This conversation is closed.

Does religion have any relevance in the modern world ?

Given that most religions are founded on ideas and teachings that come from books written hundreds, or even thousands of years ago, and that their relevance to modern ideas have been superceded by scientific discoveries, is it logical to have any belief in religion ?

  • thumb
    Apr 18 2012: Logic is not the gauge by which to measure religion.

    "religion" and "science" are not in competition for the same job. I don't even think they work in the same building..
    • thumb
      Apr 18 2012: Hi Scott, I agree they are not completely mutually exclusive, but there is a tense overlap where science may challenge some religious notions depending on the religion. E.g. that the Earth is 6,000 years old.
      Deist concepts have less conflict.
      • thumb
        Apr 18 2012: I agree Scott, that religion and science are not in competition for the same job....well put!!!

        Obey,
        It seems like the "tense overlap" is not caused by the practices, but rather by people. It is only insecure people who get "tense" when his/her belief is challenged with different information:>)
      • thumb
        Apr 18 2012: Good point. I find it disturbing when religion is presented as science. Especially in 'educational' texts. It's like wearing a "proved by science" badge to legitimise belief and faith.

        I figure there's room for all proofs and faiths in this universe. God is a Scientist.
        • thumb
          Apr 18 2012: Good point Scott!
          If we are all made in the image and likeness of god, like it says in the bible, then you're right...god is also the scientist! And if god created all things...like it says in the bible, then he/she/it created the process of evolution too:>)
  • thumb
    Apr 19 2012: Have faith in God, not in religion. Again, many people mistakenly think one is the other.

    We should not "believe" in religion, as religion is merely the practise of a belief. The belief is in something greater than ourselves, which quite frankly is relevant, because the best of people come to thefore when they get outside of their self-interest.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Apr 20 2012: Humility, exactly. I agree. Humility is actually one of the strongest personality traits, especially since it is considered so utterly without value in our culture, where self-aggrandisement and bravado and rugged independence is the ultimate personal goal.
  • thumb
    Apr 18 2012: Now that I know that by "religion" you mean purely human constructs having to do with deities I can answer your question: religion has no relevance in the modern world. This would be a totally different question if the word religion were replaced by the word God. Most people think those two words are synonmyous. They are absolutely not!
    • thumb
      Apr 18 2012: Actually my answer would be pretty much the same for god, religion, immortal spirits etc
      Highly speculative concepts.

      Now transcedent experience and personal spiritual journies can have a profound impact on people.
      Prayer or meditation also.
      My view are these experiences are real.
      The interpretation is highly subjective and seen through the belief system and world view of the individual.
      It may be all in our heads.
      Or maybe it is something more.
      No one really knows.

      Back to the original question, I would suggest that religion and belief in gods is not even necessary to have a very personal consciousness journey.

      Certainly religion or god or divine speculation is probably the most common approach.
  • thumb
    Apr 17 2012: Obviously it is relevant to billions of individuals.
    It impacts all of us whether you believe or not.

    Is it logical to have religious beliefs?

    Maybe it is logical to avoid being alienated, to want to be part of your society, to please your parents.

    Believing all the conflicting beliefs can be correct is illogical.
  • thumb
    Apr 16 2012: Faith cannot be superceded by scientific discoveries.
    And personally, though I consider myself an agnostic, I enjoy the sheer diversity of cultures and perspectives of people around me, and religion is a grave part of it. Though it's true that religion has often been misused for the purpose of illegitimate control, the core teachings, as Colleen points out, can be meaningful.
    • thumb
      Apr 16 2012: I agree Eun A Jo,
      I do not practice a religion, and personally think/feel that much of the dogma is limiting and controling, However, as long as a religious belief and practice does not adversly impact other people, I enjoy the diversity of cultures and perspectives of all people in our world:>)
      • thumb
        Apr 17 2012: Actually, no, the word supernatural means over, above, or beyond the scope of the Natural realm. Natural means of nature. Nature means the physical, observable universe. Secular Humanism doctrine insists that everything is natural including anything and everything Man can observe or imagine. I do not refuse to admit the existence of a cause over, above, and beyond the Natural which does, in fact, "limit and control" the Universe. I hope you will permit me to answer "No" to your question, I would find it both limiting and controlling if you do not. Thank you for your question Ms. Steen. Best wishes.
        • thumb
          Apr 17 2012: Thanks Edward,
          I'm aware of the meanings of natural and supernatural. It is not my position to "permit" one to answer one way or another, and in fact, "I enjoy the diversity of cultures and perspectives of all people in our world", as I mention in the comment above:>)

          In another post, you write..." do you consider religion to be a strictly human invention, or do you think there must be a supernatural component? Mr. Just and Mr. Monaghhan clearly believe religion is of human origin. I believe the distinction is critical. Which do you mean by your question, of human origin, or supernatural, or possibly both?"

          I believe religions to be of human origin. After a near fatal injury, the energy that powers the body left, and visited what you may describe as "over, above, or beyond the scope of the natural realm". I felt it to be very natural, in fact, maybe more natural than the earth school experience, because it was recognized that everything and everyone is interconnected with energy. There was no seperation because of religions.
      • thumb
        Apr 17 2012: What a delight to meet someone who also believes religion is a "wholly" human invention. Thank you!
        I suggest the next question is, "Is ____________ a religion (of human invention)?" [Fill-in the blank with the name of any of the many religions]. Imagine the impact of a true "No" answer. We would need to face the reality of someone, something, over and above us, something supernatural controlling and limiting us, particularly in our depraved tendancies. Best wishes young lady.
        • thumb
          Apr 17 2012: My pleasure Edward:>)

          As I said, I believe religions to be of human origin, and I do not think/feel that we are "depraved".
        • thumb
          Apr 19 2012: Edward, what makes you think we all need something above us or we will revert to the law of the jungle.

          Take a look from our perspective - If there are no gods we are as we are now.

          In fact our ancestors have been living in groups for longer than we have been modern humans.

          We are getting slightly better getting along, more equality, more civil societies. I don't need relgion or a god to live a reasonably good life. I am equipped with reason and instinct for both good and bad.

          I imagine the impact would be pretty much like any place is now. Perhaps we might be a bit more objective on some issues. Maybe we might make some progress on female equality in some places etc.

          The 10-20% of non believers in Australia are not any worse than the believers.

          Isn't it better to do good and be compassionate because you think it improves the human condition than because it is your gods will.

          In fact believe in god doesnt seem to make much difference at all to living a good or bad life.
  • Apr 16 2012: Peter,
    I think religion is relevant for those who seek truth, want good relationships, and want a foundation for hope for continued life after this material shell is exhausted. What is apparent in your question is the assumption there is nothing of lasting worthy value from old teachings for adoption in one's life. Who said we are to rely on logic anyway? As I said before, logic is only a part of the whole and not all answers are found in logical assessment. Is it logical to always look backward for where one is going, i.e. destiny?

    What is appropriate is to ask everyone if all answers for life are to be found in math and things material. All answers for all questions of meanings, values, and the clinging on to something we cannot see with eyes. Science is not excluded in meanings, values and hope. Religion must change to adapt to the changes you cited and scientists must be honest within their centers of being and admit not all is known through a purely scientific approach to life. Honest religionists and scientists can get along OK!

    Leave some room for thinking and philosophy, which really is a gift to help us reconcile material and spiritual realities. Personal, private thinking, hoping, trusting, and accepting possibilities for a spirit reality is justifiable for the near and far field until man is able to find evidence in science and physics that no other person has experienced God. What have we to lose, really?

    Religions change, but the need for man to find deep meaning and to cling to hope of a Higher parent does not change. Religion is the slowest of man's experiences to change.

    After we are dead and gone, who will influence and control your life and the surviving earth humans? If there is no hope and no dependence on evolving religion, then there is nothing but end.

    Religion will always be relevant because people need their Creator.

    Others will have their say on your question.
    Peace,
    MK
    • Apr 17 2012: "Religion will always be relevant because people need their Creator."

      Thumbs Up!

      "Leave some room for thinking and philosophy, which really is a gift to help us reconcile material and spiritual realities"

      Thumbs Up!

      "What have we to lose, really?"

      Thumbs Up!


      You usually are the first to comment on this great topics. And you usually say alot....I have picked out some parts I especially enjoyed reading...

      Peace to you,
      Mary
    • thumb
      Apr 18 2012: Dear Mark,
      You say..."religion is relevant for those who seek truth, want good relationships, and want a foundation..."
      I suggest that many people who seek the same qualities, do so without the practice of a religion.

      I agree with you that if religions are going to be relevant in our world, "religion must change to adapt to the changes you cited"....and..... "Honest religionists and scientists can get along OK!"
      Honest is the key word.

      I agree with you...."Personal, private thinking, hoping, trusting, and accepting possibilities..." is very important, and I suggest that a belief in a "Higher parent" is not necessary to achieve these goals.

      You say..."Religion will always be relevant because people need their Creator".

      I suggest that some people may need a belief in a creator to feel like they are living a productive, responsible, beneficial life adventure. Many people do NOT feel that need, and continue to live a beneficial, contributing life.

      You ask..."What have we to lose, really?"
      In my humble perception and experiences, many people lose the ability to make well informed decisions for themselves. Many people lose the ability to feel the interconnectedness of all people.

      Peace to you my friend:>)
      • thumb
        Apr 18 2012: Colleen, I replies to Mark and then read your reply

        I think you put it more succinctly than I.

        Religion and any god you choose may be one pathway to some sort of meaning.
        But I suggest it is, well, false and a somewhat narrow view to think humans can not find meaning without these sorts of beliefs.

        I'd go a bit further and say there may be meaning in any religion, even if they are all human constructs. Religious practices may encourage transcendent experiences, but is not alone in these. Many believers never have god speak or these wonderful feelings of oneness. I have a similar experience via meditation, or simply being in the "zone". Aha moments.

        I know many non theists and theists and some in between and any existential angst depends more in the nature of the individual than their beliefs.

        Perhaps it is a smidgen harder for atheists. Perhaps the social connection of church etc helps.
        My tribe is mostly independent of religious institutions although some of my friends are devout Christians.
        • thumb
          Apr 18 2012: Hi Obey,
          You make some good points. There are many paths on the life journey, and religion may be the chosen path for some people. I agree that it is a narrow view to think that humans cannot find meaning without religious dogma.

          I know and love lots of people who find meaning in religions, and they don't need to convince everyone else that it is the one and only path toward meaning. Again, I agree with you that "believers" in certain religious traditions are often the least willing to recognize oneness. I agree...we can experience oneness with meditation, being in the "zone"...aha moments...yoga...a day skiing or biking with friends...a day in the gardens....on and on....

          I also have many family and friends who practice religions, don't practice religions, and as you say..."some in between", and I totally agree that it is not the practice necessarily that creates the person. It is the person who creates his/her life experience.

          The people I choose to interact with (my tribe) are people who are open minded, open hearted, willing and able to explore further than their own limited beliefs.

          It does not appear to be difficult for atheists, because there are more and more of them every day...for obvious reasons. As evolving humans, we are becoming more aware of our ability to think and feel for ourselves and make informed choices based on research and exploration, rather than simply accepting information that is given to us by someone else, with the threat to believe it or go to hell!
      • Apr 21 2012: Colleen, what seems right to me for addressing this man's very good question, is to consider what the "heart" of a person desires. If the very center of a person really desires improvement, growth of values and beliefs, then there will be action in mind. A passive mind achieves nothing. If inner ambition drives a person to seek answers, then well, good!

        What the heart desires is what the person becomes. Religious details help people to discover what they value, but cannot fully explain. Science attempts to find answers and to explain, but religious details and relationship with the Mysterious One helps a person to value something good. Truth is variable according to experience and education as man discovers. Beauty can be expressed and appreciated beyond material realities. Goodness is desired and found in action in a person's mind and is observable and held in respect or awe. These things can be coordinated in a person's experiences and development of character.

        Could human beings do all that just by relying on logic, math, physical observance, scientific theory or procedure?

        I suspect mankind will always need a reach of some sort for the unknown! Religion enhances his efforts at finding value for life.

        What do others say?

        Peace,
        MK
        • thumb
          Apr 21 2012: Mark,
          We are on the same page with many of our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. I totally agree that it is important to "consider what the heart of a person desires...improvement, growth of values and beliefs" are very important, as you insightfully state.

          I agree that a "passive mind achieves nothing", and "inner ambition drives a person to seek answers", and that is a good thing:>)

          I also agree that "what the heart desires is what the person becomes", and "truth is variable according to experience and education as man (humans-my addition) discovers". I agree that "beauty can be expressed and appreciated beyond material realities..."goodness is desired and found in action in a person's mind and is observable and held in respect or awe"..."these things can be coordinated in a person's experiences and development of character"....all very well stated Mark, and I agree with all of it.

          Now I turn the page...
          Religion is not necessarily the only path to these life qualities, and to think that, is limiting yourself and your perception of the life experience:>) I respect and honor YOUR dependance on religion to offer and reinforce the qualities you speak of. To believe that others, who are NOT dependant on a religion, cannot experience the qualities you speak of, seems arrogant and an effort to seperate us. I believe we are all connected, and I respect other's choices IF the choice does not adversly impact other people.
    • thumb
      Apr 18 2012: Hi Mark, I agree in way with some of what you say.

      Other parts depend on whether you think there is a god or some inherent good in the religious perspective.

      Your idea of a spiritual reality may be very different to mine and many others, Perhaps you believe we have some immortal spirit etc. Our amazing minds, consciousness, "spiritual" type experiences good be non spiritual, just the product of our suped up monkey brain.

      The bit I agree with is that the sort of meaning you may be referring to is not going to be found in the process of science. Science is about understanding the universe. Our minds are part of that. Add objective history, Philosophy and reasoned thought and you may get a pretty good picture of life and the universe, and an understanding of the development of religions and human transcendent experiences.

      Actually the origin of life, how consciousness works, and the origin of the universe are some of the most complicated questions we may have the least confidence in the current theories. They are work in progress. Also working out what happened 4 or 14 billion years ago is a tough ask.

      Anyway, this understanding, partial though it is, can be used to find meaning in life without religion or gods.
      Religion and gods is one way. But it is not the only way unless you believe there is no meaning without connecting in some way with the correct god or something similar.

      From this view point we probably cease to exist when we die. Life is precious. This is it. Time is precious. Make the most of it. Love and live way. No god needed.

      I completely disagree with your belief that we will always need religion. You assume there is a creator.You assume we need this creator if there is one. I'm not sure if you are a Deist or align more with a traditional religion. I suspect something in between. Some big calls. Do you care to elaborate on how you come to these conclusions.

      I agree that religion is one of the stickiest cultural memes. Worthy of understanding.
  • thumb
    Apr 21 2012: people who are spiritual will pursue the standards of the religion that they believe in! so i think it doesn't matter to them the advancement in the scientific theories!
  • thumb
    Apr 19 2012: @ Obey-- re: "what makes you think. . . ": Your Humanist thinking has limited the scope of possibilities in life sir. We humans do not need something above us. Everything in the Universe is not determined by human needs. Possible explanations of existence go far beyond human determination. Consider the idea that Man is not supreme. re: "If there are no gods. . . ": You invoke Atheist doctrine as the only possible explanation for the Universe, which it is not. re: "We are getting better. . . ": Really? Better? The evil side of Man does not change with the times. Predators, destroyers, parasites and all the other evil doers have always been, and always will be, with us. You are right that we are equipped with reason and instinct for both good and bad. The problem is the bottom line always shows enough bad to prevent the good from prevailing. re: "Unbelievers are no worse than believers.": Correct. In fact many "believers" are far worse than the typical unbeliever. Human behaviour is not what determines the relevance of God (I said God, I did not say religion). re: "isn't it better. . . ": If you do good and show compassion your motivation for so doing is not really relevant. God is relevant. Religion is not relevant. Thanks Obey.
    • Apr 21 2012: You say that God is relevant Edward. What is your concept of what God actually looks like ? Does he (or she )
      exist in physical terms, or is he merely a spiritual being ?
      • thumb
        Apr 22 2012: The God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam is one God. He is described in the Holy Bible. God is Spirit. Infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His wisdom; being; power; holiness; justness; goodness; mercy and truth. God is uncaused. He is one, existing in three forms: the Father; the Son; and the Holy Spirit. Religion is man's effort to know God. It is boundlessly subjective and utterly without authority except where it aligns with the Holy Bible. Otherwise religion is without relevance in the modern, past, and future world. God is not a synonymn for religion. Knowing God is supremely important and relevant. Knowing religion is dispensable and irrelevant. Thanks Mr. Hodges.
      • Comment deleted

        • Apr 27 2012: As an atheist I look on the bible as a fairy story. It would be just as logical to believe that Grimms fairy tales are true. Just because something is written in a book does not mean it's true. No one can ever prove that Jesus existed.
    • thumb
      Apr 29 2012: I think democracy is a step up from monarchy or theocracy.
      I think secular human rights, including freedom of religion within limits, is a step forward.
      I think an understanding that there are no real gods telling us how to live, that we have to sort this out ourselves is a better approach.

      I don't know if there are gods for sure. I'm pretty confident none of the thousands of human inventions including the Abrahamic belief systems come close if there is. Its almost ridiculous to think the creator of the universe is relying on a collection of books originally associated with a particular tribe in the middle east and then waited until 2000 years ago to sort out things for the rest. It looks just like a cultural construct.

      Why do you think the bible is pointing in the right direction in terms of god?

      What it you were born 2100 years ago in America? You might be arguing shamanistic theology.
      Its a kind of cultural arrogance to think your cultural religion has a basis any more sound that any other.

      I don't know if there is a god. If there is I doubt any human belief system comes close including the bible based ones.

      Is religion relevant - yes for many and it still impacts the non believers.
      Is it logical. I think if you could grow up away from any religious dogma, then took a look at the world, studying the history of religion you'd see it to be man made.
  • thumb
    Apr 17 2012: I, like Collleen, do not practice a religion. I do have a private belief. The difference is that a religion has a public aspect. From outside of the "religious box" I see religion as a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and world views that establish symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and often moral values. You infer that a person must chose between science and religion. Why. Science comes from the latin meaning knowledge and is a systematic approach from explinations, predictions, facts, and truths to arrive at a conlusion. If I look at the two as I have defined them above I cannot see a reason I cannot be a religious scientist. To coin a phrase "give unto Ceaser that which is Ceaser's". Having defined the terms I would state that the relevance of religion in the modern world is that we must maintain a belief in something. If you wish to call that religion or personal belief makes little diffrerence both provide the essential need of HOPE. With respect to eveyones beliefs ... I wish you all the best. Bob
  • thumb
    Apr 16 2012: Hi Peter.
    If your jaundiced view of religion were accurate, then we would indeed be better off without it .
    As far as Christianity goes however; it is very relevant & up to date. It explains the current world problems & provides solutions. Famine, war, financial collapse, middle east crisis, moral decline, unbelief; it's all there for those who are interested enough to find out

    :-)
    • thumb
      Apr 18 2012: Do you know a time ever without those kind of problems and has Christianity ever brought any solution for it. In fact it played its part in it all over the last two millennia.
      • thumb
        Apr 18 2012: Hi Frans
        Yes these problems have always been around, but there is more focus today.
        1. Our understanding of technology has exploded.
        2. Israel exists, & it's people are surrounded by enemies.
        3. A one world government is in the making.
        4. Our fiscal foolishness (greed) makes the cashless society inevitable.
        5. A universal religion looks likely.
        6. Constant civil unrest.

        I could go on, but it is very clear that things are booming to a head.

        :-)
        • Apr 18 2012: @Peter Law:
          I have only read bits and parts of the Bible and the Koran. So I don't claim to be an expert at either. But your 4 caught my eye. The Koran prohibits charging an interest on loans, and it prescribes giving away 10% of your income for the poor. I am not aware of any such mandates in the Bible. So, in answer to Frans Kellner's question, Christianity does not address your point 4, but Islam does. Any thoughts on that?
        • thumb
          Apr 19 2012: I remember talk of a one world government in church in the late 1990's.
          We are no where near a world government.
          The most powerful countries like USA are unlikely to give up their position.
          The European union is financially broken.
          If this is required for armageddon then we are safe for a while yet.

          I recall the cashless society also being discussed. Tattooed bar codes.
          I think there may actually be embedded chips possible.
          Paypal etc. The need for cash is decreasing. Cheques even.
          So this may have legs on it.

          You say a universal religion. Not in our lifetime.
          About 1 billion hindus, another 1 B Christians, and another 1 Billion Muslims
          Even the Christians and Muslims can not agree amongst themselves.
          Are you referring to humanism or atheism (no religions)

          According to some studies (Pinker) we are on average more peaceful than ever. Less deaths from wars. Less murders. Perfect? No, a long way from it. Getting worse no.
          Could it get worse. Yes - with or without prophecy humans have the ability to stuff it all up.

          Interpreting Revelations is a subjective nightmare. But even some of these interpretation are way off base I suggest.

          We had preachers saying Henry Kissinger was the antichrist and the world might end 2000.

          Its been end of days for 2000 years now. Time for a rest?
        • thumb
          Apr 19 2012: Peter if you refer to the end of days I have to disappoint you.
          St Paul was teaching the end of time to be near and if you listen carefully, within his lifetime.
          It didn't happen and it didn't happen in the year 1000 and not in 2000 and in the year 3000 AD people will have other things on their minds.
          They have to clean the oceans from all plastic waste and dangerous chemicals like BPA. To survive that long we have to deal with environmental issues first and I guarantee that no one will descent from heaven on a cloud to do it for us.
      • thumb
        Apr 19 2012: Hi John.
        These issues in Islam are pretty similar to the bible. Islam recognises (in theory) the authority of the bible, it sees the Koran as an update. The Lord hates interest, & most serious Christians give at least a tenth of their income to the church. How the particular church uses it is moot, but Islam has the same problem.

        The point I was making is that the bible foretells the cashless society; & the other points as well. Things are rapidly coming to a close.
        This makes the bible very relevant to today's society,
        :-)
      • thumb
        Apr 19 2012: Hi John.
        What folks do is up to them. I am part of a small group. Anyone can suggest a worthy cause, & to date all have been accepted. Most goes either locall, or to Africa. God is more concerned with our willingness to give than the detail. You cannot really judge; theoretically we are the same church as the Vatican, but that's not the way it works. Feel free to give to the Muslim church if that's your bag.

        :-)
        • Apr 19 2012: Hi Peter,
          Islam has clearer mandates for point 4. Christianity might have clearer mandates for some other kinds of "good deeds". I wrote all that as background for making the following point: most people who want to do "good deeds" use their discretion anyway. Each of these religions has its own faults too, and again, we use our discretion to figure out which bits to ignore. So, why not just bypass religion, and use our discretion all the time? I suppose this is what Peter Hodges' question was addressing.
        • thumb
          Apr 19 2012: Hi John and Peter L.,
          I'm not convinced that Islam has clearer mandates regarding the 10% contribution to the church, nor do I feel that the giving is always willingly. As I recall, it DOES say something in the bible about tithing (to pay or give a tenth part of esp. for the support of the church; to give a tenth of one's income as a tithe)

          I remember when the catholic church was building a new school, a representative of the church came to our house to solicit a pledge. They told my brother, who was recently in the work force, trying to save his money, that he was obligated to pledge 10% of his income for several years. My bro said he would give them a certain amount of money , and that's all he could afford. The church representative would not accept what he offered, insisting that he MUST give 10% of his earnings.

          While I was staying with Benedictine nuns in Mexico more recently (another of my religious explorations), they were frustrated with the priests and bishops, who continually told the people they MUST give 10% of their earnings to the church, even though they were living in poverty conditions, with barely enough money to buy food for their families.

          Peter L,
          You say..."God is more concerned with our willingness to give than the detail"?
          God ought to send a memo to his representatives here on earth, to advise them not to pressure those who are unable or unwilling to give the 10% the church demands.

          I don't think the catholic church leaves any room for "discretion". I believe it is better to use our discretion all the time, rather than be threatened with an eternity in the fires of hell, and I agree John...that seems to be the question Peter H. is asking.
      • thumb
        Apr 20 2012: Hi John .
        "why not just bypass religion, and use our discretion all the time? "
        On balance, I would say you have a point. There are too many church roofs needing fixed. Money has become an idol in many churches as well as in the general populace. However I don't have a lot of faith in 'discretion ' either. We are selfish people, religious or not.

        Colleen. I share your misgivings on the catholic church. I am often tarred with the same brush, which is uncomfortable.
        Benedictine nuns in Mexico ? For a religious skeptic you sure know how to test yourself , (lol) my hat off to you. :)

        :-)
        • thumb
          Apr 21 2012: Hi Peter:>)
          I prefer not to label myself, and appreciate NOT being labeled by others, so I don't accept the label of "religious skeptic". "Skeptic" suggests that I have doubt, and in fact, I'm very clear with my beliefs.

          Yes Peter...Benedictine nuns in Mexico! It was a wonderful experience staying in their convent and going out to the small poor villages with them daily. They are lovely, kind, generous women, who are truly working with the people to help change their circumstances for the better. I LOVE the fact that in all the time I stayed with them, there was no attempt to convert me, or anyone! The conversations were all about making our world a better place for everyone:>)

          I've talked about exploring religions extensively Peter. Did you think that meant simply reading a book? Attending a service? A weekend workshop? LOL. When I "explore", I emerse myself in the adventure!

          I stayed with Benedictine brothers, working in their gardens, attending services, eating and interacting with them on a daily basis. That is how I got connected with their sisters in Mexico:>) The Benedictine segment of the Catholic church are self sustaining, work very hard, nursing, educating, teaching life skills, carpentry, logging, gardening, maple-sugaring, sewing, cooking for themselves, cleaniing their own space, etc. I admire and respect them and their practices.

          I read hundreds of books, studied Buddhism, practiced and studied Sufism, Congregational, Methodist, UU...etc.

          My religious education started pre-school, when the Jahovah's Witnesses visited our home. My mom sometimes talked with them, as I was beside her or on her lap. She knew the bible from cover to cover, and was soon reminding them that what they were preaching was not truly in the bible. Then, there were 12 years of catholic schools and bible study for me.

          My mom taught me to follow my heart, trust myself, ask my own questions, seek knowledge, and evaluate, rather than simply accepting information from others.
  • thumb
    Apr 16 2012: Peter,
    Obviously, religions have relevance for some people. Some of the ideas and teachings that religions were based on are relevant...love thy neighbor...do unto others....etc. To me, it makes sense to embrace some of those original teachings, and we can do that without embracing all aspects of the religion. Unfortunately, many religious beliefs/teachings have been twisted and manipulated in a way to control people, and in my perception, that is not beneficial to humankind.

    Each and every one of us will take what s/he wants or needs from ANY teachings, whether it be based on science or religion. I believe humans are evolving to the point of wanting to think and feel for themselves, rather than be led by dogma which is controling.
    • Apr 16 2012: Hi Colleen, I agree with much of what you say. There are certain aspects of religions that are still relevant today concerning interpersonal relations. The main objection I have is that, even though science has removed the need for a belief in an anthropomorphic deity, many people still believe that the stories in the bible are literally true; when to any logical person, it is obvious that the bible is essentially a fairytale and nothing more. As someone who understands science I don't see how it is possilble to be a scientist, and at the same time, believe in a deity.
      • thumb
        Apr 16 2012: Peter,
        I don't agree that "science has removed the need...". Science may provide more information, and the "need" obviously is still active, otherwise no one would be practicing a religion...true?

        People will believe what they choose to believe based on their individual need. What good does it do you to "object"? I object to beliefs that manifest in behaviors which adversly impact other people, and I cannot see any point in objecting to people practicing a religion if it does not impact others.

        You know there are scientists who believe in a deity...right? I'm not a scientist, and I don't believe in a deity. We all do our own research, and base our understanding on so many different things, it seems kind of a waste of time to object to something you can do nothing about....doesn't it?
  • thumb
    Apr 16 2012: According to data , information available
    For majority still YES....
    For many it's NO & that is growing part.....

    I feel
    Religion is not a matter of LOGIC, Reasoning or Evidence.....
  • Apr 29 2012: There have been some interesting posts on my question, and I thank everyone who took the time to write them. My opinion on my question is that religion as such, does not have any relevance today, as I think that science has led to a new way of understanding the world, and superstition belongs in the past.
    I will leave the final word on religion to H L Mencken, which happens to be my favourite quote of all :-

    "The cosmos is a gigantic flywheel making 10,000 revolutions per minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it.
    Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride"
  • Apr 29 2012: Yes.
    As justification for committing evil.

    If a synagogue, temple, wat, mosque, church or other place of worship, burns to the ground, is the religion dead?
    NO, because it is the people, the founders, leaders, spokespeople, believers and followers.

    To my personal experience, the main purpose of religion is the total destruction of the human spirit.
    And God, if there is one, has done nothing to stop any of it.

    As far as I can determine, humans do have documentation that virtually all who have been impoverished, enslaved, tortured, killed, incarcerated, persecuted, prosecuted, condemned, labeled and demonized, burned at the stake, disemboweled with their intestines rolled up on spools, and suffered other such atrocities, were close to 100% of them innocent. Yet, it still continues today with thanks to Judaism, Islamism and Christianity.

    All in the name of their respective God who does nothing. As someone wrote:
    Is God willing but not able? Then He is not omnipotent.
    Is God able but not willing? Then He is malevolent.
    If God is both willing and able, whence does evil come?
    If God is neither willing nor able, why call Him God?

    Does religion have Relevance? For that kind of world? Yes.
    Does it have a Place? No! It has no place in a civilized world, but we don't have that, do we?
    No, we don't civilization because of religion.

    Religion is the biggest barrier to peace there ever was.
    By nature it is Fascist and Totalitarian.
    Do this or else. Believe this or else.
    And Sharia Law is even worse.
  • thumb
    Apr 28 2012: Thanks to science and atheism, we have the following;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJc8Mzg0C-c&feature=player_embedded

    I don't have a problem with the teachings of science except for those that tell us we are a cosmic accident, That that which created the universe doesn't exist, and that there is no retribution for sin. Other than that, I have benefitted much from science including my way of life.

    I separate the teachings of science with those of religion because they are not related in any way. One tells us how the universe is ordered and how it works, the other teaches us about our dark side and bids that we beware of its temptations and learn to overcome it.

    Science can teach us how to build a nuclear weapon. Science cannot teach us where and when to use it. That requires a deep soul search. If you have lost your ability to search your soul, then there is plenty on the internet about how to survive a nuclear holocaust.
    • Apr 29 2012: Actually the decision of the US to use two nuclear bombs had nothing to do with a deep soul search. The decision was argued on the grounds of the number of people expected to die in the outcome versus the number that were expected to die if the war continued. The sites were strategically calculated. And these decisions all by self-proclaimed religious men - the ones always running the USA.
      Religion does not educate, it indoctrinates. That is the opposite. And the US is good at indoctrination.
      I don't see the relevance of the link to fear-mongering propaganda that you shared other than to support my otherwise unsupported statement about indoctrination. Science is certainly not to blame for that propaganda, it is clearly derived from a faith-oriented perspective.
      Should we not try to learn together rather than separate ourselves (or demonise)?

      We will always have faith, and it is good as long as it is not immutable. Faith and reason must coexist and balance, without one we are not human.
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2012: Enrico, you are right, science is not to blame for that propaganda. The rejection of religion is.

        You don't think that our leaders did a lot of soul searching before deciding to drop the bomb? The United States decided on the grounds that fewer people would perish even though they knew the devastation that it would cause. That's not an easy decision to make.

        As far as indoctrination goes, I have an issue with that myself. I see the value in religious writings even though I don't see the value in how it is being taught today. My fear is that we will lose the good with the bad. Whether you see it or not, you can conjure up a dark side with science if you ignore any moral implications on how it is to be used.

        Should we not try to learn together; I say Amen to that. There is too much negativity coming from religion today. I have been at odds with it ever since I was in grade school. I have had spiritual experiences that took me beyond the words. I can only hope that others would share in those experiences. They are very positive, revealing, and uniting. They are what religion was intended to produce. If you want to reject modern day religion, fine with me. Just don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
        • Apr 29 2012: Indeed, as I have said faith will never leave us, and that is good. I see no baby or bath water, only people. I have found there seems to be a spectrum of the depth people try to travel along a path of enlightenment: and it requires both true education and empathy. The beauty with science (reason) is that we can make deductions about whether we should believe something. The beauty with faith is that we are free to believe anything that can not otherwise be deduced.
          Elsewhere there is an example on the issue that many believe the world is not as old as it really is regardless of the reasonable evidence.
          Regarding Little Boy and Fat Man, I am sure many did soul searching, however it did not have significant weight in the decisions - Bob Lewis' remarks after releasing the former showed evidence of the cold rational operation that took place - deferred to reason. (if decision-makers soul-searched enough beforehand would they have refused to act?)
          Reason and faith work together to give us our moral values.
          No matter what I think I know I always allow myself to question, to assess my information along with someone else's perspective, that allows me to learn moral values on my own rather than by manipulation.

          I maintain that the propaganda link is not due to the rejection of religion per se, may be the rejection of a certain religion, which is also done by other religions. So as long as there are multiple religions there will be such propaganda regardless of the fact that it is really faith that matters, not religion. Religion is merely an institution that seeks to indoctrinate people, no matter how subtle the action may be. It can not be otherwise because there is no religion (that I know of) which seeks to encourage followers to honestly question it's 'teachings'.
          Religion leaves people in a potential morality trap, only when one embraces faith without religion can one be free of the potential morality trap. And likewise there is a morality trap with poor reason.
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2012: Enrico,
        You have made some good points that jump out at me, and I believe to be the basis of why religions don't work well in our evolving world.

        You say "Religion does not educate, it indoctrinates"
        Most religions do not encourage believers to really explore life. They "indoctrinate", as you say, with some of the same twisted information they have been using for years to control people. They encourage people to follow the words in the holy books without question. Sometimes, people follow certain teachings or phrases without knowing the whole context, and without question.

        You ask..."Should we not try to learn together rather than separate ourselves (or demonise)?"
        I say ABSOLUTELY learn together, and that is how we may live peacefully, respectfully, contentedly as humans, sharing this earth. Religions generally discourage connectivity with each other, while each religion is trying to convince everyone that they are the one and only, "right" one!

        You write..."We will always have faith, and it is good as long as it is not immutable. Faith and reason must coexist and balance, without one we are not human".
        I totally agree that to evolve peacefully, faith and reason must coexist and balance, and that cannot happen when people are balking at change. There are people who practice religions and also live peacefully in our changing world. I believe with that mindset, religions can be relevant. There are also believers who cling to the belief that the scriptures written hundreds of years ago are the one and only "truth".

        "Reason", tells me that whatever people want to believe in the privacy of their own little world is ok....IF....it does not impact the freedoms and human rights of other people. When someone's belief impacts others, "reason" tells me that is not acceptable in our world, and that is when religions, or some religious dogma, seems to not be relevant. Faith should never usurp reason.
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2012: Enrico,
        The reason for the link is that I see a lot of it coming to pass. More and more potent drugs are getting to younger and younger people. We have a lot of drug issues in our community, many of which the people refuse to acknowledge (out of sight, out of mind). I know of educators that claim they are having trouble maintaining order in the classroom because there is no discipline at home. I see the poverty issue increasing. I see money going for job growth, but they aren't telling us how many existing businesses were lost because the community is being saturated by coffee shops, restaurants, and small business owners. They put up a Walmart. Caldors, K-Mart, and Ames all went out of business. I liked those stores better. No sooner do I see a new restaurant, I see closed signs on those we used to attend. Now you can sell your home back to the bank. It's called a reverse mortgage. Many young people are losing their inheritance because of credit card debt by their families. They want it all but can't manage their finances. We now have two casinos in our region. The gambler's anonymous flyers are all getting scooped up by people with gambling issues. My brother's company just took its production phase to China. Fortunately for him, he is in R&D and his job is still secure. But many of his coworkers will be getting a pink slip. It looks like the calm before the storm. All looks good on the outside, but people are hurting on the inside.

        I have been fortunate. My walk with God has led me into the right decisions. My family taught me to question things, which I see as a blessing. They taught me to put trust in God by following my intuition. I was trained in the sciences and worked for an electric power company as the control room supervisor. So I have a lot of respect for science. But I also have respect for spiritual matters. I have felt a guiding hand in most of what I do. I see the benefits of an uncorrupted religion.
        • thumb
          Apr 29 2012: Dear Roy,
          You are right...we have drug issues, lack of discipline, poverty, an unsteady business climate and economy. gambling issues, outsourcing, etc. Religion has had centuries to "fix" the issues of the world, and in my perception, have often times caused more problems, rather than "fix" anything.

          You are indeed fortunate that your "walk with god" has led you into the right decisions. I also have respect for spiritual matters and for those who choose a religious belief for him/herself. It is good that you see the benefits of a religion.

          I see the benefits of religion for SOME people, depending on how one uses the religion. Some folks use religion as a beneficial life guide, and some folks use it to create more chaos in our world.

          I respect you for your beliefs. It would feel really good if believers would respect my beliefs, rather than continually try to convert me. The message that is sent, when people think/feel that everyone must believe as they do, is that I am not intelligent enough, or informed enough to make my own decisions.

          I have lots of friends and family who practice a variety of different religions on many different levels. Never, in all my life, have I encountered so much pressure to embrace religious, as I've encountered here on TED. Why do you not trust that I can make my own choices?

          I agree with you that we are experiencing a lot of changes in our world. I truly believe part of the change, is that people are thinking and feeling for themselves rather than accepting the dogma other people are trying to give us. Embracing a religion, or a god, is NOT the ONLY way to live a meaningful life, and it's tiring to hear this story over and over again.
          Thanks for your consideration to what I choose to believe, and how I choose to live my life.

          I respect you and your choice as well. I too see the benefits of "uncorrupted religion", however, that is not what we have experienced in the past, nor are we experiencing it in our world today.
    • thumb
      Apr 29 2012: Roy do you honestly believe society is worse now than it was 2000 years ago?
      I don't. Do we have problems yes.

      I think you might be indicating that religion provided a moral compass.

      Religion is a failing social technology because it is based on falsehoods. That there is a god or gods. That we know what god wants. These are the rules. And our interpretation is the truth and all others are wrong. It is so obviously man made it no longer works.

      Its pronouncements are based on false authority. Religion is much more than a moral compass. It is deeply embedded in the self of self, tribe or nation. Don't forget all the bad stuff. You might think that is not pure religion. But that is what religion is as well. When a 13 year girl is mutilated to help promote morality - religion is in the mix. Religion can be used for good and evil. I support human rights. The rights of the child.

      I agree with increasing freedoms there is the risk of pleasure seeking self destruction.

      If you see from our point of view that religion is apparently manmade - a cultural construct - you can see how it has no moral authority. Once you detach it from your cultural imagined god it is nonsense.

      I want to live a good live. I refuse to accept man made religious non sense.

      So perhaps the solution is coming up with a secular moral compass.

      Religion based on cultural superstition is no longer a sustainable solution to these problems
      • thumb
        Apr 29 2012: Obey,
        No I don't believe that society is worse now that it was. Nor do I believe that religion is based on falsehoods. I believe that it is no longer understood. The fact that it is misunderstood doesn't make it based on falsehoods. The misunderstandings are falsehoods. And maybe it doesn't work for you but it still works for me because I don't just follow along with the teachings, I have gone way beyond that point.

        As far as the bad stuff, I have to agree with you that there is a lot of it. I won't argue that religion is in need of reform. I won't argue that we need to accept the evidence of science. I won't argue that the falsehoods all need to be exposed. That is what I am trying to do here. But I will argue that we need to do away with it because it is all based on lies, because it is not all based on lies. There are a lot of lies and they need to be done away with.

        I don't accept religion as truth when science tells me something different. I won't support the negativity it fosters to the ignorant. I won't allow myself to be blindly led. Nor will I judge those who find it pointless. I understand your viewpoint. I held that same viewpoint at one time.
        • Apr 29 2012: Roy, I commend you for your attitude.
          I hope you understand my overall perspective. I think I understand yours, in part...
          I am still unsure about the motive behind having introduced the propaganda link and the inflammatory accusations that you accompanied with it.
          Have I suitably explained my view for you to understand regarding the propaganda?
          Please would you elaborate any continued justification that you may for the link (whether contradicting my view or not)?
    • thumb
      Apr 29 2012: Hi Roy,
      I saw the video from your link. If I was the devil I would make such a video to put fear back into the minds of the people.
      Luckily there is no devil nor evil but lots of ignorance and stupidity.
      There is no good nor bad there only are people that try to do the best they can, the best for what they know.
      For this to work in a positive way it is necessary for humans to trust their inner guidance and live their personal characteristics. Our natural history has supported all things needed for human cooperation and all we call healthy. When natural behavior is suppressed by the rules of any society the result is frustration and even more if you need to fear what is natural.
      So if religious rules and doctrines are replaced by love, parental love and brotherly kindness our inborn inquisitive mind will learn all it can know and with this knowledge return all love naturally through all our life to all we meet.

      People that have missed this love from birth they need some bad, they need some devil for it can be regained only from all that is the opposite. Maybe you yourself have sometimes met some loving and kind person with a violent painful history.
      • Apr 29 2012: "So if religious rules and doctrines are replaced by love, parental love and brotherly kindness our inborn inquisitive mind will learn all it can know and with this knowledge return all love naturally through all our life to all we meet."

        This is exactly what we are told in scripture Frans.......LOVE.......that is all it boils down to.

        Some have already discerned this. Others are still fighting their way through the many many gears of the paradigm shift required to bring them to this enlightenment.

        Changing the way we think is hard.

        And, when you have money and power and fame it is almost impossible.

        I think that is why the earth cannot have peace and harmony.........because those in charge are the ones with money, power, and fame.

        I enjoyed reading your comment. And yes, many come to learn love and kindness because of past suffererings. If you are able, read and see what another TEDster ( I. Munoz) wrote to me a few hours ago in this conversation:

        http://www.ted.com/conversations/10975/what_is_the_most_painful_lesso.html
  • thumb
    Apr 28 2012: Hi Peter,
    I am not a big follower of all the scientist in the world but I can say prominent scientist like Albert Einstein believed in God . If you have watched paranormal activity, the spirits also change the magnetic field around you so don't be hard on yourself , accept the fact that god does exist... You might not have seen him, maybe he is within you ...

    Regards,
    Bharath
  • Apr 28 2012: Here is some food for thought out of a magazine:

    “Regular involvement in religious activities goes hand in hand with better physical health and a longer life, according to a statistical analysis of 42 independent studies published since 1977 that have addressed this issue,” states Science News.

    “Religious involvement, especially the public type, showed a statistically significant relationship to higher survival rates, the scientists say.”

    Several reasons have been proposed for the findings—the shunning of risky behaviors, marital stability, less depression associated with matters beyond direct control, greater social contacts, and positive emotions and attitudes.

    One report concludes: “Frequent religious attendance has now been found . . . to be associated with a reduced hazard of dying, particularly among women. Frequent religious attenders . . . reported greater social support, less depression, and better health practices.
    • Apr 28 2012: Well as the report says - Several reasons have been proposed for the findings, the shunning of risky behaviors, marital stability, less depression associated with matters beyond direct control, greater social contacts, and positive emotions and attitudes. - So one could say that it is nothing to do with the religious belief at all but the practicing of those behaviours.

      My own personal experience as an ex-christian and then ex-new ager type was that once I had given up spiritual beliefs I was a lot less worried about matters beyond my direct control. I had stopped wondering when bad things happened what I was supposed to learn from it all, what should I do? It actually made me less worried and genuinely happier than I had been before. I was freed froma burden of responsibility that I had otherwise felt while still valuing other people as much as myself, still not wanting to go out and rob and kill. I'd say lack of belief had a much more beneficial effect on my mental well-being than belief ever did.

      Though of course I realise this is just my own anecdotal evidence. Still it worked for me so I offer my experience up in the hope it will be of benefit to other people struggling with the sort of thing I went through.
      • Apr 28 2012: Thank you Terry.

        I too feel that religious dogma which sometimes reads as a "Do not do list" is a terrible way to live ones life.

        Some religious people live in fear. This is terrible, and robs us of joy.

        I simply presented the information above because it related to the question Peter asked.

        I am a Christian, and I make a concerted effort to respect everyone's right to choose how to live.

        Thank you so much for including your viewpoint. I have spoken to many individuals who feel like you. I used to be one of them.
    • thumb
      Apr 29 2012: Mary M, none of this makes any religion correct, or the truth.

      Social cohesion, health benefits etc is not a valid rationale to say believing in something most likely false is the appropriate way to live.

      Some of us can not abide by the imagined gods and superstition religion is tied up with.

      Probably none of the 3000 + gods are real. No good linking some social and health benefits to religious delusion of any variety for those of us who see these gods for what they are. But perhaps we need something to replace the failing social technology of religion. I'm all for teaching ethics, social interaction, and teaching our kids about the consequences and leading by example.
      • Apr 29 2012: I will forward your comments to Science News.

        Don't kill the messenger....LOL
  • Apr 28 2012: Well there's still a lot of it about so it has relevance to modern culture and politics. An understanding of religious beliefs is a certainly useful when looking at history to say the very least. An understanding of religious literature useful for cultural reference terms such as know the truth and it will set you free etc.

    Can an atheist like myself get anything out of religion? Well if, having never heard it, someone today was to put the sermon on the mount up on TED for example it would get a thumbs up from me. I live fairly near Canterbury cathedral and every time I see it I think what an awesome, awe inspiring piece of architecture. If I visit one of the better sort of art galleries then I especially like those really old medieval paintings with their vivid colours and weird to modern eyes lack of perspective. Did I like the call recently to make the British national anthem the hymn 'Jerusalem' rather than 'God save the (current reigning monarch)' you bet I did, it's a much better song and I'm more a republican sorta person anyway.

    Is religion logical? Absolutley not, guess that's kinda the point of it. Do I get along fine on a day to day basis with my secular humanist views and using enlightened self interest to form my opinions, but of course. Do modern theories on the evolution of morality in social mammals especially the primates explain where humans get their morals better than religous theories? Yes that makes much better sense and explains some of the universal features that all human cultures share in my humble opinion.
  • thumb
    Apr 28 2012: Wow Peter !!! Awesome question,
    Anyway let me tell you my opinion , Well to be honest the answer is an yes as well as no . Religion is just a way of realizing god within us . The ultimate goal of any religion is peace and harmony so any religion should take you to that ultimate goal .
    Moreover , scientific discoveries and religion go hand in hand , for example the Hindu culture, which I follow , the Sanskrit hymns create a sense of positive vibration within our body and bring peace to our mind . Sixth Sense and subconscious mind does exist . Yoga or MudraYoga has done miracles to people . Even the best scientists in the world believe in the existence of god . Hope I have not confused you too much . :)

    Email me : bharath.6489@gmail.com

    Regards,
    Bharath
    • Apr 28 2012: If the best scientists in the world believe in god then they are not the best scientists in the world. Either you believe in science - or religion; you cannot believe in both. Here's a quote about religion from Desmond Morris, who's views agree with mine - "Like any good scientist I keep an open mind. But the concept of an omnipotent deity is so fatuous that even my open scientific mind finds it hard to take it seriously. It belongs with ghosts and gremlins and hobgoblins and things that go bump in the night. Something to frighten naughty children with- and a wonderful way for cunning holy men to exploit the gullible and the feeble-minded."
      • Apr 28 2012: "Either you believe in science - or religion; you cannot believe in both"

        Are you sure?
        • Apr 28 2012: Well, no one believes in science, it is about reason and logic - not belief.
          Semantics aside, I agree with Peter - almost. We can have faith and reason, we would not be human without both. However religion precludes reason. Religion is to faith as alchemy is to science. Faith has evolved beyond religion for many, and those who prefer to be left behind searching for their Gold amongst the Lead will miss out on a greater opportunity.
        • Apr 29 2012: As sure as anyone can be - yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      • Apr 28 2012: @ Enrico Petrucco

        What I have discovered from being around TED is that to some science is a religion......a belief system. And yes, I believe faith has evolved beyond religion.....so has spirituality.

        I guess what I find helps me is the Bible itself. Here's what I believe:

        The Bible contains various statements for which independent physical evidence is lacking. For example, what it says about an invisible realm inhabited by spirit creatures cannot be proved—or disproved—scientifically. Do such unprovable references necessarily put the Bible at odds with science?

        This was the question facing a planetary geologist who began to study the Bible some years ago.

        “I must admit that accepting the Bible was difficult for me at first because I could not prove some Bible statements scientifically,” he recalls.

        This sincere man continued studying the Bible and eventually became convinced that the available evidence demonstrates that it is God’s Word.

        “This lessened the yearning to have every Bible fact proved independently,” he explains.

        “A person with a scientific inclination must be willing to examine the Bible from a spiritual standpoint, or he will never accept the truth.

        Science cannot be expected to substantiate every statement in the Bible. But just because certain statements are unprovable, that does not mean that they are untrue.

        The important thing is that wherever provable the Bible’s accuracy is verified.”

        Thank you for your reply to my comment. I appreciated your words.
        • Apr 29 2012: Trying to be kind, may be I should have elaborated further in the first instance:
          Faith is changeable and can be reckoned among reason and vice versa.
          Religion usually does not satisfy that argument: there is usually a text (or set of texts) which pretend to arbitrarily determine 'the truth'.
          Once someone decides to change a religion, the result is a new religion. How many types of Christianity/Catholicism have to appear before those in the related religions realise that the institution is past it's time? I argue: let your faith evolve, don't believe what others preach, otherwise one may never learn some of the most fundamentally rewarding things about life and may be stuck in a trap.
          By faith - it does not have to be restricted to a spiritual sense, and i am aware of the paradox in the argument :)
  • Apr 20 2012: I once heard or read of religion, out of all of human activities, it is the slowest to change and therefore this could be factor of why so much of the old remains as sacred or revered. Man puts heavy authority on the beliefs of his ancestors and is slow to accept the new. Recall the church and Galileo and his peers. Old ways, beliefs, and liturgy continue. This slowness could be a major reason some folks are wont to forsake any affiliation with religious demands or practices. This planet is endowed with really smart people! But, we'd be foolish to throw out and personally disregard any possibility of spiritual realities.

    What science discovers, religion is slow to accept. It does not seem right to throw out all religion as being irrelevant and "toss out the baby with the bathwater, an old saying. The kind writers here who addressed your question seem right to encourage you to find the good in all religions and hold that high for personal hope and character. What kind of person are we to become if we rely only on the material aspects of the cosmos?

    Religion teaches us mercy, love, hope, forgiveness, tolerance. What aspect of science, material realities and logic can measure such experiences in persons? What machine or math formula can measure or explain mercy? Or issue mercy credits to persons?

    Let religion evolve and help it to evolve by showing good light shining from the above mentioned features of life. Religion must look forward and move in concert with the best scientific minds of the planet. There are great features of each; no person should be victim of extremes from either. Balance is satisfying.

    Peace,
    Mark K.
  • thumb
    Apr 20 2012: @ Gabe Moreno....In another post you say reason is the cause of your unbelief. How strange !!! Reason is why I do believe.
  • thumb
    Apr 18 2012: I take it that you have never had a religious experience that cannot be explained by science. I have and I can tell you that there is a great deal of difference between religious experience and organized religious worship.

    Religion is built on associations. The associations are all presented in symbolic form. Without explanation, the symbols are meaningless just like a formula would be if no one explained what the letters or symbols of the formula stood for. That is the problem with modern religion. They tell you to take it on faith, but when you ask for clarity, they tell you they don't know in so many words.

    Genesis and Exodus are mythologies. They contain information that is useful if you know what you are reading. Take the story of Adam and Eve for example. They were warned not to eat of the forbidden fruit. Ask any priest or minister what the forbidden fruit was and they can't tell you. I can tell you. It represents anything that entices you but leaves you destitute if you partake of it. Today we see it in the form of drug addictions, compulsive gambling, sexual infidelity leading to unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and STD's, and a host of other temptations. They are all branches of the same tree because they all have the same thing in common; they will drain the life from you. The tree is as real today as it was then and people are still eating from it with the same results. Once you understand this, you know why the story was written in the first place.

    Organized religion today is not providing its parish with explanations that make sense. Instead, they are giving you false interpretations that have evolved to make followers dependent on religion for salvation. Religion was about discovery. In ancient times, science would have been a major part of it. But the Catholic church took God out of reality after its attack on Galileo, and the word has since become meaningless. I am trying to put the meaning back in.
    • thumb
      Apr 18 2012: Dear Roy,
      I'm curious about your "religious experience" that was not connected with religious worship...want to share?
      If you don't want to share the actual experience, maybe you can explain what the difference between religious experience and organized religious worship is? Are you speaking about an experience that may also be called a spiritual experience?
      • thumb
        Apr 18 2012: Hi Colleen,
        I guess I confuse religious with spiritual experience as being the same.

        When I was nine years old, I felt threatened by the Catholic church teaching on purgatory. In my questioning, a nun told me to get alone with God and ask him the questions and let him answer. Several weeks later I had a spiritual experience while meditating on God (in my backyard). I was looking for God apart from reality because that is what I was taught. The experience took me back into reality and showed me the connectedness of everything. It was in harmony with the basics of quantum mechanics, but that was eleven years before I had any formal instruction on quantum mechanics.

        When I finally learned about quantum mechanics, I understood it scientifically, but also spiritually. I came to see God and quantum mechanics as two different expressions of the same thing. Quantum fields are everywhere, they are invisible, they are perfect, they are the source from which all things come and back to where they go. They are what is doing the creating. Our vision of God as a person comes from trying to personify the ineffable mystery. Quantum fields are part of the ineffable mystery. We only know of them by the effects they produce. We know nothing more about them including why they exist or where they came from. The person of God isn't real. What the personification relates to is. If only we could get religious leaders to understand this, it might put them back on track with science.
        • thumb
          Apr 19 2012: Hi Roy,
          We seem to share some similarities in life adventures, and I sensed that while reading many of your comments:>)

          I had issues with catholic teachings from the time I was a wee small child, stopped going to services as soon as I moved out of my home of origin, and did not practice a religion for 20+ years.

          I then sustained a near fatal injury and had a near death/out of body experience. While in that state, I percieved myself and other beings as masses of energy. I also percieved the connectedness of everything. It did not seem like a spiritual or religious experience in any way. The experience was totally foreign to me, so when I recovered, I went on a quest to research and explore various religious/philosophical beliefs, studied them extensively, and even practiced a couple of them for awhile.

          I find it interesting that science is starting to recognize the energy connections, and I percieve my experience as more scientific than anything else. I believe the words god, spirit, soul, etc. are used to describe the energy that powers the body and everything else in our universe. As you say..."these fields are everywhere".

          I agree that the percieved "vision of god as a person, comes from trying to personify the mystery". I did not meet a god "out there" with the NDE/OBE by the way.

          Based on extensive research of many different religious beliefs, the NDE/OBE, my life experiences, etc., I still do not practice a religion, and I am very content. Those who seem to need an organized religion, seem to be limiting themselves, in my perception. And those who are trying so hard to convert everyone to their beliefs, seem insecure with their beliefs.

          It would be interesting if religious leaders accepted and understood the concept you speak of, and I suspect they would not open the heart and mind to it, because they would lose some of their power to control others...would they not?
      • thumb
        Apr 19 2012: Hi Colleen,
        I wrote a book called "The Merging of Two Worlds" to try and present my views. I recently received a copy of an article written by a Moody Bible Institute student who interviewed me by phone about a month ago. The article clearly shows the student to be a fundamentalist Christian who had problems of my views, but at least he presented it as a book that "will hopefully begin the process for deeper thought for scientists and Christians alike".

        I sold some books locally and received the following comments from a friend; my neighbor is no longer attending her church because she finds your book much more informative, filled with explanations that are not covered in the services. Another teenager said this; I was an atheist until reading your book. Now I am seeing things in a whole new light and need to rethink what it is that I should believe. I am sensing that there might be a higher power out there somewhere.

        Your experience took you beyond what the church teaches, as so did mine, forcing us to think outside the box of religious dogma, but not abandoning the idea that we are part of something much larger than ourselves. I spoke to the daughter of a paster and she seemed intrigued by what I was saying, finding it hard to grasp, but interested in knowing more. I presented ideas that she could not dispute even though it was taking her out of her comfort zone. I think we will be seeing more of this at time goes on. We need to just keep saying it.
  • thumb
    Apr 16 2012: If we asked a hundred people to share their understanding of the meaning of the word "religion", how many essentially identical responses do you think we would get? 100? 50? 10? 0? My point is that to assume meanings of words is to begin a journey using a faulty compass. For this conversation what is your definition of religion? Thanks Mr. Hodges.
    • Apr 16 2012: I suppose that my idea of a religion would in involve a belief in an anthropomorphic deity, as in Christianity.This is a quote from anthroplogists John Monaghhan and Peter Just - "Many of the great world religions appear to have begun as revitalization movements of some sort, as the vision of a charismatic prophet fires the imaginations of people seeking a more comprehensive answer to their problems than they feel is provided by everyday beliefs. Charismatic individuals have emerged at many times and places in the world. It seems that the key to long-term success – and many movements come and go with little long-term effect – has relatively little to do with the prophets, who appear with surprising regularity, but more to do
      with the development of a group of supporters who are able to institutionalize the movement."
      • thumb
        Apr 16 2012: Not to be pedantic, but do you consider religion to be a strictly human invention, or do you think there must be a supernatural component? Mr. Just and Mr. Monaghhan clearly believe religion is of human origin. I believe the distinction is critical. Which do you mean by your question, of human origin, or supernatural, or possibly both?
        • thumb
          Apr 16 2012: The "supernatural component" is a human construct...is it not?
        • Apr 17 2012: As Colleen has stated I believe that all religions are human constructs devised primarily to control the masses. As religions prove, humans are like sheep, and tend to follow the herd. They seldom question whether religious teaching is logical or not.
        • thumb
          Apr 20 2012: Any religion is a human conatruct. God, of course, is not. Humans create religion in order to better organise their study, understanding, and worship of God. Last night I had this image where I likened it unto a symphony, where we are all still trying to learn our instruments and wventually one day we can make the harmony needed to properly appreciate the One who cpmposed the music.

          Look, religion has been usurped by scurrilous forces to control the masses. Look at what is happening now in America, where the evangelical movement is so controlled by monied elites that the normal rank and file Christian will support very anti-Christian policies. In fact, conservatism and Christianity, the political and the religious,are being blurred together in some obscene cacaphony.

          But at the same time, God knows that for people to worship on their own, even with good intentions, will eventually be led astray by their own thoughts and led down a path of worship designed by their own arrogance. This is why He promotes relign as a way for believers to temper each other, make sure we're on the right path.

          Brass tacks- yeah, I've seen religion make an 18 year old girl throw a rock at the head of another 18 year old girl as she was walking into an abortion clinic. But I've also seen a drunk abuser pass by an open tent evangelist, get converted, and then work hard to eventually become a father and husband that his family adores to this very day, still talking about him thirty years after his passing off this mortal coil.

          To answer the primary question: is religion relevant?, YES. Is it always done right? NO!
    • thumb
      Apr 18 2012: Hi Edward, Religion is a fairly slippery word. Some even say science is a religion.
      Part of the problem is religious belief systems are extremely diverse.
      Spiritual is another slippery word meaning all sorts of things to different people

      Definition is always a good place to start.

      Anyway, my main point is one the absolute most tricky words is God.
      It means everything from the entire universe to human god kings.
      This is part of the reason religion is such a broad church so to speak.

      On reflection you don't need to be religious to have profound experiences.
      You do need to be a religious to have a specifically religious inspired profound experience.
      You need to be a Hindu or Christian to have a specifically Hindu or Christian profound religious experience.
      I guess the transcendent experience a dervish has spinning around, may be similar but slightly different from a Christian praying intently until they lose their sense of self, or an atheist meditating etc.