Do you believe in God?

Kara Spengler

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I think some states DMV will make headgear exemptions for non-religious reasons as well. The primary concern seems to that doesn't detract from identifying you as you. Glasses, beard? Fine. Sunglasses, not so much.
So they would want blind people that wear sunglasses all the time to not wear them in a pic? Which would then not represent how they normally look?
 
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Kara Spengler

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When I was in High School, skipping class for the State High School Hockey Tournament was considered an excused absence. Steve Ktirstoff, (one year ahead of me) was captain of the U.S. hockey team that beat the Russians in "the miracle on Ice" in 1980. About half his team mates were also local kids (metro and out-state powerhouses like Rosseau and Warren).
To bring it back to the thread when I was in New England the Patriots and the Red Sox were basically religions. :)
 
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Innula Zenovka

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OK, let's go back a bit.

Hundreds of years of war in Europe over which version of god fanfic is canon.

Now fast-forward back to the present day.

The current middle east.

India/Pakistan.

Rohingya refugees.

All because of religion.
In particular times and places.

Sorry, but because I consider religion as a cultural activity which humans created and in which they engage, I don't see how it can be meaningfully discussed other than with reference to a particular time and place.

It's not something that has an independent existence, which means, as far as I'm concerned, that it's next to impossible to talk about "religion" as a general category other than at the most abstract level.

If you want to talk about particular conflicts, then OK, we can try to analyse them.

We might, for example, consider the fact -- perhaps wholly coincidental, though I rather suspect not -- that all the three contemporary examples you give involve countries that were created by the departing European colonial powers (primarily Britain) which tried to divide up into individual countries with a more or less homogenous linguistic and cultural identity, areas that had always previously been multilingual and multicultural.

We might also consider the possibility that, since religion is frequently an important part of a group's identity, it's hardly surprising that different national groups have different religions, just as they have different languages, cuisines and so on.

So a conflict between two different groups is very likely to involve a conflict between people who are, formally at least, members of different religions.

However, to my mind it would be pretty absurd to argue that -- for example -- various US military interventions in the Middle East are predominantly about Christianity vs Islam rather than about what the US government perceives as the need to protect its economic and security interest and those of its allies, just as it would be absurd to argue that the conflict within Ukraine and between Ukraine and Russia is to do with Catholicism vs Orthodoxy (or what language people speak at home, which some foreign media seem to present it as) rather than about whether Ukraine and its economy and foreign policy should be aligned with that of the EU or the Russian Federation.

Wars, to my mind, are fought for wholly materialist reasons -- the control of territory and resources. Abstract concepts, be they religious or more general (freedom, democracy and so on) are of great importance in rallying supporters to the colours, but they aren't why wars get fought.
 

Innula Zenovka

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America became the dumping ground for Europe's religious nutters early on, just like Europe became the dumping ground for the Arab States to get rid of their religious nutters not that far back.

Policy has consequences.
I've seen this argued many times, of course, but it never really explains to me why, for example, New England is so much more liberal and less religious than are parts of the Midwest or the South, or why rural areas or the Midwest and South are so much more religious, or so I am told, than are the big cities in the same parts of the country.

Since the religious nutters mostly originally fetched up in New England, why isn't it part of the Bible Belt?

Ancestry only explains things to a certain extent, to my mind.
 

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The religious nutters who ended up in new england because they got squeezed out of Europe... kept getting squeezed west (the bible belt was west when they started the squeezing), like later on how the proto-mormons split into a relatively laid-back community in idaho (if I recall correctly) and the real nutters in utah.

The bible belt is the super fertile land along the ancient seashore that ended up growing slave-owning religious nutters.
 
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Casey Pelous

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I've seen this argued many times, of course, but it never really explains to me why, for example, New England is so much more liberal and less religious than are parts of the Midwest or the South, or why rural areas or the Midwest and South are so much more religious, or so I am told, than are the big cities in the same parts of the country.

Since the religious nutters mostly originally fetched up in New England, why isn't it part of the Bible Belt?

Ancestry only explains things to a certain extent, to my mind.
Some of that relates, at least to tangentially, to something a friend of mine said. "The best way to de-program an evangelical is to buy them a Bible and a Concordance." I don't know if that's literally true, but her meaning was, "The more they learn about the Bible, the more they'll see the internal contradictions and see what a horror show it is." It was a Concordance that led her out of the Jesus cult she was in years ago.

In many small towns, especially in the areas you mentioned, EVERYONE goes to church on Sunday. Never mind the hereafter, consistent failure to appear is social suicide, and it WILL be noticed. It's an "of course" way of thinking. It's tough to fan one's little flame of doubt in such a scenario and those who do usually end up leaving. None of that is true in the big city, where one is often forced into proximity with all sorts of belief systems. Just as it is hard to think one's way out of the box in small towns, it's equally hard to stay in the box in the big city. Not impossible, goodness knows, but it takes some effort.

A lot of the population of New England lives in big cities -- there's some rugged country out there beyond the major metros! That may partly explain that area's particular flavor. The West Coast has the same reputation, and most of us live in big cities within a handful of miles from the freeway known as I-5. Rural areas, such as Eastern Washington state are very different and much more like what you'd find in the South or Midwest. In fact, the very liberal friend mentioned above is, at this moment, driving over the mountains to visit relatives over there on "the sunny side" and she's already braced for a few days of Fox News True Believers. (I believe she's packing a few bottles of wine for fortification.)
 

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None of that is true in the big city, where one is often forced into proximity with all sorts of belief systems.
Before air-conditioning was common, the US South didn't have that many big cities. Air conditioning became common in the 1950's. The Atlanta metro area has grown by a factor of 6.5 since 1950. Dallas-Fort Worth has grown by about 7.5 times. The US as a whole grew 2.2 times in population.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Some of that relates, at least to tangentially, to something a friend of mine said. "The best way to de-program an evangelical is to buy them a Bible and a Concordance." I don't know if that's literally true, but her meaning was, "The more they learn about the Bible, the more they'll see the internal contradictions and see what a horror show it is." It was a Concordance that led her out of the Jesus cult she was in years ago.

In many small towns, especially in the areas you mentioned, EVERYONE goes to church on Sunday. Never mind the hereafter, consistent failure to appear is social suicide, and it WILL be noticed. It's an "of course" way of thinking. It's tough to fan one's little flame of doubt in such a scenario and those who do usually end up leaving. None of that is true in the big city, where one is often forced into proximity with all sorts of belief systems. Just as it is hard to think one's way out of the box in small towns, it's equally hard to stay in the box in the big city. Not impossible, goodness knows, but it takes some effort.

A lot of the population of New England lives in big cities -- there's some rugged country out there beyond the major metros! That may partly explain that area's particular flavor. The West Coast has the same reputation, and most of us live in big cities within a handful of miles from the freeway known as I-5. Rural areas, such as Eastern Washington state are very different and much more like what you'd find in the South or Midwest. In fact, the very liberal friend mentioned above is, at this moment, driving over the mountains to visit relatives over there on "the sunny side" and she's already braced for a few days of Fox News True Believers. (I believe she's packing a few bottles of wine for fortification.)
Thanks.

That seems to me a far more persuasive account than this idea that people's religious ideas are determined by those of their ancestors a couple of hundred years ago -- influenced, yes, since a person's parents' religious background is apparently the best predictor of their own religious affiliation, but it's by no means inevitable.

Furthermore, in the communities you describe, the religious identity of the community sounds as if it's concentrated every generation, as the irreligious offspring of religious parents will doubtless be more ready -- anxious, indeed -- to move to a more congenial environment in the big city, while their more pious siblings will stay.

Combine that with the USA's anti-democratic voting system in presidential and senatorial elections, where votes from predominantly rural states are worth so much more than those of people in more populous states, where typically far more people live in the big cities (including, presumably, those who have left the area where they were brought up because they found it too religious) and it becomes clear why the votes of religiously-inclined people in rural areas are so keenly sought by many politicians.

That's maybe my confirmation bias, but it certainly looks to me as if the role of religion in the US can best be understood by looking at the social, political and economic conditions in particular areas rather than at the religion itself.
 
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Before air-conditioning was common, the US South didn't have that many big cities. Air conditioning became common in the 1950's. The Atlanta metro area has grown by a factor of 6.5 since 1950. Dallas-Fort Worth has grown by about 7.5 times. The US as a whole grew 2.2 times in population.
As a friend of mine is wont to say about Houston, "It's not the freedom, it's the freon".
 

Kara Spengler

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Thanks.

That seems to me a far more persuasive account than this idea that people's religious ideas are determined by those of their ancestors a couple of hundred years ago -- influenced, yes, since a person's parents' religious background is apparently the best predictor of their own religious affiliation, but it's by no means inevitable.

Furthermore, in the communities you describe, the religious identity of the community sounds as if it's concentrated every generation, as the irreligious offspring of religious parents will doubtless be more ready -- anxious, indeed -- to move to a more congenial environment in the big city, while their more pious siblings will stay.

Combine that with the USA's anti-democratic voting system in presidential and senatorial elections, where votes from predominantly rural states are worth so much more than those of people in more populous states, where typically far more people live in the big cities (including, presumably, those who have left the area where they were brought up because they found it too religious) and it becomes clear why the votes of religiously-inclined people in rural areas are so keen sought by many politicians.

That's maybe my confirmation bias, but it certainly looks to me as if the role of religion in the US can best be understood by looking at the social, political and economic conditions in particular areas rather than at the religion itself.
Right, I grew up in New Hampshire and kids about to graduate high school quickly decided on one of two paths: get the hell out of Dodge and go to a college or two or live in the same town they grew up in. It was mostly (but not exactly) a cut between people that flocked to city-life and not, what did it for my cousin was when she was working at a factory over a summer during college and her peers there were wondering why she was so old without kids. I also took the move out of town path (although through another rural area then getting married) but another mutual friend who was also working there just decided to stay for some reason.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Right, I grew up in New Hampshire and kids about to graduate high school quickly decided on one of two paths: get the hell out of Dodge and go to a college or two or live in the same town they grew up in. It was mostly (but not exactly) a cut between people that flocked to city-life and not, what did it for my cousin was when she was working at a factory over a summer during college and her peers there were wondering why she was so old without kids. I also took the move out of town path (although through another rural area then getting married) but another mutual friend who was also working there just decided to stay for some reason.
Apologies both for the lengthy quote and for the fact I keep on quoting from Jonathan Haidt, but it really seems apposite to what we're discussing and The Righteous Mind has really clarified things for me by providing persuasive and evidence based explanations for things that have puzzled me in the past -- in this case, how personality comes to be formed:
Where do our personalities come from? To answer that question, we need to distinguish among three different levels of personality, according to a useful theory from psychologist Dan McAdams.21 The lowest level of our personalities, which he calls “dispositional traits,” are the sorts of broad dimensions of personality that show themselves in many different situations and are fairly consistent from childhood through old age. These are traits such as threat sensitivity, novelty seeking, extraversion, and conscientiousness. These traits are not mental modules that some people have and others lack; they’re more like adjustments to dials on brain systems that everyone has.

Let’s imagine a pair of fraternal twins, a brother and sister raised together in the same home. During their nine months together in their mother’s womb, the brother’s genes were busy constructing a brain that was a bit higher than average in its sensitivity to threats, a bit lower than average in its tendency to feel pleasure when exposed to radically new experiences. The sister’s genes were busy making a brain with the opposite settings.

The two siblings grow up in the same house and attend the same schools, but they gradually create different worlds for themselves. Even in nursery school, their behavior causes adults to treat them differently. One study found that women who called themselves liberals as adults had been rated by their nursery school teachers as having traits consistent with threat insensitivity and novelty-seeking.22 Future liberals were described as being more curious, verbal, and self-reliant, but also more assertive and aggressive, less obedient and neat [That's me exactly when I was a child]. So if we could observe our fraternal twins in their first years of schooling, we’d find teachers responding differently to them. Some teachers might be drawn to the creative but rebellious little girl; others would crack down on her as an unruly brat, while praising her brother as a model student.

But dispositional traits are just the lowest of the three levels, according to McAdams. The second level is our “characteristic adaptations.” These are traits that emerge as we grow. They are called adaptations because people develop them in response to the specific environments and challenges that they happen to face. For example, let’s follow our twins into adolescence, and let’s suppose they attend a fairly strict and well-ordered school. The brother fits in well, but the sister engages in constant battles with the teachers. She becomes angry and socially disengaged. These are now parts of her personality—her characteristic adaptations—but they would not have developed had she gone to a more progressive and less structured school.

By the time they reach high school and begin to take an interest in politics, the two siblings have chosen different activities (the sister joins the debate team in part for the opportunity to travel; the brother gets more involved with his family’s church) and amassed different friends (the sister joins the goths; the brother joins the jocks). The sister chooses to go to college in New York City, where she majors in Latin American studies and finds her calling as an advocate for the children of illegal immigrants. Because her social circle is entirely composed of liberals, she is enmeshed in a moral matrix based primarily on the Care/harm foundation. In 2008, she is electrified by Barack Obama’s concern for the poor and his promise of change.

The brother, in contrast, has no interest in moving far away to a big, dirty, and threatening city. He chooses to stay close to family and friends by attending the local branch of the state university. He earns a degree in business and then works for a local bank, gradually rising to a high position. He becomes a pillar of his church and his community, the sort of person that Putnam and Campbell praised for generating large amounts of social capital.23 The moral matrices that surround him are based on all six foundations. There is occasional talk in church sermons of helping victims of oppression, but the most common moral themes in his life are personal responsibility (based on the Fairness foundation—not being a free rider or a burden on others) and loyalty to the many groups and teams to which he belongs. He resonates to John McCain’s campaign slogan, “Country First.”

Things didn’t have to work out this way. On the day they were born, the sister was not predestined to vote for Obama; the brother was not guaranteed to become a Republican. But their different sets of genes gave them different first drafts of their minds, which led them down different paths, through different life experiences, and into different moral subcultures. By the time they reach adulthood they have become very different people whose one point of political agreement is that they must not talk about politics when the sister comes home for the holidays.
I would be really interested to hear how that gels with other people's experiences. As I say, the little girl in that story could have been me as a child.
 

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So they would want blind people that wear sunglasses all the time to not wear them in a pic?
Correct, if they want a READ ID compliant state ID card. Something to do with facial recognition scanning software having trouble creating a clean master copy of someone's face.

Sounds like the same is true of regular prescription glasses, which people are now being asked to remove for their photos instead of leaving them on.
 
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Kara Spengler

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Correct, if they want a READ ID compliant state ID card. Something to do with facial recognition scanning software having trouble creating a clean master copy of someone's face.

Sounds like the same is true of regular prescription glasses, which people are now being asked to remove for their photos instead of leaving them on.
Ah, REAL ID. Yet another problem I have with that mess of laws. The whole point of a picture on an ID is to, well, identify someone. If the picture does not look how they normally look it pretty much is useless. It is all fine and dandy to say 'the computer can not resolve your face behind glasses' but unless computers are going to be doing real world police work it is pretty pointless.

Of course, pictures are not perfect. For example, you might get a different hairstyle before you get a new picture. It gives humans looking at it at least a chance though.
 
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but unless computers are going to be doing real world police work it is pretty pointless.
I would imagine that the TSA and officers doing real world police work probably require people to remove their sunglasses or color-changing contacts to confirm matching eye color and identification, if they feel it necessary.
 

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I believe all things exist, only a matter of when and where. So; a universe exactly like ours but was designed by the Christian god? Yup! It exists. A universe exactly like ours but it came from nowhere though years of evolutionary processes? That one exists too.

If two possible histories are not distinguishable in any way, they are irrelevant to me. Only when the details matter and are verifiable to me do specific possible histories mean anything to me.

To me evidence points to us being in one that’s came from nowhere. But hey there is a universe where a god made us but wanted it to look like he didn’t. You can believe you’re in that one if you want. It exists. Maybe you’re in it. But I say it’s irrelevant because it has no effect on anything I can verify.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Correct, if they want a READ ID compliant state ID card. Something to do with facial recognition scanning software having trouble creating a clean master copy of someone's face.

Sounds like the same is true of regular prescription glasses, which people are now being asked to remove for their photos instead of leaving them on.
That certainly seems to be the case in the UK, where we can't wear glasses for drivers licence photos-- even prescription glasses that it's a condition of your licence to wear while driving .

We also, since here we submit our own photos for drivers licences and passports (the back countersigned by someone in a position of responsibility, like your doctor or parish priest, when first you apply), have to have a plain background to the photo, and no other objects, and -- most important -- mustn't smile.

That has to be for the convenience of facial recognition technology rather than for humans checking the documents.

Here's a set of examples they give (this is for passports, but the rules are identical).


 

Jopsy Pendragon

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, and -- most important -- mustn't smile.
Reverse that here, you can still smile, slightly, but you're not allowed to take your own photo. Go figure. :)