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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    Question Religion: A force for good or ill?

    IMHO Religious thoughts in humans began as a reaction to a hostile and frightening environment and must have had some survival value (e.g. overcoming the fear of death and thus being able to face a world that was going to kill you, one way or another, whatever you did).

    Is there any point to retaining these vestiges of primeval rationalisation now tho?

    And without meaning to cause offence to anyone more spiritual than me, but I personally believe that religion has become a sort of mass-hysteric mental illness over the millenia. Please note I don't use 'mental illness' in this context as a jibe or denigration; I suffer from anxiety, depression and OCD myself.

    Just as we host many bacteria and viruses, some of which can become harmful, and 'broken' DNA that can cause disease but may have other positive effects, maybe religion is just another 'cross to bear' that comes with benefits for humanity? A symbiotic meme that continuously replicates and will always be with us...

    ...or will evolution condemn it to the dark ages (tho it shows no sign of happening so far, even (or especially) in ostensibly 'atheist' (ex-) communist countries)...?
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    Valar Morghulis

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    A force for both. Religion is responsible for some very good things, and some very bad ones too.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    I think the basic motivations of humans are the things we need to look,not the conduits.


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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    TBH, I can see no downsides if all religion was magically abolished tomorrow. People would be exactly the same in all respects, they wouldn't suddenly devolve into depravity, quite the opposite I feel...

    OTOH I can see nothing but more misery for more people in the future, as the more unenlightened tenets of religions invented in the dark ages conflict with the modern era
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    Valar Morghulis

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleiades View Post
    TBH, I can see no downsides if all religion was magically abolished tomorrow. People would be exactly the same in all respects, they wouldn't suddenly devolve into depravity, quite the opposite I feel...

    OTOH I can see nothing but more misery for more people in the future, as the more unenlightened tenets of religions invented in the dark ages conflict with the modern era
    It wouldn't change anything. Humans have never needed religion as an excuse to be horrendous to each other. The last 100 years of our history are enough to prove this.


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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    It wouldn't change anything.
    How do you know?
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    Valar Morghulis

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleiades View Post
    How do you know?
    Because motivations are more important than conduits. Again the last 100 years of history have long debunked that religion had the monopoly on humans being horrible to each other.

    Sadly the religious and anti-religious fanbois will waste more time beating the same old stupid drum while nothing is achieved.

    Our basic motivations are the main problem and tackling them will be the only way humanity will eventually become better. However,it also means each one of us will need to change at an intrinsic level and I don't see humanity at that point yet.

    We are way too petty and selfish ATM.


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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    But if we weren't petty and selfish I would hesitate to call us 'human' at all

    Maybe a 'post-human' society (possibly inorganic) could remove the base motivations that underpin our whole way of life, I don't see any other way it could evolve.

    A society that didn't have these 'animal' urges (7 deadly sins, basically) would be so far removed from our experience it'd be as alien to us as we are to plankton.

    I just don't believe *any* religion ameliorates these base desires, in fact they sometimes inflame and exaggerate them in some respects.

    Though if I'd choose a religion, it'd be Buddhism (hasn't stopped Burmese Buddhists attacking the Muslim minority in Burma though)...
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    Because motivations are more important than conduits. Again the last 100 years of history have long debunked that religion had the monopoly on humans being horrible to each other.

    Sadly the religious and anti-religious fanbois will waste more time beating the same old stupid drum while nothing is achieved.
    Calling people 'fanbois' is fairly petty I'd aver.

    What great achievement should we expect from you then, seeing how you're not beating the same old stupid drum, a rather silly phrase imo. You must have some answers, please enlighten us.
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleiades View Post
    But if we weren't petty and selfish I would hesitate to call us 'human' at all

    Maybe a 'post-human' society (possibly inorganic) could remove the base motivations that underpin our whole way of life, I don't see any other way it could evolve.

    A society that didn't have these 'animal' urges (7 deadly sins, basically) would be so far removed from our experience it'd be as alien to us as we are to plankton.

    I just don't believe *any* religion ameliorates these base desires, in fact they sometimes inflame and exaggerate them in some respects.
    Hence,you see the issue here. Our basic emotions are the reason why we do horrible things to each other,so your insinuation that the removing religion will be some wonder bullet won't change anything. People will use some other conduit and we are back to square one.

    The problem is that religious like behaviour is part of our emotional pysche. Religous like attachment,behaviour and rationalisation does not need supernatural beings from another dimension. It can be based around people and very many worldly things like ideology and money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleiades View Post
    Though if I'd choose a religion, it'd be Buddhism (hasn't stopped Burmese Buddhists attacking the Muslim minority in Burma though)...
    Buddhism is a philosophy and attacking Muslims or anyone is not anywhere in Buddhism last time I checked.

    Its more a case of people who happened to be Buddhists having a vendetta against Muslims and attacking them,making some lame excuse, and probably forgetting half what the philosophy they supposedly follow actually teaches.

    Humans have a good way of cherrypicking what suits them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleiades View Post
    Calling people 'fanbois' is fairly petty I'd aver.

    What great achievement should we expect from you then, seeing how you're not beating the same old stupid drum, a rather silly phrase imo. You must have some answers, please enlighten us.
    It is fanboism. Fanboism actually stimulates the same parts of the brain as religion.

    "Anti-religious" fanbois only want the total destruction of religion as the way to make things better(one ideology),and the "religious" fanbois only see religion as the only way to make things better(another ideology).

    What you will notice with the fanbois is that there is NO middle ground. In fact they are just opposite sides of the same coin. I consider them both the same in practice.

    They will continue to argue and not give in,like they have done for time memorial and achieve nothing.

    Anyway,thats me done for this thread!!
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 24-05-2013 at 04:31 AM.


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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Mostly bad. But not purely so.

    Religion keeps a huge number of morons off the roads every Sunday Morning, for example.

    Many people use it to seek comfort and to avoid the realities of the world. It's good for their mental stability.

    But on the other hand, it's used to perpetuate stupidity, and to hold back science education, leads to the spread of disease, deaths of millions (in the modern world) and to justify hatred, bigotry and restrictions on human rights. And the unforgivable abuse of children.

    It's dying out. Maybe not quickly enough, and probably not completely, but certain;y we'll see it being almost totally marginalised. Irreligion has already reached a critical mass in the UK. The US is holding out, but maybe only trailing by ten years or so. The current attempts by Christians to block civil rights legislation here are driving people away in their millions.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    I'm amazed this kind of thread has appeared without it degenerating into senseless namecalling within the first few posts.

    But anyway, religion. It does good and it does bad. The good it does is ultimately for it's own service. Help in Africa? The Pope threatened to pull aid when the use of condoms was being promoted because it was against their teaching. Think they are doing it out of the kindness of their heart or to drive their own political machine regardless of how many people suffer in the process?

    The founding of the Vatican? They basically endorsed the Facists to get what they wanted. And has also been mentioned, the systemic cover up of child abuse all the way to the highest reaches of the church (see; Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God).

    I can't comment much on other religions because I don't know that much, but Muslims get a bad rep because of the middle east and I completely see why with the amount of ongoing violence even against fellow Muslims. I remember a time with the phrase 'sectarian violence' was on the news every day. On the other hand, there are countries which are largely Muslim but perfectly peaceful. It is people who tend to corrupt the message of religion weather it be Muslim, Christian or otherwise.

    I have no problem with the idea of God per se, because I don't think such an ambiguously defined being can ever be proven or disproven, nor do I have a problem with people believing in such a thing. But organised religion, driven by politics, used to discriminate, to impose their own values on those who do not share their beliefs and to promote and forgive things society would have thrown someone behind bars for...

    To say that you are born into sin, for something you had no choice or part in, for which the penalty is torture for all eternity. That is detestable.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    I think you'd have to define religious thought much more clearly before you can answer the question clearly. For me religious thought is quite simply any thought which gives consideration to whether there is a purpose for life existing and what role that life might have. The conclusions you draw from that are wide ranging - the belief that there is no deity for example is itself a religious thought, and I think the world is a richer place for us having the ability to think and discuss freely about such things.

    So I guess I'm saying that being open to think about things, rather than restricting debate and discussion, is a beneficial thing, therefore religion, like other intellectual, spiritual and artistic pursuits, is a force for good.

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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    I'd have to agree with a lot of what AETAaAS has said. I voted "bad" in the poll because from my perspective, in my lifetime, religion has done far more bad than good. However, I would differentiate between "religion" and "faith". Religion seems to have far more capacity to bring out the worst in people, almost like a mob culture. Faith on the other hand is a very different thing, it can give people a lot of strength to deal with problems in life (not just fear of death).
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    Some sort of spiritualism in a person's life can enhance it no end and people with a faith generally live longer and have more fulfilling lives, if you believe the research. However there have historically been some truly heinous acts done 'in the name of' religion. It is the nature of man & I believe that these acts would have happened whether religion existed or no.
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    Re: Religion: A force for good or ill?

    I'd agree with Zadock that faith is one thing, religion is quite another.

    Ultimately, I hope humanity outgrows religion because it strikes me as being essentially someone telling someone else what to believe/how to behave with little or no evidence to support it.

    I say this as a devout and practising agnostic.

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