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walk in the woods

And so it begins

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11 minutes ago, The Latin Scot said:

A believer holds that right and wrong have always been and always will be

I specifically wanted to focus on this line.  How do you reconcile evolving church positions (even within the same denomination) on such topics as homosexuality, birth control, etc.?  If it was wrong 50 years ago, how can they say it's ok now?  

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Put simply, a believer usually NOT a believer in a Church - he or she is a believer in God. God, at least in my book, does not change. How different denominations interpret divine will, however, depends on the people who belong to them, not on God Himself. I don't belong to a sect that has those issues, but I know that even among believers, many struggle to interpret consistent moral principles in religions of perpetually changing doctrines. What I would like to know is, how does an atheist determine right and wrong without an external barometer such as God or revelation? Please know I am not trying to be confrontational; I am hoping it will help me articulate my thoughts in this discussion better. If there is not some outside factor weighing in on morality, how does an atheist decide what morality even is? How does one learn without a teacher? How does one set a standard of right and wrong if everybody's personal scale is weighted by a lifetime of different experiences? Can there be moral absolutes if there is no Giver of moral law in the first place? I admit I have always been ignorant as to the reasoning of atheists. If you could enlighten me, I would appreciate it, and would be able to answer your questions better.

Note: I am off to den meeting now, and I suspect that by the time I get back online this topic will be overwhelmed with responses. But I shall be eager to read how things develop when I return. 

Edited by The Latin Scot

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Try

https://www.atheistalliance.org/about-atheism/can-atheists-moral/

https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/ethics-without-gods/

https://www.thoughtco.com/atheists-have-no-basis-for-morality-248301

I'll just add this:

Can there be moral absolutes if there is no Giver of moral law in the first place?

Since people don't agree on what gods exist or even (if they agree on the same god) exactly what that god wants, "god-based" morals are also, essentially, subjective, because the god you end up following is a subjective decision.  And it's even worse, because so many people think they end up with objective morals, and they get at loggerheads with other people with different, objective morals.  The phrase "different, objective morals" is, of course, impossible if both of you really have objective morals, so this is a big hint that at least one of you is wrong.

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Merlyn !   Almost thought you had dropped off the face of the earth !  I knew this discussion on the erstwhile Faith and Chaplaincy forum couldn't go by without your erudition. 

The debate seems to be whether one can have an ethical and moral center to one's psyche without a spiritual belief in "something bigger" then one's self.   It must be noted (I'm sure friend Merlyn would agree) that every noted, named faith, from Sophocles on up to the LDS folks (with the possible exception of the Ba 'Hai ? and Buddhism? ) can claim both a peace testimony and a violent, vengeful period.  The Christian Crusades, the Muslim J'had, the various Hindu - Sikh disturbances, even the Shinto-Samurai events in Japan...  Hurt or Help?  

It is hard to find a faith category that doesn't exhibit that dichotomy.  What is moral/ethical?   By whose example do you judge?  Atheists are certainly  prone to this.   Was Hitler a "believer"?  Pol Pot?  Sadaam Hussein?  Oh, wait, he was labeled Muslim,  (Sufism? Ahmadiyya?) .  The rationale, the REASON for the ethics (Jesus said...) is the need here. Everyone wants an "authority" to point to.  Atheism points to Humanity as it's authority, the idea that ethical, moral  behavior is endemically the right thing to do,  as such,  by definition,  should help everyone somehow and hurt no one somehow.  

How'm I doin' ? 

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What is moral/ethical?   By whose example do you judge?  Atheists are certainly  prone to this.

Sure, but trying to say something like "I get my morals from my god, therefor atheists, who don't have a god, don't have morals, either" isn't valid reasoning, and is shown to be false by the existence of moral atheists.

 

with the possible exception of the Ba 'Hai ? and Buddhism?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_and_violence

I think a good first pass to find violence by religious view X is to look for where they are in power -- I don't think Bahá'í have been numerous enough to be in charge anywhere, and I don't see much organized violence by them, either.

 

Atheism points to Humanity as it's authority

While that's common, atheism per se doesn't assign any particular authority.

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6 hours ago, Eagledad said:

What if he doesn't convert. 

First Class requirement: 

  1. Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Tell how you have done your duty to God and how you have lived four different points of the Scout Law (different from those points used for previous ranks) in your everyday life.

Will the scout be satisfied with experiencing only 7 of the 8 Methods of Scouting?

BArry

Sorry - was away for a few hours.  This topic is moving fast.

There are so many ways to handle this one.  Here's a few:

  1. be up front with the Scout.  Tell him/her that this requirement is coming and that they will not be able to advance past it.  His/her choice if they still want to join.
  2. be ridiculously literal.  recognize that in the Scouts mind there is no god and so that he has completed his duty to god by doing nothing.  Focus on the remaining parts of the Scout law.
  3. project a bit.  Discuss the concept of God and what it means to do your duty to God.  Have a discussion around how he is living his life in a way that would mirror what those with a belief in God would do.
  4. interpret a bit.  substitute "greater good" for God.  Have him tell how he has done his duty to the greater good.

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5 hours ago, NJCubScouter said:

That's just speculation, and I don't think it's correct.

Is it? If we already have evidence of atheists re-writing the Oath and Law to suit their beliefs, is it really so speculative to suggest that they'd push for broader changes if given a nod from the BSA that the organization is flexible on the religious requirement for membership? 

When the posted speed limit is 55 mph, people do 65. When it's 65 mph, people do 75. 

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The Exploring career education program is part of Learning for Life, an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America.  Exploring posts and clubs are supported by BSA councils in much the same way as Scouting / Venturing units.  This is the Exploring non-discrimination statement from the "About Us" page of the Exploring.org website:

"Exploring programs are designed for all age groups starting at 10 and not yet age 21. Youth participation is open to any youth in the prescribed age group for that particular program. Adults are selected by the participating organization for involvement in the program. Color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, disability, economic status or citizenship is not criteria for participation by youth or adults."

For its "traditional" programs (Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturing, Sea Scouts), the Boy Scouts of America has already removed almost all of the "participation criteria" on that list; most recently, sexual orientation and gender.  All that remains is removing religion as a criterion for participation, and the BSA will be able to adopt the Exploring non-discrimination statement for all of its programs.  The final departure of the LDS church as a significant chartered partner will eliminate the last practical barrier to BSA removing religion as a membership standard. 

Given the changes of the last few years, it seems inevitable that this last step will be taken soon, perhaps as early as 2020.  It will mean, at minimum, that any "duty to God" advancement requirements be moved from "required" to "elective" status, and that optional substitutions for "duty to God" in the Scout Oath and "Reverent" in the Scout Law will be adopted.

There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and some people will leave, and some religious institutions will cease being chartered organizations.  The BSA corporate organization will breathe a sigh of relief that donors, schools, and government entities will no longer hesitate to deal with them.  And a large share of the membership and chartered organizations won't care, because for them Scouting is in the same category as soccer and piano lessons -- not a significant source of spirituality.  They will keep on with the business of promoting the ability of young people to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred (secular) virtues.  

Fortunately, no one will stop believing in God, stop praying, stop reading scripture, stop attending religious services, or become confused about their moral standards because the BSA drops religion as a requirement.

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And this will happen because we were not secure in our faith.  Rather than being open and inviting to non-believers -- as our Scouting principles demanded --- we took the path of fear.  We failed to trust that God would have a way.  We thought that we could do a better job of protecting faith than God could.

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Stepping aside from the debate regarding the point of religion, I don’t see much upside for the BSA if the drop the faith requirement.  It is already extremely weak tea.  There is not a large new member group out there that would join (such as when they added girls) and I haven’t heard widespread loss of corporate sponsors or COs like I saw with excluding gays.   All that would happen is further controversy and loss of experienced members.  

In my pack, which is essential tied to a public school, we tell parents to handle the duty to God requirements and let us know when they are complete.  Yes, I’m sure that there are a few kids and adults that are excluded and more that are uncomfortable with the religious aspects, but BSA needs some stability now and I don’t see this as something they should stir up anytime soon.  I don’t lose kids to g,g,g.... I lose kids due to band, soccer, hockey, friends and fortnite.

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37 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and some people will leave, and some religious institutions will cease being chartered organizations.  The BSA corporate organization will breathe a sigh of relief that donors, schools, and government entities will no longer hesitate to deal with them.  And a large share of the membership and chartered organizations won't care, because for them Scouting is in the same category as soccer and piano lessons -- not a significant source of spirituality.  They will keep on with the business of promoting the ability of young people to do things for themselves and others, to train them in scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred (secular) virtues.  

The vast majority of CO's are still churches and they do care, so much that they are forming their own youth groups. The program and duration of Confirmation in our local Catholic Diocese resembles the journey of Scouting more each year with outdoor activities, community service, character-building, coed, oh and Duty to God. Hardly time for one youth program let alone both. 

So, the BSA now has to find CO's without competing youth programs.  Remember the forum discussions regarding whether the CO or the scout were the BSA's customer?

Schools? Too late around here, most  middle and high schools already have more adventurous outdoor clubs and more exciting STEM clubs and their programs fit student schedules.

VFW's, Fire Depts, and Parent groups are still likely.

My $0.02

 

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Those that make a big deal of refusing to say God in the pledge of allegiance bother me as much as those that say I'm going to burn in hell for not accepting Jesus. I like my spirituality, my religion, my sitting on a rock and just soaking up the beauty of the outdoors. And I also believe it has made me a better person. So I think it is important and yet it has to be done right.

What is it about religion that encourages better character? For me it's time spent praying/thinking/discussing what the best of mankind can be. I have no idea why but when I spend the time doing this it just makes everything better and calmer, makes me more empathetic and wanting to help others, makes me think about situations I'd rather not. This, more than anything else, encourages me to be a better person. I think of character as a muscle group and the term use it or lose it applies. Training is important and we have to put time into it. I see the person that meditates daily as being more empathetic than the person that goes to religious services twice a year and calls it good.

So rather than ask what is your duty to God I'd rather ask how do you practice and train your character. Yearly? Weekly? Daily? Reps and sets? We can't really tell a scout he's doing it wrong but with all the other points of the scout law it's simple enough to prove to a scout that he can improve.

The other day I saw something on the internet about a "dopamine fast:" For one day, no food, no work, no entertainment, no hard exercise, but you could write and think about your life. The guy that wrote this and all the comments sounded like he had invented the greatest thing since sliced bread, but this is surprisingly close to what Yom Kippur is. Take out the no food part and it's surprisingly close to the Sabbath. I suspect this guy has no religious beliefs, based on some crudity in his descriptions. But he independently found what people have known for a long time, character takes time.

 

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4 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

The Exploring career education program is part of Learning for Life, an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America.

Now it is, yes.  It used to have the same "no gays, no atheists" requirements as the Scouting program, until it was pointed out (via lawsuits) that police departments, fire departments, etc. couldn't legally do that.

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10 hours ago, ParkMan said:

Sorry - was away for a few hours.  This topic is moving fast.

There are so many ways to handle this one.  Here's a few:

  1. be up front with the Scout.  Tell him/her that this requirement is coming and that they will not be able to advance past it.  His/her choice if they still want to join.
  2. be ridiculously literal.  recognize that in the Scouts mind there is no god and so that he has completed his duty to god by doing nothing.  Focus on the remaining parts of the Scout law.
  3. project a bit.  Discuss the concept of God and what it means to do your duty to God.  Have a discussion around how he is living his life in a way that would mirror what those with a belief in God would do.
  4. interpret a bit.  substitute "greater good" for God.  Have him tell how he has done his duty to the greater good.

Good post. I have done the first three, number four is a little out there for me.

We aren't looking for future priest in our program, just some consideration of a higher spirit. Someone here already mentioned it, but scouts who struggle with a higher being do tend to relate godly actions to character. As much as we hear all the bad things about religion, most people tend to think of god as  something good. Good actions are godly actions. So, in my experience, scouts don't have much trouble finding an example or two of duty to god. 

I have never heard of a SM refusing a scout membership because he questioned belief in god. It happens a lot all the time because the natural process of maturing into biological adults is questioning ourselves and our beliefs. We have had many scouts with atheist parents. The parents know full well what scouting is all about and they want their kids experience the program. One of the parents is an Eagle Scout. I believe these are progressive in the true sense because they want their kids to choose their own path with religion. I'm honored they use the scouting program as part of that journey.

Of course, not all religious people are good people or make good role models, and  they should be filtered out of the program as well.

I have many stories about scouts struggling with identifying with duty to god, but I remember one who had a terrible abusive home life. That was 25 years ago and my wife and I still talk about him. He found his safe place in the troop and loved it. He also brought a lot of baggage from his personal life, one of which was worshiping the devil. It was not a problem for us because considering this kids life, devil worshiping was the least of the challenges for either of us. And, we knew he was only doing it to lash out at his parents. But what a kid, he was so excited about scouting that he would get up a 5;00 am and try to get everybody to start the day. He jumped into the pool at summer camp for the swimmers test only to find out he didn't know how to swim. If it was sc scouting, he would dive in with all his heart. Any day camping with the troop was the best day of his life. He made everyone feel good to be a scout, but he made the adults feel good to give him a chance. Anyway, he and I were chatting one day and he told me he was looking for a church and wanted to know which churches the adults attended.

Role modeling is with out a doubt the most important element for growth in scouting.

Barry

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Post removed.  It's the same thread that's been posted for years here.  

Edited by fred8033

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