Is religion good even if it's false?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.

Re: Religion

Post Number:#61  Postby JPhillips » November 19th, 2009, 5:14 pm

JPhillips wrote:Nick said:

That is a fascinating way of looking at it. But when one religion says that the burning off of bad karma is necessary, while another religion says that sins can be forgiven, it does not seem the two religions can be reconciled.


Why not? Perhaps karma is just a means to an end. It serves to teach us not only to live a moral life, but helps us understand why. Once we understand living a moral life is what is best for us as well as all others, then we can forgive ourselves and then, I believe, God will forgive us as well.

Belinda said:

Ego is probably at the root of the problem of religious intolerance. Inflated and narcissistic egos make people distrust those who don't conform to ones own preferences. This is perhaps most obvious in islamist terroists whose insistence that they are right in their beliefs causes death and destruction. The narcissism, the inflated egos, may be due to their preferred beliefs being caused by present and historical threats to cultural ego.


I think this is an excellent point. Perhaps there is more to it than this, however. I believe fear must have something to do with it. What do all Fundamentalists have in common? They all believe in literal interpretation of their Bibles and refuse to listen to any reason or logic which would contradict anything written in it. Once one admits there is any untruth in the written word, it can lead to one's own self-doubt in the notion that it is the absolute word of God. At this point, one must acknowledge that the entire Book may have been based upon untruths and one's religion, therefore, may be false. This understanding allows the fear and dread of the unknown to creep into the psyche.

At times I envy the Fundamentalist Christians, who seem to have such unshakable faith in their Christian teachings and in the Christian Bible.

I adhere to the view that the Bible contains the word of God, but also has been tainted by the ego of man. If we can overcome our own selfish egos, maybe we can learn to discriminate between the two.
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Re: Religion



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Post Number:#62  Postby The Light » March 26th, 2010, 12:59 pm

I believe religion has kept mankind from finding the truth about who we are and how to improve our life. The reason that religion exists is because many of us are not intelligent enough to find truth, so we stop searching and make up fairy tales about virgin births, turning water into wine, and Middle Eastern guys with names like Jesus, Paul, and Luke. Religious people don't want to face the truth because the truth is painful.
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Post Number:#63  Postby ape » March 26th, 2010, 1:34 pm

The Light wrote:I believe religion has kept mankind from finding the truth about who we are and how to improve our life. The reason that religion exists is because many of us are not intelligent enough to find truth, so we stop searching and make up fairy tales about virgin births, turning water into wine, and Middle Eastern guys with names like Jesus, Paul, and Luke. Religious people don't want to face the truth because the truth is painful.

color by ape

Hi The Light,

Welcome!

What you say is true: people who hate pain have a hard time with and facing the truths that are painful and hurt!
:idea:

Those who love pain can handle the painful truths and know that 'no pain, no gain' and turn any pain into sham pain and champagne!:)

Here is an example of someone who did not love pain and so could not face the painful truth and so stopped searching and made up a fairy tale about....:

"This was only one of Pasteur's experiments.
It is no easy matter to deal with so deeply ingrained and common-sense a belief as that in spontaneous generation. One can ask for nothing better in such a pass than a noisy and stubborn opponent, and this Pasteur had in the naturalist Felix Pouchet, whose arguments before the French Academy of Sciences drove Pasteur to more and more rigorous experiments. When he had finished, nothing remained of the belief in spontaneous generation.
We tell this story to beginning students of biology as though it represents a triumph of reason over mysticism.
In fact it is very nearly the opposite.
The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation;
the only alternative, to believe in a single, primary act of supernatural creation.
There is no third position.
For this reason many scientists a century ago chose to regard the belief in spontaneous generation as a "philosophical necessity."
It is a symptom of the philosophical poverty of our time that this necessity is no longer appreciated.
Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing.
I think a scientist has no choice but to approach the origin of life through a hypothesis of spontaneous generation.
What the controversy reviewed above showed to be untenable is only the belief that living organisms arrive spontaneously under present conditions.
We have now to face a somewhat different problem:
how organisms may have arisen spontaneously under different conditions in some former period, granted that they do so no longer."
"One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation."
"Time is the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years... Given so much time the 'impossible' becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs miracles."
George Wald (1967 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine), "The Origin of Life," Scientific American, vol. 191 1954, p. 46; reprinted on p. 307-320, A Treasury of Science, Fourth Revised Edition, Harlow Shapley et al., eds., Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1958. p 309.

Louis Bounoure, president of the Biological Society of Strasbourg, director of the Zoological Museum and director of research at the Natural Center of Scientific Research in France:
"Evolution is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has done nothing to the progress of science. It is useless."

Hope that helps.
thanx.
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Post Number:#64  Postby Belinda » March 27th, 2010, 4:49 am

Has anyone yet defined what 'false religion' means?
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Re: Is religion good even if it's false?

Post Number:#65  Postby Anthony » March 27th, 2010, 10:42 am

philoreaderguy wrote:I recently was told by someone that religion is a good thing even if it is false. He said that it's good because it brings people together and teaches morality. Is this true? Is religion good for people even if it isn't false?


Yes, its does good but bleiveing in a lie is never good, or is it?

Its a tuff no doubt but an ever harder thing to contemplate is that you do not need religion in any form to bring people together.

you do not need religion to make a law that stealing is a crime or that murder is unacceptable, you do not need religion to tell you anyhtign it says because the changes have been made.

Religion is old, it was a means to an end, the end has been archived, we have a world ruled by reason, not anarchy and not slavery, we are not in the dark ages.

But if you wish to believe because it feels good and it comforts you, and you dont mind... then please enjoy life and be at peace.

Quality of life, freedom and the freedom to live in peace was afforded to us by those who would not give in to the wills and whims of the church.
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Post Number:#66  Postby Tuckerfaught » May 20th, 2010, 4:12 pm

My particular veiwpoint is that if religion is false, which i believe it is, it will not matter. People have an intrinsic fear fo death, an extension of the fear of the unknown, which i believe is responsible for theism. People will continue to be afraid of death even if religion is proven false, and thus people will continue to worship. Your friend is wrong and right, while it does bring people together, i dont believe that morals have any purpose, and religion has been the cause of nearly every war in recorded history, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Also, god drowned the planet, he is not love.
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Post Number:#67  Postby Belinda » May 21st, 2010, 4:09 am

Religion cannpt possibly be false, whatever else it is. Religion is better phrased as 'religious experience'/ In other words, religion is something that people do, hence, it cannot be false. There is no doubt that even in comparatively secular England I can see religious behaviours.I can walk into the village and see four churches with active congregations that obviously spend hard earned money on their churches.I could walk into a nearby neighbourhood and see a flourishing mosque or Sikh temple, and I can see Muslims wearing traditional ethnic Muslim dress.
I think what 'religion' means to many people reared in a mainly Christian tradition is better called 'supernatural teachings', or 'supernatural doctrines'. In the case of supernatural beliefs I predict that they are disappearing even in America and even in West Africa, and will continue to do so. If there is some terrible catastrophe that panics people or destroys high civilisation, then supernatural beliefs and superstitions will make a comeback.
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Re: Is religion good even if it's false?

Post Number:#68  Postby Antone » October 12th, 2010, 9:09 pm

philoreaderguy wrote:I recently was told by someone that religion is a good thing even if it is false. He said that it's good because it brings people together and teaches morality. Is this true? Is religion good for people even if it isn't false?

I believe that religion can play an extremely important role in the development of a given society--and it can certainly be one of the more effective social glues that hold a society together.

Like other forms of social tradition... religious tenents are generally based on things that work. Even when they don't "work" from our perspective, they still tend to be something that allows the community to move forward successfully.

For example, I recall reading about a culture where the religion involved a series of complex festivals and various rituals that determined when the planting and harvest and so forth began... Scientists decided that these superstitious rituals were hurting the harvests, because the farmers weren't planting early enough... so they convinced the farmers to plant early, and the results were disastrous. I can't remember what cause the disaster, but it was related to the season. The festivals served to prevent the farmers from doing exactly what the scientists were foolish enough to try doing. And the religious fervor behind the beliefs ensured that the harvests had been highly successful for many many generations.

Another example is the sacred cow in India. This religious belief also serves a purpose. It prevents the poor people from killing the cows and eating them. Killing the cows would provide meat for a few meals, but the cows provide milk day after day, which can be turned into cheese and so forth. This is such a vital part of the poor people's diet that if they killed the cows they would starve. Making the cow sacred prevented anyone from killing the cows to satisfy their more immediate hunger and thus placing the whole society in jeopardy.

Most religious tenets, (particularly the universal ones which are shared by virtually all religions) are essentially natural laws... they define how things need to be if a society is going to survive.

All religions hold that it is wrong for a member of the community to kill another member of the community. Killing outsiders may be acceptable--in fact historically that has been the norm--but killing members of your own group has always been an exceedingly grave sin.

This is easy to understand. If murder had no repercussions, you would have to worry about your neighbor killing you all the time. You wouldn't be able to focus your time and efforts on sleeping, working and doing the other things that allow you to thrive as oppose to simply surviving. For much the same reason, lying is a universal sin.

Another area where religion has been very important is when it comes to waging war. People who are angry and emotionally aroused towards someone find it much easier to kill such an enemy. That is why the leaders always try to convince their soldiers that God is on their side. It doesn't matter if you're an aggressor, or simply defending yourself. Few people are willing to fight as hard as those who think they're doing it at God's will. (Suicide bombers are a good example... they believe they are dying for Allah.)

Religions always promote the interests of society as a whole--else that society or that religion won't survive for long. But this doesn't always mean that the religion also serves the best interests of the individuals in that society. For instance, Islam is often extremely oppressive towards women. Yet many Islamic women bow to their servitude with a fervor that is frightening. Many are proud to sacrifice their children as suicide bombers, for instance.

In India, their religious system of castes served to oppress the poor, because it told the poor not to fight their lot. They would be rewarded in the next life--not this one. This made it easier for their conquerors to rule.

And again, many cultures have distinct characteristics that are tied directly to their social traditions and religious attitudes. Many cultures produced a superabundance of art, music, inventions and so forth. Jewish people are stereotyped for their strong business sense, and so forth.

The Islamic culture is a fairly large portion of the world population, but if you look at the number of patents, works of art, inventions, great literary works (that aren't religious in nature) and so forth... the Islamic culture has produced such a small percentage compared to the rest of the world that it is amazing.

I believe this is a clear case of a religious system that is very effective at promoting what is good for it's society as a whole--but equally bad at promoting what is good for its members as individuals.

So religion isn't necessarily good simply because it is religion. But I do believe that religion plays a powerful role in any society's development, in a way that people who are atheists simply cannot duplicate. Atheists often claim that they operate under a high moral code--but when push comes to shove, there's nothing like the fear of going to hell to make someone not tell that lie that they know no one else will ever know about.

And again, most religious practices have some practical purpose. The prohibition against contraceptives and homosexual behavior, ensures that citizens will reproduce--which even in today's world is still very important.

In America, Planned Parenthood has aborted several millions of babies since Roe vs. Wade... And if you took all of those babies, who would now be adults, and many having babies of their own, and the problems that we're having with the collapse of social security would not be anywhere near as significant a problem.

But we've created a serious financial problem because we've been aborting our babies and thus reducing our population by millions what it would otherwise have been.

Just as with the religious festivals that timed the planting and harvest--the prohibition against contraceptives and homosexuality would have served a purpose. And by abandoning those principles we have placed ourselves in jeopardy.

Similarly, Americans had a (largely religious based) attitude that said you worked hard for your pay... you didn't take anything that you didn't earn... and you used your money to help others in need... But years of handouts from the government have eroded that CAN DO attitude in many Americans and we often wonder why we should bother to donate to charity when the government takes so much from us and gives it to people already. Again, these are "experimental" social changes--closely tied to our religious beliefs, that have largely destroyed the greatness that was once America.
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Post Number:#69  Postby Belinda » October 13th, 2010, 6:25 am

I agree with Antone that religion is integral to the structure of a society.The tradition of sacred cows ---I never previously heard that justification and it seems credible.

In America, Planned Parenthood has aborted several millions of babies since Roe vs. Wade... And if you took all of those babies, who would now be adults, and many having babies of their own, and the problems that we're having with the collapse of social security would not be anywhere near as significant a problem.


I don't understand.I would have thought that unwanted babies would have lesser chances of growing up to be productive citizens and would be more of a drain on social security . What I think about birth control(nobody likes abortion as method of birth control) is that in the affluent areas of America and in Europe, where there are more educated middle class people than elsewhere, contraception is practised more enthusiastically by the educated middle classes. The result is that in Europe and North America poorer sub-groups have more children than the middle classes who are not ruled by religiously based traditions that cause them to reproduce. This pattern is even more obvious in South America and Africa where evangelical Christianity and Islam are growing apace along with increasing populations. Exponentially, evangelical Christians and Muslims are going to predominate in the world of the future. This is worrying. When the ignorant and superstitious vastly outnumber the educated and reasoning education and reason will disappear.

I support religion when it is reasonable. The unfortunate thing about religion is that it becomes entrenched in old and outworn traditions. I say 'outworn' because social change is so fast now that religion tends not to keep in tune with developments. For instance, in Africa, the Roman Catholic demands that condoms not be available is killing babies through AIDS and the malnutrition that comes of poor mothers having too many babies.
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Post Number:#70  Postby Antone » October 14th, 2010, 7:20 am

Belinda wrote:I would have thought that unwanted babies would have lesser chances of growing up to be productive citizens and would be more of a drain on social security . What I think about birth control(nobody likes abortion as method of birth control) is that in the affluent areas of America and in Europe, where there are more educated middle class people than elsewhere, contraception is practiced more enthusiastically by the educated middle classes.
You make some good points. If the majority of the aborted babies grew up to be siphons rather than productive citizens, then more babies could have been a negative.

Certainly, Planned Parenthood was created by Margaret Sanger, whose goal was to get rid of "undesirable" black
babies--and most offices still tend to be placed in poor
neighborhoods. You may also have heard of the fiasco about the "reporter" who called and asked if he could donate money that would be specifically earmarked for aborting a
black baby? And the PP worker assured him that he could. So their goals seem to be compatible with Sanger's original euthanasia goals.

My real point was more general, however. I could also have pointed to the changes that have occurred in the typical size of a family--and what is considered the social norm.

The average size of an American family is below the level needed simply to replenish our current population. We continue to grow in overall population only because to the constant influx of aliens--both legal and illegal.

This downsizing of families is, in part a response to social pressures that make having a small family an advantage. Just as large families used to be an advantage when many families were involved in agricultural pursuits of some kind. More kids meant more workers funneling money back into the family... or (in other words) fewer workers siphoning money away from the family.

The point is, that times of change in the "traditions" (and those traditions include the religious beliefs) mark times of increased danger for the society--because they are experimenting with new social structures; structures that have not been tested by centuries of success.

That's one reason why communism is such a supreme danger as a political strategy. It is largely based on destroying all the social traditions that historically every (mostly free and) economically successful country has upheld. Only then, when the traditional structures have been destroyed, can the new system be put it its place. Problem is that history teaches us two things. (1) the old systems have been largely successful. (2) every attempt at communism has resulted in the loss of freedom for the community's people and economic failure.

China may be held up as the lone example of success... but no really. China attempted to employ pure communistic principles and hundreds of millions of its citizens died as a result. Currently, china's economic model is in many ways closer to a free-market than America's. That has a lot to due with their growing success. As does the fact that they have access to cheap labor and fewer costly government regulations--the later being part of their free-market strategy, of course.

Belinda wrote:The result is that in Europe and North America poorer sub-groups have more children than the middle classes who are not ruled by religiously based traditions that cause them to reproduce.
In America, I think this pattern is more the result of government intervention by progressives. Since the "War on Poverty" began, I suspect that America has seen a greater increase in the number of poor than at any other time in our history--including the great depression. A large part of this is because the "poverty level" has been defined so high. But 1 in 7 Americans are currently living below the poverty level. And since the War on Poverty, inner city slums have grown in size and number at an alarming rate.

Why? Because, for many years now, welfare checks have increased with the number of children you have. This means that "having a baby" has become a status symbol of wealth for these "lifestyle" welfare recipients. This has become such an ingrained attitude that it holds even among young girls.
Fatherless babies has become the norm for the same reason. It was more difficult to get money if you had a father figure living in the house, married or not.

Children raised with a father are statistically much more likely to grow up to be successful... so these government practices are directly responsible for the situations that they have created. A vastly increasing poor population.

Religions used to take care of the poor, and (for the most part) they did a damned good job of it. They not only cared for them, but they created an environment that encouraged these poor to break the learned behavior that created a new generation of poor. They didn't get rid of the poor problem, but they didn't make the situation many times worse--the way government intervention has done.

This happened because government chose to break with the traditional religious social structures--and experiment with ways of doing things that were untested.

Occasionally, that works, but more often than not it is a dismal failure. This is true in a lot of areas. Many countries have had an agricultural crisis that they tried to fix by importing a plant or animal to counter the crisis. But in the end the imported plant or animal turns out to be so well adapted to the environment that it becomes a far greater menace than the crisis they were imported to counter in the first place.

Don't get me wrong... social change is inevitable, and if we didn't change we would not be able to adapt to changing social pressures. But this should be allowed to happen naturally, by lots of people doing lots of different things and eventually settling on what works. This is, in part, the role that religion takes. It sets those things that work into a moral code--and creates increased incentives for people to follow them.

An example of this happening in real time is the changing attitudes that most religions have had about birth control. Many still oppose it, but even among those who are the most adamant it is no longer considered as grave a sin as it once was. The majority of Catholics, for example, find nothing wrong with birth control.
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Post Number:#71  Postby Belinda » October 14th, 2010, 7:39 pm

This is, in part, the role that religion takes. It sets those things that work into a moral code--and creates increased incentives for people to follow them.

Yes, but I wonder which comes first, the myth or the ethics.And I wonder which should come first, the myth for our times, or the ethics.I think that perhaps this is the function of art, to create myth and meaning for our times.
Certainly the sort of evangelical religions(versions of Islam and Christianity) that we see proliferating in South America and Africa are not suitable for North America and Europe.
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Post Number:#72  Postby OTavern » October 15th, 2010, 2:34 am

Tuckerfaught wrote:My particular veiwpoint is that if religion is false, which i believe it is, it will not matter. People have an intrinsic fear fo death, an extension of the fear of the unknown, which i believe is responsible for theism. People will continue to be afraid of death even if religion is proven false, and thus people will continue to worship.


I suspect this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what religious beliefs entail based upon a superficial understanding of what they are perceived to be. Ultimately religious beliefs are a vehicle for moving beyond rational self-interest towards a more absolute view of the nature, meaning and purpose (teleological end) of our existence. It is taking a global or transcendent view of life rather than a view that is based upon self as centre of meaning and the rational extension of that fundamental shift in world view. The more transcendent the viewpoint the less tied it is to self as determiner and reason for existence. It is getting past that focal point to a wider view that includes the good of all in an absolute sense. Stated simply, it means going beyond yourself.
Tuckerfaught wrote:
Your friend is wrong and right, while it does bring people together, i dont believe that morals have any purpose, and religion has been the cause of nearly every war in recorded history, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Also, god drowned the planet, he is not love.


If you read actual documented research on wars and genocide you will realize this belief of yours is not supported by the evidence. Less than 6% of all wars in recorded history had religious beliefs as their principle motive or cause and a vast majority of genocide killings were at the hands of leaders who clearly claimed to be atheistic in their world view. I can provide evidence if you wish.
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Post Number:#73  Postby Antone » October 15th, 2010, 7:34 am

Belinda wrote:Yes, but I wonder which comes first, the myth or the ethics.And I wonder which should come first, the myth for our times, or the ethics.I think that perhaps this is the function of art, to create myth and meaning for our times.
Certainly the sort of evangelical religions(versions of Islam and Christianity) that we see proliferating in South America and Africa are not suitable for North America and Europe.

Generally speaking, I believe that if religion is to be a positive force, the "myth" as you call it and the ethics must develop together and at their own pace.

Because religion is often so society specific, it is not surprising that a religion in one area would be unsuitable for another. The surprising thing is when a religion is suitable for a wide range of people.

Christianity became widely accepted because it was the first religion ever to cater to the "outsider", the gentile. Originally, some would argue, Christianity was a Jewish specific religion. It was Saul (A gentile who persecuted Christians until he saw a vision on the road to Damascus) who began to promote Christianity as a religion that targeted gentiles. Before that, every religion had it's own personal god. Each Greek city, for instance, had its own god, and they often went to war fighting over who's god was whatever.

This is what allowed Christianity to eventually spread so widely over the whole planet--and why (despite the slander said against it) it has done more to bring about the modern attitudes of our "civilized society" than any other force you can mention. It not only taught that you should turn the other cheek, but you should not only do this for people in your own society but also for people outside of your own society. The Good Sameritan, for instance, is a story about stopping to help someone who wasn't your own. That was an extremely radical view back then.

In today's modern world, the original versions of Christianity are an aging religion that is increasingly out of sync with the needs of its members. And so it is slowly evolving.

Meanwhile, Islam has introduced a new religious wrinkle by combining aspects of Christianity with aspects of the older religions. On the one hand, fundamental Islam teaches Muslims to accept anyone. But it does not teach tolerance for the outsider. An apostate is to be killed. Infidels are to be killed or subjugated and taxed. Lying to outsiders is encouraged, to further the Islamic Jihad... etc. It also teaches its adherents to have multiple wives and bear numerous children. Osama bin Lauden, has some 25 children and he is one of 50 some children. All of whom are born Muslim and under a death sentence if they try to leave the fold. These combined strategies have proven to be immensely effective at expanding its ranks.

Meanwhile, Christianity has lost its big family ethics. And as a result it's population is rapidly shrinking. To prevent shrinking populations and developing crisis in their countries, they are encouraging immigration, much of which is composed of Muslims. And because those Muslims reproduce faster and have a more virulent form or propogation, they will inevitably take over each country they immigrate to--assuming that nothing happens between now and then, such as changes in the communities opinions about Muslims and war.

Some of these changes can already be observed to be happening in countries like Denmark. Again, a very multi-cultural country. After the riots sparked by the Cartoon fiasco, many in Denmark are waking up to the precarious situation they are in. And an anti-Muslim tide is arising.

The take over by Muslims has also already happened in countries like Lebanon, which used to be a Christian majority country. They had very open, multi-cultural U.S. like perspective. The Muslims were a "peace-loving" integral part of the community--until they became the majority and then they took over and subjugated the rest of the people. They turned what was once called the "Paris of the Middle East" into a battle torn war zone.
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Re: Is religion good even if it's false?

Post Number:#74  Postby Whynot » October 15th, 2010, 8:23 pm

philoreaderguy wrote:I recently was told by someone that religion is a good thing even if it is false. He said that it's good because it brings people together and teaches morality. Is this true? Is religion good for people even if it isn't false?


Religion is the organized practice of specific rites and rituals based on intepretations of writings deemed to be holy, on the basis of belief that these writings are the inspired words of a deity that holy men, or prophets and patriarchs, allegedly recieved. As an instrument for the assimilation of individuals and families into larger groups religion can be successful and even useful/beneficial. If you ask the followers of one set of religious dogmas for their opinion on other religious dogmas you discover that these groups are rarely in agreement on even the basics. That religion is often used to convey specific moral paradigms to its practitioners is but one of its functions in any given society. That some of these morals do more harm than good is also worthy of mention in any determination of "goodness". I believe some religions are better than others in functioning cohesively within a larger group or society. But basically, in my opinion, there is no one size fits all response to this question. The big traditional or classical versions of theism are sub-divided into many smaller groups within that sometimes do much harm to the larger body of believers. Historically religion has served many purposes, both public and private, some good and some not so good. I would say religion, like every other institution, is what you make of it. Or, as some common sense folks would say..."guns don't kill people, people kill people.
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Post Number:#75  Postby Belinda » October 16th, 2010, 5:12 am

Antone wrote:
Belinda wrote:Yes, but I wonder which comes first, the myth or the ethics.And I wonder which should come first, the myth for our times, or the ethics.I think that perhaps this is the function of art, to create myth and meaning for our times.
Certainly the sort of evangelical religions(versions of Islam and Christianity) that we see proliferating in South America and Africa are not suitable for North America and Europe.

Generally speaking, I believe that if religion is to be a positive force, the "myth" as you call it and the ethics must develop together and at their own pace.

Because religion is often so society specific, it is not surprising that a religion in one area would be unsuitable for another. The surprising thing is when a religion is suitable for a wide range of people.

Christianity became widely accepted because it was the first religion ever to cater to the "outsider", the gentile. Originally, some would argue, Christianity was a Jewish specific religion. It was Saul (A gentile who persecuted Christians until he saw a vision on the road to Damascus) who began to promote Christianity as a religion that targeted gentiles. Before that, every religion had it's own personal god. Each Greek city, for instance, had its own god, and they often went to war fighting over who's god was whatever.

This is what allowed Christianity to eventually spread so widely over the whole planet--and why (despite the slander said against it) it has done more to bring about the modern attitudes of our "civilized society" than any other force you can mention. It not only taught that you should turn the other cheek, but you should not only do this for people in your own society but also for people outside of your own society. The Good Sameritan, for instance, is a story about stopping to help someone who wasn't your own. That was an extremely radical view back then.

In today's modern world, the original versions of Christianity are an aging religion that is increasingly out of sync with the needs of its members. And so it is slowly evolving.

Meanwhile, Islam has introduced a new religious wrinkle by combining aspects of Christianity with aspects of the older religions. On the one hand, fundamental Islam teaches Muslims to accept anyone. But it does not teach tolerance for the outsider. An apostate is to be killed. Infidels are to be killed or subjugated and taxed. Lying to outsiders is encouraged, to further the Islamic Jihad... etc. It also teaches its adherents to have multiple wives and bear numerous children. Osama bin Lauden, has some 25 children and he is one of 50 some children. All of whom are born Muslim and under a death sentence if they try to leave the fold. These combined strategies have proven to be immensely effective at expanding its ranks.

Meanwhile, Christianity has lost its big family ethics. And as a result it's population is rapidly shrinking. To prevent shrinking populations and developing crisis in their countries, they are encouraging immigration, much of which is composed of Muslims. And because those Muslims reproduce faster and have a more virulent form or propogation, they will inevitably take over each country they immigrate to--assuming that nothing happens between now and then, such as changes in the communities opinions about Muslims and war.

Some of these changes can already be observed to be happening in countries like Denmark. Again, a very multi-cultural country. After the riots sparked by the Cartoon fiasco, many in Denmark are waking up to the precarious situation they are in. And an anti-Muslim tide is arising.

The take over by Muslims has also already happened in countries like Lebanon, which used to be a Christian majority country. They had very open, multi-cultural U.S. like perspective. The Muslims were a "peace-loving" integral part of the community--until they became the majority and then they took over and subjugated the rest of the people. They turned what was once called the "Paris of the Middle East" into a battle torn war zone.

I find your post difficult to reply to, Antone, for two reasons. One is that I am not at all sure to what extent Christianity has been a force for good. Christianity has as a matter of fact carried the central message of the life of Jesus as the paradigm for the good life. But without Christianity, Islamic societies may have developed into reformation and scientific enlightenment.

I am troubled by your criticism of Islam. This is partly becuase I have read the Koran only partly and I must read it soon, and thoroughly. Also, I have been told that if Muslims were to read the Koran along with the history of the development of Islam they would see that the unpleasant bits of the Koran were anchored to the temporary need for Muslims to fight against infidels. Also I have been told that most Muslims are 'moderate' which I suppose means that moderates are not theologians but are simple people who do religious observances because of devotion to their ethnic customs.
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