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The Daily Beast published an interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson yesterday (March 31, 2015), online at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/31/neil-degrasse-tyson-defends-scientology-and-the-bush-administration-s-science-record.html , and here is an excerpt:

 

Question:  The documentary ["Going Clear"] essentially argues that Scientology shouldn’t be granted tax-exempt status as a religion.
 
Answer:  But why aren’t they a religion? What is it that makes them a religion and others are religions? If you attend a Seder, there’s an empty chair sitting right there and the door is unlocked because Elijah might walk in. OK. These are educated people who do this. Now, some will say it’s ritual, some will say it could literally happen. But religions, if you analyze them, who is to say that one religion is rational and another isn’t? It looks like the older those thoughts have been around, the likelier it is to be declared a religion. If you’ve been around 1,000 years you’re a religion, and if you’ve been around 100 years, you’re a cult. That’s how people want to divide the kingdom. Religions have edited themselves over the years to fit the times, so I’m not going to sit here and say Scientology is an illegitimate religion and other religions are legitimate religions. They’re all based on belief systems. Look at Mormonism! There are ideas that are as space-exotic within Mormonism as there are within Scientology, and it’s more accepted because it’s a little older than Scientology is, so are we just more accepting of something that’s older?
 
The line I’m drawing is that there are religions and belief systems, and objective truths. And if we’re going to govern a country, we need to base that governance on objective truths—not your personal belief system.
 

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He doesn't know that much about either Mormonism or Scientology if he thinks both are equally focused on space. :rolleyes:

I agree with him about the religion issue though.

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I wonder what Tyson would say about his astro-biologist friends. There's objective based truth just oozing out of that field.

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I wonder what Tyson would say about his astro-biologist friends. There's objective based truth just oozing out of that field.

 

I of course can't speak for Dr. Tyson. What I would say is that the objective based truth is that there is little to no evidence for life outside our planet. That with hundreds of billions of stars in more hundreds of billions of galaxies, and at least the potential for many planets around those suns, for there to be no life outside our little planet is a great waste of space.

Edited by thesometimesaint

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He doesn't know that much about either Mormonism or Scientology if he thinks both are equally focused on space. :rolleyes:

 

True, but comparative to other sectarian Christians etc we ARE more space focused, or at least, we used to be.  It's kind of gone out of fashion in the Church.

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True, but comparative to other sectarian Christians etc we ARE more space focused, or at least, we used to be.  It's kind of gone out of fashion in the Church.

 

Kolob not withstanding ALL Christians are space alien oriented. A father God in Heaven(Not this planet) has a child then sends that child to this planet. Who then dies and goes back to that father God in Heaven(Not this planet). Further this father Gods' child is supposed to return from Heaven(Not this planet) and all those not Gods are put somewhere else. I won't even get into where the Devils come from or go to.

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It's not the question if Scientology's dogma is true or untrue. It's the fact that the organization damages and abuses people so badly.

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Kolob not withstanding ALL Christians are space alien oriented. A father God in Heaven(Not this planet) has a child then sends that child to this planet. Who then dies and goes back to that father God in Heaven(Not this planet). Further this father Gods' child is supposed to return from Heaven(Not this planet) and all those not Gods are put somewhere else. I won't even get into where the Devils come from or go to.

 

Agreed, but we ARE a little more so.  From the worlds without number, to the Book of Abraham, to the North Star, to the symbols on and in the temple, to some less accepted doctrines and anecdotes - Mormons don't limit their perspectives to this little planet at all.

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It's not the question if Scientology's dogma is true or untrue. It's the fact that the organization damages and abuses people so badly.

But the IRS is not equipped to judge religions based on that criteria.

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But the IRS is not equipped to judge religions based on that criteria.

Maybe not but someone needs to.

If NAMBLA declared itself a religion would everyone back off and let it be tax-exempt?

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It's not the question if Scientology's dogma is true or untrue. It's the fact that the organization damages and abuses people so badly.

 

People should not leave or remain in Scientology based on whether or not it damages

or abuses some of its members. There are people that have been hurt in various

religions.  The overriding reason to believe and stay in any faith is whether it teaches

the truth about God.  But then again, it has no dogma.  So members can have various

beliefs like "Jesus is just a man", "Jesus is a created being", or "we are not sure if Jesus

ever existed".

 

Regards,

Jim

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Maybe not but someone needs to.

If NAMBLA declared itself a religion would everyone back off and let it be tax-exempt?

 

I agree, but the way everything is set up right now, with the IRS solely decided who is or isn't a church, Tyson has a point.

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Kolob not withstanding ALL Christians are space alien oriented. A father God in Heaven(Not this planet) has a child then sends that child to this planet. Who then dies and goes back to that father God in Heaven(Not this planet). Further this father Gods' child is supposed to return from Heaven(Not this planet) and all those not Gods are put somewhere else. I won't even get into where the Devils come from or go to.

Could outer darkness be a black hole?

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I agree, but the way everything is set up right now, with the IRS solely decided who is or isn't a church, Tyson has a point.

 

I am not sure why the IRS is inherently disqualified to make those decisions. It would be subject to judicial review in any case if challenged.

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I am not sure why the IRS is inherently disqualified to make those decisions. It would be subject to judicial review in any case if challenged.

Because they handle taxes, not theological issues.

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Because they handle taxes, not theological issues.

 

So what government organization is qualified to tackle theological issues. The IRS is as good as anyone.

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It's not the question if Scientology's dogma is true or untrue. It's the fact that the organization damages and abuses people so badly.

I don't necessarily disagree with that, and, to the extent that I retain free will in any given circumstance, no one can "damage" or "abuse" me without my consent, but (while I do not agree with this), people have made the same argument against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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I am not sure why the IRS is inherently disqualified to make those decisions. It would be subject to judicial review in any case if challenged.

Perhaps, but the fact of the matter is, if, hypopathetically speaking, someone who is absolutely determined to commit a crime and there were no way I could talk him out of it came to me simply asking for an answer to the question, "Should I commit a crime that puts me crossways of the IRS, or should I commit murder?" I'd seriously be tempted to tell him he'd be better off committing murder.  He'd be entitled to a presumption of innocence, and he'd get more procedural protections that way.  Conversely, the IRS says you're guilty until you prove otherwise, and you have fewer procedural protections.

Edited by Kenngo1969

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So what government organization is qualified to tackle theological issues. The IRS is as good as anyone.

 

Apparently the US Supreme Court gets to decide which laws don't apply to some deeply held religious beliefs.

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Well, I guess I am pleasantly surprised at Tyson's even-handedness on this.  Sometimes he seems at least borderline militant atheist himself.  Good on ya, Dr. Tyson!  I suppose that Tyson is thinking of the legend that Mormons get their own planets or something.  It would be nice to know what he thinks he knows about us.

 

And I will grudgingly allow that Scientology is a religion, for all that among science-fiction fandom it is a fairly widely believed story that Scientology is the result of a bet between Poul Anderson and L. Ron Hubbard.  And that to L. Ron is attributed the saying that a science-fiction author is the most qualified to come up with a religion -- being used to construct their own universes as part of their job descriptions.

 

Now, having said the above, I do recognize that the founding narratives of all religions can easily be turned into jokes, if one is sufficiently mean.  But still, Hubbard himself is still a smoking gun. 

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Maybe not but someone needs to.

If NAMBLA declared itself a religion would everyone back off and let it be tax-exempt?

 

No, I think I draw the line somewhere in front of NAMBLA. 

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So what government organization is qualified to tackle theological issues. The IRS is as good as anyone.

 

No, it isn't.  The IRS has a history of being used as a political weapon.  The Supreme Court isn't perfect either, but it's a darn sight better than the IRS.  If Scientology donated enough money to the right politician, the IRS would be happy to sign off on Scientology as a religion, regardless of any other consideration.  The Supremes, not so much.

 

No, it's safer if we are liberal in allowing what's a religion and what's not.  For example, I'd even grudgingly allow Pastafarianism, if they decided to turn it from a joke into a "real" religion.  To paraphrase Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons, I give all religions the benefit of the doubt for my own religion's sake.

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So what government organization is qualified to tackle theological issues. The IRS is as good as anyone.

They may be as good or as qualified as any of them, but that doesn't mean they are good or qualified.

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No, it isn't.  The IRS has a history of being used as a political weapon.  The Supreme Court isn't perfect either, but it's a darn sight better than the IRS.  If Scientology donated enough money to the right politician, the IRS would be happy to sign off on Scientology as a religion, regardless of any other consideration.  The Supremes, not so much.

 

No, it's safer if we are liberal in allowing what's a religion and what's not.  For example, I'd even grudgingly allow Pastafarianism, if they decided to turn it from a joke into a "real" religion.  To paraphrase Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons, I give all religions the benefit of the doubt for my own religion's sake.

 

Almost every government agency has been accused rightly or wrongly as being used as a political weapon. While the Supreme Court might be a better arbiter and would, in fact, be the final arbiter they cannot start the process. For better or worse we do not submit hypotheticals to the courts for review in advance. We try real cases. If the IRS made the determination it would almost certainly be tested in the courts who would make the final decision. Someone has to make the decision that gets tried.

 

They may be as good or as qualified as any of them, but that doesn't mean they are good or qualified.

 

Until he whose right it is to rule and reign returns we are stuck with what we have.

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Apparently the US Supreme Court gets to decide which laws don't apply to some deeply held religious beliefs.

 

The recent cases tried are about companies having religious freedom. The court ruled they do. I disagree with that ruling. Corporation and companies do not have consciences. They do not worship God. To do otherwise on these rulings, particularly in the cases involved, would also give companies a line-item veto on federal law.

 

You can argue that the health insurance requirements under federal law are excessive. The proper challenge to that is a legislative one. You should not be able to selectively overrule individual points of a federal mandate because your company does not want to follow federal law. I also find the attempt to create religious exemptions distasteful and controlling on the part of employers. The company provides health insurance as part of an employment package. It is a form of payment to the employee. The employee pays part of it and the company pays part and then the employer should be hands off. That health insurance then belongs to the employee to do with it as they choose. If they want to get birth control why should the employer get a say? It is not theirs. They are not choosing to violate their conscience. It is the employee's compensation to do with as they choose. Would we be equally okay with employers putting restrictions on what employees could buy with their paychecks which are also part of their compensation? Should they be disallowed from spending it on things that violate the "conscience" of their employers?

 

I am also cynical enough to suspect that it is not really an issue of conscience. I suspect it is economics. If employers can line-item veto federal laws mandating employee benefits they can get lower cost plans and spend less money.

 

It will be interesting to see how this goes once a company owned by a Jehovah's Witness gets an insurance plan that does not cover blood transfusions.

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