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Featured Can we say organized religion is a positive force in the world with headlines like this?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Orbit, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...s-for-expressing-his-atheism-on-a6900056.html

    10 Years prison and 2,000 lashes for being an atheist in Saudi Arabia.

    "In 2014 the oil-rich kingdom, under the late Saudi King Abdullah, introduced a series of new laws which defined atheists as terrorists, according to a report released from Human Rights Watch. "

    This is intended as a topic for serious debate: Can we make the case that organized religion is positive for society, or does it fail that test?
     
    #1 Orbit, Jun 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2016
  2. Sleeppy

    Sleeppy Fatalist. Christian. Pacifist.

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    Either black or white?
     
  3. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta and Spiritualist and Pantheist
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    I think that state supported organized religion should be done away with. Freedom of religion and freedom from religion is the only sensible way. Organized religion is fine for those who freely choose to be a member and it can then be a positive for many people.
     
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  4. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    Well, something is either positive, or it isn't. We can add up the positives and negatives and see which outweighs the other.
     
  5. Demonslayer

    Demonslayer Well-Known Member

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    Except for that fact that many of the people enforcing things like prison time and physical beating for atheists freely choose to be part of the religion.

    I'm not against your idea that freedom of religion must be protected...it certainly does and should be. We agree on this for sure.

    But freely choosing a religion is far from a guarantee that the result ends up being "fine." Just ask the 900 Jehovah's Witnesses last year who freely chose to be members, and then died because the religion they freely chose commanded them to turn down life saving blood transfusions. Killed some kids along the way too...not fine in my book.
     
  6. Demonslayer

    Demonslayer Well-Known Member

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    On another site I frequent there was once a discussion of the positives and negatives of religion. I can come up with a very long list of the negative effects of religion. The hatred of gay people we see, beliefs that cause adherents to refuse life saving medical treatment, distrust of people other religions/general xenophobia, false hope that praying will help your situation, mistaking the effects of mental illness for divine contact, rejection of globally accepted scientific principles, preoccupation with hell and who ends up there, negative view of human sexuality...the list goes on and on.

    I could come up with only one single positive, and that is for some people the concept of their own death is so terrifying and unacceptable, that without the promise of everlasting life they would be unable to function in society.

    That's all I could come up with on the "Pro" side. What else y'all got?
     
  7. Sleeppy

    Sleeppy Fatalist. Christian. Pacifist.

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    Is it that simple?

    Religion is just another emanation of human nature. You don't mean to point at the emanation, as if it caused itself.

    We could compile a list of perceived positives and negatives associated with religion.. That would be interesting to see a small glimmer of just how convoluted reality actually is.
     
  8. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    I have to disagree with you here. We can measure what causes harm and what doesn't in society.
     
  9. Demonslayer

    Demonslayer Well-Known Member

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    I've got a pretty fleshed out list of negatives...need some help beefing up the positive side. I've got one so far.
     
  10. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Personally, I think religion can be a positive force, but a certain level of care and questioning is obviously necessary.

    Dogma, and particularly theistic dogma, tends to be very poisonous to it. Which is much of the reason why Islam is so vulnerable to its own mistakes.
     
  11. Orbit

    Orbit I'm a planet

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    I can see some positives off the top of my head, but they don't necessarily translate into social good:
    1. Gives people a meaning to life; reduces anxiety
    2. Eases fear of death
    3. Promotes group solidarity/cohesion
    4. Organized churches provide charity
    5. Provides rituals for life milestones, like marriage

    On the negative side, I see
    1. Political involvement that leads to either persecuting others or forcing them to adopt a religion
    2. Human rights abuses and terrorism with religion used as a rationale
    3. Corrupt organizational problems, like the Catholic child molestation problems
    4. Fostering a culture of intolerance
    5. Supporting laws that discriminate against women, LGBT people, atheists

    The negatives seem more social and the positives seem more personal.
     
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  12. Sleeppy

    Sleeppy Fatalist. Christian. Pacifist.

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    It's impossible to determine every effect of actions happening now, in a chain beginning billions of years ago. That's all I have to say here, I suppose.
     
  13. Laika

    Laika Warning: Thought Crime in Progress
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    I think you are asking the wrong question. The capacity for immorality is a universal property of human action. it is generally a really bad idea to impose a criteria which is sufficiently arbitrary or restrictive that any group will fail. The very nature of the question you are asking is loaded that a single abuse reflects on an entire belief system and on its adherents as a whole as "organised religion".
    The fact that no religion could possibly live up to any such standards is not a reflection on the immorality of organised religion but the fact that our conception of what is and is not moral are not really related to how people actually behave. The morals we possess, whilst secular humanist, originate from Christianity and are therefore interrelated with the very abuses we are condemning: the belief in obedience as the measure of good is the basis for passing judgement on a persons character (or in this case the nature of a belief) that would sentence them to eternal reward or punishment.

    The first step is to recognise that this hypocrisy exists and, as easy as it is for secularists to condemn organised religion as evil, by doing so they are simply imitating the very practices they most abhor.

    That's not an answer to your question but is poses the new question of finding a new moral system which actually corresponds to how people behave and what actually motivates them: you have to go "beyond good and evil" and recognise that criticising religion with a morality that developed directly out of it, means we haven't learned the lessons to supersede the abuses we condemn. What point is there saying something is wrong if we are going to do it anyway?
     
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  14. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    http://indianexpress.com/article/in...e-man-kills-14-of-his-family-commits-suicide/

    Indian man kills 14 of his family members then himself.

    "Hasnain Warekar, 35, employed at a financial services firm in Navi Mumbai, had allegedly slit the throats of his family members, including his wife, parents, sisters, and seven children, apart from his own three-month-old daughter, before hanging himself."

    Can we make the case that Indians are mass-murderers and prone to suicide of does it fail that test?
     
  15. lovesong

    lovesong .little necromancer. .shaman in training.
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    There was a system I came up with a while ago to determine whether a religion was harmful.

    A religion is harmful if:
    1. it teaches un-acceptance or hate towards a certain group.
    2. it preaches complete and total submission to a leader or prohibits individuality or free thought.
    3. it denies science or discourages medical, scientific, or technological advancements.
    4. it promises eternal torture if followers don't obey the rules.
    5. it shames sex or the body.
    6. it makes people feel bad for, or stops people from, doing things they want to do.
    7. it makes people do, or makes people feel bad for not doing, things they don't want to do.

    It seems as if a lot of organized religion fails the test.
     
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  16. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Not in complex systems we can't. And society is a complex system.

    You can't just isolate a variable as nuanced and ingrained as religion and carry out a shallow cost benefit analysis.

    Also seeing as the replacement would be something rather than nothing, but the something is unknowable in the longterm it is pretty meaningless to compare religion to a baseline of zero. The comparison should be with the range of potential alternatives.

    The only answer to your question is we don't really know. But given religion's longevity and its history of helping create relatively stable societies, the alternative could easily be far worse.
     
  17. beenherebeforeagain

    beenherebeforeagain Rogue Animist
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    If you approach it that way, perhaps. But not all things are 100 percent positive nor 100 percent negative (or good/bad, right/wrong, and so on)--context, perspective, etc., certainly hold sway in our understanding. Some things are both good and bad at the same time, but in different ways

    For a person who holds that family honor is of paramount importance, killing a family member who brings dishonor to the family is a good thing; you and I may disagree, but what exactly makes OUR perspective the right one? (and yes, I can think of several things, what I'm pointing out here is that TO THAT INDIVIDUAL within the context of their society, the things WE value are not the things she/he values)--and good/bad, positive/negative are VALUES and not facts.

    Some people in the West think that suicide in any form is bad. For others, suicide is good, because it allows the individual to exercise control over their life, especially to end the ongoing agony of a terminal illness, for example. Sometimes dying is good, sometimes it is bad.

    Religion can encourage social solidarity--which can be a good thing in moderation, but a bad thing if in extreme--but there are others who will say that any attempt to impose social solidarity on individuals is wrong, and others who see social solidarity over individual freedom as the preferred value.

    State another way, with an individual instead of a societal focus, religion can discourage individual freedom and expression--which some might feel to be a very good thing, even in the extreme, whereas others will think that some reduction in individual freedom to help solidify society is a good thing, and they might join with those others who think that NOTHING should ever interfere with individual freedom to oppose those extremists who wish to do away with all individual freedom. It's all a matter of values, which are often not binary, yes/no, good/bad, positive/negative.
     
  18. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Well, let's look at some (hopefully) obvious facts:
    • There are thousands of organized religious traditions
    • These thousands of traditions are not all the same
    • Organization takes many different forms
    And a (hopefully) obvious conclusion from the above:
    • It does not make sense to generalize about organized religions

    Still want you to make a thread topic to discuss this, because I really want to tear it to shreds. :D
     
  19. First Baseman

    First Baseman Retired athlete

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    It is hard for me to take seriously that because of an incident in Saudi Arabia you think this might mean all of religion everywhere is screwy? Really?

    Couldn't you have chosen a somewhat more "general" place and circumstance?
     
  20. Demonslayer

    Demonslayer Well-Known Member

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    I think these are two ways of stating the same thing. So the "pros" list stands at one...the reduction of anxiety about death/meaningless life.

    I hear this one all the time and I hate it. People say religion "fosters community" or other things that are similar to what you said here about group solidarity. However what this fails to take into account is that and "group solidarity" caused by religion is really exclusionary when we look at the wider scope of our global community.

    I use the sarcastic example of a community Block Party. Which is more inclusive:

    A. Fourth of July Block Party!
    B. Fourth of July Christian Block Party...Jew Free since 1985!

    I argue that perceived group solidary via religion is actually a negative force that promotes xenophobia and excludes members of other religions or of no religion from the supposed cohesion. In 1987 when George HW Bush said that atheists should be considered neither patriots or citizens of the United States, I'll bet Christians everywhere felt cohesion. Not so much for the rest of us.

    Striking this from the list, the "pro" column still stand at one entry. :)

    Non-religious give just as much to charity as religious people. What's worse is groups with religious names take credit for non-religious donations. For example I give very heavily to St. Jude's Children's Hospital. That is counted as a Christian charity even though thousands of my atheist dollars go there every year. Increasingly there are non-religious organizations like Chive Charities. This one is a wash, and for that reason I'm striking it from the "pros" list and we still stand at one positive effect of religion!

    I got married by a Justice of the Peace, no religion involved. Most life milestones are not religious...graduation, buying a home, bearing children. Strike this from the record! :)

    The list still stands at 1.
     
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