Itoero

Would the world be a better place without religion?

735 posts in this topic

That does not say anything concerning the understanding of the OT...That's about understanding Jesus. In the NT, Jesus referred several times to the OT and agreed with it, it's the word of God.

If you throw away the old testament then you are debunking Jesus.

 

 

Yet you fail to answer my questions, try that before you attempt to debunk my post.

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Just in case this includes me...

Not intentionally, no. Commenting more broadly on the claim so often repeated by so many, not on your specific contributions or thoughts. Cheers.
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Yet you fail to answer my questions, try that before you attempt to debunk my post.

You asked:

"Why would he need to say this if the people didn't think he was trying to abolish what came before? And what was he attempting to fulfill?"

=>You find many explanations for this on google. Why do you ask that? It's completely irrelevant.

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Try pointing out the immoral and disgusting stuff in the NT.

One of the most immoral, disgusting teachings imaginable originated from the NT. Paul's doctrine of original sin. In my view, that is the worst of Christianity, arguably the worst religious teaching in the history of mankind. The alleged global flood would have been devastating (if true), destruction of Sodom & Gomorra was pretty bad (if true), the genocide of the Canaanites was probably one of the most disturbing divine acts, but the teaching of original sin has single-handedly enslaved 2000 years of Christian generations into believing that all of humanity, every single innocent baby being born, are sinful creatures who can only be saved from eternal hell through the church, or through divine forgiveness, by virtue of Jesus having died on the cross. Of course rational thinking, knowledge about our true origins and a bit of Bible reading will reveal that the entire idea of original sin is profoundly flawed. The damage that this silly idea has caused to the collective psyche of Christians is irreversible; all that can be done is to educate in order to cure and prevent further infection.

Which reminds me...

 

Prometheus wrote:

...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.

I responded

It will take many generations for these societies to rid themselves from their religious roots, I am afraid. See my previous reference re skewed moral compasses. Not that I am branding them immoral though.

I would have to reconsider that very last sentence. Should one turn a blind eye to collective ignorance considering its immoral consequences..?

Edited by Memammal
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I think this very good debate is pertinent. Well argued, for the most part, from both sides. Includes Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams among others. Bit long though.

 

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An excellent debate +1 for sharing.

 

I don't want to get mired in the minutiae of a book 2,000 years out of date, I am an atheist after all, so I apologies for not responding to previous posts.

 

My point is, science can't show us the path to contentment because it's a personal journey and so not empirically discover-able for all. I contend that religion has addressed this issue directly, not only by espousing the value of forgiveness, tolerance and love for our fellow man, it's far more nuanced than that, because we're all essentially clones and given the same inputs our reactions would be broadly similar.

 

I think contentment is not just a matter of the mind, it also has a physical aspect, which is ignored/overlooked because of the pernicious nature of our everyday addictions, substances are obvious but what of entertainment or people or food etc (essentially anything that triggers our internal reward system).

 

To be truly content one needs to reset that reward system to a base level; why else did the profits, those who started said religions, disappear for 40 days, or so; it wasn't the devil the tempted Jesus, it was his own desires/addictions.

Edited by dimreepr
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My point is, science can't show us the path to contentment because it's a personal journey and so not empirically discover-able

They call it 'social science'. Edited by Itoero
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They call it 'social science'.

 

I agree up to a point.

 

For instance, research suggests that people get little to no increase in happiness past a certain level of income. But few people would actually limit their income to this threshold - it takes something more than the numbers to actually reveal this truth to most of us. Either we go through the riches and directly experience a lack of extra happiness, or some other life events with some reflection and good advice help us see it. I would call this something more spirituality (not meaning something spirit like, just this very process), but whatever. Religion could help in this matter, unfortunately most religions are concerned with such trivialities as whether certain flaps of skin should be chopped off.

 

Which brings me to the other thing science can do for spirituality - tell us exactly what religion need not concern itself. Beginning of the universe, the colour of the sky, life elsewhere in the universe? Science has these, and many other things, covered. This leaves priests and free to focus attention on important stuff like increasing compassion and empathy in the population.

 

One can hope anyway.

Edited by Prometheus
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I agree up to a point.

 

For instance, research suggests that people get little to no increase in happiness past a certain level of income. But few people would actually limit their income to this threshold - it takes something more than the numbers to actually reveal this truth to most of us. Either we go through the riches and directly experience a lack of extra happiness, or some other life events with some reflection and good advice help us see it. I would call this something more spirituality (not meaning something spirit like, just this very process), but whatever. Religion could help in this matter, unfortunately most religions are concerned with such trivialities as whether certain flaps of skin should be chopped off.

 

Which brings me to the other thing science can do for spirituality - tell us exactly what religion need not concern itself. Beginning of the universe, the colour of the sky, life elsewhere in the universe? Science has these, and many other things, covered. This leaves priests and free to focus attention on important stuff like increasing compassion and empathy in the population.

 

One can hope anyway.

Past a certain level of income, your income is just not linked to happiness.

If you have some emotional turmoil then you go to a psychiatrist or another able person.

What help can a priest give?

 

Here in Belgium, Christianity is in a pretty fast decline. Many people are official a catholic (like me), they were baptized and did 2 communes but that's more about tradition then anything else. I consider myself to be an agnostic atheist.

Bibles are mostly used to fill up boxes in the attic.

 

In well-faring/peaceful countries, you see a decline of religion.

 

If religion teaches a moral framework then that framework was not invented by religion.

Morals evolve through natural processes. Morality definitely does not depend upon religion. The fact that many Christians think you need religion to be moral is the main reason why atheists are so mistrusted in USA.

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Past a certain level of income, your income is just not linked to happiness.

If you have some emotional turmoil then you go to a psychiatrist or another able person.

What help can a priest give?

 

Depends on the priest. There are some good ones and some bad ones. Just like psychiatrists: if you can afford a psychiatrist.

 

I would suggest some of the people who most need emotional assistance are prisoners. Yet they are usually the ones most deprived of this help. But priests are willing to go into prisons and offer such support.

 

I've been an atheist all my adult life. The first time i actually saw priests at work was when i was a nurse, starting on an oncology ward. There is an unfulfilled need to attend to the emotional needs of the dying (we just don't know it because the deceased cannot speak). Nurses have neither the time nor the training to attend to this need. The only people i saw helping in this were priests. As a nurse i was able to eavesdrop on some intensely personal conversations and this is how i came to respect some priests; some of them were very skillful and did not peddle any dogma.

 

And yes, non-religious people could fulfil this roll. But the point is they generally don't, not in the numbers society needs. It's easy to sit back and mock religion but if you want to do away with it focus on what people get out of it and start seeing how we might replace the invaluable services it does offer.

 

 

If religion teaches a moral framework then that framework was not invented by religion.

Morals evolve through natural processes. Morality definitely does not depend upon religion. The fact that many Christians think you need religion to be moral is the main reason why atheists are so mistrusted in USA.

 

I don't think anyone here is contesting this. The evils of religion are evident and i absolutely support calling them out to people who cannot see it. But people also do good works in the name of religion and we are far too quick to dismiss these.

 

If evil in the name of religion is because of the religion, why is good done in the name of religion not because of the religion? Either give me a good reason or be consistent.

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I think this very good debate is pertinent. Well argued, for the most part, from both sides. Includes Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams among others. Bit long though.

 

 

 

If its too long to sit through then watch the last speaker, from 1:22, he sums up the whole debate rather neatly.

" Is religion literally true, no; does religion contain truth? Yes."

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I would suggest some of the people who most need emotional assistance are prisoners. Yet they are usually the ones most deprived of this help. But priests are willing to go into prisons and offer such support.

It's perhaps where you live like that. You should realize that your personal experiences are not a directive for what's going on in the rest of the world.

 

I've been an atheist all my adult life. The first time i actually saw priests at work was when i was a nurse, starting on an oncology ward. There is an unfulfilled need to attend to the emotional needs of the dying (we just don't know it because the deceased cannot speak). Nurses have neither the time nor the training to attend to this need. The only people i saw helping in this were priests. As a nurse i was able to eavesdrop on some intensely personal conversations and this is how i came to respect some priests; some of them were very skillful and did not peddle any dogma.

Priests aren't trained to do that either. A priest also needs to learn those skills...just like other people.

 

And yes, non-religious people could fulfil this roll. But the point is they generally don't, not in the numbers society needs. It's easy to sit back and mock religion but if you want to do away with it focus on what people get out of it and start seeing how we might replace the invaluable services it does offer.

Which society? You are again thinking personal experiences are a directive for what's going on in the rest of the world.

The % of pedofiles is a lot higher in priests then in other able people.

Why would you trust your story to a Priest when there is a real chance he's a pedofile?

If evil in the name of religion is because of the religion, why is good done in the name of religion not because of the religion? Either give me a good reason or be consistent.

huh?I did not say anything of the sort. Edited by Itoero
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Priests aren't trained to do that either. A priest also needs to learn those skills...just like other people.

 

 

 

Of course they're trained, it's not a lottery.

And you can't deny that among the teachings of the bibles, are, forgive and tolerate the frailties of others, 'do unto to others as you'd have others do unto you' and love, and attempt to understand, your enemies. All good training, I'd suggest.

Edited by dimreepr
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Of course they're trained, it's not a lottery.

Dealing with emotional turmoil is something they have to learn themselves.

In there education they learn mostly about theology/spirituality.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priesthood_(Catholic_Church)#Education

 

And you can't deny that among the teachings of the bibles, are, forgive and tolerate the frailties of others, 'do unto to others as you'd have others do unto you' and love, and attempt to understand, your enemies. All good training, I'd suggest.

Yes but there is a lot of immoral stuff. So why would you use the bible as moral guidance?
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Dealing with emotional turmoil is something they have to learn themselves.

In there education they learn mostly about theology/spirituality.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priesthood_(Catholic_Church)#Education

 

 

 

I didn't realise you were a priest, sorry.

Yes but there is a lot of immoral stuff. So why would you use the bible as moral guidance?

 

 

You're the only one in this thread that posits the bible is a moral guide.

Besides being moral is far easier when one isn't afraid of the consequences.

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I didn't realise you were a priest, sorry.

I forgive you.

 

 

You're the only one in this thread that posits the bible is a moral guide.

OK, if you don't think the bible(NT) is a moral book then why does it look like you are defending the NT?
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Because "being moral is far easier when one isn't afraid of the consequences." when one is content with now and unafraid of the unknowable, morals are easier.

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Because "being moral is far easier when one isn't afraid of the consequences." when one is content with now and unafraid of the unknowable, morals are easier.

I agree, but how does that relate to the bible?
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It's why religions are a double edged sword, when a religion is well understood (content) fear has no place and no one is afraid of the consequences, but when it isn't well understood and no-one is content fear is everywhere and no one is safe.

Edited by dimreepr
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It's perhaps where you live like that. You should realize that your personal experiences are not a directive for what's going on in the rest of the world.

 

Precisely. Religion is not homogeneously evil. It has good bits as well as bad. Unsurprisingly on a science forum the bad bits have been well highlighted. Some of us are just trying to highlight the good bits. It's only by measuring religion properly and fairly that we can determine what, if any, utility it has. At the moment you are considering a caricature of religion.

 

 

Priests aren't trained to do that either. A priest also needs to learn those skills...just like other people.

 

https://en.wikipedia...urch)#Education

 

That was a rather disingenuous attempt. After a few seconds a found these:

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201505/clergy-counselor

 

http://fisherpub.sjfc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=verbum

 

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13636829800200040

 

These suggest the black and white picture you attempt to paint is not correct. The OP is a good question, but are you actually trying to answer it, or just confirm your existing biases?

 

 

Which society? You are again thinking personal experiences are a directive for what's going on in the rest of the world.

The % of pedofiles is a lot higher in priests then in other able people.

Why would you trust your story to a Priest when there is a real chance he's a pedofile?

 

References? I did some quick digging and given the nature of the crime it is hard to gather statistics. Obviously you have seen some good data, so please share.

 

And why the focus on Catholic priests? Should i not go see a Confucian monk because of problems in the Catholic clergy?

 

huh?I did not say anything of the sort.

 

So you acknowledge religion also contains good and that this is pertinent to the OP?

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Precisely. Religion is not homogeneously evil. It has good bits as well as bad. Unsurprisingly on a science forum the bad bits have been well highlighted. Some of us are just trying to highlight the good bits. It's only by measuring religion properly and fairly that we can determine what, if any, utility it has. At the moment you are considering a caricature of religion.

Don't you think the bad stuff overshadows the good?

 

 

References? I did some quick digging and given the nature of the crime it is hard to gather statistics. Obviously you have seen some good data, so please share.

I haven't seen good data. I do know someone which was sexually misused by a Priest...as a kid. And there have been many articles in newspapers concerning pedofily in the catholic church. Priests can't have sex, that breeds psychological problems.

And why the focus on Catholic priests? Should i not go see a Confucian monk because of problems in the Catholic clergy?

What are you talking about?

 

 

So you acknowledge religion also contains good and that this is pertinent to the OP?

Use your head.

Of course religion contains good and bad stuff.

But if you look to the bigger picture then you see that religion creates groups/strife, it slows both moral and science evolution.

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Don't you think the bad stuff overshadows the good?

 

I shared my thoughts but since they are not backed by data they are largely irrelevent.

 

If you have data that answers the OP one way or another please share it. Otherwise perhaps we could move onto the question of what data could we collect and what model should we use to answer the question. I would settle for defining religion and 'better' in this context.

 

Of course religion contains good and bad stuff.

But if you look to the bigger picture then you see that religion creates groups/strife, it slows both moral and science evolution.

 

You are simply begging the question.

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Don't you think the bad stuff overshadows the good?

 

Use your head.

Of course religion contains good and bad stuff.

But if you look to the bigger picture then you see that religion creates groups/strife, it slows both moral and science evolution.

 

"but when it isn't well understood and no-one is content fear is everywhere and no one is safe." In what way does atheism avoid this scenario?

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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.

 

Religion is notoriously difficult to define, but I think the best approach is to determine its psychological or motivational origins and to determine whether these are good.

 

Firstly, I think religion can prompt interesting questions, but too often promote false satiety in the search for answers. The core ideas of religion revolve around minds rather than physical phenomena. I've judged that the science of minds is distinguished from natural science by the necessary use of introspection, and that mind science has lagged natural science. Psychological science is still in its infancy, and the mind-body problem is still considered philosophy. Perhaps addressing these core religious questions will be the pinnacle of scientific thought. However we might distinguish between healthy curiosity and false satiety. The idea that something came from nothing with God's help seems so intuitively compelling that an excessive battery of questioning is required to finally shake it, and it's perhaps not so good when religious people propogate this silly but contagious idea to further their agenda. Norenzayan showed that religious belief arises at least partly from intuitivie, or system 1, thinking. However his team also showed that theory of mind (skill in reasoning about minds) is required for religious belief.

 

Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.389.9433&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

Mentalizing Deficits Constrain Belief in a Personal God

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0036880

NOTE: I have seen some evidence that the non-religious exhibit more antisocial personality traits, likely in the form of "secondary psychopathy", but autistics in particular are susceptible to avoidant, schizoid, schizotypal, and obsessive-compulsive personality... not antisocial personality.

 

I think bigger problems arise when religious people work to protect religion even when it is incorrect. Regardless what metaethical paradigms you endorse, accurate information is necessary to ethical decision making. People make bad decisions when they aren't informed and so information should be good, but sometimes religion is maintained through a rejection of this idea. I've come up with a few reasons that might be given for this: the beliefs are pleasurable regardless of accuracy, the beliefs are moral regardless of accuracy, the beliefs maintain ingroup dominance.

 

#1 The beliefs are pleasurable to the believer. The believer could be oneself or others. It seems paradoxical that somebody could knowingly believe something they know to be wrong, but such a person might neglect to question the beliefs in the first place if the beliefs feel good. Either way, either a failure to question or willful ignorance could become problematic.

 

#2 The beliefs induce moral behavior. This most likely applies to others rather than oneself, stemming from a mistrust of others. Knowledge is power, and it can only be judged moral to tell someone lies if that person doesn't have moral intentions. Alas, this is problematic if most of these people really can be trusted, for a good person is rendered less good when he is misinformed. These "moral beliefs" might be as simple as believing that one is watched by God, or as complicated as the unquestioning acceptance of diverse cultural norms.

 

#3 The beliefs promote ingroup dominance. The religious teachings maintain the privileges of certain individuals thought to be above other individuals, such as those labeled sexual deviants or cultural outsiders. Racism may be particularly tied to religion given that religion and ethnicity are both regional phenomena that are correlated thereby. While this motivation is ultimately a selfish one, the desire to be part of a superior group, this person will likely be motivated to invent some reasons why the dominance of their group is moral re:#2.

Edit: The caste system upheld by the Vedas is a good example of this. I recollect that it was originally racist as it served to distinguish the light-skinned intruders from the dark conquered people.

 

Numbers two and especially three represent a sort of authoritarianism expressed through religion. As it turns out, religion is correlated with prejudices of all sorts, but another psychological measure called "right-wing authoritarianism" has been found to have an even stronger relationship to prejudice. On the other hand, the "quest" religious orientation, which emphasizes continued doubt and questioning, is anti-correlated with prejudice. I think this make sense in light of the above. An authoritarian wants to tell you what to do, not for you to think for yourself. Thus an authoritarian will dislike it when his assertions are questioned, especially if he secretly knows there is good reason to doubt what he says. Religious people too may, in some instances but not all, express a dislike of questioning. I think this is a sign that some of the above (#1-3) are at work. If religion is not based on the value of questioning, but on a rejection of it to promote authoritarian regimes, then this raises serious questions about whether it is a good thing. While this problem certainly isn't specific to what we call "religion", religious misinformation can have exceptional breadth as followers defend the lengthy mythology which they have chosen to take literally.

Edited by MonDie
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Religion is notoriously difficult to define, but I think the best approach is to determine its psychological or motivational origins and to determine whether these are good.

 

Firstly, I think religion can prompt interesting questions, but too often promote false satiety in the search for answers. The core ideas of religion revolve around minds rather than physical phenomena. I've judged that the science of minds is distinguished from natural science by the necessary use of introspection, and that mind science has lagged natural science. Psychological science is still in its infancy, and the mind-body problem is still considered philosophy. Perhaps addressing these core religious questions will be the pinnacle of scientific thought. However we might distinguish between healthy curiosity and false satiety. The idea that something came from nothing with God's help seems so intuitively compelling that an excessive battery of questioning is required to finally shake it, and it's perhaps not so good when religious people propogate this silly but contagious idea to further their agenda. Norenzayan showed that religious belief arises at least partly from intuitivie, or system 1, thinking. However his team also showed that theory of mind (skill in reasoning about minds) is required for religious belief.

 

Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.389.9433&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

Mentalizing Deficits Constrain Belief in a Personal God

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0036880

NOTE: I have seen some evidence that the non-religious exhibit more antisocial personality traits, likely in the form of "secondary psychopathy", but autistics in particular are susceptible to avoidant, schizoid, schizotypal, and obsessive-compulsive personality... not antisocial personality.

 

I think bigger problems arise when religious people work to protect religion even when it is incorrect. Regardless what metaethical paradigms you endorse, accurate information is necessary to ethical decision making. People make bad decisions when they aren't informed and so information should be good, but sometimes religion is maintained through a rejection of this idea. I've come up with a few reasons that might be given for this: the beliefs are pleasurable regardless of accuracy, the beliefs are moral regardless of accuracy, the beliefs maintain ingroup dominance.

 

#1 The beliefs are pleasurable to the believer. The believer could be oneself or others. It seems paradoxical that somebody could knowingly believe something they know to be wrong, but such a person might neglect to question the beliefs in the first place if the beliefs feel good. Either way, either a failure to question or willful ignorance could become problematic.

 

#2 The beliefs induce moral behavior. This most likely applies to others rather than oneself, stemming from a mistrust of others. Knowledge is power, and it can only be judged moral to tell someone lies if that person doesn't have moral intentions. Alas, this is problematic if most of these people really can be trusted, for a good person is rendered less good when he is misinformed. These "moral beliefs" might be as simple as believing that one is watched by God, or as complicated as the unquestioning acceptance of diverse cultural norms.

 

#3 The beliefs promote ingroup dominance. The religious teachings maintain the privileges of certain individuals thought to be above other individuals, such as those labeled sexual deviants or cultural outsiders. Racism may be particularly tied to religion given that religion and ethnicity are both regional phenomena that are correlated thereby. While this motivation is ultimately a selfish one, the desire to be part of a superior group, this person will likely be motivated to invent some reasons why the dominance of their group is moral re:#2.

 

Numbers two and especially three represent a sort of authoritarianism expressed through religion. As it turns out, religion is correlated with prejudices of all sorts, but another psychological measure called "right-wing authoritarianism" has been found to have an even stronger relationship to prejudice. On the other hand, the "quest" religious orientation, which emphasizes continued doubt and questioning, is anti-correlated with prejudice. I think this make sense in light of the above. An authoritarian wants to tell you what to do, not for you to think for yourself. Thus an authoritarian will dislike it when his assertions are questioned, especially if he secretly knows there is good reason to doubt what he says. Religious people too may, in some instances but not all, express a dislike of questioning. I think this is a sign that some of the above (#1-3) are at work. If religion is not based on the value of questioning, but on a rejection of it to promote authoritarian regimes, then this raises serious questions about whether it is a good thing. While this problem certainly isn't specific to what we call "religion", religious misinformation can have exceptional breadth as followers defend the lengthy mythology which they have chosen to take literally.

 

 

We're you drunk when you penned this post?

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