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

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40. You may not vote on this poll
  • 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?

    I don't think there's a lot I can add to the discussion that has already taken place here, but I'll give my 2p anyway.

    It's very helpful when considering the question asked by the OP to attempt to differentiate between religion and religious extremism, since they are very different philosophies with very different motivations. Religious extremism can't exist without the framework of religion of course, but then neither can pseudo-political extremism (e.g. Anders Breivik) exist without politics. Nor can insanity exist without sanity...

    More importantly it is key to note that any form of extremism must be considered in light of the mental state of the perpetrator. There are very few cases in which a person or group commit crimes under the banner of extremism without some kind of mental issue, whether that be delusion, paranoid schizophrenia, depression or shock - amongst many others.

    On the whole, although I am an atheist I am happy to co-exist with normal religious folk as long as they go about their business and I can go about mine with minimal disruption. But I always have to question how things would be if religion and mass delusion had never evolved in the human race. I understand of course that this would never have been possible, as the capabilities of the human mind evolved far more rapidly than our understanding of the fixed laws of the universe, or the subjective, flexible framework of morality and eudaimonia. Religion crept in to answer those questions a long time ago and has never left us despite the fact that I truly believe it is no longer relevant, particularly in the civilised world.

    I have often questioned where the human race would have ended up had this inevitable twist not occurred. Even as atheists we are forced to accept that our moral framework is largely based upon millennia of religious dominance, and we are quite often sold the theory that without religion the world would be a far more brutish place. However, I strongly disagree with this concept based on what we can observe in the natural world. Other animals are capable of living together largely harmoniously in order to maximise their individual "success". I believe that in a parallel universe where religion had never dictated morality the human race would still be thriving and successful, possibly even more so. Of course there would always be conflict with or without religion, but if you take away the artificial segregation of religion it is one less flashpoint to worry about.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by TeePee View Post
    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.
    No it's really not. Just because some people lay claim to a religion doesn't mean their motivations are religious or the driving force. The conflict in DPRC is a resource war combined with ethnic conflict. That is the absolute fact of the matter. Here, read this:
    "UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, visited the Great Lakes region from 23 November to 4 December 2008 to assess whether or not the human rights violations in the North Kivu region of the DRC could be evidence of the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such”. He found that “massive violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were being committed on the basis of ethnicity and national origin” in the DRC. Special Adviser Deng urged all parties to the conflict to put an end to the atrocities and work toward a political solution."

    As for religion being a problem you haven't paid the slightest attention to what I've said, so I'll say it once more and then I'm done repeating myself.

    The question of the benefit/harm of 'religion' per se is the WRONG question, it's too shallow. It means nothing. I have said that if we boil it down to whether the inclusion of spiritual belief/thinking/motivation is a force for good, I would say it can be, depending upon the belief, and that it can be better than pure materialism which really can say very little on the subject of morality at all in the same way.

    As for my last comment, I asked you a question about how you differentiate between religious and non-religious causes of ill since both of them stem from human beings - that is - you can't say humans don't demonstrate an inherent bad nature when all the problems with religion that you point out are all the product of human beings. To put the question in reverse for clarity, why, if human are not inherently bad natured, are there problems in the first place and on the scale that we see (religious or otherwise)?
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckskull View Post
    Firstly Congo, 95% of Congolese self identify as Christian. [SNIP]...
    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.
    Again, I've not argued religion is a force for good.

    However, with regards the Congo, it's two different things to say that a conflict involves religious people and that a conflict is motivated by religion. It would seem that if 90% of the Congo all share the same religion, then whatever conflict exists is not taking place because of religion but in spite of it. No?

    My argument was not that holding any sort of religious belief is a force for good. It was, [QUOTE=Galant]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. (SNIP) ... 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.[QUOTE] That is, certain types of 'religious' ideas/thoughts/beliefs have brought and continue to bring something to the table, and in a specific way, that pure materialism cannot. Putting even more succinctly, there has been and continues to be value in certain religious beliefs.
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    My post wasn't aimed at you, nor am I arguing directly against you Galant, although I'm obviously on the force for ill side. Just making that point in of itself. But going back to the original discussion.

    No empiricism alone cannot be used in the manner you describe, I absolutely agree. Empirically speaking the the most direct route to the highest number of happy, healthy humans and it's long term maintenance would be an all out first strike with chemical weapons on Asia with the express intention of total annihilation of the population(2-4billion people). This would ensure enough food, energy, resources and living space for the remaining population. Free up a billion+ jobs, stimulate the economy and create several hundred million tons of high quality fertiliser. Not to mention the removal of climate change as an existential threat to our existence(In all human history no-one has done more for the environment than Genghis Khan). Nothing personal, highest population density is simply the best target and any retaliation would, in strategic terms, be minimal. Empirically speaking, surely the the most moral thing to do is make as many people happy and healthy as possible.



    Of course, I and any other right minded person would abhor such an act.

    However empiricism must be part of the equation, along with empathy and respect for life. That trifecta is the only consistent way to achieve 'good'. Adding anything to that trifecta will only corrupt it, no matter how well intentioned and nothing is more consistently trying to insert itself than religion.

    Human well being can be empirically measured, however a perfect and absolute morality can never be created by science nor God. This is the underlying issue. For any rule or system of rules that can be created a scenario can be created whereby their implementation would be a morally abhorrent thing to do. Only through empirical measurement of the issue, empathy for their suffering and commitment to their right to live, can we achieve the best possible outcome. If there is any value to human well being in certain religious beliefs, it is because there are right and nothing to do with their origin, which was usually not religion anyway.

    Why do humans do bad things, if they aren't inherently bad? Because billions of them live in crippling poverty and a similar proportion have for all of human history, this combined with a powerful survival instinct and a high level of intelligence will produce abhorrent results, this is not the singular motivator, but it is the prime motivator. A history dominated almost totally by religious belief for nearly 50,000years, until the enlightenment. The movement/age that codified that trifecta into the human experience. The results speak for themselves, in fact we are using some of those results to speak.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Of course it's a religious war. Do some reading.

    90% following the same religion means there's no conflict? Tell that to Ireland.

    The fact remains, the more religious a country is, the higher the crime rates. No ifs, buts, claims of spirituality or demands for the 'right' religion, which is a silly argument.

    You still haven't explained why you think teaching that babies are born bad is a morally good concept.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Do all religions say that babies are born bad? Or is your argument against specific religions, rather than religion itself being a force for good or ill?

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by TeePee View Post
    Of course it's a religious war. Do some reading.
    Political and Ethnic Resource War BBC
    Political and Ethnic Resource War Global Issues
    Political and Ethnic Resource War Wikipedia
    Political and Ethnic Resource War The UN
    Political and Ethnic Resource War Reuters
    Political and Ethnic Resource War Insight on Conflict
    Political and Ethnic Resource War Amnesty International

    Never mind all that though. I give in. Of course it's a religious war.

    You still haven't explained why you think teaching that babies are born bad is a morally good concept.
    Teaching anything is neither morally good nor bad in itself. If something is true and you teach it that could be considered morally good I suppose. If something isn't true and you teach it then that could be considered morally bad.

    I think the issue between the lines here is that you believe that saying all people are inherently corrupt must always lead to the saying that all people are expendable or can be treated poorly. That's neither a logical requirement nor true. I should also point out that it isn't to say that babies are born reprehensible nor that they aren't born with the capacity for good. It's just to say they're born with a tendency towards corruption and sinfulness which works itself out as they grow. It's too big a subject to get into here. The simplest way to look at it is to ask, if people are all born basically good - where does all the evil come from? Why do rich, healthy, smart, educated non-religious people do wrong? It comes from within human beings. I don't see how that is a morally repugnant idea. Still, if you want to disagree with the point and say it's not true, then what's your evidence to the contrary, how do you account for the massive, widespread, acute and persistent evil and suffering in the world?

    Oh and still no-one has addressed the issue or subjective vs. objective morality, what morality is, and why we should even care, which is, I believe, the central issue.
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckskull View Post
    My post wasn't aimed at you, nor am I arguing directly against you Galant, although I'm obviously on the force for ill side. Just making that point in of itself. But going back to the original discussion.

    No empiricism alone cannot be used in the manner you describe, I absolutely agree. (SNIP)

    However empiricism must be part of the equation, along with empathy and respect for life. That trifecta is the only consistent way to achieve 'good'. Adding anything to that trifecta will only corrupt it, no matter how well intentioned and nothing is more consistently trying to insert itself than religion.
    Thanks Chuckskull. Appreciate the courtesy.

    So then, to your points, and again, I reiterate, I did not vote in the poll because I do not think the answers, nor question, are sufficient. I do not wish to argue that religion is a force for good, per se. My consideration here is that the essential question is, is materialism/empiricism enough to provide morality and talk about good or ill, and has religious/spiritual thinking benefitted the world in the question and pursuit of morality; or is such thinking only a poison that results in 'ill'? My assertion is that such thinking has been pivotal in establishing good, and more than that, is even necessary is maintaining the question, let alone answering it.

    Considering your points in this light, I'm lead to ask where the notion of human rights comes from in a way that it carries moral force and not simply preference? You have said empiricism isn't enough, but what then is left?

    I would argue that insights coming from religious teachings/spirituality have provided the moral compass where mere empiricism was and is vacant. Again, I have no wish to defend mere, general, religion. I think it is a mistake to use the term because it is far too vague; one must always ask the question, "What do you mean by it?"

    As evidence of this, in response to your offering of empathy, human rights and respect for life, I offer for consideration the fact that it is religious thought and motivation that has provided the vast majority of charitable work being done in the world. Now, could a none religious person acknowledge the goodness of these actions and participate themselves? Of course. Yet it is 'religious' people who have actually gone out in mass numbers, consistently and done it. If need be I can provide a long list of charities around the world, all with religious origins and motivations, to demonstrate the point. I know also, that someone will likely just reiterate examples of where 'religious people' have done wrong, however, saying that A has resulted in B does not take anything away from the fact that A has also resulted in C and in a way that X never has done. Nor does it remove the force from the argument that it is religious thinking that has provided the basis for much of what many take for granted as 'rights' and 'ideals' in modern, western society.

    I have a copy of Aesop's Fables in my library. It's certainly a book about morality and it is certainly not a Christian book. It is a collection of stories illustrating common points of life (society and morality included) from a pre-Christian era. In the introduction to the book one of the translators makes the following point,

    ...The latter observation is an important one, for we probably tend to underestimate the ethical transformation of Western culture which came about as a result of Christianity. In the West today there is also much brutality, violence and corruption, but among all of that there is also a widespread public consensus that it is a good things to be kind to children, to care about the unfortunate, to help one's neighbour, to assist the elderly across busy streets and to come to the assistance of someone in distress... But these attitudes seem to have been absent in ancient Greece except in the case of occasional individuals. The underlying ethos of the world of Aesop is 'you're on your own and if you meet people who are unfortunate, kick them while they are down.' The law of the jungle seemed to prevail in the world of men as of animals for Aesop. Perhaps that is why animal stories were so appropriate."
    Like it or not, religious concepts of goodness, badness, justice, mercy, the value of human life, and, you put it empathy and respect for life, have given us the foundation of the society in which we now live.

    I don't believe that can be, nor should be, easily dismissed. I would argue that a purely materialistic outlook cannot provide these things with any lasting force, if at all.
    Last edited by Galant; 08-06-2013 at 02:40 AM.
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckskull View Post
    the most direct route to the highest number of happy, healthy humans and it's long term maintenance would be an all out first strike with chemical weapons on Asia with the express intention of total annihilation of the population(2-4billion people)
    Personally I'd go for a double strike, one at Europe and the other at North America

    After all, they still have the highest carbon footprint.
    ------------------

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by Galant View Post
    I think the issue between the lines here is that you believe that saying all people are inherently corrupt must always lead to the saying that all people are expendable or can be treated poorly. That's neither a logical requirement nor true. I should also point out that it isn't to say that babies are born reprehensible nor that they aren't born with the capacity for good. It's just to say they're born with a tendency towards corruption and sinfulness which works itself out as they grow. It's too big a subject to get into here. The simplest way to look at it is to ask, if people are all born basically good - where does all the evil come from? Why do rich, healthy, smart, educated non-religious people do wrong? It comes from within human beings. I don't see how that is a morally repugnant idea. Still, if you want to disagree with the point and say it's not true, then what's your evidence to the contrary, how do you account for the massive, widespread, acute and persistent evil and suffering in the world?

    Oh and still no-one has addressed the issue or subjective vs. objective morality, what morality is, and why we should even care, which is, I believe, the central issue.
    Too long to get into? Far from it. This is the central issue. It's the immoral concept which is central to understanding the evil con man's trick at the heart of religion.
    Invent something. Call it 'Sin' say that everyone is infected with it and that your particular brand of ju-ju has the only cure. Sell it.

    The miserable delusion at the heart of christianity is right there in your post. You claim babies have a capacity for good but a tendency toward corruption. (I'll ignore delusional concept of sin). Why not say they have a capacity for both good and evil? Why must you force the human race towards the negative? If you think a baby has a tendency toward anything you're delusional. That's one of the morally repugnant parts. Forcing people into a life of misery and 'repentance'.

    Why do rich smart educated non-religious people do good? Why are rich people more likely to do good? Why are educated people more likely to do good? Why are non-religious people more likely to do good? Why are rich, educated people less religious?

    As people become less religious, they make a better society. Which is why there is far less suffering in the world today than there was 50 years ago.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Considering your points in this light, I'm lead to ask where the notion of human rights comes from in a way that it carries moral force and not simply preference? You have said empiricism isn't enough, but what then is left?
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Was in large part a reaction to the horror of 2 World Wars and a religious genocide. Crafted around the trifecta I was talking about. It was also totally secular of course. Religious institutions almost always resist until given no choice when it comes to surrounding power over such things. In fact can you name a greater threat or greater violator of the UDHR today than religious institutions and nations? The pope took 50 years to call it good thing, even when the some of the worst human rights abuses in that era were being committed against Catholics and other Christians. A great example of religion true purpose, the expansion of religion and it's power over individuals.

    I offer for consideration the fact that it is religious thought and motivation that has provided the vast majority of charitable work being done in the world. Now, could a none religious person acknowledge the goodness of these actions and participate themselves? Of course. Yet it is 'religious' people who have actually gone out in mass numbers, consistently and done it. If need be I can provide a long list of charities around the world, all with religious origins and motivations, to demonstrate the point.
    [Citation Needed]

    Also worth noting the largest charitable donations in history were made by committed atheists, and many in the top ten are non-believers. No Churches though.

    Over the course of human history, then I'm sure yes, you're probably right, religious people gave more to charity, but agnostics and alike might have been able to do more had they not been getting killing in fantastically inventive ways by religious people. There is also another problem with religious charity, religion. Often this charity is conditional on belief or entirely self serving. Mother Theresa, everyone favourite nun, being a great example. It is so often the same, once you dig past the veneer of "look how charitable we're being". It's a ponzi scheme. It pays out sometimes to keep the money coming in and everyone putting in money is convinced they're making a good investment and won't hesitate to recommend it to friends and anyone else.

    Also bears remembering that we'd need less charity, if most religions in the world did not mandate large unsupportable families and hadn't wasted monumental amounts of wealth on monuments to Gods. Those spires, domes, bells, murals, gold relief and all that stained glass, repeated ad nauseam all around the world, probably hundreds of thousands of them today, millions over the course of human history, many which took many lives and many decades to complete. All that human effort that could of gone on actually making the world a better place.

    Without meaning to get to personal. Worth remembering at the time Aesops fables was written your God was still in his whole whole submit or burn, stone your daughter, slavery is fine, I'm going to drown every living thing on earth in the biggest genocide ever and write a children's book about it phase.

    A slave pretty much figured it out a century before Jesus and 4 centuries before the bible was the argument you just made for the moral leadership of religion. Which is actually, pretty much the argument I'm making about religion. Religion only ever plays catchup to the growth of humanity, it is not the fertilizer or the ground it grows in, but a parasite. It can seem sometimes as if the it's spreading such ideas, but the reality is more often than not it is simply moving out of the way of their spread and only then so it can spread with them. Slavery, Gay rights, Women's rights and of course Secularism in each case religion was the problem not the solution and in each slowed and in some continues to slow their adoption to this day.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by TeePee View Post
    Too long to get into? Far from it. This is the central issue. It's the immoral concept which is central to understanding the evil con man's trick at the heart of religion.
    Invent something. Call it 'Sin' say that everyone is infected with it and that your particular brand of ju-ju has the only cure. Sell it.

    hehe



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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Just in response to the opening post - I would say it probably, usually isn't necessarily good or bad. Just depends on the people. There are people of all different religions that will go through life just being a nice person. Some will do crazy stuff. But just because someone does something crazy and claims to be of a certain religion, does it mean that religion is bad? Does it mean they were true to that religion? Do you even understand the teachings of that religion?

    I hear people criticise christians a lot for example. Joking about their beliefs in god, like they think it's some magical man sitting up in the clouds. I've talked to lots of christians about their belief in god. They have varying interpretations. But it seems to be a lot different from what a lot of critics seem to think. People often criticise what they don't understand. Who is ignorant?

    Religion seems to help some people. But I usually feel those people were just never able to figure out how to be a good dude on their own and needed a set of rules to tell them. Personally I don't feel I need that. I'm a friendly, decent and genuine guy. That's my purpose, my meaning in life. To be a good dude. Like Bill and Ted say, "Be Excellent To Eachother!". That's my life philosophy Live and let live, as long as you're not hurting anyone. I also personally extend that to all sentient beings. But for me, a lot of religion appears to not be able to follow this philosophy. I was talking to some christians in town last month. I'm not one of those dudes who talks to them like an arrogant ****. I'm real nice and open with them. I've had talks with lots of religious groups that have stopped me in the street. I asked some Mormons if they wanted to grab a cup of tea with me lol... Anyway, the christians. I'm going to hell if I don't follow the bible right? I told him I just couldn't buy into that, even though he may be right for all I know. I admitted I don't really know what the hell is going on. This is what a lot of people, religious or not, have trouble with. They are scared. And this is why people cling to and enforce beliefs that they usually don't have much, if any evidence to back it up. They can't handle not knowing. They are scared. And I also think god is a **** if he is going to send me to hell. Never was keen on the old testament. Isn't this why they re-wrote the thing, bit to crazy? I think god could learn a thing or two from me about how to treat people tbh. He can read my book. All it says is "Be Excellent To Eachother". Dammit, I didn't want to bash anyone here! But I just write what's going through my head...

    I think I had a point when I started out.. But Religion can be used to control people. It can be used to get people to do crazy things. But I think you have to be crazy in the first place for it to work. The same as some kid killing a load of people because he played gta or whatever. You have to be crazy first for stuff like that to work! I've enjoyed curb stomping many peoples heads on gta. But I'm such a non violent guy in real life. Will defend myself if needed, but I don't initiate violence. While I find some religious beliefs a bit mental sometimes. I don't really care what those people believe, as long as they don't cause harm to others and let others live how they want. That's the bottom line for me. But I always think you should question how true someone is to their religion before you judge that religion based on that persons actions. If someone committed some seriously violent crimes and then claimed to be a Buddhist or Hindu. I think I would have trouble believing that. Those guys seem to be the ones that don't cause any crap..

  21. Received thanks from:

    Pleiades (16-06-2013)

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