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Featured "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse"

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by joe1776, May 19, 2017 at 10:49 AM.

  1. joe1776

    joe1776 Member

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    In the movie, The Godfather, Marlon Brando, in the title role, delivered this line a couple of times to explain how he was going to get someone to comply with his request. It's about reward and punishment.

    Reward on its own is fairly effective. Punishment on its own is equally effective. But the two combined are very powerful in coercing compliance.

    A few days after my seventh birthday, a Catholic priest made me an offer that most seven year olds can't refuse. If I believed as a Catholic, I'd go to Heaven (eternal reward). If I didn't, I'd go to Hell (eternal punishment).

    There would be reward in this life too.

    Only Catholics go to Heaven he told me. He didn't tell me this, but the idea of belonging to an elite group favored by God makes a strong appeal to the arrogant side of human nature.

    The priest was wasting his time with me because I'd been born with an inclination to doubt. On hearing a claim of any consequence, my attitude is "Well, maybe that's true and maybe it isn't. I'll have to think about it." Faith, a belief without evidence, is impossible for me. It's not an option.

    By making this offer so young, the priest had tried to rob me of a freewill choice as an adult and, for a while, that pissed me off. But then I realized that the same thing had been done to him when he was seven years old. So, I bear no grudge.
     
    #1 joe1776, May 19, 2017 at 10:49 AM
    Last edited: May 19, 2017 at 2:08 PM
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  2. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita and Spiritualist
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    OK, I agree we shouldn't blindly accept any belief system. The important question then becomes, where DO we go from there?
     
  3. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    Same thing happened to me.
    It was years and years before I came to the realization that it didn't matter much. That what was important about the church was the community and organizational opportunities and such. Lots of people don't need the sort of manipulation you are describing to stay in the community.
    But some do and it does work. Not perfectly, and there are costs involved with using such primitive brain washing technology in the modern world. There are many vehemently anti-Catholic ex-Catholics out there. And some very weak minded and weak willed Catholics.

    Is it a positive, a negative, or a wash?

    :shrug:
    Tom
     
  4. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    Early indoctrination is the primary process by which religion propagates. This isn't a coincidence.
     
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  5. viole

    viole Metaphysical Naturalist
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    I agree.

    That is Christian proselytizing in a nutshell: making offers that cannot (or should not) be refused.

    Ciao

    - viole
     
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  6. joe1776

    joe1776 Member

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    My personal belief system is something like a software application. It has undergone continual upgrades over the years. My focus has been on useful knowledge such as the goal of life which I've decided is moral progress, becoming a better human being.

    How about you? Where are you headed?
     
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  7. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita and Spiritualist
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    Do you have any spiritual beliefs (about the super-physical?).
    I went to Catholic school myself and had the similar Catholic indoctrination as a child. I am now interested in pursuing the eastern/New Age path of Self-Realization that this is all One Consciousness.

    My interest in spirituality sprung from my study of the paranormal that led me to believe there is more to this universe than meets the eye. And there are those that can tell us about this 'more' and guide us to live in harmony with this mind-boggling universe.
     
  8. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    You ran into a terrible priest because the RCC does not nor did not teach that one would go to hell if they weren't Catholic, and also that no one can guarantee that they or anyone else is automatically going to heaven if they belong to the RCC.
     
  9. joe1776

    joe1776 Member

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    That's a good question, Tom. I think it depends on what things we value most.

    If I could have faked belief, I see the same advantages of community that you enjoy. And, with its vast organization, the church can do a helluva lot of good in the world.

    But my focus has been on moral progress, learning to become a better human being and I see traditional Western religion making moral progress only when forced to it by public opinion, a fact which keeps them about a half-century behind the moral curve.
     
    #9 joe1776, May 19, 2017 at 12:01 PM
    Last edited: May 19, 2017 at 12:24 PM
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  10. suncowiam

    suncowiam Well-Known Member

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    Wow, talk about taking out of context...
     
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  11. joe1776

    joe1776 Member

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    The Catholic Church put themselves into a bind by claiming to be infallible on moral matters. If they were indeed infallible, they wouldn't need to change. So, when they make changes to keep up with the moral progress of Western culture, they refuse to admit it.

    I'm an older man. When I was a boy, the Church's position was exactly as the priest gave it to me.
     
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  12. joe1776

    joe1776 Member

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    Like you, I've had some paranormal experiences which influenced my beliefs. I'm convinced that the subconscious part of our brain is in touch with a greater reality. However, my practical mind isn't given to a lot of speculation about its nature.
     
    #12 joe1776, May 19, 2017 at 12:33 PM
    Last edited: May 19, 2017 at 12:39 PM
  13. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    I am not sure what you mean.
    I was taught things so similar that I can completely relate to the OP.
    Of course, I was a little kid and might not remember exactly what the forbidding "people in black" were telling me to believe.

    But I do vaguely recall realizing that Protestants believed in Jesus. I remember not knowing that. I remember understanding that they were fake Christians who went to a pretend church.
    Keep in mind, we are talking about a single digits age person growing up in a super Catholic world. My understanding was weak in a lot of ways.
    Tom
     
  14. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    I find no reason to do the fake belief thing at all. Maybe my parish is better than most.

    I am fairly well known in my small town. Lots of people know perfectly well that I am a highly opinionated gay atheist, including the pastor of the church, the staff, and the most influential members. They all seem quite able to hold nuanced opinions about me, and lots of other things. They might strongly disapprove of my 20+ year marriage to another dude, but they at least recognize that my marriage is more stable than most marriages today. They may find my atheism unfathomable, but they appreciate that I can form a hard edged argument against casual feticide better than theirs.

    I believe I represent a fair number of logical assaults on the teachings of the church and the Bible, which I enjoy doing.

    Tom
     
  15. suncowiam

    suncowiam Well-Known Member

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    "By taking me so young"

    I took that way out of context. Read that before even reading the OP.
     
  16. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita and Spiritualist
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    I would recommend putting this on your to-do list. You may find others have pursued the question and have interesting things to say. I can't think of anything more important and interesting than understanding and co-operating with the nature of our existence.
     
  17. joe1776

    joe1776 Member

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    That's good. You're lucky.

    My crowd is older and conservative. My Catholic friends and relatives have only recently learned to tolerate Jews and Protestants. They've had to come a long way to do that.

    I can have a frank and interesting discussion on religion with my Jewish friends. But the Christians get angry with me, so the subject's off the table with them.
     
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  18. Akivah

    Akivah Well-Known Member

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    What does tolerate mean? Before did they cross to the other side of a street when they saw a Jew coming?
     
  19. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    Ew!

    I guess I am a bit hardened against casual accusations of paedophilia. I actually was a gay boy and nobody ever offered to have sex with me. Maybe I was the ugliest third grader ever.

    It isn't like it was impossible. More than once, I woke up in my own bed to find a strange man in his underwear. I knew immediately that he must be a Catholic priest. Given the family I grew up in, this wasn't even odd. If a 20 something guy shows up at your house you don't bunk him with your daughters. You put him in with the boys.
    D'oh
    Tom
     
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  20. joe1776

    joe1776 Member

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    That's just not my path, George.

    I feel that I'm "cooperating with the nature of existence" by striving to become a better human being. I think that's our purpose.