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Reem Masri

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Do you think religion should be abolished? Would a world without religion be better than one with it?

So far this topic has been clouded with uncertainty; and it is most certainly controversial. Has religion brought bigotry upon the world? Or has it helped in the ascend from savagery to civilization?
Also what would happen if people stopped following religion? Would sectarianism be abolished along with it? Or would the world be chaotic.
In the end, it all comes down to this: Is it the people who apply religion in corrupted ways who are to blamed rather than the religion itself? Or is the other way around?

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    Jan 24 2014: Re: "Has religion brought bigotry upon the world?"

    I grew up in the Soviet Union where there was plenty of bigotry in an officially atheistic society. So, the *facts* seem to show that bigotry exists in the absence of religion as well.

    "Or has it helped in the ascend from savagery to civilization?"

    I think, yes. It takes religious belief to rally thousands and millions of people around an idea, to act together to achieve a goal, and to impose moral rules on millions of people. It's a different question how and why these rules originate. But religion seems to be very instrumental for aligning values for society.

    "Also what would happen if people stopped following religion?"

    I think, people need to come up with something to live and die for. Unfortunately, any earthly goals vanish or prove themselves vain. Dennett in his talk http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_dangerous_memes.html mentions a few things. Then he concludes

    "The secret of happiness is: Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it."

    Well, the idea of God seems to be an archetype of "importance". By definition, nothing can be more important. Anything less fades in comparison. So, why make idols of "earthly things" subject to corruption and decay? If people stopped following religion, I think, they would, eventually, come up with an idea to replace it. There is a Russian saying "Holy place is never empty".

    "Would sectarianism be abolished along with it?"
    No. Tribalism, like bigotry, exists in absence of religion.

    "Or would the world be chaotic."

    It would be more difficult to align values for society. I think, eventually, someone (government, corporations, or someone else) will come up with something similar to religion.
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      Jan 28 2014: Wouldn't it be better to commit to some cause or purpose that wasn't based on one of thousands of contradictory religious beliefs?

      Perhaps something based on what is reasonably demonstrated to be true? Like most of us have the ability to suffer and feel joy and there are ways to minimise the former and increase the latter.
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        Jan 28 2014: Re: "Wouldn't it be better to commit to some cause or purpose that wasn't based on one of thousands of contradictory religious beliefs? Perhaps something based on what is reasonably demonstrated to be true?"

        Like what, for example? People rarely dedicate their lives to something that already exists or is known to be true. Usually, lives are dedicated (and with most spectacular results) to some wild fantasies like conquering space, climbing mountains, or curing cancer. Cure for cancer isn't "reality" yet and contradicts thousands of years of human experience, doesn't it? World peace as well. I think, "God" is a prototype for such aspirations, in most abstract sense.
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          Jan 29 2014: Seems a bit lazy intellectually if people can't figure out something meaningful not based on conflicting unverifiable supernatural stories.

          helping your family and loved ones. Helping your community. Helping the poor. extending our scientific understanding. Improving medicine, technology etc.
          Creating art and music.

          I suggest non religious drivers can rally prior people too, like marches supporting gay marriage, racial equality, against war, for the 99% against wealth concentration and corruption. etc

          if you find some god concept more satisfactory, that's fine by me. Just saying there are other options.

          even a combination of the above and many other things that enrich our lives.

          I doubt I'm the only one that has no need for god or goddess concepts, try to bad my life on what is reasonable and still find meaning and purpose.
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        Jan 29 2014: I don't see why you call religion "intellectually lazy". Most of what you mentioned was inspired by religion long before the word "atheism" even existed. These things are so obvious to you *today* that you don't understand how it can be otherwise and why people need belief in God to do these things. But I do not know if these ideas would be so obvious if not for thousands of years of civilization development dominated by religion. Who knows what the world would look like if it were not written in a "holy book" thousands of years ago "love your neighbor as yourself", "look after orphans and widows in their distress", etc. Unfortunately, there were no atheists around to teach people these things, so the priests had to do the work.

        "What is reasonable" is very unclear. Helping other people doesn't seem reasonable at all. I can find a lot of reasons why I should not do that.

        Regarding racial inequality, here is a sentence from Wikipedia article about MLK: "He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs." People do not do anything because of "lack of belief".
        • Jan 29 2014: Most of what you mentioned was inspired by religion long before the word "atheism" even existed.

          Religion came into being with its opposite, ' atheism'. Nothing can exist without its opposite. People didn't put that way, but they experienced it that way. It's two sides of the same coin.
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        Jan 30 2014: It's funny how the "ignorance-idiocy-malevolence" scheme works on both sides of religious debate.
    • Jan 29 2014: "If people stopped following religion, they would, eventually, come up with an idea to replace it. "
      Whatever the replacement it doesn't eliminate the essence of religion.
      ' re-ligare' means to unite, to unite people around a belief, no matter what belief is.
      Soviet Union on a deep root level was a religious state , where God was replaced by Lenin ; paradise by communism, hell by capitalism....after life by bright future...and so on , you know the litany.
      I would say, that Religion and God are not unrelated but they are not identical either.
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        Jan 30 2014: Re: "Whatever the replacement it doesn't eliminate the essence of religion."

        Yes, that's what I meant.

        Re: "I would say, that Religion and God are not unrelated but they are not identical either."

        I agree with this as well. Getting rid of supernatural beliefs does not mean getting rid of religion.
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      Jan 30 2014: "I think, yes. It takes religious belief to rally thousands and millions of people around an idea, to act together to achieve a goal, and to impose moral rules on millions of people."

      I don't agree, this has been accomplished in the past through war. Not that I'm advocating that.

      I agree on the higher purpose perhaps enlightened self interest? In my experience the mason dixon line on this subject is the willingness to communicate.

      A trite statement but being interested instead of interesting. Interest by the way is at the core of happiness

      But this is very easy to say from a comfortable first world environment, but one of the prerequisites to this type of environment is the rule of law. In other words it is easier to have this perspective in a safe environment.

      Also a trite statement is the idea of having the opportunity to improve your standard of living through innovation. It is a defining characteristic of countries who have a safer more productive culture.
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        Jan 30 2014: Re: "I don't agree, this has been accomplished in the past through war. Not that I'm advocating that."

        You may have seen this

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

        where Jonathan Haidt mentions that war experience and religious experience have a common element of "self-transcendence". Perhaps, it is true that wars tend to unite millions of people and give them a sense of national/cultural identity and a sense of a "noble cause" - similar to religion.
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          Jan 30 2014: Yea I find him to be obnoxious and don't put any credence in his theories.

          Either way it still is a motivator?

          To me man is a spiritual being.to address him as an animal is ignorant.

          The OP is saying the solution may be to get rid of religion, I have found it to do more good than harm. This from an existential perspective.

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