TED Conversations

Scott Knightly

Undergraduate Student, St.Francis Xavier University

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In today's technologically run world, what is the new role of religion?

Since the past generation of the baby boomers took control of society, science and technology have risen. In this shift, society went from a religious centered society to a technology centered one. Now this shift was part of a much larger change in the way humans think which has been going on for many tens of hundreds of years. From the polytheist Greeks to the monotheistic Islamic people, the shift in religion has been something that took thousands of years to develop to what it is today. So the question I pose is "What, now, is religion's role?" and/or "Is that the role it is meant to play?" Now I am not saying that Science or Religion are correct, I am only asking what purpose it now serves society after falling as a community creator, and a spiritual binder. Where does it fall today and is it useful to us?


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    Oct 27 2012: Technology is indirectly bringing the Abrahamic religions to an end.

    Religions now serve as a blanket to cover the fears brought on by lack of knowledge. But the knowledge that is flooding understanding cannot be held back forever, no matter how powerful the religion.

    When our economic system fails, I expect to see the Abrahamic religions fail. I view them as a hindrance rather than the core of community. The changes in the Christian religion in the past 20 years is a clear example of this. Those fundamentalist churches that are trying to establish a theocracy (laws based on their God's commandments) now serve to break community apart and pit neighbor against neighbor. Unless we want to go back to the dark ages, these religions have to go.

    As these religions are already in precipitous decline, it will happen. As our economic model is unsustainable (thus guaranteed to fail), it will happen. As education is growing and more and more are learning about all of the discoveries in quantum mechanics and study of the "mind", it will happen. As the Internet makes this information available to more and more people around the globe, it will happen.

    Where does it fall today? In the USA - it's still very powerful, but the backlash is increasing. The backlash is useful, but not the Abrahamic religion.

    I know that there are a few here who are feeling very offended by my words, but I was answering THIS question. I hope you will realize that the offense is what YOU feel because you choose to, not because I made you choose it.
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      Oct 27 2012: Indeed, I created this conversation with the knowledge that some people might take offence to what was put forth within it. But we are all intelligent adults who can articulate their opinions and I personally am intrigued by your viewpoint and I wish to challenge it.

      You seem to be saying that the religions of Abraham (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) are now obsolete. That in today's society there is no place for them. I would like to start at the beginning of your comment. You say that religion is a way of escaping the fear that comes from a lack of knowledge. I would like to challenge that. Socrates, of ancient Greece, believed that those who were ignorant were those who were evil. Now aside from fundamentalists (every group has them, even atheists believe you me), I could not say in truth that the religions of the world are populated by evil people, that is simply nonsense. Knowledge is very important, I agree, but can none come from religion?

      What do you think will happen when these religions fall? I am assuming you believe that it would create a better world, yes? I ask you to look at Arkady Grudzinsky's comment as well as my response and tell me you views on that. I would like to see what you think of it. So is religion, to you, useful in any way?
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        Oct 27 2012: I thought that Socrates said “There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.” That is VERY different from saying that those who are ignorant are evil. Those who are ignorant are more likely to believe in the existence of evil, and those who fear evil are most likely to behave in ways that they consider evil, but I wouldn't go any farther than that. If you are ignorant (and all of us are to one degree or another), that does not mean that you are evil.

        Knowledge does not come from religion. Faith does. Too often knowledge and faith are in opposition and the Abrahamic religions (especially Orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) become anti-intellectual in order to remain strong in faith. This leaves them ignorant - not evil. But ignorant people are most likely the ones who will start wars, not knowing the down-sides of war, or pass laws requiring others to honor their God's commandments, not seeing consequences,

        If the members of the Abrahamic religions were to become informed about what is happening in quantum mechanics and in the new science that is studying "mind", and rigorously pursue understanding in spite of the threat to faith, something very beautiful and very wonderful will happen. What they understand will negate their God and provide another worldview that offers safety, abundance, freedom, and great joy.

        As those who have found the unified / quantum / morphic field, and have become practiced in becoming one with it and using it are all gentle yet powerful people, yes, I earnestly believe that NO good comes out of religion any more - at least the Abrahamic ones. It's only use is visible in the eyes of political and religious leaders who need sheeple to herd and use in ways that suit their desires.

        The world would be a much finer place without them. Those who worry that without God there are no ethical standards are just plain ignorant. In the face of the knowledge available to us, willful ignorance is a danger to us.
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        Oct 27 2012: I would also say that if there is fear, it is what some call evil. Fear is caused by ignorance.
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          Oct 27 2012: Socrates believed that one who is "Evil" (and maybe you and I give that word different meanings), I will call it "non virtuous", are so because they are ignorant. Therefore; if all religious people are ignorant, they are "non virtuous". But this I do not mean that they run about committing murder or rape, I mean that they do not lead a virtuous or a truthful or a moral life. This does not make sense as many religious people have contributed in positive ways to society and were, indeed, virtuous. Socrates himself was a kind of religious.

          If you want to look at it that way, then I would argue that your definition of ignorance is also unsatisfactory. Ignorance and a lack of knowledge are two separate concepts. Ignorance is knowing something yet refusing to acknowledge it, while lack of knowledge is simply not knowing something is. For example; If I know that cats and dogs are both animals yet I refuse to accept that, it is ignorant of me. But if I do not know that they are both animals and I state that, I am innocent. I suppose the larger point I am trying to make is that Religious people who refuse to acknowledge science are ignorant, and those of science who refuse to acknowledge religion are ignorant.

          Yes, Some refute knowledge to "Protect" their religion which is what I spoke of above. They are extremists, are ignorant. Religion is the oldest institution of knowledge! Since the Mesapotamians who used their deities to explain natural occurrences in an understandable way, to the Jewish who used their faith to describe first things (Murder, betrayal, good, evil, etc). While empirical knowledge may not sprout directly from religion to its full form, I do believe that much knowledge we have today owes its roots to religious faiths.

          NO good comes out of religion any more? That is a bold statement. What if you are right but not for the reason you think, but because we have bound religion, decided it was no good any longer, and tossed it into a river?
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        Oct 27 2012: When Socrates was alive, religion had benefit. When I was born, religion had benefit. But these are different times.

        I remember looking up in the sky and seeing Sputnik, the first satellite. Now. because of them, everyone knows how hurricanes/typhoons form. We can get out of their way. Before satellites gave us knowledge, the idea of God was a comfort. Today, we know a lot about plate tectonics so earthquakes and volcanoes are understood. We have advance warning of blizzards. tornadoes, and even tsunamis (if the cause is not right on our doorstep). We know more about nutrition and disease. Now we know that if we wash our hands, God will be less likely to strike us down with a disease and call us home. We even have a theory of creation that does not require the existence of an Abrahamic-type God. (This is the short list). We have outgrown the need for the Abrahamic "God".

        It's time for the fearful to face their fears and see the world that exists on the other side. It's quite bright and sunny in the world that knows freedom.

        My problem is not with a god concept. (I even have one - though some wouldn't call it one) My problem is with the Abrahamic Creator God. It now does more harm than good because God requires its members to remain willfully ignorant in order to grow in faith, and for this reason, too many are anti-intellectual and those who are not anti-intellectual are not intellectually curious, which is willful ignorance - which is not much better than anti-intellectual.

        So I stand firm in saying that NO good comes out of the Abrahamic Creator God religions because willful ignorance (lack of intellectual curiosity) is not a good thing. It's a danger to us all.

        We've just outgrown "God". Any intellectually curious person is at least an agnostic if he/she is young. But the young intellectually curious will outgrow agnosticism. I do wish that everyone would.
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          Oct 28 2012: The notion that believers are not intellectually curious does not seem to be true. Newton was a believer, genetics was started by a monk, Gregor Mendel, and the big bang theory invented by a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre.

          I agree that a lot of religious folks feel uncomfortable with scientific discoveries, because they contradict their dogma. That attitude should go. But I disagree with the view that science is a competitor of religion. It's a silly concept, like trying to figure out if an elephant would win a fight with a whale :-)
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        Oct 28 2012: @Arkady

        You missed my point. I said that when I was born, God had a purpose, but given all that we have learned in the last 5-40 years, that purpose has gone.
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          Oct 29 2012: I understand your point, TED Lover, but I feel like it is a little naive to be honest. I do not mean to sound like I am telling you your position is incorrect as I think that, with work, it could hold water. The point that I can`t seem to get my head around is your statement, ``God had a purpose, but....that purpose has gone.`` If you look back in history, over centuries, you can see religion as a towering beacon, a method of understanding our world. Now if you look at today, what has changed? To be honest, not much. Humans are still humans, war is still war, we still do not know where we came from or what our purpose is. Science has existed for just as long as religion. The ancient Egyptians were masters of ancient medicine and the Greeks had theories about atoms and molecules that were unprecedented. But in those days they used Religion to explain Science. Today we use science to explain religion. Both are ineffective and the only way we can make any progress in learning the Real question, "Why?" is by melding them into one concept. I do not mean create a monstrosity, only that it is very hard to learn all you can about a pig simply by performing a dissection and it is equally hard when all you have are ideas about how it lives and why. In order to understand something you need both the physical and philosophical. Science will never be able to answer the "Whys". Why are we? Where did it all start? Why can I think? Why am I self-aware? Why do I have a mind? Why do I have a personality and why is it unique?

          Arkandy, I like your comparison between religion vs science and a whale vs an elephant but I would like to alter it if I could. I think that Science and Religion are one and the same, so talking about which one wins is more like talking about whether you, yourself would win in a fight against yourself. It is a nonsensical question which has no answer other than neither because you can't fight yourself.
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        Oct 30 2012: .
        1) Religion is a belief-set. As such, it is closed-minded.
        Science is a system of inquiry. As such it is open-minded.
        The two hold ho similarity. Your belief is irrational and no sane person would disagree.

        2) I post that God has become unnecessary in the last 5-40 years and you reply with the value of God as far back as history can be traced. I agree that God WAS helpful in those days, but I have followed the science that now shows that if there is a God, it is nothing like the God that people worship today. It's as if I never even spoke.

        3) You sound like another who used to post here under a bevy of screen names. He has schizophrenia and needs to have his meds adjusted.
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        Oct 30 2012: .
        1) Religion is a belief-set. As such, it is closed-minded. It already has its answer.
        . Science is a system of inquiry. As such it is open-minded. It looks for answers.
        . The two hold ho similarity. Your belief is irrational.

        2) I post that God has become unnecessary in the last 5-40 years and you reply with the value of God as far back as history can be traced. I agree that God WAS helpful in those days, but I have followed the science that now shows that if there is a God, it is nothing like the God that people worship today. Your reply denies that I never even spoke.

        religion =/= science.
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          Oct 30 2012: I am afraid that you have mistaken my claim. I do not, in any way believe that religion and science are the same thing, merely that they are both looking for the same goal and act in similar manners. Yes, I stated that to try and decided which would is like deciding whether you or yourself would win in combat and I stand by that. I rationalize that by saying that they are NOT the same thing at all but they attempt to answer the same questions.

          Yes, you did and I acknowledged it with a historically based point. But it would seem that you misread it. I was not stating example of how religion/God(s) was useful in the past, but I went into the past to show that not much has changed and that the only major thing is that once, religion attempted to explain science, now science tries to explain religion. Not only that, but the point that science was useful even in the most religious times so why is religion, all of a sudden, worthless? That was my point, I fully understood your point.

          religion =/= science, but Science + Religion= unified understanding. Have you not read a history book on, say, WWII? If you look only at what the allies did, you can only understand so much. But once you take time to understand both concepts, both sides and their usefulness, then it begins to take form.

          I am pleased that you are not calling me a schizophrenic in this reply, it is nice to see that you do have some points and you don't feel the need to insult me by likening me to someone else that you know. Have a nice evening, if it is so where you are, and try to remember that this is a conversation for the mature. What do you think? Do I still sound like I need my "meds adjusted"?

          Sincerely, Scott Knightly
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        Oct 31 2012: Let me quote you: "I think that Science and Religion are one and the same"

        and as to your last question - yes

        And I didn't say that YOU need a meds adjustment. I said that this conversation reminds me of someone who used to post on here using a bevy of names. He appears to have schizophrenia and he needs a meds adjustment. To say that YOU need a meds adjustment would be a violation of TOS

        Your statement "and try to remember that this is a conversation for the mature" IS a violation of TOS

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