“Beliefs” can mean anything

Have I mentioned that I hate the way nonreligious people talk about religion?

I even have my grievances with the religious/nonreligious divide, but I’m using according to a self-identification standard for the moment, and sure, it’s not all bad, and I hate the way religious people talk about religion too, and there’s plenty of overlap besides, but: man, I hate the way nonreligious people talk about religion.  It’s even more cringeworthy than non-horsepeople’s ideas about horses, sometimes.

I’m just writing this to vent, not to write an instructional guide.  But if you want to know what brought this on, it was a dialogue option in Dragon Age: Inquisition, part of a video game series with a really lazy, derivative knock-off of Christianity whose relationship with the world lore is contradictory.  But I’ll try not to get off on a tangent about that.

There’s a bunch of trouble that the Chantry (i.e. the Fantasy-Church) played a big part in, and at one point, you’re given the option to say “Fanatical belief is to blame.”  In context, this is clearly referring to the followers of the Andrastrian religion (i.e. Fantasy-Christianity).

I don’t mind anyone blaming the Chantry, because the Chantry is pretty awful in some ways.  What I mind is this wording that implies only certain belief systems (read: religiously-coded ones) count as “beliefs.”  I know “fanatical” is in there to clarify it only means the extreme variants, but, y’know.  Extremity is relative.

I hate the word “belief”.  It’s so vague and broad and nondescript and toothless.  Maybe that’s the kind of word that works best sometimes, granted, but most of the time I hate the way people use it, because it’s so often used as this wishy-washy comprehensive blanket term for anything religiously-coded.  As if, y’know, nonreligious people don’t believe anything.

This is so frustratingly foolish I’m worried I’m not being coherent, but my main complaint is and will always be that people are so unspecific about what they’re criticizing that it lumps in things they don’t intend and robs the punch from their message.

Having a beef with the diehard Andrastrians is 100% understandable, but good grief, say what you mean.

Advertisements

81 responses to ““Beliefs” can mean anything

  • Siggy

    Yeah, there’s certainly a camp of nonreligious people who think it’s wrong to believe anything with conviction, and even more wrong to ever try to persuade people of beliefs. I always chalk them down to being reactionary to certain evangelical religious traditions.

    I’m in the other camp, the assholes atheists who believe it’s okay to try to persuade people. Welcome to intra-atheist politics.

    • Coyote

      Maybe you’ve encountered them, but there are also Christians (and I’m not trying to conflate all religion with Christianity, I’m just thinking of my own kith and kin here) who think it’s wrong to try and convert people at all… which… I understand why they think that, but nonetheless makes my stomach turn in knots.

      Anyway, I’m with you on this.

      • jai99

        Lol, the thought of not being so pig-headed arrogant, bigoted and intolerant to want to convert people to believing what you believe, purely because you think YOUR beliefs are more important than theirs, turns your stomach in knots??

        You people are unbelievable. And you have the nerve to call US arrogant?

        I guess it’s a damn shame you can’t just burn us at the stake for refusing to ‘convert’ like you sick degenerates used to, huh?

        • Coyote

          Not really.

          Maybe you can explain something to me. You’ve expressed, here, a belief that wanting to change someone’s mind about something is wrong. What was the point of telling me that, then, unless you wish I would change my mind?

          • jai99

            Ah, pseudo-philosphy; the theists best friend.

            “You’ve expressed, here, a belief that wanting to change someone’s mind about something is wrong.”

            Nope, but nice straw-man.

            I expressed a belief that wanting to change someone so that they adopt YOUR religious beliefs (or any faith-based beliefs) is not only wrong, but pig-headed arrogant (which it is).

            Wanting to change someone’s mind to the TRUTH is a different matter, in which case you would use evidence, logic and reason in order to do so. Doing this is the opposite of arrogance, as you are attempting to change someone’s mind to an objective truth, rather than something YOU personally feel is true without any evidence. Turning people towards truth can only help them, turning them towards anything other than truth can only hurt them, and if your beliefs have no evidence supporting them (faith based), then they’re probably not true, and it would be immoral to try to persuade people that they are.

            The fact that you openly use the word ‘convert’ without shame should tell you there’s something wrong with your outlook…But at least you’re more honest about your dishonesty than the average theist, I suppose.

            “What was the point of telling me that, then, unless you wish I would change my mind?”

            How am I going to change the mind of someone like you – especially in a few lines on some obscure internet blog?

            No no, I didn’t post that comment in an attempt to change your mind, I posted it so you couldn’t get away with making such a disgusting comment without someone telling you you’re an arrogant, pig-headed bigot.

            It was more for my own sense of satisfaction than anything. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • Coyote

            “Nope, but nice straw-man.”

            Oh, I’ve misunderstood you then. Sorry about that.

            “I expressed a belief that wanting to change someone so that they adopt YOUR religious beliefs (or any faith-based beliefs) is not only wrong, but pig-headed arrogant (which it is).”

            So wanting to change someone’s mind is okay except for when the thing you’re trying to change their mind about would be bracketed under the category of religion? Have I understood you right this time?

            “It was more for my own sense of satisfaction than anything.”

            Are you feeling better now?

  • faydescape

    “Belief” does have some religious connotations for me, but when I think about what I believe in it’s not singularly a religious definition. “Faith” to me has more of a religious definition but faith is sometimes hard to define, because for me it’s more than believing things will work out. Trust and loyalty come to mind but neither is faith per say.
    “Fanatical belief is to blame.” sounds like what they believe is so otherworldly that it must be the cause of the problems. When people only see their religion as the “correct one” and other religions as being mislead. In these cases, I don’t think religion or beliefs are the problem, it’s their perception and interpretation.

    • Coyote

      “When people only see their religion as the ‘correct one’ and other religions as being mislead.”

      Sorry, if you could just clarify — are you saying it’s morally wrong to disagree with people? I’m not following.

      • faydescape

        No, not at all, people are free to disagree. I was saying that when people blame a religious group in general and/or beliefs for the problems in the world, that they sometimes assume so because they think their religion is better or the “correct” one. This isn’t always the case, but I think sometimes people focus too much on the differences between others and not enough time on the world’s problems.

        • Coyote

          Is there any way to not think one’s own ideology is correct? Because then, it would seem to me, that would mean it’s not your ideology.

          I’m uncertain how the world’s problems are a subject disconnected from difference of opinion.

          • jai99

            You can believe your own ideology is correct, whilst also understanding that it’s possible to be wrong and not realise it. The fact that there are countless people who disagree with you, who seem equally as confident that their own ideology is ‘correct’ as you are with yours, should indicate to you that your own convictions are nothing special, and however confident you feel you are in your own beliefs, there’s always a margin for error that you MAY be wrong, so if it turns out you ARE wrong, you can easier change your own views to something that is closer to being ‘right’.

            This is why I generally despise religious people, as they rarely ever appear to have any margin for error, they are convinced to the 100% degree that they are right, all else be damned. If you put proof in front of their faces that they are wrong about something, they will simply ignore it. They are not even willing to accept the POSSIBILITY that they might be wrong about things.

            With that question you’ve basically just highlighted what’s wrong with religious people; to you, you can either believe an ideology is ‘correct’ beyond all reasonable doubt, or you must dismiss the ideology as being ‘incorrect’ and banish it forever. The idea of believing something is correct whilst accepting the POSSIBILITY that you might be wrong, is obviously alien to you.

          • Coyote

            “however confident you feel you are in your own beliefs, there’s always a margin for error that you MAY be wrong, so if it turns out you ARE wrong, you can easier change your own views to something that is closer to being ‘right’.”

            Yeah.

            “This is why I generally despise religious people, as they rarely ever appear to have any margin for error”

            I see we’ve come in contact with very different people.

            “They are not even willing to accept the POSSIBILITY that they might be wrong about things. ”

            That’s certainly frustrating.

            “With that question you’ve basically just highlighted what’s wrong with religious people; to you, you can either believe an ideology is ‘correct’ beyond all reasonable doubt, or you must dismiss the ideology as being ‘incorrect’ and banish it forever.”

            What? How do you figure? I don’t see how that follows.

            “The idea of believing something is correct whilst accepting the POSSIBILITY that you might be wrong, is obviously alien to you.”

            You know, I’m not normally one for tone-policing, but I do have to wonder what you were expecting me to respond to this with. Sure, I could snark at your reading comprehension, but you’re clearly already very upset and affected by this. Please take a breath and take care of yourself. Give yourself a moment. Maybe get a glass of water. Then come back and read slower so that you have more time to process.

          • jai99

            “What? How do you figure? I don’t see how that follows”

            You said: “Is there any way to not think one’s own ideology is correct? Because then, it would seem to me, that would mean it’s not your ideology.”

            You said this in response to faydescape’s post about fanatics and people assuming other people are wrong because their own beliefs are ‘better’. Your response implies that you think there are only two options; believe something is true without a doubt, or believe it’s unequivocally false.

            Maybe I’m missing something, but for someone to respond with that line to faydescape’s post pretty much means that’s what they’re saying, to me.

            “Sure, I could snark at your reading comprehension, but you’re clearly already very upset and affected by this.”

            My reading comprehension is just fine, thanks. I only ever tend to have trouble with it when it comes into contact with someone whose writing ability is lacking.

            And it would take far more than a few comments on some blog to ‘upset’ me. You could say I am ‘annoyed’ I suppose. But it’s more the anger of years of dealing with theist bigotry, prejudice and arrogance – your blog is simply the latest in a long, LONG line to grind my gears.

            “Please take a breath and take care of yourself. Give yourself a moment. Maybe get a glass of water. Then come back and read slower so that you have more time to process.”

            Lol, I’m really not that bad, thanks. You don’t have to feign concern in an attempt at being condescending. Or maybe it helps you to believe that I’m exasperatedly upset…

          • Coyote

            “Your response implies that you think there are only two options; believe something is true without a doubt, or believe it’s unequivocally false.”

            …No, I do believe in degrees of certainty.

            “Lol, I’m really not that bad, thanks. You don’t have to feign concern in an attempt at being condescending.”

            With the tone you’ve set for us, I don’t know how I could say anything without there being room for you to take it as condescending.

          • jai99

            “…No, I do believe in degrees of certainty.”

            Well it didn’t come across in your original comment.

            “With the tone you’ve set for us, I don’t know how I could say anything without there being room for you to take it as condescending.”

            Hmm. That’s probably fair, lol.

          • Coyote

            “Well it didn’t come across in your original comment.”

            We can go back to it, then. Here’s the comment I presume you’re referring to:

            “Is there any way to not think one’s own ideology is correct? Because then, it would seem to me, that would mean it’s not your ideology.”

            In this, I don’t see degrees of certainty being part of the issue at hand. What I meant to express — and perhaps failed at expressing — is that I define, for instance, “Alice thinks Belief 1 is correct” and “Alice’s opinion is Belief 1” as mutually inclusive sets. The degree of certainty that Alice has about Belief 1 is not addressed in this assertion, nor is how she would respond if it came under fire. Does that make sense?

    • jai99

      ‘Belief’ is when you think something is true.

      ‘Faith’ is belief without evidence. Those are literally the definitions of the words.

      Many theists dislike the true definition of ‘faith’, because it highlights how unreasonable and irrational their beliefs really are. But you don’t get to redefine words of the English language just because you don’t like their definition.

  • Carmilla DeWinter

    I’d count myself as a non-religious person who makes up religions for fun. As such, I find that dialogue option an insult to good fictional writing. Not that there’s never a character who might say such a thing, but if you can kinda steer the audience into thinking a bit more? Unused chance.

    You’re right, too: What does “belief” even mean?

    Also, most of the time it’s not even any “fanatical belief” that’s causing the big-scale problems (be it in a god, communism, the superiority of your country or whatever else), but good old fashioned greed and/or power-hunger presenting as belief or using such belief. My home country has proven to be an excellent example of this over the centuries.

    • jai99

      What ‘greed’ was going on in the 9/11 hijacker’s minds, then?

      And power hunger wouldn’t be able to use such ‘belief’ if people weren’t so blindly faithful in the first place.

      ‘Fanatical belief’ may not be the route cause of such problems, but to try and white wash it and imply that it has NOTHING to do with the problem, like you people are doing, is asininely stupid. It may not cause it, but it makes it a thousand times worse.

      • Coyote

        You’re particularly fond of that example, aren’t you?

        Why do I get the feeling you’re not particularly interested in hearing anyone’s answers to that question?

        • jai99

          Probably because you’re a theist and I’m disagreeing with you. As such you probably see ME as the arrogant one who refuses to listen. Even though your entire blog is nothing but one-sided bias and backpatting with people who agree with you.

          This is a common tactic of your ilk – ignore everything your opponent says, then accuse them of doing the exact same thing.

          • Coyote

            I mean, what’s your best case scenario here? When you type out and send these replies, realistically, what ideal response are you hoping for?

        • jai99

          I’m honestly not thinking that far ahead about it. I see a stupid and/or bigoted comment, I call it for what it is.

          I suppose the ‘best case scenario’ is to bring a bit of balance the comments on your blog, so that anyone ELSE who stumbles across this blog like I did won’t simply see a bunch of anti-atheist posts full of nothing but straw-man arguments and ignorance. If they’re someone like me they’ll be glad to see you’re being called out for your nonsense, but more importantly, if they’re someone who doesn’t quite know what they think about such issues, they won’t have their perception warped by your one sided propaganda and straw-man arguments..

          A pet hate of mine is theists filling undecided people’s heads with propaganda, so I do tend to fly off the handle when I encounter it.
          Though I admit, I probably wouldn’t have left as many comments as I have, or stuck with it this long, if I wasn’t already in a bad mood at the time. Sorry. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • Coyote

            “so that anyone ELSE who stumbles across this blog like I did won’t simply see a bunch of anti-atheist posts”

            Are you at all aware of how many people following this blog are atheists? If that were what was happening, it wouldn’t have taken until now for me to get called out.

            “warped by your one sided propaganda”

            See, these are the kind of melodramatic, inflamatory statements that make you sound upset.

            “A pet hate of mine is theists filling undecided people’s heads with propaganda,”

            Right, it should be the atheists filling undecided people’s heads with propaganda.

    • jai99

      They DID steer the audience into thinking a bit more; that line is one of FIVE optional lines, the other 4 disagree with it wildly. 0o

      The whole point of these games is that you can choose what kind of person your character is, so they include options to say as many varying political and ideological stances as possible to cater to all possible personality types that might be playing the game. You’re essentially complaining that the inclusion of that line for people who believe that fanatical beliefs are bad somehow ‘detracts’ from the writing itself – as though it would be better writing if players were simply forced to play according to YOUR personal views.

      Plus, in a game where everyone under the sun appears to be a superstitious, god-believing zealot, the inclusion of ONE line implying that fanatical belief just might be responsible for some of the crap going on would seem more than appropriate from where I’m sitting.

      And upon choosing that line, the priestess woman responds with a rebuttal that leaves your Inquisitor speechless. So how is this NOT steering the audience to think?

      It would seem you’re talking out of your rear end.

      • Coyote

        “You’re essentially complaining that the inclusion of that line for people who believe that fanatical beliefs are bad somehow ‘detracts’ from the writing itself”

        It appears you don’t understand the semantic distinction, so allow me to clarify: When you say “people who believe that fanatical beliefs are bad” you mean “people who blame the Chantry and also don’t necessarily subscribe to any of the world’s other organized religions,” right? Am I interpreting this correctly?

        • jai99

          Hmm….almost. When I hears/read that line in the game, I took it to mean Inqy was referring to the Venatori, the Red Templars, Corypheus’s followers, and basically anyone who’s willing to kill people for their ‘faith’. (I don’t know about you, but I consider them to be the Thedas equivalent of Jihadi soldiers and suicide bombers :/ )

          I did think that, like me, Inqy considers ‘normal faith belief’ like the Chantry to simply be a stepping stone to ‘fanatical belief’, but she’s not about to destroy the Chantry or the Qun and condemn 99% of Thedas for embracing something that is simply inherently bad (again, my opinion that faith based belief is inherently bad.)

          What I meant, in my comment to Carmilla, is that whether you like it or not, there are those of us in the real world who consider all faith-based belief to be ‘bad’. It is a bad thing, in other words. Those of us who believe that ‘faith’ is at best divisive, progress-stifling and self destructive, and at worse physically and mentally dangerous, prejudice inducing, and violent. Whether you agree with us or not is irrelevant – we exist, and so a game like Dragon Age, that is supposed to allow us to make the character we want, should take our outlook into account, and include our stance as one of the many optional stances one can take.

          You and Carmilla seem to take offence at our stance merely being INCLUDED as an option to take, even though you don’t have to take it, and you have about 3 stances that reflect your own.

          It’s like the people who complain that homosexual relationships are an option in this game – it’s not enough for them to not simply not DO it, they take offence at anyone else being given the OPTION to do it. Like the entire choice-based game should be entirely geared to their specific religious, political and homophobic beliefs – simply because they are the ‘right’ beliefs….0o

          • jai99

            Oh, and to clarify, I think it is a GOOD thing that games like Dragon Age also include optional pro-religious dialogue and stances for your player character to take. As much as I despise those stances, and find them disgusting beyond belief, I understand that many people see them as a positive thing, and so it is only right that in a choice-based game, as many people’s real-world stances are included as possible.

            If someone gave me the option to remove all the pro-Andraste, pro-Chantry optional dialogue from the game, I wouldn’t. It wouldn’t affect me at all, because I never take those options in my playthrough – but I like knowing that the game caters to all world views and outlooks, not just my own.

            It doesn’t offend me that there are pro-religious optional dialogue choices in other words. Because they are optional.

          • Coyote

            “when I hears/read that line in the game, I took it to mean Inqy was referring to the Venatori, the Red Templars, Corypheus’s followers,”

            Interesting. How I remember it is in the context of a discussion of the Mage-Templar War. I don’t trust my memory of this all that much, though. Should I look it up for us?

            “I did think that, like me, Inqy considers ‘normal faith belief’ like the Chantry to simply be a stepping stone to ‘fanatical belief’,”

            …Um, are you using “Inqy” to mean the Inquisitor? Are you talking about your own OC?

            “What I meant, in my comment to Carmilla, is that whether you like it or not, there are those of us in the real world who consider all faith-based belief to be ‘bad’.”

            I think we’re all aware.

            “Those of us who believe that ‘faith’ is at best divisive,”

            The word “faith” wasn’t in the option summary, so this is kind of irrelevant.

            “You and Carmilla seem to take offence at our stance merely being INCLUDED as an option to take,”

            No, for the last time, that’s not what I’m objecting to. Atheist representation is all well and good. I think it’s very important that there should be Chantry-critical options. Are you arguing that the distinction I was making is invalid?

            “It’s like the people who complain that homosexual relationships are an option in this game”

            So now you’re comparing a non-straight person’s semantic quibbling to the actions of heterosexist bigots who would gladly subject me to conversion therapy. I suggest you drop this example and go back to the issue at hand.

        • jai99

          “Interesting. How I remember it is in the context of a discussion of the Mage-Templar War.”

          I’m not 100% on it, either, but I seem to remember ‘Mother Giselle’ was trying to coax the Inquisitor into embracing ‘faith’ and agreeing that ‘faith’ is what is needed to fight Corypheus. If you’re an atheist (and your Inquisitor is an avatar of your personality in the game), then this is fantastically insulting, and so the “Fanatical belief is to blame.” line is a more than appropriate response for someone who considers it their right to oppose ‘faith’ in all its forms. It might be a slightly emotionally charged response, and not 100% articulate, but the proposition but forth was emotionally charged as well.

          Basically, Mother Giselle is trying to sell ‘faith’ to the Inquisitor, and that optional line is the Inquisitor pointing to the Venetari and Red Templars and going “Look where faith gets you!”. Now, this response might not be 100% fair or accurate – and I suppose you could even call it a straw-man – but that doesn’t matter, because the Inquisitor is not meant to be 100% right in their wisdom, they’re flawed just like everyone else.
          You guys seem to think the Inquisitor should be RIGHT about everything. But can you name me one good story where the protagonist starts out already knowing what’s right and wrong about everything, and doesn’t learn or grow as a person or further their understanding at all at any point?
          If you disagree with that line, then you should just see it as a learning point in the Inquisitor’s story, something they’ll look back on later and realise how ‘wrong’ they were.

          “…Um, are you using “Inqy” to mean the Inquisitor? Are you talking about your own OC?”

          I’m referring to the Inquisitor, yes.

          When you romance Sera, she starts calling the Inquisitor ‘Inqy’ for short. I do this online sometimes as it’s quicker than writing ‘Inquisitor’ over and over again.

          “The word “faith” wasn’t in the option summary, so this is kind of irrelevant.”

          Actually it was. I remember at least one of the other options is “We need more than faith etc etc..”.

          You’re being incredibly rigid and facetious. It’s obvious that the conversation was concerning ‘faith’. Just because the word ‘faith’ was not said in all of the optional lines of dialogue, the fact that it’s in some of them – coupled with the fact that Giselle was JUST talking about faith literally 2 seconds before – makes it obvious to anyone with a brain that ‘faith’ is the issue at hand.

          You are incredibly anal when you disagree with someone, resorting to the most pedantic of arguments and what words were used in order to dismiss a point. Stop being so pedantic, you’re not a robot, you know what people mean without having them spell it out for you endless over-clarification.

          “Are you arguing that the distinction I was making is invalid?”

          I’m arguing that the only point of complaining about that line would be the fact that you disagree with it.

          I know you keep insisting it’s down to the wording, and use of the word ‘fanatic’, but as I’ve said, I don’t consider that a good enough reason. It’s obvious what ‘fanatical belief’ means in that context, at least it was for me. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it meant something else and I’M the one who misunderstood its meaning in that context, but I don’t yet see it, and nothing you’ve said so far has convinced me.

          “So now you’re comparing a non-straight person’s semantic quibbling to the actions of heterosexist bigots who would gladly subject me to conversion therapy. I suggest you drop this example and go back to the issue at hand.”

          It was an analogy to people complaining that there are pro-atheist dialogue options in this game.

          You’ve made your point that you’re not complaining about the existence of pro-atheist dialogue, so that analogy is obviously false – but I was just saying that’s how it appears to me when I hear you complaining about that line.

          I accept that you weren’t complaining about the existence of pro-atheist dialogue, but I am still at a loss to exactly what you WERE complaining about, as I have yet to hear a clear, rational explanation for why that line should be worded differently. :S

          • Coyote

            “then this is fantastically insulting, and so the ‘Fanatical belief is to blame.’ line is a more than appropriate response for someone who considers it their right to oppose ‘faith’ in all its forms.”

            It would be the appropriate response for such a character, yes, but given the phrasing of “is to blame” (rather than simply, say, “is wrong”), it denotes the character is blaming “fanatical belief” for something that has happened, implying a particular chain of events. I assumed the primary actor in that chain of events was supposed to be the Chantry/Andrastrianism.

            “and that optional line is the Inquisitor pointing to the Venetari and Red Templars and going ‘Look where faith gets you!’.”

            …and you’re interpreting the primary actor in the implied chain of events as the Venatori.

            “You guys seem to think the Inquisitor should be RIGHT about everything.”

            I’m just one person. No need to talk in plural. Anyway, I wouldn’t say criticizing the Venatori is wrong, so I don’t know why you’ve gone off in this direction.

            “It’s obvious that the conversation was concerning ‘faith’.”

            It’s obvious, yes, but it’s not something I consider relevant to my criticism. If even the line had been “Faith is to blame,” that would have been a step up in my opinion.

            “you’re not a robot,”

            >Deploy efforts to restrain sarcasm.
            Efforts to restrain sarcasm: failed.

            “I know you keep insisting it’s down to the wording, and use of the word ‘fanatic’, but as I’ve said, I don’t consider that a good enough reason. It’s obvious what ‘fanatical belief’ means in that context,”

            Well considering we interpreted the primary actors that it was referring to as wholly different organizations (the Chantry vs. the Venatori), it’s perhaps a bit less obvious than it could have been if it had stated one or the other outright and removed all doubt.

            If you’re wondering about the big-picture relevance, it has to do with how people use these terms as imprecisely in real life — ex. as you mentioned in another comment, people who say “I don’t have any beliefs.” You know what they’re getting at, but it’s still the wrong way to go about it, like you said. Evidently, you already see some value in correcting that.

        • jai99

          “I agree with you about the irrelevance of politeness in some situations.”

          Believe it or not, this is me ‘reigning it in’. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          “Question, though: Are you aware she’s an atheist too?”

          I was, but I don’t much care. Being an atheist is no disqualifier for being wrong about things.

          And from her original comment, she would seem to be one of these “I’m an atheist, BUT….” atheists who ‘like’ religion and think it’s ‘good’ for some people, and defends it against all criticism and scrutiny. I personally dislike atheists like this more than I dislike the average theist (at least the theist has the excuse of ignorance).

          To say that ‘belief’ in communism had NOTHING to do with the atrocities that were committed in communism’s name, is not only insulting, it’s asinine. Likewise, to say the same about atrocities committed in religions’ names is equally stupid. To blame everything on ‘power hunger’ and ‘greed’ just doesn’t cut it. You can be as greedy as you want, but won’t get very far unless people BELIEVE in your spiel, and a power-hungry despot who BELIEVES in their own nonsense is always worse than one who is consciously aware that they are lying.

          I happen to agree that religion is not the ‘route cause of all evil’ like some atheists think, but to say it doesn’t even factor into it and is 100% blameless is equally ridiculous.

          • Coyote

            “Being an atheist is no disqualifier for being wrong about things.”

            …Well, it’s good you recognize that at least.

            “defends it against all criticism and scrutiny.”

            ALL?

      • Carmilla DeWinter

        Oh dear.
        I kinda find it ironic how impolite you’re being in stating your beliefs about belief …

        • jai99

          “Oh dear.
          I kinda find it ironic how impolite you’re being in stating your beliefs about belief …”

          Why? I didn’t say anything about politeness. A disgusting belief is a disgusting belief. It’s not the ‘impoliteness’ of theists who persecute, oppress and bully anyone who disagrees with them that bothers me. It’s the fact that they persecute, oppress and bully people. 0o

          The hypocrisy of you people knows no bounds; here you’re openly and unashamedly bashing, insulting and making strident assertions about anyone who happens to hold a view that faith/religion is bad, yet the moment one of them calls you on it, suddenly THEY’RE ‘impolite’.
          Let’s see; you’re on here advocating that multiple, varying viewpoints should NOT be included in a game, and that only your pro-faith world-view be included, I am here advocating that as many viewpoints as possible should be included…..and somehow, I’M the impolite one…..

          I suppose ‘polite’ would be me reading your insulting comments and saying nothing?

          The fact you see someone disagreeing with you as being ‘impolite’ says it all.

  • queenieofaces

    Meanwhile I study a religion in which “believe” is considered too strong a verb to explain what you’re doing and another one in which the founder explicitly referred to her followers as “comrades” not “believers.” *jazz hands* (P.S. The whole “religion is a belief” thing is occasionally preeeeetty West-centric/Christian-centric. Everything breaks down when you try to talk about what I study so religious scholars try to ignore it, more news at ten.)

    • Coyote

      Here’s the big question: is there any aspect of conventional religious discourse that doesn’t completely break down in coherence when applied to what Queenie studies?

      • queenieofaces

        It depends on what you mean by “conventional religious discourse,” but, yeah, a lot of it stops operating as soon as it gets too near to what I study. (To be fair, I study weird stuff even when compared to other people in my field. There was a professor visiting from Japan last year who at least once a month would be like, “But what you study is weird, right? It’s pretty weird.”)

    • Sara K.

      Recently I’ve been reading about Jewish history, and there have been prominent Jewish intellectuals (in Europe) who claimed that Jewish religion was not a belief system or a matter of faith. Granted, such arguements need to be considered in context (and the context sometimes was the Jewish intellectuals were dissuading Christians from expelling them from their homes), but it does demonstrate that that even within Europe and the Abrahamic relgions, it’s not necessarily all about ‘belief’.

  • Milo

    Yeah, its dumb. I find that people who accuse “beliefs” of anything concrete also tend to be the same people who use “religion” and “Christianity” interchangeably.

  • Kappamaki

    There’s a certain paradox you’re brushing on here. I have beliefs (religious and political) but also value tolerance. So when faced with someone with opposing beliefs, I believe with conviction that they’re wrong, but also feel the need to respect their wrongness as something as valid as my rightness, even when it’s damaging to themselves and others. Would it be better for that other person to believe as I do? Yes, because I’m right, and it’s better for them to be right than wrong. So I have an obligation to educate, persuade, and convert others to my beliefs that stands in direct opposition with my obligation to tolerate difference.

    On that note, I tend to kill absolutely everyone I can in Dragon Age. Unless they can join my party.

    • Coyote

      I am confused about the relevance of the Dragon Age comment, but okay.

      Conviction and tolerance are only a paradox depending on your definition of “tolerance.” To me, religious/political tolerance mean things like we won’t kill you for it, we won’t run you out of town, we won’t reduce your access to resources or otherwise oppress you, etc., even while we openly advocate that you change your mind. When people use “tolerance” to mean “It’s bad to tell anyone they’re wrong about anything,” then it does get pretty unfeasible.

    • jai99

      I love people like you, Kappamaki; “I believe in things without evidence, but I know that those beliefs are RIGHT…!”. Just brilliant.

      It doesn’t enter your thick, theist skull for one moment that YOU might actually be the wrong one, and THEY might be right, does it? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      But yeah, you people keep believing your ONE religion out of thousands is the ‘right’ one, and EVERY other is ‘wrong’…how lucky you are that you believe in the right one, eh? :P

      • Coyote

        Did Kappamaki even say that they believe in god(s)?

        • jai99

          Yep; “I have beliefs (religious and political)”

          Pretty much spells it out right there. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • Coyote

            So nobody’s ever informed you that not all religious is theistic?

          • Kappamaki

            I’m actually an atheist, jail99! And, well, all humans have beliefs that are unproven. For instance, I believe pretty strongly that there are no gods, monotheist or polytheist, but that hasn’t been proven. I still think I’m right that, say, Quetzalcoatl is fictional, because from what I know, his existence is impossible, but it’s possible that what I know is wrong. If you examine your own beliefs more closely, there’re all sorts of things that you take on faith that have nothing to do with religion. Do you have pets? Are they alive? Do you know that they haven’t died since you’ve last seen them?

            Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for Seder.

        • jai99

          “So nobody’s ever informed you that not all religious is theistic?”

          Ugh….Yes, I am aware that there are deistic religions, and all the other various types. (I actually don’t have much of a problem with deism, and no, I don’t include deism in the blanket of things I hate about religion.)

          But when people use the word ‘religion’ or ‘religious’, they practically ALWAYS mean theistic religion, and I’d wager that the OP was talking about theistic religious beliefs. So once again, you are being incredibly pedantic and anal regarding the use of words in order to ignore a point.
          Don’t get me wrong, I think words and their meanings are important as well. But I also understand that people are not perfect, and no one speaks in 100% absolutes ALL the time about everything. Word definitions change as language evolves – taking your opponent’s wording and holding to the most archaic and literal scrutiny in an attempt to ‘trip them up’, is asinine.

          When someone refers to ‘dialing a phone number’, do you then pounce and go “Ah ha! Not if you don’t have a rotary-dial telephone, you’re not!”? No. It’s obvious what they mean from the context of what they’re saying. Stop being so pedantic.

  • Anonymous

    What in the name of Andraste’s tits are you on about? Dragon Age is CLEARLY written by pro-religionists.

    I am an atheist, and my major beef with this game is how biased in favour of religious belief this game is. There are about a dozen different variations of ‘believer’ that you can play as, but only ONE ‘non-believer’, and that particular non-believer is depicted as being narrow minded and arrogant.

    In the conversation with Cassandra, I was given the option to say one of three things; I believe, I don’t believe, or I don’t know. Well, being an atheist, I went for the one that speaks to me most; “I don’t believe”. Cassandra responds by telling me “It must be comforting to be so certain”.

    Woah! I didn’t say I as CERTAIN, I said I didn’t believe – ‘I don’t know’ counts as not believing – but clearly the writers at Bioware are theists, and believe in the straw-man version of atheism that theist bigots continue to spout wherever they can.

    Also, it says quite clearly “FANATICAL belief is to blame”. If you look at 9/11 and DON’T think fanatical belief was at least partly responsible for what happened there, then there’s something wrong with you. 0o

    • Coyote

      “Pro-religionists.” Interesting choice of term for someone who uses “Andraste’s tits” as an exclamatory phrase.

      “I am an atheist”

      Who would have guessed.

      “my major beef with this game is how biased in favour of religious belief this game is.”

      I can see how there would be valid criticisms to be made there.

      “clearly the writers at Bioware are theists”

      I wouldn’t go that far. Maybe they just intended “I don’t know” and “I don’t believe” as differentiated by degrees of certainty. Their dialogue options frequently leave something to be desired, I agree.

      “Also, it says quite clearly ‘FANATICAL'”

      Yes, I remember addressing that in this post.

      • jai99

        You remember addressing it, yet you still completely ignore it like it’s not even there.

        Explain to me; how exactly should one criticise the kind of belief that results in people committing acts of genocide without ‘offending’ people like you? It seems they went well out of their way to say “Ok, we’re not talking about people with any religious beliefs, we’re just talking about those dangerous people we ALL think are crazy, ok?” – but even that’s not enough for you. It’s like, while you disagree with the beliefs of fanatics, you still see them as part of your theist ‘camp’, and will defend them against the evil ‘non-believers’ who dare to imply that they are crazy and dangerous.

        Very bizarre.

        ““Pro-religionists.” Interesting choice of term for someone who uses “Andraste’s tits” as an exclamatory phrase.”

        Why is it?

        Or is it ‘offensive’ to insult the deities of fictional religions, now?

        • Coyote

          “yet you still completely ignore it”

          Do I?

          “Explain to me; how exactly should one criticise the kind of belief that results in people committing acts of genocide without ‘offending’ people like you?”

          Should be pretty easy to accomplish.

          “we’re just talking about those dangerous people we ALL think are crazy, ok?”

          Leave mental illness out of this, thanks. My point was that words like “fanatical” and “extreme” are insufficiently precise.

          “It’s like, while you disagree with the beliefs of fanatics, you still see them as part of your theist ‘camp’,”

          Eh, more like I can imagine the word “fanatical” being thrown around without real substance and being used to criticize something for being associated with societal fringe groups rather than because of a real problem with the content of the ideology. Popularity is not synonymous with quality, as you know. I prefer rebukes of religious abuse to be harsher and more specific.

          “Why is it?”

          I just thought it was funny, man.

          • jai99

            “Do I?”

            Yes. You point out that they used the qualifier ‘fanatical’, and then you go on a rant about how it still offends you anyway.

            “Should be pretty easy to accomplish.”

            Ok, so explain it.

            Because as far as I can see, they DID accomplish it, you’re just throwing your toys out of the pram because for some reason that’s still not good enough for you. So I’m asking you to provide an example of how they SHOULD have done it, rather than just whine like a baby that they didn’t.

            You’re evading the question with that answer; trying to get out of providing an example because you know you don’t have one.

            “Leave mental illness out of this, thanks.”

            Oh, shut up. You cannot be that anally retentive. I mean, seriously. You’re going to act like the word ‘crazy’ is offensive. My level of disgust for you just got raised a notch.

            It’s a figure of speech, for god’s sake (and yes, ‘for god’s sake’ is a figure of speech as well, before you get all excited).

            And once again, you evade the point raised to you by changing the subject.

            “Eh, more like I can imagine the word “fanatical” being thrown around without real substance and being used to criticize something for being associated with societal fringe groups rather than because of a real problem with the content of the ideology. Popularity is not synonymous with quality, as you know. I prefer rebukes of religious abuse to be harsher and more specific.”

            Wait, so you’re saying your issue is that that line only targets the fringe groups (who I call ‘crazy’), and that it should have attacked the entire religion? I thought that was the opposite point you were making? :S

          • Coyote

            “You point out that they used the qualifier ‘fanatical’, and then you go on a rant about how it still offends you anyway.”

            And me criticizing the word choice of “fanatical” counts as ignoring the word choice of “fanatical”?

            “Ok, so explain it.
            Because as far as I can see, they DID accomplish it,”

            I get the sense that you forgot what the original question was. You asked, “Explain to me; how exactly should one criticise the kind of belief that results in people committing acts of genocide without ‘offending’ people like you?” (I don’t know why you put “offended” in quotation marks as if you were quoting someone else, when you’re the one who first brought the term into the conversation, but I’m sure you have your reasons). To me, this means you’re characterizing my response to Bioware’s choice as offense. Nonetheless, I told you that it wouldn’t be hard to do — and now you’re saying that they did, in fact, succeed in it. So does that mean you think they already met the “without ‘offending’ people like you” qualification? Because that seems to be in conflict with your assertion that I’m, ahem, “throwing your toys out of the pram” (…pram? where you from?).

            “So I’m asking you to provide an example of how they SHOULD have done it”

            Here are some options off the top of my head:

            Andrastrianism is to blame.
            Faith in gods is to blame.
            Belief in the story of the First Blight is to blame.
            Belief in divine right to rule is to blame.
            Religious devotion is to blame.

            Again, I’m not sure I’m remembering the context of the conversation quite right, so I don’t know which of these would fit best, but they seem to fit the intended parameters of a faith-critical response.

            “You’re going to act like the word ‘crazy’ is offensive.”

            I’m going to act like health and morality are different realms, yes. I value precision.

            “Wait, so you’re saying your issue is that that line only targets the fringe groups (who I call ‘crazy’), and that it should have attacked the entire religion? I thought that was the opposite point you were making?”

            Well, I don’t know if I’d call that the opposite, but I am criticizing it for being 1) unspecific, 2) arguably grouping in people who aren’t at fault, and 3) arguably letting people off the hook who are at fault. Point being, a person can have beliefs that are articulately-expressed, held with moderate (or at least not high) intensity, and fairly mainstream in popularity, that are still at fault for perpetuating harmful effects. Does that make sense? Being well-composed and moderate, rather than “fanatical,” about a belief doesn’t mean that belief is truth, you know? Take the prejudice against the Qunari, for instance — whether or not you agree with it, it’s widespread and pretty mellow in its expression, not what I would call fanatical in any sense.

  • jai99

    You get annoyed with the way non-religious people talk about ‘belief’?

    I get annoyed with the way religious people talk about non-religious people, what with their straw-men, patronising, condescending tones and general arrogance, but there we go.

    Typical bigoted theist, upset that a videogame doesn’t bend over backwards to insult non-believers.

  • jai99

    Also, you seem to have missed the point that that line is one FIVE options, the other four disagreeing with this substantially.

    The whole point if the Dragon Age games is that you can CHOOSE what kind of person your character is, so they include as many wildly differing responses to cater to as many people as possible – you’re complaining that they even give you the OPTION of blaming fanatical belief, even though many people DO blame fanatical belief. Bioware at least attempt to never take a hardline stance on any subject, so that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers when it comes to the conversations – the right responses are the ones YOU choose.

    You’re essentially complaining that people who don’t share your political/theological outlook aren’t forced to play the game according to your beliefs.

    Complaining that they give you the option of saying it is like complaining there are people in the world who think differently to you – but then, that’s a pretty common attitude among theists, isn’t it.

    • Coyote

      “you’re complaining that they even give you the OPTION of blaming fanatical belief,”

      Point of clarification: I’m complaining about the wording.

      “even though many people DO blame fanatical belief.”

      I assume you’re still talking about the storyline of the game. In which case: “Having a beef with the diehard Andrastrians is 100% understandable” — does that cover what you’re talking about? Just so we’re clear, if you want to say that whole mess is the Chantry’s fault, I won’t argue with you.

      “Bioware at least attempt to never take a hardline stance on any subject, so that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers when it comes to the conversations”

      …I never got that impression.

      • jai99

        “Point of clarification: I’m complaining about the wording.”

        And you still haven’t clarified WHAT you object to about the wording.

        ‘Fanatical belief’ in Dragon Age are people like Corypheus, the Venetori, the Red Templars, and anyone who’s willing to kill in the name of their ‘faith’.

        ‘Fanatical belief’ in the real world are people like Jihadi ‘soldiers’, suicide bombers, and the Spanish Inquisition (that last one albeit a bit outdated).

        Pretty much everyone understands that this is what ‘fanatical belief’ means. If you object to blaming fanatical belief then you’re objecting to blaming jihadi soldiers, suicide bombers, and basically anyone willing to kill in the name of their faith. Why anyone would object to blaming these things is beyond me.

        Or are you saying you have your OWN personal definition for ‘fanatical belief’, and so it offends you that they use it in the way that 99% of people on the planet use it? What word/term would YOU have used in that line instead?

        “…I never got that impression.”

        Try playing it making other choices than the ones you normally make. You’ll find it rarely ever ‘punishes’ or ‘scolds’ you for making other subjective choices, any more than it already scolds you for your current choices. Whatever you say or do, the game moves on as though that was the ‘right’ thing to say or do (note: i’m not talking about specific ‘should this person live or die?’ choices).
        As I say, DA: Inquisition is the first Bioware game that, for me, is more biased than it should be – only from my point of view, it’s biased against atheism and in favour of ‘faith’ (which is why it blows my mind and annoys me when I see some theists complaining that it’s not pro-faith ENOUGH….). This game really, REALLY tries to get me to speak favourably about faith, religion, the chantry etc. Just about every conversation with that priestess woman involves her trying to get you to agree that, even if a religious belief is false, it can still be ‘good’ for people to believe in it (this I consider to be a more disgusting sentiment than plain religious belief). Even when taking the only anti-theist choice it gives me in conversations, a huge theme throughout the game is that while the masses may be believe in falsehoods, it’s ‘ok’ to let them believe it – even ENCOURAGE them to believe it – and use their faith for the ‘greater good’ of rallying them to fight Corypheus. In some convos there was NO option whatsoever to disagree with this sentiment, and call it out for the disgustingly immoral nonsense that it is. So clearly, Bioware feel that ‘faith’ in and of itself is a very good thing, and it obviously didn’t occur to them that some people don’t agree.
        But even with all that, the final scene with Corypheus at the end gives you the choice of saying something in defiance of Corypheus based on all your choices throughout the game, and I was delighted to see that, even in this game that is heavily pro-religious and anti-atheist from start to finish, I was given the option of an ‘atheist’ response; “I don’t believe in gods!” at the end of it.

        In a conversation Solas has with you about culture, race and the importance of either, you can make one of 4 choices, one being that culture and race are extremely important and define a person, to the extreme opposite end that race and culture are completely irrelevant to who someone is – whichever choice you make, the game responds as though that was the ‘right’ choice – because ultimately it’s subjective, and therefore ‘right’ for you.

        • Coyote

          “And you still haven’t clarified WHAT you object to about the wording.”

          Ask and you shall receive!

          As a student of rhetorical studies, I’m inclined to look very closely at particular words. In this case, “fanatical belief” is the phrase I’m looking at. Here’s what I wrote in the original post:

          “I don’t mind anyone blaming the Chantry, because the Chantry is pretty awful in some ways. What I mind is this wording that implies only certain belief systems (read: religiously-coded ones) count as ‘beliefs.’ I know ‘fanatical’ is in there to clarify it only means the extreme variants, but, y’know. Extremity is relative.”

          Under my interpretation, “belief” is a very broad term, and if we’re going to criticize anything in the world of Thedas — which we no doubt should — then my viewpoint has always been that we should be very particular about what we want to do away with. To me, “belief” doesn’t mean “an idea that is wrong.” It’s just the noun form of “believe.” Hence, anything you think is correct or hold to be true is a kind of “belief,” for better or for worse. The use of “fanatical” to qualify what kind of beliefs is unhelpful because even that is too vague and is more of a value judgement than a specification. For instance, I can imagine a conservative describing transgender rights as “fanatical,” and they’re certainly lacking in popular support, but I support them nonetheless. That’s why I think “fanatical” doesn’t do enough to isolate the evil at hand. Does that make sense?

          “You’ll find it rarely ever ‘punishes’ or ‘scolds’ you for”

          emphatically supporting Merrill?

          “a huge theme throughout the game is that while the masses may be believe in falsehoods, it’s ‘ok’ to let them believe it – even ENCOURAGE them to believe it – and use their faith for the ‘greater good’ of rallying them to fight Corypheus.”

          That’s pretty gross.

          • jai99

            “As a student of rhetorical studies.”

            That explains a LOT….

            “To me, “belief” doesn’t mean “an idea that is wrong.” It’s just the noun form of “believe.””

            Agreed.

            One thing that annoys me about a lot of other atheists is the ones who make statements like “I don’t HAVE any ‘beliefs’…!”. It’s like, of course you bloody do! Everyone does! Whenever I hear anyone say that, I always ask them “Do you believe that?”, and they nearly always say “Yes”.

            “For instance, I can imagine a conservative describing transgender rights as “fanatical,” and they’re certainly lacking in popular support, but I support them nonetheless.”

            You support the bigoted conservatives, or the people for transgender rights? Sorry, I want to make sure whose side you’re coming down on before I call you out on it.

            “That’s why I think “fanatical” doesn’t do enough to isolate the evil at hand. Does that make sense?”

            Kind of…but it’s seems such a pointless grievance to me, because you could say that about anything. Your point seems to be that ‘fanatical’ can mean different things to different people. Well, no shit. So do a lot of words – should we throw all those words out the window because they mean different things to different people? You say it doesn’t do enough to highlight the real evil at hand – but the word ‘evil’ means different things to do different people.
            To some people, being transgendered is ‘evil’. To others, it’s harmless. To others still, it’s more of an ‘affliction’.
            I find my definition of ‘evil’ is often radically different than that of most theists. Does that mean we should all refrain from using the word, because it means different things to each of us?

            And as I say, from my experience it’s pretty obvious what people mean when they say ‘fanatical belief’ these days. Sure, in another context the line could mean something very different, but it was very clear from the context it was said what the character meant.

          • Coyote

            “That explains a LOT…”

            Good. Always preferable to have a better understanding of where someone’s coming from, eh?

            “Agreed.”

            Excellent.

            “One thing that annoys me about a lot of other atheists is the ones who make statements like “I don’t HAVE any ‘beliefs’…!”. It’s like, of course you bloody do! Everyone does!”

            Indeed!

            “You support the bigoted conservatives, or the people for transgender rights? Sorry, I want to make sure whose side you’re coming down on before I call you out on it.”

            My support for transgender rights. Thank you for asking for clarification.

            “Kind of…but it’s seems such a pointless grievance to me, because you could say that about anything. ”

            Well… maybe you could. I’m not sure I would go as far.

            “Your point seems to be that ‘fanatical’ can mean different things to different people.”

            Well… while that is true, that’s not what my intended point was.

  • Anonymous

    “This is so frustratingly foolish I’m worried I’m not being coherent, but my main complaint is and will always be that people are so unspecific about what they’re criticizing that it lumps in things they don’t intend and robs the punch from their message.”

    Well said. I have seen this happen all too often. I find ambiguous criticism to usually be very disappointing in that it means that somebody would settle for a remark of such low standard and so empty of meaning. But I guess people really are ruled by their emotions more than I like to think.

WP account not required to comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: