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Byron Syphrett

Roofing & Waterproofing Expert,

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Which has more value to a society? Religion or Atheism? Basically, would a country go to war to protect its Atheism?

When considering the on-going battles between religion and atheism and the rise of the scientific creationists, there is cause to ask what is in the best interest of the society. How long has any civilization ever been atheist? Even modern communist countries that have no state religion and even seek to put it down are in fact full of religious people.

Would a society fight to protect its atheism alone in the same way or a similar way that societies have raised arms for the sake of combatting spectres that encroach on the grounds and prophecies of a doctrine?

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  • Sep 24 2012: In an atheistic society, you would not have people passing on their prejudices, their hatreds, on to future generations. This would make the world a safer place. Religions have proven to cause negative acts towards other human beings. Religions seem to have done more harm than good in many ways to human well-being. Individual lives are limited by people being forced to march in lockstep with the beliefs of people who lived before them. Strangers are murdered en masse by people acting as "religious" representatives of their own religion. Hostility, disrespect and other negative words and behavior are actively taught and generated by people who act as "religious" representatives of their own religion. Religion has not proven to be a blessing to humankind, but quite the contrary, e.g., Inqujisition, Holocaust, Jihad, Pogroms.
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      Sep 24 2012: Hi Rhona

      Will an atheist society have "Temples of Thought",not universities or philosophical retreats but places dedicated to serene thought? it's hard for me not to go down the similar to church road but i hope i've conveyed the Q properly,could these places be central to a culture like that of the white house?
      • Sep 24 2012: I do not know, Ken. They will be what we co-create them to be. Whatever they are called and however they are devised, may they have positive consequences for all.
    • Sep 25 2012: That is an interesting point of view. Are atheists free of prejudice or just free of certain prejudices? It is hard to see how atheism overrides human nature. Would there not still be elements of tribalism or kin based allegiance?

      Atheism hardly seems as something that operates independent of culture. It is a way of thinking; a broad philosophical group that still invites a heterogeneous population into the mix. There would still be differences among people.

      The focus of your response is a little different than what the question was asking, but you do bring up some good points. Religion has been a point of contention between individuals and their cultures. Walls have been built and torn down over it and lives have been lost defending and attacking it.

      Nonetheless, to suggest with certainty that the world would be a safer place if it were an atheist dominated environment would require some real changes in the way people deal with a number of issues, including economics and value of the lives and well-being of others. Are atheists somehow more obligated to protect the well-being of others and future generations. By default, atheists would tend to have no vested interest in the future beyond ones own life. Surely, they can care for the coming generations, but does that mean they have to?

      I'm not defending one religion or another. As the speaker in this talk noted there are some valuable things that can be learned from religion. The thought that prompted myself to ask this was that I am not really aware of any truly atheist civilization of significance, so I would wonder how an atheist civilization would rally against its own extinction.

      Still, the question is: Would people fight to defend atheism? What is the motivation to advance atheism? I'm still open to hearing and answer on that.
      • Sep 25 2012: The motivation is to end the pain, prejudice, discrimination, mass murders and other forms of destruction currently being done by people who call themselves "religious" and have been so brainwashed as to give up their own minds and freedom to believe what they believe and think of themselves as high, holy and superior to those human beings they are oppressing, torturing and killing.
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          Oct 6 2012: By what means? By brainwashing them with our values? Or by forcing them to be free? The opening question asks about wars motivated by atheism. Wars aren't about education, wars are about force. Are all people who call themselves "religious" brainwashed, oppressing, torturing, and killing? If not, how do we tell "good" religious people from "bad" religious people, especially when we see them through the aim of the machine gun? Shall we make them wear signs on their clothes?
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        Oct 6 2012: Atheism is just lack a belief in gods and goddesses. Atheists are simply without theist beliefs.

        It is a position on one question. It is not a dogmatic comprehensive world view.

        So an atheist can be as racist and homophobic as any theist, but without the belief that they have the creator of the universe and absolute truth on their side, which I think might make the average atheist a little easier to reason with.

        Proposing an atheist society (by individual choice) implies very little about the nature of that society as well. Just people won't have god beliefs.

        I would hope freeing ourselves from superstition and religious dogma might support a little more reason. We'd still be humans caught between instinct and reason, selfishness and group, but we would have one less thing to divide us, and we'd be free from the misplaced certainty and dogma of conflicting religions.
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      Sep 25 2012: Hi Rhona,

      Unfortunately, if we take a look at the examples of the great oppressive societies of our recent history, time and time again we will see a recurring theme: the systematic elimination of religion in the life of the society. We see this in the abhorrent examples of Leninist Russia, Mao's China and Pol Pot's Cambodia, to name a very few. This is a very atheistic notion that manifest in a violent philosophy, where everything goes and there is nothing to anchor the society's ideals.

      One might say, "that's not representative of atheism at all! In fact, atheists believe that we are all equal and deserving of love and respect. In other words: enduring peace." The true advocate of religion would say, "but my friend! That is exactly what religion is: the primordial yearning in each of us for Truth - for that place where we are all truly one."

      As Dostoevsky said, "if there is no God, then everything is permissible."

      Thanks for reading,



      C.
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        Oct 6 2012: Re: "As Dostoevsky said, "if there is no God, then everything is permissible."

        With or without God, "“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." -- 1 Cor 10.
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        Oct 6 2012: Communism or totalitarianism that is anti religion is an ideology above and beyond not believing in gods.

        Surely you can see the difference between this and atheism, which is simply not believing in gods.

        Most atheists I know support humans rights including freedom of religion.

        Atheism = being without god theist beliefs
        It does not imply persecuting theists. That takes some extra ideology.

        Whereas religions may have intolerance, inequality, violence and sick morality built into scriptures and dogmas. I suggest religion has been a greater force for evil and prejudice than simply not believing in gods. Over a thousand years of persecution of Jews by Christians, especially the catholic church, the churches support for fascist leaders like Mussolini and Hitler, both catholic.

        Over 2 billion people have beliefs related to the bible or Qurán which both endorse slavery (these were fighting words supporting the South in the US Civil war). The bible has a tribal war god that orders genocide of competing tribes. Lucky some tribes in the valleys had iron chariots which Yahweh and the hebrews could not overcome. Jihad. Holy wars. Sexism. Ordering murder of witches (remember Salem), homosexuals, adulterers, and people who work on Saturdays.

        With god beliefs, anything can be divinely commanded, and considered good regardless of the consequences. Some believe their god orders parent to cut bits of their children genitals. How is this not child abuse. Actually Yahweh orders disobedient children to be killed.

        Without god, we have to think a bit more for ourselves and not rely on iron age morality and myth that are probably man made anyway.

        I suggest if people are yearning for the truth they probably wont find it in any of the thousands or millions of conflicting religious beliefs, supernatural claims and dogmas, based on supposed revelation, scripture, authority, and subjective personal experiences and death anxiety.
      • Oct 6 2012: I believe Dostoevsky, though a great novelist, was anti-Semitic. I assume his anti-Jewish beliefs, just as those who participated in the POGROMS, was brainwashed into him by the "high, holy" people who called themselves "Christian." Where do you think anti-Jewish words and acts come from? Why do you think Islamic children and adults who never met a single Jewish person just happen to hold negative thoughts and feeliings towards Jewish people? Let us deal with reality. Thank you. TRUTH!
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        Oct 6 2012: With respect I disagree.

        Firstly, Islam may have offered some improvements to the medieval values and practices that took place at the time. That does not make all forms of Islamic related practices today the ideal model now that many places have more enlightened values and ideas that have developed in the last 1400 years,.

        What makes objecting to burying child something good. It is not good just because you believe god says so. Unless you believe in divine command, which is completely arbitrary and useless.

        Is owning slaves a good thing because you believe your god regulates slavery in a less barbaric way than others in medieval time?

        If you believe your god said to kill or treat women as inferior, or whip them if disobedient, is this good just because your god said so?

        I suggest not.

        If you define what is good simply as whatever a god or scripture or religious authority says you really have no idea about what is good and what is bad.

        Yet within some of the teachings there are some things that are better than some alternatives. A half share inheritance for female children is better than none. But is is not an equal share.

        Surely not killing children is good not just because your god says so.

        If you understand why reducing suffering of conscious beings and improving the human condition is perhaps what makes an action good, then you have a better yardstick for considering what is good and what is bad, and not get stuck with less developed aspects of what may have been an improvement of some medieval morality at the time.

        Thank you for taking the time to express your view.
      • Oct 6 2012: Explain DANIEL PEARL. Explain CHRISTOPHER STEVENS. Explain "Al-Taquiya." Explain "cut off heads, hands, feet." Thank you.
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      Oct 6 2012: Re: "In an atheistic society, you would not have people passing on their prejudices, their hatreds, on to future generations."

      Rhona, you are passing a prejudice right now :-). Go back to the related video and read a comment from Semar Alnagash. If her experience is not convincing, get your own. Go to www.atheistforums.com, say "Hi, I'm a Christian (for the sake of experiment). I've heard a talk on TED by an atheist who said that we can learn some good things from religions, regardless of our beliefs." Then sit back and experience "love, peace, respect, and tolerance". Or simply browse through some discussion topics, watch the language and the quality of arguments when believers are involved.

      Placing people in buckets by stereotypes, such as "all religious people are hateful and intolerant" or "all atheists are reasonable" is the same faulty logic that leads to statements like "all Americans are evil" and draws connections between a Youtube video and American embassy in another part of the world.
      • Oct 6 2012: I agree that every religion I have ever investigated has several good "one liners." I repeat: pogroms, Holocaust, Inquisition, Jihad. I repeat, children are forced to accept beliefs that are not their own. Children and adults, after religious brainwashing, lose their ability and freedom to think for themselves, to believe what they believe based upon their own thinking, feeling, experiencing of life. Religious people become robotic in thinking, believing and rituals imposed upon them by dead people. Religion interferes with creativity and certainly causes prejudice and negative words and behavior towards people of other religions. It's fine with me, if you disagree with me. Do not put words in my mouth that are from you. I did not say "all religious people are........" or "all atheists are...." Let's stick with truth. Thank you.
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          Oct 6 2012: Rhona, what do you think of the related video? The speaker said a few good things about religions. Are they not true?
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    Oct 6 2012: I suggest the first question should be which if any religion has claims that can be demonstrated as true and correct.

    Whether religion is useful on an individual and societal level is a secondary question.

    On the primary question, my understanding is none of the thousands if not millions of religious dogmas and supernatural claims can be reasonably demonstrated to be correct. At best only one of the contradictory views could be correct, and the others must be wrong in part or whole.

    So in regards to truth, chances are all but or even all religions are false.

    In regards to usefulness, there may be some consolations or utility in religious beliefs even if they are based on falsehoods and subjective faith based beliefs. There are also downsides to conflicting faith based beliefs.

    Remember all but one religion must be false at best, so you are arguing religions are useful even if all, or all but one are false.

    I suggest we there are ways to have a good life and society at least as good as those infused by conflicting religions.

    I suggest we should be fighting for freedom of and from religion within secular governments where there is a separation of church and state, and other human "rights" such as equal treatment of men and women etc. Fighting for people to have the freedom to choose their own personal beliefs and practice these as long as they don't harm others.

    And freedom of expression, so that we can peacefully albeit sometimes vigorously debate faith and religion related issues.

    We should fight to protect the freedom to be an atheist or a theist if people choose.
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    Oct 5 2012: What would have value to society is to stop circular arguments and circular violence. A country that would go to war to protect its atheism (or religion) has messed-up values.
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    Sep 25 2012: The topic asks two different and unrelated questions. The first question asks if Religion or Atheism is more valuable to a society. That question asks if either is more valuable across the ENTIRE spectrum of the society, which is quite different than the second question which asks is a country more apt to go to war if it is more Religious or Atheist oriented.

    Interestingly, most people can not provide a rational answer to EITHER question unless they understand the real reasons countries go to war in the first place. There are many different reasons a country may decide to go to war, and unless an individual has learned what the plethora of reasons are and how they are related to each other, they can't make a rational argument about it. When you see someone claim there is a SINGLE reason a country goes to war, run for the hills. "We invaded Iraq just for the oil!" is an indicator the claimant does not understand the reasons countries go to war at all.

    Please read this linked PDF file:

    http://www.stanford.edu/~jacksonm/war-overview.pdf

    If after you have finished reading it, you still think a country would be less/more apt to go to war just because it was Religious or Atheist, please read it again. Both Theists and Atheists would still need to evaluate other factors that neither of them could avoid evaluating in making the final decision to go to war or not.

    Politics and War are not "one-off" decisions. What you decide to do today is always based on what happened in the past and what you want to possibly avoid in the future. That includes going to "war" today in a less violent manner to avoid a more violent war in the future. Diplomacy is not always an option, regardless of how much you may want it to be.

    A totally Theist or Atheist nation would still continue to go to war. Religious beliefs/disagreements are not the only reasons for war. Beliefs/disagreements in other areas would still exist.
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      Oct 6 2012: All wars have reasons and pretexts. Ideologies are rarely a major reason for wars, but often used as a pretext.
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        Oct 6 2012: (Quote): "Ideologies are rarely a major reason for wars, but often used as a pretext."

        What is your definition of "ideology"? According to the dictionary definition of it, ALL wars are ultimately conducted due to different ideologies, whether it is used as a pretext or not. So what if one ideology is used as a pretext, but the war is fought over a different ideology? It's still a war.
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          Oct 6 2012: Rick, this is a good point. All human social behavior can be said to stem from an ideology of some sort. I thought, the underlying reasons for wars are usually access to resources or control of regions strategic to economy or political influence. Ideologies, such as "spread of democracy and freedom" or religious ideas, are used to "sell" the war to the public. Is it not so?
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        Oct 6 2012: Did you read the ENTIRE Stanford.edu link I posted a few posts ago? That will tell you the real reasons wars are fought. It's totally different than the reasons you hear from people who have not been trained in Military Doctrine, World Affairs, Political Science, and many other "World Leadership" disciplines. Those "other" reasons are "guesses", with no rational application to real-world decision-making about war.

        Want an example? Most people would say it would be a GOOD idea if all the countries of the world reduced their current CONVENTIONAL warfighting capabilities. Just get rid of the "regular" armies, navies, etc. It would save SO much money to use in other places.

        Sorry, but that's a really bad idea. If all you are left with is Mass Destruction capability, like nuclear weapons, guess what weapons are going to be used the next time somebody wants to "shoot something" at somebody else. We are much better off having "smart bombs" and "smart missles" that can find their way to a specific target like a building 1000 miles away, and destroy that target with a minimum load of conventional explosives. Don't have to nuke the entire city then to take out that one target.

        There's a very good reason all those tens of thousands of nukes haven't been used since the 1940's. We kept the "regular" military forces available to fight smaller scale "conventional" wars since then.

        THOSE are the types of decisions that educated political leaders need to be making, and not the "general public" who would de-militarize an entire country to "prevent war" and "save money".
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    Sep 24 2012: scientific creationists = oxymoron.
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    Sep 24 2012: Could i ask a Q?

    What is a scientific creationist? i've never seen this term before,is it to do with genetics?,i'm just curious and in no way am i trying to sidetrack your "idea"

    Yes i think an Atheist country that comes under threat will react just like any other country when faced with it's ideals and culture, threatened by imminent attack.
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      Sep 24 2012: The term is one being proffered by frightened fundamentalist christians who are fighting their awareness of how much evidence exists that contradicts Biblical teachings. If you ask for a legitimate example of evidence in favor of that which they falsely claim is a theory, you will get none. It's all just fear-mongering on the part of the church, that wants to counter falling membership with a stronger indoctrination program in our public schools.

      Polls commissioned by evangelical (fundamentalist) christians show that of those who are aged 18-24, LESS THAN ONE PERCENT have a Biblical worldview. This leads them to believe that education is the cause of their declining membership.

      The troll that lives here under many names, asking the same question in so many different ways, is one of the servants of ignorance. His christian joy is that of trying to upset people while fanning the flames of hatred.
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        Sep 24 2012: A theory? that dose not compute.

        Thanks TL,that poll data just confirms what i've seen here in nz for the last 20 years.
    • Sep 25 2012: Scientific Creationism is a creationist movement. It poses some interesting questions and attempts to use science to prove the existence of God. Some of the arguments are better than others and some are down right poor.

      Science has some unanswered questions, because it is based on observation and extrapolation. There are a lot of theories and very few real laws, when you get right down to it. Science is constantly developing and has seriously encroached on the grounds most fundamental groups by essentially proving some significant events.

      The scientific creationists tend to use absence of evidence to prove a points, whereas, scientist need presence of evidence to prove a point. In the most rational assessment of the arguments, the scientific creationist really always wins, because it is easier to pull an invisible rabbit out of an invisible hat than to prove whether there is a rabbit and a hat at all when one cannot be observed.
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      Oct 6 2012: SC is an oxymoron in my view.

      I suggest it is people who interpret science through a more a bible believing view.

      They reject the things they don't like, like radiometric dating, the evolutionary origin of species, that stars and galaxies formed millions or billions of light years away etc.

      The come up with pseudo science like intelligent design, which is simply creationism rebadged. God = designer. Often they posit fallacies based on we don't know how some things happened so some intelligent agency must be involved.

      Some parts are really just trying to get creationism into state schools. They have failed scientifically, so try to bypass scientific consensus to "teach the controversy" etc, lobbying etc.