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Old 06-23-2014, 05:58 AM #1
Paper_Cut
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Would getting rid of Religion be a good thing?

Before I start, I would like you guys to forgive my spelling, sometimes I will blank out while typing and unknowningly misspell a word and not notice it, and with spell check on the fritz I have no way of noticing it and going back and correcting it.

So, a friend and I will often get into quasi-debates where basically a question comes up and even if we agree, one person will take an opposing viewpoint, normally called playing "(the) devil's advocate" and talk it out. We're such good friends because both of us can talk about topics that are very important or we feel strongly about without getting into a shouting match, a rare thing for people.(to remain completely detached from their emotions for sake of the argument)
After some back and forth, two equally valid arguments came to light:

For getting rid of religion: religion has a long history of neglecting and sometimes outright condemning scientific and/or social progress. You can point to two examples being the Christian dark ages and the current state of education and healthcare in radical countries. Even in America, on several occasions religion has denied scientific progress because of unfounded "moral" implications, such as stem cell research which could cure many illinesses but "abortion is bad mmmkay" so it has come to a grinding hault and aborted fetuses are basically thrown away as opposed to being used for the betterment of healthcare.

For keeping religion: Despite what people think, empathy doesn't seem to be a very common trait among humans and it appears as if it must be taught. While it seems like it doesn't, as portrayed by many atheist that are very "good people" despite a lack of any religion. However, the concept of sharing, waiting your turn, apologizing when you do wrong, taking care of other's things, etc must all be taught to children. I say this because just about everyone is likely to put his needs above others as a natural reaction.
For example, lets say a man is really down on his luck and needs some cash to feed himself, MANY people would have no problem stealing something if it could provide food for the night. Of course, even though we think stealing is wrong if you just happened to want a quick snack but didn't "feel like" paying for it, it suddenly becomes okay if its you're doing it as your only source of food.
Of course, a society cannot exist if everyone is only out for themselves and cannot work together for a common goal. So, empathy must be both taught and enforced. For some, simply realizing that if everyone didn't work together society would collapse is enough, however, sometimes it must be enforced. That is where religion comes in, an all powerful and all watching force must be used, so even if it seems like someone "got away with it" in the back of a person's mind he will think that he got caught red handed by a god or something else, such as Karma. Throughout time this is shown to be a simple but effective method, despite its flaws, on average it appears to do its job.

There were many topics that came up, such as human curiosity(touching the wall next to a sign that says "wet paint"), atheist countries such as North Korea that remain functional without a god(though it could be argued that Kim Jong Un and his enforcers fulfill the role of a god), the horrid crimes that came about due to religion(be it the Aztek human sacrifices, the spanish inquisition, or the nature of the countless wars fought in the name of religion in which there are no "non-combatants.")

What do you guys think? I am stating now that I will play the role of devil's advocate for awhile, taking the counter-point of whatever position you might take, I would also like others to help out, simply state that you're going to assume that role while commenting on another's post if you see that the dialoge is going stale with everyone seemingly in agreement. You may learn something about yourself when you play that role.

And as usual, keep it mature, try to set your emotions aside. Don't just comment on what I have to say, try to read at least 5 posts back and comment on the current direction of the thread.
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:02 AM #2
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Kim Jong-un is North Korean and the country is hardly functional. It is run through militant force and fear.

Society tends to want to "purge" from time to time regardless of what it's specifically purging or how. Ethnic purges, political party, idealistic, etc. Societal control exists somewhere at the cross-section of hope and fear. Motivation may vary.
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Old 06-23-2014, 11:44 AM #3
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Originally Posted by ironyusa View Post
Kim Jong-un is North Korean and the country is hardly functional. It is run through militant force and fear.

Society tends to want to "purge" from time to time regardless of what it's specifically purging or how. Ethnic purges, political party, idealistic, etc. Societal control exists somewhere at the cross-section of hope and fear. Motivation may vary.
Sorry about that, had a brain fart and I wrote "south" instead of "north."

However, I never said North Korea is a nice place to live, I simply stated that the society was functioning. i.e. it isn't an "every man for himself" anarchy.

I'm not sure where you're going with the societal purging though.
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:36 PM #4
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Can you explain your definition of "functioning" better than that? North Korea is, in fact, every man for himself which is why you're seeing so many defect. The ones that don't, stay because they're afraid. Would you have considered Russia under Stalin functional? Or Germany under Hitler?

The problem is not religion. The problem is human nature. People find reasons to kill people. Remove religion and some other belief system or set of ideals, especially once corrupted, will be the justification for atrocity.


And there are people that believe "abortion is bad mmmkay," but don't oppose umbilical cord provided stem cell research.
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Old 06-23-2014, 03:31 PM #5
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Can you explain your definition of "functioning" better than that? North Korea is, in fact, every man for himself which is why you're seeing so many defect. The ones that don't, stay because they're afraid. Would you have considered Russia under Stalin functional? Or Germany under Hitler?

The problem is not religion. The problem is human nature. People find reasons to kill people. Remove religion and some other belief system or set of ideals, especially once corrupted, will be the justification for atrocity.


And there are people that believe "abortion is bad mmmkay," but don't oppose umbilical cord provided stem cell research.
Well, "what a functional society" is a topic that is up for debate. Explain why you think North Korea isn't functional? Rather than saying that I'm wrong, why don't you try to expand and refine what defines a functional society.
The way you're going about it is a one sided argument, I could do that on my own, I wanted your input, why are you so hesitant to give it?

As for Hitler's Germany, while he does have a rather bad name for the crimes he commited, the Germany under his rule was much better off for your average Aryan citizen. While his treatment of Jews was certainly not very nice, it can be argued that the death camps and "final solution" which didn't come around until late into the war were a result of his lowering rationality due to his Meth addiction and his Parkinson's. Many think he first used Jews as a scape goat, his declining mental health made him delusional as to his original intention. Going from uniting the German people and using the Jews as scapegoats and starting the war to make a vast Aryan nation; to simply starting the war to hunt down all the jews. Sorry, I'm a history major and I tend to get rather long winded when it comes to "history written by the winners."


Either way, comparing Hitler's Germany to North Korea is like comparing a Lamborghini with a flat tire to a 1971 Honda with a flat tire.
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Old 06-23-2014, 04:34 PM #6
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The sociological constructs under a militant dictatorship are similar to living life in a prison. It's a matter of time before that political system is overthrown. When the threat of militant force against a rebellion is reduced, the country will be sent into anarchy. If you want to see a microcosm of a "power vacuum" look at the middle east. The tribal struggle is not unlike what happens anywhere else.

I wasn't suggestion that North Korea and Germany were similar beyond asking whether your definition of "functional" was applicable.


Blaming an entire religion for a violent sect, when it's not doctrinally supported is a poor foundation for a rational discussion, IMO. I also would suggest that religion has played a big role in laying the framework for the sociocultural evolution of the western world in specific (be it positive or otherwise).

The "getting rid of religion" position sounds eerily similar to the Marxist-Leninist viewpoint.
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Old 06-23-2014, 06:23 PM #7
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No.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paper_Cut View Post
For keeping religion: Despite what people think, empathy doesn't seem to be a very common trait among humans and it appears as if it must be taught. While it seems like it doesn't, as portrayed by many atheist that are very "good people" despite a lack of any religion. However, the concept of sharing, waiting your turn, apologizing when you do wrong, taking care of other's things, etc must all be taught to children. I say this because just about everyone is likely to put his needs above others as a natural reaction.
For example, lets say a man is really down on his luck and needs some cash to feed himself, MANY people would have no problem stealing something if it could provide food for the night. Of course, even though we think stealing is wrong if you just happened to want a quick snack but didn't "feel like" paying for it, it suddenly becomes okay if its you're doing it as your only source of food.
You forgot about context. As I understand things now, religion is more about giving people context than anything.

And context is something science cannot and should not try to provide. It would corrupt the art. The practice of science is strictly about content.
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Old 06-23-2014, 08:21 PM #8
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No.



You forgot about context. As I understand things now, religion is more about giving people context than anything.

And context is something science cannot and should not try to provide. It would corrupt the art. The practice of science is strictly about content.
Religion seems to sometimes think of itself as the antithesis to science; from my point of view the two don't seem to have much in common.
It's like saying you either "believe" in history or you believe in math. Sure, math has evolved and grown through the years, however math's past doesn't make its application an aspect of history.
When religion attempts to worm its way into science it becomes confuddled as two topics that have nothing to do with each other are forced to apply to each other.
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Old 06-23-2014, 09:18 PM #9
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Religion seems to sometimes think of itself as the antithesis to science; from my point of view the two don't seem to have much in common.
Science is as guilty.

The objective of science is to create successively more accurate descriptions which are as observer-independent as humanly possible. (content)

The objective of religion is to provide a narrative for our own existence. (context)

It is pretty clear how the two end up (mistakenly) fighting over territory, but religion is as inept at providing content as science is at providing context, and both have shown themselves equally worthless in the absence of the other.

My biggest criticism would be that religion could perhaps do a better job of drawing from science, but that criticism would be limited to specific groups rather than religion in general.
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Old 06-23-2014, 09:31 PM #10
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Science is as guilty.

The objective of science is to create successively more accurate descriptions which are as observer-independent as humanly possible. (content)

The objective of religion is to provide a narrative for our own existence. (context)

It is pretty clear how the two end up (mistakenly) fighting over territory, but religion is as inept at providing content as science is at providing context, and both have shown themselves equally worthless in the absence of the other.

My biggest criticism would be that religion could perhaps do a better job of drawing from science, but that criticism would be limited to specific groups rather than religion in general.
I couldn't agree more. Very well said.
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:17 PM #11
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I guess it depends on what you define as religion. Some people think things like 'civil religions' qualify. For this conversation does religion need to have a Deity? Would Buddhism count?
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Old 06-24-2014, 12:33 PM #12
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I guess it depends on what you define as religion. Some people think things like 'civil religions' qualify. For this conversation does religion need to have a Deity? Would Buddhism count?
I did mention karma in my post. The diety is not what matters, what matters is the cause/effect of your actions.
Do good things>good things happen
Do bad things> bad things happen

and of course, there must be some authority keeping track of it all, be it a deity or something like Karma, it enforces empathy.
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:09 PM #13
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I guess it depends on what you define as religion. Some people think things like 'civil religions' qualify. For this conversation does religion need to have a Deity? Would Buddhism count?
Civil Religions are important to this discussion for a couple reasons. The biggest reason is that they demonstrate that you can remove all the supernatural stuff and human beings still behave religiously. Religion needs to be treated as a behavioral category. I think in that view, religion proves to be inescapable.

I'd consider Buddhism an ancient form of civil religion BTW. It takes the stuff of Hinduism and disposes with all the inconsistencies found through that civilizations formal schools of logic (and other tools of abstraction). The same relationship exists between Christianity and Progress/progessivism.

To directly answer the question:
1) No. Removing the vehicle humans use to derive meaning and participate in that meaning is essentially harmful since human beings cannot act in the world without meaning and context (IE the narratives of the past and future we frame all things in)
2) It's basically impossible anyway since it is a fundamental tendency of human behavior.

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Old 06-24-2014, 03:05 PM #14
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Martian-- i knew you would join in! I agree with what you said. When framed that way, yeah its kinda hard to imagine people behaving differently.

But, in my opinion the world today would be better off without certain religions. The trend is already happening in much of the world where the typical monotheistic religions are loosing members. What will be intersting to me is how much the monotheistic religions will change in order to stay relavent in peoples lives.
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:28 PM #15
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What will be intersting to me is how much the monotheistic religions will change in order to stay relavent in peoples lives.
Interpretations of many writings have changed over the years while the text has remained constant. Change is a good thing in many cases, and specific to the Christian church, as long as it's biblically founded and doctrinally sound there is nothing wrong with it IMO.
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:39 PM #16
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Martian-- i knew you would join in! I agree with what you said. When framed that way, yeah its kinda hard to imagine people behaving differently.

But, in my opinion the world today would be better off without certain religions. The trend is already happening in much of the world where the typical monotheistic religions are loosing members. What will be intersting to me is how much the monotheistic religions will change in order to stay relavent in peoples lives.
I think it's important to separate the formal institutions from the underlying sensibilities those institutions are built on top of. That is to say, a monotheist who believes in a single absolute God will not see much change in the way that presupposition provides a basis for interpreting life as events happen unless those events shake the presupposition entirely off its foundation.
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:58 PM #17
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Interpretations of many writings have changed over the years while the text has remained constant. Change is a good thing in many cases, and specific to the Christian church, as long as it's biblically founded and doctrinally sound there is nothing wrong with it IMO.
I think the trouble is how does anyone determine if something is bibically founded and doctrinally sound with a book that is basically a loose collection from multiple authors all based on stories that came from before a writting system? What happens when you come across something that is completly counter to the text of the bible but you know to be untrue or wrong. Not trying to attack you, just curius on how christians think.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:12 PM #18
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I think it's important to separate the formal institutions from the underlying sensibilities those institutions are built on top of. That is to say, a monotheist who believes in a single absolute God will not see much change in the way that presupposition provides a basis for interpreting life as events happen unless those events shake the presupposition entirely off its foundation.
This reminds me of the lady who recently got excommunicated by the mormon church for trying to push for womens equality in terms of leadership positions. Many mormons probably wouldn't have a problem with a women as a bishop or whatever they call them but the church wouldnt bend on the issue. I wonder if this decision by the church will show what the church is really about and drive more people away from it.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:13 PM #19
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I think the trouble is how does anyone determine if something is bibically founded and doctrinally sound with a book that is basically a loose collection from multiple authors all based on stories that came from before a writting system? What happens when you come across something that is completly counter to the text of the bible but you know to be untrue or wrong. Not trying to attack you, just curius on how christians think.
You believe me to be Christian?

Christians typically point to:

2 Timothy 3:16-17
Quote:
16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
and suggest that God is the singular author Who used multiple vessels to do His work. So the pretense that the bible is a "loose collection from multiple authors" is already a point of contention. None the less, I think it'd be easier to answer your question with a specific scenario. Can you give an example?


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This reminds me of the lady who recently got excommunicated by the mormon church for trying to push for womens equality in terms of leadership positions. Many mormons probably wouldn't have a problem with a women as a bishop or whatever they call them but the church wouldnt bend on the issue. I wonder if this decision by the church will show what the church is really about and drive more people away from it.
Many Christian denominations believe the same way and most don't consider Mormonism a form of Christianity either.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:32 PM #20
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This reminds me of the lady who recently got excommunicated by the mormon church for trying to push for womens equality in terms of leadership positions. Many mormons probably wouldn't have a problem with a women as a bishop or whatever they call them but the church wouldnt bend on the issue. I wonder if this decision by the church will show what the church is really about and drive more people away from it.
What does the bold mean?
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Old 06-25-2014, 05:32 PM #21
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Bold means that the mormon church sees men and women as not being equal in terms of leadership roles.

There are other things of course, its not their only focus but it has been made more public as of late.
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