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Eon
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« Reply #30 on: November 21, 2008, 13:51:43 EST »

Is a fallacy, but not the Sharpshooter one, which deals with more purely random stuff.  In this case, it is simply the choice to use the flat number rather than the proportion for a given group being in jail.  More Christians may be in Jail, but there are more Christians, the question is whether or not a greater percentage of Christians are in jail than Atheists in jail.

I might be wrong, but my understanding is that the numbers are disproportionate and there is a larger percentage of Christians and Muslims in prison than atheists. Hardly surprising really... if I'm right, that is.

If we are forced to spit out teeth, then maybe people will begin to realize which group is the one with the violent amoral assholes who use scripture to justify their bullying and their desires.

For those of us living in the supposedly civilised United States, atheists are already harassed, threatened, assaulted, and murdered, not to mention having their property vandalised (indeed, this, more so than anything else, is why I would never want to live in America). Strangely enough, few (if any) religionists can claim to have suffered similarly at the hands of atheists1. Yet, somehow, they still feel like they're the ones being oppressed. How the hell are you being oppressed when you're the majority and you're in control? The fact that you don't always get your way and that some people openly disagree with you is not oppression.

So, I think we're already at that stage, Wodan. And it was the Christian fanatics who drew first blood. Funny how no prominent atheists have advocated violence in response to our treatment, isn't it?

This is the problem with religious morality. It's a standard of morality that is totally disconnected from reality and that no sane person could possibly adhere to.

1. For reasons that actually concern an atheist's disbelief in God, people. So don't give me the same old tired and thoroughly refuted bullshit about how the atrocities committed by men like Stalin is where atheism ultimately leads us.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2008, 13:54:32 EST by Eon » Logged


Hephaestus 16
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« Reply #31 on: November 21, 2008, 14:38:07 EST »

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This is the problem with religious morality. It's a standard of morality that is totally disconnected from reality and that no sane person could possibly adhere to.
That depends on what memeplex you get saddled with, theres alot of them.
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« Reply #32 on: November 21, 2008, 15:44:54 EST »

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So, similarly, atheism posits there is no God.
I take issue with that, many self described atheists posit that the existence of the standard monotheist diety is incredible unlikely but still possible, and certainly not worth changing behavior over, for example read douglus adam's the salmon of doubt, it think one of the chapters in Dawkins book is titled as such.  The people who say there is no God are Antitheists those beleifs I also find rediculous.  Unfortnately many theists cannot understand the naunce and simply round down.
Wikipedial atheism as contrasted with Wikipedial theism.  The categories defining it in the common mind are:

1)  Nonexistence of gods
2)  Rejection of the existence of current gods

By terminology, most people I've known reclassify the second as "agnostic", due to the existence of common ground between the second class and theists.  Functionally, then, I refer to those who feel a strong connection to the first category.  If that's not an accurate description of your beliefs, then we've just run into a language barrier, and our words mean two different things.  In that sense, then, what I said likely won't apply to you without at least some rewrite on interaction.  This will change only the logic I must wind through to show it to be a religious belief (my primary concern right now), not that it is not a religious belief.

1) Religiosity, noun.  Two meanings: 1. The quality of being religious; 2. Excessive or affected piety.   Here, we're talking about the first.  This has three meanings: 1. Having or showing belief in and reverence for God or a deity; 2. Of, concerned with, or teaching religion: a religious text; 3. Extremely scrupulous or conscientious: religious devotion to duty.  The meaning referenced under religiosity is obviously number 1.

Now, if religion is concerned with gods, then, fundamentally, your argument would have to be that atheists are making a god out of human reason.  I would contend that, actually, we don't hold up our rational faculties to be some beautiful, perfect, all-solving thought-constructs.  We simply think that they are the best tool in the box for understanding the world, which is not the same as perfection.
Ah, but you do hold it up as perfect.  If a process of thought cannot be framed in the logical framework you have created (please stop using rational, it is entirely the wrong word), it will be inherently inferior until either the idea has been reworked or the framework has been reworked.  Now, that framework may undergo more revisions then the Christian framework, but neither is static.  Look at how we have evolved from the Puritans, for instance.

Further, defining religion by the existence of gods is insufficient in the greater world.  I can start another thread to discuss this more fully once I pull some research material together if you'd like, but people have religion without believing in a conscious manifestation of unseen power.  The power of magic held by men is a common aspect of religion, yet it is not supported implicitly by belief in a deity 9 times out of 10.

2) Judeo-Christian morality.  This is where your argument got a tad confused, but in short, your proposition seems to be that "Judaism and Christianity are fundamental to how our culture views morality".  Well, they had their share of the input along the way.  But many other cultures have, along the way, come to hold many of the same things independently as good (honesty, respecting one's parents, not killing people, etc.).  The question becomes, then, did these rules, derived independently many different times by many different people, come from man or from god?  Is religion originally a channel for god(s) to pass on these rules for us, or is it rather an after-the-fact rationalisation for such guidelines (with its fair share of good philosophers and legislaters to codify them, admittedly)?
I am not questioning whether there were other influences, only attempting to state that Jewish and Christian law is such an influence and remind everyone of its importance to the people who taught us law.  I don't care if the laws we have now are derived from God or not.  It is one instance where I agree with Seagull and think the two people quoted are being idiots.  But the feeling that I got from his blog post is that history is being subtly rewritten to ignore the value that was placed in these beliefs by our forefathers.  Though we do not need to continue to use it as the basis for legal belief, it contributed to creating an environment that has allowed these ideas that we justify by other means to flourish.  This is the whole of my point, and the only comment I was trying to make.

3) Centuries old abuse of atheists. 

Regarding your doubt as to whether this occurred, read the Wikipedia article on the history of atheism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_atheism.  Look up what happened to heretics of any stamp in the dark ages.  There's much more to this story than what happened to the (Catholic) Galileo.  Carl Sagen's "This Demon-Haunted World" might also address this nicely.
Interesting.  This will give me something to think about.

Also, regarding your statement that our viewpoint is offensive to many as it intrinsically casts doubt on something at the core of their beliefs.  Well, yes.  Many believers do get offended when we say what we believe; there are ways to ease that by how we say it, but it's practically impossible to avoid completely.  However, the analogy with slapping some random (and well-respected) stranger in the face over a political disagreement is flawed.  How many atheists do you hear of physically attacking Christians, anywhere, even under provocation of the "you're evil" variety?  We say what we believe, people get offended, and a very few attack us.  Those few who do are breaching the mores of civilised society far more gravely than atheists.  And they do not have a right to be protected from knowing that other people believe differently to them.
You are misunderstanding the physical act for the symbolic act.  I am not discussing the physical violence of the act (punching) that was perpetrated, I am discussing the symbolic assault (derision) on what people hold to be centrally important.  The problem is that, culturally, symbolic assault on a western belief tends to be intertwined with physical or ideological assault (character assassination).  This isn't the only way to insult someone, though.  I must reiterate, you are perceived as denigrating and destroying the very fabric that their world is based upon.  With the degree of belief invested in it, these individuals take even the passive existence of belief as an attempt to force them to do something because of the perceived challenge it offers.  Whether you are trying to do this or not is immaterial: a threat is perceived, and so a threat is acted against.  This notion ties in very much to what I started trying to discuss in my thread on "When to Help"

To part 2: where are the laws on blasphemy? Coveting? Work on the sabbath?

The culture is affected, no doubt. The laws? Not so much. The only parts of the ten commandments that are also part of the law are the parts that are common sense to have in the law.
Common sense is defined by culture.  To the Azande of North Central Africa, determining legal guilt by poisoning a chicken and posing questions to the poison (not the gods) on whether someone is metaphysically harming someone else is common sense today.  You just said culture is affected by religion.  How then is the law not affected too?

Law is the codification of what culture deems important.  If the culture is based upon a particular ideology, then it becomes the codification of that ideology.  I will not say if it is functional or not, I am merely stating what is.

For those of us living in the supposedly civilised United States, atheists are already harassed, threatened, assaulted, and murdered, not to mention having their property vandalised (indeed, this, more so than anything else, is why I would never want to live in America). Strangely enough, few (if any) religionists can claim to have suffered similarly at the hands of atheists1. Yet, somehow, they still feel like they're the ones being oppressed. How the hell are you being oppressed when you're the majority and you're in control? The fact that you don't always get your way and that some people openly disagree with you is not oppression.

So, I think we're already at that stage, Wodan. And it was the Christian fanatics who drew first blood. Funny how no prominent atheists have advocated violence in response to our treatment, isn't it?

This is the problem with religious morality. It's a standard of morality that is totally disconnected from reality and that no sane person could possibly adhere to.

1. For reasons that actually concern an atheist's disbelief in God, people. So don't give me the same old tired and thoroughly refuted bullshit about how the atrocities committed by men like Stalin is where atheism ultimately leads us.
But you have been violent.  You may not have recognized it as violence or intended it as violence, but it was perceived as abuse.  You have been in league with the people who gave black people rights, you have attempted to wash away the meaning that two people have in the marriage they have... Atheism is seen to have been ready to devour and rend in two the beliefs and things that fundamentally did good things in the world.  If the religious didn't take control, didn't make themselves the majority, you would have destroyed the world they loved.  At least, that is the perception.

Remember, Eon, you are fighting against a perception of events, not against the history of events.  This is much harder to do, and one I do not envy you in.  What you do, what I do, what anyone does will never truly matter to how people interact with us: only what is perceived to have occurred.  And so, ignorant of what you have done wrong, you have offended people who are still waiting for you to appropriately apologize.  If their opinion has meaning to you, then you must act according to how they dictate you can act (note how that can be negotiated if you do it properly).  This has been a hard lesson for me to learn, but one I'm glad I learned before I tried to 'come out of the closet' about my bisexuality.  Like it or hate it, it is what it is.  Until these people are persuaded to not see atheists as a threat, they will continue to believe they are a threat because of past perceptions coloring their view. 
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Heq
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« Reply #33 on: November 21, 2008, 22:18:26 EST »

Anti-props to Greta Christina.

Atheists are treated very similarly to other groups in religious feuds who have been on the losing side in political struggles (most religious struggles are, at their heart, political-social struggles).  Over the last score of years aethists have risen in prominance, made many political plays, and lost badly.

Ah-ha, non believers cried in the 90s, the end of faith cometh soon!  Of course, it didn't and when prominant atheists tried to flex their newfound political muscles they found out that they are of just a little more strength then, say, seperatists.  That being said, most of the issues she raises are just standard injustices of power, not specifically directed at atheism so much as, well, directed at people who buck the system.

I'm not sure I agree, but that is how power has worked for a very long time.  Try shopping in a nightshirt.  Most of the issues encountered by non-bellicose atheists are often the result of simply being different.  I'm sorry we're social animals, we don't really get on well with individualism. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_atheism

This article is claptrap.

Nietzsche (as a side note) was actually very religious, just anti-Christian.

Buddhism is nihilism revisted, is not properly a philosophy either.  It is a simple statement of belief and a course of action.  It is more correct to call original Buddhism a self-destruction cult.  It would later be modified to become a religion, but originally it does not belong in this category.

Speaking of which, nihil belief (what we would now call nihilism) is not an uncommon postulate.  It was fairly widely accepted in intellectual circles, it was -public- atheism which was prosecuted.  Not mentioned in the article are the such thinkers are Diogenes of Cyniop, Gorgeus, etc.

Socrates was not killed for being an atheist, that Gadfly was killed for consorting with Sparta, but because there were a bunch of spartans around he was whacked in a show trial.  It's obvious throughout the Apology he understands the show nature of the trial, and is, true to form, a total dick about it.

The claims about epicurians are designed to imply they were prosecuted because of Atheistic belief, this is again not true.  Like cynics, epicurians value monastic actions and truth-telling, neither of which is very condusive to making friends.  Epicurus did not believe in gods, or anything so much like them (and Daimons are not god-spirits), they "feel" very much like Descartes god, a "Yeah, sure, uh...yeah, there's your gods, they don't do anything though and have no revelationary powers."

Blah-blah blah, most of the supposed prosecutions for atheism are not prosecutions specifically against atheism, but against many of the other attributes which tend to coincide with atheism.  Most prominant atheists who were persecuted through history were also guilty of the more common crime of -not shutting up when you're told to-, we can't look back in time and wonder why they didn't adhere to the concept of free speech, because we in North America don't.

It's nice to get all mad and such, but if you're going to make an argument based on logical thought, apply some to the argument.  It is not an argument against faith to yell "I can't accept people are rubes and others take advatage of that fact!", it is an argument against how power works in our culture.
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Himatsu
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« Reply #34 on: November 22, 2008, 01:20:58 EST »

Golly, Heq's right. Us atheists should just shut up and accept that religious leaders have power and we don't.

That is so fucking stupid.
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« Reply #35 on: November 22, 2008, 08:29:41 EST »

If the gloves come off, it'll be the atheist side spitting its teeth and begging the referee to stop the match. Atheists should be civil because they have the most to lose from open confrontation.

It's more of a rope-a-dope thing. Atheism as a political class would fail in direct confrontation, but at this very moment, we're content to let religious organisations make themselves look like fools. Sure, we dig the boot in when they do so, but that's how this game is played.

To part 2: where are the laws on blasphemy? Coveting? Work on the sabbath?

The culture is affected, no doubt. The laws? Not so much. The only parts of the ten commandments that are also part of the law are the parts that are common sense to have in the law.
Common sense is defined by culture.  To the Azande of North Central Africa, determining legal guilt by poisoning a chicken and posing questions to the poison (not the gods) on whether someone is metaphysically harming someone else is common sense today.  You just said culture is affected by religion.  How then is the law not affected too?

Bad choice of words, sorry. Though I can't find others, right at the moment.

Law is the codification of what culture deems important.  If the culture is based upon a particular ideology, then it becomes the codification of that ideology.  I will not say if it is functional or not, I am merely stating what is.

No, law is the codification of what those in power deem important, and important enough to bring force. Law is typically behind culture.

Anti-props to Greta Christina.

Atheists are treated very similarly to other groups in religious feuds who have been on the losing side in political struggles (most religious struggles are, at their heart, political-social struggles).  Over the last score of years aethists have risen in prominance, made many political plays, and lost badly.

You speak as if the battle is over. Far from.
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Hephaestus 16
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« Reply #36 on: November 22, 2008, 08:46:12 EST »

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Wikipedial atheism as contrasted with Wikipedial theism.  The categories defining it in the common mind are:

1)  Nonexistence of gods
2)  Rejection of the existence of current gods

By terminology, most people I've known reclassify the second as "agnostic", due to the existence of common ground between the second class and theists.  Functionally, then, I refer to those who feel a strong connection to the first category.  If that's not an accurate description of your beliefs, then we've just run into a language barrier, and our words mean two different things.  In that sense, then, what I said likely won't apply to you without at least some rewrite on interaction.  This will change only the logic I must wind through to show it to be a religious belief (my primary concern right now), not that it is not a religious belief.
I think that your definition of Religious belief is so broadthat it has become absolutely useless
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« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2008, 11:04:45 EST »

Himatsu, what I am recommending is that people stop bitching and saying "I'm persecuted, wah!" and go about finding ways to become more palatable to the majority.

Engaging in the standard game of "UR dumb", "UR dumb 2", "let's fight" almost assures a big loss.
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Chris Stalis
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« Reply #38 on: November 22, 2008, 18:33:12 EST »

Law is the codification of what culture deems important.  If the culture is based upon a particular ideology, then it becomes the codification of that ideology.  I will not say if it is functional or not, I am merely stating what is.

No, law is the codification of what those in power deem important, and important enough to bring force. Law is typically behind culture.
Again, this is logically impossible.  No one can gain power unless the culture propels them to it.  The !Kung bushmen of Africa (can't remember their exact geographic location) have a system of authority where no one is allowed to order anyone around.  Egalitarian debate is the only method for establishing a plan of action.  Granted, when they go out hunting, the !Kung will turn to their best hunter in the party and say "where do you think we should go?"  The hunter must then phrase it as a suggestion, for if he phrases it as an order everyone will ignore him.  If he should try to enforce the order, everyone will band together to evict him from the tribe or kill him, depending on the threat posed.

"Power" as we have envisioned it is enforced by neither law nor force nor divine mandate.  It is granted by the people of a society allowing it to be had by someone through actions and interaction, if not through democratic decision.  This is how dictators and presidents alike are turned into what we would call "lame ducks", where while the authority of the society technically rests with them, no one actually listens or recognizes the person when they exercise that authority.

Ergo, even if law is not the direct codificaiton of what society deems important, the power that codifies your law is propped up and created by the culture that created your power.

I think that your definition of Religious belief is so broadthat it has become absolutely useless
I am taking the academic approach to religious definition, as I understand it to be defined by anthropologists.  I am not attempting to say that everything is religious, nor does everything have religious significance.  What I am saying is that the basis for something to attain religious significance is that it must make an unverifiable assertion about the world.  This is not the whole of it, though.  Interaction with this assertion is key to the existence of belief, for a belief that isn't interacted with is functionally nonexistent anyway.  Both Atheism and Agnosticism fit this definition.  Also, there are common threads linking individuals in both of these collectives on how they interact with 'supernatural' (a term I use with serious reservation because of how loaded it is intellectually) material, principally their penchant for imposing Greek logic on anything they come across in this field.  "Logic" becomes imbued with an importance similar to "Faith", and some of the 'spiritual' rituals in wending through logical interpretations recognized as important by the group as a whole.  After all, while an atheist or agnostic is recognized positively for having rejected the idea of any particular deific figure, a true Atheist or Agnostic will have "contemplated" how it is illogical or inappropriate to hold as higher above you a broad subset of 'supernatural' powers.  Really, 'contemplate' for yourself who you would value the opinion of more, despite not being 'religious' about it.

Also, by broadening the definition of belief, it becomes possible to analyze religious symbolism in groups of people that do not see the demarcation between 'religious' and 'secular' belief (which consists of most societies that I have read up on).  The post Renaissance West is unique in its conception of what a "religion" is; to most people, they do not believe in religion, they accept the nature of the universe as it is.  This is no different then how academics and scientists accept gravity, quantum mechanics, electricity, relativity...  Without this reclassification, religion loses meaning the moment we leave our own culture.

I can begin accumulating a list of examples for this if you would like.  I will also point out that there is a difference still maintained between religion and science in academic communities.  I personally don't understand why and strongly suspect social indoctrination rather then a true difference, but there it is.
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Himatsu
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« Reply #39 on: November 22, 2008, 22:18:07 EST »

Himatsu, what I am recommending is that people stop bitching and saying "I'm persecuted, wah!" and go about finding ways to become more palatable to the majority.

It's not our problem that the majority find atheism unpalatable. We're not going to apologize for not believing--what do you think we are, agnostics? Tongue
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« Reply #40 on: November 22, 2008, 22:42:29 EST »

Himatsu, what I am recommending is that people stop bitching and saying "I'm persecuted, wah!" and go about finding ways to become more palatable to the majority.

I'm going to be very, very charitable here and assume that you're including "change what the majority finds palatable" in that, not just "change to be what the majority currently finds palatable".
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« Reply #41 on: November 22, 2008, 23:14:49 EST »

Forgive me if I'm redundant, there's just too much of the usual for me to wade through.
I'm a religious Reform Jew.

I do not see God as the ultimate moral authority.  Indeed, when I read the bible I see God walking with us on the same journey of moral discovery that we all must make.  It's not a comforting God image for those who want to be able to derive morality from religion, but religion is NOT a divine endeavor; it is a human endeavor.  Religion is what happens when humans try to reify the ineffable, to systemitize the mystical experience, to build the infrastructure for the divine encounter.  It is post-hoc.  It tries to turn memory into reality, but memory fades, and in its fading becomes idealized.  The bible teaches me that we are all in this together, God and man, nation and nation, kin and kin.

Because of this, there is nothing intrinsic to religion from which morality can be derived.  And sometimes my morality comes from my holy book telling me that the poor-man's dove and the rich-man's cow are received by God with equal joy, and sometimes my morality comes from my being appalled at the idea that gays should be stoned.  But engaging my holy text, whether to agree or disagree with it, never fails to give me moral quandaries to ponder.  But the morality does not come from the text.  Rather it comes from my encounter with the text.  Meaning is constructed in the space where text and reader meet, and that is a space in which, whatever you may believe about notions of divine or inspired authorship, authorial intent becomes subservient to what the reader brings to the table.

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« Reply #42 on: November 22, 2008, 23:36:07 EST »

Himatsu, what I am recommending is that people stop bitching and saying "I'm persecuted, wah!" and go about finding ways to become more palatable to the majority.

I'm going to be very, very charitable here and assume that you're including "change what the majority finds palatable" in that, not just "change to be what the majority currently finds palatable".
Actually, I think both interpretations you offer are wrong.  I think it is that even though the actual nature of Atheists is palatable, they are not viewed as such.  Hence, the question is to change how Atheists are perceived and represented, rather than changing either group's attitudes.

Stuff
I am also a Reform Jew which is a polite way of saying that we are Jewish Culturally but no Religiously, though in my case my interest in Jewish Culture is limited to the consumption of Challah.

However, your post reflects my general perspective on religion, which is that it doesn't change people to match it, but people change it to match them. The violent fanatic and the peaceful saint are reading from the same book, but they choose to focus on the parts that match what they already believe.  The only beliefs that tend to appear universally are the ones that allow the Religion Meme to sustain and replicate itself, primarily that of faith over reason and a variety of carrots and sticks.
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« Reply #43 on: November 23, 2008, 02:44:50 EST »

go about finding ways to become more palatable to the majority.
I hear hating on gays does that pretty well
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richardf8
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« Reply #44 on: November 23, 2008, 09:34:36 EST »

I am also a Reform Jew which is a polite way of saying that we are Jewish Culturally but no Religiously, though in my case my interest in Jewish Culture is limited to the consumption of Challah.

Actually, this is not a polite way of saying anything.  It is actually deeply troubling to those of us in the Reform movement who are active in our synagogues, observant of Shabbat and the festivals, studying Torah, and engaged in the various endeavors of repairing the world that we see our theology prompting us toward.  If you are culturally Jewish, then you are culturally Jewish, not Reform.  If you are culturally Jewish, and affiliated with a Reform synagogue, then that synagogue has opportunities for engagement to offer that you are not taking advantage of.

I don't want to hijack thread, so if you want to discuss the meaning of Reform, feel free to PM me, or join me at my blog.

Quote
The only beliefs that tend to appear universally are the ones that allow the Religion Meme to sustain and replicate itself, primarily that of faith over reason and a variety of carrots and sticks.

The carrot and the stick doesn't really fly in Reform theology, and the book of Job really does a nice job of deconstructing that type of theology, present though it may be in Deuteronomy.  As for the question of faith over reason - I know there are many who will object, but I regard reason as something that is always deployed in the wake of belief, to justify it after the fact.
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