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Is religion good for anything?
Posted: 17 December 2012 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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VYAZMA - 04 December 2012 03:30 AM
TimB - 29 November 2012 06:44 PM
asanta - 29 November 2012 06:31 PM
VYAZMA - 28 November 2012 01:37 PM

Apparently religion was good for something.  I could begin to enumerate the many positive effects it had on the formation of the United States and the abolition of slavery to start.

Religion had a LOT to do with the continuation and justification of slavery.

I think that you are each correct here.  I wonder whether slavery would have existed historically even without the influence of religion, though perhaps to a greater or lesser extent?  Slavery, apparently, still exists today, though not openly, as far as I know.

Most definitely. See Villiage Atheist’s post.
I think your positing this question is exactly like asking:  I wonder whether draft animals would have existed without the influence of religion.

Organized religion in the US helped launch the woman’s movement. Suffrage, charities, better conditions for children, more open participation for women, etc etc..
It took several hundred pages of history to have these seemingly cliche points turned around into actual intersting historical points.

I don’t think it actually helped to launch those social movements.  Those movements were launched despite religion being against them, often adamantly.  After those movements became unopposable and the churches decided that if they couldn’t beat them they’d join them, they jumped on the bandwagon as of they’d been there from the beginning and didn’t oppose them vociferously. Even after they made their ham-handed attempts to join the groups, they tended to act as a brake on them.  An example is the women’s movement when thei attitude was along the lines of, “Of course women should be free, as long as they stay subservient to their husbands and fathers, as Christianity commands.” While they are often credited for making conditions better for children, they did as much harm as good, IMO. Most believed in ” Spare the rod and spoil the child,” and corporal punishment was practiced on children in religious schools well into the 20th Century.

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Posted: 17 December 2012 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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Lois, to thoroughly get the dynamic I have described you have to have a better understanding of what “church” was in the times between say 1760 through 1850 or so.
There were many “churches” which were far more prominent then.  episcopal, varied baptist churches, unitarian, calvinist, methodist, shaker(small) quaker(small) etc…
Coupled with the Age of Reason and the first and second awakening(millenialism, evangelicalism ie.) of these and other protestant churches, these instituitions were actually often significant forces for the liberalization of society.
It’s well documented.
There were many learned and liberal theologians and traveling evangelicals who started major universities and lyceums for the rationalization of society and the opening of discussions concerning the “rights” of people other than white males.(who preferably owned property.)
I understand the way you are contextually using the word “church” and it’s well documented methods of reactionarianism.

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Posted: 17 December 2012 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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I would argue that the inequality of women was a force that stretched back far into time.  Far enough back that it would be tough to attribute any specific cause of the inequality.(in other words I’m sure it was biologic, economic-political( in a proto sense) etc as much as it was religious.)
In fact religion probably evolved along symbiotically with womens biological and socio-behavioral inequality(for the times mind you! I’m talking hunter gatherer here up to the age of reason(or maybe up to now-no?.))
In these paragraphs I’m using the term “inequality” loosely and for purposes of expediency. In any event there’s no disagreeing that women were perceived as being inequal and were in fact disenfranchised in most societies through time in one way or another.
So, specifically I will clarify that these “churches” at that time and place were indeed forces for the liberalization of society.
They had budgets, members, leaders, supportes, caucases, politicians, schools etc.

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Posted: 30 January 2013 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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I’m going to play the devil’s advocate and say, YES, religion is good for something.  But it depends on what you mean by religion.

Religion is always corrupted over time.  It becomes a machine manipulated by those in power.  Thus all the damn senseless rules.  But the original intention of religion is to be a type of mystery school, a powerful psychological tool to open minds and transform lives through a death and rebirth ritual.  It is about reaching a higher consciousness, connecting with the land and community, and embracing undescribable mysteries that you cannot begin to explain, even after you experience them.

I recommend you read the works of Joseph Campbell, a Master of mythology and Jungian symbolism. 

And forgive the mispellings, but the spell check isn’t working for me today.

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Posted: 30 January 2013 09:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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One aspect that I have found fairly consistent in religion, philosophy, science and the mingling of the three, is that they attempt to tackle several questions that, for all we know, are unanswerable in their entirety. Questions like how to resolve the paradox of a limitless chain of causation (Where did the universe come from? The big bang. What caused the big bang, or what came before it? There was nothing and time didn’t exist.) Is there a purpose to life/consciousness/sentience? If so what is it? (To do God’s will. To live Happy and Free. There is none.)  What is the experience of death like, or what happens to the consciousness after death? (You are gone and that is it, don’t worry, you won’t mind. You live on forever as a spirit or a soul.) What exactly is reality? (a heap of atoms and other matter which we don’t understand, which react in a particular and observed way to one another, all bouncing around doing crazy stuff, and Bethoven’s 5th came out of it somewhere. We are all just an illusion.)  What is “Good” or “Bad” or do our value statements really mean anything? (Good is helping society grow. Good is what makes you happy. Good is that which advances towards your goals.) These questions, though they may be unanswerable in the deductive sense, can still bother people. So people make answers up to the best of their ability to satisfy the questions and take them as assumptions of truth. After that people keep building their paradigm and maintain its structure through some understanding of reason or logic.

In a sense, I wouldn’t say that religion is inherently good or evil. It is just an emergent part of reality, an attempt to answer some unanswerable questions. You can be benefited by it, betrayed by it, it can be used for good and bad. It matters a lot more how you view it, or what you view of it. If you find these questions bothering and you need an answer, not necessarily a right answer, but any answer, to satisfactorily fill the gap at least temporarily so you can get on with your life, then I suppose you could say religion does some bit of good for you. (Aside from the aforementioned charity work etc…)

Again, this is only one aspect of what I think of religion.

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Posted: 31 January 2013 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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Rainbow:

Religion is always corrupted over time.  It becomes a machine manipulated by those in power.

Yes religion is often corrupted by those in power, but it also often a tool and sometimes the only social organizing tool available to the underclasses. I.e. The anti-slavery movement in the US in the 1850s; the civil rights movement in the US in the 1960s-70s; In today’s middle-east much of the resistance against totalitarian rulers is organized through different Muslim sects.  Serious study of the original Xtian movement shows that it was very much a response to Roman control of that society.  The US today is one of the most religious modern countries and it well may that the fundamentalism these people espouse is the religious expression of those in the US that still resist the influence of the East and West coast elites.

I am not a believer in the supernatural, but I do recognize religion as a social organizing tool that can be used for good or evil and it that has been very important in human history.

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Posted: 01 February 2013 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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danda - 01 February 2013 03:26 AM

in my opinion religion is really essential when developing basic human moralities

Ones moral compass is outside of religion. It is with this same moral compass that one determines what is “right” and “wrong” “good” and “bad” in a religion. It doesn’t come from it.

Modern morality is not the same as the morality of ancient times, because it has evolved. For example, most countries don’t find burning witches as morally acceptable anymore. The bible says it is acceptable, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” if morality that comes from God is the real thing. It is absolute. It is correct then why don’t we follow through with burning witches today?

Morals are created by society, philosophy, individual conscience, etc… and religion just attempts to “resell” these values as their own and goes so far as to say these values come from a “higher authority.” They do this in a attempt to make these moral values “seem” objective instead of man-made subjective values.

Theist pick and choose what to believe is right and good in the bible according to the moral values of modern times. The moral compass they use to pick and choose what to adhere to in the bible and what not to did not come from the bible they are pondering.

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Posted: 01 February 2013 08:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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in my opinion religion is really essential when developing basic human moralities

Such as which ones???

The moralities which advocated witch hunts? Jihads? Inquisitions? Persecutions? Mysogeny? Genocides? Wars of conquest and extermination? Caste systems which keep people in abject poverty? The summary execution of anybody who happens to be a homosexual for no better reason then their sexuality

Religions have advocated all of that.

I hope you understand why I want no part of that sort of “Morality.”

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Posted: 01 February 2013 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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Well, religion in Europe did play an important role when it comes to morality. The Catholic Church began to ban cousin marriages in Europe as early as the 500s. This must have had a huge impact on European people’s biology, probably directly responsible for their moral sense.

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Posted: 01 February 2013 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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Also, it took Christianity (= ancient Greece’s philosophy + Judaism) for Europe to become a continent of civilized nations as opposed to remaining a land of violent tribes (which most of today’s world still is). Alexander the Great already knew that other peoples were not animals but what he didn’t have available to him was the tool of Judaism, i.e., unification of all people under one God. The Greeks had the right idea, the Jews—who only saw themselves as the “children of God”—had the means to turn the idea into reality. And so Christianity was born. It took many more centuries for Europe to become the moral model for the rest of the world, but it would be difficult to deny that religion played a huge (and positive) role.

[ Edited: 01 February 2013 10:25 AM by George ]
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Posted: 01 February 2013 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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Here’s yet another reason I find religious leaders hypocritical. An Applebee’s employ was fired for posting a pastor’s bill that proclaimed he gives god 10% why should she get get 18%? The waitress served the large party in which the gratuity is automatic. Otherwise, she would receive $2.13 an hour sans tip. Hmm, what would Jesus do? BTW the pastor called Applebee’s later and insisted she be fired.


http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/applebees-waitress-fired-pastor-receipt-193820748.html

 

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Posted: 01 February 2013 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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danda - 01 February 2013 03:26 AM

in my opinion religion is really essential when developing basic human moralities

That is often one of the functions of religion.

Despite Morgantij’s

Morals are created by society, philosophy, individual conscience, etc… and religion just attempts to “resell” these values as their own and goes so far as to say these values come from a “higher authority.” They do this in a attempt to make these moral values “seem” objective instead of man-made subjective values.

Morals may be “created” or more likely evolve by discussion of many different people as societal situations change, but to become commonly accepted and enforced as organization is required and before the state became common as a political unit religion often was the only social organization that provided this mechanism, and even after the state became the dominant political unit, it often used religion for this purpose.

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Posted: 01 February 2013 10:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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Well, religion in Europe did play an important role when it comes to morality.

It also gave us witch hunts and inquisitions.

Hardly a good endorsement!

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Posted: 02 February 2013 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 01 February 2013 10:18 PM

Well, religion in Europe did play an important role when it comes to morality.

It also gave us witch hunts and inquisitions.

Hardly a good endorsement!

It also gave people, Christians, a reason to take care of the sick with the plague. I guess we can play this game forever.

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Posted: 02 February 2013 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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It also gave people, Christians, a reason to take care of the sick with the plague. I guess we can play this game forever.

And non-believers have done the same over the centuries with no god or gods to give them any motivation.

You don’t need religion for morality.

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