View Poll Results: Religion: Good, Bad, Indifferent?

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  • Good! Brings light into a dark world...

    6 15.00%
  • Meh. Don't care either way...

    3 7.50%
  • Umm. Not sure

    2 5.00%
  • Bad! A purely negative, antiquated concept...

    29 72.50%
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Thread: Religion: A force for good or ill?

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Regarding the Drummer Lee Rigby murder case. The press has pointed out that the murderers were Muslim converts, but is there anything to suggest that they were motivated by religion (e.g. a confession of any sort)?

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by TooNice View Post
    Regarding the Drummer Lee Rigby murder case. The press has pointed out that the murderers were Muslim converts, but is there anything to suggest that they were motivated by religion (e.g. a confession of any sort)?
    I'm sorry if the original poll was construed as purely a response to those events, it was intended to go a bit deeper than that.

    I don't know how much 'religion' per se can be held accountable in this case; I suspect mental illness (of which religious mania is a common manifestation), cultural, social and many other complex factors were also to blame.
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Curious debate proposition when you look at it. I haven't voted because I don't like any of the answers. One might even ask what the question means - and that's not to be awkward for the sake of it.

    I think for the OP's poll to be of use it needs to be far more specific in defining 'Religion' and explaining exactly what the question is. For example, by religion do you mean any action motivated by religion? I assume it can't be that because then it would be a matter of asking the question for a thousand different actions for a hundred different religions. Does 'religion' mean a specific religion? That doesn't seem to be the case either otherwise I expect the OP would have just mentioned the religion by name. There has been a discussion about 'organised religion' vs. 'spirituality', so I assume the poll doesn't mean just 'organised religion'. I suppose we are to take it then that by 'religion' one means belief in a theistic/spiritual/supernatural being or realm.

    Here's the thing though, there are too many diverging 'religious' beliefs and ideas to be able to give a single answer to the poll. That is to say, it is perfectly reasonable for someone to accept one set of religious beliefs and reject a different set. This would, in a way, make that person both a 'believer' in 'religion' and also a 'disbeliever'. That being the case, how could that person answer the question polled? It's impossible without getting more specific.

    Further to the point, many 'religious' people would actually contend against the benefit of 'religion' per se and would instead contend for whatever truth is the foundation of their religion. Here I will speak as a Christian to make my point. A Christian would not say that 'religion' (as defined as a set of rules/guides/ideas followed) is of any great use in benefiting society. Rather, a Christian would say that the 'Good News' that Jesus Christ brought was that humanity is essentially corrupt at the core and there's no more point in a corrupt human being trying to be good than a fig tree try to produce apples. Instead, the Christian would point to Christ's message being that freedom from corruption/sin comes in being connected to some One who is perfect and is able to make others perfect by unison with them - the grafting in of a wild branch into a cultivated vine. Essentially, the Christian would teach that 'religious thought and action' are worthless in and of themselves and all human beings are hypocrites or self-deceived if they think those things will make any difference. The message of Christ, Christians say, is that we all need to acknowledge the reality of our own corruption, as evidenced every minute on this world, and enter into relationship with Jesus who by an exchange of lives, a spiritual exchange of sorts, can transform who you are and bring you into His purpose in eternal love.

    Now, that went on a bit, but the point is that to ask a Christian (someone considered by most to be an adherent of religion) if religion is a force for good or ill, is actually pointless. The question is too shallow and cannot provide an answer.

    The reality is that any religious teaching, structure or thought must be examined on its own terms and the truth, benefit, lie or hindrance be determined accordingly.

    Even if one wishes to apriori dismiss all such 'religious' ideas as false, it still doesn't answer the question. To state that the tenets of every religion are empirically false does not answer the question of whether belief in or adherence to those tenets results in good or ill. To the contrary, in this situation the issue actually becomes more complex. If we are to dismiss 'spirituality' in its entirety then we must come to the conclusion that the rise of such notions is, as the OP pointed out, an entirely human/biological product. If that's the case, the problem arises that religious ideas were never the problem in the first place, but rather, humanity who created those ideas, also created the evil and/or the good that resulted from them. So then, it is no good to ask if 'religion' is a force for good or ill because it answers nothing, we might instead ask if humans are a force for good or ill, or if we wish to press in, if certain types of thinking are a force for good or ill. This is, I think, what Cat was trying to point out in the intial comparison between fanboyism and religion - a comparison of similar thinking.

    I think in the end, what this poll is actually trying to ascertain is whether purely empirical/scientific thought is the only consistent way to result in good and not ill.

    If that were the question, I would have to answer no. At least at this point in time (empirically speaking). Why? It comes down to the question of morality. I'm sure TheAnimus and TeePee will disagree with me here, although I suspect the issue is one of semantics and misunderstanding, but scientific thought alone is unable to provide a sense of morality (that is, good and ill) in the same way that religious thought is capable of doing. This is because the morality of religion is an objective thing, indeed, such thinkers argue that morality by definition needs to be objective for it to be of any use. The morality suggested by an empirical-thought-only proponent must, by their own definition, be relative or subjective. That being the case, the empirical morality boils down to the mere language of preference and in reality loses all moral force. What society decides as 'good' or 'ill' is actually neither 'good' nor 'ill' but only 'what I like' and 'what I dislike'. This leaves the whole system open to the argument that we are all players in a temporary game and none of the rules really matter, you just have try to get the most individual enjoyment out of it that you can... or not.

    You see, empiricism cannot provide any real answer to the commonly desired and acknowledge notions of real, objective justice, or good, or reward, or evil. Everyone just eats shoots and leaves.

    You might be fine with that. That's everyone decision to make. As for whether empiricism alone is satisfying, I would say no. I could preach the Gospel that has blessed my life. I don't think I need to go that far though. I think in the simple debate of needing empiricism versus something more (real/explainable or not), one need only point to the historical foundation of justice upon religious thought (maybe we don't need it now, but all we can say is that we founded most of our societies morality and codes of justice upon notions taken from religion - can we yet get rid of them, if ever?), or to the striking reality that the vast, and I mean, VAST, majority of charitable work that takes place on this planet, is done by religious people and motivated by religious thought. Caring for everything from education to the sick, needy, and suffering, religiously motivated individuals are the ones out their doing the most work precisely because of, not in spite of, their religious notions.

    I think for these two reasons alone, it is impossible to argue that if all religious notions were removed from the world tomorrow, the world would be better off for it. I think the observable reality at this moment in time, is that it would not.
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by Galant View Post

    You see, empiricism cannot provide any real answer to the commonly desired and acknowledge notions of real, objective justice, or good, or reward, or evil. Everyone just eats shoots and leaves.

    You might be fine with that.
    So it is better to make up some fantastical cobblers in order to make yourself feel better? Then of course start punishing those who don't agree with what the Magic Pixie considers good?
    Last edited by wasabi; 06-06-2013 at 10:33 PM. Reason: lousy grammar

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    I find the notion that people are by nature corrupt is a nasty, immoral doctrine. This is part of the sickness of religion that creates a fictious 'illness' and offers the only possible cure.

    It's just a con, and a lot of people are week-minded enough to fall for it, or indoctrinated by their parents.

    To suggest that one particular religion is the sole source of morality is idiotic. When a religion uses this type of scam to keep it's followers in a set of fear, that's immoral.

    Anyone who has actually read the Bible or Qur'an and claims that these books represent a good moral code is a sick, twisted and damaged individual.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasabi
    So it is better to make up some fantastical cobblers up to make yourself feel better? Then of course start punishing those who don't agree with what the Magic Pixie considers good?
    I was speaking of the need, or least desire, for an objective morality where things really are good or really are bad, aside from any specifics - whatever they may be. This actually a decent example of that reality. If there is an objective reality then making up lies an imposing them can be genuinely despicable and we can make our judgements based upon the standard of that objective reality. If, however, morality is relative then there isn't any problem with doing so, we just don't like it. Your objection is based upon the idea that lying to people and treating them badly is actually wrong. The challenge is discovering what that standard is.
    Last edited by Galant; 06-06-2013 at 09:05 PM.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    lol. I'm glad Galant entered the discussion, since he put the point across far more succinctly than I would have done, while thinking across the same lines. Was actually musing over posting this afternoon, then logged in and saw his response.

    Regardless of what TeePee or others find reprehensible in Christianity, religion is not and never has been advocated as desirable in the Bible. Truth has. And I assume that is the goal off all peeps on this thread - to establish and trumpet the truth as they see it.

    No, I'm not getting all cuddly and huggy here.

    For someone on the Christian side of the divide, they advocate Christ as the truth; for an atheist, they tend to support materialism as the source of truth, because that's all they know.

    Being religious about anything tends not to help either side of the debate. Being religious is about rule observance, a static perception, and intolerance of any alternative viewpoint.

    Ho hum. Pursue the truth.
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by TeePee View Post
    I find the notion that people are by nature corrupt is a nasty, immoral doctrine. This is part of the sickness of religion that creates a fictious 'illness' and offers the only possible cure.

    It's just a con, and a lot of people are week-minded enough to fall for it, or indoctrinated by their parents.

    To suggest that one particular religion is the sole source of morality is idiotic. When a religion uses this type of scam to keep it's followers in a set of fear, that's immoral.

    Anyone who has actually read the Bible or Qur'an and claims that these books represent a good moral code is a sick, twisted and damaged individual.
    So when you take a look at the world today, the conflict in the Congo, the rape, murder, kidnapping, the abuse of governments world wide, the neglect of the poor, the morbid interest in and expenditure upon trivialities and gossip while curable poverty and suffering exist, the greed, the abuses of the banks, the wars, the murder and abuse of children and no end of other ills, you don't think that indicates an inherent problem within us?

    You don't think that if alien visitors came to the Earth and viewed its history it would be possible they could come to the conclusion that human beings are corrupt and given to wrong?
    Last edited by Galant; 06-06-2013 at 09:03 PM.
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    When religious people blew up the Boston Marathon, it was humans who ran toward the blast to help save the injured.

    You can't pick a few example of bad people doing bad things (Especially in the Congo, where they are fighting a religious war), and condemn the entire human race for them. Keep spinning the con man's tales.

    Rape, murder, kidnapping? More likely to be committed by religious people than the irreligious, statistically.

    Abuse of children? As we know, religious organisations are well known for this, and not just the Catholics.

    Poverty and suffering? And the religious hail Mother Theresa as a shining light. She who thought sick people should suffer in their dying days. It's religion which has led to suffering from the spread of HIV in Africa.

    It is no wonder that there is a strong correlation between religiosity and lower quality of life and social equity in every country around the world. The lower the religion, the stronger a country scores in every social metric.

    The only action most religious people take to help someone else is to pray for them. Because that allows them to massage their ego and believe that they have done something. Which, of course, they haven't.

    Religion is an inherent problem with mankind.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by TeePee View Post
    When religious people blew up the Boston Marathon, it was humans who ran toward the blast to help save the injured.

    You can't pick a few example of bad people doing bad things (Especially in the Congo, where they are fighting a religious war), and condemn the entire human race for them. Keep spinning the con man's tales.

    Rape, murder, kidnapping? More likely to be committed by religious people than the irreligious, statistically.

    Abuse of children? As we know, religious organisations are well known for this, and not just the Catholics.

    Poverty and suffering? And the religious hail Mother Theresa as a shining light. She who thought sick people should suffer in their dying days. It's religion which has led to suffering from the spread of HIV in Africa.

    It is no wonder that there is a strong correlation between religiosity and lower quality of life and social equity in every country around the world. The lower the religion, the stronger a country scores in every social metric.

    The only action most religious people take to help someone else is to pray for them. Because that allows them to massage their ego and believe that they have done something. Which, of course, they haven't.

    Religion is an inherent problem with mankind.
    Wow. Reality check?

    Congo is not a religious war. It's a resource war for one of the most resource rich countries/regions on the planet.
    But that's just one war. There are plenty of others. And I've just decided that I'm not going to challenge the rest of your points. I'm going to reiterate a point I made earlier and say that blaming religion for all of these ills doesn't change the problem for those who reject all spirituality. Since, TeePee, you reject it all, then religion,with all its ills, is a human product, and so religion which is an inherent problem with mankind, demonstrates that there is a problem with mankind.

    So we agree. There is a demonstrable, world-wide problem with mankind. I'm not entirely sure how you explain it. As for me, I say that it is an underlying spiritual problems which shows itself in many ways. How do you explain it?
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by Galant View Post
    Wow. Reality check?

    Congo is not a religious war. It's a resource war for one of the most resource rich countries/regions on the planet.
    But that's just one war. There are plenty of others. And I've just decided that I'm not going to challenge the rest of your points. I'm going to reiterate a point I made earlier and say that blaming religion for all of these ills doesn't change the problem for those who reject all spirituality. Since, TeePee, you reject it all, then religion,with all its ills, is a human product, and so religion which is an inherent problem with mankind, demonstrates that there is a problem with mankind.

    So we agree. There is a demonstrable, world-wide problem with mankind. I'm not entirely sure how you explain it. As for me, I say that it is an underlying spiritual problems which shows itself in many ways. How do you explain it?
    Whoa there. One second war is a resource problem, the next it is a spiritual problem with mankind.

    I take it the only way to fix mankind's problems is to follow the absolute reassuring moral guidance of the Magic Pixie? Rather than, you know, thinking about it a bit?

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by wasabi View Post
    Whoa there. One second war is a resource problem, the next it is a spiritual problem with mankind.

    I take it the only way to fix mankind's problems is to follow the absolute reassuring moral guidance of the Magic Pixie? Rather than, you know, thinking about it a bit?
    Under-lying spiritual problem showing itself in various ways - abusive greed and power grabbing being two of them.

    Also, the OP's question was, is religion a force for good. I stated that I thought a materialistic only viewpoint is inadequate and unsatisfying in terms of providing a moral compass or motivating towards whatever 'goodness' one determines. I also pointed out that 'religious thought' gave rise to much of the system and way of thinking which established the sense of rights and justice prevalent today, as well as also being the motivation for most of the world's charitable work at present.

    That's all.

    What's your take on the OP's poll question - and if religion is a force for evil, please explain all the good being done? I'd also be interested to hear your reply to my previous response to your comment about objective morality vs. subjective.

    Finally, on the subject of thinking, would you agree that we are currently in the most knowledgeable and enlightened age the human race has ever seen, where the thinking is clearest?
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Of course it's a religious war. I know you'll claim the Christian militants aren't true Scotsmen..

    You say religion is a problem and claim the solution is MORE religion? I know logic has never been your strong point, but this is approaching the surreal.

    The abhorrent notion that babies are born bad, and can only be 'saved' by your particular brand of faith-healing is just a con. A cult of fear.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by Galant View Post
    Finally, on the subject of thinking, would you agree that we are currently in the most knowledgeable and enlightened age the human race has ever seen, where the thinking is clearest?
    I would certainly agree that we live in the most secular age in history, yes.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Firstly Congo, 95% of Congolese self identify as Christian. Those Christian are now responsible for 5.4million+ causalities. Nearly half of which children. The devout love of Jesus on all sides has yet to even slow this down.

    Just looking at current events in 2013 AD, 1434 AH or AM 5773;

    No atheists/agnostics have been eating human hearts on youtube videos.
    No atheists/agnostics have been using chemical weapons.
    No atheists/agnostics have been beheading people in the street.
    No atheists/agnostics mutilated their children.
    No atheists/agnostics are taking over large medical corporations for force their doctrine on patients at the expense of their health.
    No atheists/agnostics are creating and running fake medical services to force their doctrine on patients at the expense of their health.
    No atheists/agnostics are giving misleading medical advice, killing hundreds of thousands, in the name of their doctrine.
    No atheist/agnostic organisations suppress and manipulate information provided to school children to force their doctrine on them at the expense of their education.
    No atheist/agnostic organisations are implicated in widespread child abuse and protection of abusers.
    No atheist/agnostic organisations are implicated in widespread money laundering for serious criminal organisations involved in drug and human trafficking(and associated murders, torture and rapes).
    No atheist/agnostic organisations or governments have; killed, tortured or imprisoned anybody for not holding the same beliefs as them.
    No atheist/agnostic organisations fulfil the BITE criteria for the definition of a dangerous cult, ten's of thousands of religious groups do.
    No atheist/agnostic organisations are engaged in prolonged and violent campaigns against homosexuals.
    No atheist/agnostic organisations are engaged in prolonged and violent campaigns against women.
    No atheist/agnostic organisations are engaged in prolonged and violent campaigns against other races or beliefs resulting in millions of displaced and dead.
    No atheist/agnostic organisations have used their wealth and power to suppress and discriminate against people of other beliefs via the political system.

    I'm not arguing atheism/agnosticism is special, super lovely or even inherently 'more moral'(not right now anyway). They are merely the control group, but if religion in of itself is a force for good in the world(rather than people who were raised within it, who certainly can be). It must at minimum trump those with no theistic beliefs, the control group.

    It quite plainly does not.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by TooNice View Post
    Regarding the Drummer Lee Rigby murder case. The press has pointed out that the murderers were Muslim converts, but is there anything to suggest that they were motivated by religion (e.g. a confession of any sort)?
    Yes he was quoting verses from the Koran(for a good 20minutes, because we don't have enough armed police), he even stated that he wasn't a violent man, but that because Allah mandated it via the Koran he had to. Along with the usual cries of Allah Ackbar, jihad etc. This has gotten little media coverage, I assume to avoid giving his message publicity. I don't necessarily object to this so long as actual motivations aren't misrepresented.

    This is exactly the kind of solo/very small group, small scale, home grown terrorism AQ has been promoting lately.

    “I strongly recommend all of the brothers and sisters coming from the West to consider attacking America in its own backyard,”
    “The effect is much greater, it always embarrasses the enemy, and these types of individual decision-making attacks are nearly impossible for them to contain,”
    R U dreamin’ of wagin’ jihadi attacks against kuffar?” the 64-page manual asks, using a pejorative term for unbeliever. “Have u been lookin’ 4 a way to join the mujahideen in frontlines, but you haven’t found any? Well, there’s no need to travel abroad, because the frontline has come to you
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/us...anted=all&_r=0

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