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Would the world be a better place without religion?


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#1 Itoero

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 12:06 PM

Would the world be a better place without religion?

I think it would.
Religion creates groups, it forms boundaries between people...that causes many problems.
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#2 HallsofIvy

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 12:39 PM

What, exactly, do you mean by "religion"?  There are religions whose basic tenet is "do unto others as you would have others do unto you", or versions of that (Kant's "categorical imperative"), with no other dogma.  That does not "form boundaries".  There are, of course, many artificial boundaries that people set up but phrasing it solely in terms of "religion" is itself polarizing.


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#3 Prometheus

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 01:49 PM

Also how would you get rid of religion? If it involved forcibly 'unconverting' people (i doubt many would easily give it up), then i can't see it making humanity happier, or otherwise better. But if you mean better if it had never happened, then maybe... depending on what you mean by religion.


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#4 Strange

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 01:53 PM

Religion creates groups, it forms boundaries between people...that causes many problems.

 

 

Humans create groups, even without religion.

 

 

 

Would the world be a better place without religion?

 

Overall, I would say no. There are many religious groups and individuals who do wonderful things for other people, from charities to art. There are some bad things that are done in the name of religion, but I suspect many of those are just using the cover of religion and the people would do the same things in the name of race, nationality, language, or some other in-group out-group distinction.


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#5 Itoero

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 02:41 PM

What, exactly, do you mean by "religion"?  There are religions whose basic tenet is "do unto others as you would have others do unto you", or versions of that (Kant's "categorical imperative"), with no other dogma.  That does not "form boundaries".  There are, of course, many artificial boundaries that people set up but phrasing it solely in terms of "religion" is itself polarizing.

I mean all religions...also the 'good ones'.
 

Also how would you get rid of religion? If it involved forcibly 'unconverting' people (i doubt many would easily give it up), then i can't see it making humanity happier, or otherwise better. But if you mean better if it had never happened, then maybe... depending on what you mean by religion.

I rather mean, "What if...". I also mean state religions.
 

Humans create groups, even without religion.

That's true, but without religion there would be a lot less strife in the world.

Overall, I would say no. There are many religious groups and individuals who do wonderful things for other people, from charities to art. There are some bad things that are done in the name of religion, but I suspect many of those are just using the cover of religion and the people would do the same things in the name of race, nationality, language, or some other in-group out-group distinction.

Religion is most of the times not the direct cause for bad things but it's a breeding ground.(islam-terrorism)
People who do wonderful things, is that because of religion or in spite of religion?

Taking a holy book as morel guidance slows down moral evolution.

Edited by Itoero, 13 November 2016 - 02:46 PM.

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#6 Fuzzwood

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 04:39 PM

Humans create groups, even without religion.

There is 'forming groups' and there is ''holding desperately onto century-old dogma's thought up by people who didn't understand where the sun went at night'.


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#7 Strange

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 05:35 PM

There is 'forming groups' and there is ''holding desperately onto century-old dogma's thought up by people who didn't understand where the sun went at night'.

 

 

Even if people do that, does it matter?


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#8 Tampitump

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 05:31 AM

Insofar as religions offer dogmatic prescriptions for how to live one's life that include blocking one from accepting new discoveries, foster contentment with false answers and not knowing the truth, and sanction divisive, tribal type behavior, then yes, the world must relieve itself of religion as soon as possible. Most religions are very hidebound like this, and are set in their ways, not only uninterested in change or new knowledge, but vehemently hostile to it. The good parts of religion, like the benefits that go along with hope, family, fellowship, community, etc... You don't need to lump on the erroneous metaphysics and unsupported claims in order to have that.

There's a quote by Daniel C. Dennett that I quite like that goes something like this:

"The biggest problem with religion is that it gives people a gold-plated excuse to stop thinking."

Edited by Tampitump, 15 November 2016 - 05:34 AM.

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#9 Fuzzwood

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 07:48 AM

Even if people do that, does it matter?

Paris, London, IS. Yes it matters.


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#10 Strange

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 08:41 AM

Paris, London, IS. Yes it matters.

 

 

I'm not sure I follow your logic. Are you saying that IS are motivated by a lack of belief of where the Sun goes at night?

 

And that everyone who follows centuries old dogma is a terrorist?

 

And that no terrorists have been motivated by new political (rather than religious) ideas?

 

In which case, you are obviously wrong. So I must have misunderstood.


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#11 EdEarl

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 10:04 AM

My life was screwed by religion. My mother and father divorced, and she married another, my stepfather. Now, in her religion it was a sin to divorce, but it happened. Then, when my stepfather punched me in the stomach when I was three, she consulted with the preacher who advised her to remain with the marriage and fix it. But, her marriage to my abusive stepfather eventually failed. In the mean time, he continued to abuse me. She made poor decisions on who to marry that had nothing to do with religion, but tended to hang in there when she should have left, at least partly rationalized by her religious beliefs.

 

I'm sure that I am not the only abused child who suffered unnecessarily because of religious teachings, and others, including "witches" who suffered at the hands of religious people. Moreover, all those people who believe in creationism, who question rational thought and science are softly abused, because they are taught to make irrational decisions based on a book of nonsense. I am 70+, and still have very hard feelings about religion. Many religious people live a fantasy or delusion, and do not understand how to think rationally. Yes, religion harms. That some religious people are good, does not outweigh the harm, IMO.


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#12 Prometheus

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 02:49 PM

I mean all religions...also the 'good ones'.

 

That's quite a heterogeneous group, may be difficult to have a nuanced discussion with such broad strokes.

 

I rather mean, "What if...". I also mean state religions.

 

Religion has often played an important aspect in the development of morality in humans. Quite what this development would have been like without religion is anybody's guess. I imagine morality would have remained the province of sophists (in the original sense) for a lot longer. If our morals now seem obvious to us, it is because people have made great efforts to make it obvious. Those people were usually religious.

 

If however we could just dispel religion overnight it might help in some ways, but harm in others. Many people need religion to have a meaning in life. The only other real alternative available to the masses is hedonism via capitalism. Doesn't seem to make people any happier past a certain point, and might just expedite climate change. 

 

I don't think humanity is yet ready to do away with the comfort blanket of religion.

 

Taking a holy book as morel guidance slows down moral evolution.

 

The problem only comes when the Book is considered more important than the morals it tries to teach. I believe even the Bible is still morally relevant today, including the old testament. We see the narrative progress as humanity tries to figure out its conscious with works like Paradise Lost and Frankenstein, but Christians don't see it because they are blinded by faith and atheists often don't see it because of a rejection of everything religious.


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The wild geese do not intend

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The water has no mind

To retain their image.

 

 

To naively frown upon split infinitives.

 

www.senseaboutscience.org/

 


#13 Strange

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 03:51 PM

Taking a holy book as morel guidance slows down moral evolution.

 

 

I would take a field guide to identifying mushrooms for morel guidance. :)


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#14 Memammal

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 04:24 PM

@ Prometheus: Parts of your post #12 are disputable and in need of some clarification. If I have more time available tomorrow and if somebody else has not yet dissected that post, I will attend to it.


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#15 Itoero

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Posted 15 November 2016 - 06:34 PM

I would take a field guide to identifying mushrooms for morel guidance. :-)

:-p after googling it, I saw my mistake
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#16 Memammal

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Posted 16 November 2016 - 02:58 PM

Religion has often played an important aspect in the development of morality in humans. Quite what this development would have been like without religion is anybody's guess. I imagine morality would have remained the province of sophists (in the original sense) for a lot longer. If our morals now seem obvious to us, it is because people have made great efforts to make it obvious. Those people were usually religious.

With emphasis on often in the first sentence above...i.e. yes and no. There is a wealth of literature that confirm that morality, even ethical codes predate religion, even suggesting that religion flowed from humanity's sense of morality in conjunction with our sense of superstition. Do yourself a favour and google "morality and ethics before religion" and read up on it. The oldest actual remains of written laws that were found and that were used to govern a society originated from the Neo-Sumerian Empire, long before the Mosaic law. The famous Code of Ur-Nammu of this era was not of a religious nature. The sophists indeed had some sort of monopoly on intelligent (incl. moral) property during the Greek Empire and the later Graeco-Roman society, that part seems true, but only within that particular society. Confucius, of course, was one of their far-eastern peers. There would have been numerous other non-religious moral teachers (Buddha comes to mind).

 

If however we could just dispel religion overnight it might help in some ways, but harm in others. Many people need religion to have a meaning in life. The only other real alternative available to the masses is hedonism via capitalism...

 

I don't think humanity is yet ready to do away with the comfort blanket of religion. 

I often see and hear this and to me it comes across as a fallacious statement. First of all, there are many (including some secular) countries in Europe, for example, that have been doing pretty fine without relying on religion since the Age of Enlightenment, in fact one can make a strong case for the advantages of an a-religious society outweighing that of a religious (think of religious suppression & persecution that have taken place around the world). Also why would the only choice be between religion and hedonism? Surely there are many high-level psychological needs that humans naturally aspire to apart from religion or hedonism.

 

I believe even the Bible is still morally relevant today, including the old testament.

Again, this seems like a contentious statement. I fail to see the significance of Biblical morals in modern-day society, especially any of those that may exist in the Old Testament. We don't need the Bible (or any other holy book) to teach us morals, full stop.


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#17 dimreepr

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Posted 16 November 2016 - 03:09 PM

@ Prometheus: Parts of your post #12 are disputable and in need of some clarification. If I have more time available tomorrow and if somebody else has not yet dissected that post, I will attend to it.

 

 

The point I imagine you'd dispute:

 

 

 

Religion has often played an important aspect in the development of morality in humans. Quite what this development would have been like without religion is anybody's guess. I imagine morality would have remained the province of sophists (in the original sense) for a lot longer. If our morals now seem obvious to us, it is because people have made great efforts to make it obvious. Those people were usually religious.

 

 

 

To add; The point is, when religions, by which I mean the major ones, are new and it's well/fully understood by the general populous; It wasn't force that changed the pagans mind, You can't impose an idea.

 

The problems only arise when understanding by the general populous falls below a critical point, when that point is reached politics take over and greed trumps (edit: LMAO just realised the un-intended irony :D ) contentment, every time when no one understands how to be content with what we have.

 

 

cross posted


Edited by dimreepr, 16 November 2016 - 03:33 PM.

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#18 Prometheus

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Posted 16 November 2016 - 03:53 PM

With emphasis on often in the first sentence above...i.e. yes and no. There is a wealth of literature that confirm that morality, even ethical codes predate religion, even suggesting that religion flowed from humanity's sense of morality in conjunction with our sense of superstition. Do yourself a favour and google "morality and ethics before religion" and read up on it. The oldest actual remains of written laws that were found and that were used to govern a society originated from the Neo-Sumerian Empire, long before the Mosaic law. The famous Code of Ur-Nammu of this era was not of a religious nature. The sophists indeed had some sort of monopoly on intelligent (incl. moral) property during the Greek Empire and the later Graeco-Roman society, that part seems true, but only within that particular society. 

 

We are delving so far back into history that all conclusions will be tentative. We have Sumerian and Babylonian texts because they wrote, and on clay tablets. What about societies with oral traditions or writing on more temporary mediums? I cannot spare the time required to delve into the veracity of all these sources, but my main point is that morality and religion met at some point, somehow. Since then many people come to morality via religion. Is this contentious?

 

 

Confucius, of course, was one of their far-eastern peers. There would have been numerous other non-religious moral teachers (Buddha comes to mind).

 

Confucianism and Buddhism are religions. This comes up quite often on this forum, maybe worth its own thread to debate?

 

 

 

I often see and hear this and to me it comes across as a fallacious statement. First of all, there are many (including some secular) countries in Europe, for example, that have been doing pretty fine without relying on religion since the Age of Enlightenment, in fact one can make a strong case for the advantages of an a-religious society outweighing that of a religious (think of religious suppression & persecution that have taken place around the world). 

 

For sure there are secular countries but most countries aren't, just as there are secular people but the vast majority of the world is religious. Some of these religious people use religion as a moral compass. There would be consequences to removing this compass; some good some bad i imagine.

 

I too would like to see a move toward more secular societies but it takes a long time. When will Indonesia or Bangladesh or Brazil become secular do you imagine? Are the USA or UK yet secular? My point is it takes time and you can't impose it.

 

 

Also why would the only choice be between religion and hedonism? Surely there are many high-level psychological needs that humans naturally aspire to apart from religion or hedonism.

 

It's not the only choice, its just the one usually presented to people. The societal pressures in the UK are such that i have no choice but to celebrate Christmas if i wish to avoid a degree of ostracisation: I can celebrate religiously or by propping up the economy and getting drunk. Fortunately i don't mind being a social pariah. 

 

 

Again, this seems like a contentious statement. I fail to see the significance of Biblical morals in modern-day society, especially any of those that may exist in the Old Testament. We don't need the Bible (or any other holy book) to teach us morals, full stop.

 

Biblical morals, as abhorrent as they may be, are part of our history. Its not about using Holy Books to teach morals - it's about understanding where we came from (morally, not literally). 

 

In addition, unfortunately people still use this book for moral guidance. To engage with them we need to understand their perspective rather than just brandish them immoral. 

 

 

The problems only arise when understanding by the general populous falls below a critical point, when that point is reached politics take over and greed trumps (edit: LMAO just realised the un-intended irony :D ) contentment, every time when no one understands how to be content with what we have.

When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.

When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.

When morality is forgotten, there is law and ritual.

Law and ritual are the husk of true faith, and the beginning of chaos


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The wild geese do not intend

To cast their reflection

The water has no mind

To retain their image.

 

 

To naively frown upon split infinitives.

 

www.senseaboutscience.org/

 


#19 dimreepr

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Posted 16 November 2016 - 04:06 PM

For sure there are secular countries but most countries aren't, just as there are secular people but the vast majority of the world is religious. Some of these religious people use religion as a moral compass. There would be consequences to removing this compass; some good some bad i imagine.

 

 

There is no good or bad news, there is just news.

 

How could we possibly know which is which?


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Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am.... -John Donne.

 

 

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#20 Sriman Dutta

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Posted 16 November 2016 - 04:56 PM

What is exactly religion ? Religion is a particular system of faith and worship followed by a group of people. It should be noted that religion, in its strict term, does not create groups, it is humans who create religions according to the needs of the groups. 


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