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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.
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philoreaderguy

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Is religion good even if it's false?

Post Number:#1  PostMarch 17th, 2007, 11:29 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?

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nopoff

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Post Number:#2  PostMarch 18th, 2007, 2:38 pm

A good question that could only be answered, I think, by taking a group of newborns and splitting them into three groups. Group 1: Don't learn anything about religion. Group 2: The common person, learns some. Group 3: The highly religious, learns everything. As they live you can compare how they interact within their own groups, then if you want you can have them interact with the others. It's inhuman to do something like that but I think it will show what religion can and can't do.
I just read something from ?Rosseau?, it said something like if God really doesn't exist, then it would probably be very necessary to invent it. I'm still thinking about that one.
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Stoan

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Post Number:#3  PostMarch 19th, 2007, 11:21 pm

Whether or not religion is good, I personally do not feel is the debate. It certainly has done good things, and conversely has done things that to the other side. For those that believe in spiritual motivation, it works. However, I think the debate is that some religions inhibit any thought that does not correlate with their own belief. I think that is where the problem is.
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bellybuttonmonkeypoo

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Post Number:#4  PostMarch 20th, 2007, 6:51 pm

Alright when asking a qeustion such as this history is where to look for the answers. That answer is yes Religion is good even if it is fake. It gives poeple strength and confidence. Think about it our health is almost all psychlolical so when people pray they release some of those stressors helping them survive a surgiry or quiting a drug
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Daemon

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Post Number:#5  PostMarch 26th, 2007, 5:17 pm

philoreaderguy wrote:He said that it's good because it brings people together and teaches morality.


We all need a base for morality. One easy way of creating this is by saying "its GODs will" or turning to the old "you must act good to go to heaven"-argument. But I think that basing morality on logical and emotional ground would be much better, since we then would not have to bring in unknown factors, such as the existance of a God, or for that matter, several Gods...

Also, I would still argue that Religion also create rifts between people. People of different outspoken religions often think in terms of being wrong/right, true believer/infidel etc. Creating powerful and neatly defined social In- and Out-groups.

Stoan wrote:I think the debate is that some religions inhibit any thought that does not correlate with their own belief


I agree. Adaption to a religion often means leaving doubts and critical thinking behind and accepting the words of someone else as personal truth. This is dangerous, to let others think for us. Remember, Jesus, Mohammad, George Bush, Osama bin Laden and 15th century french monarchs all claimed to be obeying Gods will. If we leave critical thinking behind and follow religious leaders, we might become so blinded by faith that we do not judge the characters nor intentions of our leaders.

Religion does not fully control its practicers, it influences them. Therefore, a violent man might still be violent, but direct it towards an accepted target, such as the "followers of Satan" or just the common "infidel".

I would turn it around and argue that good people can stay good even without religion, likewise "bad" people. But that kind of distinction is a little black&white.

My take is that if religion is false, then it might still be good for motivational purposes and such. As an activity, it can also bring people together, but so can many activites. But it can become dangerous too, especially if practiced collectively.
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MyshiningOne

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Post Number:#6  PostMarch 27th, 2007, 7:57 am

Daemon wrote:
philoreaderguy wrote:He said that it's good because it brings people together and teaches morality.


We all need a base for morality. One easy way of creating this is by saying "its GODs will" or turning to the old "you must act good to go to heaven"-argument. But I think that basing morality on logical and emotional ground would be much better, since we then would not have to bring in unknown factors, such as the existance of a God, or for that matter, several Gods...

Also, I would still argue that Religion also create rifts between people. People of different outspoken religions often think in terms of being wrong/right, true believer/infidel etc. Creating powerful and neatly defined social In- and Out-groups.

Stoan wrote:I think the debate is that some religions inhibit any thought that does not correlate with their own belief


I agree. Adaption to a religion often means leaving doubts and critical thinking behind and accepting the words of someone else as personal truth. This is dangerous, to let others think for us. Remember, Jesus, Mohammad, George Bush, Osama bin Laden and 15th century french monarchs all claimed to be obeying Gods will. If we leave critical thinking behind and follow religious leaders, we might become so blinded by faith that we do not judge the characters nor intentions of our leaders.

Religion does not fully control its practicers, it influences them. Therefore, a violent man might still be violent, but direct it towards an accepted target, such as the "followers of Satan" or just the common "infidel".

I would turn it around and argue that good people can stay good even without religion, likewise "bad" people. But that kind of distinction is a little black&white.

My take is that if religion is false, then it might still be good for motivational purposes and such. As an activity, it can also bring people together, but so can many activites. But it can become dangerous too, especially if practiced collectively.


I think it does help with peoples' motivation as well. It helps people to have hope in this
life rather than resort to the idea of fatalism.
Fatalism is completely unattractive to me,
because it absolutely offers nothing but a hopeless
existence. Even if religion were false, it still gives us a better impression of the world, and it
also allows us to treat others better than we treat ourselves.
It's not what you know that makes
you smart, it's knowing what you don't know.
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DanteAzrael

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Post Number:#7  PostMarch 27th, 2007, 5:19 pm

I do not think religion is good even if it is false...and even if it were truel, it would not be good. The ideologies presented by most religions would create a society of mindless, selfless, robots based on a moral code that is inefficent and standards that are well below par. Religious beliefs stem from the value of death, not life. Death is the goal for religion...though it tries to contradict that with getting life after death.

Morally, they don't teach anything that simple philosophy hasn't already presented well before. So, as a moral code, it is pointless.

As for motivation, if people's only source of motivation comes from religion, they obviously have no self-esteem in their own values...or themselves. Using it as a motivational tool merely makes it into a crutch for people who cannot think for themselves (another down thing about religion.)
When a man declares: "There are no blacks and whites [in morality]" he is making a psychological confession, and what he means is: "I am unwilling to be wholly good—and please don't regard me as wholly evil!" - Ayn Rand
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Daemon

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Post Number:#8  PostMarch 28th, 2007, 2:31 pm

I somewhat agree with you Dante, in that I would rather see morals based on something else then on religious scripts. As I view it, morality comes with insight, with the knowledge that the self is not a complete separate entity and that we are dependant on eachother and need eachother to exist. Moral code to me is more a form of contractualism, a social contract between humans.

But without religion, some people may turn to fatalism or nihilism as MyshiningOne pointed out. Philosophy needs to regain influence and people need more schooling in it before it can "replace" religion as a basis of morality. We need to reinvent the motivation to be moral, not only present a set of logically moral codes to follow. At the present time, and through history, I do believe that religion has given us some stability in society, but time has come to move on, evolve. To shed the skins of the past and put some trust in logic.
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MyshiningOne

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Post Number:#9  PostApril 21st, 2007, 11:53 pm

That's true. Just becasuse a certain culture is
based upon a religious foundation does not mean that the people are necessarily moral. I love in a country that has a very secular foundation, so religion is a choice, not a way of life. That makes a big difference in choosing moral codes.
It's not what you know that makes
you smart, it's knowing what you don't know.
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cynicallyinsane

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Post Number:#10  PostApril 22nd, 2007, 1:03 am

It's silly for religion not to be a choice. Because otherwise people may not really believe in it.
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MyshiningOne

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Post Number:#11  PostApril 22nd, 2007, 1:05 am

cynicallyinsane wrote:It's silly for religion not to be a choice. Because otherwise people may not really believe in it.


We'' think of the Middle East. It's certainly not a choice for them!
It's not what you know that makes
you smart, it's knowing what you don't know.

yin

Post Number:#12  PostMay 9th, 2007, 3:07 pm

i think two terms need to be clarified here:

first, what are people referring to when they say 'religion'?

second, what is our understanding of 'truth'?

taking the second first, Karen Armstrong delineates two approaches to the world: the hard factuality of science (which she calls 'logos'), and the soft intuitive depictions of religion and poetry (which she calls 'mythos'). for the past three hundred years the western world has increasingly followed a single minded view of truth as facticity, logos - only what is mirrored in the world of matter can be called true. this is the scientific paradigm, and one which has served us well for centuries, but there is also the truth of mythology - stories and ideologies which demonstrate our place in the world, and speak to the softer side of human experience. These truths instruct us in how to live and how to respond to the complexities (and tragedies) of the world, in a way that the rational truth of science can never do.

so, when we ask the question 'is x true', i think we need to be clear about what exactly we are demanding of it. religion for me is something which has relevance to the interior world - it is a way for humans to categorise our experiences, and a way to find our way through life.

the term religion is also a misleading one: the exoteric practise of religion is, increasingly, being deserted in favour of an interior spirituality, focussing on individual belief adn approach rather than dogma. mystics throughout the ages have shattered the accepted dogma of their traditions based on their personal encounters with divinity. (many mystics for example will tell you that to ask whether God does or doesn't exist is meaningless...both answers are true, but to simply affirm or deny is to admit you haven't understood the terms).
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Arvy

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Post Number:#13  PostJune 26th, 2007, 6:06 am

I think it does help with peoples' motivation as well. It helps people to have hope in this
life rather than resort to the idea of fatalism.
Fatalism is completely unattractive to me,...


So by that logic, you would believe in a religion, simply because it is "attractive"? Denying potential truths simply because they are unpleasant to us is, in my opinion, a dangerous posture.

Even if religion were false, it still gives us a better impression of the world, and it
also allows us to treat others better than we treat ourselves.


Religion is not necessary to treat others better than we treat ourselves, simply the desire to do so suffices, though I speak for myself only.

I wouldn't call myself a nihilist or fatalist, but from my own experience these type of philosophies tend to rise as reactions to religious theories; think of them as "religious withdrawal syndromes". Although such theories tend to be emotionally charged, they do have some rather defensible arguments, much more so than theist philosophies. In any case, nihilism and fatalism are not the only alternatives to religious belief.

...because it absolutely offers nothing but a hopeless
existence...

There are plenty of atheists who don't lead "hopeless existences", this is a common misconception, generally promoted by religions.

Sorry if I seem to be singling out your post, but it seemed the best to make my point.
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superphilo

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That is why it exists...

Post Number:#14  PostAugust 17th, 2007, 5:59 am

Hello Everybody..Let's say that Relegion doesn't exist and that each person has his own philosophy of life, then I think that relations between people will be more complicated. Why? Now, instead of having ways of life that are organized by strict and known ideas, you may have several thoughts that are existing below the surface of knowledge and that you need to explore them; however, if relegion exists, there is no need to create new ways of life...Relegion can do it and can build bridges between cultures.That is why It can be considered as a good thing.
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pjkeeley

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Post Number:#15  PostAugust 18th, 2007, 6:02 am

Relegion can do it and can build bridges between cultures.

Religion doesn't build bridges between cultures; it creates unnecessary conflict between them. How many wars have been fought in the name of religion? Centuries of warfare, some of which is still going on today.

Religion is a terrible thing.
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