Jordan Miller

Network Marketing Professional, RevvNRG

This conversation is closed.

How important is Religion?

How important is Religion in shaping the way society thinks and subsequently acts?

Theology and religion are passions of mine but I notice there aren't to many ted talks on the topics. Why is this? Is there a way to change this? What is the stigma associated with Theology and how can we overcome it as a society in order to speak of it openly? Or perhaps this isn't even a worthy goal? What do you think?

Closing Statement from Jordan Miller

From what I'm able to gather there were 2 main camps of thought.

The camp with fewer people by far was the camp that believed religion was entirely useless and the sooner we're rid of it the better. Thus they believed no discussion on the topic would be helpful or even necessary.

Christophe Cop was (after some prodding) probably the most logical and thought out of this group, he said, "I do not think religion is important when it comes to 'idea worth spreading'..."

The other camp clearly consisted of religious people and non-religious people who advocated discussion for various reasons. and thus believing that it is beneficial to discuss some ideas were brought forth to help that end.

Kathy K brings up a good point, "Still, discussion of the topic is a rare freedom which still exists in this country..."

Bruno Neves speaks of a positive experience he had with a missionary though he does not believe in God and concludes, "long story short, I learned something from him, for we were both very open regarding our beliefs."

The main inhibitor of religious discussions that this group came up with is: people with strong religious or strong anti-religious beliefs refuse to listen to anyone, get defensive and attack the the beliefs of others. Thus the discussion is halted and pointless.

One way that was brought forth to keep this from happening is to only have philosophers and theologians discuss it, but it was admitted that limiting the participants to the scholarly would leave out a quintessential part of the religious experience.

Molly Hanlon summed up what is needed to have an open discussion in this sentence, "It can be done, though, if believers and non-believers stop looking at one another with disgust and contempt but rather with wonder."

  • Feb 18 2011: Personally, as a scientist, I think it is very important. Science is replacing the role of religion for many people. However, I do not believe we should disregard or throw aside philsophies we have had for thousand of years.
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      • Feb 22 2011: Very good point! "The main issue I see within organized religions is that they tend to focus only on the literal 'story'". I cannot agree more. my personal opinion regarding this is that we should take holy scriptures as myth: great stories of accomplishments... but ones that are not to be taken literally. For there is always a deeper message engraved within, and the beauty comes with the message, not the story.
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    Feb 17 2011: Jordan - knowing that you come from a religious background you're going to come up against a lot of flak from this group, but I applaud your efforts to enter a conversation.

    In answer to your question - "How important is Religion?" I'd say that it is critical that it be overcome if we hope for humankind to survive.

    Religion is a dogma-based system of thought. Often used to divide humankind. Unless we learn to deal with life with reason-based systems of thought we are doomed.
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      Feb 18 2011: please read the description too.
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      • Feb 22 2011: I understand a part of your argument... but I disagree with the rest. Take about half the action in this forum (I believe we can call it that for this particular conversation) are people who do not believe in God, and are not "religious" as you call it. Look around, does it seem we are in a bad position of hysteria? Not accusing you of anything, but I believe that without religion, there would be more good than bad consequences... primarilly on the intesne decrease in mass controll through dogma. And one more thing, (it is the reason I disagree with the word atheist) those who do not believe in God are not necessarly not-spiritual. I believe to be "spiritual", but in a very much different perspective from you. You call to God, while I prefer to sit down and meditate upon myself. Different systems, probably the same ^(or similar) effect, but none of the problems affiliated to the different churches around the world.

        Do you agree? If so, or not, why? Appreciate your input ;)
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    Feb 17 2011: Religion, as previously stated, is historically significant. As far as the future, one can only speculate.

    And I don't necessarily see a stigma associated with Theology, but rather with religion, and the two can be uncoupled. Theology is a historical, philosophical, even scientific, approach to understanding. Atheists, agnostics, non-believers can all be theologians, and these people, as well as others, are open to dissecting, analyzing, and critically approaching religion as a field of study. Most religious people, though, aren't open to these conversations. They do not want their beliefs to be challenged, nor do they think they can.

    A good friend of mine, am Evangelical Christian once asked me if I could "believe in God and form a relationship with Christ for one week?" I, in return, asked her if she could give up her belief for a week. She said no, it was too ingrained in her and her way of life. It's that rigidity that makes it difficult to develop conversations. To get a religious person to talk about religion sans personal belief is difficult, but to get a theologian to do so is not as difficult.

    Bart Ehrmann, in his book Jesus, Interrupted, makes some interesting points about what is actually taught in seminary versus what is preached to the public on a weekly basis. It's an interesting dichotomy and addresses some of your questions.
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      Feb 17 2011: excellent points!

      so what I gather here is it would be easier to have a theological discussion amongst scientists and theologians and philosophers. yes I agree that would be much easier because its so systematic and scholarly, and yes because those pesky personal biases wont get in the way.

      I think a discussion amongst those groups would be good and beneficial but I wonder if it would be a true religious discussion if we leave out the religious folk - personal biases and all. aren't they a key component to religion - the true believers?
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        Feb 17 2011: Yes, you're correct in saying that both sides are needed. You can't have a debate based upon variations, you need opposing viewpoints. I have a hard time having conversations with my friends oftentimes because my question of "Why?" is often met with "Because I believe." This goes back to the filling the gaps argument that has been referenced many times. Only open minds can lead to open discussion, and I found the comments made my Lesley Hazelton about faith (http://blog.ted.com/2011/02/15/uncertainty-touches-the-best-of-what-is-human-in-us-qa-with-lesley-hazleton/) extremely important in this regard.

        It seems as though these debates and progressive conversations won't necessarily happen regularly between lay-people, as those with opposing viewpoints don't tend to gravitate toward one another, nor can they stand each other long enough to have a beneficial conversation. It can be done, though, if believers and non-believers stop looking at one another with disgust and contempt but rather with wonder. I tell some of my friends that I'm intrigued by their religious dedication and, as a scientist, like to figure out the answers to questions, thus they're great "experiments."
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          Feb 21 2011: I hate that - because I believe - but at the same time I love it.

          I view belief and faith as a vehicle to truth in every avenue of life. if you didn't belief scientific experiments could provide some nugget of truth about the world you'd never do those experiments and you'd never gain that truth. this is true for the sciences and for the religion.

          Those that answer questions with, "because I believe" I think are exercising a large amount of faith which I hope will turn into true knowledge someday. After all the choice to believe something is a choice absolutely laden with moral significance.

          Unfortunately so many people don't hold the same model of faith that I do. they go right on saying "because I believe" for the rest of their lives without ever testing that belief to the greatest extent they could. thus they become biased and stop in their progression in the acquisition of further light and knowledge. and being thus static in their knowledge they become defensive when another view point or even more truth is offered them.

          it's sad really, and it happens in religion and it happens in science over and over and over again. I just wish there was more discussion to help people crack their shell of defensiveness about their beliefs. a debate is not even what I want. like you said I just want an open discussion between open people.
  • Feb 16 2011: When religion is a thing of the past we will stand a chance of being one people.
    • Feb 17 2011: well said
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      Feb 17 2011: [sarcasm] way to say on topic guys.[/sarcasm]
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      Feb 17 2011: You should read your own question again...

      "Or perhaps this isn't even a worthy goal? What do you think?"

      JT's remark was right on topic. Religion is important only historically. It's an absurd waste of time for any rational person today. There was a great TED talk on the subject that I highly recommend you view:

      Richard Dawkins on militant atheism

      http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_dawkins_on_militant_atheism.html

      On a more lighthearted note, watch Julia Sweeney's video at:

      http://www.ted.com/talks/julia_sweeney_on_letting_go_of_god.html

      fs
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        Feb 17 2011: I intimated that they weren't on topic because I didn't make this for people to bash believers or vice versa. that's totally off topic. the topic is - should we have an open discussion about it and how do we achieve that whiles people like you three are still in the mix?
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      Feb 19 2011: I do have to agree with Jordan that these comments in no way address the question that was asked.
    • Feb 19 2011: I don't think religion will ever be a thing in the past. Religion is mostly tradition, and tradition always reminds human beings of their deepest remembrances and sweetest memories so, the same ways as falling in love or anything which lies within the human heart and inner traits and feelings, religion can't be a thing in the past.
      History has proven this! There aren’t any civilizations on Earth that haven't experienced the need to communicate with what they felt was their Supreme Being. Or… maybe I am wrong…maybe religion will disappear but, will people ever stop to look up at that “Someone” who so many of us feel in our hearts??
      • Feb 21 2011: I found something very interesting in your post...

        "There aren’t any civilizations on Earth that haven't experienced the need to communicate with what they felt was their Supreme Being."

        I agree with this. But there is something to add. In my analysis, asian culture is a millenium ahead of us in spirituality. Take Tibet. You cannot argue that they are not spiritual, but they do not pray either. Sure, the Buddha is an icon, but he is not the GOD as our society depicts it. They have taken that extra step and identified what we call God (which has its own scientific meaning nowadays as the driving force constant in every living cell... or something like that) within themselves. There is no need to build massiv temples, no need to create arguments and disputes.. If we followed that plan there would be no need to even have this discussion, for there is nothing to discuss: it is not about the God people believe in (which I find more historically and socially relevant to feudalism) but of identifying the force that drives YOU. That is inside you. If you (or others) wish to look up and give it a name, by all means, but effectively, it is only when we look inwards that we understand ourselves and that which we face.

        "Know yourself and know your enemy, and you need not fear the outcome of a thousand battles." -Sun Tzu

        EDIT: also, just a curiousity, notice how you said " look up at that “Someone” who so many of us feel in our hearts?" You look outwards but feel inwards... it is all inside us. I believe this is the next step.
  • Feb 16 2011: My brother is currently reading a very interesting book on the subject. I believe the key argument in the book is the same as one you hav highlighted: people should challenge other's faiths.

    To put it simply, if someone were to tell you he recieved a message from his toaster to go out and kill your dog, would you challenge him? Obviously you would, and on two separate aspects: firstly, the killing your dog part. What right does he have to interfere with your life? The second, will be regarding the toaster. You will undoubtedly call him mad, delusional, and often even schizofrenic... Does the same not apply to those who worship a beared man up in the clouds (I am exagerating, but that is my point...)

    We must chellenge it. Our society does not yet comprehend the need to do so, simply because there are too many people who have been cast in this system of blindingly believing in something before questioning the foundations to their own beliefs. It is crucial, especially with today's society where it is so easy to manufacture a bomb or some weapons and murder civilians, to criticize the very factions that believe this will send them and those killed to heaven. Just as much as it is to those who belive that this life is insignificant... Do they know for certain what will happen next? enough to waste all that they have now?

    I believ we should discuss this topic more... much more than we currently do so. Mainly because people are so passionate and closed when discussing, taking any question personally as an insult to their beliefs, rather than a learning opportunity.

    This is indeed a very interesting subject. Good job for bringing it up
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      Feb 16 2011: thanks.

      As I read some responses I think I can see part of the stigma associated with the topic. those without such beliefs are certain the believers are a. blindly unintelligent, b. nonchalant traditionalists, or c. religiously fanatical (aka crazy). for those are the only options you were able to outline in your reply.

      I think we're getting somewhere: in order to have a true discussion on the topic of beliefs and religion each participant must come from a place of respect and be unassuming and without prejudgment. this means the religious, philosophical and theological must come to the table without the goal of trying to convert everyone but instead with the goal of learning from everyone they hear from and the scientific and unbelieving must recognize the people they talk with are humans with logical brains and that there maybe some merit in faith that they have yet to have recognized.

      thanks for helping us hash out that first step to a successful open discussion.
      • Feb 18 2011: My pleasure!

        That which you said, of having a true discussion on theology, as a discussion of ideas, and not a argument over the righteousness of these same ideas, is a vital step for us to take. I admit that I do not believe in a god, and see no reason to do so. Nevertheless, when discussing the topic with those who do, rather than converting them (and I feel a constant necessity to choose my words carefully in order of not sparking a fight over the topic), I learn the reasons they have behind this. For instance, my grandmother met a man who is a missionary. We met at her house, had a great conversation on everything but theology, and at the last moment he, recognizing that many of us were not believers of God (let us remember that that does not in any way define us as non-spiritual), joined us in a circle and prayed - for the good things we have had so far. It was not a call to a God, but rather a thanking and realisation of the strong values and fortunes we have had throughout life.

        Those who do not have a habit of praying may lose this habbit of realising that which we take for granted... long story short, I learned something from him, for we were both very open regarding out beliefs.

        Although I do not support the idea of God, one of the beneficial traits that come with the worshipping of such entities is the thanking of circumstances we usually take for granted...
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      Feb 21 2011: you have right , and I like your ideas .
  • Feb 19 2011: Jordan, your question is clear and it answers itself. Religion IS important in shaping the way society thinks and subsequently acts. But religion demands obedience and I see a lot of infatuation everywhere I look around.
    Scientists for instance, won't give credibility to anything that they can’t prove and that could turn into a type of infatuation in the end. Not all scientists of course...religion is for simple, uncomplicated people, and with this I don't mean someone with no values, but someone SO wise so as to learn to be humble, uncomplicated.
    You can see that people that study a lot don’t necessarily become this wiser (giggles)
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      Feb 17 2011: let me try to connect the dots here. you seem to have the same problem as jimmy, Geoffrey and Flemi.

      you're saying religion is inadequate now a days, therefore, we don't need to talk about it? is that you're position or did you just want to leave it at the first part? if so you're off topic. again.
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        Feb 17 2011: Jordan.
        You're right.

        I think that religion is an interesting cultural phenomenon that says a lot about how cultures evolved.
        I also followed a course "religion psychology" where comparisons and investigations were done within and between religions.
        Treating questions as: what are the differences between "conservative" religious people (naieve) and "post-critical" religious people (who know about Darwin, Nietsche, Marx, Freud or more contemporary critics, but still choose to believe)

        So plenty to talk about.

        Other topics might be:
        - analysis of prayer as a form of meditation,
        - memetic analysis of the "gods" in different religions
        Do you think that this is interesting?

        What I think we should NOT do is try and propagate belief. If this is not done, we can discuss various aspects advantages and disadvantages of this interesting anthropological phenomenon.

        So to come to the topic:
        * I do not think religion is important when it comes to 'idea worth spreading'
        * I do think that some people think religion is important... And that people sometimes act upon what they believe, so it has an impact and an importance in that sense.
        Or: it is important to know what religion is (like Dennet argues), as long as religion has an impact in this world.
        • Feb 18 2011: "* I do not think religion is important when it comes to 'idea worth spreading'"

          Cristophe, I deeply understand your reasoning behind this statement. Do you, however, believe that being open to discussing religion - challenging religion, is an idea worth spreading? For no matter how much we may believe society will be better off without them, they are currently the greatest form of spirituality and have a huge influence on most affairs in the world.
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          Feb 18 2011: very logical and thought out thank you
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    Feb 16 2011: I agree it's a really important question to bring up in a forum. I'm an active person in many forums, but when religion comes up you see arguments and challenges and sometimes fights.
    i think that is for two reasons : a- the one who participates just attacks and insults the others' beliefs . b- people who are very attached to there beliefs get defensive and considers it as a live or death battle .

    I think the right way for such discussion is as you just said " philosophical and theological must come to the table without the goal of trying to convert everyone but instead with the goal of learning from everyone they hear from and the scientific and unbelieving must recognize the people they talk with are humans with logical brains and that there maybe some merit in faith that they have yet to have recognized. "

    and personally as a Muslim I participate in such forums and topics and I try to change what bad things people think about Islam like (terrorism, ignorance, backward.. etc ) and if someone attacks or try to insult me i just quit the conv without defending back cuz I know that it's not my job to convert anybody.and I believe in freedom and that there is a logical brain everyone has that will lead him to the truth which he is responsible of.

    and really, thanks for bringing this issue up .. many wouldn't do it
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      Feb 17 2011: excellent comment, very good points - it's not anyone's responsibility to convert anyone, only the individual can change his or her mind on any topic.
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    Feb 16 2011: I think, this is one of the biggest issue to discuss for today's human society. What sort of a meaning is releigon expresses for it's beleivers. Is there any significant and life-giving thing of someones beleif for the other. In fact, as being the participants of globalling world, we must discuss on our beleives and share the knowledge we have. Also we should have the ability to look through the sight of others because, we are all human and all have similar weaknesses and all have similar passions and all have similar willings.
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    Feb 21 2011: and Bruno if we have created , designed the morality , why we can't escape of it? more than that the morality is always good, the rules will never say to someone to do something wrong but we are doing in every second of our life either what's good or we are doing what's wrong and that situation raise up another question:How could we create something that it's ever good ?
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    Feb 21 2011: Bruno, I would like not to disagree with you but I can't , no, our morals wasn't designed ( not that I ment to say) I think our morals is deep into us , we are born with it in us, that's my point.Maybe you'll wandering why I'm saying that.
    Look , if we created , designed our morals , why we have done that? What would have deretmined us to do that?
    We are born with morality in us, look at a kid , he don't know many things but he know how to bahave corectly, and look at all people even the worse , he knows the rules of morality ,and the people that never was educated knows the rules of morality , even though they are living in a society or not , they know from themselves without learning from others the rules of morality , more than that we CAN'T escape of morality , it's proved throughout the history, share me someone who have ecaped of morality and I'll close my mouth forever.
    And I would like to know your argues and your points whatever the subject.
    • Feb 22 2011: (Just jotting down your arguments... You say that we did not design them... they are almost engraved to our DNA, to our being. We are born with them and never lose or overcome them. Also, you asked if we could ever create something eternally good?)

      Okay, one thing at a time here, and I will try my best to answer all of your points according to my own logic. If I miss something, tell me ;)

      Firstly, Your example of a kid; I believe that example reflects the importance of *education*. If it is good enough, we will not even realise it. That is what we should aim for... that a person does not struggle to abide to the morals we have in society. Have you ever seen Slumdog Millionaire? I bring this up because there is the example of the boys there who grew in slums, having to fight and steal for everything. No parents, no education. They would not think twice about stealing someone's food or moeny, as they did so repeatedly through the film. Clearly, you or I wouldn't do so. It is upon this that I believe we are creating our morals as we experience. Most clashes now adays on delicate subjects (such as some japanese industries selling dolphin meat, slaughtering sharks for their fins, and in turn destabilizing the entire environment. These acts to them are entirely justifiable, for they see no wrong in it. We wouldn't do that because our experiences have taught us not to do these... See my point?

      As for escaping them, I believe we can. It is usually done through narcotics... thuse their reputation in society. If injecting something into your system, drinking, smoking... anything can bring you supreme happiness, the person who does it does so for the pleasure. Those who observe him see the damage and would opt not to do it. Nevertheless, that person is completely free from all morals and limitations. (I don't like this subject so much though...)

      (See the next post. Word limit...
    • Feb 22 2011: Lastly, I do not believe anything is "[for]ever good". (Assuming that God truly made everything and he is perfect), can you say we are a work of perfection? It is undeniable that among the full populations of humans across the world we posess all the best qualities a individual could have! But also, the worst.

      Our morals are guidelines, in my perspective. We try to follow them as closely as possible, until something new is discovered that either alters, adds to or dismisses a previous guideline. The mentioned topics of food for example, were not something you were born with, or those who run the japanese industries. But our lives have taught us not to do them. It doesn't refute the earliest morals; it adds to them...
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    Feb 21 2011: Religion requires commitment and experience. We have become too busy for that I guess. Sad.
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      Feb 21 2011: yeah it's very sad , but is our foult
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    Feb 21 2011: I know enough about science to can talk about it , I know what's working science with, I wouldn't say anything if I don't know that, and by the way, I've took courses of quantum machanics.
    And I agree with your explication if I take it as a whole .
    You should make a distinction , I'm not talking what is make up the science from(the process of making a theory .....)what I'm talking about is how we react at what science say us ."Suppose you don't know how's the theory from science make up , suppose you know just the theory itself , what you'll do with that , more exatcly how your mind will do with that?(if you wanna base your jundgement on science) , I'll say you what your mind will do(and every normal human beings will do) , you'll belive the theory , even the theory seems normal or not (what I said with the mountain was just a simple example that reflect very simple the reality).At the end of everything is beliving(if we wanna base our judgement on something), don't matter how we reached at the final results that must be belived .
    You said me "It's more subtle than that" but you belive that , don't you? , you said me "You make a model that makes predictions and .............." but you belive that is working so the process of making an theory."We could all see a mirage of an oasis and still it isn't there" but you belive that you've seen a mirage of an oasis, if that will ever happen. Why we are talking now? Because we belive something , you belive that I'm wrong , I belive that you are wrong , because if we don't belive that we wouldn't be talking now, our life could be defined as a long process of beliving.
    What I wanted to say is that we have an innate sense of the supernatural power , not one of what world is like.I didn't mean in my last paragraph what you said , then I was talking about religion.
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    Feb 19 2011: (espacially for Matthieu Miossec): they are scientists of course, but analize a bit the situation , they give us arguments to sustain their view but we must BELIVE their arguments , how could someone accept something if that person don't belive the arguments , the proofs(we belive for example what have said Newton , Einstein, Kant, Darwin and others, we just belive them,( the more educated persons belive their arguments))? is the same thing like in religion but here the arguments, the proofs are different ( I think are more empirical), more than that they are limited human beings , they aren't perfect , they don't know all , from that results they can't be total objectives...... and that it's very bad.
    Personal revelation in my opinion happen very scarce now that is to say ,at very few persons . I know that it's very simple for a person to say :"I"VE had personal revelation" , but if that isn't seen in the behaviour , it's a lie.( in fact all our human life is based on some things that we belive).

    Interested in your reaction.
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      Feb 19 2011: If an argument makes predictions that are falsifiable and independently repeatable and testable than it is no longer a question of belief. A scientific theory doesn't require the kind of unsubtantiated belief that personal revelation does. What Newton, Einstein and Darwin say you can test for yourself, you don't need to take their word for it. Have you never been taught how modern science works? Theories are not educated guesses, they're based on reality. Religion has its own way at arriving at "the truth" which isn't anchored in the natural world, so you can take it or leave it. Personally I'm unimpressed by religion so I'll leave it.
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        Feb 19 2011: you are right in some points, I could test for myself what Einstein , Newton, Darwin say , but with the results after I've tested what they say , what am I doing with them? I belive them.
        Look an example about what I wanna say: 'I see a mountain in front of me ,I ask the people around me and they say me that they see like me the mountain , that isn't an illussion , I look again and again and the mountain is in the same place , it's repeatable , it's testable , that's reality , what I'm doing with that ? I belive it .......... that process happen in every human mind (in an unknown time) we don't notice that , it's too quickly , and the results of believing that is that none will go in the mountain if he don't plan that' that's just an example but something like that happen in every day.
        The action of beliving is deep in us , in religion , you have right, isn't need of so many proofs, many belive without "no" proofs , and that rise another question...why they belive(if there's no proof) ?something determine them to do it..............that's the single answer, but that just prove that there is a proof, it is into them but not just in them in every human beings.
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          Feb 21 2011: It's more subtle than that. You make a model that makes predictions and you go about making observations. If these observations match your predictions over and over again it must be that the hypothesis is quite sound and can be elevated to a theory. It's not simply about seeing and believing, we could all see a mirage of an oasis and still it isn't there. It goes beyond believing when you can actually make use of it too.

          If the logic of your last paragraaph made any sense, then that would mean that everything we believed in before science told us the otherwise is in fact proven. Think astrology, alchemy, ancient mythologies. It's a pretty weak basis to put your faith on. It supposes that humans have this infallible innate sense of what the world is like. If quantum mechanics tells us anythinh it's that we only understand the world at our individual scale.
  • Feb 19 2011: Just a quote:

    " If someone speaks to you about God, love him forever"
    Fernando Rielo Pardal ( translated)

    You must be deeply in love with your faith, with your God, with your traditions to understand why religion is so important.
    For me it is!
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    Feb 19 2011: Religion obviously has played an important part in determining how societies are shaped and act as a whole. On the other hand, there is no denying that in many parts of the world, religion is slowly losing its influence on how societies are run as these become more secular. This, in my opinion, is a tremendously positive societal shift as it encourages more inclusive and culturally diverse societies to form.

    To answer some of the following questions, I would say that TED strives to be a secular platform where new ideas can be propagated (at first only to an elite, but thankfully now to a wider audience). I don't think it's a question of stigma surrounding theology but rather that theology studies ideas and concepts of the past rather than present and future ideas.
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    Feb 18 2011: I've listened Denett's response to Rick Warren , and even he's a great philosopher I disagree with him on a lot of things which he said , for example : he said that the religion is designed by human beings , that's wrong because that means that we have designed the idea of 'God' (if there's no God, wouldn't be any religions) , that's raise up some questions :How could we, the humans beings, wish something when we never know something about it ? What determined us to create the idea of God ?( and one answer is that there is something in us that make us wish after something like that......think at that).What I'm talking now about?................I've read Nietzsche some times ago and if the religion is what he have described there , I would agree on all the conclusions which he reached at , but that's the main problem : the religion isn't what he described there , what he described it's just he's impresion about religion exatcly like this philosopher Daniel Denett.
    'we haven't need of God to be good' hmmmmmmm.............that's a very deep afirmation , but he didn't give any reasons to defense that, and why I would belive him and I wouldn't belive God ?........all it's reduced at "to belive" , and from that point of view I think it's more logic to belive God rather than to belive a man. The religion isn't a .......oh no.......... I think more corect would be to call it faith , the faith isn't a dogma-based system of thought because the faith is something that you belive (and the religion is based just on faith).
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      Feb 18 2011: you touch on a lot of key points. you seem to inherently believe that religion in order to be true religion must be revealed by God.
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        Feb 18 2011: yeah I agree a bit with the idea, but again that raise up another question : if the religion is revealed by God why so many people talk against religion ? if they do that, that means that they hadn't no revelation , in other words , they don't know what are religion dealing with , they don't know what's the essence of religion , but they still are talking against it .............. what's that ? and they are calling themselves scientist ............. and what's even more absurd is that they reduce all at "to belive' whatever they say , exactly like in religion (Denett , Dawkins, Harris and others).
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          Feb 19 2011: So assuming what you're saying is true and that both sides are reduced to resorting to the "believe what I say" position, explain to me how those who claim to have had personal revelation are more believable? Because what I'm seeing you do there is praise one group for taking a faith position and then subsequently shaming the other group for taking another faith position. Surely that is completely illogical.

          Besides, this in no way reflects what Dennet, Dawkins and co are doing, they actually try to validate their positions with constructive arguments. Furthermore, Richard Dawkins can call himself a scientist because he is.

          You must understand that personal revelation will not convince anyone else but yourself, nobody ever believes (or should believe) everything someone says just because they say so.

          If you want to understand those who differ in their views from you, you're going to have to make an effort to look at the issue more objectively.
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          Feb 23 2011: Do you mean theologist?
          Do we need to be astrologists to know it's shit?
          Can you really judge Dawkins' grasp on theology not being a theologist yourself? (your argument not mine!)
      • Feb 19 2011: Jordan, your question is clear and it answers itself. Religion IS important in shaping the way society thinks and subsequently acts. But religion demands obedience and I see a lot of infatuation everywhere I look around.
        Scientists for instance, won't give credibility to anything that they can’t prove and that could turn into a type of infatuation in the end. Not all scientists of course...religion is for simple, uncomplicated people, and with this I don't mean someone with no values, but someone SO wise so as to learn to be humble, uncomplicated.
        You can see that people that study a lot don’t necessarily become this wiser (giggles)
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          Feb 21 2011: is religion important to talk about then? that's my real question. are there ideas worth spreading that have to do with religion?

          or is it beneficial/harmful to discuss?
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          Feb 21 2011: Reply to Jordan's question "is it beneficial/harmful to discuss?"

          It is very important that we discuss religion. However as soon as it's basic premises are questioned, religious people shut down the conversation. They base their thinking on dogma, not reason. As Daniel Dennett says "they pull out the religious trump card".
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          Feb 22 2011: Reply to Kathy. Does open-mindedness mean that I have to agree with you?
        • Feb 22 2011: Listen, I believe that when saying open minded, he claims in being able to take a step back, seeing things through the eyes of someone who doesn't believe in God, and then returning to yourself. You could easily argue the contrary about us in the sense that we do not believe in God and do not put ourselves in the shoes of a religius person. Nevertheless, lets respect Jordan's desire in NOT creating a debate. He does not want direct arguments against or for religion. Only a response to that question he has proposed. Please, stop injuring eachother's images over such a fruitless debate, and get back to the subject in question...
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    Feb 17 2011: The religion is a better worldview, but the true religon not just some rituals ..................... and what kind of foolishness( the religion was better in the past but not now ) why it was better in the past and why it is not now?Have something changed? I mean, the religion is the same , for example the Bible is the same , if we are are living modern society , we are so because someone was before us , and they was religious people , I mean : Do you really think that you because are living in a modern society (by the way , build of them )you are more enlightened if you don't belive in religion , although they have done it ? (but be carefully, what I've said is based on the idea that religion isn't just some rituals).........................I know that is usual to hear a religious man saying , I don't know, I just belive , but they are the least religous , they are either ignorants or hypocrites.
    • Feb 18 2011: In no way do I mean to challenge you...

      But how about evollution:

      You have mentioned religion and past. And reasonably criticised the discrimination towards it by some intellectuals. But, considering that catholicism, for example, was at a height a few milleniums ago, and moulded to (through the writtings of the bible and the methods of prayer, etc.) a society of that time, that it should evolve?

      What I mean to say is that our culture has evolved. No longer is the church the tallest building in the city, the most jawbreaking spectacle that can send us into a spirit of meditation... There are other forms for each and every other of those. So should we shape religions, once again, to that which surrounds us?

      Interested in your opinion.
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        Feb 18 2011: no problem if you challenge me..........
        but look for example at morality , the laws of morality, we meet them in every religions that there are now on the earth , all the laws of morality are the same even have passed a lot of time , that's the point , for example all people knows that they shouldn't walk naked on the streets ,it was very well-known and it is know now , all people know that isn't corect to lie , or to kill someone or to be impolite with one another or.......... whatever , that's haven't changed at all, are the same rules of decent behaviour(at us like at our ancestors) and on that rules are based all the religions.
        No , we shouldn't at all shape the religion to that which surrounds us , because the religion wasn't invented by humans , how Denett said, no one could do that , could someone invented so many rules so much time ago? it's imposible ( I've used the term of ' rules' although the true religion , the true faith isn't just some rules ...........but I think it's admissible now ) that's one simple reason, there are more not just so simple .................
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        Feb 18 2011: you know , the methods of praying or something like that( in a word the rituals)............... the rituals aren't the religion itself , they are just the surface..............there are many resons for that
        • Feb 21 2011: Interesting perception. You are defending that our morals were designed (as me and many others would argue, just as religion, but lets not go into that) a very long time ago, and so far, those "rules" still perfectly apply to our society. Very valid point. I however like to believe that we develop those morals. We aren't just told what to do and what not to do - it is explained to us, and we must understand the logic behind those morals... One, for instance, "thou shalt not kill"... perfectly valid, following the idea that I wouldn't like to die, so too i shouldn't bring that fate upon others.

          The crucial idea behind my argument is that we develop these skills. We aren't born with morals, and we never "finish" learning them. For instance, the commandments never mentioned about polluting, or hunting endangered species for sport, yet many of us have recognized these. This does not necessarily make the previous commandments obsolete, but it does bring more to the table... so we add to those initial morals and values over time, as our society evolves and new prospects become relevant.

          Do you agree with me on this?