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Religion when it had real power!


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I think the award for 'the most balanced approach' would go to the Buddhists, prepare for war but hope for peace.

 

I was looking more for something along the lines that all countries (states, tribes, whatever) have a tendency to dehumanize their perceived or real enemies.

 

One way to do this is to put the enemy's motives in question (even when, ironically, they are much like ones own motives, e.g, desire for land, money, resources). And yes, inciting fear is a major tactic that goes hand in hand with questioning an enemy's motives.

 

Ones own religion (and sometimes ones enemy's) allows one to cut to the chase by portraying them as having motives that are negative on a grand (e.g., supernatural/religious) scale. Thus, ones enemies are described as being evil, possessed, perverse, wicked, pagan, degenerative, etc,

 

It then follows that one has to "save" said enemies by colonizing, "civilizin," and converting them. This often entails taking over and/or taking control of their land, women, "manpower" (via slavery), and resources.

 

Or a country can just cut to the chase, and kill as many people as possible (again, in the name of religion and religious values) and then take over land, women, and resources.

 

And I am not singling out any one country: The conquest of Africa and the ensuing culling of slaves being a case in point:

European missionaries especially from Portugal, France, Britain, and Germany went to Africa under the premise of going to convert the locals to Christianity. Some of them stuck to their mission.... others however, aided in the colonization of Africans by Europeans. In many cases Christian conversion looked more like European Capitalist conversion and the plunder of African resources.

http://www.globalblackhistory.com/2012/10/role-of-missionaries-in-colonization-of-africans.html

It is revealing to look at what happens in specific countries in Africa:

 

Nigeria, evenly distributed between Christians and Muslims, is a country where people identify themselves by their religion first and as Nigerians second. Around 20,000 have been killed in God's name since 1990. [...] This is one of many religious battlefields in this part of Africa. Evangelical Christians, backed by American collection-plate money, are surging northwards, clashing with Islamic fundamentalists, backed by Saudi petrodollars, surging southwards.The Economist

(2007)

In general, people are not so much different, and, given half a chance, will use the technique of justifying aggression by dehumanizing the enemy by inciting religious animosity where possible. In the case of Nigeria, I suspect that both Muslims and Christians accuse each other of economic and religious imperialism.

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Yes; they were. Because none of them did anything to stop the cruelty of those barbaric beliefs.   How could anyone be in a position to say "actually folks- let's stop persecuting people for no goo

Hard for me to agree with your last point. Christianity is often cultural more than theistic. Same with Judaism, and likely a number of others.   That's why there are cultural Christians and cultur

Not sure what you are referring to. Personally, I never disagreed that it would still be the case that there would still be conflict in the world if religion disappeared, but merely emphasized as my o

 

 

I was looking more for something along the lines that all countries (states, tribes, whatever) have a tendency to dehumanize their perceived or real enemies.

 

 

 

But that's my point, there's never any reason to dehumanise an enemy, even if they attack, one defends oneself and then ask why (if one wasn't to vigorous); fear isn't the only source of hate, hate comes a close 2nd.

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But that's my point, there's never any reason to dehumanise an enemy, even if they attack, one defends oneself and then ask why (if one wasn't to vigorous)

Are you thinking of some ideal world where people never initiate warfare, only defend themselves, or maybe you are thinking of a world where people don't bond together by describing those with whom they are competing for resources as being less than human?

 

Are you suggesting that people can behave so rationally? History says otherwise.

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Are you thinking of some ideal world where people never initiate warfare, only defend themselves

 

 

Yup it's called peace...

 

 

maybe you are thinking of a world where people don't bond together by describing those with whom they are competing for resources as being less than human?

 

 

 

I'm thinking of this/my world, a world that could, without fear or hate, provide for everyone...

 

 

Are you suggesting that people can behave so rationally? History says otherwise.

 

 

 

History says many things and, like our media, is sensationally biased.

 

The rational thing to do, when faced with hatred and fear, is forgive; just ask Nelson Mandela...

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I am not sure why you continue to be offended.

No worries. I'm really not.

 

You seen to be annoyed by the word "hypocritical."

Again, no. Really not.

 

I think your tendency to feel personally insulted...

Once more, you seem to be misreading me, brother.

 

Let's not obfuscate things by assuming that my comments are directed at you.

Perhaps by this point you've picked up on a pattern, but if for any reason you haven't, I didn't assume this either.

 

Instead of guessing at my meaning or assuming I've said things I haven't, I'm happy to clarify. Please just explain what part of my point about it being entirely possible to be atheist and culturally christian (or jewish or other) is confusing.

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Why don't we just check the scoreboard...

 

Number of people killed in NON-RELIGIOUS wars over the last century:

Optimistic estimate about 80 million.

Pessimistic estimate, about 120 million.

 

These are wars where the combatants share a common religion but different culture/ideals.

And I've only considered WW1, WW2 and Korea.

 

So what's the death toll for all the bloodshed RELIGIOUS wars have caused ( in even the last thousand years ) ?

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No worries. I'm really not.

Again, no. Really not.

Once more, you seem to be misreading me, brother.

Perhaps by this point you've picked up on a pattern, but if for any reason you haven't, I didn't assume this either.

Instead of guessing at my meaning or assuming I've said things I haven't, I'm happy to clarify. Please just explain what part of my point about it being entirely possible to be atheist and culturally christian (or jewish or other) is confusing.

 

No I did not say it was impossible...that was never the issue. I said that, in general, those who adopt the culture but don't really subscribe to the precepts may, in many cases, be living a sort of contradiction, which may involve hypocrisy, role playing, cognitive dissonance, etc. It was then you seemed to take things personally, saying, "I've been accused of being many things. Inarticulate, intentionally obtuse, and hypocritical are not included in that set." Then I pointed out that I was not referring to you personally, and explained that I myself, as per Xmas, participated in the culture without accepting the beliefs. So I merely clarified that I did not accuse you personally of being hypocritical, and certainly did not even use words such as inarticulate or obtuse.

 

Obviously, it is not impossible. I merely pointed out in more than one post just why it can be undesirable in a society: unnecessariy perpetuates archaic beliefs, makes it difficult to know what beliefs a person really espouses, leads people to say and even support issues out of political correctness, justifies violence (mafia, national attacks on foreign countries, even when they have different cultures despite essentially having the same religion), gang violence, tends to unnecessarily marginalize minority religions, etc.

 

 

 

 

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Yup it's called peace...

 

I'm thinking of this/my world, a world that could, without fear or hate, provide for everyone...

 

History says many things and, like our media, is sensationally biased.

 

The rational thing to do, when faced with hatred and fear, is forgive; just ask Nelson Mandela...

 

 

I think that trying to unravel the centuries of misunderstanding and animosity that have been knotting up countries in Europe and the Middle East to this day, for example, is going to take a degree of social, military, and religious analysis and diplomacy that is far beyond just saying, as John Lennon and millions of others have futilely suggested, to "give peace (and forgiveness or whatever) a chance."

 

I was under the impression that this thread was, at least in part, an attempt to determine the specific aspects and dynamics of religion (in some depth) that led to power struggles and violence. We all know, for example, that people from different religions often fear and hate those from others. But the causes for such hatred and fear are complex and often unapparent. We can't, much as we would like, just raise our hands in a peace gesture and make it all go away.

 

But no, history, as the great historian, WIll Durant, once observed, is a seemingly endless series of bloody and generally senseless wars following one after another.....blood, blood, blood, ad nauseum.

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There is certainly quite a lot of biased material available online, though, as you say, it seems that surprisingly little scholarly research has been done in this area. A relevant article is a Penn State U. one entitled Wars and Rumors of Wars: Explaining Religiously Motivated Violence, which looks at the data and concludes that religion acts as both key agent and volatile catalyst:

 

Yes, that's the sort of thing i was hoping for, except this study looks explicitly at religious violence and its antecedents rather than violence in general. Also they only refer to the model they actually use obliquely so it's hard to assess. I can't work out whether they do this because the terms they use to describe the model are so well known in their field that they do not require elaboration or whether they don't really know themselves so gloss over any details. They do give the source of their data though, so it might be possible to build our own model: yet another side-project to put on the back-burner.

 

Thanks for finding that though - i'll have a more thorough look when i finish my current work.

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I think that trying to unravel the centuries of misunderstanding and animosity that have been knotting up countries in Europe and the Middle East to this day, for example, is going to take a degree of social, military, and religious analysis and diplomacy that is far beyond just saying, as John Lennon and millions of others have futilely suggested, to "give peace (and forgiveness or whatever) a chance."

 

 

Even the longest, most arduous, journey starts with the first step.

 

 

I was under the impression that this thread was, at least in part, an attempt to determine the specific aspects and dynamics of religion (in some depth) that led to power struggles and violence. We all know, for example, that people from different religions often fear and hate those from others. But the causes for such hatred and fear are complex and often unapparent. We can't, much as we would like, just raise our hands in a peace gesture and make it all go away.

 

 

 

My position throughout this thread (and others) is, religion isn't a reason for violence, it's just, one amongst many, excuses.

 

 

But no, history, as the great historian, WIll Durant, once observed, is a seemingly endless series of bloody and generally senseless wars following one after another.....blood, blood, blood, ad nauseum.

 

 

 

Indeed, no one remembers Dave Wood because he helped a nieghbour (other than the nieghbour); so I ask again, since religion brings peace and happiness to so many people, against the apparent death toll, "what's the score"?

 

We can't, much as we would like, just raise our hands in a peace gesture and make it all go away.

 

 

I can: I smile at strangers, I thank people for the smallest gesture of help, I help those I can and I try to understand those that don't.

 

I can't make the nasties on the TV go away, but why would I they've never paid me a visit.

 

That doesn't mean I don't sympathise with those in the middle, and I do what I can to help; but we can't fight a shadow, nor should we fear it.

disarray, on 16 Aug 2016 - 1:35 PM, said:snapback.png

Certainly some endgame state of Nirvana to which many people seem to aspire (however one might speculate as to the degree of consciousness in such a state) is not the same as the state (of mind) I have right now.

 

It's exactly the same, Nirvana isn't an endgame, it's what you have right now, if you decide it is.

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My position throughout this thread (and others) is, religion isn't a reason for violence, it's just, one amongst many, excuses.

My opinion is that, although people sometimes do use religion as excuse, the role of religion is far more complex than just that. Religion can act both as a causal agent as well as an explosive catalyst. As examples of it being a causal agent, I would list such things as ethnocentric hatred, related xenophobia, fear of rival eschatologies, religious jealousy, scriptural incitement and enticement towards violence, and megalomania.

 

Indeed, no one remembers Dave Wood because he helped a nieghbour (other than the nieghbour); so I ask again, since religion brings peace and happiness to so many people, against the apparent death toll, "what's the score"?

The score is that religion has been a primary or secondary factor in hundreds if not thousands of wars/battles/scrimmages. And yes, religion has encouraged people to do good. On the other hand, many writers have pointed out that doing good in order to escape hell or go to heaven is disingenuous. A humanist stance is that people can and should do good without being prompted by religious doctrine. Indeed, in the U.S., I suspect that community groups such as Elks, Legions, Rotary club, etc. have done as much if not more good on average than churches, and have done so with little or no religious "baggage." Indeed, hours spent in (supplicative/adorational) prayer or listening to sermons that explicate archaic and arcane scriptures might be better spent in actual community service.

 

disarray, on 16 Aug 2016 - 1:35 PM, said:snapback.png

 

It's exactly the same, Nirvana isn't an endgame, it's what you have right now, if you decide it is.

Well, different people define Nirvana in different ways. Of course, one can experience an enlightened state of mind through mediation or by just adopting a positive attitude on a daily basis in everyday life. However, my understanding of the literature is that the ultimate state of Nirvana as generally used in Eastern religions refers to some final, post death state (often when one has escaped from cycles of reincarnation associated with Karma) in which the earthy ego/self is extinguished and/or transcended/replaced/fulfilled by a higher Self. So semantics/matter of opinion as to whether it is appropriate to describe Nirvana as an endgame.

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I don't know why we have to sit here and debate over the possible core causes of these problems. Religion is THE problem. Religion is what informs people's worldviews to begin with. It is the lens they view the world through from the moment they are indoctrinated as a child (or later). There is a reason there are absolutely ZERO atheist groups whose mission is to persecute minorities, or to bring on the end times, or commit terrorism, etc.(National Socialism and Stalinism are not atheist groups so don't even try that one). There is a reason for the variance in values among the different religions. There is a reason why muslims are, for instance, okay with stem cell research, as their doctrine says the soul is not injected into the fetus until like the 40th day or something. There is a reason why Christians oppose stem cell research. These are doctrinal beliefs. Religion is the ultimate informer of most people's perceptions of right and wrong, and people's perceptions of right and wrong are the ultimate informers of their actions.

 

So religion gives you peace and purpose in life? Big freakin' deal. Go watch football, get a hobby, study philosophy and science, etc. Find something else that gives your life meaning. You don't need religion to do that, and ultimate purpose is nonsense and overrated anyway. Ultimate purpose means that you lose control over your own life. You don't need to believe that a first century carpenter with magical powers is going to drop out of the clouds one day and destroy the earth in order to have a purpose in life. Hell, the lack of "ultimate purpose" is actually a good thing because it means no one is determining things for you. You can steer your own ship, and create your own unique sense of meaning. Religion crushes your individuality and makes you a slave in just about every sense of the word. I have absolutely ZERO concerns if this offends or upsets people. You need to be upset. The religious should be ashamed of themselves for being grown ups who still engage in this childish nonsense. Grow up, and drop the religious nonsense. If that sounds a little too Hitchens-like, it was meant to. I already have a crappy reputation on this forum so I might as well bask in it.

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I don't know why we have to sit here and debate over the possible core causes of these problems. Religion is THE problem. Religion is what informs people's worldviews to begin with. It is the lens they view the world through from the moment they are indoctrinated as a child (or later). There is a reason there are absolutely ZERO atheist groups whose mission is to persecute minorities, or to bring on the end times, or commit terrorism, etc.(National Socialism and Stalinism are not atheist groups so don't even try that one). There is a reason for the variance in values among the different religions. There is a reason why muslims are, for instance, okay with stem cell research, as their doctrine says the soul is not injected into the fetus until like the 40th day or something. There is a reason why Christians oppose stem cell research. These are doctrinal beliefs. Religion is the ultimate informer of most people's perceptions of right and wrong, and people's perceptions of right and wrong are the ultimate informers of their actions.

 

So religion gives you peace and purpose in life? Big freakin' deal. Go watch football, get a hobby, study philosophy and science, etc. Find something else that gives your life meaning. You don't need religion to do that, and ultimate purpose is nonsense and overrated anyway. Ultimate purpose means that you lose control over your own life. You don't need to believe that a first century carpenter with magical powers is going to drop out of the clouds one day and destroy the earth in order to have a purpose in life. Hell, the lack of "ultimate purpose" is actually a good thing because it means no one is determining things for you. You can steer your own ship, and create your own unique sense of meaning. Religion crushes your individuality and makes you a slave in just about every sense of the word. I have absolutely ZERO concerns if this offends or upsets people. You need to be upset. The religious should be ashamed of themselves for being grown ups who still engage in this childish nonsense. Grow up, and drop the religious nonsense. If that sounds a little too Hitchens-like, it was meant to. I already have a crappy reputation on this forum so I might as well bask in it.

The very fact that you feel that you need to be somewhat apologetic for expressing your opinion suggests, I think, that religion, or rather some religious people feel that they have the right to pressure people not to speak out against religion. In the "old days" one could be ostracized or even tortured for expressing such thoughts openly, but that cultural pressure is still in the air. I agree with what you have said, but even if I didn't, I would applaud you for having the courage to say what you think, rather than mincing words as I tend to do.

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It's funny to me how people who broadly agree still manage to find ways to engage in conflict.

 

Religion is self-evidently problematic. Would be better in my mind if it were discarded with all of the countless others in the graveyard of human mythology where it rightly belongs.

 

To suggest, though, that religion is THE problem as opposed to A problem, or that some utopia free of strife and full of harmony would be immediately realized were religion to sunset is just stupid.

 

This thread alone provides ample evidence of that assertion given how clearly it demonstrates the way people who broadly agree still manage to find ways to engage in conflict.

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It's funny to me how people who broadly agree still manage to find ways to engage in conflict.

Religion is self-evidently problematic. Would be better in my mind if it were discarded with all of the countless others in the graveyard of human mythology where it rightly belongs.

To suggest, though, that religion is THE problem as opposed to A problem, or that some utopia free of strife and full of harmony would be immediately realized were religion to sunset is just stupid.

This thread alone provides ample evidence of that assertion given how clearly it demonstrates the way people who broadly agree still manage to find ways to engage in conflict.

 

As you provided no quote, I can only say (since I have posted frequently lately) that I for one have never claimed that religion was THE (only or major) problem, nor that there would be some sort of utopia free of strife and full of harmony.

 

However, I think that there is room, for example, to discourage the sort of fundamentalism that seems to be most strongly associated with displays of power and violence.

 

I would agree though that under pessimism or over optimism with respect to mollifying the negative effects of religion in the future is, of course, not very realistic.

 

 

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However, I think that there is room, for example, to discourage the sort of fundamentalism that seems to be most strongly associated with displays of power and violence.

Religion is harmful even in the lesser forms I'm convinced. At the minimum, religion gets people to accept things on terrible to non-existent evidence that they wouldn't normally accept for a given claim. This is already the seed of a dangerous phenomenon that, when taken on board by billions of people, can hold disastrous consequences. We can not have serious conversations about the biggest issues that plague our species because we have to bring people's sacred delusions into the conversation and be sure to accommodate and walk on egg shells around them. We have to suspend the truth in important and consequential conversation in order to accommodate the religious. We cannot talk seriously about the prospect of combating global climate change, or reaping the benefits of embryonic stem cell research because the religious would rather preserve their childish delusions than to get with the program and help humanity and the world at large. We cannot get basic rights for people around the world because vast groups of people think that their personal beliefs are relevant when deciding who gets human rights. When preserving the validity of an ancient superstition becomes more important to people than the future well-being of the planet, and the rights of their fellow man, then we have a huge problem, a problem only something like religion can create. Religion ruled in medieval times and human well-being waned. Science pulled humanity out of those dark ages. Religion has decreased since then and nearly every aspect of humanity has gotten better. The parts of the world that are still controlled by religion are the worst parts in just about every sense. The US may be a religious nation by population, but our secular government keeps us doing well.

 

I'll meet the less hawkish of our members here halfway by taking back my statement about religion being THE problem. I think it is possibly the biggest of many problems. There, hows that? You have legitimate sociopaths and psychopaths who do truly evil things with no religion required, but religion has a very unique and sinister problem. Religion makes otherwise decent and rational people believe things similar to what the sociopaths and psychopaths believe. Religious thinking as a whole needs to be done away with. I think it is fundamentally incompatible with the advancement of our technological and scientific society.

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This thread alone provides ample evidence of that assertion given how clearly it demonstrates the way people who broadly agree still manage to find ways to engage in conflict.

 

I agree on most things you have said, but not this point. There will always be 'conflict' between people: different values, different ideas, different priorities etc... And that is a good thing: pluralistic societies seem to thrive, and the friction generated when people with different ideas clash provides impetus to always seeking better solutions. Such conflict does need to be kept in check, to keep it from escalating into violence, but i think the clash must be allowed to happen for society to be healthy.

 

 

Way off-topic here but i feel some of the frustrations of the right-wing are fuelled by a perception that they are not allowed to clash in this way - they feel constrained by a political correctness that drowns out their voices. I don't think we should try to drown out, say, homophobic or xenophobic statements so long as people are within the law and not inciting actual violence: doing so just drives it underground where it simmers and sometimes boils over into violence.

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they feel constrained by a political correctness that drowns out their voices. I don't think we should try to drown out, say, homophobic or xenophobic statements so long as people are within the law and not inciting actual violence: doing so just drives it underground where it simmers and sometimes boils over into violence.

+1

 

Be ruthless (not rude) in your criticisms, but everyone deserves their right to free speech and thought, even the racist right wingers. PC is bullshit. If you don't like free speech, there are a number of theocratic countries I can point you to.

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Religion is harmful even in the lesser forms I'm convinced.

 

Yes, I agree with everything you said in this particular post as well....stem cell research is certainly an important issue. Guess I was trying to be conciliatory and politically correct by focusing on the dangers of fundamentalism.


+1

Be ruthless (not rude) in your criticisms, but everyone deserves their right to free speech and thought, even the racist right wingers. PC is bullshit. If you don't like free speech, there are a number of theocratic countries I can point you to.

 

I would just point out that "political correctness" is a vague term and, I suspect, can mean conflicting things depending upon where the term is being used. For example, it may not be politically correct to criticize a minority religion, but it might be politically correct to criticize its condemnation of certain races, or of homosexuality...semantic technicality here. I too am for free speech, though perhaps there is a point where one draws the line, e.g., attempting to cause a riot.


Walter....that is a lot of information to throw out there in one huge chunk without explanation. I find it a little cryptic in the sense that it is somewhat obscure to me just which of the thousands of statements made in the videos etc. you think relates to thread of this post.

 

I did look at the video entitled "Jesus is God whether you believe it or not." Don't you think that this sort of approach tends to put an end to discussion, as if to say, "If you don't believe in my religion, well, you are wrong...end of story."

 

Indeed, the last slide of the video says that people who don't agree that Jesus is God are "liars," "deceivers," and "antiChrists."

I am wondering whether or not this is a 'politically correct' statement.

 

Is this what you believe? Is it possible for me to disagree in any way with such religious statements without someone thinking or labeling me as being a liar and an antiChrist?

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I did look at the video entitled "Jesus is God whether you believe it or not." Don't you think that this sort of approach tends to put an end to discussion, as if to say, "If you don't believe in my religion, well, you are wrong...end of story."

 

It's a parlor trick used by the religious, because they know that if they have to stick with strictly facts, reality, and reasoned-argument, their case is KOed in the first round. They have to invent tricks like this to try to corner you. It shows immense desperation on their part, and to my mind, proves that their god is bogus and non-existent.
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I agree on most things you have said, but not this point. There will always be 'conflict' between people: different values, different ideas, different priorities etc... And that is a good thing

Note it was not my intention to place a value judgment on conflict, only to highlight that it would continue to exist even if religion were to vanish. From what I can tell, we're broadly aligned overall, even the above point.

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Note it was not my intention to place a value judgment on conflict, only to highlight that it would continue to exist even if religion were to vanish. From what I can tell, we're broadly aligned overall, even the above point.

 

Hmmm. So I guess I would ask for further clarification here. Are you suggesting that there would be just as much conflict in the world if religion vanished.

 

I am reminded of Freud's hydraulic theory the idea being that there is so much sexual and/or aggression pressure that is more or less hard-wired into the human psyche that if we damn and dam it up in one place, so to speak, it is only going to build up until it finds another outlet somewhere else. (I am not arguing for or against Freud's theory here, merely drawing a parallel).

 

But surely you agree that religious belief generally plays a significant belief in religious conflict today (as always), and that it, for good or better, frequently and often strongly affects their attitudes and beliefs with regards to such controversial issues as euthanasia, abortion, stem cell research, birth control, race relations, multiculturalism, blind obedience to authority, homosexuality, transsexualism, prayers in schools, forced allegiance to God for citizenship, prayer in public events and meetings, divorce, etc. etc.. Surely these issues create various levels of conflict in our society to this day, and surely religion adds fuel to these issues in various degrees.. To assume that there would not be less conflict were religion to go away, or that some vague drive for conflict would just find other outlets, if that is your drift, does not make sense to me.

 

Postnote: Just remembered that I left out arguing over sacred lands, stoning of women for adultery or being raped, religious motivated bombings and flying into towers that goes on in present times. Could go into burning witches, torture, and mass butchering over which religious group will maintain power (e.g. St Bartholomew's Day massacre), but that speaks for itself.

 

Many societies have made huge strides in terms of reducing conflicts over slavery and women's rights, so yes, there will always be conflict, I suppose, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep on trying to reduce it.

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Its not quite as much about getting rid of religion as it is changing the ways people think. I think religion would evaporate in light of that, and the world would become better and less violent/hostile. Getting rid of religion itself won't automatically change the magical, illogical ways people think. You have to put fires out at their sources. You have to somehow get people to think skeptically and reasonably, I think religion would eventually phase out after that. Of course I don't believe this will ever happen. I think the world will continue to get more secular, people might drop religion out of trends and societal pressures, but that doesn't mean rational thought will gain steem. I think unreason is here to stay,

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