# What does religion offer?

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Assuming that no gods actually exist, is there any benefit that people gain from their belief in a god or from the religious moral codes? (I think its pretty clear what the benefits are of believing in the correct God should one exist as described). That is, what earthly secular benefits does religion bring?

For example, Catholics discourage the use of condoms. Given our evolved nature (sex is pleasurable, people are lazy), this results in plenty of children. While bringing up lots of children can be a pain, it also makes you evolutionarily successful. Thus an irrational belief can be evolutionarily beneficial.

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For example, Catholics discourage the use of condoms. Given our evolved nature (sex is pleasurable, people are lazy), this results in plenty of children. While bringing up lots of children can be a pain, it also makes you evolutionarily successful. Thus an irrational belief can be evolutionarily beneficial.

It can also cause the spreading of STD's, which is what happens, quite horrifically fast, in countries in Africa where the church (not just the catholic, but they're one of the bigger ones) decides to send its preachers.

They are essentially killing thousands, if not millions, of people out of an archaic belief that has no support in rational reality.

Irrational belief can be evolutionarily and ethically disastrous.

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For example, Catholics discourage the use of condoms. Given our evolved nature (sex is pleasurable, people are lazy), this results in plenty of children. While bringing up lots of children can be a pain, it also makes you evolutionarily successful. Thus an irrational belief can be evolutionarily beneficial.

Being from a mostly Catholic country, I cant confirm that the use of condoms is discouraged. I believe that the main reason of why it is not used is due, more to ignorance and poverty, together with maybe the shame that it produces to the individual among the society, the actual adquisition of them in a store. If you buy condoms, it is because you plan to use them, and therefore there is a sensation of guilt, use them probably with a friend (out of marriage) or probably with a prostitute, which are forbidden issues, but very regular, at least here in my country. Even in married couples you see this kind of guilt, which is totally insane, but it still happens. In relation to the arrival of children, to almost everybody it is considered a blessing, even though it can be a pain.

It can also cause the spreading of STD's, which is what happens, quite horrifically fast, in countries in Africa where the church (not just the catholic, but they're one of the bigger ones) decides to send its preachers.

The main reason why the church sends their preachers to Africa, is because the majority of them dont believe in the Catholic church or because they arent strong muslim believers and therefore you could still convince them to change their actual beliefs.

They are essentially killing thousands, if not millions, of people out of an archaic belief that has no support in rational reality.

Irrational belief can be evolutionarily and ethically disastrous.

You cant blame the church as being the one to guilt for the killing of people, the church doesnt force no one to believe in her.

Poverty, is the one you should blame as being guilty.

The availability of condoms in poor countries, where starvation and health issues are far more important, is scarce. If any health organization is willing to help them, it is not going to fill a truck, with condoms, when other more vital needs are needed, such as medicins, clean water and food. Moreover when roads are bad and it is expensive to send a truck to where you have difficulties to reach the ones who are in need.

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It can also cause the spreading of STD's' date=' which is what happens, quite horrifically fast, in countries in Africa where the church (not just the catholic, but they're one of the bigger ones) decides to send its preachers.

They are essentially killing thousands, if not millions, of people out of an archaic belief that has no support in rational reality.

Irrational belief can be evolutionarily and ethically disastrous.[/quote']

First of all, I wouldn't give the catholic that much credit. If you wanna blame AIDS on the Catholic Church, I'm cool with that. I'm just going to disagree as I don't believe that Mother Church has enough pull in the world to cause nations of people to die of AIDS. That'd be pretty nuts though, I'll give you that.

Second of all, I think that not using condoms but having premarital sex and blaming the Catholics is kinda hypocritical? Just me? If I follow half of someone's advice and it goes wrong is that their fault? Whatever.

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Religion offers answers that things like science and secular humanism can't offer. Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go when we die? I don't know. Neither science nor secular humanism provide answers to these questions which are satisfactory to your average person, and not knowing the answers to these questions is frustrating.

Knowing you'll be reunited with loved ones after death is assuring, especially in times of loss and grief.

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Just to be clear, I think that the drawbacks of believing in a god that happens not to exist are also fairly clear. I was more interested in any benefits there might be. Compare to the thread, What does atheism offer?

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Id say that religion offers confidence that you are never alone, you will always have your beloved ones with you, therefore it gives you a sensation of security. It also gives you hope in things to come, that everything in life has a purpose and after terrenal life comes another form of life, so you really never reach the final point of the parragraph of your life. (very hard to believe, in my case, btw ).

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First of all, I wouldn't give the catholic that much credit. If you wanna blame AIDS on the Catholic Church, I'm cool with that. I'm just going to disagree as I don't believe that Mother Church has enough pull in the world to cause nations of people to die of AIDS. That'd be pretty nuts though, I'll give you that.

It's not just the catholic church, and I believe it's more the evangelical ministries that are at fault here,but it's a well know problem. The ministries are sending over preachers that claim condoms are *causing* AIDS (plot by the 'white man') then literally encourage the disease and are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Literally and directly.

The catholic church is a small part, granted.The catholic church should be a little ashamed. The other churches should be more ashamed.

Better?

Second of all, I think that not using condoms but having premarital sex and blaming the Catholics is kinda hypocritical? Just me? If I follow half of someone's advice and it goes wrong is that their fault? Whatever.

Yes, but it's quite a known phenomena that abstinence is NOT working, *specially* in Africa. So if you KNOW they will not abstain, and you STILL tell them that condom is the devil, then you *KNOW* they will not use condoms. Not much way of gettin 'round it, really.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/17/pope-africa-condoms-aids

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7014335.stm

http://www.iheu.org/node/1754

~moo

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For the record : The Catholic church, has not banned the use of condoms against the spreading of AIDS. The catholic church bans the use of Condoms, cause according to them it encourages promiscuous sex and also because it is against all non-natural forms of birth control.

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RE OP: Religion offers an incredibly strong capacity for maintaining the fidelity of social patterns (from marriage rites, to food preparation, hygiene and even laws) across multiple generations.

It is naturally imperfect, some do it better than others (some Amazon tribes appear to have maintained incredible fidelity but there is no way to know without a written history) but even with their deviations the rate of fidelity appears to be higher than one would expect for secular societies. I say this mostly because in ancient times we didn't know why a lot of things worked, just that they did and religion helped us attach important reasons to why we did them that way.

I don't know if the benefits would outweigh the drawbacks in modern society but it has certainly played a critical role historically.

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RE OP: Religion offers an incredibly strong capacity for maintaining the fidelity of social patterns (from marriage rites, to food preparation, hygiene and even laws) across multiple generations.

drawbacks in modern society but it has certainly played a critical role historically.

Though I agree with everything said along these lines, how does this differ from the Boy Scouts, or the Moose Lodge, or the Grand Poo-baa of the Fraternal Order of The Lodge?

These are all social groups, but none of them seem to rely upon the existence of some magical--spiritual--being. (Being?)

As a socially cohesive force, religion is great. It binds a society in ways that are difficult (Impossible?) to quantify. And do NOT doubt the survival power of a society, from an evolutionary standpoint, anyway. A strong society means survival of the species. We could do a whole new thread on this, but I doubt that the cohesiveness of the society could be anit-evolutionary.

But are these irrational (Zeus Rules!) mindsets the only possible social glue?

I think not.

As an example--and I hate to use this, but I have to--look at the Nazis.

Look at what these relatively normal folks did in the name of Der Führer .

This was--at least--the equal to religion, and yet it wasn't really based on anything that wasn't 'scientific', or at least rational.

These concepts provided a social glue (Aryans are the apex of the biological order,) that cannot be dismissed.

Though inaccurate, it was rational. Rational within the framework of the ideology that has been presented, means a lot.

So what Religion offers, is a sense of PLACE, in the Universe. It's important to a significant fraction of the population.

As an atheist, a scientist, and a member of the human race (no other, just that one), I understand how insignificant my whole life feels when taken within the Grand Scheme of Things. It's a hard thing to contemplate.

But I bet many of us feel this way.

My scientific background demands that I accept it. That doesn't mean that I like it.

Lots of people go with what makes them feel significant.

I don't feel that way, but I understand it.

Bill Wolfe

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There are many people who don't understand how morality of any kind could exist without being imposed externally, e.g. through religion. These people (sociopaths?) being religious could benefit everyone else, since it keeps them under control. (That is, as long as the rules they follow happen to be beneficial.)

In a similar vein, religion might offer that extra motivation (perhaps through fear of unavoidable punishment) to do what you aspire to or know you ought to but might otherwise be too weak to do. For example, step two of the "Twelve-step programs" is "recognizing a greater power that can give strength," which often means religion.

Essentially, there are a lot of people who just really desire structure. Lots of institutions can give this, but only religions deny that they are merely invented, and hence anything else is arguably not fundamentally different than being on one's own, since it's just substituting other humans' rules instead of one's own.

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Lots of institutions can give this, but only religions deny that they are merely invented, and hence anything else is arguably not fundamentally different than being on one's own, since it's just substituting other humans' rules instead of one's own.

Sorry, been a Boy Scout.

They never so much as insinuate that any of the dogma is of human invention. It is proposed as Truth.

Self-evident Truth, at that.

Not that different from the Hitler Youth, really. Just a different message.

Respectfully, for all the BSA folks out there,

Bill Wolfe

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Then perhaps the Boy Scouts is a religion?

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It's not just the catholic church, and I believe it's more the evangelical ministries that are at fault here,but it's a well know problem. The ministries are sending over preachers that claim condoms are *causing* AIDS (plot by the 'white man') then literally encourage the disease and are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Literally and directly.

The catholic church is a small part, granted.The catholic church should be a little ashamed. The other churches should be more ashamed.

Better?

If you want to put Christianity all together like that.

Yes, but it's quite a known phenomena that abstinence is NOT working, *specially* in Africa. So if you KNOW they will not abstain, and you STILL tell them that condom is the devil, then you *KNOW* they will not use condoms. Not much way of gettin 'round it, really.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/17/pope-africa-condoms-aids

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7014335.stm

http://www.iheu.org/node/1754

~moo

No, I think abstinence would work. What you're saying is that they won't do it (or won't not do it, whatever). These people aren't a bunch of animals who can't help themselves, they're just like us -- people. They can do whatever they want.

Obviously it's wrong to tell someone that a condom is the devil (the thought of which is a little disconcerting). Following that advice, while ignoring all the rest and blaming the advice giver is rather irresponsible.

It's the proverbial equivalent of running head on into a brick wall with my seat belt on -- and taking no responsibility for it.

Though I agree with everything said along these lines' date=' how does this differ from the Boy Scouts, or the Moose Lodge, or the Grand Poo-baa of the Fraternal Order of The Lodge?

These are all social groups, but none of them seem to rely upon the existence of some magical--spiritual--being. (Being?)[/quote']

Well, that is the difference. Strictly social organizations say nothing about life after death, or about Deity's role in our lives, which are what people crave.

[...]

As an atheist' date=' a scientist, and a member of the human race (no other, just that one), I understand how insignificant my whole life feels when taken within the Grand Scheme of Things. It's a hard thing to contemplate.

But I bet many of us feel this way.

My scientific background demands that I accept it. That doesn't mean that I like it.

Lots of people go with what makes them feel significant.

I don't feel that way, but I understand it.

Bill Wolfe[/quote']

While a respectable and rational outlook, I know many scientists who are not atheists and do not feel demanded to accept atheism. They may be even a minority, but if so it is a substantial one.

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While a respectable and rational outlook, I know many scientists who are not atheists and do not feel demanded to accept atheism. They may be even a minority, but if so it is a substantial one.

Demosthenes (love the avatar, btw. IA is one of my heroes. . .)

I didn't mean that my scientific leanings demand that I accept atheism, but that they demand that I accept that without a Greater Plan, my entire life could be no more significant than the genes I leave behind.

It is hard to be an atheist. We have no real meaning to our whole life that we do not put there, ourselves. We're not part of any Plan, not really more than a flash of existence and awareness, which burns out way too soon.

And then nothing. Food for worms, at best.

Our only legacy is that which we add to the whole of humanity during our brief existence.

People of Faith, have hopes for much more.

I may envy you, but I just can't make myself buy into it. It speaks to the basis of this whole thread.

Bill Wolfe

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Religion offers answers that things like science and secular humanism can't offer. Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go when we die? I don't know. Neither science nor secular humanism provide answers to these questions which are satisfactory to your average person, and not knowing the answers to these questions is frustrating.

Knowing you'll be reunited with loved ones after death is assuring, especially in times of loss and grief.

where i come from & where i go after death are these truely vital questions in life? one is a past other is a future we arent sure if we existed before & after. so whats the point?

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I'm going to short-cut here, and agree with some study results I had run across some time back (and please do forgive me for not being able to cite them presently) and say that social in-grouping gives pleasurable reward (psychologically speaking) and any following benefits. Now whether that may be such as one would find in a theist-based religious belief-system, or in a fixed group of Towards a Science of Consciousness attendees, will evidently be no different, however.

Thus, one may have to answer what any difference may be above and beyond that. There, I'd (for one, at least) probably have to think a little harder--because I can't see much at all, actually.

It is hard to be an atheist. We have no real meaning to our whole life that we do not put there, ourselves. We're not part of any Plan, not really more than a flash of existence and awareness, which burns out way too soon.

I'm going to have to disagree with the sentiment involved here. Not because any lack of, shall we say, any 'sky hooks,' but rather because I am of the strong inclination to suggest that life does have meaning, and that that meaning is very worthwhile, awe-inspiring, and postitive-in-outcome. To share in the dance of life, for the mere reason of life as a function of known and knowable reality (on the pragmatic level), is in itself, surely a miracle and something of great purpose. Live and let live.

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