Dale Westlund

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I propose that religeon is the major factor holding back the advancement of the human race.

One of my favorite quotes, and I have to admit I don't know who said it but it was a post that my son put up on his facebook one day.. "Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told.. Religeon is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.." That pretty much says it all in a nut shell. I grew up in a very religeous household where we were taught to obey whatever the bible told us.. Then I grew up and grew a brain of my own. What do you think?

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    Apr 12 2012: We're getting there.
    Most people with an education are atheists. So it's working.
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      Apr 12 2012: Where are we getting, Gerald?
      Your fallacious generalization about educated people being atheists presupposes that Atheism is not a religion. A strong argument exists that it is a religion and is therefor included in the list of defendants in this case. You have a right to an attorney!
      • Apr 12 2012: What fallacy? Gerald did not say "everybody" with an education. He said "most people." I still think that it is not most people, but if education increases in quality it could be.

        Atheism is not a religion. That it is a religion is just a religious attempt at putting something you can arrive at by reason into the same category as the religious superstitions. But it is obviously false.

        But I am listening.
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          Apr 12 2012: Doesn't "most people" qualify as a generalization? I say it does. The only explanation you recognize for the non-majority status of atheists in the category of "people with an education" is the low quality of education available? Perhaps another explanation would be that it is not necessary to be a faithful follower of the atheist religion to be educated. Hmmm. You arrived at the conclusion there is no god by Reason? You must have proven a negative to do it. Congratulations on being the first to do so. We should alert the science authorites that you have attained to omniscience. Gabo, if you can prove there is no God please do so. I'm getting deleted for sure now.
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          Apr 13 2012: I stopped being a Christian at university.
          In part just from maturing intellectually.
          Also being exposed to more ideas.
          Being trained to think etc.
          Education probably saved me from religion much earlier than without.
      • Apr 12 2012: Atheists should not call themselves such (as Sam Harrison points out in one of his speeches) as it allows others to make it look like a religion or give it various meaning.

        Do we have a group of people called non-astronomers ? No we don't.

        People that do not believe in God do not have a book or religious practices to follow so how it can be a religion? They are missing religious framework, that's all.
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          Apr 13 2012: Non Theists. Non believers.Non supernaturalists, brights, it probably doesn't matter too much what the label is except for marketing/perception purposes.

          But a label is needed to have the conversation.

          Just like smokers and non smokers. Otherwise non smokers are just smokers who don't smoke.
      • Apr 12 2012: Hi Edward,

        If you read my answer to Maria below, you might notice that it is not necessary to "prove a negative" to reach atheism by reason. If you need more explanation(s) let me know.

        Be well.
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        Apr 12 2012: I would not conclude in any way that atheism is a religeion.. It is simply a belief. Saying that atheism is a religeon is like saying that alcoholism or drug addiction is a desease.. It's a choice....
        • Apr 13 2012: Nope, atheism is not "a belief," it is a conclusion.
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        Apr 13 2012: Funny thing about things that don't exist : you can't ever prove their non-existence.

        And science doesn't work that way. Scientists don't prove that angels don't exist, then deduct the laws of astronomy... They simply work out how things work.
        Sometimes, things seem to work fine without Santa Claus and Peter Pan, so we don't bother taking their supernatural intervention into the equations.

        Some day, maybe, we'll find something about the universe that might only be explained by the presence of a supernatural creator.
    • Apr 12 2012: Hi Gerald,

      I disagree with the common believe that religious people are less intelligent or less educated then atheist or agnostic people.
      Generations of great philosophers, scientists, artists have been and are still now religious, and this does not make them less great.
      Also, I agree with Edward.
      A believer believes in the existence of a God without any scientific proof of His existence.
      An atheist believes in the non existence of God without any scientific evidence.
      They are both dogmatic, even if they are opposite.

      The existence of God has been an argument for philosophers for centuries, but I think that now we can say that it is an undecidable statement, to use Godel words.
      • Apr 12 2012: No Maria,

        I don't believe in gods because there is no evidence that they are "out there." Not only that, most believed gods are nonsensical. Thus, I don't need "scientific proof" to reject them. They are obviously false. I have no reason to believe in any of the most mysterious/ethereal ones because they look a lot like mere consolation prizes for those who want to hold to some god after rejecting the common nonsense.

        So, I reason about it, thus reject the beliefs. Nothing dogmatic about it.

        Some self-declared "agnostics," are of the "undecidable" mind-set. I am not because, to rephrase a bit of what I said above, that depends on what god(s) we are talking about. The nonsensical ones, or the most ethereal, undemonstrable, and useless ones? The latter are "undecidable." But who cares?
      • Apr 12 2012: "An atheist believes in the non existence of God without any scientific evidence"

        I disagree. I think atheists do not see proof for existence of God and therefore it does not exist for them. It is not a belief but rather a matter of fact for them.

        Wikipedia explains that:
        "Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist"

        Absence of belief does not equal a belief of non existence.

        • Apr 12 2012: Hi Zdenek,

          This is indeed a really interesting matter.

          Atheists do believe, as they think gods are not existing.
          The absence of belief is proper of agnostics, who said: I do not know if a god exists and I do not care.
          I am talking about "belief" for religious and atheists as in both of cases there is no scientific proof or concrete evidence for any of the alternatives.
          As you said, "atheists do not see proof therefore it does not exist for them". For religious people, the contrary is true.
          After all, nodody has come back from death to tell us what there is after, or if there s anything. (unless we took into consideration Risen Christ, but He cannot be a valid argument in this discussion :) )
      • Apr 13 2012: No Maria,

        As I said above, atheism is not a belief, it is a conclusion. There is quite the difference.
        • Apr 13 2012: Hi Maria,

          I cannot directly comment to your post above so I do it here.

          Lets put aside the disagreement about atheists beliefs. What really is distinct between religious and non-religious people is whether they follow certain set of given ideas that are not questioned and for which no proof exists.

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        Apr 13 2012: Maria,

        While there may be some data to support the idea that better educated and high IQ people may have a greater proportion of non believers than the general population, its not a particularly important point.

        If it were the other way around it wouldn't make particular religious belief any more or less sustainable. It is not a proof. But perhaps an interesting correlation.

        Perhaps it is just pointing out the obvious that the more human ideas you are exposed to the more you might question the beliefs you have due to where and when you were born.

        I actually believe over time more and more people will dump traditional religion. Most have their roots >2000 years ago. They are increasing a bad match for enlightenment values of equality, freedom, responsibility. With globalisation we are increasingly exposed to other religions that make competing claims. They all can't be true. Transcendent experiences seem be universal whatever the relgion and also via non religious means e.g. meditation. It seems it is all going on in our head. With better science and education we see the universe seems to run via natural processes just fine. There are less gaps for god and increasing dissonance.
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    Apr 12 2012: I propose that humans are the major factor holding back the advancement of the human race.

    Well, that, and the fact that some of us believe.............let me stop here I'll get off topic.

    I wonder if you have seen this talk......it goes with your question....you might want to tag it to your talk.


    I guarantee you will LOVE IT.............this question of yours is not a new one. Let me know if you liked the talk. Mullis is awesome to watch.
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      Apr 12 2012: Hi Mary.. Thank you for the link.. I will give it a go and let you know what I think.
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      Apr 12 2012: Just watched Karys talk and particularly liked the part about global warming.. I thoroughly enjoyed him.. I watch a talk by him the other night about something to do with DNA and I really enjoyed that also.. He is a very smart man and it's a pleasure to listen to him..

      Thanks again Mary..
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    Apr 12 2012: Considering TED recently had a conversation where the theory of evolution was questioned and then followed by references to the Bible, I'm baffled by anyone who "totally disagrees" with Dale.

    Is it the major factor holding back human advancement? If I could only give a single word to describe the major factor, I would say 'ignorance'. However, I also view ignorance as a consequence, in many instances, of religion.

    Assuming where your question is headed, I think religion, in the sense of dogmatic beliefs based on books written in times far more ignorant than today, will eventually die out and the world will be a better place for it.
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    Apr 12 2012: What would be the evidence of being set free from the bondage of religion? Would the human race live together in peace? Would human life including the unborn, the physically and mentally challenged, and the elderly, be nurtured by society? Would adultery; fornication; uncleanness; lasciviousness; hatred; wrath; strife; seditions; envyings; murders; drunkenness; revellings and such all disappear? Would love; joy; peace and goodness become the character of all humans? I know many people who have freed themselves from any and all religious conviction (unless you consider Atheism and Agnosticism to be religions). Those folks are no more "advanced" than any of the religious folks I know. The root cause of man's bondage is not religion, Mr. Westlund. The root cause is man's nature. If a person is not changed within they are not changed at all.
    • Apr 12 2012: How do you measure "advancement" of religious and non-religious people?

      I also like to point to the fact that some North European countries with lowest level of religious population are at the top of the world in terms of education, happiness and social development.
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        Apr 12 2012: You will notice my metric for measuring human advancement does not include education, happiness, or social development. How do the Northern European folks measure-up on my checklist (which starts with adultery and ends with revellings)? Also, the USSR was a society void of religion as was Nazi Germany. They gave the world genocide in the Gulag and the Holocaust. It is not religion, it is the heart of man that needs changing.
        • Apr 12 2012: 1. The USSR was "devoid" of religion by mandate, and that does not count. People could still be very religious in private. Besides the regime substituted god for the state and a couple "heroes" as objects of worship.

          2. Nazi Germany was not devoid of religion at all. Example: their belts had "God with us" inscribed.

          I agree that it is the heart of people that needs changing though.

          P.S. Why would education, happiness, and social development not be advances for humanity? Do you prefer ignorance, sadness, and social decline?

          P.S. P.S. So there is no adultery and revelling in religious societies?
        • Apr 12 2012: "You will notice my metric for measuring human advancement does not include education, happiness, or social development."

          Are you saying these do not represent human advancement?

          "How do the Northern European folks measure-up on my checklist (which starts with adultery and ends with revellings)?"

          Until you have concrete statistics on this aspect you cannot make any assumptions.

          "the USSR was a society void of religion as was Nazi Germany. They gave the world genocide in the Gulag and the Holocaust."

          It was not caused by lack of religion but by particular people (Hitler and Stalin) and their ideologies.
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    Apr 12 2012: Unless you have been bible bashed,threatened with eternal damnation,indoctrinated into the tithing schemes,smacked or had your ears boxed for not being a good little christian quiet boy,for God and country then yes i can understand how one would come to this perspective,if this is the case.
  • Apr 12 2012: Hi,

    I totally disagree with this statement.

    Of course, it depends on point of view and on the type of religious education that everyone receive, but I do not think that Religion is just a way to avoid to use our brains.

    I will speak about Catholicism., as this is the Religion I know better.
    There is no teaching in the Catholicism which says to obey for the sake of obbedience.
    Hence, in the Gospel you can read that when Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment to follow he replied: "Love God with all your heart, strenght and mind, and Love your neithbor as yourself".

    This is similar also to the Torah (the Jewish Law):

    Rabbi Hillel (c.110 BCE-10 CE)said: “What is hateful to thyself do not do to another. That is the whole Law, the rest is Commentary.”Hillel recognized brotherly love as the fundamental principle of Jewish moral law.
    Rabbi Akiva (50-135 C.E.) also recognised as the chief and greatest principle of Judaism the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself".

    Saint Augustine, one of Father of the Catholic Church, said: Love, and do what you want.

    These are only a few examples, but the fundamental principle of the Catholic Church is the Love to God and to other human beings. And a Catholic is free. free to judge, free to make mistake, there is no constriction because the only reason to follow the 10 commandaments and the other rules it is your Love to God.

    And a great deal of philosophers and scientists in the Western World were Catholics, or Anglicans, or Luterans.

    Kopenico was Catholic, Newton was Anglican. Would you say that their works hold back the humanity development?
    Mendel, father of Genetic, was a monk.
    Jérome Lejeune, discovered the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome, catholic
    Louis Pasteur, Catholic ( no need of presentation!)
    Compton, Arthur Holly, Nobel Prize for Phisycs, Cristian Baptist
    Charles Darwin, Anglican
    Karl Heisenberg, Luteran
    Enrico Fermi, Catholic.
    Leonardo Da Vinci (Catholic)
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      Apr 12 2012: Hi Maria.. You have (in a way) illistrated my poiint exactly.. Religeon is so ingrained in socioties all around the world, that even brilliant minds, still to this day, believe in the "heaven or hell" concept. And believe that you must obey a higher power or be eternally damned..?! Here in the USA stem cell research has been stalled due to religeous belief and other countries are moving ahead with this research. I believe that when children are indoctrinated or (brainwashed if you will) with religeous beliefs, it causes them to not look for other explainations for the reason why we are here, what is our purpose, etc.. Because after all in the christian religeon, if you don't believe in God or fallow his word, you will damned to eternal suffering... How convenient. I believe it locks up the minds of otherwize very intelligent human beings all around the world.

      Thank you everyone for your comments and opinions..
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        Apr 12 2012: Dale, hell is not a teaching found in all the christian faiths. My faith teaches that the wages sin pays is death. Hell is seen as the common grave of mankind, based on scriptures.

        The majority of christian denominations teach a fiery hell, but not all...................

        I wonder sometimes how effective the teaching of hell has been...........people seem to do as they please, so down deep inside I really doubt very many people believe in hell.

        I'll say this, even religious leaders, who have gotten away with, and continue to get away with all sorts of immoral acts must truly doubt that hell exists, or they would act differently.

        Just my opinion.....and, here is a conversation a young man started a few weeks back on the corruption of some pastors in Africa.

        You might enjoy reading through the comments and voicing your own opinions.


        Anyways, great topic of conversation.
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          Apr 12 2012: Thank you Mary.. But it does stand to reason like the saying goes.. "Aint none of us gettin' out of this world alive.. : )
      • Apr 12 2012: Hi Dale,

        Thank you for your reply.

        I do not know other Christian religions, so I do not know what they teach about hell and heaven, but I do know the catholic one, and I can tell that there is no-one who can say if someone is eternally damned or not, neither the pope, as no-one can know the inscrutable God's mercy.
        Hell, however, is only the eternal absence of God, and it is up to every man decide whether or not choose God during their life.

        Also, I am failing to understand why the only fact to have a religion can prevent human progress. The scientist can, as the great names quoted above show, arrive to great discovery whether or not they believe in God.
  • Apr 12 2012: Hello Dale, Several other persons commented that religion is the fault of many world problems. I suggest we consider two factors of history before we form firm conclusions:
    1 Most of mankind has been ignorant and has needed guided religion. Early man could not read and eventually there developed writing. Education was rare and even rarer were deep thinkers. Man was too busy surviving to think much. Royalty held power over the common man and most of that was frivolous or power driven. Religion was handed to or forced onto people. And religion was opinion based on some degree of revelation and evolving thought. Man could not and still has not fully understood all revelation, or has misused some concepts.

    2 Default and error in our past has caused confusion and developing religion has always retained some error from undeveloped past. Adam and Eve's error was a contributing factor. Man cannot live alone without pressure of the good kind from on High, but being imperfect, we are not always right about our understanding.

    It takes a lot of time to correct error. Now, see what we have to help us common people think: good writing, computers to share information, communication provisions, such as TED to share ideas and ideals and now we have more people able to participate in the evolving processes of thought, philosophy, theology, and the forming of personal conclusion.

    Actually, with better, clearer thinking, willingness to think, and sufficient time off work, we humans now are able to question rules and conclusions of our forefathers. Therefore, it's not religion at fault, but the fact of errors of the past that has caused delay in human advancement.

    Having said the above, what now can we do to bring clarity, hope, love, and service to one another to advance us all?
    Good ideas and great ideals have been shared here!

    We need power from within to move ahead!
    Mark K.
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      Apr 12 2012: Mark, I really enjoyed reading your comment.
      Thank you.
    • Apr 12 2012: I agree with your thoughts about the past.

      In today's world, as long as religion will stay separated from state institutions and its followers will not demand implementation of their beliefs in the law then I think it is a personal choice.

      Unfortunately we do see some worrying trends in the Middle East where religion is still a major ideology that affect lives of millions of people in a negative way. We also see constant struggle in US against inclusion of intelligent design into public curriculum, rights of gay people and abortions. In some developed countries Sharia law is being demanded.

      It also does not seem right to me that parents can force their children into religion. Shouldn't children have the choice and be left to decide if and when they will join a particular religion?

      Finally religions such Christianity continuously teaches its people what role women have in family, limiting women's abilities and freedoms in such settings.
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    Apr 13 2012: I propose that truth is relative.....Cheers to Diversity...."To each their own"
  • Apr 13 2012: I find that statement to be too rigid. Religion has a factor. Now the question what do you mean by Religion.
    If you include ethical and moral teachings as part of human behavior and that behavior is governed by religious dogma. What is religion is it it a philosophy indoctrinated into a flock of living path yes it has a major role. But there are also socioeconomic influences human advances.
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    Apr 13 2012: In terms of morality, I agree relying on religion is holding us back.

    It ties you to the bad as well as the good in the religious teachings and scriptures often based on bronze age or medieval values.

    I note many reasonable religious people pick and choose what they follow in the bible.

    There are also those that believe that there is no basis for reasonable morality if not revealed by a god, which is a ridiculous by any reasoned analysis.

    We don’t need imaginary or real gods to work out that the human experience and society is improved if life is valued, property ownership respected, and if we have compassion for others.

    My issue with some people and their religious based convictions is that there is no basis for debate. Brain is off. God said so. End of story. They ignore the different rules in different religions. They can't all be absolute.

    God said so is not enough.

    Is it easier to rely on the bible or koran. Yes. But that is no reason to give up the responsibility to think. To reason. To use our minds to better the human condition.

    The other thing holding us back in terms of morality iis human nature. Greed, tribalism etc.
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    Apr 13 2012: Thanks

    Yes, this one i followed aswel.I was hoping there were others in the archives somewhere.
  • Apr 12 2012: I think I am very glad that you decided to use your own brain and get to live your own life. Congratulations.
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    Apr 12 2012: Hi Dale.

    If we had to obey the bible regardless of what was right; then yes you have a point.
    I think you have been put off by excessive bible bashing in your youth. Your experience is far from mine, but seems typical of many raised in one of our largest denominations. There are many here who will agree with you. I can't.

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    Apr 12 2012: I completely agree with Mark. Religion has to be understood in a holistic manner as 'Little Knowledge is a dangerous thing'. I personally feel that religion helps us to take up a reality check of ourselves, our environment and our fellow being. Probably if you think we aren't progressing ( though humans are advancing in leaps and bounds), it may be because there is a room of doubt and folly somewhere, which has to rectified first and then moved ahead.