I think it depends on how you define religion. I feel there’s a great place for all sorts of fiction in my ideal society, but I don’t feel there’s any place for things that pour crap into people’s heads. I know many think teaching kids about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc. is cute, but I think at best it’s a waste of time, and at worst can damage the child. Similarly, teaching people that religion is reality is, I believe, damaging to the clarity and efficiency of their thought processes.
I guess you could mark down as “other” then… Well then, here is a different question? What might “Religion” look like in your ideal society? Obviously, no public policy based on religion (minus the freedom of belief). But would you also outlaw proselytizing, or allow it? What kinds of subjects should religion address? What is the role of ritual? If all of religious myth were framed as a metaphor or a remote 1000th possibility would that make religion acceptable? Also I would be excited to hear you elaborate on what you mean by the phrase “damaging to the clarity and efficiency of their thought process.” So far the only research I know of about religion and thought process were covered on point of inquiry episodes, contrasting instinctual fast thinking and analytic slow thinking, etc… (My opportunity to do a lot of research is sadly limited by time.)
I don’t have any references, but from my reading over the years, it appears that many mental illnesses are caused by personal environments (not those which have a genetic component). In other words, harmful input to the child’s brain can cause a wide variety of mental illness. We see the results of this in the many religious wars in the past and even the present, many of the gun nuts who’ve murdered innocent people.
We can separate cerebral functions into logical and emotional. Everything we get fed as children that’s at variance from reality, I believe, makes us less likely to function efficiently, and any negative emotional input, as I consider fear of god to be, makes our behavior less likely to be socially acceptable, helpful, and also likely to cause us to be less happy.
I realize I hadn’t stated my idea clearly. I do believe that genetics is involved in a great many mental problems, however, there is evidence that input in early childhood forms the basis for many of our beliefs and behaviors. If they occur before the child’s brain has developed to the point that it can use reason and question the basis for those inputs, they usually end up in logic-proof compartments. If they are very different from reality, the person will often behave on the basis of those ideas and appear quite irrational to others.
I am curious about people’s view on this. I am also curious as to the reasons why?
Religion has done nothing but harm to society at large—certainly since the supposed enlightenment. That’s why I wouldn’t have it in my ideal world. But my ideal world is not going to happen, so I guess we have to learn to live with false beliefs as painful and unnecessary as that wil be.
I do believe we’re heading ever so slowly towards an ideal human society. Part of that though is the constant redifining of what “religion” means. It used to be something that was utterly woven into peoples existence. Little by little that’s fading. But maybe a new meaning will emerge more along the lines of spirituality. The church steeples will collapse one by one, replaced by opens hands. And little by little even spirituality will fade away into just people being people helping each other when nature throws a curve or disaster. And no one will pray but instead just say “buddy can you lend a hand”. And buddy will reply, “sure”. And that’s that.
What I would like to see unfold is “Open Source” Religion. A system that by it’s nature is has no central hierarchy, authority, or dogma. It would almost be like a Democratic Belief System where people can step forward suggesting changes or amendments to their Religion. They would have a changing Constitution instead of a rigid scripture that can’t be brought into modernity.
I would hope inclusiveness of this type of Religion discourages denominational splits because anyone can have a fair chance to state their opinion.
As we delve further into the information age I think Open Source will be a big part of our future.
I think that religions (or religion-like institutions) will almost inevitably crop up in any society, no matter how “ideal”. Whether they’re based around some important figure (a saint), a concept, an ideal, or whatever, it’s pretty much going to happen.
But it’s all moot anyway. I can dream up ideal societies all day long and whether or not they’re “ideal” is all a matter of perspective.
If I were to imagine an ideal world, it would probably be a lot like Star Trek. People would be rational for the most part, and therefore religion would be non-existant. But at the same time, the impulse towards religious beliefs is natural, so there would probably be a minority of religious believers. The ideal society would not descriminate against them or try to banish them. Ergo, there is a “place” for religion, just not a very prominent one.