will not judge Science by. Everything you want to say about Religion, you have to consider in the light of whether you could make a parallel statement about Science.

To everything there is an opposition.
While many blindly follow what they think is religion, many blindly attack what they think is religion.

Saying that something you define as good, is better than something you don’t define as good, is not logic. If any mistakes in Science are excluded from GOOD Science you are just defining it as beyond criticism. This can not exist side by side with criticizing of Religion for things you choose to associate with it rather than defined as being part of it.

There is no religion that preaches deception as a way of life. To say you see Religion as being deceptive is just to say you can think of instances where deception has been associated with Religion. It is not saying that Religion IS deception. (*R*) If Religion is deception by association, then so is Science because of the many illusions like virtual reality that are impossible without it.
The heart of the matter is that evil people (& I would say Evil itself) exist and they will use Religion, Science, and anything else to further “their” purpose.
Science may attempt to stop them with barricades and weapons, and Religion may attempt to stop them by assisting the long-term evolution of the contagious idea of heaven on earth based upon a “non-existent” perfection.

Everywhere in Nature we see the pull of perfection, even if we think that Evolution “explains” it. A ripple, the path of an electron are pulled to conform to an abstraction. An electron can only occupy specific energy states whichever part of the Universe it is in. A C note will harmonize with an E note on some planet in some distant galaxy a million years in the future. Working directly against the Law of Increasing Entropy, beauty continues to appear. Into the mind comes the idea of assisting it and alternatively the idea of tearing it down (whenever this will somehow empower or aggrandize one’s fleeting “false self”) The innermost self is where the decision is made which idea to serve, and the experience of knowing that innermost “mind” is at least as real as any other. Meanwhile the war goes on within and without us, and it is not just between physical organisms who reject as non-existent anything not in realm they themselves have defined as final and all encompassing. The argument for that realm being all that can be is simply that it is where they are.

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