Absolutely not. The very basis of religion is a required belief in unverifiable ideas, already a bad start, and submission to either these ideas or an unverifiable entity.The underlying spiritual message, the truth of religion is in no way a source of evil. It's a beautiful thing that inspires us to be better than what we are. It gives us hope, faith, and a sense of spirituality that humans crave.
To love our Neighbors (Matt 19:19)I challenge you, give me one good thing that is required through religion.
That's right. Sometimes, ya gotta put Jumbo right in his place.Going right up to the elephant in the room and punching him in the face.
I like it.
Elephants shouldn't think they can walk into a room unnoticed.
Well, I did acknowledge that the good things claimed by religion can be purely cultural as well.So, already, this is where I'm going to disagree with your analysis. You start by treating religion as almost culturally benign, a way to look into a culture, but not guilty of any wrong-doings that are perpetuated there. A point you, seemingly conveniently, concede when talking about all the good religion can do. Maybe I'm just not fully understanding you, but I don't see how you can have it both ways. If religion wants to take credit for good, it has to be able to be blamed for evil. Either religion is benign or it's not. And I would put emphatically that it's not. Beliefs matter.
Well, of course that's the result you'll get when you try to use a scientific mentality to a non-scientific entity. As I've said in the past, science and religion are tools used for entirely different uses. You may as well be trying to use a screwdriver to remove a lugnut and then blame the lugnut for not coming off of the car. Religion isn't science. Never was, and every single time someone attempts to use one to solve problems suited to the other, you get trouble. Saying religion is false because science can't verify it is as meaningless as saying scientific theories are false because they're not supported by the Bible.While this is not an exclusive definition of religion, it is, at it's core, a set of beliefs and teachings that binds a group of people. Some teachings might benefit people, and some can hurt them. In this sense, it puts it pretty close to politics, even nationalism. But there is one quality to religion that makes it unique to any other set of beliefs: it is non-verifiable. Even politics has to stand up to evidence; it makes claims about what will happen in the real world and will inevitably be judged by it. But not religion, religion makes claims on the observable and makes predictions after death. It literally sets itself to never be proved wrong, which maximizes it's life and staying power. Right here, is the real problem with religion.
I don't think the historical record, if taken as evidence, proves that point either way. You can point to atrocities performed in the name of some god or another, but that doesn't prove whether it was indeed a religion that drove it, or was merely the vehicle for justifying it. Consider 9/11. If the goal behind it were truly a way to try and convert more people to Islam, then it boogered up that task about as thoroughly as it is possible in the annals of epic F*ups. And it's not like that couldn't be anticipated. It was perpetrated by leaders who were in love with their own legend and carried out by brainwashed dupes. You don't need religion for that, good or bad. The Nazis were the same way (boom, Godwin) and didn't use religion as a feature of their political philosophy.Through evidence, you can begin to find which ideas work better than others. Which helps more people, and which ones hurt more people. Religion mostly only subsides on what the people thought at the time of codification and regressive and hurtful ideas subside long after their time has gone. After all, there is no method of verification. It is what it is.
I don't blame religion for that. I blame the falsehood that the two are interchangeable.This inability to verify claims also provides a terminus to exploration and discovery. You don't ask questions if the answers were already provided. This is not saying that religious people can't do science; some of our greatest scientists were religious, but their religion has also stifled their progress. Isaac Newton, one of the greatest minds, spent more time writing religious text than scientific work, obsessed with biblical codes. Imagine what other works would have been done if he kept searching in science?
I would argue the opposite. By the logic you're presenting, one would expect religion to always devolve into corruption by its very nature. Yet, this is not what we see. Christianity has been an entity for two thousand years. Is the state of Christianity today better or worse than it was in the beginning? How about a thousand years ago? 500 years ago?This unverifiable set of beliefs has a darker edge. Even if religious teachings teetered 50/50 on good teachings and poor teachings, there's one that pushes it over. People don't need an excuse to do good. There is no good in the world that requires religion. People do, however, need an excuse to do evil. Even if you go ahead and write off all those evils you mentioned as "not actually religion," there's a reason why these things keep popping up. Religion is the perfect vessel for evil. Politics and Nationalism often work to this degree, but don't have the staying power that religion does.
Good deeds should be demonstrably good. They should help people. They should provide benefits to both individuals and society. There are also demonstrably evil acts that hurt those around. But to convince generations to do evil as if it were good, you need provide them a set of unverifiable teachings they hold above all else.
People also have provided voluntary medical care to those very same people because of religion. In any case, physical mutilation of women is hardly unique to religious systems. Ever read up on the terrible things Chinese women have been made to do to their feet in order to appear more dainty and feminine?All of this, I haven't even talked about specifics. You raised umbrage with what Hitchens said of religion, but he didn't make things up. People performed female circumcision because of religion.
And strictly cultural reasons. Can't parse religion out separately as if it were unique this way. My religion doesn't give a fig about circumcision one way or the other but that didn't stop me from having it done for all 3 of my sons. In the old days, men who were assigned to guard harems were castrated to prevent them from dallying with the women, and not from any religious prompting.Shoot, people perform male circumcision because of religion.
People commit violence because their hockey team got spanked on home ice 3 - 0. Besides, your example is from *A* religion (Islam) which supports my comments about it being cultural. Christians get annoyed when Jesus Christ is lampooned, but nobody's out there calling for beheadings over it. (Otherwise the entire production staff at South Park would have been dead years ago.)People commit violence because someone drew an insulting cartoon of their prophet.
And yet religion didn't cause it to exist in the first place. Meanwhile, religion was the driving force behind abolishing slavery.People justified slavery through religion.
They also commit it because they want land or gold or a scapegoat. I don't even have to invoke Godwin on this one.People commit genocide because their religion called for it.
They've also blown up Federal Buildings, battleships and entire cities for entirely secular reasons.People flew planes into skyscrapers and blew up schools because of religion.
Mothers kill their unborn children every single day without any prompting from religion to do so. Meanwhile religion is trying to put a stop to it.Fathers killed their daughters because their religion demanded it of them.
Is that somehow morally worse than women being gang raped and murdered because they were unfortunate enough to be in a town occupied by an invading army?Women who were gang raped are executed because they were alone with another man.
Homosexuals haven't historically had a particularly easy time in quite a number of cultures, religious or otherwise.Gay children are being isolated, kicked out of their homes, or worse... because of religion.
The examples I listed to riposte yours demonstrate that human beings can be awful without any prompting from religion. Do you think that if religion vanished overnight that atrocities would vanish with it? Stalin tried to enforce an entirely atheistic and secular society and a lot of people died in the process. Meanwhile, that same leader is responsible for the death of over 20M Russians during the reorganization.This not a hypothetical. These are real people who truly believe in their religion and perform very real actions because of it. These happen today. These are actual beliefs that motivate action. Not a scapegoat or an excuse. Real, acted upon beliefs. We need to treat these as real things. If you want to pretend for one second that your religion can have a positive impact on this world, you have better start taking some of these very evil beliefs seriously. They are not just excuses. These people are just waiting for an excuse to do bizarre actions like female genital mutilation, or killing their daughter. They are motivated by their religious beliefs.
Oh evil can be propagated just fine without religion to be involved. See Stalin. See Mao. See Hitler. (Boom. Godwin x 3 triple bonus) I can give you 3 examples of people who are responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people without a shred of religion behind it. They, and their cronies believed in whatever they believed in (and/or were brainwashed) and millions paid the price. All that in just the last century. Want to go back farther? We can talk about conquerors who caused the deaths of tens, hundreds of thousands with no religious motives. Napoleon, Gengis Khan, Marcus Aurelius, Alexander III of Macedonia, Xerxes. How many more examples would you like?All these beliefs exist and are protected under the framework provided by religion: a unverifiable, and required set of beliefs. Religion is, at the end, an expression of man. It takes some of our highest aspirations and some of our darkest and sinister desires and codifies it. The thing, you don't need the framework of religion to propagate good ideas, but it seems you need it, or something very similar, to propagate the bad ones. I could not assign religion such a metaphysical position as the source of evil, but it is a catalyst of evil.
It's justified by Islamic differences, of course. Is that the real, underlying reason? Possibly. It might also be just another in a long and bloody series of ethnic wars. Think the Sioux and Pawnee tribes made war on each other over differences in how they dealt with the Sky God?On top of this, one of the biggest powers of religion for good and evil is it's ability to bind people together. It creates tight communities, and as I mentioned in my subject on out-grouping, this binding brings people together, but it also polarizes. Why do you think the Sunnis and the Shiites are killing each other?
Yeah that lugnut really sucks because I can't remove it with a screwdriver.Absolutely not. The very basis of religion is a required belief in unverifiable ideas, already a bad start, and submission to either these ideas or an unverifiable entity.
Let me stop you there. Some Christian sects teach that idea, not all. Mine sure doesn't. What you're describing is something I personally find to be revolting. I'm not going to defend it.It's hard for me to talk about other religions, because I simply don't have the indepth knowledge as I do with Christianity, so let's go and see how Christianity is messed up at it's core. Also, Christianity, today, sets itself up as the religion of love, so, let's look at the stark contrast what it's actual claims are.
To be a christian, you hold at the very core, that you and all humans are fundamentally bad. Flawed. Evil. Incapable of good, and destined and deserving of torture that inflicts more pain than you can imagine for longer than you can imagine. Oh, you don't want that? You want to be good? Well, you need to accept these sets of beliefs and completely submit your will and life over to this unobservable entity. Oh, and did I mention, this entity made you this way, too. But God loves you.
I can't comment on that specific doctrine in the context of your comment here, but the same religion you're condemning has inspired people to do amazing and beautiful things. Think of all the church-based charities providing food, education, medicine, medical care, etc. all over the world, including warzones and regions of crushing poverty. You can say people would do that anyway even without religion but I can hold up a mirror and remind you that all the evils you listed exist without it too. Religion may be flawed and imperfect, but at least its adherents aspire to be better than they are.This is not beautiful. This is not good. It's sick. The only way someone can actually believe it is good is because they have to.
This question cones across as a trap, because I'm betting whatever I say you'll respond with an argument that says you can have it without religion. (Basically, the same approach I took to respond to your comments about religion and evil.)I challenge you, give me one good thing that is required through religion.
No. It was propagated by the Bible. The doctor who claimed it was healthy and sanitary.. religious reasons. It's cultural now because of religious reasons.And strictly cultural reasons.Shoot, people perform male circumcision because of religion.
Not the same thing.moral relativism - the notion that morality doesn't exist, and that "good" and "evil" are simply illusions to keep society in check
That's pretty disturbing, dude; maybe religion is perpetuating some harmful thinking here. Honestly, I think it's convinced you are a worse person than you are.Half the time I can't stand even being on the same planet as the majority of humans. I especially feel that way after watching some of those "man on the street" interviews or, if I prefer it without a laugh track, election results. So that's not much of a motivator. To make the world a better place? If that's my motivation, I can likely come up with a dozen reasons to morally justify mass murder in order to achieve that result.
I have heard some atheists make that claim, though. Perhaps not you, but some. But it does make me wonder... if religion is not the source of evil, what is?Nobody is saying that religion is the originating source of evil. In fact, I specifically stated it wasn't. Textbook Strawman.
I think this may be a bit of a "cart before the horse" argument. I propose that some people may have evil tendencies because of their biological nature (e.g. "That person is different than me") and use religion as an excuse for committing their acts ("That person must be destroyed because, since they are different than me, they must be evil.") So religion isn't a catalyst, but an excuse. And if it weren't around, people would use another excuse, instead (e.g. "They put their camp too close to my watering hole.") I came across a quote years ago - and I wish I had saved it - but I don't know where it originated, but it went something like this: "If everyone woke up and were the same race, gender and religion, it would take them five minutes to find something else to fight about."Religion can be a source of evil for people, but it's only that way because someone before made it that way. My claim is that it catalyzes evil. People have some harmful tendencies and they make their way into it, and because these teachings must be accepted, they perpetuate far longer than they should.
But that doesn't answer my question. What does atheism - or secularism, if you prefer - offer as an incentive or a reward to do good?These very rewards you so credit to religion as "making people good" often turn out to make people very evil. It gets people to commit acts they would never normally do, because now they think it adds to their afterlife, and it systematically resists weeding out these evil teachings. Also provides a system very easily used to manipulate people, as it demands obedience for rewards a person will not see in this life. Yeah, this is something atheism doesn't do.
This sounds like an argument of semantics. How is "the lack of a belief in a god" different from "I don't believe there is a God?"You know why? Because atheism is the lack of a belief in a god. It's not a religion.
So you claim that atheism is morally neutral? That morality doesn't apply? Or that, if one is an atheist, that person needs to look elsewhere for moral guidance? If so, where do those moral systems get their definitions of "good" and "evil," and what would be my incentives for following them?Atheism can't take credit for good or evil in people's life because it's not a set of teachings. It's a de facto position.
No, I can't agree with that, Broamir. What you're describing would be a very consistent and stable pattern of evil stretching over VERY long time. For every evil act committed in the name of religion that you could point to, I can point to a change where it is no longer so. Now granted, militant Islam hasn't reached the "chill out" point yet but again, I maintain what we're seeing is a result of cultural aggression, not something stemmed from religion.No, when specific teachings in religion lead to harm, you can't write it off as "in the name of." It has actively led to evil. Nor can you immediately assume that the higher-ups don't care about the religion and are just simply con-men. They can be duped into it just as well. In fact, they just about always are. That's the nature of religion, it creates a set of beliefs that one must simply accept. No verification. Religion perpetuates these evils. Not blamed for it. Not a scape goat. Perpetuates.
I conceded that in my very first post. And the second.Again, if you want to even begin crediting religion for all the good it teaches people, it's evil teachings need to be acknowledged. You can't do one without the other.
I don't need to prove that in order to make my point for this thread. Whether religion is a tool or not has nothing to do with its alignment.I'm going to continually reject your claim that religion is "another tool," you're going to have to demonstrate how it is one. I haven't even been talking about science, if you someone makes a truth claim, it should be verifiable. This is a fundamental. If you can't show that it's true, how is it one bit useful? This "tool" literally does nothing. It's just a salesman claiming the work is already done.
It's only bull if you ignore the common aspects of them.And when various religions around the world, all using the same "tools," come up with radically different and mutually exclusive positions, one begins to suspect it's all bull.Spoiler:
Not to nitpick, but the Bible as such didn't exist for many, many centuries after circumcision became a thing. As for the health aspect... there is research to indicate that it is beneficial for helping reduce the risk of certain diseases.No. It was propagated by the Bible. The doctor who claimed it was healthy and sanitary.. religious reasons. It's cultural now because of religious reasons.
Well, maybe YOU aren't making that claim, but plenty of folks do and it is because of that that I launched this thread. You'd be amazed how many times I've heard the ridiculous assertion that if it weren't for religion, there'd be no war. Gene Roddenberry is well known to have been openly hostile to religion, to the point of calling it a mental illness.I didn't think I had to do this, but apparently I do.
Nobody is claiming that religion is the sole source of evil. Pointing out other evils in the world literally means nothing. It's irrelevant and a red herring.
And, I probably should say this to. Nobody is saying religion is purely evil.
Ask any person who has a true testimony of their faith, and they'll tell you they have compelling evidence. I do. My personal testimony can't be used as proof to convince others, but it convinced me even when I was initially resistant to accepting the LDS Church. It isn't meant to convince anyone else. By all means reject it as evidence for you, as you rightly should. Faith based on someone else's word for it isn't faith in God, but in that other person, at best.And no, the framework of religion is terrible. Beliefs that must be accepted without evidence is a poor structure, even if the teachings are good.
I know this comment wasn't directed toward me, but I just wanted to say this: You don't honestly think Sstavix was strawmanning you, do you? It would seem a textbook case would have to include the intent, no?Nobody is saying that religion is the originating source of evil. In fact, I specifically stated it wasn't. Textbook Strawman.
What do you think the source(s) of evil are, then? What motivates people to be jerks to each other? I still maintain that people may (and have) use religion as an excuse to do evil things, but those evil tendencies would exist regardless of the existence of religion.I don't think any one thing is THE source of evil. But I do think religious beliefs obviously motivate people to do evil things.
I'm one of those people. I think that we, as humans, just aren't evolved enough to forget our base, self-centered, greedy natures. Not without some form of external moral compass to tell us what construes as "good" and "bad." Maybe in a few hundred more generations or so, but I have my doubts.I do think we would be the best off, going forward, if we all found a reason to do wonderful, beautiful, humanitarian things without needing to imagine that if we are good then we'll get a prize after we die. That way we could have all that stuff without having to suppress our intellectual search for truth. But people keep saying that's impossible.
This is true, and the key. It isn't through scientific evidence and independent study that we'll find the existence of God. That's why applying scientific methods will always meet with failure. As ArcticFox and I have stated a few times, science is a great tool, but a poor fit for determining spiritual matters. Personal experiences with the divine are just that - personal. You can go ahead and listen to whatever religious authorities you want - Thomas S.Monson, Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, Billy Graham, you name it - but really, the most convincing evidence you'll get is your own personal relationship and communications with Heavenly Father. And that's something that no scientific theory or mathematical equation can get you.Ask any person who has a true testimony of their faith, and they'll tell you they have compelling evidence. I do. My personal testimony can't be used as proof to convince others, but it convinced me even when I was initially resistant to accepting the LDS Church. It isn't meant to convince anyone else. By all means reject it as evidence for you, as you rightly should. Faith based on someone else's word for it isn't faith in God, but in that other person, at best.
You know Truth, in order to participate in this discussion you really need to get yourself a Bro name. Right, Arch?I don't think any one thing is THE source of evil. But I do think religious beliefs obviously motivate people to do evil things. For instance, I think the labor market for suicide bombers would plummet without the belief in the afterlife. I'll also concede that religion has motivated some people to do good who would not otherwise have found a motivation to be decent to the people we share a planet with. I won't even try to guess whether, on the balance, more harm than good has come from religion. It is flagrant speculation to try and imagine what people would have done had there religious beliefs been different from what they were. Maybe 9/11 would not have happened if the terrorists had been atheists. Maybe Stalin would not have killed millions of people if he had found Jesus. Talk about unverifiable ideas!
I do think we would be the best off, going forward, if we all found a reason to do wonderful, beautiful, humanitarian things without needing to imagine that if we are good then we'll get a prize after we die. That way we could have all that stuff without having to suppress our intellectual search for truth. But people keep saying that's impossible.
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