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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
A watch(ed) maker never (produces a plague of) boils
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j4 From: j4 Date: November 7th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure it's possible to have interesting discussions about 'the benefits of religion to society and the individual' without taking a position

"Taking a position" sounds to me like stating one's axioms, which seems entirely sensible; the problem arises when the 'debate' turns into a fight to see who can state their axioms loudest -- not so much "taking a position" as "taking a position and bludgeoning everybody else over the head with it".

Surely if you think that the benefits are psychological you're assuming it false

If you think the only benefits are psychological, then yes, by definition. But I think many believers would agree that their religion (and the observance of religion) has psychological benefits! On the other hand, they might well disagree with nonbelievers (or not) about why some things seem to be beneficial for the mind/body.

Similarly the separation of church and state: if your view of the truth or otherwise of religion doesn't inform that, then you're clearly doing it all wrong.

See above re axioms: I'm not suggesting that interesting debate is only possible if people don't take a position on the truth or otherwise of any given religion -- but that it's not possible if you never get beyond taking a position. Clearly the truth of religion is not the only factor in people's opinions about the separation of church and state.

someone who thinks that the church should be disestablished because God intended it to be on the side of the powerless, not the powerful, can't really have much of a meaningful conversation with someone who thinks that it's all just a story but it's a useful one form a social cohesion point of view

Well, they certainly wouldn't agree ... but by objecting to circular and aggressive arguments I didn't mean to imply that the only useful conversations were ones where everybody agreed with each other! IMO terms like "powerless" and "powerful" are as much to do with concepts of society as "social cohesion"; I'd like to think that your hypothetical someones might be able to have an interesting conversation about the social function of the church, while agreeing to differ on the reason for it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 7th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm still not sure how people coming from such radically different positions might be able to have a conversation; they'd be effectively speaking different languages to each other. I mean, I don't see why someone who believes in a religion would want to talk about its psychological benefits with someone who has the rather patronising attitude 'well, it's not true, but it might be a comforting lie'.

But I suspect this is one of those boring conversations, so.

(Coincidentally, one of the words I have to prove I can read to be allowed to send this is 'impasse'.)
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