Do you believe in God?

Argent Stonecutter

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How would you feel about a rule that said all men had to grow beards and wear some sort of head covering for their driving licence photos?
How would you feel about a rule that said drivers license photos merely had to be recognizable as the person as they normally present themselves?

To my mind, the point of having a photo in your driving licence is that it represents your normal appearance. So unless there's some good reason not to, why not simply have the rule that people's images in their driving licence should reflect that.
Oh yeh, we actually agree, so what the fuck are you complaining to me about?

The rule in the US is explicitly about *religious* head covering. That's the rule *I'M* complaining about. If it wasn't religious-based, then why on *earth* do you think I'd have any reason or wish to object?

Oh, and, hey, LET ME FUCKING REPEAT THIS BIT which I know you actually read because you quoted the last line:

Argent said:
Because so many religious beliefs are not as benign as "I want to wear a colander on my head".

Things like "I don't want my employees to get birth control on their insurance even if it doesn't cost me any more".

This shit is actually built into law. Look up "The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993"

I say NO. Just no. No special rights for beliefs just because someone claims some god dictated it.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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How would you feel about a rule that said drivers license photos merely had to be recognizable as the person as they normally present themselves?

Oh yeh, we actually agree, so what the fuck are you complaining to me about?

The rule in the US is explicitly about *religious* head covering. That's the rule *I'M* complaining about. If it wasn't religious-based, then why on *earth* do you think I'd have any reason or wish to object?

Oh, and, hey, LET ME FUCKING REPEAT THIS BIT which I know you actually read because you quoted the last line:
The equivalent regulations in the UK also specify that the exemption is only for headgear worn for religious or medical reasons.

This is presumably because, at least in the UK, generally when people habitually wear the same form of head covering indoors and outdoors for both work and leisure purposes they do so for one of those two reasons.

So I'm trying to think, you see, how otherwise to assess someone's statement that "wearing this hat/turban/colander on my head is how I normally present myself" without requiring lots of evidence that would burdensome to collect and a waste of time to examine.

I know that Sikh men habitually wear turbans, and many Jewish men habitually wear a kippah, and many Muslim women habitually wear some sort of headscarf, because I see that every day in the street, so "I wear a turban at all times because I'm a Sikh" seems, on the face of it, a perfectly reasonable and credible statement, so I have no reason to doubt it unless there's some evidence to contradict it.

However, the only time I ever see anyone wearing a colander on his head is in news reports about people trying to persuade the DVLA that's their normal headgear, so it seems not unreasonable for me to want to see some evidence to confirm that this is, in fact, the case. It shouldn't be that difficult for someone to provide, after all -- if someone has a Facebook or Instagram account, then examining that might cast some light on the matter, as should statements from his family, friends or employer.

I rather like the approach taken by the Moscow traffic police here:

Andrei Filin, who wears a knitted yellow pasta strainer on his licence, is a follower of The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – a US-based parody faith satirising religion.

He is the first person in Russia and the fifth person in the world to be allowed to don the kitchenwear on his driving license.


Writing on Twitter, Mr Filin said: “The first license with a colander in Russia! What a great day!”


The driving licence was issued by a Main Directorate for Road Traffic Safety office in Moscow on 9 January, Russia Beyond the Headlines reports.

The deputy head of the Moscow State Traffic Inspectorate, Vladimir Kuzin, told Russian media that if Mr Filin is ever stopped by traffic police he must have a colander on his head or “his license will be taken from him,” Russia Today reports.
 
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Katheryne Helendale

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But religion is getting preferential treatment. If I want to get my picture taken with ferret ears and whiskers, I'm out of luck unless I make up a Church of the Great Ferret.

To me, these are the same thing. I don't care about religion A getting more accomodations than religion B. I care that religious beliefs are given MORE accommodations than non-religious beliefs.

Because so many religious beliefs are not as benign as "I want to wear a colander on my head".

Things like "I don't want my employees to get birth control on their insurance even if it doesn't cost me any more".

This shit is actually built into law. Look up "The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993"

I say NO. Just no. No special rights for beliefs just because someone claims some god dictated it.
Absent a religious belief, you'd have to provide some sort of indisputable evidence that ferret ears and whiskers are your normal everyday characteristics. Most religious followers don't have to do that because their religions and religious requirements are generally well known. However, if you belong to a really obscure religion with obscure beliefs, you're going to have to be prepared to prove it. The pastafarian got lucky because the DMV worker decided it was easier to accommodate his bizarre request than to fight him over it.

Your solution seems to be to force religious practitioners to go against their beliefs and shave/remove their headgear so that there would be no "preferential treatment" for the religious. Do you see how distasteful that is?

There's a lesson in religious tolerance to be learned here.
 

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That's one of the things the Pastfarians and Subgenius and Discordians and other parody religions are doing.

Me, I don't want them to be giving ANY sets of beliefs special protection or tax exempt status.
The satanists do a lot of that too. The irony is, using the original definition, it is the same mythos as christianity.
 

Innula Zenovka

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It seems to me that the reason there is this argument is because the US and UK may have very different legislation regarding religion.
That's very much it, I think. We both have very different terms of reference, since I'm used to living in a thoroughly secular state, for all that we have state religion, which we treat much as we treat the institution of monarchy -- something remote that's part of the country, and is just there, but for much of the time it's not really part of most people's lives unless they want it to be.

I'm also philosophically and temperamentally sceptical of rationalist arguments in politics, which means much of the time I reach political and ethical conclusions that are, in US terms, "ultra liberal" but by a path that seems quite conservative to many of my fellow Labour Party members.

So I suspect we're agreeing about where we are, but arguing about the routes we took to get there.
 
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Argent Stonecutter

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Wow, everyone's still hammering away at my DMV one-liner instead of the more sinister example of the RFRA.

This is presumably because, at least in the UK, generally when people habitually wear the same form of head covering indoors and outdoors for both work and leisure purposes they do so for one of those two reasons.
And the pastafarians have demonstrated that this kind of restriction is useless.

Absent a religious belief, you'd have to provide some sort of indisputable evidence that ferret ears and whiskers are your normal everyday characteristics.
Well, I could lie and pretend that it was a religious belief. Like a pastafarian.

People abuse religious exemptions all the time.

The pastafarian got lucky because the DMV worker decided it was easier to accommodate his bizarre request than to fight him over it.
There are quite a lot of "lucky pastafarians" by now. Perhaps it wasn't so much luck.

Your solution seems to be to force religious practitioners to go against their beliefs and shave/remove their headgear so that there would be no "preferential treatment" for the religious.
Quite the opposite.

If an exemption is allowed for a religious purpose, it should be allowed for everyone.

Or, as in the case of companies refusing to allow their insurance companies to provide birth control, nobody.
 

Jopsy Pendragon

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I think I'm missing a step in the argument somewhere.
[...]

So I don't see how "the way that religio[n] works (or more specifically fails to work)" proves anything about whether "the god(s) they claim to represent are false."

Surely, if anything, it proves that the way a religion works or doesn't has nothing to do with the existence of the god in question and everything to do with social conditions, [...]
Well, to be honest, I wasn't even really factoring in the social-structure side of religion in the first place. I was focused more on the theological dogma that they base their unquestionable moral and social authority upon.

The thing about the parable of "the blindmen and the elephant" is that at least the elephant EXISTS to be experienced in some actual way, even if only in part. With religion it's more like a bunch of dead men trying to agree on what the shadow of a wumpus would look like. If one existed. In a space that had light. And it didn't immediately consume anyone that found it before they could even observe it or its shadow in the first place.

Functionally, in attempting to 'describe god', we're probably doing little more than trying to describe what our shadow looks like, projected upon the stars in night sky.
 

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Well, I could lie and pretend that it was a religious belief. Like a pastafarian.
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.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Well, to be honest, I wasn't even really factoring in the social-structure side of religion in the first place. I was focused more on the theological dogma that they base their unquestionable moral and social authority upon.

The thing about the parable of "the blindmen and the elephant" is that at least the elephant EXISTS to be experienced in some actual way, even if only in part. With religion it's more like a bunch of dead men trying to agree on what the shadow of a wumpus would look like. If one existed. In a space that had light. And it didn't immediately consume anyone that found it before they could even observe it or its shadow in the first place.

Functionally, in attempting to 'describe god', we're probably doing little more than trying to describe what our shadow looks like, projected upon the stars in night sky.
While I view religion wholly as a human activity, in which people participate for reasons that seem good to them. Whether or not the God or gods or entities at the centre of the religion exist doesn't really interest me, since it's a matter of faith, not fact. I'm much more interested in what people believe about the object of their worship, and what they get from their belief.
 

Argent Stonecutter

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So why aren't other human activities that people get benefits from, like sports fandom or science fiction fandom, similarly privileged?
 
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Innula Zenovka

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So why aren't other human activities that people get benefits from, like sports fandom or science fiction fandom, similarly privileged?
Presumably because the sports and scifi fandoms haven't made any effort to obtain similar privileges for themselves, and you do better asking them, not me, why that is.

That is, historically organised religion has played a much greater role in many people's lives than has done sports fandom or science fiction fandom, at least until recently, and there's been no real political pressure from anyone for science fiction or sports fandom to receive benefits similar to those enjoyed by organised religion.

If you want to argue that they should all receive (or not) similar benefits, then fair enough.

However, that's not a subject that interests me particularly, at least not it becomes a live political issue, and then not until I see the details of what the new laws are supposed to be.

Why is it that organised religion nowadays plays so greater a part in the lives of many US citizens than it does in the lives of many Canadians, Australians, or Brits, or citizens of most other EU and EEA countries?

I'd say for the same reason -- history.
 
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Soen Eber

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So why aren't other human activities that people get benefits from, like sports fandom or science fiction fandom, similarly privileged?
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).
 
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Argent Stonecutter

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If you want to argue that they should all receive (or not) similar benefits, then fair enough.
That's the bottom line, wot?

And I say it's because politicians have to at least pretend to believe in religion. Because people believe these ludicrous myths are the literal truth, and some will literally kill and die for them. That's so fucked up.

Even in countries like Australia the god vote is worth at least a few percent. I don't think SF has managed much more than getting NASA to name the mock-up shuttle "Enterprise".
 

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Per the "Moonrise" podcasts of the Washington Post, science fiction is largely responsible for the impulse to go to the Moon. It is an argument, supported with facts, I find plausible though not conclusive. It is an amazing and heretofore untold tale. Religion has a much more checkered record of accomplishments.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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That's the bottom line, wot?

And I say it's because politicians have to at least pretend to believe in religion. Because people believe these ludicrous myths are the literal truth, and some will literally kill and die for them. That's so fucked up.

Even in countries like Australia the god vote is worth at least a few percent. I don't think SF has managed much more than getting NASA to name the mock-up shuttle "Enterprise".
I think the problem is that you are talking about religion in the USA and I am talking about religion in general.

You say " it's because politicians have to at least pretend to believe in religion," and I say, "No, they don't -- just look at the UK or France or Germany, for example."

Why are things so different on different sides of the Atlantic? I would say it's because the different countries have different histories and different social structures. The religions aren't that much different, after all.

If you want to talk about the role of religion in specific countries, and in the lives and politics of those countries' citizens, then fine, but please don't assume that simply because something is true of America and Americans (or even of American and Australia) it's necessarily true of anywhere else, because self-evidently it isn't in many cases.
 

Soen Eber

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Why are things so different on different sides of the Atlantic? I would say it's because the different countries have different histories and different social structures. The religions aren't that much different, after all.
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.
 
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Argent Stonecutter

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I think the problem is that you are talking about religion in the USA and I am talking about religion in general.
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.
 
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Jopsy Pendragon

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So why aren't other human activities that people get benefits from, like sports fandom or science fiction fandom, similarly privileged?
Does football, basketball and baseball really need more privilege than they already get in the U.S. ?! ;)
 
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