Morgan Barnes

Law Enforcement Officer, government agency

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If Religion did not exist how far more advanced and how, much more tolerant of each other would we be?

After reading Umberto Eco's name of the rose (again) I started to think about the way religion has always been open to personal interpretation and the influence it has had by using fear and superstition and even ignorance to not only keep people in line but supress free thinking and invention.
So I started to thinking how further advanced we could be. Could we of already of colonised Mars and found and interacted with other species or would they of reached out to us?
Would we be more tolerant of each other and treat each other on a more equal footing than we have, had and still do???

  • Aug 12 2012: I love a question that can be answered by pure speculation.

    Lets take it further. Suppose the notion of god never existed. It was never thought of. From the very beginning humans were content to say we don't know. Suppose the notion of an afterlife never existed. For all of human history all humans were atheists, without any need of the word atheist. For all of history, every human was intimately aware that every human would exist for a few decades and then would exist no more.

    In this context, human life would be much more valued. With no thoughts of a better afterlife, all parents would do their very best to assure that their children had the very best possible life on earth. We would certainly be far more advanced. But not necessarily technologically. The idea of a 'good life' could mean something that our technological society might not be able to comprehend. We might have a society of amazing philosophers living in a sustainable stone age culture. We might all understand why we are here and exactly how we fit into the natural world. With this knowledge, we might all be happy.
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      Aug 16 2012: Thank you Barry, for making me think about something in a completely new way. I love questions like this too.
  • Aug 28 2012: I think that we would be right were we are today. Not because i am for religion or against it. The problems caused by religion are not actually caused by it, but by the way we organize ourselves. In an organization, be it religious or government or even a labor union once said group is big enough there becomes and element within that is best described as an oligarchy. They wish to further their place within the organization not the organization. Look up the "Iron Law of Oligarchy". would post a link but here comes the boss ha
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    Aug 18 2012: Morgan, Religion is the development of an idea. Religion is an idea that seeks to explain all that remains unexplained by science. Coming to the question of it did not exist, i guess it is not just religion, but the difference in opinion. People have always been intolerant of ideas that they cannot understand. Its surprising though that many are opposed to technology in this age of ipads as they cannot understand it. The intolerance to others is of ideas and not just a particular idea as religion. This is where we have groups and sects. The world is full of them. Look at the difference in political ideas and you have as many people propagating the same. You have many schools of thought each saying that they are the best. So i believe its not just a question of religion but what if there was toleration of ideas. Religion too has been unable to remain immune to this effect. So the result, you have the catholics and the protestants. In the protestants you have many denominations. While the commonality does exist, the very existence of these proves the difference in tolerance of the ideas.
  • Aug 15 2012: I don't think there is any question that religious institutions have disrupted the advancement of science. From the house arrest of Galileo to the destruction of Tarqi Al-Din's observatory, history shows us a pattern of repression against any philosophy or thought that deviates from the prevailing dogma. One merely has to look at the more contemporary controversies about stem cell research and genetic research for current examples of this pattern.

    As for your question about tolerance, I'm not entirely certain. I personally feel that religion is not necessarily a root cause of war or conflict but an expedient justification in most cases. Religion is just one of a number of differences that people have used as justification for bigotry towards or conflict against another group of people. There are exceptions, the conflict in the Middle East over Jerusalem as an example, but even then I would argue that this conflict is more about revenge and territory at this point than it is about faith. To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum, hate will find a way.
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    Aug 13 2012: The time we've had for innovation was, up to now and excluding the dark ages, probably about 500 years. That's being generous, since even in the innovation-friendly eras philosophy has been slowed down by some kind of religious undertone, so I bet we could've learned everything we know in less than a hundred years. But whatever.
    Let's say it's 500 years. And let's set the clock at 100.000 BC, the rise of homo sapiens.
    Now it's 99.500 BC and we've got iPads.
    So you're asking if we would've colonized mars 101.512 years after the iPad, in 2012 AD.
    I don't think it's possible to begin to imagine the amount of knowledge and technology - wealth - we'd have at our disposal today.
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    Aug 12 2012: Is religion bad, and does religion inhibit progress and promote violent suppression of disagreement. In most cases, no. Some religions do teach these things, but they are the exception rather than the rule. I have even seen a couple of posts on this discussion that state "the Christian thing to do" is to deny positive contributions to development.

    The truth is that as religion became adopted by political leaders, it was used as just another tool to promote self-interest and greed-fueled agendas. Religion became yet one more tool of the government to exert control over the governed.

    In reading the religious texts of most religions, there is little to no support for this behavior, and it may explain why the orthodox religious government authorities seemed to be more successful in exercising totalitarian religious control when they also controlled both the access to these texts and the interpretation of them.

    Similar to the value of an informed electorate in preventing totalitarian government control, an educated congregation can similarly prevent the warping of religious messaging and its use by the greedy and power-hungry for aims that may, in point of fact, be a significant deviation from the core intent of the founders of the religion.

    Pat's comment is key to this understanding. There is a spiritual element to every person, and a question that seeks to consider its elimination is (1) asking the impossible and (2) trying to deny an integral trait of being human.

    The obvious next question is whether spirituality could exist without religion, given how religion has been misused. Possibly, but people are communal creatures, and try as some of us might, we cannot exist as an island to ourselves. Well-implemented religion enhances the sense of community necessary to leading a healthy balanced life.

    Don't throw out religion as a concept or deny its value because some have seen it as a tool for evil purposes.
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    Sep 11 2012: Probably a hell of a lot.
  • Sep 10 2012: like others have said religion in itself isn't bad, I believe what started the religious destruction was when the one god systems came in and started taking over.

    Under the multigod systems I think there would be a lot more compassion and understanding between cultures, since many of the gods would have a mirror image in another culture. This would have helped prevent the Jihads and Crusades, and the religous purging of europe and the americas by Catholics or whoever
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    Sep 10 2012: Without some form of religion, civilisation as we know it would never have happened. The unseen all powerful god is a tool used to stabilise a community. You don't follow rules just because some guy said to. If you don't like his rule you thump him and take over. The increase in stability offered by a religious doctrine that everyone mindlessly follows give your community an evolutionary advantage over the dissorganised heathens down the road. The progression to political rule was only possible once political power became great enough to rival the stability offered by religion. It still hasn't completely changed over but it's getting there.
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    Sep 9 2012: Even if what you are considering 'religion' was not in existence (which just isn't possible, btw) other similar systems would have arisen... Like Joseph dictates.

    Even today those whom pride themselves on being atheist: follow cultural trends, have patterned arguments of belief, appeal to writers/scientist, perhaps have militant behaviors, outcast those who do not share basic thoughts, etc.

    The defining point between before disorganized thoughts/practices become an organized belief system - is the moment where the people self recognize the fact they are a group who shares these values in morality, existing, metaphysics, etc.

    A better question for me: When will religions evolve into something similar to that of the Vulcan faith? lol
    Otherwise: When will people stop overstating the word religion...?

    A good moment in time will be when the atheist leaders will just settle and try to manifest a religion... At least that religion would be more substantial than most we have presently existing today.. I speak taboo, good, we need some extreme changes to catch up with how rapid this world is evolving with technology and knowledge.
    • Sep 9 2012: I would say that an atheistic religion is a oxymoron. I would say a religion requires an element faith (otherwise it would be a secular society).

      EDIT The above claim that atheistic religion is an oxymoron, has been retracted ENDEDIT

      But I would like to see atheists meeting together on Sunday mornings for stories and lectures on morality, atheists celebrating the passing of the seasons and the rites of passage of their friends and family, atheists performing rituals and spiritual cleansing, atheists meditating and contemplating upon wisdom. Hell, you can even do it together with theists (!!)

      I think too man people are trying to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and a rejection of faith does not need to imply a rejection of everything that religions do. Once faith is disentangled from religion, what is left over is culture... And culture is fun!!
      • Sep 9 2012: Hi Joseph, I am wondering what makes faith such a bad word in your environment. A blind faith, yes, a spurious faith, yes. But a faith based on and practising a love of God and a love of the neighbour.. what's wrong with that?

        Faith or belief or trust in a higher power has always existed. But even worshipping the sun or believing in ghosts in trees is in itself not harmful. The trouble starts when people assume they have it right and try to influence and control others.

        It certainly does not help the situation if it is believed that those that believe differently than we do, are going to a hell. Which is totally absurd.

        But i'd be very interested to hear your reaction to our doctrine of Faith
        http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/documents/DocFaith.pdf

        Best wishes.
        • Sep 10 2012: Thanks for your reply. Proverbs 27:17 applies nicely to my approach to rational argumentation.

          The problem wit the word faith, is that it has several meanings and although our languages are useful for everyday communication, they can sometimes lead us astray when it comes to philosophy and science, where it is important that we define exactly what we mean.

          What I mean when I say faith is:
          > Grossly incorrect apportionment of belief in a statement concerning the objective nature of reality, with respect to the available evidence.

          Alternative definitions of faith suggest that
          > Faith is truth. I reject this definition. If this is so, then we can get rid of the word faith entirely, but the question would still remain 'Why do you believe something is true?'.
          > Faith is trust. I reject this definition in a philosophical context, but have no problem with people using it colloquially. Trust is based upon evidence: 'I trust my brother to buy me a nice present for my birthday - because he has always done so before'. Therefore, trust is in the realm of rational belief. Faith in a god or gods is different, because it is not based upon evidence, it is in the realm of irrational beliefs.
          > Faith is a system of belief. I agree with this, and we hear it all the time 'the Christian faith', 'the Jewish faith'...etc. However, what makes these systems of belief different from other systems of belief is that they are based upon faith (see definition above)

          ------------

          'Faith... in a higher power has always existed'. Logical fallacy - argumentum ad antiquitam

          'The trouble starts when people assume they have it right and try to influence and control others' - People always control and influence others, we are a social species. Education controls and influences people, the courts of justice control and influence people. No, the problem is when this control and influence is based upon false premises - e.g. 'We are God's chosen people', 'I will go to heaven when I die'
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        Sep 10 2012: Atheistic religion is no oxymoron... Chinese faith is based on three religions which hold no higher omni-being...

        In response to everything else, what Adriaan said.
        • Sep 10 2012: Fair point, atheism is simply the rejection of one type of faith. That used to support the claim of the existence of a god or gods. Some people put their faith in homoeopathy, or taoism, or astrology, or communism....

          I correct my statement to say that rationalist religion is an oxymoron, where rationalism is the rejection of faith.
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          Sep 11 2012: Yes atheists can be superstitious or adhere to non theistic religious type belief systems, or humanism etc.

          But atheism, the non belief in gods is not a religion. It is just a position on one issue, belief in gods.
      • Sep 10 2012: Hi Joseph,
        Our definition of faith is as follows.

        Faith is an internal acknowledgement and affection: an internal acknowledgement of truth from sight and understanding!! of it, and an internal affection of truth from willing the truth because it is true; and it consists in desiring from the heart to know what is good and true for the sake of life. It is therefore inseparable from life and is one with the good of charity. Indeed we are taught the understanding of good is what is principally called the truth of faith, and that faith is the operation of the Lord alone through the charity in a person.

        Also, there is historical faith which rests upon human authorities; and persuasive faith is a belief for the sake of selfish or worldly ends; and spurious faith is that in which falsities are mixed with truths.

        When enough people have a similar faith, they car-pool, spiritually and call it a religion. As car-pooling is not without its faults, neither is a religion.

        About your last point,
        I regard myself as rational, recognizing the fact that we live on two distinct levels. We are spirits living in a material, scientific realm.
        That's why science can tell us that we think, but not WHAT we think. Science can measure our temperature but not our love for our partner or our sport.

        To 'see' the spiritual from a scientific stand, is like standing on the street and 'seeing' what is on the roof of a building high above.
        The more we know about the why of life, the more we'll know about the how of life.
        • Sep 10 2012: I'm sorry, but I can make neither head nor tail of your definition of faith... Did you have a similar difficulty in understanding mine, or do you simply reject it. OK, let's give yours a go...

          "Faith is an internal acknowledgement and affection"

          Internal to what? Human minds? So we acknowledge something in our minds. Thinking. Affection like... a love of knowledge? Faith is thinking and loving.

          "an internal acknowledgement of truth from sight and understanding!!" from sight... so, we use our senses to work out what is true. and understanding... I can only think you mean logical reasoning here. That bit sounds a bit like science, using observation and logic to work out what is true.

          "of it," Was this supposed to come with the previous or next clause?

          "...and an internal affection of truth from willing the truth because it is true;"
          Loving things that are true. From willing the truth...what? willing like wanting? Wanting to have truth?

          "and it consists in desiring from the heart to know what is good and true for the sake of life." You're starting to loose me! Poetic use of heart... instinctive desire to know truth and morality?

          "It is therefore inseparable from life and is one with the good of charity."
          Whoa... non-sequitur. Is one with... as in the same, or ... no, I have no idea what you're saying.

          "Indeed we are taught the understanding of good is what is principally called the truth of faith"
          understanding of good... morality? Is principally called... is the same as? The truth of faith... Wait, that's cheating, you can't include the truth or falseness of something within it's definition!! That's like saying 'Allah is defined as a really cool god who exists'. Islam is true by definition. And what does truth have to do with morality?

          "and that faith is the operation of the Lord alone through the charity in a person."
          Only God can 'do' faith?? Charity???

          That definition really is a mess. Can you come up with a better, shorter, clearer one?
        • Sep 10 2012: "I regard myself as rational, "
          I regard you as irrational with regards to your belief in a god.

          "...recognizing the fact that we live on two distinct levels."
          ...a spiritual level separate from the material realm? Please provide a reason to believe in such a thing, or refrain from stating it as a fact.

          "We are spirits living in a material, scientific realm."
          What do you mean by spirit?

          "Science can measure our temperature but not our love for our partner or our sport."
          Yes... we can measure love, we can explore brain chemistry, we can do psychology, we can observe human behaviour... and even if we don't know everything about it, this does not mean it is unknowable.

          "To 'see' the spiritual from a scientific stand, is like standing on the street and 'seeing' what is on the roof of a building high above."
          A glib proverb does not wisdom make.
      • Sep 11 2012: Joseph, your definition of faith is not the same as mine, as you have noticed. You say:
        "Grossly incorrect apportionment of belief in a statement concerning the objective nature of reality, with respect to the available evidence."
        "Did you have a similar difficulty in understanding mine, or do you simply reject it."
        It seemed to me not so much a definition of faith but more your opinion and rejection of faith.

        Just a note about your comment on faith and truth is that in the Hebrew language those two words were one and the same word.

        But maybe we have to take a step back.
        When in your 'definition' you say "..,with respect to the available evidence" that puts it totally outside of the spiritual realm. You seem to have decided to completely disregard anything spiritual because it is above the material and cannot be proven.
        A thousand people can do a same action but not one of those people will have exactly the same motive for why they do it, as the other.

        You say love can be proven. No it can not! Love is a spiritual substance and cannot be detected by ANY material or scientific instrument. We can assume, speculate and interpret what we see physically, but that is in no way proof. Humans can pretend to love because there is no proof, unless we make a mistake and then show we did not tell the truth.
        If we could not pretend it would be so much easier to defend our home or country. If we could, the border guards would measure our intention (or love) and so determine that we are going to fly into some buildings in New York City.

        "we can explore brain chemistry" yes, but that does not show if we have good or evil intentions. It all boils down to freewill. We were created with the ability to choose what to believe, to choose what to love or who to love. If that were not the case we would be puppets, or animals. Now we have even the option to kill someone we have chosen to hate, or love someone we see as an enemy..

        You ask "what do you mean by spirit?" pls next post
      • Sep 11 2012: As I said, love is a spiritual substance. it is not nothing,
        Our eyes can only see the three dimensions of our physical world but our understanding can see into the higher dimensions of spirit. CAN, if we so choose!
        One of Swedenborg's most famous quotes is
        "Thought based on the eye closes the understanding, but thought based on the understanding opens the eye."
        What is spirit? You may have heard the expression 'We are what we love.' Our character is determined by what we have decided and learned to love. So spirit is a form of love. If we love evil, we are an evil spirit. If we love good, we are a good spirit.
        This booklet is called "The Nature of Spirit" and deals with it many, many times better than I can even attempt.
        http://www.swedenborgdigitallibrary.org/nature/nat1.htm

        Sorry Joseph, I said "an internal acknowledgement of truth from sight and understanding!! of it"
        The whole point I was trying to make is that we should understand truth. How can we decide something is truth if we do not understand it? That's why my emphasis of two "!!". If you had read my first link (to DocFaith.pdf) that was the first point made. We cannot have faith in mysteries or things we do not understand because then it would be 'blind faith.'

        You may have noticed that our view on faith is different than the normal Christian idea of faith. That's why we also call ourselves New Christians. We do not think that we only received our brains to become smart shoppers.
        It is our conviction that it is now permissible to enter into the world and concepts of religion with our understanding. Questions are encouraged.

        The better we understand life, the better we can live.
        This relates to your point "and it consists in desiring from the heart to know what is good and true for the sake of life. Poetic use of heart... instinctive desire to know truth and morality?
        Not instinctive.
        We have a will and an understanding. These relate perfectly with each other as our heart and lungs do. Pls see link
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        Sep 11 2012: Joe,

        A lot of things wrong with your responses and thoughts, collectively.

        First and foremost Adriaan is trying to find common ground between the supposed left and right (theist v. atheist). Which makes him neither right nor wrong but rather allowing more room for interpretation of all thoughts rather than either 'sides' fundamentalism.

        I will stand on the same ground as Adriaan, coming from the position as a religious naturalist.

        Now, a few points of biases in thought... Not all who value faith in God are fundamentalist/extremist in the sense of denying reality and/or being open minded - this position just satisfies the rest of your arguments.

        Next, you claim there is no 'rational religion' - sorry again, wrong. Two points:
        1. rationality is debatable; I consider the longevity of actions being in the positive spectrum to be rational. So obviously, yes, historically fundamentalist proved irrational and do so today while being conservative in issues of marriage, abortion, etc.
        2. Asides from those who practice fundamentalism in faith/thought, religions prove very rational therefore morality, ethics and family values are constantly in that state of mind. I fear you are talking out of ignorance about world religion, but rather are looking at this in a historic scope (which is a partial stipulation) and/or perhaps just the Abrahamics. Muslims happen to be some of the greatest people, if you were to visit one and were to admire something of theirs, in Iraq especially, they would offer you that item in good nature - irrational? No way, in the long accord, I am assured that gentleman would be happier knowing you are happy than he was with that item.
        2. a. If you can argue any Eastern religion is irrational, I can argue you have no idea about their history, fundamentals and/or ideologies.

        Lastly, if you are to talk of cognitive studies here, you better know your stuff. Neuroactivity is unique in all of us, thus there is no universal way to depict exact emotions.
  • Sep 9 2012: The problem with answering this kind of question is that 'religion' is an extremely complex thing. It is a system of
    > Faith
    > Stories
    > Moral Philosophy
    > Community & Authority
    ....and it is possible for each of these things to exist independently.

    So, when we theorize about an 'end of religion', we need to define which of these things would be gotten rid of.

    I would suggest that stories are almost always good. They are a form of art and, in the context of the Bible stories, give us the opportunity to exercise imagination and moral instinct.

    Moral philosophy is also good: It allows us to explore what it is to be moral and immoral. It provides a mechanism by which to more successfully work together and co-operate.

    Community and Authority are both double-edged swords: community is important to human social life, but can also lea to in-group out-group thinking, resulting in xenophobia, racism, and hatred. Authority provides stability, co-operation and homogeneity to a community, but this means that communities are only as good as their leaders, and too much authority can lead to group-think and persecution of deviants (authoritarianism).

    The real big bad within religion is FAITH. Faith is evil! It encourages us to believe ideas on insufficient evidence, and defend them against all evidence to the contrary. This means that they can often be incorrect. This incorrect information has slowed down the process of gaining objective knowledge and has skewed moral philosophy for millennia. But with religions focus on community and authority, these untruths and skewed morals have been memetically successful, passing through the minds of believers.

    So religion is not the problem in itself. The problem is faith.
  • Sep 3 2012: Without religion, the world would have been in much greater conflict; and there would therefore have been less progress.

    The notion that religion causes conflict should be passe. The great conflicts of the past 100 years were caused by secular movements: fascism and communism.

    Religion *today* is a widespread underpinning of good will, which (in the West anyway) is compatible with scientific progress. We need to respect and value it.
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    Aug 16 2012: It is an interesting question. What would have happened if the ancient Greeks would have continued to flourish? The Dark ages may not ever have happened, and the enlightenment's correlative would have happened a thousand years sooner. But none of us would be here either because there would be a completely different chain of causality throughout history. I am deviating from your thought though.

    I don't think religion's rise in practically every culture on earth could have been avoided. With a lack of knowledge of the mysteries of the ancient natural world, religion filled the knowledge vacuum for all the frightening things that hadn't yet been explained. Even today it seems that so many people rely on their religion to fight the fear of mortality that they feel, or to find strength in belief when they can't find it within themselves. So much of our current knowledge does have a foundation in religious history. Throughout the dark ages, the only place western knowledge was preserved was in the churches. So, in a way, without religion, after the collapse of the Roman empire, the dark ages could have gone on in perpetuity. I think it is a bit of a paradox that while religion suppresses creative thoughts when they differ from dogma, religion has also been a seed of much great art, science and the preserver of ancient knowledge. (In the case of the Catholic church, even some texts which prove the forgery of religious texts in its past.)
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      Aug 17 2012: I completely agree history as we know it know would of been a completely different beastie if religion had not existed.
      Although I am thinking from reading the contributions to this thread by the posters that there maybe a few to many variables and emotive connetations attached that also make it a difficult question to answer even though it is hypothetical.
      Also agreed upon is that church has given us some of the most iconic art sculpture and architecture throughout history even though it was the churchs wealth that commissioned some of histories greatest talent.
      The Renaissance era for the church seemed to be more open to innovation, invention and science eg: Da Vinci.
      But have you ever wondered although the church was charged the preservation of knowledge and text how much was destroyed by those members who did not agree with that knowledge and its writings. What lingers collecting dust in archieved vaults of the Vatican the church does not wish us to see or know as well????

      I have always admired Henry VIII take on things "Bugger that if the Catholics won't give me what I want I'll start my own church and make myself head" Divine right in action ;-)
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        Aug 17 2012: Yes I have wondered about that. It seems plausible that a lot could have been destroyed or hidden. It makes me feel profound regret at the arrogance and hubris of those who think they represent God's point of view.
  • Aug 13 2012: Somewhere in our past, humans had a great regard for nature, and as they took that hike out of Africa things started getting out of hand.
    I study wildlife, cause I am a wildlife artist & been so for many years. From what I have seen, other forms of animals do not have religion & they get along just fine until humans step into the picture.
    If humans had stayed within the teaching of nature, we could have used our bigger brains to prevent many problems our little blue ball now faces. Would we have the advances we now have today? Most likely not. Barter system would be in place & greed wouldn't be so ramped. Wars would not be on a global scale & populations would be a lot smaller.
    Of course this is all speculation on my part as are all the other answers here.
    Having knowledge is wonderful but having the wisdom to use it wisely is another ball of wax all together.
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      Aug 14 2012: sub// the natural state of humankind

      The homo sapiens, perheps a blend of genetic information from several ancestral lineages, perhaps a simple manifestation of the former homo erectus, is not a lonesome creature.

      The species is and has always been gregarious. It spends its waking lives alone at work happily longing for the time that we are able to visit friends. It seeks companionship in bed. It is fundamentally a social animal.

      Powerful and unsubtle emotions drive the species on a basis of primarily impulse. The conditions of love and hate are especially powerful. Incredible potential levels of sympathy for ones family, be this core or expanded, is one of the great features of the species.
      Indifference, the opposing (anti) emotion of both love and hate, is less common, and often results in battle.
      Logic and reason are less advanced features of the mind of the homo sapiens.

      There exists a desire in the heart for interaction with ones environment, inspiring enthusiasm and progress.
      The human seeks to learn, while other species simply know.

      Nurturing and defensive of ones family always, it strives for peace yet is prepared for war. These characteristics are key to the future survival and advance of the species.
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    Aug 12 2012: Far more advanced, far more tolerant, on Mars... for sure.

    Spirituallity, and faith... good. Religion = tribe. No one should have ever had the audacity to say "I understand the purpose of life, let me explain it to you". Governments and religions are practically the same thing, a power structure for someone whose reach has exceeded their grasp.
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    Aug 12 2012: That statement is sophistry. The fact is that a human being is an aggregate that has a spiritual dynamic, no matter what flavor of religion. Things are much much much worse without this aspect of life. I suppose some would replace spirituality with psychology but base off of the hubris from this source me thinks not so much. BTW Hitler used 10's of thousands of psychs to further his master plan based on a psych idea called eugenics. Yup your statement is going down the freeway in the wrong direction.
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    Aug 12 2012: Dear Morgan,

    Yes perhaps religion causes disturbances between, particularly, different cultures and sects within cultures.
    However, I note that it is not religion that is the primary aggressor in the minds of the human species today. This aggressor is in fact = money.

    Money is the cause of so much misery and suffering upon the planet today that its effects are almost incalculable.
    Let us inspect the western civilization. It is a fusion of cultures of differing history with a shared philosophy = liberalism, the idea that people are both individual and able to live alongside one another without further pain or trouble.
    What is it then that is tearing this philosophy of liberalism apart? Is there anything being torn apart? Yes. Crime rates are escalating: the poverty gap is swelling even within western civilization, and children are no longer receiving education as university bills and subsequent debt increases.
    In societies that have not circulated such an abundance of money, such as for example under Mao in China during the middle of the 20th century, there were no such problems. If you would like to comment on the ethical principles of Chairman Mao then might I initiate conversation with the point that he united the Chinese population after centuries of opium addiction brought upon them by the British via first the East India Trading Company in the interests of, yes, money. As for the fact that his policy killed around 50 million Chinese laborers, I add that his policies also increased the Chinese population by around 300 million.
    Off on a tangent, now returned. Money. In my opinion, using evidence from history, we would tolerate each other and treat each other equally if we were not so obsessed with our personal income, with stratifies our society beyond the extreme.
    Let us not forget that while economics have been used to calculate costs for trade for thousands of years, stock market speculation has only been around for tens of years.
    End note=be happy.
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      Aug 12 2012: Ahh but Sebastian you have to remember that it was the church (or religious orders) that controlled the majority of the wealth throughout the ages Rule by Divine Right etc etc So Money is indestriblicly interwoven with religion.

      OPium addiction bought upon the chinese by the British Via the East India company???? Think you will find it was being used by asian cultures long before then and the majority of Mao's people almost starved to death.

      Both The Central Commitee and Stalins Politbureau lived well and off the peoples labour, while the people starved and suffered.
      Yes Mao had great ideas and some brillant results but then so did Adolph Hitler still didn't prevent him from being responsible for the death of 6 million of the Jewish population and 50 million others though.
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    Sep 11 2012: All we've got is the history we have,there are instances where artifacts have been uncovered that don't fit with an era but i would say it wouldn't have made much difference,basic survival was all encompassing for 99% of humanities history up to the last 50 years.
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    Sep 11 2012: It's really hard to say.

    At times some religion may have been socially and scientifically progressive.

    At other times, not so much.

    In fact some beliefs may start off progressive at that time and because of their dogmatic nature end up holding back human progress and development.

    Also religion is a broad "church". Some forms are complementary or not particularly obstructive to science. Others are.

    Finally, religion is kind of inevitable given our brains agency seeking etc.

    But would agree now we have a better understanding of ourselves and the universe, most subjective unverifiable beliefs are not going to be particularly useful on the whole.
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      Sep 11 2012: I agree with at times, The Rennaisance is a good example especially when it comes to the arts and Science the church ( and of course wealthy merchants like the Medicis & Bellini's ) sponsored up and coming artists Like Michaelangelo, Titian and Da Vinci,
      Although I find it interesting that around the same time The Spanish Inquisitions were starting up as well around that time make you wonder if Da Vinci had been born just a little later and the Inquistions tentacles had reached out would he of been branded a heritic and tortured or burnt at the stake????? Would we know more about the human anatomy? would we have the Helicopter? and would the Mona Lisa survived? as her eyes followed you around the room would it of been condemned??? Questions Questions in this case we were lucky and common sense prevailed
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      Sep 11 2012: In response to your message below to me Obey,

      I never stated atheism = religion. What I stated was those who claim atheism, follow the same or nearly the same patterns as a religious person. The parallels exist and are apparent.

      Just like how [most] atheist overstate the word 'religion' they tend to overstate the word 'atheism'.

      Obviously a type of belief is not a religion. Theism is not a religion. They are qualities of religion. Yet culturally, those who claim atheist, appear religious in thought, argument and behavior.

      Looks like a duck, sounds like a duck... next step is the duck saying it is a duck.
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        Sep 12 2012: Thanks Nicholas. Got it and generally agree.

        Atheists humanists will have lots in common
        Generally skeptical atheists will have more in common with atheists into Buddhism or astrology.
        Buddhist atheists will have lots in common.
        Atheists who play tennis and study philosophy or read the same books will have more in common.

        Agree the word religion covers a broad range. Also Theism is very diverse.

        Just sometimes religious believers like to think science or atheism is a faith based religion. They like to think atheist is just as bogus as following the pope or believing Mormon god lives on planet Cobol. But there is no dogma and rituals. Just a common position on belief in gods.

        Actually your point that there are sub groups of atheists with similar views is a good one, but is still a stretch to call a religion.
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    Sep 11 2012: Thanks for all the religious debate so far i like Pete Lindsays Don't like it thump him and take over sounds like Saturday Night in the pub or Typical Australian Politics thing is does anyone actually think we could be more advanced technologically and emotionally or would that just of been a given???
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    Aug 15 2012: " Could we of already of colonised Mars and found and interacted with other species or would they of reached out to us?"

    To ask such a question is pointless because nobody can really answer you , it's impossible to answer this question .

    You said you read Umberto Eco's The name of the rose , the main character of the novel was friar William of Baskerville , you can't accuse him of intolerance --- look a tolerant religious person (even though a fictional character) . As long as there are religious people who can and are tolerant with the other , who help the others you have no right to label religion as the source of intolerance among people because it would prove you have no real understanding of what religion is about and of the human nature .
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      Aug 15 2012: Hmmm pretty sure I didn't accuse anyone of intolerance what I asked was if religion did not exist do you think WE (meaning average person on the street) would be more tolerant of each other????

      Yes it is a hypothetical question. Thats why I put it in DEBATE

      I do not for a second pretend to have an understanding of what religion is.I do although have opinions on it..

      Why I asked the question is because this book got me thinking of how open to personal interpretation the scriptures have been especially if you have a partially mad overly zealous Monk like the venerable Yorgi, who has been charged with overseeing them in written form.

      Also the fact that Brother William was persecuted by his brethern for not only his deductive skills but for "thinking outside the box" throw in an Inquistor and their spin on religion and how the general population should adhere to it. Then it becomes an interesting melting pot of religious contridictions coruption and hypocrisy.

      Personally I believe religion has caused more misery heartache and destruction than good. It has wiped out whole cultures, civilisations and even other religions just because they don't believe in the same things we do (thats generic not singling out any one in particular)

      Organised religion, to me, is an excuse for people not to accept responsibilty for their own actions and thats freely given by using "forgivness" for behaviour, in a lot of ways religion is used as crutch.

      But thats my opinion and you are more than welcome to your beliefs.

      I understand human nature all too well, I deal with it everyday and every now and then in ways you have only had nightmares about.

      So I suggest you read the question or in this case the DEBATE a little more carefully before making unfounded accusations.

      with greatest of respect

      Morgan
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        Aug 15 2012: It seems I went too further saying you think religion is the source of intolerance , I met this kind of speech at atheists so often that there is already an association in my mind between this and atheism ..... however it also seems I wasn't too much wrong , your opinion is not too different of the one I accused you of .

        Look , if your opinions about intolerance , religion do not rest on an understanding of religion in any second then they have no value . There is no way around : either you know what you're talking about and you are ready to defend your position or you don't know . It's lie that thing with 'you have your opinions , I have mine .... ' , in the end everything has to pass the test of reason .

        In any organisation the people who are thinking outside the box are more or less persecuted , every book is open to personal interpretations ...... this don't happens only in religion , this are universal things , that's why an understanding of human nature is essential . To use this things as reasons for your opinion that religion caused more misery and destruction than good means faulty thinking....... it rather seems the religion was a tool as any other .

        Also , religion cannot cause by its own misery and destruction , it needs followers ---- this is what complicates enormous the things , for example you agreed that religion is open to personal interpretations , maybe this interpretations caused the misery ..... why do you say religion itself did it? in fact it seems to be 'The name of the rose' message --- the message being about how an personal interpretation cause death .
        All you said is just a thing said , I would't even say this is an opinion because an opinion needs a bit of thinking , something missing at you ; just something said you perhaps heard from others . I't so easy nowadays to have this opinion , I heard it at so many that I don't assume you think when you say it .
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          Aug 15 2012: As I said I respect your right to your beliefs and opinions they just are not the same as mine and I don't think you quite understand what I was trying to get at.

          What I base my opinions on is history ( and yes I get the irony that a lot of early history is open to personal interpretation )

          I agree religion needs followers why??, because people would prefer to be told what to do than take on the responsibility of having to to think for themselves and they think they can be "absolved" when they do something because "the deity" told them to or the representative of the diety told them too. Kind of like every war crime commsion defence since Nuremberg.

          So lets agree to respecting that each of us have our own opinions and that we will not be agreeing with each other.

          But I thank you for your imput to the thread
          Morgan
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        Aug 15 2012: I know you have a different opinion than mine , I don't have a problem with it , what I have a problem with is that we can't agree with each other .

        What I said above was that religion needs followers in order to be a bad thing to humankind . Your answer to 'why religion needs followers' doesn't make sense , if the people would prefer to be told what to do does not mean that religion needs that people , maybe that people needs religion but not religion needs that people . Religion can live in a close book forever . This is one thing .

        Second thing : if every war crime commission defence since Nuremberg has pleaded for the
        non-responsibility of the guilty guys because they acted at the order of I don't know what deity does not mean that religion caused them to do the crimes they did -- so your opinion do not rest on history.
        This is what you tried to get at ? ---- that you can have your opinion without necessarily an understanding of what religion is about , you can have it only looking in history or maybe reading a novel like 'The name of the rose' . This is wrong , if you don't understand religion you'll never understand the history of religion .

        Come on, how am I supposed to agree that you have a different opinion of mine when I know that your opinion is wrong ? I agree the fact because this is the reality but as I said at the beginning I don't agree we don't agree .
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          Aug 15 2012: My opinion is just that an opinion the way I percieve things from my experience doesn't make it right or wrong it is an opinion an like certain parts of the anatomy we all have one.

          All I was trying to do was give you an idea of how I see things and why I wrote the question.

          It is a hypothetical for debate an idea that I was curious to see how others percieved and thoughts that they had it was never meant to become a religious debate.

          Unfortunatly when you challenge religion in any way you always get a reaction
          In fact so far only a few have actually debated the question the rest have gone off on the religious argument path.

          Wish you well with your Atheist hunting ( yes I read some of your previous posts) but I'm afraid you need to be a bit more open minded and understanding that some of these are just Hypothetical and not attacking religion.

          They are thoughts that we have a forum to put out there and see what comes of it.

          I attempted to give you an idea of how I thought and gave up far to much information to much information and you still don't seem to get it.


          So best of luck
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        Aug 16 2012: Morgan :

        I got what you wanted to say . Hypothetical or not I hunt atheism , that's right .

        Anyway , you made me a big service , thanks .

        Good luck to you too .
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          Aug 16 2012: Have no idea how I did you a service but you at least you have shown what your agenda is and I hope the others on this site are now aware of it.

          See you
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        Aug 16 2012: My agenda was always open .
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    Aug 13 2012: Dear Robert,

    You're argue in the most negative context. It's not highly praised.

    Do you truly believe that the human species is so horrifically poor in value that it only ever pumps out tyrannical, selfish demons and monsters served by their armies of goons? I shall not continue with my subsequent curiosity regarding your opinion of evolution.

    You appear to be heart - broken or otherwise confused.

    I appreciate that you argue against high standards, dignity and virtue. However I totally disagree with you.

    With love,
    Seb.
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    Aug 13 2012: "Novus Ordo Seclorum" - New Order of the Ages

    "In God We Trust" - a call for the Amun - Ra.

    Long Live the Illuminati!
    May that noble technocracy of underground scientists locate our sun God and restore the Golden Age.

    As for being without religion, I would personally live under the tangible rule of a high priest than under some monetary totalitarianism.
    And science was invented by dreamers.

    "A military industrial illusion of democracy" is all we truly abide by at the moment.

    Heaven? Where art thou?
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    Aug 13 2012: Thank you for opinions, insight and ideas but I think we are a little off track, but I would also like your insights and opinions where, what and how far further ahead you think humanity could of advanced by now.

    To me spritituality is a personal thing means different things to different people.

    As for greed, power and land even politics I agree that yes they may of replaced religion but when you think of war however abhorent and for whatever reasons it was based on it recognised free thinking and invention as a valuable asset.

    EG: If you are the architypical meglomanical despot (or common garden variety dictator) you will use whatever is available to gain advantage over your enemy therefore, during times of war, as history has shown some of the most inovative thinking, discoveries and inventions (destructive or constructive) have been made and free thinking and invention encouraged even nurtered (not always for the right reasons and not always in a humanitarian way) And yes I know some of those wars are based on religious difference so factor that in.

    But how much further would we be if Religion had not supressed??? where do you think humanity could be both technologically and emotionally?

    hope I sort of clarfied things a little

    Regards Morgan
  • Aug 13 2012: Ed, a portion of your question: "The obvious next question is whether spirituality could exist without religion, ...." Yes, I think so. A personal religion is a personal relationship according to one's enlightenment and desires. However, what is religion or spirituality if there is no influence on behavior? Seems like its nothing and therefore not a true religion.

    It could be true that if there were no religions, at least organized ones, then human behavior might be better. I'd say not likely though. Regardless of the past abuses, we needed religion for self reflection, thinking, and some degree of behavior mitigation.

    We are evolving, even to say we have evolution of thought. Our past is rife with error, but fear not, as some would say, the best is yet to come!

    Keep thinking, all.
    MK
  • Aug 12 2012: Without primitive superstition we would have no religion and without religion we would have no science. What do these three things have in common, They are all based on the conviction that people,with our own energies, can understand and, to a degree, control our reality. A tremendous gift. The price - slavery to the idea that you mustn't be allowed to do what you think is because you think it's right but rather because GOD/ALLAH/YAHWEH or the next ideologue in line says that you must under pain of severe punishment. I don't know if we would be better off without religion, but I do know that to deny its contributions to our development is a very Christian thing to do.
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    Aug 12 2012: Religious surpression caused the men of science to go underground and to form the illuninati. These great minds may have never met and exchanged ideas spawing new inventions and deeper thought among them had it not been for religion. Religion was not the cause of most of the early wars in Europe. The royals from Russia to England and all between sought power, land, and further wealth so they waged wars among them to that end ... not religious wars but of greed.

    To is always hard to guess what the outcome would have been san this or that. It is my opinion that if religion were removed from history then another dominate form would have appeared. Greed, hate, racism, power, and the other sins of man would have still been present. As long as these are present tolerance will suffer defeat.

    There will always be a George Serios type who wants one world government with him at the head. These people with a God complex will always cause trouble for others because to make this occur you must wage war (psych/economics/political/etc) to accomplish you goal. The Russians were absolute masters at this. They sent in a rebel to start the uprising and when he won shot him a put in their party man.

    I go with Pat. Perhaps the problem would have been much worse without religion. Kings, emperors, sun gods, and rulers of all sorts were self serving and cruel. Builders were killed when the project was completed. Messagers were killed to keep the secret. Leaders at all levels killed to protect their position. That would have been worse than what we have.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Aug 13 2012: Dear Robert,

      I ask you quickly =

      What makes you think that sun gods were cruel when they were so admired by their people?
      If my leader was selfish and cruel I would not write such noble articles about him or her.

      Although perhaps they were cruel, and then their talents of leadership more than made up for it?
      The phrase 'infamous' suddenly springs to mind.
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        Aug 13 2012: If you were a scribe in the time of a sun god and was told to write the story of your sun god would you want to please him? Not pleasing him ended a career with no opportunities to retrain. Being admired by their people? Would that include the millions that build the temples, stone carvers, perimands, were enslaved to the elete, sacrificed, etc ... I would say that fear is not the same as admiration.

        When you are a despot I'm not for sure people evaluate your leadership abilities. The term here today and gone tomarrow is on your mind .... and we ain't talking about him.

        All the best. Bob.
  • Aug 12 2012: We would be far more advanced along all positive continuums and, not just more "tolerant" of each other, but more respectful and more loving and loved. Thanks for starting this conversation.
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    Aug 12 2012: We had a recent thread on this, started by Kevin Jacobsen. If someone can find that link, please contribute that here to see the views expressed at that time.
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    Aug 12 2012: We appear to have spiraled off on a tangent.

    To the point though, everything takes time to settle.
    In the words of one advertisement: "This beer is not ready yet!"
    I have faith that matters are in fact beyond our control and that in the future we are to be a far more tolerant, advanced species. Think of all the progress we've made since even the death of Jesus?

    Relax.
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    Aug 12 2012: Dear Morgan,

    Let be start by noting that we should never criticize the mistakes of others. Learn from them yes, and never again repeat those mistakes, but never criticize (it's bad karma).

    Yes the church was in the past responsible for large pools of wealth. This was during the feudal age when kings and queens fought against churches for power and wealth.
    A quick analysis of today and we're no longer living in the feudal age, and the banks are certainly not religions (at least I hope not), and neither is the State. Although elements of religion might remain within the State, you must remember that it is in fact the banks that control the world at the moment. Politicians suck up to banks in return for a nice fat sum of money to win election campaigns, also promoting banks in order to collect greater amounts of tax, and politicians are the image of leadership, behind which hides the influence of the bank.

    I see we clash somewhat over historical documentation regarding use of opium in China. China is in fact one of this world's oldest civilizations, if not the very oldest. Yes, opium has been in China for centuries. However, it was not until the Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD) that this ancient civilization began to deteriorate, during which time the British fought and defeated China in the First Opium War (1840), shortly after which opium was entirely legitimized throughout the country, having been formerly illegal. Britain did not help.
    Subsequently the empire, which had been mostly expanding since its conception, collapsed into a number of civil wars, until 100 years later, at which point the country, under the banner 'People's Republic of China' became once again organized and started to grow. Today it is quite healthy, and opium is once again illegal.
    Feel free to read more on opium and its history. It has never been a much admired crop, unlike some natural stimulants (coffee, qhat) and certain hallucinogenics, although it has long been suitable as medicine.
  • Aug 12 2012: Probably this is less important than you think. As Einctein said or wrote something like religion is not for nothing. There is so much comonality among all religious thought. people can always find something to argue about.
    • Aug 12 2012: george, is all that "commonality among all religious thought" the cause of all the killiing and wars, e.g., "jihad," Holocaust, Spanish Inquisition, Pogroms?