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Business Religion Disclosure Law

For states like Indiana
  (+6, -3)
(+6, -3)
  [vote for,

Simply put, this would require any business that whishes to claim any special exemptions from normal laws on the basis of religion to include on all advertising media a tiny logo in the bottom corner, which cannot be covered up or rendered unviewable, which names the religion that they are claiming the exemption under, as well as the specific section(s) of the book that apply to the exemptions they are claiming.

For instance, a business run by Christians that wishes to refuse service to LGBT people must have the words 'Christian' and 'Leviticus' (or if there's another mention of hatred toward gays in a different book of the bible, the name of that book) in a small but readable section of any of that company's advertisements.

This allows any non-Christians, or Christians who don't want to be associated with bigots, to boycott such companies more easily.

21 Quest, Mar 30 2015

The Quakers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quakers
Wikipedia article. [DrBob, Apr 01 2015]

George Fox & The Quakers http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01f67y4
BBC 'In Our Time' podcast & download. [DrBob, Apr 01 2015]

Wikipedia article on Trofim Lysenko https://en.wikipedi...wiki/Trofim_Lysenko
When science goes wrong. [DrBob, Apr 09 2015]

science as religion http://www.wsj.com/...-opinion-commentary
No, not scientology [theircompetitor, Apr 09 2015]

Canadian National Post article http://news.nationa...ight-sound-familiar
How this issue has been dealt with in Canada. [DrBob, Apr 13 2015]

Religiosity survey http://www.telegrap...ious-countries.html
[EnochLives, Apr 14 2015]


       A state senator in Oklahoma proposed an amendment requiring that any business that wanted to discriminate had to post it at their front door. In what may or may not be related, Oklahoma's version of this bill was defeated shortly thereafter.
MechE, Mar 30 2015

       Quaker Porridge Oats are fucked, then.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 30 2015

       It seems to me that a simpler and more powerful version of this Idea is possible. Let the new Law simply allow various forms to include a checkbox: My religion encourages discrimination.   

       Then, because of the Golden Rule, anyone who checks the box can be discriminated-against.
Vernon, Mar 30 2015

       Religion is really falling on its face lately. Fuck it, it will all be gone one day like a bad hangover.   

       I like this idea.   

       I'm indifferent to these laws, however. Actually, I see good in them because presumably if there's a complaint against you for refusing service and you rely on this kind of exception, it will all become public. So the front door analogy cuts both ways. If the law is repealed, then bigotry can only creep back under its rock, leaving you to wonder why everyone in the store is giving you side eye.
the porpoise, Mar 30 2015

       I think you should be able to hire or serve anybody you want to.   

       There's the obvious codicils of course: the business has to state its discriminatory policies on all advertising or notices, and discrimination automatically disqualifies it from government contracts or subcontracts, as well as exclusive grants of the public trust (forests, lakes, radio frequency spectrum).   

       Of course on the downside, there's zoning, which would turn into a dog's breakfast, and a worst-case scenario of you're a black Hispanic lesbian transsexual Zoroastrian Buddhist, and can't get food, lodging, or even transportation out of that place, at which point the government has to provide same.
FlyingToaster, Mar 30 2015

       Re zoning, look at Chicago and how zoning was used to ghettoize blacks away from home ownership and into government housing.   

       //you should be able to hire or serve anybody you want to   

       I disagree. Anyone who wants to participate in society, by for example running a business, should abide by some basic rules of conduct.
the porpoise, Mar 30 2015

       So, [thepor], if you're running a coffee shop, would you be happy to hire _anyone_ who was suitably qualified?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 30 2015

       [porp] well, that's the thing: some people don't want to participate in a non-discriminatory society and don't believe in all the values, or lack of same.   

       Would you force a doctor, who believes abortion is murder, to set one up for a patient ?   

       On a less knee-jerk subject, would you force one that didn't believe in elective plastic surgery to do or arrange same ?   

       Are you going to close the NAACP because they don't provide college scholarships to white kids ?
FlyingToaster, Mar 30 2015

       [Max] perhaps you're alluding to the murky business of client-facing employees. After all, is a modelling agency forced to hire models with missing teeth? Should a Chinese specialty grocery store be forced to hire people who don't speak/read Chinese? Look, when 2 candidates are approx. equally qualified and a business shows a pattern of choosing the white/black/tall one, then there should be some kind of onus on the business to show that being white/black/tall is essential for the job.   

       I have been involved in hiring most of my professional life. Most of the important hiring decisions I've made were before I woke up to the amount of bigotry in the world. In retrospect, it turns out I naively hired misfits (based on merit of all things) and they've worked out.   

       We can get all academic with hypothetical and varying degrees of whatever, but for people on the receiving end of bigotry it's a step function that hits hard once or twice now and then. So I don't think it's bad thing to over compensate the other way.
the porpoise, Mar 30 2015

       //perhaps you're alluding to the murky business of client-facing employees.// No, not necessarily. How about an employee who never meets the customers? Would you be willing to employ anyone who was suitably qualified and could do the job well?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 30 2015

       [FT] Where I come from doctors must give referrals if they morally object. And why not? The patient is going to get what they want anyway, obstructing them seems a little petty. Maybe we can imagine a grownup conversation like this "While I don't agree with what you're planning and cannot participate due to my personal beliefs, here is someone who can help you. [Insert message about God and Bible here.]"   

       Are corrections for historically disadvantaged people still in dispute? There are some who should get a head start due to past injustice. I'm not talking about rewinding that.
the porpoise, Mar 30 2015

       //Would you be willing to employ anyone who was suitably qualified and could do the job well?   

       Yes. (I fear some elaborate logic trap has just been triggered, but I have no idea.)
the porpoise, Mar 30 2015

       The logic trap is - suppose they tell you they're a raging homophobe and that they hate Jews?   

       I think you should be allowed to discriminate against people who discriminate, if you want to.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 30 2015

       Ah ha. I see. I agree.
the porpoise, Mar 30 2015

       Damn. I was hoping for a good argument.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 30 2015

       Actually, I wouldn't care if an employee was homophobic or antisemitic, provided those views were never expressed in any way while on my property or while wearing my company uniform.
21 Quest, Mar 30 2015

       Yes [21], but Twitter.
the porpoise, Mar 30 2015

       I'm a member of a faith which is often seen as homophobic and sometimes transphobic. I appreciate the hatred they have carefully worked out against me because it saves me time and energy working out new ways to loathe myself. They should be rewarded for this service.
nineteenthly, Mar 31 2015

       I do think one should have to call ones shots. Otherwise its slop pool.
bungston, Mar 31 2015

       If someone refuses to do their job because of their beliefs, they should be fired. This is not discriminating against their religion, it is a simple matter of job qualifications. This includes a doctor who refuses to provide recommendation to an abortion clinic, or a pharmacist who refuses to prescribe birth control. If the person refusing to do their job is a business owner, the only one with the authority to fire them is the state.   

       And to be fair, it's one thing if the discrimination is occurring in a larger city. In that case, voting with one's wallet is a valid approach, and I believe publicizing the discrimination is probably sufficient. However, the smaller the community, the worse it gets, and it's rather different when the next nearest pharmacy is a four hour round trip away.
MechE, Mar 31 2015

       That's a very good point.
21 Quest, Mar 31 2015

       Which one ? The first paragraph is off the wall: if you believe abortion is murder then referring somebody to an abortionist is morally accessory to murder. If you think elective plastic surgery is tantamount to self-inflicted wounding then, again, referrals would make you accessory to same.   

       It's very much the same as say if somebody walks through the door and says "Hey doc ! renew my morphine prescription for me." Wouldn't you say the doctor is obligated to do his/her own estimation of the needs of the patient, rather than blindly support a possible drug addict ?   

       And yes, of course, if the position isn't a private practice then don't take the job if such cases are reasonable for the position.
FlyingToaster, Mar 31 2015

       Abortion and elective plastic surgery are acceptable to society as a whole. Doctors to some degree serve society. Just as an army medic might have been a conscientious objector, a doctor who morally objects to some kind of non-essential healthcare can set aside personal beliefs and serve society. We _all_ set aside some personal beliefs to participate in society. We _all_ compromise. What makes this kind religious zealot special (aside from their belief that they're right and the rest of us are going to hell)?   

       And another thing...Anyone who wants an abortion is going to get one. Passive-aggressive zealot doctors are only going to make it more logistically and emotionally difficult and costly for those of lower means.
the porpoise, Mar 31 2015

       //Doctors to some degree serve society. Just as an army medic might have been a conscientious objector, a doctor who morally objects to some kind of non-essential healthcare can set aside personal beliefs and serve society. We _all_ set aside some personal beliefs to participate in society. We _all_ compromise. What makes this kind religious zealot special (aside from their belief that they're right and the rest of us are going to hell)?//   

       I have to disagree with you there. I myself beleive in bodily autonomy and the right of choice - however I respect the opinions of others who disagree.   

       There are doctors who beleive that abortion, body modification, and some other things are violations of their hippocratic oath. I think it's most definitely their right to do so, and to not have to violate their moral code to do their job.   

       I suppose that means I agree with [21]'s idea here. It's your right to conduct business how you want in accordance to your beleifs, but as a matter of public duty you should declare those beleifs so potential customers can make an informed decision.
Custardguts, Mar 31 2015

       If a person espoused an earnest belief in leprechauns or astrology, they would probably be held back from pursuing a career that placed them in a position of responsibility.   

       I think humanity is slowly progressing to the point where religion will be considered a similar type of feeblemindedness, along with things like racism.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 31 2015

       //If a person espoused an earnest belief in leprechauns or astrology, they would probably be held back from pursuing a career that placed them in a position of responsibility//   

       Oh I dunno, I think there's an undercurrent of people who believe in fairies and the like.   

       But that's my point. If a doctor clearly advertised that they were a fundamentalist christian and would not offer certain services, nor would they in good conscience prescribe certain procedures - then you could decide not to go there.   

       Here's my real point - as much as I hate religion in all forms, I want to defeat them - crush them into dust and expel them into the annals of history - with logic and reasoning, not by gagging them. Not by forcing them to not be religious or policing their thoughts. Because that makes us as bad as them.   

       It seems these days that the primary way people try to change the beliefs of others is to come up with a bad word or term and then stick our fingers in our ears and yell it over and over again. Calling someone a racist is just as derivative as the logic a racist is using to defend their beliefs.   

       Play the ball, not the man.
Custardguts, Apr 01 2015

       Contrary to the politically motivated media shitstorm, the law in question doesn't actually permit discrimination. It simply says the government must prove compelling interest. In cases of bigotry that's pretty easy to do.
Voice, Apr 01 2015

       //Quaker Porridge Oats are fucked, then//

Actually, Max, the Quakers (Society of Friends) are one of the few religious groups that I have some time for. Although, like any religion, there's a fair spread of opinions on doctrine, they are largely tolerant of diversity; they even have a group of non-theist 'Friends'!

There's a good Wikipedia article on them (linky) & also a good 'In Our Time' episode (linky). So, in summary, if there is one religious group that isn't fucked, then it's probably the Quakers!
DrBob, Apr 01 2015

       //Contrary to the politically motivated media shitstorm, the law in question doesn't actually permit discrimination.//   

       Yes it does, or at least can.   

       // It simply says the government must prove compelling interest. In cases of bigotry that's pretty easy to do.//   

       No, it's really not. What they've done is defined religious belief as a "suspect classification", meaning that any attempt to reign it in must have a "compelling government interest". Since homosexuality has never been defined as a suspect classification, this means that religion will trump homosexuality in the courts.   

       If they weren't trying to make discrimination legal, they would have used the phrase "legitimate government interest", which is the broader category, and applies to everything, even groups (such as homosexuality) which haven't been designated. Even, "important government interest" would be better, which falls between the two.
MechE, Apr 01 2015

       We shouldn't be so hard on religious people. It's not like it's a choice, they were born that way.
tatterdemalion, Apr 01 2015

       Ah well then I retract my response and will edit accordingly.   

       Good day to you sir.
Custardguts, Apr 02 2015

       I don't really get the whole religious debate.
Either the Universe is created or it is not.
Experiments should be designed so as to rule out neither probability without evidence.
That indicates a prior bias.

       If it should turn out that the Universe is created, and I must admit I can't help but wonder, then we, as the created, should have enough humility to stop assuming we can understand the mind of such a being and stop feeding these assumptions to our offspring as truth.   

       If evidence proves that the Universe was not created then we should still stop feeding assumptions to our offspring as truth.   


       Feel free to let us in on what those experiments might look like.
Custardguts, Apr 02 2015

       I find the religion question to be a simple matter of applying Hitchens' Razor: That which may be claimed without evidence may be dismissed without evidence.
21 Quest, Apr 02 2015

       //Quakers perpetuate...// etc

Just because people believe in a non-existent god or gods, that doesn't invalidate the entirety of their philosophy or beliefs. It would tend to throw their judgement into serious doubt, I agree, but, for example, 'do as you would be done by' seems to me like an entirely reasonable guide for life. After all, lots of people believe in stuff that isn't true. You only have to look at who people vote into government in order to see that.
DrBob, Apr 02 2015

       I'm not, exactly, anti-religion, but the problem with that theory is that it's not stand alone.   

       "Do unto others" is great, but if you combine it with the belief that what happens to the soul is more important than what happens to the body, you get an awful lot of justification for things like torturing people until they repent.
MechE, Apr 02 2015

       That seems like its not terribly far off from imprisoning terrorists until they do likewise.
RayfordSteele, Apr 02 2015

       // Feel free to let us in on what those experiments might look like. //   

       We are running them now. Every experiment to determine what lies inside a black hole, or what dark matter/energy are, or what existed before the big bang.
These should all be conducted without a previous assumption of whether the universe is created or not.
I've got no dog in this fight, I'm not religious and I'm not an atheist because I 'know' that I don't know, and neither do you.
I just feel that forcing atheism down people's throats is just as bad as choking them on religion.
None of us has a bloody clue, and to be absolutely certain that you are correct one way or the other is admitting to being biased.
Science is supposed to be completely impartial.

       //That which may be claimed without evidence may be dismissed without evidence.//

^The hallmark of a closed mind.

       See that opinion works just fine a dandy unless the story ends up the opposite of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
No matter how many times the boy tried to warn them he could provide no evidence of having seen a wolf and so his warnings were dismissed.
Once the wolf was already in their midst, the apologetic belief, although fervent, was as short lived as the villagers themselves who were quite preoccupied with having their throats ripped open... and they all died happily ever after.
The End.

       Ok that may have been the teensiest bit melodramatic but the point is that anyone who is honest with themselves admits that they do not know.   

       The person who is certain that God exists and the person who is certain that there is not a God are equally biased and lying to themselves.
Both alternatives are equally terrifying.

       An atheist is not necessarily someone who knows there is no god. They are someone who does not believe there is a god, and knows that there is no evidence for a god.   

       That being said, most atheists also know that none of the gods described by humanity exist, because there exists specific evidence to the contrary. (e.g. Zeus can't exist because we know where lightning comes from, and throwing lightning was one of his defining properties)
MechE, Apr 02 2015

       //The person who is certain that God exists and the person who is certain that there is not a God are equally biased and lying to themselves. Both alternatives are equally terrifying.   

       I am certain that God does not exist. I'm not lying to myself. This is pragmatic, as it's very difficult to prove a negative. How long would it take to search for God behind every star in the universe? Make a decision and move on with life. BUT, I would consider new evidence and I would admit that I am wrong if God turned out to exist. We are certain that the laws of thermodynamics stand. But heck, you know what? We'd consider evidence to the contrary if it turned up.   

       In the other corner are religious zealots who are certain that God exists and they will never be swayed otherwise. They ignore the stacks of evidence that science has generated. They will always say, "God is just behind the next star."   

       Sorry, but these are not equally terrifying mindsets. People who don't consider evidence in front of them and will never admit error are far more terrifying.   

       In short, some are not afraid of being wrong, while others fool themselves into thinking they are never wrong.
the porpoise, Apr 02 2015

       What [theporpoise] said. I know as well, insofar as my knowledge is based on current observations. Should new information be discovered, I will re-evaluate.   

       The concern about the do-unto-others being a nice rule irrespective of how it came to be, it's great as long as it is in force. But should the sky police issue a new edict to their believers, which they tend to do every few hundred years or so, we get a bunch of wars out of it.
tatterdemalion, Apr 02 2015

       It's not the two mind-sets which are terrifying but the alternatives themselves.
If the universe has a creator then what can be created can also be destroyed.
If the universe was not created then entropy is the only law.

       Either way, not one of us knows for certain if it was created or not.   

       I completely agree that zealots create more problems than atheists, but again that comes down to the brainwashing of children.
Without that early conditioning even if a person were to witnesses an actual miracle they would still be uncertain that the event had any connection to a deity, just that the laws of physics, as we know them, can be suspended given the right conditions.

       //Do unto others" is great, but if you combine it...//

That's a fair point, MechE, but you can say that about any code or ethos really. The point that I was trying to make, perhaps not very clearly, was that you can take the good bits from a philosophy (religious or otherwise) & appreciate them for what they are without having to believe in the whole 'Spirit In The Sky' bit (thank you Norman Greenbaum).
DrBob, Apr 02 2015

       Right on Dr.Bob. My brother is a Quaker, and a kinder more devout man you could ever want to meet. I love his beliefs.
blissmiss, Apr 02 2015

       This anti-wold-crying story is simply a retelling of Pascal's wager, which is a preposterous, easily defeated claim. I can use Pascal's wager to claim any action can be taken.   

       If you don't send me a million dollars the invisible elf in your closet will send me 50 million of your dollars. If I'm right you lose 1 million. If I'm wrong you lose 50 million. So obviously you should act as if I'm right.
Voice, Apr 02 2015

       Entropy seems a bit boring and depressive to be the hallmark of a created being. If God exists he's spent too much time hanging with depressive nihilist teenagers.
RayfordSteele, Apr 02 2015

       How many omniscient omnipotent omnipresent beings can you fit in one reality anyway?
RayfordSteele, Apr 02 2015

       ^ ook.
FlyingToaster, Apr 02 2015

       //the point is that anyone who is honest with themselves admits that they do not know.//   

       To a point, you're correct. Let me explain it the way Penn Jillette did... Agnostic and atheism answer 2 different questions. Agnostic basically means you acknowledge the possibility of a God, and atheist means you just don't believe it. Every Christian is an agnostic atheist regarding every other God people have ever believed in. They can't disprove Zeus or Odin or Ganesh, but they don't believe in them. I can't disprove the existence of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, yet, if I'm being honest, I'll admit they are just as likely to exist as your God, which I also don't believe in.   

       But to make policy and laws and science, one has to be prepared to reject ideas which have no evidence behind them. Evidence is the only objective thing to base things on.   

       Seriously, imagine an argument about a Christmas display being barred from public land because it offends everyone who believes in Santa Claus to remove it. How seriously would those people be taken? Yet there is no less evidence for Santa Claus's existence than there is for God's.
21 Quest, Apr 03 2015

       Not 'my' God. If the Universe has a creator then he/she/it is everyone's God.   

       //Evidence is the only objective thing to base things on.//   

       True. I just don't discount anything without proof. Until proven or disproven all possibilities exist.
Anything other mind-set is biased.

       I can't help that.   

       //Zeus can't exist because we know where lightning comes from, and throwing lightning was one of his defining properties//   

       Wait. That's not how the Ancient Greeks thought about their gods. I don't think either Penn Jillette or Christopher Hitchens had read their Homer, and I seriously doubt whether they'd read their Norse sagas or their Ramayana either.
pertinax, Apr 03 2015

       //I don't think either Penn Jillette or Christopher Hitchens had read their Homer//   

       I seriously doubt that you are right in that supposition.
theircompetitor, Apr 03 2015

       I don't know what any of you mean by 'god' and I also don't know what any of you mean by 'created'. Rigourous definitions always help.
pocmloc, Apr 03 2015

       // I just don't discount anything without proof. Until proven or disproven all possibilities exist.   

       That's not so. This is classic argument from ignorance fallacy. There can be good reasons for believing something does not exist, proof does not need to be the only requirement. - see teapot, Russell's.
tatterdemalion, Apr 03 2015

       //teapot, Russell's// bowl of petunias, Adams' ?
FlyingToaster, Apr 03 2015

       /Until proven or disproven all possibilities exist./
//This is classic argument from ignorance fallacy.//

       That may very well be, I wouldn't know, it's how I've lived my life.
Go figure...

       //This is classic argument from ignorance fallacy.//   

       // I wouldn't know   

       I can't tell if that's a genius answer or an accident.
tatterdemalion, Apr 03 2015

       //I seriously doubt that you are right in that supposition.//   

       Well ... have you read Hitchens' autobiography? He clearly had a very interesting life, and he clearly read seriously around Trotskyism when he was young - and kept up with whatever was fashionable as he got older, but sitting down to read - and digest - an ancient 24-book epic doesn't seem to have been his sort of thing. He was important as a historical source, and as an articulator of other people's ideas - he gives us a great window into the world he shared with, for example, Clive James, Germaine Greer and Martin Amis - but he was never a serious thinker in his own right. And he acknowledged as much.   

       I'll concede that I know less about Penn Jillette.
pertinax, Apr 04 2015

       You don't think Hitchens was a serious thinker because he so frequently referenced other philosophers? He wrote about far more than just history. He wrote extensively on current events and contemporary figures, as well as offering literary critique on books and articles. He wrote entire books on Bill Clinton (see 'No one left to lie to'), Mother Theresa (see 'Missionary Position') and Henry Kissinger (See 'The trial of Henry Kissinger'). He debated the merits of the Iraq War, based on his own experiences in the country, not simply recounted tales from folks he'd met who'd claimed to have been there. His travels throughout is life took him to more than 60 countries.   

       In his religious debates, while he would often cite other well-known skeptics, he much more frequently recounted his own adventures and experiences with religion. If you've never read 'Hitch 22: a memoir' or 'Letters to a young contrarian' (and, no offense intended, but I'm betting you haven't after reading that 'not a serious thinker' jibe) then you really don't know Hitchens.
21 Quest, Apr 04 2015

       Well, actually, most of my impression of him comes reading 'Hitch 22: a memoir'; that's the autobiography I was referring to. He is, as I said, a good historical source, because, as you said, he went to lots of places and met lots of interesting people. He has a lot in common with a contemporary of his that I know personally - another Oxford Trotskyist from the 60s who went on to be an international journalist.   

       The kind of life those people led didn't leave much time for sitting down and reading ancient epics. Their sources were contemporary living people, not ancient texts. There's nothing wrong with that, until you start to make assumptions about the cultural context of those ancient texts. At that point, you're liable to get it wrong if you haven't done the reading.
pertinax, Apr 04 2015

       You never read "The Parthenon Marbles: the case for reunification"? He had a keen interest in ancient history.
21 Quest, Apr 04 2015

       I don't doubt that - but he fed that interest mostly from secondary sources. For example, he read enough Plato to pick up the homosexual flirtation, but he missed the countervailing point in Aristophanes. That's not a criticism of him - he knew a bit about a lot of things, and a lot about a few things - but he had significant blind spots (as everyone has).
pertinax, Apr 04 2015

       " Good morning Mr. Business man, I'd like to buy one of your widgets you have advertised for $9.95" " Good morning new customer. Do you have a coupon?" " Coupon? No " "Okay, that will be $109.95 please." " $109.95? That's crazy." " No sir. It states clearly in all our company advertisements '$9.95 WITH coupon' ". " How does one get a coupon?" " You can become a member of our church and attend services religiously(hah) and at the end of a year the church elders vote on whether to award a coupon to you." " You...x*&^+#l5!" " Have a nice day"
cudgel, Apr 05 2015

       Nice ^.
21 Quest, Apr 05 2015

       ^^Why would a business that dealt only with members of church X advertise anywhere except church X ?
FlyingToaster, Apr 05 2015

       // I don't know what any of you mean by 'god' and I also don't know what any of you mean by 'created'. Rigourous definitions always help.//   

       Good point. If the Universe sprang into being without impetus then it could not have been created.
If it turns out to have been created then that which has created said Universe would qualify for the definition for God, even if the properties attributed to such a creator have been grossly twisted to suit the whichever power base is currently using the term to its advantage.

       Create: to make or produce (something) : to cause (something new) to exist.   

       God: (upper case) the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.   

       Rigourous: The non-standard spelling of Rigorous.   

       Rigorous: Manifesting, exercising, or favoring rigour; allowing no abatement or mitigation; scrupulously accurate; exact; strict; severe; relentless.   

       //God: (upper case) the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.//   

       Ok, I can understand (though I don't believe it myself) the idea that the universe was created by a God. The lack of a conclusive scientific explanation for events and circumstances preceding the Big Bang allows for that supposition. I don't understand how you go from believing God created the universe to believing God rules the universe. For instance, we have created a space probe which will one day be beyond our reach even by radio (if it hasn't gone that far already). We made it, it operates (presumably, though it's a bit like Schroedinger's Space Probe now) the way we designed it to, but could you really say we rule it at the point where we can no longer exercise control over it?   

       If I reach my hand into a pool of water to retrieve an item from the floor of the pool, or to place an item in it, I have just created a wave... But do I rule that wave? Likewise, I can place an ant into a sand- filled glass enclosure, but do I rule that ant? If a roboticist creates a robot with a sufficient level of artificial intelligence to be said to have free will, and the robot acts entirely of its own volition and the roboticist has no means of controlling it, does the roboticist rule the robot?   

       I think the answer to all of these questions is a resounding 'no'.
21 Quest, Apr 06 2015

       //I don't understand how you go from believing God created the universe to believing God rules the universe.//   

       I'm wondering how you go from positing a God who could create the universe to then requiring that God to be restricted to the same limitations of capability as a human.
lurch, Apr 06 2015

       //created a space probe//   

       But we didn't actually create any matter or physical processes to build that space probe. What we did create though was the idea of a space probe. If there is a creator god then he has to create all three things: the idea of a Universe, matter and physics. If he can do that then I think it's fair to say that he also rules the Universe.
EnochLives, Apr 06 2015

       [21]'s point is not that such a god (creator and ruler) could not exist, it's that there is no reason to assume that it does exist. After all, I can conceive of a god walking along in a 15 dimensional space who spawns universes in the mud drops thrown off his feet. That sort of god is equally likely to a god who does take a direct and personal interest in the universe created. The assumption of a "creator and ruler" is the same assumption made by most religions, that such a god must exist, and that they are the "chosen people", the ones that god actually considers important
MechE, Apr 06 2015

       Those definitions were taken directly from the net. I added (upper case) to differentiate from a pantheon of gods. I debated whether to leave the word Ruler out, since this free-will thing would seem to imply that we rule ourselves... but maybe that's the rule.   

       Whatever the evidence ends up indicating I just think that the possibility of a created Universe should not be ignored based on our inability to conceive of experiments to determine this...

       There is also a multiverse to consider. As I've said in the past, it's the only way I've been able to wrap my head around the possibility of free will in a Universe where time is relative.
Also, if the number of Universes are infinite then... well then the possibility exists that time itself runs in reverse from already established end-points and we merely can not perceive the flow of time in the Universe our consciousness inhabits as anything other than forward. It would sort of explain the quantum effects of observation determining outcomes.

       I'm pretty sure that the existence of Slough puts quite useful constraints on the types of god that could exist.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 06 2015

       More of a trial & error type of deity than an all-seeing, all-knowing, eye-in-the-sky type, eh? God as eccentric, amateur scientist pottering around in the garden shed. Much is explained. You almost have me believing in it now.
DrBob, Apr 06 2015

       The existence of a god doesn't mean it created us. Perhaps the current God just stumbled across this universe on His way somewhere, like a child who finds an old toy and decides to play with it.
tatterdemalion, Apr 06 2015

       There once was a person called God,
Whose behaviour was quirky and odd.
Upon his insistence
Came into existence
The Earth, Milton Keynes and Ken Dodd.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 06 2015

       //I'm pretty sure that the existence of Slough puts quite useful constraints on the types of god that could exist.   

       According to Wikipedia Slough has "the highest proportion of religious adherents in England."   

       So this all wraps up into a tidy little ball of...something.
the porpoise, Apr 06 2015

       I think the survey may have wrongly interpreted "Dear god but this is a dreadful place!" as a sign of faith.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 06 2015

       I had to look up "Slough" to see what it was. I was expecting to find out it was some kind of puss-like discharge.   

       I think the existence of child-specific cancers tells us all we need to know about god, if he does actually exist.   

       //not that such a god (creator and ruler) could not exist, it's that there is no reason to assume that it does exist//   

       Exactamundo. I think I, amongst many many atheists subscribe to this logic train. Technically, that would make us agnostics, as we have no proof that there is no god - but the point is why would you go to the trouble of being religious, if there was no evidence to support it?
Custardguts, Apr 06 2015

       Well, as I said before, agnostic and atheist just answer 2 different questions. Agnostic means you acknowledge the possibility of a God, and atheist means you just don't believe it. One can (and should be) both.
21 Quest, Apr 06 2015

       Are we done trolling religious people as nonthinking simpletons quite yet?
RayfordSteele, Apr 06 2015

       Yeah, good point. If anyone is more preachy than a devoutly religious person, it's a devoutly nonreligous person.   

       to the idea, I basically agree, but it gets really complicated very quickly. Whilst I believe that laws made to infringe on people's rights to have their beliefs and live their life how they want, are the same as laws that force people to think and act in certain ways - I also think this is a slippery slope.   

       Replace "christian" and "LGBT" in the description, with "white/aryan" and "black". Not so nice now is it.   

       I still think that people should be able to think what they like, and as much as possible, allow them to do so unmolested. It's when their actions affect other peole directly (or maybe actively is a better term) that it becomes an issue.
Custardguts, Apr 07 2015

       //Are we done trolling religious people as nonthinking simpletons quite yet?// Not quite.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 07 2015

       I guess I was just told by one too many religious people that I need to find a hobby.... So I found one.
21 Quest, Apr 07 2015

       The difference would be the principle of 'de minimis' as defined by the courts I suppose.
RayfordSteele, Apr 07 2015

       //Are we done trolling religious people as nonthinking simpletons quite yet?   

       I don't see that ending any time soon.
tatterdemalion, Apr 07 2015

       //lack of a chain of accountability.//   

       I wonder which way the scales would tip if we balanced evil done in the name of religion against good done its name.   

       We must surely have reached the tipping point where the evil of religion, collectively, outweighs the good.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 07 2015

       Careful, that good/evil scale for hard science is pretty tippy too.   

       Electricity, polio vaccine, food, communications.   

       Atom bombs, thalidomide, eugenics, leaded petrol.   

       I think we're still in the green, personally.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 07 2015

       Ah, but just as with religion, how many atrocities have been swept under the rug... and how far to one side is that scale tipping?   

       Germ theory of disease, public sanitation, the Haber process, the pill.
the porpoise, Apr 07 2015

       //how many atrocities have been swept under the rug// That's a very good question, to which (by definition) the answer is unknown.   

       Playing devil's advocate, you could argue that tobacco industry scientists suppressed information on tobacco's harm*. In fact, if you include industry scientists (which is only fair), there are probably many such instances.   

       Howevertheless, it's probably fair to say that if you turned the clock back a few centuries and erased all subsequent science, most people today would be colder, hungrier, sicker or deader than they are now. Not an unblemished record by any means, but on balance I suspect its positive.   

       Now, if we go back a few centuries and magically remove religion from the human psyche, what would be the net result today?   

       (*Although, equally, only science could have brought that harm to light.)   

       (Pulls out pipe; sends for another cask of Madeira; settles down for the long haul.)
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 07 2015

       The big difference here is that, where science has been wrong, it has usually been corrected by better, more accurate science. When religion goes wrong, you pretty much have to kill someone. Scientists can usually be reasoned with, you just provide them with accurate data backed by empirical evidence. Some religious nutter gets it into his head that God told him to slaughter all unbelievers, on the other hand, how do you convince him that God didn't tell him what he claims he clearly heard?
21 Quest, Apr 07 2015

       Religion gives poor people in broken countries something to do besides revolt every ten years.
RayfordSteele, Apr 07 2015

       It gives them the impetus and excuse to revolt when they think their leaders aren't acting according to the faith. Politicians have been gunned down in Pakistan just for trying to repeal their harsh blasphemy laws. Shabhaz Bhatti was a shining example of this. According to Wikipedia, "He was the first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs from November 2008 until his assassination on 2 March 2011 in Islamabad. Bhatti, a Roman Catholic, was an outspoken critic of Pakistan's blasphemy laws and the only Christian in the Cabinet. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for his killing and called him a blasphemer of Muhammad."
21 Quest, Apr 08 2015

       //The big difference here is that, where science has been wrong, it has usually been corrected by better, more accurate science.//   

       Well, objectively, religion is the same. Several centuries ago, Christians were busy slaughtering Muslims. Then it turned out that it's meant to be Muslims slaughtering Christians. Further religious insight has clarified things, and it turns out that the Shites and Sunnies are meant to slaughter eachother. No doubt the positions of the Buddists and Amish will be clarified in due course.   

       It's wrong to imply that religions don't advance and progress. Many religions are now far, far better armed than they were, say, 100 years ago.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 08 2015


       Is it out of your system yet?   

       Please give it a rest.   

       You're insulting most of my family and friends, people whom I respect and admire.   

       I'm tired of it.
RayfordSteele, Apr 08 2015

       As long as you post that on your front door, I'll respect it.
21 Quest, Apr 09 2015

       //The big difference here is that, where science has been wrong, it has usually been corrected by better, more accurate science.//

I don't know if Max will back me up on this but, actually, practical science is mostly about being wrong, just hopefully not as wrong as before.

// When religion goes wrong, you pretty much have to kill someone//

That's a nicely self-defining generalisation, isn't it! Can you back it up with some stats?

//. Scientists can usually be reasoned with...//

Scientists are just people like the rest of us. Some are reasonable some are not. Some are very unreasonable indeed (linky).
DrBob, Apr 09 2015

       //I don't know if Max will back me up on this but, actually, practical science is mostly about being wrong, just hopefully not as wrong as before//   

       That's an interesting one. There are a number of concepts that apply to "science as described by philosophers". One of them is that science proceeds only by falsification, and that nothing is ever provable. This is true in theory, but I don't think it crosses the mind of most working scientists on a daily basis.   

       For most scientists, science is about trying to understand something, usually in order to get something (a drug, a new alloy) to work. You do experiments, you find things out, you develop a model, and you assume or believe that it's right and then act accordingly. Just like ordinary life.   

       Scientists are fairly open to the idea that they or others can be wrong, but day to day we just get on with stuff as best we can. When we can't make progress, we look at the model and question it and try to make a better one.   

       More generally, "science" as described by philosophers of science is very different from science as it's usually done (at least in biology).   

       //Some are very unreasonable indeed (linky).// Oh yes, most definitely. Lysenkoism was a spectacular example of ideology dictating science in the face of evidence. That particular problem is probably less likely to happen today, because there are fewer powerful totalitarian states. However, there are still plenty of individuals who persist in beliefs that are contradicted by lots of evidence. There are also scientific zeitgeists that get a lot of traction despite having little support.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2015

       Groups of scientists are governed by precisely the same principles as other groups of primates. I doubt that the motives of someone who falsifies experimental data are all that different from the motives of someone who claims to have a personal conversation with God -- or for that matter, that the motives of someone who stares at the night sky with the goal of understanding the universe are very different from staring at the night sky with the goal of understanding God.   

       The scientific method was a breakthrough, of course, but when both the experiment and the result are sufficiently indistinguishable from magic, the net result to the layman is having to take it on faith.   

       As to the notion expressed within this idea, and it's causation, the reality is this: bigotry of every kind is utterly scientifically predictable, and probably inevitable so long as there's a biological basis to the species. It's built in to the primate model. Culture clearly shifts and that can help, but unlike our local Western experience, culture is malleable in both directions (e.g. witness Pakistan between the 70s and now). Maybe when we all get uploaded to the Matrix...
theircompetitor, Apr 09 2015

       //the net result to the layman is having to take it on faith.// Not quite. The airplane gets off the ground whether you understand aerodynamics or not.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2015

       Oh yes, and the plague came (eventually) whether you believed your pissing under the sacred oak pissed off Odin or not.   

       Yes, the assertions made by believers are less easily testable, and sometimes untestable, but there's plenty of science in exactly the same angels on a pinhead quantum state, and subject to the same biases.
theircompetitor, Apr 09 2015

       such mighty proclamations falter on one obvious question -- in an evolutionary sense, why is it so easy to believe? Why hasn't the "idiocy" as you put it been bred out?   

       I'm an atheist, mind you, but clearly there is some built-in mechanism at work here.   

       And btw, the level of idiocy (and genuine evil) reached by non believers (think Stalin & Mau, likely Hitler) easily dwarfs anything accomplished by believing idiots.   

       Marxism-Socialism, after all, claims to be a result of scientific study of the movement of capital and of history.   

       Yes -- the scientific method is a valuable tool for learning the objective truth and building real solutions. But it is waay too easy for humans to instead "believe" in science, and that's a different thing entirely, and a very similar phenomenon to religious belief. One could argue, in fact, that everyone who has not done the experiment is a believer -- it's a necessary shortcut, otherwise we'd all be trapped in a Descartesan hell
theircompetitor, Apr 09 2015

       //Why hasn't the "idiocy" as you put it been bred out? //   

       Religion has only become "idiocy" in the last few centuries. Before that, it really was the most rational explanation of things. So, religion can be seen as the product of a human mind which evolved to find explanations and patterns.   

       You might equally well ask why obesity hasn't been bred out - it's only been a problem since we had plenty of food.   

       However, religion is indeed being "bred out" - levels of religiosity are in decline everywhere, faster in the developed world than in the developing world.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2015

       // I might have a long essay to post on the subject later//   

theircompetitor, Apr 09 2015

       Rayford, my response was crass and uncalled for, and for that I apologize. What I don't think you realize, however, is that my words are also deeply offensive to my own family and friends, some of whom I greatly respect and admire. I've had this discussion with my devoutly Catholic mother and grandfather, and my words hurt them deeply.   

       The reason I said what I did was not to hurt them, though. I was explaining to them my reasons for not having my daughter baptized, because they kept hounding me about it. They expected me to just give in to family tradition and have it done in order to make THEM feel better. They could not understand and would not accept that I want my daughter to make the choice on her own, when she comes of age, to commit her soul to a religion or not.   

       Unfortunately, I cannot explain why I reject religion from my own life WITHOUT saying things that will seem hurtful to those who DO believe, but as a society, we cannot allow hurt feelings to stifle intellectual discussion on social issues which have such an impact, directly or indirectly, on all of our lives.
21 Quest, Apr 09 2015

       I'm sure your daughter will thank you, whichever way she turns out.   

       It still bugs me, though, that many people (even many atheists) believe that religious beliefs are somehow special and not to be ridiculed. We don't generally feel this way about, say, belief in UFOs or ghosts (in which many people believe). We don't even put science, politics or sport above ridicule.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2015

       I rode out to Arizona to visit my brother this weekend (trip report on the Guzzi forum "Wildgoose" if you're interested) and my brother had a Flying Spaghetti Monster sticker on his car.   

       When I inquired, he said " He boiled for our sins..."
normzone, Apr 09 2015

       // they are pretty good working hypothesises//   

       Yes, of course. As I mentioned, a few centuries ago religion was pretty much the bee's knees when it came to understanding the world and operating in it.   

       In practical matters, we can now do far better. It may have been unwise to eat pork or lobster 2000 years ago, but I should avoid bacon sandwiches in 2015? Really? No, of course not. Most religious guidance on the day-to-day practicalities of living has been superseded, and instead has become a series of fetiches.   

       In spiritual matters, religious texts are not so bad, because these things don't change. It's still not good to steal, and good to be humble. It just happens that religion was closely tied up with literacy and thought a few centuries ago, so basic common sense and folk-philosophy got wrapped up in religious writings.   

       Religions tend to be very keen on not having changed in 2000 years. Which is, I would say, pretty dumb. The 1950 edition of the Torah (or Koran) ought to have had an update regarding the avoidance of trichinosis from pork. They could also have clarified the whole "cloven hooves but no scales" thing on modern phylogenetic lines. I could go on.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2015

       Science and religion coexisted peacefully for a long time. I don't recall hearing of ancient Greek scientists being burned at the stake for heresy, and Baghdad used to be a city of learning. Monks perfected brewing and bred plant varieties.   

       Things started getting ugly when science stared encroaching on the homeland of monotheism (specifically Christianity), that being the nature of the solar system and the universe and where we came from. The ancient Greeks would have said aw fuck it, black holes are just Hades' underwear drawers, made a libation, and got on with life. But Christianity and other Abrahamic religions spawned zealots who flat out refuse to believe facts that are right in front of them to see. It's these people who are the enemy.
the porpoise, Apr 09 2015

       Scientists may not have been burned at the stake for heresy, but philosophers, on the other hand... Take Socrates, for instance. Enough said, there, right?
21 Quest, Apr 09 2015

       // It still bugs me, though, that many people (even many atheists) believe that religious beliefs are somehow special and not to be ridiculed.//   

       It's like this: somewhere in the deep recesses of your brain there is something that you care deeply about; say, your wife or kids, or personal image, or career, or something from your childhood. If I were to repeatedly make fat jokes about any of them over a long enough time period, regardless of how in shape or out of shape they are, you'd tell me to bugger off eventually. You're not just making fun of an institution, you're making fun of the core of every fiber of a person's conscious aspirational being. That's just cruel after awhile.   

       I spent a good portion of my life in circles such as those, and while I may have been better off not having to do so, I do still respect where I was, what I learned, and it remains a part of me which I don't want to dishonor. I'm just glad to not have been saddled with the anvil of Catholicism that 21Q had. I've not chosen to raise the topic much with my family because I am not a committed anything, frankly, and would not begin to be able to explain my position even to myself, much less to any of them. Call me a religious, practicing atheist who goes to church, enjoys the humanistic side of my "Christian faith," and the music as well. For the sake of my wife, I won't leave it, either. Does it bother me that I spend some of my time perpetuating the myth and listening to the sermonizing? That depends on the sermon I suppose. Do I hope that my kids escape it? Parts of it, yes.   

       And there's nothing wrong with being zealous. Zealots appear in every hobby under the sun. Militant is the problem.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2015

       Likening a religion to a wife is where I have a problem, rayford. I know if someone's got a wife, or a child, or a mother. I don't have to rely on your word that these people are real and are in your life because I can meet them myself and come to know them. If I abstain from insulting them it is not because I wish to spare your dignity but theirs. If they've wronged me, I'm going to speak out against them and I don't care if you hear it. I cannot get to know your invisible friend, cannot know if it even HAS feelings that could possibly BE hurt, and there comes a point where children are normally expected to outgrow such fanciful creations of the mind. When they don't outgrow them, we are usually concerned for their mental well-being.   

       But when these people become adults and start trying to introduce us to an imaginary friend, we call it 'religion' and are supposed to hold these people in high regard, and give them tax breaks and exemptions from the law. I don't know if maybe you somehow missed it, but this idea was posted in response to bills that passed in 2 states (Arizona and Arkansas) which would have allowed businesses to discriminate against certain groups of people, in clear violation of federal anti discrimination laws, purely on the basis of their religion.   

       I'm sorry if you or someone you care about believes in God, but there is no more evidence for whatever god you believe in than there is for Santa Claus, and I don't feel that I'm wrong to point that out ESPECIALLY when people are using it to get laws passed that have the potential to affect all of us.
21 Quest, Apr 10 2015

       // its taking a while to formulate something that can replace 2000 year old teachings//   

       I disagree. I think the majority of younger people in the UK have ethics and morals as good as those of their predecessors, and these are largely not based on faith.   

       And it's not a case of "replacing" the moral and social teachings found in bibles. It's only a case of continuing to adhere to reasonable moral and social standards, but not relying on an arbitrary rulebook to dictate them. If anything, I'd say that people today are more moral, since their only reason for acting morally is because it's just the right thing to do.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2015

       //Take Socrates, for instance//

Yes, but religion was merely a pretext for prosecuting Socrates, wasn't it. It was really all about politics.

I have to say, that I am deeply uncomfortable with people (you know who you are <cough>...Tindale!..<cough>) defining religious belief as some sort of mental disorder. That's a technique that has been used as an excuse to silence opposition & persecute dissenters by all the best tyrants.

It is surely sufficient to argue the point on its merits (or lack thereof), without engaging in such unpleasant, personal attacks.
DrBob, Apr 10 2015

       Religion is the new smoking. Used to be very popular, fashionable and approved of. Now not actually illegal but frowned upon, except in the developing world.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2015

       //It was really all about politics//   

       Ha, as if this idea isn't.   

       In the end, most people are neither scientists nor popes or prophets. Everyone else is a "believer", and the purpose of their belief, beyond not getting stuck in tying their shoes in the morning, is tribal self-identification akin to sports fandom and the like. It's fun to call the other team's backers idiots, but the fervor with which you are sure of their "wrongness" is more likely proportional to your need for belonging then to objective measures
theircompetitor, Apr 10 2015

       21Q, you miss my point. I'm not hurt that you've insulted my invisible friend in which I do not believe. Far be it. I'm hurt that you would insult a part of myself that I hold in some special regard, even if it is just for the sake of the memory. And mostly I wasn't yelling at you, but at Max, whom I already warned.   

       For you a stuffy old church building represents a past that you've escaped from and wanted to be free of.   

       For me it was home, even after I wisened up. Dusty old hymnals and all.   

       Ian, go boldly forward and bring us to reason. But walk softly. You tread amongst a funeral home of fond memories.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2015

       //Max, whom I already warned//   

       I've got nothing against churches (stuffy or otherwise) - they're mostly wonderful buildings, regardless of whether what they were inspired by is still relevant. Nor, for that matter, have I got anything against the sense of community that churches often engender; again, it doesn't matter where it came from.   

       Equally, I don't have anything against individuals who are religious. Either it doesn't bother me at all, or I think of it as a quirk which, in most situations, doesn't really matter.   

       I do have quite a lot against religion here and now in the 21st century. Part of what I have against it is just the frustration that so many people can be so silly - the same sort of frustration that most of us would feel when talking to someone who believes the moon landings were faked, or that they've been abducted by aliens.   

       I also believe that religion is now (and for the last century or two) holding humanity back - it's not hubristic to say that we now understand the world well enough to move on a little. Practical matters don't require divine explanation any more; moral matters ought to be decided by humans who are alive today.   

       I also too believe that religion (either genuine, or used as a badge) is behind a large amount of trouble just now, and that this will get worse for some time. The central message of most religions is one of peace and tolerance; yet religious differences have and continue to be widely used as excuses for war, genocide and hatred.   

       So, despite a warning, I will continue to bash religion. It's big enough to bash back.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2015

       The distinction between religion as a concept and people with religious belief is bible paper thin and tends not to withstand bashing of either side.
calum, Apr 10 2015

       I suggest, as a starting point for secular morals, Heinlein's "“Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.”   

       The primary point being that there are plenty of other sources for morals, both simpler and more complex than any given holy book, and equally valid.
MechE, Apr 10 2015

       Bash religion all you want. But when I see statements calling religious people feeble-minded, someone somewhere has stepped over that line.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2015

       //I suggest, as a starting point for secular morals, Heinlein's "“Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.” The primary point being that there are plenty of other sources for morals, both simpler and more complex than any given holy book, and equally valid.   

       Well said.   

       And what's all this talk about holy books being good a source of morality? They were a mixed bag at best, dashing babies upon rocks and all. It's humanity's later interpretations that have softened much of the violence in the bible, and secularism/humanism deserve some credit for that.
the porpoise, Apr 10 2015

       True enough.   

       However, it was organized religion, as intertwined with the politics of leadership of the day (and a fair bit of basic agricultural discovery), that helped to coalesce otherwise squabbling tribesmen into coherent, organized cultures capable of progression, even if it became a hindrance later on.   

       They were dashing babies on the rocks and doing far worse things before monotheistic religion or even writing came along to put some sort of pecking order in place.   

       I sometimes wonder where we would be had religion not been around to propagate, provoke, and suppress some of these conversations throughout mankind's history. I would argue that the religious institution served as something of an imperfect cultural memory device/data storage before the era of hard drives.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2015

       //But when I see statements calling religious people feeble-minded, someone somewhere has stepped over that line.//   

       I think it's fair to say that we quite agree. What we apparently differ on is who stepped over what line. When religious adherents openly declare that they use their religion in much the same manner as a toddler uses a pacifier (dummy, for you Europeans) or security blanket, that shows feebleness.   

       Pacifiers and security blankets have something in common with invisible imaginary friends, don't they? Children are expected to outgrow them, and when they fail to do so, we become concerned for their mental and/or emotional well-being.
21 Quest, Apr 10 2015

       There have been quite a few halfbakers whose emotional well-being I've been concerned about over the years, yours being one of them early on if you recall. None to my knowledge were religious.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2015

       //statements calling religious people feeble- minded//   

       I think I said that humanity was moving towards the point where religion (by which I mean, for clarity, belief in a supernatural being) will be considered a form of feeblemindedness. By that I stand.   

       Five hundred years ago, belief in ghosts, witches and gods were all fine and, given the available knowledge, not unreasonable.   

       Two hundred years ago, belief in ghosts and witches was a bit iffy, but (in the absence of any better understanding of the world), belief in gods was still fairly rational.   

       Today, we would consider anyone in an educated society who believed in ghosts or witches to be pretty loopy; and belief in gods depends on suspending disbelief (or at least believing in the absence of any evidence), and is considered acceptable but not quite on the ball.   

       So, in another century or two?
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2015

       Human beings are hardwired with receptors for religion and politics - it's unlikely these memes will fade away, and if they did something of their ilk would replace them.
normzone, Apr 10 2015

       Max, I understand your point. I guess it was Ian's statement that took me more sideways.   

       Norm, perhaps Candy crush, perhaps Facebook, perhaps some kind of ethical / technological discussion framework online that forms the new social order, with influential bloggers, computer scientists, and online corporations as the new papal class (god help us). This place, for instance, certainly has its own religious undertones.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2015

       Well, picking apart [Ian]'s statement:   

       //It should be perfectly valid to disqualify someone from a job or position based on their mental inadequacy or mental deficiency. Religious people, for example, are indubitably in this category, beyond any measurable, provable and testable doubt.//   

       I think I'd meet him halfway. I think it's very difficult to be educated (in the western sense, and with a bias toward science), rational and religious. Not impossible, perhaps, but tricky. In the same way, I think it's difficult to be educated, rational and believe in ghosts.   

       Both belief in ghosts and belief in gods are equally unsupported; but support for ghosts failed a century or two before support for gods, so there's bound to be a delay.   

       If I were employing someone (as a scientist, since that's my line), and if I knew they were religious, I wouldn't reject them but I would probably look a bit harder at their ability to reason.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2015

       // If I converse with a fully grown adult with reasonable exposure to even the mildest modern educational veneer, that is convinced that the sun goes round the earth, I know I’m talking to an idiot.//   

       Either an idiot, or a pedantic halfbaker who would say that (a) the sun and all the planets orbit around a common centre of mass, and therefore to some extent the sun does go around the earth or (b) it depends on your frame of reference.   

       Of course, that initial "either/or" should have been an "and/or".   

       As far as I can tell, everyone here seems to agree that actual belief in an actual god is a bit loopy. It's only a question of how grave a loopiness you consider it to be. I'll go 7, and note that the number will increase over time.   

       And - blimey! - who'd have thought that religion would turn into such a discussion point here on the HB?
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2015

       In counterpoint to Ian, if I ran into anyone who limited their judgement of another person to a cold assumption of their cerebral capacity without some kind of other understanding of whom they otherwise were, I'd think I were talking with a sociologically and emotionally stunted individual.
RayfordSteele, Apr 10 2015

       (c) the earth orbits a point within the sun 8 minutes ago and the sun is all wobbly like.
the porpoise, Apr 10 2015

       I'm almost certainly sociologically and emotionally stunted, so I can speak from first hand. If someone tells me they genuinely believe in the existence of one or more gods, I am pretty confident in judging them to be a bit flakey.   

       If they're fairly well educated, and earnest in their belief in god(s), and claim to have given it considerable thought, I would probably think them more than a bit flakey.   

       If anyone thinks there's anything wrong with this, can I ask if they would feel the same regarding my opinion of someone who believed they had been abducted by aliens?
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2015

       //if the ensteamed [MB] has any aspects to thinking that aren't quite rational//   

       Interesting question. I suppose that I might be the last person to judge if I have irrational thoughts. I can count one - I tend to ascribe personalities to inanimate objects. But, then again, I am certain that they don't actually have personalities, so it's more of a mental quirk than a way of thinking.   

       I also have certain prejudices and preferences, many of which would probably not stand up to scrutiny. But they're not concrete things which can be absolutely disproven. (For example, I don't like Ed Milliband; but I don't believe that he's an alien lizard.)   

       I may also be wrong about some things. For instance, I believe that something will work, when in fact it won't. But if someone showed me some indisputable information that said it wouldn't work, I think I'd believe them.   

       Nobody is completely rational (in fact, most of what we all do most of the time is irrational - it would be tedious to have to reason every single action). But I think most of my thoughts are at least amenable to reason.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2015

       //many quantum physicists have found god through their work,//   

       Actually, if you drill down a bit, there's not that many. There are quite a few who use "god" as a metaphor for the deep order of the universe(s). But there aren't many who literally believe in the actual existence of a god as most religions imagine him/her/it. Of course there are a few, but they've probably never been to Wales or worked in an oncology department.   

       //As for ghosts and alien politicians, I'm the sort who just can't rule them out without 100% proof they don't exist.// Sure, and of course there can never be 100% proof that they don't exist - what of it? I would wager [8th]'s favourite porcelain kitten that you don't subscribe to the view that they do exist.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2015

       // the frustration that so many people can be so silly   

       For me this is the crux, if you like. I have to shut it out of my mind, if I stop to consider that most of the people around me believe in the sky police, I would pop a circuit. How can it be? If I believed and professed faith that Superman existed and worked wonders around the earth, despite the lack of any supporting evidence (except books), wouldn't I be considered wacky? It seems the same thing to me.   

       [RayfordSteele] if only they could all be sentimental atheistic Christians just like you. But then we'd be calling them hypocrites I suppose.   

       Dicky Dawkins had it right, we are all atheists, it's just that some of us believe in fewer gods than others.
tatterdemalion, Apr 10 2015

       Why wouldn't ghosts exist ? They certainly exist perceptually. Would you say dinosaurs don't exist, if all you found was their footprints ?   

       Or is this another of those scientesty "We can't see it so it's not really there" things.
FlyingToaster, Apr 10 2015

       Ray, I recall those days quite clearly. That was also the time when I was struggling most with my faith, and in the end that depression lifted when I rejected religion fully from my life.
21 Quest, Apr 10 2015

       //Why wouldn't ghosts exist ? They certainly exist perceptually. Would you say dinosaurs don't exist, if all you found was their footprints ? //   

       I think "exist" in this context means "exist". The _idea_ of ghosts exists; the _word_ "ghosts" exists. But there is no reason to assume that the _things_ do.   

       If all we knew of dinosaurs was their footprints, we would reason as follows:
(a) The footprints exist, in the sense that they can be seen touched and measured even by people who initially do not believe they exist.
(b) The formation of one apparent footprint by erosion or whatever could happen by chance. But the formation of many footprints, often in long tracks, makes random processes unlikely.
(c) We know that modern animals leave footprints, some of which are similar in shape, size or arrangement to some dinosaur footprints.
(d) Therefore, the most economical explanation of the dinosaur footprints is that large animals walked across the mud before it turned to rock.

       This strikes me as fairly elementary logic, no?   

       //My brain is a soup// If you're sure, that's saved the cost of the MRI.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 11 2015

       Wow. I was just enjoying an esoteric, off-topic argument with [21] about the strengths and weaknesses of Christopher Hitchens, I step outside for a week, and all this stuff appears.
pertinax, Apr 11 2015

       I never did explain why it made a difference whether Hitchens had known his Homer or not, nor what the connection is between Hitchens' blind spots, religion and the politics of sexual orientation - but there is one.   

       First, re. the idea:   

       Imagine this scenario.   

       A nice, sensitive, well-dressed traveller walks into a diner in, say, Indiana. It's not a particularly attractive diner, but he's hungry, and they're open. As the door closes behind him, the eyes of the locals swivel round to size him up, and it seems that he might be a bit *too* sensitive and well-dressed for their tastes. The one behind the counter says, "Son, are you a faggot? We don't serve no faggots here."   

       Through the narrowed eyes, several generations' worth of fear and loathing for the unfamiliar squint out. Un-ironic lumberjack shirts and genuinely old jeans shift a little as muscles and guts are clenched, and the possibility of violence becomes palpable.   

       What is the point of this scenario? The point is that, *if* scenarios like this are what the idea is about then, of course, there's only one side that we could possibly take, and that is [21 Quest]'s side.   

       The reason why I'm being contrarian about it is that I suspect that there's also something else going on - not just with these state laws in the US, but with the politics of sexual orientation more generally. That "something else" doesn't yet have a suitable name, but, by coincidence, the political journey of Christopher Hitchens from Trotskyist to Neo-Con, and his concomitant switch from being against Capitalism to being against Religion, illuminates it quite nicely... and Homer comes into it too.   

       I have to go to bed now, but I'll try to explain more tomorrow.
pertinax, Apr 11 2015

       If we can bring gun control and reaction-free forces into this, we'll pretty much have wrapped things up.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 11 2015

       I'd hitchslap you if I had the chance. Christopher Hitchens openly admitted he'd experimented with homosexuality in is college days. To my knowledge, he never tried to hide from that aspect of his past. He seemed, in my mind, to be rather like the character Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones, simply seeing no distinction, in terms attractiveness, between the sexes.   

       Hitch also explained his reasons for switching his focus away from capitalism. He simply felt that socialists had ceased to offer a positive alternative to the capitalist system (said so, in fact), and that capitalism has more potential to lift human society to the level of dignity demanded by our intelligence.   

       Religion, on the other hand, was always a bit of a thorny issue for Hitch. Religion doesn't fit well with the leftist ideals he used to embrace, so he was always against it, but it was during his travels reporting on other issues (remember, he visited over 60 countries) that he got a lot of good looks at religion's dark nature that you won't see on TV.   

       He often cited a challenge made to him by a believer, who said to him "you are to imagine yourself in an unfamiliar city. It is nightfall, and you are without friends or succor. You see a dozen men approaching in the dusk. Would you feel more or less safe if you knew that these men had just come from a prayer meeting?"   

       Hitch's response was that he has been in that situation, many times in many places. Without leaving the Letter B, he rattled off some places where he's encountered such a scenario: Beirut, Baghdad, Belfast, Bombay, Bosnia (Banja Luka to be precise), and the unspoken implication here was that, in the vast majority of these encounters, he felt far less safe being approached n the dusk by religious zealots.   

       When covering the war in Bosnia, he was dismayed by the deference shown to the religous. He felt that reporters should have called these people out for what they were, should have referred to the army that murdered 8,000 Muslim boys and men as Christian militias, because it's what they were. Over the course of several decades of travel, he began to see the incredible damage being done to the fabric of society by organized religion, and it was far worse than the effects of capitalism or socialism.
21 Quest, Apr 11 2015

       I'm not denying any of that, [21 Quest]. But [MaxwellBuchanan]'s right (by implication). I'm trying to draw too many themes into the same narrative, and I haven't got it sufficiently worked out yet.
pertinax, Apr 12 2015

       Apparently hypocrisy is also still a sin, even if it hurts nobody.   

       I suppose it depends on the nature of the prayer meeting. Was it Billy Graham or were burning crosses involved?   

       The something else that is going on is repercussions and echoes of the RFRA act in the 90s and its tangled torture in the courts. See Wikipedia.   

       Lets turn this on its ear a bit. Lets say a member of the Westboro Baptist Church wants you as a cake decorator to make a cake in the shape of a Bible, and wants you to write 'God Killed Your Sons' or 'God Hates Fags' on it? Would you be within your rights to refuse service based on the notion that the customer's request is against your beliefs?
RayfordSteele, Apr 12 2015

       You'd be within your rights to refuse to write hate speech, terms such as 'hate' 'kill' and 'fag' as long as you have a company policy that states you won't adorn your products with words like that for anybody for any reason.   

       Now, imagine this: Westboro Baptist Church asks you to make such a cake, you tell them you can't use those exact words but you'll be creative and express the same sentiment. They agree.   

       The next day they pick up their cake and it says 'God Disapproves of Smoking'.
21 Quest, Apr 12 2015

       I assume I'm within my rights to turn down any work that I don't like the look of. How's this any different to a builder refusing a contract to construct an architectural eyesore, or a tattoo artist refusing to decorate someone's face like Ronald McDonald? So long as the discrimination isn't against the identity of the customer then I don't see a problem. I'm not a lawyer though.
EnochLives, Apr 12 2015

       ^^ how'bout "God loves Heterosexuals", then.   

       How'bout walking into a Middle Eastern butcher shop and demand they dress the pork shank you brought with you ? or demand they unbless the Halal meat they're selling.   

       Wanna kick the door in to the Jewish tailor's shop because it's Saturday and he's closed ?   

       Gonna get a petition going to require Chinese restaurants (real ones) to print their menus in English ?   

       How discriminatory is "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" ?
FlyingToaster, Apr 12 2015

       Pork doesn't have human Rights that can be violated, and refusing to dress your pork shank isn't discriminating against you because they'll dress any other kind of meat you bring in. I'm pretty sure there's no segment of the population that eats *only* pork.
21 Quest, Apr 12 2015

       //violatex// a rubber stringed instrument.   

       Seriously, though, any private business is welcome to discriminate in any way it likes, however unreasonable. It's convenient if it can make that clear up front, but that's up to them.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 12 2015

       //I suppose it depends on the nature of the prayer meeting. Was it Billy Graham or were burning crosses involved?//   

       The thought exercise doesn't give you that information. You don't know who these people are, what their religion is or what went down at their prayer meeting. All you know is that it's getting dark, a dozen men are approaching, and you aren't from around there. In fact, I'll even go a step further and add a new element to the challenge: none of the dozen men are of your race. Say you're a white man and they're all of Middle Eastern descent, or they're all black. Would you feel more or less safe if you knew they'd just come from a prayer meeting?
21 Quest, Apr 12 2015

       //I assume I'm within my rights to turn down any work that I don't like the look of//   

       You're within your rights to turn it down based on the work. Not based on the client. If you'd do it for person A who walks through the door, you have to do it for person B.   

       Yes, a baker is within their rights not to put two grooms on a cake, but they aren't within their rights to sell an identical cake to a straight couple, but not a gay couple.
MechE, Apr 12 2015

       I disagree. If I run a private business, it's up to me who I serve and who I don't, however unreasonable I may be.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 12 2015

       And I have to disagree with that. Here in the US, we had a fairly significant period where business owners were perfectly free to discriminate against individuals. It causes direct and real harm to those individuals, especially if they live somewhere where there aren't options, or if the discrimination is generally accepted. A society can't function that way.   

       As far as whether the government has the right to enforce it, if you were an employee who refused to do your job because of your personal prejudices, you would be fired. If you're a business owner, the only one with the authority to fire you is the government (by, say, revoking your business license).   

       Yes, this is against my normal views on how much authority the government has, and I acknowledge that, but I don't see any real alternative.   

       And again, baking and selling a cake is the business involved. Bakers, as a rule, don't need to know the end use in order to do their job. Something like a wedding photographer, where they are, to a certain extent, an active participant in the ceremony, is at least a somewhat different story.
MechE, Apr 12 2015

       I do work for other people. They don't tell me what religion they are or what kinds of animals they prefer to mate with. Sometimes I turn down a job and they get mad. I usually try to refer the work to a competent shop. I see no reason for anyone to have the right to punish me for not taking on work I don't want to do but could do. It's free will. They're free to find a business that would welcome their patronage.
cudgel, Apr 12 2015

       Again, if you're turning it down because you're to busy, or think that the project isn't worth the effort, there's no problem. Heck, if it's because the specific customer is a pain to work with, that falls under the second category.   

       But if two otherwise identical customers come through your door with two identical projects, and you refuse service based on skin tone, gender, religion, age, etc., then it is a problem. In the US we have specific federal laws to deal with all of those categories, because the decision was made that we can't function as a society without those laws. The fact that orientation isn't included as a protected class is a problem that needs to be fixed.   

       And, again, in a large city with multiple vendors of a given type in an easy transportation radius, it's not a big deal if one vendor chooses to discriminate. But take the example of a smaller town, say one with only one grocery store, and the next nearest is a couple of hours away (and yes, this does exist many places in the US). If the owner of that store refuses to sell to a gay couple, the couple is most likely going to have to move out of that town, because taking a half day round trip every time you need milk simply isn't practical.   

       This isn't just a matter of someone's personal beliefs as a stand alone issue, it's the balance between the beliefs of the bigot and the rights of the discriminated against individual to live their life.
MechE, Apr 12 2015

       // If I run a private business, it's up to me who I serve and who I don't, however unreasonable I may be.   

       That's the sort of thinking that gets lunch-counter sit-ins going. I can't follow you down that road, [MaxwellBuchanan], but there is no shortage of southern American libertarians who will.
tatterdemalion, Apr 12 2015

       Westboro Baptist has won lawsuits on their right to be bigoted assholes, and there's a difference between hate speech and fighting words. Hate speech is still protected, fighting words are not.
RayfordSteele, Apr 12 2015

       The Westboro Baptists, as I understand the issue, won in court the right to stand on public property holding their signs. They weren't trespassing on anyone's private property.
21 Quest, Apr 13 2015

       //That's the sort of thinking that gets lunch-counter sit-ins going.// I agree, and I don't endorse discriminatory behaviour. But, on principle, if I'm a private company and am dumb enough to refuse service to (say) people wearing grey socks or the Swiss, then it's up to the public to boycott my establishment.   

       Equally, if I'm an employee who discriminates against certain groups, then it's up to my employer to fire me (or not to hire me in the first place).
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 13 2015

       But the employer will be the one on the end of a lawsuit, if you represent the company at the time.
FlyingToaster, Apr 13 2015

       I'm glad we're back on topic, because this is a more interesting subject than the "lol jesus freaks is dumb lolol" derail (see hb threads passim). I think that a better solution to permitting discrimination on the basis that your prospective customer is a massive gay shite would be to take the approach taken with regard to the military draft: the onus should be on the shop-keeper to prove that they conscientiously object to having to see or be near or smell or think about the existence of gayboys (because this is what this is, at heart, about) then they are entitled to do so. Each justifications of the objection would be reviewed rigorously by a panel composed of clerics, homosexuals, homosexual clerics, the winners of the MTV Video Award for best Screen Kiss, whoever our leading philosopher is at the moment and Andy Coulson. If the justification doesn't demonstrate if not intellectual rigour then at least theological rigour, then the objector can either make the gay cake or do porridge.
calum, Apr 13 2015

       // it's up to the public to boycott my establishment//   

       Tell that to white restaurant owners in the southern US before the civil rights movement. Or in South Africa before the end of apartheid.   

       Your basic argument runs into the problem that just because discrimination is always wrong doesn't mean that it is always socially unacceptable. Especially if you're talking about a business that is only affected by local or regional opinion.
MechE, Apr 13 2015

       Yes, you're right, of course.   

       I'm torn between two rights. On the one hand, I abhor discrimination and believe everyone should have the right not to be discriminated against. On the other hand, I believe that if someone sets up a private business, they should have the right to choose their customers, just as they have the right to choose which products they sell or what colour their front door is.   

       I think these are both reasonable rights but, since they're incompatible, I'd have to pick the first over the second.   

       So, if we go for non-discrimination over freedom to choose customers, then religion should be no exception.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 13 2015

       That's right, now about those taxes...   

       So, what's to stop a "Heterosexual Wedding Cakes" sign ? or, less controversial sounding and a bit more clever, "Traditional Wedding Cakes".   

       In that respect, I'm not convenienced by the Lebanese bakery at the end of the street and the Filipino bakery opposite, neither of which make sandwich bread, despite having the fixins available.   

       Far be it from me to wonder what the difference is between forcing a "heteros only" business to make a gay wedding cake, and forcing gays to marry the opposite sex.
FlyingToaster, Apr 14 2015

       Can you tell me what, precisely, makes a wedding cake, as opposed to a wedding, "gay"?   

       The bakeries that you mention don't make bread for anybody, so that isn't discriminatory, it's a product decision. That's not the same thing as making it and selling it to one customer but not another. That's the fundamental difference.   

       I've already clearly stated that a bakery cannot be forced to decorate a cake with two grooms, for instance, but once the cake is sold, if the buyer swaps out the couple on top, that's none of the bakery's business.
MechE, Apr 14 2015

       //However, religion is indeed being "bred out" - levels of religiosity are in decline everywhere, faster in the developed world than in the developing world.//   

       I was of this opinion too, but a recent "world-wide" survey found that young people are the most likely age group to self-identify as religious <link>. This doesn't necessarily contradict your statement, but it does suggest the opposite is true.
EnochLives, Apr 14 2015

       //This doesn't necessarily contradict your statement, but it does suggest the opposite is true.// Marked- for-tagline.   

       However, I feel you have fallen victim to a Momford- Weybridge Error*. Throughout history, young people have been more religious than older people. More people give up religion as they grow up, than take it up.   

       [Named after the civic planner George Momford- Weybridge, who noted that playgrounds were much more popular with people born in the preceding decade than with people born 50 years ago; and who anticipated the rising demand by designating 7% of Milton Keynes as playground.]
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 14 2015


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