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: Is religion good even if it's false?

Post Number:#46  Postby Nick_A » November 17th, 2009, 11:33 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?


It depends on your aim. For example if your religion asserts the value of killing me and you agree with the motive, it is good for you and not for me. It's a matter of perspective.
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace
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Re: Is religion good even if it's false?



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Post Number:#47  Postby JPhillips » November 18th, 2009, 12:09 am

OTavern wrote:

Just for the record, the RC Church does not claim infallibility in all matters and under all circumstances.


And it is a good thing. I think the Catholic Church would wish to disassociate itself as much as possible from its earlier history of persecution, torture, and execution of those who disagreed with them. For example, the Knights Templars and other Gnostic Christians.

I keep hoping the Catholic Church recognizes that the use of condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies is not evil. The fact that the Pope recently visited Africa and discouraged the use of condoms in an area where the spread of HIV is causing major concern does not seem to be an indicator that the Catholic Church is going to change its position on this any time soon.

I need to remind you, however, that I am neither anti-Christian or anti-Catholic. I have repeatedly said I believe in God, that their is some truth in all religions, and that we must use our hearts and our minds as well as the wisdom and knowledge presented to us in the great works and teachings of the past and present. We must learn to discern the truth from the untruth.
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Post Number:#48  Postby OTavern » November 18th, 2009, 12:32 am

JPhillips wrote:I keep hoping the Catholic Church recognizes that the use of condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies is not evil. The fact that the Pope recently visited Africa and discouraged the use of condoms in an area where the spread of HIV is causing major concern does not seem to be an indicator that the Catholic Church is going to change its position on this any time soon.


There is a much larger and more basic moral principle at stake here - the inherent value of human life in all its forms. A human life can never be treated as a means to an end. This is a much deeper issue than any of us understand because most of us take an individual, and therefore a self-interested or "convenience" perspective in this issue. It is not as simple as you imply.
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Post Number:#49  Postby Juice » November 18th, 2009, 12:36 am

JP-I would encourage reading up on the crusades. Not just the Christian side but the Muslim and Mongol sides too. Some of the best adventure stories in literature, like Homer and WW2, or French Foreign Legion legends and the Alamo. If you are into that kind of stuff plus it may just clear up some of the misconceptions. People talk about cowboys and Indians but just the pure Romance, adventure and intrigue of that time in history. The Khans, Saladin, Richard, the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitaller. Sometimes I think I was born either to early or to late. All this pacifism and fighting by terrorism for the purpose of killing unarmed people, is making things a bit too boring. Armour, a horse and a long sword, hand to hand, purpose.

The condom thing is not about discouraging the use of condoms but encouraging sex within the confines of marriage between loving and devoted spouses. If everyone would wait, choose a mate, and stick to that mate AIDS would have no where to go but gone.

In the meanwhile, while we sort out that bit of morality if one is going to be promiscuous or have sex outside of pledges and vows use protection.

Anyway check the factual crusades.
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Post Number:#50  Postby JPhillips » November 18th, 2009, 1:30 am

OTavern

I was talking about prevention of a pregnancy, not the abortion of one. Maybe I am missing something here?

Juice

Thanks for the recommendations. I agree that the Crusades would need to be read from the different perspectives. As Winston Churchill said, "history is written by the victor" rather than by the vanquished. By the time the vanquished have a real chance to speak up, much about what really transpired may have been forgotten or lost. You can't totally dismiss the importance history, but I suppose all history should be read with this in mind.
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Post Number:#51  Postby Nick » November 18th, 2009, 3:58 am

"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?"

My belief system is based on the ideas of reincarnation and working towards the achievement of enlightenment. I believe that every devout Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc., is making progress towards enlightenment. In this way, I believe that even someone who follows a "false" religion is making progress towards the goal we all are working towards (enlightenment).
Last edited by Nick on November 18th, 2009, 4:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Number:#52  Postby Homicidal Pacifist » November 18th, 2009, 4:01 am

Ever seen Jakob The Liar with Robin Williams?

The question is this... Is false hope worthwhile or morally good to distribute?

Tuffy.

False hope is still hope.

But false hope is also false.

In a seemingly hopeless situation, can a ridiculous hope or a hope in anything be good because it keeps you going even though you are living a fairy tale?

Or should you clasp to the truth and find hope in other areas. In other words, you most likely will not get out alive, but you can fing hope in that death is irrelevant when compared to consistency of conviction, or a belief in God, or in the ability to influence your oppressors, etc.

Though I'm leaning heavily towards the latter, I can certainly see why one would be willing to be lied to for the sake of a much needed smile.
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world,
and that is an idea whose time has come."
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Post Number:#53  Postby Nick » November 18th, 2009, 4:01 am

"Just for the record, the RC Church does not claim infallibility in all matters and under all circumstances."

--> That is correct. However, the RCC claims that, at certain times and under certain cirumstances, the Pope can release written information that they say is infallible. Therefore, the RCC claims infallibility in all matters and under all circumstances for which these specific pieces of written information have been released.
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Post Number:#54  Postby Belinda » November 18th, 2009, 6:41 am

with reference to the original question, religion is neither true not false. Religion is something that human beings do and experience.

The notion that religion is either true or false is an aberration that is probably caused by religious behaviour being taken over by such politicians as Constantine and Charlemagne, and perpetuated by the religious Right in modern politics.

True, most Christian churches teach creeds.This is evidence that Christian churches are in part at least authoritarian control mechanisms that keep order among the faithful in their congregations by their implication that rewards and even in some cases punishments will apply.The commonest punishment is being excluded from the congregation unless you affirm the creed.The most genuine and good-living atheist would be looked at with disapproval, perhaps politely concealed disapproval, in most Christian churches,
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Post Number:#55  Postby Nick » November 18th, 2009, 7:11 am

Belinda, you said,

"...religion is neither true not false."

--> 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.

"The commonest punishment is being excluded from the congregation unless you affirm the creed."

--> I am reminded of what a religious student friend of mine once told me. He said that, during the Dark Ages, when a person was excommunicated from the Church, they lost practically everything. It is said that, at that time, all social services were provided through the Church (even the borrowing of money), and that an excommunicated person lost all of those services. It must have been horrible.
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Re: Is religion good even if it's false?

Post Number:#56  Postby James S Saint » November 19th, 2009, 1:24 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?

Religion is to society as an ego is to an individual. They are exactly analogous. So you can think of a false religion much like a false ego. Both are forms of protectionism for belief, whether true or false.

What happens when a person gains a false self image and tries to protect that image? The most important thing, despite many others, is that he stops learning because he is too busy trying to defend his image.

Such defense mechanisms lead to distortions and lies that further hide any truth from the one with the ego issue. The ego is inherently self defeating - UNLESS it happens to be accurate.

Therein lies your answer. :)
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Post Number:#57  Postby Belinda » November 19th, 2009, 7:26 am

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


Nick, when I said that religion is neither true nor false I mean that religion is something that people do. When burning off bad Karma is done, acted out, this is comparable to one person preferring or having been taught that rice is the staple food, whereas someone in the west has been taught that wheat is the staple food. Neither food is poisonnous unless someone tries to persuade others , with sanctions against unbelief, that it is poisonous. Actually, both foods are nourishing, and people may even cross cultural boundaries and get a taste for rice dishes and find it to be nourishing too.

As James Saint writes,
Religion is to society as an ego is to an individual.
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 the their preferred beliefs being caused by present and historical threats to cultural ego.

Religion does not have to be like that. It was not like that for Jesus as portryaed by the Gospels, nor for Muhammad of the Qur'an when the Qur'an is interpreted in the light of historical knowledge.
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Post Number:#58  Postby James S Saint » November 19th, 2009, 8:54 am

Belinda wrote:Ego is probably at the root of the problem of religious intolerance.

Politics and presumption are the root of all intolerance, bigotry, and prejudice as they own the world of man. Religions just get dragged into it all (usually from the first day or their founding).

As far as a religion being possibly right or accurate;

Someone can construct various models of reality with each coherent to reality. This is similar to using a metric system of measurement versus the old English system. If a Church authority chooses one model or construct and documents that construct as "The Truth", then "Heaven" becomes of that construct. Reality has not changed at all, merely the manner with which it is understood and dealt with.

If the proposed Truth is incoherent with reality, the construct is not "Holy" and thus does not belong in Heaven, as it would create conflict (and thus not be Heavenly). Thus when choosing which construct to teach, "loosen on Earth", one must be careful to ensure the holiness of the construct, but there are still a variety to choose from.

Is the metric system used in Heaven or the old English system? The choice lies with those who have the "keys" to Heaven. God doesn't particularly care as long as it conforms to reality and is self coherent as well.
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Post Number:#59  Postby JPhillips » November 19th, 2009, 4:07 pm

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 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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Post Number:#60  Postby James S Saint » November 19th, 2009, 4:30 pm

The simple problem is this;

An ego is an effort to defend the belief in a person's image so as to "retain respect". In defense of one's ego, all is forsaken.

A religion is also an effort to defend a belief so as to "retain the legion". All else is forsaken.

When you place an egotist into a religion, guess what. You double the defensiveness and create what was called "the jawbone of an ass" - someone who stubbornly won't stop or see reason.

But don't think the religions per se are exclusive with the use of such people. Every political campaign has them as well. The Atheists, the Secularists, the Socialists, the Communists, every major group has such people ensuring that the conflict continues.
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