TED Conversations

Chirag Chauhan

Accounts Executive, Johnson Controls

TEDCRED 30+

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Do you think world would be more peaceful place to live without any religion ?

From childhood I have learned and heard one thing from different people, books, religious and spiritual people, teachers etc. that there is only ONE GOD ONE CREATOR. But this question always bugs me, why we have so many religions so many rules to pray the same GOD. Why we sent and still spending billions of dollars in building different religious worship places or performing different ceremonies. I think if we have use that money to help miserable and needy people world we live in today would be better place to live !!
If you look back in human history, I think at any time, with a great regrate I have to say, that we have shed more blood on name of religion and God than anything else.
I think world would be more peaceful place to live if we didn’t have any name for the faith (which we call religion) to believe or pay the God without any name .
I’m not in favour or against of any religion and I defiantly don’t want to hurt anyone’s sentiment.
So, can we all please make sure, while commenting, not to mention any particular religions or God’s name?
My intention is just to discuss and see if whatever I’m saying or believing is right or not

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    May 18 2011: I am going to assume the following is what you mean by religion:

    "Religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature." (Wikipedia)

    Religion shouldn't be taken away plus people will always revert to something if not religion, religion-like. Now we need to propose new religions that people can follow that do not have silly fundamental beliefs, but serious and needed fundamental skills that promote high levels of understanding. Any religion that accepts science, change and cultures is of value to me.

    Religion: Irreligion, Christian Science, Buddhism (Theravada)... I lost my list...
    Additional belief-systems: Transhumanism, humanism, naturalism, relativism, nihilism

    Why we have religion to begin with? Why do people still hold on to iron age fairy tales? Why can't people see past their own ignorance easily? = Cognitive science. Plus low critical thinking capacities or lack of the skill all together. Nothing we do is beyond understanding, just difficult to answer. Sorry but Christianity wouldn't be what it is today without the poor people (poorly educated) in history supporting it

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases Now as a wise friend of mine said, I hate to name obvious mistakes people perform, but this list is still excellent to consider. A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations. (Wikipedia) Critical thought kills these, CT is a skill.

    In short,

    I agree 100 percent. http://www.buddhiwadi.org/myth.htm
    Religions that claim unity but separate humanity by trivial differences need to be taken out of the equation.
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      May 18 2011: Great article Nicholas.

      Really think that when people defend religion they are defending some figment of their imagination of what religion is. It's kind of like defending the argument "war is bad" and having someone dispute you based on their metaphorical concept of war as any conflict physical or mental.

      Like how the article sums up:

      "rationalism and humanism or rational humanism is what we really need for achieving fellowship among human beings, and not a confused and illogical approach towards religion."
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        May 18 2011: You would really enjoy literature on cognitive science Tim.

        It takes into consideration psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and education. Trying to understand the human mind in it's entirety. Explains why humans are the way they are by considering generalizations of human beings. We are not that difficult in reality, but what makes us different are the details. Sometimes people should look past those and see a reflection of self in everyone they meet.
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        May 26 2011: Sam Harris is brilliant, I watched his lecture on how science can decide morals, and ethics. I agree look at transhumanism, naturalism, humanism, and shamanism.

        However you are generalizing all religion, like so many do, which is dumb founded.

        Fundamental religions are destructive to thought; Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, Mormon, and hey even Atheism. Because it dictates knowing all the big answers to the big questions. Even if the answers are "No one knows" well that answer sucks too in my opinion. The answer should be "What do you think, and why?" if the answer is "I don't know" the response should be "Look into your options and explore them!"

        Fundamental atheism would be just as hazardous and problematic as any other fundamental religion. Atheism should be based on critical thought, science, and skepticism. Atheism is great, but not the end game of universal religion.

        Scientific approaches do not GUARANTEE answers, it merely guides it to the most logical, beneficial, and productive solution. That still does not cover a lot. Spirituality goes beyond philosophical understanding of the universe, it is very emotional.

        Want to be truly abnormal? Want to be truly unique? Be ignostic while practicing irreligion.

        The end game of religion is another religion that has better practices than the one before it.

        There will always be religion, always. So the religion practiced should just be, for you, one that promotes human thought, which there are already existing today.
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          May 26 2011: Just let's get over "holy book" religion.

          Re Krisztian's elephant:

          http://www.ted.com/conversations/2983/can_we_live_without_a_religion.html?c=249406
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          May 27 2011: Atheism is not a belief, but a lack there of. And I believe my generalization. as you call it, is perfectly acceptable. "Fundamental Atheism" is an insult to rational people who base their beliefs on fact and not faith.

          Let us grant the following definition:

          "Religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature." (Wikipedia)

          Religion, in the most broad sense, fails to capture reality. Instead, it conspires a false representation or nonsensical views of the world we live in. To see the world in such a way is to live in a, albeit possibly very negligible, delusional state.

          When religion influences politicians and lawmakers, it is very fair to see why religion is more problematic than beneficial. It is a false sense of reality. And when you make laws reflecting a false sense of reality, you are only supporting the delusion.

          "Scientific approaches do not GUARANTEE answers, it merely guides it to the most logical, beneficial, and productive solution. That still does not cover a lot. Spirituality goes beyond philosophical understanding of the universe, it is very emotional. "

          And spirituality does? I will argue that if Spirituality is "very emotional" then it is caused by emotions. Emotions can be reduced to the activity of neurons within the brain, and thus science (philosophical understanding) has a lot to say about them.
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        May 27 2011: Atheism is still a belief system sir...

        You have the belief there is no God. Although I argued babies are born atheist, unless they are indoctrinated into any faith, it does not mean that same baby cannot one day decide there are green fairies that control the universe through magic... Also sometimes atheism can be very naive as to what "God" they do not believe in also, because only the most popular religions depict God as a dude sitting on clouds being a spiteful dude. Many others consider God a force, an energy, a behavior, an action, a life style, or even just the universe as a whole.

        So although it is logical to deny a being of a God, it is not so much the same to deny all "God" ideas without understanding the God of the individual interpretation.

        **"Fundamental Atheism" is an insult to rational people who base their beliefs on fact and not faith."**'

        Although you are atheist, you are fundamental about the FACT there is no being of a God existing in the clouds... When you never consider the fact you may be wrong to some degree you are practicing a form of fundamental beliefs, even if it is completely justifiable, still fundamental.

        The definition of religion does not correspond with your ideas of it, again there are religions who practice bettering humanity, critical thinking, science, and even skepticism as traits of the religion. Refer to the elephant example... Religion (is a)/can reflect(ion of) personality.

        Religion only influences politics because of bad educations from public (government), community (friends, parents) and self (as a result of both). It does make politics crap and that is what the founding fathers of America killed men to prevent from happening along with central banking systems...

        Science has now dictated we are not as complex as we would like to believe, what separates humanity at this point are details not anything abstract in science. However this fact still needs to be educated in public education or it's also bogus.
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          May 31 2011: I still cannot grant atheism as a belief system. To say otherwise would suggest I have something to prove. But I don't. The burden falls on the person instantiating the clam. An atheist instantiates no such claim. Imagine this thought experiment for a moment: Say we were able to raise a human so that they had no beliefs. They have learned language so as to communicate, but do not have any beliefs. They are essentially the Zombie of David Chalmers. Does this Zombie believe anything if they believe nothing? No, they believe nothing. Belief and lack-there-of are two very different things.

          And as for the "non-armchair" god for which I am well aware, I can still make my argument for religion being a waste of human thought. For example, the god of the Philosopher Spinoza is not the god of Abraham. Spinoza thought of the world consisting of only one kind of substance and that "thing" being god. His arguments were logical and in fact, he believed in logical determinism. The problem with the god of Spinoza and other "non-armchair" gods is that they are the products of semantics. God, by definition is an omnipotent, transcendent being of some kind. To say he is a force or energy is just to change the meaning of god. and again, to hold these beliefs is to have an irrational view of the world.

          "The definition of religion does not correspond with your ideas of it, again there are religions who practice bettering humanity, critical thinking, science, and even skepticism as traits of the religion. Refer to the elephant example... Religion (is a)/can reflect(ion of) personality."

          You've made an identity claim which says "religion = personality." This is fundamentally different from the definition you provided via wikapedia. So which is it? Either way it does not matter, for I will still stand by my claims that science has the answers and that religion is a waste of human thought.
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          May 31 2011: "Atheism is still a belief system sir..."

          Is dis-belief in Zeus a belief system?
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        May 31 2011: "To say he is a force or energy is just to change the meaning of god. and again, to hold these beliefs is to have an irrational view of the world." That's your opinion, and not being looked at from a broader sense of how many different interpretations to the idea of God there are in the world.

        To say religion is a waste to human thought is being angry at reality of how humans think. We think in patterns you are frustrated people are easily manipulated? Good, still, religion in some shape or form will always exist, even if it is entirely transhumanist or something similar.

        *My claim is that religion can or religion does reflection personality, a connection and/or a correlation.

        Then what you stand for is a fundamental faith, yours may be supported by logic and reason, but it still fundamental because you will not consider otherwise. Atheism is the belief system that there is nothing greater in a non-physical fashion, roughly. Still have to practice fundamentalism, hey I gave credit, it is still great, but it isn't the end game nor is it 100 percent beneficial, just a good step in the right direction.

        I will re-suggest ignosticism, this is another belief in how to approach the big questions of the universe. This system requires you to understand what the interpretation of God or supernatural understandings/considerations are of the individual or religion prior to denying its accuracy or potentiality. The energy our body produces are/were often considered into religions of the east.

        Stop generalizing religion as all a waste, it is a fools argument.

        By that definition the American culture is just as much a religion as Christianity, indeed Christianity can be a correlation to why Americans are so blindly patriotic (why they worship America so much.) So, by your response to that, America is a waste of human thought, which I agree on in the present state of condition. However like most religions the foundation in which founded on have great ethics and lessons.
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          May 31 2011: "Stop generalizing religion as all a waste, it is a fools argument."

          Are we allowed to generalize it as an archaic and counterproductive institution destined to the waste bin of human civilization the same way as other dated institutions such as slavery, feudalism, monarchy, ...?
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        May 31 2011: "Is dis-belief in Zeus a belief system?"

        What's the disbelief? That Zeus is the creator of humans or was a mythical character of mythology?

        If it is Zeus being the creator, yes, but that system of belief is every religion that does not believe in Zeus.

        "Are we allowed to generalize it as an archaic and counterproductive institution destined to the waste bin of human civilization the same way as other dated institutions such as slavery, feudalism, monarchy, ...?"

        All religions did/do not allow slavery, feudalism, an monarchy. So no you cannot generalize religion together.

        Also many eastern cultures happen to be wayyy more productive than western cultures. This is clearly dictated through the difference in population sizes. There religions were teaching longevity, nature, humanism, and oneness while accepting scientific discoveries throughout time...

        Come on Tim, I hope this was just a challenge and not how you really feel. fundamental religion is a waste of time, I admitted this, but you cannot group all religions together. Need to specify the religion as being the direct waste of time. However, if Christian were really Christ-like and following the word of Jesus, those 2.1 billion people would make the world a great place, but no. they are now ignorantly fundamental and a direct waste of time.

        You're the one who said let's get over the holy book religions!
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          May 31 2011: Nicholas: I only use the phrase "Holy Book Religion" to focus the conversation. Other then holy book religions what kind of religions are you talking about? Word of mouth celtic traditions? Australian aboriginal practices? Native American beliefs? "Personal belief systems"?

          Unless you focus on what most people mean by religion, i.e. - holy book religion, the conversation is really pointless. Before long people start referring to science as a religion.

          The problem with religious fundamentalism is the fundamentals of religion.

          Define what you mean by religion. Once you take away all that is uniquely religious you are left with humanism. So yes, we can generalize and say religion is a waste.
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        May 31 2011: I used the wikipedia definition as my source of where I was coming from religion, and yes today the way people dictate what science is, it is becoming a religion. Science is a series of processes nothing more. However when most people hear science they think biology, chemistry, astronomy, and separated fields that science produced, but these fields need science practices to be able to continue in their directions. They themselves are not science, but what science can and does produce. Fields of science just means they need science to be the field of study.

        "Other then holy book religions what kind of religions are you talking about? Word of mouth celtic traditions? Australian aboriginal practices? Native American beliefs? "Personal belief systems"? "

        All of them, that is religion, a human pattern, most people accept religion as is a mutant of fundamental beliefs. Humanism would require understanding of how much/often humans make patterns, humanism can just as much be a religion as anything else if not considered openly. Once you establish the acclaimed reality of the world and how to come to it, you create a process in which is fundamental to that reality, again although it is a beneficial one and a better belief system, still a religion.

        So no, we cannot generalize religion it is like saying our natural instincts in which create patterns is a waste. What we need is to have better religions that allow change, science, and critical thinking into the practices as a positive way to view the world.

        Your belief that all religion are cored at humanism is correct, however all their practices ARE NOT the same to achieve humanistic qualities. Christians should be taking care of the poor and helping one another. Buddhism never harm anyone. Jewish people take care of others and never harm anyone.

        Religion is not a waste when considering what it really is and not what it is considered most generally today.

        Religion is a waste when it is a fundamental one.
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          May 31 2011: So we agree - the fundamentals of religions are a waste.
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          Jun 1 2011: Tim- Your replies have made me laugh, every time without fail.
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        Jun 1 2011: No I didn't agree to that either Tim.

        Because if the fundamental practice of the religion was to perform science, critical thinking and reflect on life everyday as part of your rituals. How is that fundamental practice a waste?

        No, generalizing how people respond to the world and self is a waste.
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          Jun 1 2011: Name one religion which does the following:
          performs science, uses critical thinking, and reflect on life everyday as part of its rituals

          I believe if a religion uses critical thinking, its members would soon start to deteriorate as they realize there is no need to have their religion.
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        Jun 1 2011: Theravada Buddhism.

        You do not understand what CT is then. It is a skill, when a claim is made, CT is performed to consider how to consider/take that claim into your already established considerations/knowledge.

        "There is no God" is a claim.

        CT depending on your already established knowledge depends on you are even going to START to break down that claim. For me because I accept that there are many interpretations of God I need to know what you mean "God" and then we can continue. If you are a fundamental Christian, the claim will not even start to begin with CT as it goes against their fundamental understandings. If you are a Hindu the claim will be followed by which God? If you a Theravada Buddhist they will ask what God?

        Fundamental religious people can perform CT, but perform many cognitive biases when it comes to their personal beliefs.

        Critical thinking is only valid and useful towards a claim when information related to the claim is open ended and knowledge is not corrupted by delusions. Otherwise cognitive biases will be performed constantly. Some CB's are important and useful with CT however, again, without a well rounded education CT creates more CBs.

        This goes beyond religion, theology, and mythology this goes into how we think as humans in general. We're pattern creatures, get use to it man, until education systems are better and guided by psychologist and neurologist, being victims of patterns are inevitable.

        You cannot generalize religions together if you have not studied religions, theology, and mythology. You can't.
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          Jun 1 2011: Theravada Buddhism is still a religion that holds super natural beliefs which modern science has absolutely nothing good to say about. And in fact, if science were to accept these new ideas, we would have to change our ontology entirely. Religion is (I intend to make the identity claim) a collection of delusions which DO NOT correspond to reality. I understand critical thinking and cognitive biases very well. People can have there personal, and subjective experiences of reality REGARDLESS of the objective reality we live in. A Buddhist may critically think about their beliefs all day, it still says nothing about an objective reality.

          "There is no god" is a claim grounded, if by the right person and not some loon off the street, in fact... scientific fact. We are creatures of pattern, this does not imply that we must always have religion. I am not even saying that every religion must have a god. But again, religious beliefs are not based on the objective reality we live in.
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        Jun 1 2011: It's like you are not evening reading/researching what I am writing, I won't continue this argument.

        Continue your delusional conclusions/considerations and be happy with it, happiness is all that matters.
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          Jun 1 2011: No need to be rude, but I grow tired of yelling at the wall as well.
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      May 18 2011: @ Nick Good article...................Interpretations can cause a lot of harm. Egos enter into the picture and we have a mess. We should all strive to live by the Golden Rule. I have committed to the Charter for Compassion promoted by Karen Armstrong on Ted. I hope everyone will.
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      May 18 2011: Very good point Nicholas!

      I'm thinking which religions are (at the moment) in the list of non-violence inciting...
      I would think Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and the Masonic religions are of this order. It depends on the openness towards other world-views... and (just diagonally read the article) alas, these probably have some issues too...
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        May 19 2011: Thanks for the added religions. I need to update my list again.

        The issues come from people settling with one religious ideology and assuming they have to, seems like another similarity people have in common. That is why people should have additional belief systems while having a religion or just multiply belief systems and/or ideologies.
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      May 20 2011: I hadn't been brainf**ked in a long time, so thanks for that. All those religious stories crammed together, with the title and premise trying to make you reconcile them all the way (which just keeps one on the edge of their seat)... someone needs to make a movie of that. A documentary at least.
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    May 20 2011: "Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof." --Ashley Montague

    This, for me, is enough to answer the question Chirag posted.
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    May 18 2011: I think the world would be a more peaceful place if we united on the ancient wisdoms that are uncerneath all the wolrds great religions and in the spirrtuality of indigeous peoples...charity+ compassion,
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    May 18 2011: Right on Chirag! Time for humanity to evolve beyond religion.

    "Civilization will not attain perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest."

    Emile Zola
    • May 22 2011: No offense , but there would be nothing called "humanity" if not for religion, don't you think? In the event of that being true, there is nothing that can be evolved, and there is nothing to evolve beyond either!
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        May 22 2011: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanity
        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/humanity

        Religion is only apart of the human being experience. When you are born into a culture with religion your parents indoctrinate you into a faith system, prior to that you were atheist.

        Your argument was not thought out, because you feel religion has helped you understand humanity but that does not mean that religion is what helped pushed humanity forward completely. Consider most religions in the western world did not advocate science and change. As apposed to the eastern world where science was a blessing involving medicines, understandings of the mind, and even basic practices of longevity. This is dictated through the differences in the population numbers that exist today.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_world
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_world#Western_culture

        So you are absolutely wrong, religion did not have a direct connection between our progress but an indirect one through spirituality. Science ideals are what progressed us to this point in time.

        Religion didn't get you a computer in front of you, computer sciences and economic sciences did.

        Side-note: Evolution is a CONSTANT in both mind and body; individually, communally, and universally for humans (we are just animals).
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        May 23 2011: It was humans who invented religion. Not religion that invented humans.

        If you're interested in humanity, why not look to humanism?
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    May 23 2011: you cant eliminate it. we have a right to it. and to be honest, i dont think it would be much more peaceful. we find any reason to draw a line in the sand and kill whoever crosses it.
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    May 18 2011: Humankind will get rid of at least one big barrier to peace.
  • May 18 2011: That depends what you define as religion.

    Religion, at its core, is a social construct. It is a system that has accomplished more through cooperation than any other system in human history except blood relation. Religion is the only system out there that can consistently and widely convince unrelated people to give up their own resources for a cause they beleive in.

    However, religion does not discriminate between the ideas it promotes. Just as good ideas can be bolstered and great human accomplishments can be achieved, bad ideas can flourish for millennia, and it can also "accomplish" the subjugation of billions. It could be the belief that women are inferior, or it could be the abolition of slavery. It doesn't matter.

    So I think most prominent voices on the topic are wrong. We don't need to apply a sledgehammer to religion, we need to apply a scalpel. Cut out the bad and leave the good. Otherwise humans will just fill the void with some other crap. And there's no guarantee that it wouldn't be worse.

    Because it is a social construct the only way to truly get rid of religion is to get rid of humans.

    If you want to get rid of something get rid of the human appetite for absolute knowledge.
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      May 18 2011: Thanks for sharing your thoughts .Let’s not get in to complexity of the definition of the religion. What I mean by religion is what a common man would use or understand a word “religion”.
      I don’t know who had the first Idea to create a religion, but I’m sure that person or may be a group of people would have good intension behind creating it.
      But what we see today, people in power so called religious leaders, or people who do politics on name of religion, have defiantly don’t have a good intension using religion for there benbift.
      Millions and millions of people around the globe are misguided on name of religion. As matter of fact these “unrelated people” who haven’t even seen each other don’t even know each there’s name, hate others just because of others religion.
      And as you said, religion is the only system which convinces unrelated people to give up their resources for the cause they believe. Unfortunately, majority of the resources of the world are controls by minority .And these people (not all.. there are always exceptions and good people out there )who gave up their resources to control society, to stay in power and rule the world the way they want .Out of approx 6.8 billion people in the world more than 2 billion people still leave in extreme poverty.
      What do you think these people gave up there resources.. For what cause?? if it’s a religious cause than it should be something to do with betterment of humanity .That’s what I think the whole purpose of religion was in first place.
      And, you are so right, religion does not discriminate the ideas they promote. But people in power misuse and misinterpret for their own good. And can draw the line where is the good and what is bad . If everyone will keep saying MY religion is superior than your and my God is a truth and your God is fake.
      Its easy to say, keep the GOOD and eliminate the BAD, but unfortunately reality doesn’t work that way ,society doesn’t work that way .
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      May 23 2011: Yes. Apply the scalpel. Cut away at religion until all that remains is humanism.
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        May 25 2011: @ Tim
        Yes religion has been fading from Europe, which is great because it is self imposed, but religion does intwine with culture quite a bit. Do you think you can really amputate religion from societies that are not ready to make that leap. Would it not be better to actually learn about cultures and trade ideas with them in an egalitarian manner rather than haggling over ideas no one can prove one way or the other. People who expose dangerous anti social fundamentalist ideas should be marginalize as much as possible but for others who only entertain kooky ideas I really don't see the benefit of going on the offense.

        By the way I am an atheist, but I as I see it that is just another system of belief too.
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          May 27 2011: Wrong "ism"

          Atheism does not have the burden of proof. An atheist does not claim anything. It is the THEIST who holds the burden of proof, as they are the one making the claim. Again, atheism is a lack of belief... that's what the affix "a" generally indicates- not something.
    • May 30 2011: and who is to be the judge of what the 'bad' bits are....bring in the scalpel by all means but im pretty sure what you think needs to be 'cut out', others will see as the good that needs to stay.
      For me, ill be the judge thanks. I am the only one who can make these decisions for me. And i am the one wholey affected by my own beliefs.
      Relgion is not my cuppa tea as i am capable of making good decisions for me and mine. Spirtuality is my cup. To lovening look over all rules, traditions, celebrations, rituals etc and find those that sit well with me. Those that allow me to live the loving, open life i want to live.
      You guys are welcome to sort it out for yourselves......just allow me to do the same.
      If i make a mistake then please allow me the graceousness to correct my own way, i will as soon as i see things arnt going the way id like.
      Share your love, support, caring, kindness and all the other wonderful parts of your human ness. But please dont presume to know what is right for me. Only I, as an intellengent and worthwhile human being can know what is right for me.
      And a loving God, as i understand God, is the only god im interested in.
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    May 31 2011: I agree with your philosophy. I think it was a pivotal idea for the development of humans in the BC era. Now, I think if we use collective ideas instead of bickering about who is right, we would adapt to our planets needs.
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    May 28 2011: well what can i say... "Im under arrest....you got me"...

    ("Do you think this thread would be peaceful place to chat without any translator ?)
    Mr.Chauhan might change the title of the topic. not my fault.

    Whats funny were speaking the same dialect but still having difficulty understanding each other but still i did say im sorry and i "honestly and honorably" do. ("without any humor")

    PEACE? - Part2
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    May 28 2011: @Birdia--?? i thought you were Chinese... a simply sorry will do. or better..ehem! Please accept my deepest and humble apology. Sorry for taking your time and sorry for myself youve almost driven me nuts.PEACE?
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        May 30 2011: hmm.. the heart of humanity? hey... your supposed to be the expert here, females are supposed to be the emotional/nurturing kind...well ladies first...

        ...seriously...ofcourse we can build a peaceful world. its just that we are sepparated from many differences, gaps but at the same time makes us unique individuals.

        whatever we find there Im pretty sure will make us all smile.
        (like it was your first time taking KODAK.)
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    May 28 2011: ***In your opinion, what is needed to make people "more honorable and honest"?

    -hmm well in my opinion what makes people honorabel and honest is security to ones self...that would be obvious. rich people are the few still not all walk and talk like civilzed people. then so the next question is how does one acquire ones security...hmm self content??? if you want to prove that if theres something wrong with this world that needs to be change well change the attitude of people first. we live in what we learn. and that changing of attitude can not be done without offering any just compensation etc.. etc..


    Besides religion, what else do you think "can give one peace and security in life"?
    - ....the only one i know is self content and being at peace with one self.

    What does it mean to be "observant"? What does it mean to "feel"?

    - it is not our place to be the God of our religion, take time to observe people, accept every fact cause you might find something you can learn before criticizing there flaw, be sensitive too that you are a human and to err is human.

    ***• [hey Ms. Birdia lets keep that to ourselves shall we...hehe]
    I'm sorry Neil, let's keep what to ourselves? religion? truth? DaVinci? God?

    (i was referring to the mistake i made and accepted your correction, it was suppose to be a joke. okay)

    okay i should have not used the "DaVinci" word - next word would end in "DanBrown"

    ...sorry

    ...Dui Bu Qi
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    May 28 2011: "P.S. Please excuse me for all my questions, I'm simply baffled by human's inquenchable thirst for gods and holy books. Please help me out here. Why do you think people are attracted to religion(s)?"

    -not an expert here but ill give my opinion on that, we all know that in some time we will leave this world wether we know when (old age) or not (to die at ayoung age). maybe being in a religious organization can give one peace and security in life, then also maybe not.

    ***[...can be if people will remain honorable and honest... which is impossible]- Does that imply people become honorable and honest by sticking to a religion? If so, what makes you think that?

    -not exactly, i was suggesting only if people were more honorable and honest... religion would have been extinct a lot sooner which answers Mr.Chuahan question that the world can be peaceful without religion?

    ***• ["as the father/mother/elder passes his wisdom to his child so his children will pass it to the next generation..."]That is quoted from...?

    -ahh??? ill pass hehe.

    ***• ["keep your feet on the ground" - sometimes thats what religion offers to the believers.]What does that mean, Neil, to "keep your feet on the ground"? Do you think believers are more grounded than non-believers? In what ways?

    -okay i was wrong there, i surrender. kidding. okay seriously -believers now a day have expected to much from there religion. they make there own prophecy cause they are expose or sometimes exposed themselves from the different irregularities in this world, we continously forget that the intention of a religion is nothing but to guide, we still have to decide on how we will carry it in real life. freewill is there doctrine. (hey Ms. Birdia lets keep that to ourselves shall we...hehe)

    "let your mind be observant and your heart feel" ... please dont ask whos or where its quoted from, im might just answer you with a reply saying...from...???...DaVinci!!!, DeCarpio!!! or whomever person carries a Leonardo name.
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    May 28 2011: Do you think world would be more peaceful place to live without any religion ?

    - can be if people will remain honorable and honest... which is impossible
    we are seperated by many ways, unique in our own way. by the color of our skin, ideology, faith and experiences in life.

    its true that religion binds people but not all people like Ms.Birdia mentioned regarding the non-believers.

    "as the father/mother/elder passes his wisdom to his child so his children will pass it to the next generation..."

    whatever we believe in or philosophy or anything that we have accepted and learned in life that has brought us at an old/experienced age. It is in our instinct to pass that knowledge to the younger generation to give them a choice. (OFF Topic)

    anyway it is impossible to have a peaceful society/environment without peace with oneself regardless to what religion you represent, believer or non-believer.

    "keep your feet on the ground" - sometimes thats what religion offers to the believers.
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    May 27 2011: Religion is one of the best things we, as humans, have invented, yes it has been invented because we all know that the holy books haven't been sent from the sky by fax or e-mail. So, i feel like I should explain how religion first appeared.
    Religion was invented so that humans could find an understanding for things they didn't understand. When we recognize that science cannot answer all our doubts there will always be room for religion and for belief. For example, 3000 years ago we didn't understand or could predict the rain, so we turned to religion and begged the gods for rain. Nowadays we don't understant yet if there is life after death, and because of that we still turn to religion.
    Humans have an atraction for knowledge, and if we can't get it through science, then we will get it through belief.

    Now, is religion important for keeping peace? Of course it is. In a society that is torned apart, where there is no solidarity and no respect for some specific people, such as the eldest, religion acts like a glue. Religion glues us together. For example, millions of catholics from all over the world join in the Vatican to closer to their God's representative on earth, the pope. They forget all their difference: the language and cultural barrier and pray together, because religion glues them together. Also, in a time of crisis, the church, at least in Portugal, helps the ones who have almost nothing - they are a society's column. We can disapprove the pope's response for the most recent scandals but we can't forget that the church isn't a demoniac creation. It helps the society and makes peace more possible.
    However, when we talk about confrontation between different religions, the case changes. People make war because they want to prove they are right, that their god is the only one. But know it all begins to change, because we recognize that war is futile when everything that sepparates us is a holy book written by people
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        May 28 2011: Religion acts as glue, as it gives a certain consistency to the company. Our values, whether we are atheists or religious, come from religion. Take the example of Christianity: the vast majority of the Ten Commandments are generally accepted by all, whether we are religious or atheists. And why does this happen? Because we recognize, as people, as social beings, that the rules and values made explicit in the sacred books are important for life in society. "Thou shalt not rob" thou shalt not kill, "these are some of the values we adopted.
        Whether we are religious or not, we accept many of the values of religion. To summarize, religion functions as a speed limiter - sometimes, as in the case of science, we move too quickly, go over ethical boundaries, and religion, although it may seem retrograde, raises the debate over these ethical issues, puts us thinking about what we do and what we really want. I used this example to explain that even though religion and science are not exactly friends (for this case let’s think that science=non religious person), science “hears” what religion says and “thinks” about its actions and if we should something just because we can, regardless of the consequences.
        Similarly, a non-religious person, even if she do not identify with religion, she will be affected by it : the person will take positions on the different issues that torn apart our society , and those positions will be consistent with religion, and thus society will respond in unison - religion is the glue of society.
        I believe that some of the commandments - respected by all regardless of creed - are the probably the oldest “law” known to man and we all know that a stable society needs rules and values and religion gives us some of them and we, as persons, believers or non-religious, respect them because, as I said, we recognize its usefulness for a life in society.
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      May 28 2011: Hi Fabio
      "For example, 3000 years ago we didn't understand or could predict the rain, so we turned to religion and begged the gods for rain. "

      The book of Job was written circa 1900 to 1700 BC
      Job 36:27 He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams [fn];[Or distill from the mist as rain]
      Job 36:28 the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.

      However, Bernard Palissy is credited in the 16th century to be the scientist who compiled the theories that existed for years and "wrote" our modern hydrological cycle.
      http://wiki.answers.com/Q/When_was_the_water_cycle_discovered

      Either Job was a couple of thousand years ahead of science, or he had a bit of inside info.

      :-)
  • May 27 2011: Because of religion, humanity and our development is regressing. Maybe the world be more peacefull place to live if the dominant religion would be something like Buddhism but it would require active believers.Yes i know that Buddhism isnt a religion:)
  • May 26 2011: Apart from the crusades, most conflict revolves around America.
    I can't think of a non-civil war where America didn't start or wasn't involved in.
    Religions such as Christianity(Catholic) and some forms of Buddhism promote peace,
    synergy, understanding and co-existence.
    The existence of religion keep us far above animals.
    A world where these did not exist may still have laws
    but would be tainted with more corruption
    and we would be raised with little concern over others as well as lie more often.
    Religion, Chaos. Oxymoron.
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    May 25 2011: I think Religious is like an educational institute where majority of teachers are extremers ,and everyone is in that institute has to pay fees by one or other means
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    May 24 2011: I think we all need to have a god or a religion to believe!
    Although the time and money and many other things are used or as what you said wasted in it, we actually need our firm beliefs to guide our life! The influences and good may not be seen by tangible forms, but you will find your life may indeed lose something when you abandon your god!
    The belief gives us more than our eyes can see.
  • May 22 2011: This is the whole problem: The understanding of 'religion' as it were, is very obscure. The common man version of religion is the root cause of all evil shall i say?

    Religion, no doubt has manifested into a reason to fight. And this has been proven time and again.

    But the solution to this problem is not eliminating the concept of religion. Because, with religion if there are a hundred (say) people fighting, then without it the whole world will be against itself. Because, it is religion which helps tame the mind, for those who allow this to happen atleast. It is a set of rules without which we would be no better than any random animal.

    I've noticed that the main problem people have with religion is that the respective religion's leader is not open to questions. Well, the reason behind this is that he is as illiterate about the religion as you and me. Just because he has "read" the sacred book belonging to the religion, does not make him "enlightened" and his ignorance does not make the religion obsolete.
    Religion's understanding in the form in which it was initially meant to influence is lost. It's essence has been mostly lost. And only upon reviving this can the true form of and reason behind any religion's existence be learnt.

    But it is still disturbing that such a pure art(religion) has been used to create violence. Yet, the solution is not eliminating religion, it is our personal conscious awareness that should protect us from getting involved in immature violence and hatred in the name of religion.
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      May 24 2011: Hi Sowmya,
      The problem is not a common man understands religion, the problem lie in the complexity of religions there rules, and the mentality it carries. I would not consider a priest, a “poojari” or “moulwi” a common man who preach that their religion is superior to others.
      A common man get the understanding of the religion from their religion books , from the people and institute who preach them wrongly . So I won’t blame common man for that.
      And I don’t think that religion help to tame mind, rather it provoke peoples sentiments to fight against each other at least most of the time .I think spirituality can help to tame mind.
      And I’m so sorry but we are different than other animal not because of the set of rules set by religions. You might want to check this video on TED http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_sapolsky_the_uniqueness_of_humans.html .I think it will help you to understand why we are different than other animals.
      I think we are human because of our, empathy, compassion and love towards our fellow human being. The day we lost it, no matter what religion we are following we are no better than any other animal.
      And I think a religious man who is ready to kill other on name of religion is far worse than a Dog who protects his master from trouble.
      Just because we borne as a human doesn’t makes us superior than other creatures.
  • May 20 2011: I believe that religions came to organize humans lives and to say that there is one god that we should adore worship but with time people start concentrating on the religion details and they start forgetting the aim of it and they end up worshiping the religion instead of god and they become very fanatical and really furious to their religion ..tp cut the long story short I believe that we have to change the way we think toward our religions we need to have a peacfull thinking we need to love each over and admit that each person have the right to choose his religion but he/she don't have the right to impose it on others .if we did this we will be able to reach a peacefull world.
    khaled Andari
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      May 23 2011: Should we accept all holy books as the word of God?
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      May 31 2011: Hi Khaled You wrote religion started with one GOD idea , so you mean people who believe in more than one GOD has no religion ? What they are then ?

      That's what religion promotes, consciously / subconsciously / unconsciouly rejecting other religious thoughts.

      You see , the idea of religion whatever way one presents it doesn't matter. AT the end it's a killer to peace. So far plenty proof around...
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    May 20 2011: The problem with eliminating religion from the world is you might gain peace as we lose diversity of thought. Nicholas's article does a god job of illustrating that different religions are in fact different. It's easier to get along with people who think like you, but when we can find civility with people who have opposing ideas on life we grow as a species. Having to measure your way of life with other ways can give you a healthy assessment on whether you should keep on your path or change direction. Likewise it gives a metric to judge other by. Many religions to me are strange and I would not practice them, but I recognize them as authentic ways of ordering consciousness. That said most religions have ideas that I find questionable. We need to be able to critique religion in order to advance humanity, but also learn that others have a right to think as they see fit .

    I recommend watching Wade Davis http://www.ted.com/talks/wade_davis_on_endangered_cultures.html
    He does a brilliant job of showing just how wide our range of belief are and how we can all benefit from it
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      May 20 2011: "That said most religions have ideas that I find questionable. We need to be able to critique religion in order to advance humanity, but also learn that others have a right to think as they see fit ."
      See... that's the main problem... religious fundamentalists don't want to be questioned, they don't want to slightly alter their views, no matter how questionable or distant from reality they might be.

      For the most part, atheists recognize people's right to think as they see fit. But when you want to impose your way of thinking upon others without accepting critique, that's a problem. Yes, atheists and scientists want to enforce their way of thinking (that being "critical thinking") too, but they're opened to critique when it comes to any claims they make, and are willing to change accordingly as new evidence comes along.

      The only way to reconcile both is to cherry pick your religion, so as to take it as "true by default", and then lose every piece of it one by one depending on the scientific progress and your common sense. e.g. Science has no evidence to say with high certainty that there is or isn't a soul => Believing in soul is fine (despite the fact there's no evidence supporting the existence of a soul either). Science has evidence the universe is 14 billion years old => Believing the universe is 6 thousand years old is not fine, but believing the universe is older than 14 billion years is fine (despite there not being any evidence for it). Science has evidence the tides are caused by the moon's gravity => "Tides come in, tides come out, never a miscommunication" is a silly thing to believe.

      Fortunately, the majority of people are not fundamentalists, in that they accept questioning... as long as you don't use the "A" word before starting the questioning. Still, even they are satisfied with less.

      If your environment requires you to bring agents into nature, that's fine, and indeed, we should learn from these approaches. Imposing it on others is another thing.
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        May 20 2011: yes fundamentalism is a growing problem, but ridding the world of religion seems to me a fundamentalist thought. How would this be accomplished with out violence. I agree with you that critical thinking is important. People need to be able to separate what they know from what they believe. They have to accept that other people for many reasons developed assumption about the world and how it operates. Religions evolve just like any other socially constructed aspect of life.
        Your example of the universe being created 14 billion years ago is a good example. Truth is we don't know enough about what happened to create the universe. We just came up with a model that best fits the limited knowledge we do have. Its really is nothing more than a belief system itself and aside from using a bit of technical language it really does not differ that much from dozens of creation myths from around the world where they thought a cosmic egg broke releasing the universe. These myths were like the big bang theory in that they presented a working modal of the universe from limited knowledge. At any rate people being people they often get stuck in what they know and are threatened with new knowledge, causing them to act in anti humanist ways. I just don't see this as a reason to rid the world of old information.
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          May 23 2011: Religion has been fading from Europe without violence. Why do you say "How would this be accomplished with out violence."?

          It would just be nice if it faded from the world a bit more quickly. How can that be done? I think by discussing it as much as possible. The more it is discussed (in it's many and contradictory forms) the more it will be rejected.
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    May 19 2011: I think the world would be more agreeable. Do I think it would be more peaceful? Perhaps. I'd suggest comparing this question to that of a smaller tribe who all believes in the same thing (or doesn't believe).

    With that being said, do I think it would be better? No. What makes the world a beautiful place (and exciting one) is that everyone has an opinion or their own view. That's what makes life interesting.
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    May 19 2011: Even here in Sydney, people say ohh don’t marry to a gal of X religion.. They are very conservative.
    I mean come on how can you judge a person by there religion. Every person is different every mind thinks differently
    What I feel is , society carries this stereo type mentality about other people and their religions. The problem is we don’t treat people on individual basis , we love to carry generalise thinking and love to treat people with our prejudices thinking .
    And where this thinking comes from .. Majority of time, from religious belief and teachings.
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    May 19 2011: We all get religion by birth , some of us choose to chage it but majority may be 99% of us die with the religion we born with .
    We follow all these thousands years old tradition that are really against humanity .. I don’t want say a name , but the religion which I was born with forbid people to touch other people who belongs to other lower cast in society .And even today , very well educated and sophisticated people of these religion still follow this customs and rituals just to stay on top in society .
    I mean how more selfish you can be on name of religion ?
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      May 20 2011: "We all get religion by birth , some of us choose to chage it but majority may be 99% of us die with the religion we born with."
      Most of us are born IN a religion (exceptions include atheist societies like Norway), but no one is born WITH a religion. We are naturally opened for religious claims, because for most people critical thinking is something that's trained over time, not something one is born with.

      99% is also probably an exaggerated statement. 99% of adults probably die with with the religion they were raised (not born) with, but many kids today are smarter than their elders. I remember a recent research that was linked in another topic that showed that the atheist population in the US has grown from 8% to 20%, with most of the difference being among young people.
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        May 20 2011: I don’t Want to sound rude but If I’ll try to explain whether “we born with religion or born in a religion” than the discussion will turn on another track.
        And you right 99% is a exaggerated statement but I think if you read it again I said “may be 99%”.


        But I’m glad that you pointed it out. See, you may bay be right in your understanding, but it’s just the way you see, understand and interpretate things.
        Just like your different view to see what I wrote , same way, I think different interpretation of religious books has played a major role in so many religious conflicts. Today we see different branches of the same religion. It’s just not one religion fighting with other, the same religion people are fighting with each other and proving that they are right and everyone else is wrong
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        May 20 2011: And by the way I don’t think, not believing religious (for more clarity not being religious) has anything to do with being atheist.
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          May 20 2011: Seeing that there are atheistic religions (such as Jainism; sometimes reffed to as "philosophies", though they still have the vital characteristic of religions - being unchangeable), I agree.

          But if we're going to include every modifier, we'll have to spell out that most atheists are "secular humanist non-religious critical-thinking agnostic atheists"... that's a lot of mouthful.
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        May 20 2011: As per my understanding, atheist is someone who does not believe in GOD. And not beliving God and not being religious is two different thing.
        For example , I won’t call myself religious because I don’t follow the rules and the rituals of my religion, however I believe in God (not by name )
        And one more thing, if you go by definition of religion, Jainism is a religion, just like Buddhism or any other religion and all religions are nothing but a combination of philosophy ,faith and beliefs. (Sorry I didn’t wanted to say a name of a religion in this discussion but because you mentioned it I have to say it)
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          May 20 2011: How do you call someone who
          - Doesn't use his/her own non evidence based views (i.e. beliefs) to influence laws or infringe on the rights of others.
          - Doesn't regard any moral source as "holy" (i.e. unquestionable, infallible; e.g. holy scripture or a guru), but is still moral (by virtue of common sense or basic moral conduct of all religions; the golden rule).
          - Does not practice any particular set of rituals (maybe some of one religion, maybe some from various religions, but no particular named set in full or as traditionally practiced).
          - Is willing to change his/her beliefs (potentially dramatically so) or believe something new if presented with solid evidence to support the claim, and strives to make as few assumptions and have as few beliefs as possible.
          - Doesn't hold a strong position on his/her current beliefs.
          - Doesn't believe in any form of god(s).

          If you know of a single label that encompasses all of the above, I'd like to start using it for myself and those I currently call "atheists", as it more accurately describes them, or at least everyone I've ever seen. While the term only covers the last bit, the others are inherent from it, because no atheist can prove for sure god doesn't exist (partly because the concept is now very poorly defined, but also because there's no evidence to say something about the generic concepts), they used critical thinking to arrive on their position, which was applied on the morals as well whenever possible, and because they acknowledge the possibility of being wrong when there's no evidence, they try to not let their personal opinion prevent those who might have a different opinion carry out their will.
          (and the ritual bit is simply about atheists being human... who doesn't want to have a good time with friends and family around the winter or summer solstice?)
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        May 22 2011: I think I have single label for it “human”
        “Doesn't use his/her own non evidence based views (i.e. beliefs) to influence laws or infringe on the rights of others.”
        -Kind (harmless)

        “Doesn't regard any moral source as "holy" (i.e. unquestionable, infallible; e.g. holy scripture or a guru), but is still moral (by virtue of common sense or basic moral conduct of all religions; the golden rule).”
        -Sceptical

        “Does not practice any particular set of rituals (maybe some of one religion, maybe some from various religions, but no particular named set in full or as traditionally practiced).”

        -Carefree(you can also say careless if you want )

        “is willing to change his/her beliefs (potentially dramatically so) or believe something new if presented with solid evidence to support the claim, and strives to make as few assumptions and have as few beliefs as possible.”
        -Flexible or wise (who is ready to accept his mistake if he knew he is wrong)
        “Doesn't hold a strong position on his/her current beliefs.
        -Unsure or unconfident

        “Doesn't believe in any form of god(s)”
        Atheist or freethinker
        Human = Kind (harmless) +sceptical + carefree + Flexible or wise + unsure or unconfident + Atheist or freethinker ..etc
        But I think all your question’s answers can fit under the label of “human” but for sure not Atheist (except last one)
        And I don’t think anyone can prove the existence of God. It’s a belief, people who believe in it, say there is a God and they believe in it . For those who do not believe in God they say, they can’t see God they don’t believe in God. If you ask for evident form believer and non believer I think non believer sounds more rational because they don’t have any proofs and non believer doest need any proofs as you can’t see God.
        My point is, not everything in life needs proofs, sometime you just have to assume and accept. If we don’t agree on something doesn’t mean we are right and others are wrong.
        Even science have to make assumption to prove some theories
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          May 24 2011: "Even science have to make assumption to prove some theories"
          Well, yes. The core assumption driving science is the assumption that the universe we're in exists... "The Matrix" is just one alternative where the assumption is inverted - what if the universe we're in doesn't exist? There's always the remote possibility that it's true, and I can already think of a few other alternatives (e.g. my life and the universe we're in is part of the memory of a supreme being, I'm the center of it, and you're part of it... for me, there's always the remote possibility that this is true, though from your perspective, it would seem the other way around).

          "If we don’t agree on something doesn’t mean we are right and others are wrong."
          Tell that to theists. Each religion that has one or more god assumes its God(s) are the only real ones and the others are wrong. Eastern religions have the decency to not bother the rest of the world with their ideas of God(s) and not discriminate people by it, but that's far from what the monotheistic western religions do.

          The problem is the mixture of knowledge and beliefs, and more precisely, the inability to treat knowledge and beliefs alike as fallible. My knowledge is based on my trust in the sources of information I've gathered the knowledge from, and my beliefs are based on my personal interpretations of the available evidence and speculations. Me, my perceptions, my sources, my interpretations and speculations... they're all fallible, so all is fallible. We can agree to regard something as the truth based on evidence we can all experience (not necessarily see), but to claim it's "the absolute infallible truth" is a step too far, which only religions push, which is one reason why many atheists think the world will be more peaceful without it.

          'But I think all your question’s answers can fit under the label of “human” but for sure not Atheist (except last one)'
          Too generic. "Human" includes those for which the above descriptions don't apply.
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        May 25 2011: I would never say something like that “ Eastern religions have the decency to not bother the rest of the world with their ideas of God(s) and not discriminate people by it, but that's far from what the monotheistic western religions do.”
        This type of mentality is the root cause of violence on name of religion .I read it somewhere …Leonardo Boff a famous theologist of freedom once ask Dalai lama “what is best religion “ to his surprise Dalai lama said “ whatever gets you closer to God ,and whatever makes you a better person “ (Im sorry this answers might not fit into your definition of religion )
        Than Leonardo ask him what is that makes me better ?? He replied “ whatever makes you more compassionate ,more sensible ,more detached, more loving, more humanitarian ,more responsible ,more ethical”
        Your religion is not important but who you are as a person is
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          May 26 2011: Err... I'm not sure I see your last point... what Dalai Lama said is exactly what I have in mind when I talk about eastern religions not bothering the world with their ideas of God(s) and discriminating based on it - they accept any religion/lifestyle as good as long as it makes the person good. And that's precisely why you rarely hear atheists bash eastern religions - because they say exactly what atheists say in the end of the day, which is "have faith in whatever you want, but let others have or not have faith in whatever they want also and be good for goodness' sake, not because 'whatever God says is good... yes, even the killing, hatred and discrimination things'".

          We debate the truth of religions in attempt to de-convert people, but no secularists (atheists or otherwise) would ever take a religious person's right to believe whatever they want. Punishing for thoughts is fundamentalist Abrahamic tradition, not a secularists one.
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    May 19 2011: I believe all religions are the same and follow the same purpose, which is for human beings to be more united, more humane, and less attached to this physical world. By looking at all religions' thoughts and beliefs, we can obviously perceive that they all try to make this point clear: be kind, be loving, help one another, etc. That is to say, the diversity of religions does not lead to a diversity of attributes regarding being more and more humane. The only reason for the existence of different religions is that they were presented to human of different generations and eras with absolutely different cultures and thoughts. Therefore, all religions have the same value in essence.
    I, likewise, think that the way religion is used to serve sinister purposes should be totally separated from the whole concept of true religion.
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    May 19 2011: yes.