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Featured On Balance, do Religions Serve more to Unite People or to Divide Them?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Sunstone, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    On balance, do you think religions serve more to unite people or to divide them?


    I think it depends on the religion. Some seem far more divisive than others, and others seem far more unifying.
     
  2. Jumi

    Jumi Well-Known Member

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    Problem is ones that unite people within the religion with us vs. them mentality. My country's state church (Evangelical Lutheran) is pretty good on that, they like Muslims and Jews at least and offer support to them.
     
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  3. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Mozart on Electronic

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    Just from being on RF not many religions focus on uniting people without them being part of their faith or having a foundation based on their faith. It naturally causes division and when you unite with a clause involved.

    But, as for their theology, only a few I know here and in person have goals to unite. If it weren't political and have a one foundation for all, I'd say there is no division. But, until then, there always will be one way or another.
     
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  4. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    From where I'm sitting, religion, for the most part, while uniting groups of people, divides people as a whole into subsets.

    But I do agree, it depends on the religion. Proselytizing religions tend to divide people more than others.
     
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  5. Altfish

    Altfish Well-Known Member

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    At a local level then can unite, but worldwide they divide.

    A bit like football.
     
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  6. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    All it takes is to look at them when they leave the service.
     
  7. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Depends on the point you start from.

    If you assume our natural state is unity, then they divide. (Although I'm not really sure why anyone would assume unity is the norm)

    If you assume our natural state is to be part of a very localised group, then they unite.

    You can also make the argument that we have 'outgrown' religions and we need to create new, even more inclusive ideologies. This argument has merits and weaknesses, but ultimately, belief in a common Humanity is a product of religion anyway, so I suppose it still gets some credit in that regard.
     
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  8. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    We humans have a need to feel superior to others. Tribes, nations, races, political parties and religions give us pretexts to do that.

    Doesn't Christianity alone have something like 30,000 sects?
     
  9. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    And doesn't humanity have 1-2 billion families...
     
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  10. icehorse

    icehorse Well-Known Member
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    As others have said, religion unites people into tribes, and then pits these tribes against each other. I put this roughly into the same category as identity politics.
     
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  11. Vouthon

    Vouthon Contemplation

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    Religions are not a homogenous phenomenon oriented towards the same ends, so it is difficult to answer the OP's question in any definitive, all-encompassing sense.

    Some faith traditions are predominantly ethnically based - like Judaism, Yazidism, Zoroastrianism - and thus concerned almost entirely with the unity and solidarity of a limited subset of the human population.

    Others, like Islam and Shintoism, have been guided by ideals of integrating the whole human race under the umbrella of a uniform, overarching cultural hegemony or common civilization.

    In the Muslim case, this is because the Prophet Muhammad - while having a universal ambition for his faith - began as an explicitly Arabian preacher, delivering God's word in Arabic to pagan Arabs whom he aspired to unite within one huge commonwealth (the Ummah) by professing strict monotheism, mirroring the monolithic nature of Arab customs and language that still marks Islamic life till this day.

    Christianity, for its part, originated in the vast cosmopolitan milieu of the Roman Empire, with its multi-ethnic and polyglot boiling pot of cultures held together under Roman law and governance.

    Unsurprisingly, the Christian God is therefore a plurality-in-unity of three distinct Persons sharing one divine essence - in other words a reflection of the religion's social origins and ideology.

    As such, the Christian message had from the very beginning an explicit emphasis upon the unity of humanity as a single but widely differentiated organism, rich in diversity of cultural traditions as at Pentecost but sharing one common nature, origin and supernatural end in God.

    Christianity therefore de-emphasised the importance of cultural distinctions and borders while stressing the importance of unity of doctrine, as the glue binding disparate peoples together under one mother church, and as a result you could say that like Islam we preached human unity while dividing humanity into two blocs "believer" and "unbeliever" but without the dominating uniformity of culture, language and custom that is pervasive in Islamic thought.
     
    #11 Vouthon, Nov 7, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
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  12. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    False analogy. Families are natural divisions of humanity, not artificially created divisions based on opinion. Without religion, those divisions would disappear. Not so with families.
     
  13. Vouthon

    Vouthon Contemplation

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    Do you believe that human rights are universal, and that it would be best for all governments to function as representative, secular and constitutional, liberal democracies where those rights can be protected and exercised freely?

    I certainly do on both accounts but I'm curious to hear your answer to this, as it relates to the topic at hand - namely liberalism and humanism as "secular religions" in the tradition of Christian moral universalism, with a creed and sense of mission that followers of the liberal-humanist consensus seek to preach to the rest of the planet, in spite of its dizzying array of distinct values and perspectives grounded in non-Western civilizations.

    The global unity in norms, governance models and rights sought by secular liberals, is an artificially imposed unity just as much as religion. A good one that I passionately subscribe to, in terms of its rationale and outcomes, but one nonetheless. The very idea of sacrosanct rights is a Western construct originally derived from canonists of the medieval church.

    I understand that this somewhat touches upon our old moral intuition versus reason debate, which I don't really seek to rehash!

    Regardless of intuition, concrete proposals and frameworks based upon intuition are widely different, with very distinct justice systems and political traditions in different countries, many of which aren't liberal or humanist.
     
    #13 Vouthon, Nov 7, 2018
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  14. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I welcome your return by greeting your post with a challenge.:)

    If the goal Christianity unity meant that there should be only two blocs, believer and non-believer, then has it failed? Christianity itself has been divided into thousands of quarreling sects. Then there's its quarrel with other religions.
     
  15. Vouthon

    Vouthon Contemplation

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    Indeed, it has failed to a great extent - as many Utopian ideas do.

    And the original Christian vision was a utopian one, undoubtedly - of a diverse Roman world extending to the four corners, rich in its cultural traditions, local governance, languages and races but united under one mother church with a supranational creed.

    (Constantine thought it would be the perfect creed to save the Empire from collapse due to its interior struggles and exterior migration problem with the German tribes. And he wasnt far wrong, because Christianity enabled the Eastern half of the Empire based in Constantinople to last for anothet millenium lomger than it would have otherwise.

    Oddly enough, when the Germanic tribes invaded Rome, they'd already converted to Christianity - and later on tried to resurrect it as the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne, which persisted as a unifying supranational idea in Europe until 1801, when Napoleon forced it to be abolished)

    That utopian vision hit the rocks, unfortunately, but the dream of Christian ecumenism and unity still lingers, as can be seen from the various ecumenical dialogue movements.

    It's ideals now live on in liberal humanism's attempt to create global solidarity around a secular (but in fact, as many historians point out, ultimately Christian derived) creedo, shorn of supernatural claims but with the same unity-in-diversity message once symbolised by the Trinity as object of worship.

    The EU is the most beautiful example of this.

    I pray, that despite recent happenings, this second attempt will work better than did the first after the Council of Nicea.
     
    #15 Vouthon, Nov 7, 2018
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  16. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I believe that human rights are universal but we would disagree on the kind of government. For example, I think democracies are passe but I do agree that governments for the people are needed.
    I don't think the "Christian moral universalism" you refer to actually exists. IMO, Christian morals are improving along with non-Christian morals. The mechanism for change is conscience. I think it was the nagging of conscience that caused the abolition of legal slavery and is now pushing for the equality of women across the globe.

    An artificially imposed unity? Essentially, all my version of progress amounts to is an attitude of global citizenship and the idea that we humans will live a higher quality of life when we learn to cooperate.


    The "concrete frameworks" aren't only based on intuition. They are based on the idea that conscience, as an intuitive judgment, should be used to decide questions of right and wrong and reason should be used to decide questions of fact.

    In other words, it is opposed to the idea of using reason to create moral rules, laws, and interpretations of scripture to make moral decisions. That is Man's Blunder caused by having too much pride in his ability to reason.
     
    #16 joe1776, Nov 7, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  17. Vouthon

    Vouthon Contemplation

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    Let's focus in on human rights then.

    By the way, though, how does one envisage government accountable to the people without universal-suffrage parliamentary democracy?

    If people cannot vote on what matters most to them and change governments accordingly, in elections once a mandate has ran out, I cannot see how we might foster "government by the people".

    Well, as I mentioned, we have been here before and debated the issue of conscience and moral progress for many pages - without reaching any agreement. :)

    Tn the absence of some key moral values derived from Christianity (i.e. unity of the human race, universal brotherhood in Christ, equality irrespective of race and status etc.) and a linear, eschatological model of "progressive" history derived from Judaeo-Zoroastrian-Christian doctrine, liberalism or secular humanism as it is conventionally espoused would have been very hard to envisage.

    The idea of "progress" itself is not a given, many cultures throughout history have had no notion of moral or civilizational progress but of cyclical time and past golden ages that we are trying to return to.

    Progress is an idea derived from a Zoroastrian-apocalyptic Jewish-Christian framework, and then secularised by Enlightenment liberals. Joachim of Fiore, the medieval abbot, is called by many historians the man who "invented the future" for conceptualizing history as a linear progression of moral norms towards a future age of peace and plenty on earth.

    And global citizenship presupposes the idea of a common human nature, community and a framework of "rights" which one is entitled to hold, again not universal concepts across cultures if you ask intellectual historians about their provenance. Citizenship being universal also presupposes equality despite differences in status, race, gender and so on - again, that's an historically traceable concept. Classical conceptions of citizenship were restricted to a class of free, elite males.

    Enlightenment liberalism, beginning with John Locke in the late 17th century and culminating in the French Revolution, is directly indebted to the medieval canon law innovation of the primacy of the individual conscience, subjective natural rights (which didn't exist in classical philosophy) and government arising from the consent of the governed rather than "divine right" - a crucial precursor, therefore, of modern liberal theory (i.e. individual rights, the rule of law, equality and representative government).
     
    #17 Vouthon, Nov 7, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  18. sun rise

    sun rise "Love pours forth from the heart of the universe."
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    I can't answer the 'on balance' question because to me it varies with time and place. I think gradually the answer is moving toward yes with the growth of interfaith organizations and the gradual fading away of exclusivity.
     
  19. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I can't give you a short answer that will make sense but maybe I can have you see the core problem with democracies is that they fulfill none of these three criteria of a good decision-making model;

    An efficient government decision-making system will fulfill these criteria:

    • It will maximize the intelligence of the decision-makers
    • It will maximize the training and experience of the decision-makers
    • It will minimize the chances of a relevant bias sending the decision off course
    I wrote FOR the people, not BY the people

    Although some cultures lag, we humans are treating each other better today than at any time in our history. I authored a thread on the topic. I'll try to find it for you.
    It doesn't matter when men first became aware of it. Moral progress has probably been happening since the origin of our species. I think the intuition we call conscience is our key to survival.
    Cultural biases won't change the judgments of conscience. If conscience dictates that women should be treated as equals, those cultures that don't now agree nevertheless own the same intuition for survival that we do. They will someday agree.

    "All knowledge begins in the senses." Since we know that the difference between moral right and wrong can't be seen, smelled, heard or tasted, it must be felt. In other words, we humans would know absolutely nothing about morality if not for conscience.

    That moral history that you wrote about only happened because men examined their conscience. Their moral reasoning might have gone off the rails, but their conscience didn't err.
     
  20. InChrist

    InChrist Free4ever

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    I think all religions divide. Only Jesus Christ unites....

    And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. Rev. 5:9

    After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. Rev. 7:9


    It is only by God’s supernatural grace, in the name of Yeshua, that both Arab and Jew can find salvation, hope and unity in the conundrum here in the Middle East…. but the good news is that this is exactly what is happening here at One For Israel!
    Amidst all the violence and hatred around us, a miracle of peace and brotherhood is taking place. Jewish and Arab Pastors Celebrate Together - ONE FOR ISRAEL Ministry


    There is only one “roadmap” to peace—when Jews and Arabs come together and experience the unity of loving the same God through the Messiah Yeshua!

    Through the years, we have been able to touch the Israeli Arab community in a variety of ways—providing vehicles, materials in Arabic, financial assistance and humanitarian help. Arab Christian Ministries
     
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