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A world without religion, how will it really look?

The voices against religious belief are growing stronger in recent years as is to be expected in this age of information, but would there really be an idyllic world waiting in the end of this war?

Would the people susceptible to the religious doctrines really abandon illogical thinking, or will we see the various "New Age" movements get stronger with new pseudo scientific lies that might seem like an easier path to take than the proof demanding science, as we see today from many secular people around the world?

How far are we from completely embracing knowledge and research? How do you envision such a world?

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    Mar 9 2011: It's amusing to see so many pro religious opinions here, I can only hope even more religious people discover TED, and open up their mind to modern knowledge and ideas. I'm sure the harmless arguments they make around here are worth the possibility of growing out of the mental cage they we're brought up in. All it takes is some critical thinking.

    There were some very good comments made here and I enjoyed reading them all. As we near the closing time of this debate, I will give you my own vision of a world without religion.
    I see a world extremely different from today (and still far away if to be honest), a world without borders, that values knowledge and information more than anything. A world not without violence, not without crime, but at much much lower rates than today. A world much more productive and active as we waste less time and rely solely on ourselves as a human race. A world more open to disagreements and debates, treating all people as equals.
    A world where all human knowledge is free and available to every single person. And it starts with TED.
  • Feb 17 2011: Two things come to mind from reading the comments so far. My thoughts on both; what do you think?

    1) Is there a fundamental assumption being made by some of us that a world with science and logic alone cannot still have a sense of wonder, excitement, fullness and feeling of understanding? Do you need religion to live a full life? Is science the only thing left behind without religion? Are we giving religion too much credit?

    I believe I personally will live a fuller life because my mind will be busy for as long as I live, marvelling and understanding the absolutely astounding nature of the world - and that's only possible because I am open to questioning everything, not relying on core beliefs. In fact, I think it is possible to appreciate things MORE given an understanding of how unlikely our being here is and how amazing the truth behind how everything else came to be is.

    2) It's very interesting to note the differences in our definitions of 'religion'.

    To me, it necessitates a 'belief' or 'faith' in a 'god' and various core ideas about how to rationalise our lives. (I note that the comments about reconciling or merging science and religion take a different view of religion as a set of values or morals.) If the ideas can stand up to scientific proof or logic, then they will no longer need faith to exist - they will become a logical truth. If the ideas cannot stand up to scientific proof or logic (and I believe they cannot), doesn't this mean that religion and science will always be irreconcilable?
  • Feb 17 2011: I don't think Religion has the same purpose as it did 200+ years ago. Some of the early roles of religion were the same as science. Eventually they took different approaches and in my opinion the scientific method was deemed superior in describing our world. Science to me will last longer than any one Religion. At one point people believed that the fiery thing moving across the sky was a God, the tides were the workings of Gods, I could go on. I really don't understand how this is sustainable in the long term. Eventually people will understand that Religion really was created by ancient people that had a best guess at what is going on around them. Granted most Religions have a good message but people without Religion have morals too. My real concern in the future is that scientific theories will become the new religions. Dogmatic, unquestioning beliefs that one particular theory is better than another for no other reason than who associates themselves with each particular theory.
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      Feb 20 2011: Dan
      "My real concern in the future is that scientific theories will become the new religions."

      Isn't Mr Dawkin's disdain for anyone; scientist or not; who doesn't accept his worldview, a sure sign that the process is well underway. :-)
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        Feb 20 2011: I think you are right. While I do not believe in god in the same way as others might I also do not condemn them for their beliefs. It's little like the education system in that I am afraid that people will discover that the arts and creativity are equally as important as academic learning and then they try to quantify the arts by setting up a set of testing goals, this leads to that option being the new system which does not work either. Possible a world without religion really means a world without judgment.
        • Feb 21 2011: @Lee Wilkinson: You are mistaken. As far as I know Richard Dawkins does not condemn people for their beliefs. He attacks people when they try and impose their belief system on others which is a direct violation of the principle of freedom of religion. For example, one of his key issues is the way that people impose religion on children that are not old enough to make their own minds up. I know of a good deal of his work as a 'militant atheist' and know of no example where your claim can be justified. As a challenge: prove me wrong.
      • Mar 12 2011: He made fun of Ken Hovand by calling him "that banana man." Though I think everyone does that, or at least should if they understood the story.
    • Feb 20 2011: @Dan England: Religion has the same purpose as it ever did. The effect that it has on society is different. It never had the same purpose as science - science’s goal is to understand the nature of things whereas religion dictates it. Nobody deemed science to be superior, it simply does the job it was designed to do - no more, no less. In contrast, religion is bankrupt as a source for knowledge or fact.

      Science has all the checks and balances in place in the process so that scientific theory does not become dogma. Even something so well accepted and apparent as Newton’s laws were unseated by Einstein. Scientists live to overturn other scientists' work. When they are not creating one thing, they are trying to destroy another.

      @Peter Law: Like Richard Dawkins or not, I don’t think you are justified in saying he shows disdain for all that don’t accept his worldview. Dawkins’ conversation with the Bishop of Oxford is a good example - have you a counter example?
      • Mind S

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        Feb 22 2011: Well done Keith. Many people seem to be ignorant or misinformed about how science works, its rigorous methodology and objectivity...
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          Mar 11 2011: while, most unfortunately, others are ignorant of their ignorance.
      • Mar 14 2011: perhaps Einstein may have unseated Newtons law... but surely that proves a valuable point to our argument, that altough one idea might have sounded exactly right at the time, that if somthing better comes along later on, and is found to be correct, that we now accept that as holding more rellavance. surely things such as the bible and quran may have been valuble tools of explanation, good ways of teaching morals and a kind of cushion to lifes nasty blows- especially in times where life expectancy was low, plague and famine commonplace. But we have moved on at least 1000 years since then- do all the old ideas still sit, and do we still really NEED them, as opposed to WANT them. And as brillaiant as Dawkins may be, and as well versed as Sam Harris may be in argument, unfortunately somtimes they do rub people up the wrong way, and give a rather millitant tone to athiesm. But thats still no real reason to throw the baby 9of their arguments) out with the bath water.
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    Mar 14 2011: I do not belong to any organized religion. I do not consider myself a "NewAge" person. But I do not see science and religion as opposites.The word Science comes from the Latin word scientia "knowledge". Religion, according to Cicero, derived from relegare "go through again, read again," from re- "again" + legere "read". However, popular etymology among the later ancients (and many modern writers) connects it with religare "to bind fast", via notion of "place an obligation on," or "bond between humans and gods." Another possible origin is religiens "careful," opposite of negligens.I think the role of religion is to provide meaning and depth to science. There can never be pure facts. I just do not trust a person who claims to be objective. Every human being is an interpreter of whatever facts he or she is presented with. Knowledge is the logical way we have to organize those facts. It gives us tools to talk about facts.Religion is what gives those facts meaning, whether we believe in one god, many gods or no god.
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    Mar 7 2011: There are many ideals/beliefs that are both positive and beneficial to human growth.

    transhumanism, humanisn, budhism, shamanism, rationalism, skepticism the list goes on.

    I believe an end to religion would be the result of teaching everyone all the religion past and present. That way the comparison will show that humans throughout history have tried to make morals a law rather then the law to understand morals.

    Am I thinking too far ahead in time? Or is religion inedible to the human condition? Or are the religious foundations installed today are too in deep into cultures/societies of the world to be ended?

    A world without religion would be perfect.
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      Mar 11 2011: Im not sure we wouldnt end up doing what we have done in past times and consequently dead civilizations.That is worshiping our science, our culture, our beauty or the arts...

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          Mar 12 2011: Because we have done it before, and all those civilizations fell.
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          Mar 13 2011:


          Pride, herald to all sin, is at the root of the matter.

          Enough is enough when you can no longer perceive how your overindulgence imposes unfair (life threatening) restraints on others.

          There is no knowledge or discovery defined by our Science that was not waiting to be unveiled.
          We fool ourselves into thinking that any reaction we have attempted to 'catalyze'. Comes from and is owned by us alone, willfully ignorant that our very action makes us part of the experiment or energetic system that was set in motion millennia before our existence.

          The Arts and our Culture are fickle things as exemplified by the fact that even those man made Wonders of the World have become little more than tourist attractions. Their true stories and the wisdom behind the lessons lost but to a few.
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          Mar 13 2011: We are both arguing a belief in something. Religion can be defined most simply as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. Atheism I think fits these criteria.

          You asked me for an example and I gave you two.

          If you read through the link I sent you, you will see that the precipitating factor for the fall of most of Chinas Empires was the same: Greed the same thing (not religion) which led to the downfall of the Roman Empire.
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          Mar 13 2011: Okay lets dance a little longer. I never said that because I believe in God there is no greed in me.

          I am not interested in convincing you of something you already, intrinsically know. I will however remind you since you seem to have forgotten and you cannot learn from what you choose to forget: You are part of and therefor accountable to something far greater than yourself.

          A world without what you call religion means erasing those most important histories which seeded all civilizations with ideas like the Golden Rule (as far as I know these are not empirical formulae). It is a world where we would feel even more justified to never extend ourselves beyond our selfish desires. Where would you be today if your ancestors cared more about art or culture than rearing their offspring to be good and responsible individuals, qualities I dare say you will never find expounded in any history of science.

          To date, the most advanced civilizations known to have existed are still trying to justify the idea that it makes sense for us to sh@# where we sleep. So we go on raping the bowels of our mother, pillaging her irreplaceable beauty and annihilating what biodiversity is left on our planet. This has nothing to do with any religion I conform to. How about you?

          I say again: enough is enough when you can no longer perceive how your overindulgence imposes unfair (life threatening) restraints on others.

          Feel free to try and prove me wrong
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          Mar 13 2011: Not better just more accountable and therefore able to grow where it matters most.

          Those individuals who are committing the atrocities to which you refer are, surprise, misguided.

          How much more and for what reasons are those proud and Godless doing the same?
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          Mar 13 2011: Is the pot calling the kettle, black? Must be nice. My beliefs do not allow for such luxury. Please stop trying to twist this discussion into... whatever it is your trying to turn it into.

          It is not my concern what you choose to believe. You have nothing to fear.

          My question to you is simple. Look around the world and examine the history of the last 100 yrs then tell me what those Godless and proud have done to improve anything for anyone in need. Without the guidance of some virtue based in some religion.
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          Mar 13 2011: Thats convenient, no, unfortunate. I don't think you were ever in this discussion because you answered none of my questions and made all kinds of peculiar judgements about me. Goodbye.
        • kris ho

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          Mar 14 2011: maybe plenty of people who are 'godless and proud' did stuff to help with humanity. perhaps they just did it and left the banners and whistles at home. Good things are done by good people every day, just because its nice to be nice :)
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          Mar 14 2011: r/t dead civilizations. I made no such presumption, read again.

          The examples I gave you showed exactly my point that the most predominate factor in the disintegration of many past Empires or civilizations is pride and the resulting greed (and other problems) that it spawns, not religion.

          I never said that religion is the 'only way to guard against greed' I did however say that said belief systems are the source of many of those wisdoms and tenants that hold up the best of what our current civilizations have to offer.

          Finally I never 'contended' that anyone "did nothing to benefit societies" and made no statement based in prejudice. I simply asked for examples so that you might prove your position. Are you not in fact Proud to be Godless?

          You have made many peculiar (dangerous) defamatory accusations and judgements about my character and now attempt to deflect my attention away from your slights. Weak, you have shown me your stripes.

          I have answered Rio's question adequately in my opinion.

          Go in peace I am not here to harass or be harassed by anyone.
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    Mar 11 2011: A world without religion ? That would only work if Atheism wasn't a religion. However we can look at Russia for the 50yrs or so before the wall came down.
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      Mar 11 2011: "If Atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby."

      Someone on YouTube once said that... I think on a Richard Dawkins video. I don't know if that's the original author, but the thought sure makes sence.
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        Mar 11 2011: A fine point- I appreciated the irony of Dawkins' call for militant atheism- but John Lennox had a valuable point in his debate with Richard Dawkins, that many communist countries have committed atrocities in the name of atheism*.
        It's ridiculous to say that not believing in God or a higher power must mean you believe in something- but Richard Dawkins has advanced a meme that I do consider Ill-guided; the idea that faith in-of itself is obsolete, that science and logic can make faith redundant.

        *EDIT: in response to Vasil, who was thrown off by this point, I agree it was not a point that was sound or wholly thought out very well on my part and I feel the need to apologize for it.
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          Mar 11 2011: As someone from a former communist country, believing I know my own history well enough, I must respectfully ask "Whaaaa....?!?!".

          Even when a communist leader has been atheist, they haven't commited atrocities IN THE NAME of atheism. They commited atrocities because they were f**kheads. You can be a f**khead regardless of faith. The catholic church has been the one to do atrocities in the name of christianity. Also, Bin Laden has been the one comitting atrocities in the name of (radical) Islam. An atheist comitting atrocities is never comitting atrocities IN THE NAME of atheism.

          To comitt atrocities in the name of atheism would mean for said person to kill or torture people of ALL religions because they believe in gods. Can you name ONE such case?

          The only "atrocity from a communist leader" case I do know from my country is where all people living here in Bulgaria were once forced to have Bulgarian names. Bulgaria, being a christian country has many names rooted in christianity. Many turkish immigrants, being muslim, refused to change their names. Some were killed on an instant, others rebelled and were eventually shot (I believe the current events in Lybia are a close analogy), and third were trialed and executed. Refusal equaled death either way.

          Our former leader, as far as I know, was not atheist, but even if he was, that name enforcement was not done in the name of atheism. It was done in the name of nationalism. Considering the fact the nation is christian, and the names are christian based, you could say it was indirectly in the name of christianity.

          Besides, in the last two centuries at least, politics and religion have not intermixed, at least in my country, though AFAIK, that's also true for other former communist countries. I don't recall a politician having to proclaim he's a christian to win over voters, despite the fact we DO have a muslim party, as well as party that has the reputation of being fascist (though they aren't IMHO).
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          Mar 13 2011: r/t "It's ridiculous to say that not believing in God or a higher power must mean you believe in something" Disagree.

          If you don't believe in something then nothing you say means anything. Would you trust someone who refused to show his position on something that matters to you?
          Not having an opinion on the matter should also excuse him/her from the right to any vote on the matter.

          "Richard Dawkins has advanced a meme that I do consider Ill-guided; the idea that faith in-of itself is obsolete, that science and logic can make faith redundant." Agree.

          Redundance is relevant;

          "I said 'The plural of anecdote is data' some time in the 1969-70 academic year while teaching a graduate seminar at Stanford. The occasion was a student's dismissal of a simple factual statement--by another student or me--as a mere anecdote. The quotation was my rejoinder."

          The original quote by Raymond Wolfinger.

          'Natural selection itself, when you think about it, is a narrowing down from a wide initial field of possible alternatives, to the narrower field of the alternatives actually chosen. Random genetic error (mutation), sexual recombination and migratory mixing, all provide a wide field of genetic variation: the available alternatives [redundancy]...the information fed into present-day genomes from past generations is helpful information. Information from the ancestral past can be seen as a manual for surviving in the present: a family bible of ancestral “advice” on how to survive today..."


          Richard Dawkins
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        Mar 12 2011: Hi Vasil
        "If Atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby."

        Non-collectors do not preach on the evils of stamp collecting. Who ever heard of "Militant Non-Stamp collecting".

        Atheists want to STAMP (sorry) out religion.

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          Mar 12 2011: That's probably because there are no evils in stamp collecting. I have yet to see someone commiting atrocities in the name of their hobby.

          If there were evils in stamp collecting, I think non-collectors would make collectors aware (not preach; just make them aware, and prompt them to search for further evidence themselves) of the evils of stamp collecting.
  • kris ho

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    Mar 9 2011: I could only hope that a world without religion would be one in which people talk and question each other more freely, and see shades of grey rather then black and white- with out a god on your side to 'say so' people would have to look deeper at the reasons that they do- or don't do things... traditions that are often associated with religion (F.G.M and hatred against homosexuals spring to mind) would perhaps be easier to look at more objectivly with out the god and scripture part of the argument.
    Hopefully it would also be a kind of common link between different cultures- I mean, no one (witha decent 'moral compass') goes out with the idea to rape pillage and destroy surely??!! with out god(s) decency will be seen for what it is- a common human trait rather then a religiously shaped one.
    It would also be about taking responsibility for your own life- It is what you shape it- or how you deal with what happens to you, rather then because the 'big fella' deems it so, and thinking about how our choices affect what we really have- the here and now, rather then relying on a cushy afterlife may make us feel different about what we eat, how we act, and what we really value.
    as for how far are we away from this.... it's maybe within our reach, but definately within our sights.
  • Mar 8 2011: If some people are not able to understand true spirit of religion or if some people have misused religion over the years, either because of their ignorance or because they want to use it for making political or personal capital does not mean that religions are bad. We should remember that there are bad people, belonging to different religions, to no religion or among atheist. It is because there have been more good people, many of them inspired by the moral force of religion that our civilization has survived.. All this should make us think that abolishing religion, is not the right answer, and would do no good.Besides many people are passionate about their faith in God, even though they might not follow other rituals. Instead, people should rethink, to see and practice religion with new realities. The paradgim of an 'exclusive true religion and representing the only truth, is not tenable in a globalised interdepented and multireligious world. Tolerance, understanding and respect should be the hall mark of all religions if they have to survive .
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    Feb 20 2011: In short, it will look mostly harmless.

    Religiosity and education (or lack thereof) are inextricably linked and inversely proportional. As the world becomes more educated, it will become less religious. Now, the set of parameters that allow a nation to offer adequate schooling to it`s citizens are essentially the same as those that allow a nation to be economically prosperous. Thus, a non-religious world (NOTE: Not "no religion", but rather "not religious", for only the latter is feasible) is basically a developed world.

    Obviously, a developed world and the tenth sphere of heaven are very much different. Violence, which is rooted in our very nature, will persist. What will go away however, will be the flimsy yet powerful excuses for war that religion offers in almost equal amounts as guilt and fear. And that, I think you`ll agree, is most definitely better than what we have now.
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    Feb 15 2011: There is always a room for religion until they really come up with theory of everything. That day will be a really bad day for Vatican.
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      Feb 17 2011: There cannot be a theory of everything as there will always be unanswerable questions; there will always be uncertainty. And in that uncertainty there will always be a place for faith.
      • Feb 17 2011: Essentially... religion loves the gaps (Dawkins)
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    Mar 13 2011: Religion can be defined most simply as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. Atheism I think fits these criteria.

    The root of the matter is Pride.

    Anything science discovered was already there waiting to be unveiled. Any process that we attempt to 'catalyze', we claim foolish credit for, willfully ignorant to the fact that our very action makes us part of the experiment and therefore part of an energetic process put in motion before we existed.
    Culture and The Arts are for the most part fickle concepts, as even the man made Wonders of the World have become, over time, little more than tourist attractions. The stories surrounding their genesis lost to the general population. And with that the lessons.
    • Mind S

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      Mar 13 2011: Contemplative flights of mind, the usage of shadowy, elusive and subjective statements that contain hopelessly ill-defined terms coupled with redundancy and preaching/rhetorical tone is what characterises the mystic mind, which contributes negligibly to the acquisition of real knowledge and the ensuing progress of humanity.

      How many times it has been stressed that in contrary to religious belief systems, atheism/non-believing has no specific set of beliefs that are final and sacred. The atheistic view concerning the universe changes and evolves with the advancement of science and rational knowledge. Hence, atheism doesn’t fit the definition of religion.
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        Mar 13 2011: If you don't believe in something then nothing you say means anything. Would you trust someone who refused to show (affirm) his position on something that matters to you?
        Not having an opinion on the matter should also excuse him/her from the right to any vote on the matter.

        To remain relevant all ideas must be open to change, on that we stand in agreement. This is what I hope to expand on through constructive and collaborative criticism of all issues. So can we stop the passive aggressive B.S. and at least try to find any other relevant concurrence of opinions? Or should I wait untill your religion evolves to to point where it accepts its limitations in this infinite system.
  • Mar 12 2011: Religion is the sculpting of aspects of reality you cannot see using the human experience. Prophets, books, eyewitness accounts of miracles, these are fundamentally human centered occurrences. The goal of science is to remove the human perspective from the equation, or more simply, to make it so no matter who you are, where you were born, what you believe in, you too can add vinegar and baking soda and watch the reaction.
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    Mar 2 2011: Thank you all for your insight. You have probably heard the riddle 'if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?' I believe this to be indicative of our current Human condition.

    We have become so enraptured by our splendor as to believe with asinine stubbornness that there is no reality outside our existence or experience.

    One reason for this, I believe, is that at an animal level we have both willingly and through desperate necessity created civilizations which focus mightily on what our senses help us identify as tangible and how such matter can be turned to satisfying (or in some cases saturating) our physiologic needs.

    The ultimate and most relentless (read Omnipotent) goal of this behavior, which is shared by all life forms, is an ecstatic immortality.

    This makes sense, however, I truly don't get how most of us can think that because we are unable perceive something - with our scientifically demonstatably fallible and comparatively feeble senses - it does not exist.

    This very thought process is pathologically counterintuitive!

    Pride comes before the fall.

    How can we hope to evolve (read not become extinct) if we refuse to embrace much less assimilate the infinite outside ourselves?!

    Having said that, I must admitted I am wary of approaching such phenomena with our immature, yet curiously classical, modes-operandi (usually akin to rape and pillage for it is better to ask forgiveness than permission)!

    Brothers and Sisters wake up and however you may, deal with it.

    I propose that a more suitable definition for the term supernatural denote a phenomena purely outside the scope of normal human perception, therefor outside the scope of current scientific means to measure or catalogue within our understanding of those laws applying to our nature.

    Nuf said.

  • A Latif

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    Feb 22 2011: “A world without religion, how will it really look?”
    I am aware that answering such genre of questions invokes a tendency to project our current concepts, knowledge, psychology, impulses, and emotions on remotely placed future situation.
    The meaning and nature of things, hence our knowledge, evolve and develop over time. World-views and outlooks change as time passes by (and this becomes more evident on larger time scales). Remote future humans will have higher intellectuality (assuming we are not going to destroy ourselves), different emotional setting, different psychological contexts, different societal structures and different priorities and concerns (Even here I use some terms that may lose their usual meaning and significance in the remote future). People of the future will look to present-day concepts of life and knowledge as outdated, discarded and obsolete similar to how we now evaluate those of ancient human societies.
    • Feb 22 2011: @A Latif: Without religion, our worldview would be devoid of “The meaning ... of things”. Things would simply be there because they are there. If I throw a dice then, if it comes up 5 then it just did that because of probability. It wouldn’t ‘mean’ anything because it came up 5. Of course because we are naturally superstitious then we tend to think otherwise.

      I think the answer to the question is relatively simple.

      If there were no religions then we would be obliged to shoulder the responsibility regarding moral and ethical problems. We would get on with fixing them.

      If it were known that there is no afterlife then we would value the one that we are living now much more. Both our own lives and those of others.

      If there were no religions then a great number people that currently help others because they think ‘it’s a godly thing to do’ would do the same thing with redoubled effort because they would know it was the right thing to do. And they would rightly be rewarded for doing so.
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        Feb 22 2011: "If it were known that there is no afterlife then we would value the one that we are living now much more. Both our own lives and those of others."

        While I'm an atheist myself and fully agree with you on all other points, I'm not entirely certain that people who don't belive in an afterline would necesarily value life more, especially those who've previously lived with religion in mind. Imagine - you live your life thinking "I'll be good now because there's [insert religion promise for reward] waiting for me after death, and I won't get it if I'm not good.", and suddenly, when you realize this is not true you're going "But... why should I be good now? Why should I live? My life has no purpose! I want to die!".

        I have the answers to these questions for myself, but I'm not entirely sure if those answers are universal in nature.

        For me, we live... because we live... because we were born. "Deal with it!". And even if there's no afterlife, I think we should be good because... well... the golden rule basically implies it... so that we can all enjoy life. If there's no afterlife, then there's no need for a reward after death. But if there was life after death and [insert religion promise for reward], then so be it. And if we're being reborn, all the better - one more round of being good in order to enjoy life along with everyone else.

        I guess this explanation is also one reason why developing countries life Pakistan and Afghanistan are usually breeders for extremists. "enjoy life" doesn't sit well in those environments. People in other places know that their life can always be better or at least at its "good" level, but in those places, the possibility is usually out of sight, and therefore out of mind.
        • Feb 22 2011: @Vasil Rangelov: I'm not sure how well sticks and carrots work over the long term - i.e. a whole life. My guess is they don't change very much. Why do some catholic priests misbehave themselves if they had the though of burning in hell in the back of their mind.

          With regards to purpose. Religious people may consider that they have a purpose in life but they don't know what it is. I would find that even more frustrating. And if I were to think by life was predestined - what would be the point in struggling?

          While I think my reasoning is right, I'm not sure that I value my life any more than a couple of good friends of mine who are christian. So my suspicion is that you're right.

          Maybe one would live a life more purposefully?
      • A Latif

        • +1
        Feb 23 2011: Dear Keith,
        While the core of your comment represents misunderstanding for the word “meaning” in my statement «The meaning and nature of things”, you have actually expressed, nicely, my own thoughts! The word “meaning” that I used has a physical context and not a theological or metaphysical context. For instance, ancient people held different meaning for physical phenomena in comparison to the modern meaning (e. g. the “sun” meant a God, Apollo while for us it means just a star, a huge natural nuclear reactor). I have already made many comments (in the original thread/forum “Militant Atheism”) criticising the expressions "meaning" or "purpose" as applied to the natural world by theologians and in metaphysical philosophy and I expressed my view that these are anthropogenic terms that reflect our own personal, human emotions/feelings and have no bearing on the impersonal physical cosmos in which we live. Regards.
  • Feb 21 2011: See Movie: "The invention of lying"
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    Feb 18 2011: In my view, religion is a subset of spirituality where spirituality is the wonder and mystery of the human experience. Spirituality is our acknowledgment that transcendent causalities may impact our lives.

    The domain of science is rationality that can be measured or predicted. Rationality is attached to the current evolutionary perceptions of the human mind. That which falls outside the human ability to perceive, or conceive, is transcendent by definition. I would argue there is a big difference between irrational and trans-rational spirituality.

    The current world of static, dogmatic, mythical religions may give way evolving systems of wonder and respect for all that is transcendent. I hope so. Spirituality at it's best is not illogical, magical or mythical, but it is optimistic that whatever exists beyond the human mind's abilities is slightly is supportive of our collective evolution.

    I do not expect that humanity will ever let go of that optimism. I can't imagine a world without spirituality in the form of wonder and awe for that which is unknown or unknowable.
  • Goh Lip

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    Feb 16 2011: "...would there really be in idyllic world waiting in the end of this war?" The war in your part of the world? A hypothetical idyllic (impossible) situation where *all* parties are suddenly atheists? I would think the war would have subsided dramatically, not because disagreements will disappear, but because there will be more empathy and compassion for the other side, not being demonized and dehumanized.

    I like your dream, Roi. I hope more would share yours and make it a reality, not the nightmare it currently is. Shalom and Salam.
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      Feb 17 2011: Wouldn't your proposal of co-existence require that the two opposing forces are trying to answer different questions? I think of it as science and religion following parallel paths, both leading to understanding, but they're not paths that can be traveled in the same way. That is, a railroad track can only carry trains, and a road, cars. They may both go from town A to town B, but the paths slightly different, the obstacles and mechanisms to get around there even more divergent.

      Maybe there will be a day when more people follow one path (aka the train, or science) than the other. In the meantime, all those within the community can do is try to make their path better through work, questions, and developing an understanding of the world at large. But if one happily travels by car, without disrupting my train ride, then who am I to tell them to stop?
  • Feb 16 2011: I define religion as a set of beliefs and values, rather than a specific belief in God, therefore there will never be a world without religion or religious organizations. The most popular forms of religion will evolve over time due to changes in culture and scientific discovery.

    I think we are all susceptible to religions doctrines, but I think that cultural change and scientific discovery are now moving forward so quickly that traditional, faith-based religious organizations have fallen behind: it is no longer credible to deny evolution or to tell gay people that they are sinners.
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    Feb 16 2011: Well, I believe there will never come that day.

    Religion is just one of the many natural forces. It has never been a completely manipulated movement. Instead, it is there because there is a need for it. Religious thinking, just as Agnosticism or Atheism, is a frame of mind. Not all people like you and me are skeptically oriented. Most people want to believe in something (not necessarily the truth) to lead on with their lives. And life is still pretty hard for most people on this planet. You can never convince them about the falsity of it - they just can't handle it.

    If you somehow manage to get rid of Religion in its many present forms, something else, equally and spectacularly untrue will inevitably take its place.

    So deal with it or not, you will have to live with 'religion' as long as there is mankind.

    Thinking in an evolutionary perspective, it might even be a consequence of the leaders-followers pattern. Mankind, at least in its earliest form, had "leaders" who were the risk taking, adventurous, curiosity-driven, knowledge-hungry individuals and the "followers", who were relatively clueless and looked up to the "leaders" to be informed about objectives of their own lives and clan. The many unexplainable phenomena had to have explanations to satisfy the "followers". It was just not good enough to wait for centuries for the intellectuals to figure it out. Unfortunately, this is still vibrant in the way the news media are bombarding the masses with stupid information.
  • Feb 16 2011: You have to have feeling, soul, and also not let go of critical thinking. So in that spirit I will try answer you question. I look at this world--sheeesh!!! What do I see. I see people divided from each other because of religious beliefs. The big players are really coming from the Abrahamic belief system out of which branh Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam.

    Wityh Judaism comes--for the fundamential believers the 'we are the chosen ones of God'. For the Christians 'ONLY through Jesus', and for the Muslims ONLY their God Allah is the right one, and they deserve the world, and their Shariah Law is brutal and medieval

    Now, then you got the Richard Dawkin religion--he proudly calls it militant atheism. What do I see? A MECHANISTIC paradigm is what I see which stems FROm more so the Abrahamic belief systems which had already placed spirit outside nature, outside the body----hence its/theior demonization of peoples who had religions which were animist!

    Who have I left out? The Eastern belief systems. Mostly world denying, and in India, the Caste system, and terrible poverty.

    So it seems to me we need radical new thinking. Not exactly a going back to pre-everything I have said, but now we HAVE the internet and can LOOK at all these beliefs, ideas, etc etc--to REALLY look at the actual. What are we doing in this earth. What is HAPPENING to this earth which is our home and will be our childrens and their childrens home and is homes to millions of other species. ARE our stories helping is LIVE healthily. IF you are honest--dead honest, how do you FEEL? I think these questions are dead serious and are authetic religious questions which blow away the BS religious facade, and I include the Cult of Scientism in that too.

    HAVE we lost feeling? Why have we? What will it mean to get it back and how will we? Can you stand alone doing this or do you need a group and/or leader. How serious and urgent do you sense this question is?
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    Feb 15 2011: Well your question is rather loaded and biased by asking "Would the people susceptible to the religious doctrines really abandon illogical thinking", but I doubt religion will ever disappear from the human experience any more than culture will. Both religion and culture seem to be subject to the same forces of adaptation and diversity as our underlying genes. However what does seem to be happening to genes, culture and religion is that the breaking down of barriers in modern connected society seems to be giving rise to two opposing processes: (1) a great homogenization (intermarriage, globalization, global lingua franca, the commoditization of knowledge, non-denominational religions); and (2) a Cambrian explosion of creativity and diversity in completely new forms (remix culture, creative commons, new-age spirituality, reformed/restored/reorganized churches, creation of new genetic class distinctions by intellectuality, etc.). Force (1) would seem to wipe out diversity; force (2) would restore it. Religion will be subjected to these two two forces just like culture and our genes. Neither force ever seems to win out, but swinging too far in either direction seems to cause a governor or "invisible hand" to kick in and swing things back in the other direction.
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    Mar 13 2011: Are There any known Atheist organization currently involved in any socio-economic, aid organization, amnesty group, hunger relief etc.... and if not, why not. Just curious.
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      Mar 14 2011: Any non-religious-based NGO you could think of is essentially an atheist one (as in "not related to any god"). It's just that they don't advertise themselves as such, the same way non-religious schools are just "public" and "private" schools, and not "public atheist school" and "private atheist school".
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        Mar 14 2011: Quite an assumption. My question was if there are any known Atheist Organizations, specifically ones which advertise as such and what are they doing. What is there mission statement etc...
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    Mar 13 2011: I would like all pseudoscience eradicated...
    And I would add warning signs to everything that is proven to be wrong.
    Ok... I'm dreaming out loud...

    But this would hold if we are making claims about reality (so claiming truth)... When that happens, we should all realize the only right and rational answer is through science... even if we know that is a cumbersome way to obtain knowledge. (And people now thinking that science claims to have all the answers: WRONG and you just made a big logical error)

    For all other things: things we don't know, understand, things we feel, experience, the bonds in our lives: use whatever methaphor you like to feel "connected" (Religare in Latin means "connecting")

    Your feelings are a true experience, what you feel to be true is not always true.

    I think the world would look less wrong
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    Mar 11 2011: What are companies at the Apex of the sciences doing with the knowledge and technology they have so "graciously" copyrighted or made secret? ie Monsanto.

    I think this is a most salient point most of those who rail against faith miss.

    Science, the summum bonum of our ability to define and thereby control our environment, must always work in tandem with morality, which is the root of our accountability.

    Raw science has no intersest in accountability other than proving an observatiion infallible, and securing the means (Money) to continue research. So what if we cripple our bioshpere or kill millions in the process.

    I would go so far as to say that anytime science has been used to the betterment of mankind it happened because those involved with the genisis of the technology had some sense of morals which, like it or not, have origins in the wisdom intrinsic to some faith.
    • Mar 12 2011: FYI it wasn't scientists who decided to copyright seeds, it was politicians (the majority of whom in this country are "christian"), who were in turn influenced by businessmen. Raw science has interest in accountability and morals, they are called ethics boards, and they are in place for most scientific research. That is why experiments like the stanford prison experiment, or the little albert experiment would never be allowed nowadays. Einstein regretted his letter to FDR suggesting the weaponization of fission until the day he died. Morals do not come from faith, they come from the fact that if you are a monkey and you kill another monkey for no reason, you get booted from the tribe. Faith is control through seduction (heaven), or fear (hell).
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        Mar 13 2011: I would argue that they are at least guilty by association (specifically where such abominations contain kill genes etc...).
  • Mar 7 2011: How about a world with ONE religion! Then you would just have followers and atheists. Saves the world from so much.
  • Mar 6 2011: A world without religion will be a world of everyone arguing and fighting to become the ALMIGHTY. Very noisy!
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      Mar 7 2011: We have many religions and we are arguing and fighting now ?
      • Mar 9 2011: I should rephrase......With reilgion, people fight over their flavours.... Without religion, the world will argue and fight even more because everyone wants to be God, Allah, etc.....himself / herself.
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    Mar 5 2011: Cheers all!

    Here is a wonderful example of what is going on here.

    Please all of you Sage and Scientist alike, watch these short videos which illustrate the folly of not collaborating towards some mutually acceptable understanding of ideas. Presented with humility.

    Another example of the same type (duplicating the experiment lol):

    Morale: "Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but Wisdom comes from knowing the whole."

  • Mar 3 2011: yeah science has been called a religion of its own aka atheism aka science.
    Beside i'll never know that.
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    Mar 2 2011: science: the summum bonum of our ability to define and thereby control our enviornment vs faith: the root of our accountability.

    Do you really not know how this would end without the latter?
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    E G

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    Mar 1 2011: as a junk..............
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    Feb 22 2011: A world without religion, how will it really look?
    it will looks like school where the students are willing to do any thing except study and learning
    it will looks like a hospitals where the patients willing to do any thing except taking the medicine
    it will looks like an office where employees willing to do any things except doing their work
    "I only created mankind and jinns to worship me " quran (51/56)
    • Feb 22 2011: @AbdelRahman Siddig: There is no basis for your argument. Even your quote from the Quran doesn't say that mankind has no moral compass without Allah. It merely states that mankind and demons (jinns) are simply worshipping machines for Allah who seems to need such a thing. It also implies that is that I, you, your family and friends, all of us have no intrinsic worth.

      The evidence shows the opposite. The more societies are moving away from religion then the more civilized they become. My use of the word "civilized" here means respectful of each other and of themselves.
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        Feb 22 2011: @ Keith
        let us step back one step before we can tell A world without religion, how will it really look?
        who is the world owner ?
        because the manufacture of each product is one who really knows why he made his product in the first place and he is also the one who make the manual of his product
        if some one bought a car and said I'm the owner of the car I will use it as I wish not as been mentioned in the manual is this a wise decision?
        • Feb 22 2011: @AbdelRahman Siddig: It seems to me that you are debating a different question from that posed in the title of this discussion. The question you are answering is “What would the world be like if Allah (not Yahweh, God, ...) had in fact created it and us according to the Quran and Hadith and all mankind were to forsake him/her/it”.

          In the question above, there is no world owner, no designer and no afterlife. We all just get on with it.

          Answer the exam question.
        • Feb 22 2011: @AbdelRahman Siddig: You seem to have forgotten to answer my challenge. What is your basis for claiming that morals are wholly dependent on the existence of a god?

          In other words. Do you think that if you discovered that Allah did not exist, you would suddenly start robbing every bank and raping every living thing you encountered? I think you are better than that AbdelRahman Siddig. I think you are probably quite a nice person, even without Allah.
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          Mar 11 2011: People own the world not a god @AbdelRahman Siddig

          And when you are fighting for a religion do not use your religion to defend your position that is circular logic.
    • kris ho

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      Mar 14 2011: maybe no one would rule the world.... at least that would be a start for peace!!!! Why on earth do we need a great owner to own us like animals- or dare I say it sheep. I have a funny feeling that abdel rahman siddig's ideal of what it means to be a nice, honerable decent person and my idea are quite similar, and also quite similar to the other repliers of this portion of the conversation... (so long as we all leave the 'big fella' out of it!) Im sure he thinks about those in need, encourages his family to do well, be honset, be an active part of humanity. Im sure that he hopes for a bright future, with less racism, more tollerance, less crime. However so do I (a happy little athiest) The reality is mate, we all chant of the same song book, no happy, sound of mind, normal person would aims to be an asshole. It's just there are a few books and old school myths that get in the way of some of us even discussing our similarities, we simply look from our comfortable far off vantage points and see difference.
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    Feb 20 2011: We already live in a world without religion, it is only the belief that people have, in the religions created by man which fuel the conflicts and separation of people. There has never been any poof that a god exists nor ever has. It is the faith that people have and the willingness in some cases to die for that which gives religion value. While admirable to be willing to die for ones cause it usually means that there will be a winner and a loser a right and a wrong, a good and a bad. A world without religion may eradicate these issues.
  • Feb 17 2011: I think religion will stay for many decades. People engage in religious activities not only because they believe the teachings but also because they want to belong to a community and/or they want to have a "father" that is watching over them so they can feel secured. Some people turn to religion because they suffer mentally or physically and only religion brings them relief.

    If, through the Internet, you see strong voices against religion I also see many strong voices of extremists in the name of religion.

    I think eventually only minority will be involved in religion, probably because the Internet will allow people to create communities (like Facebook and MeetUp does to some degree today). Science will allow to treat all physical and mental problems so people will feel more powerful.
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    Feb 17 2011: I think religion isn't against science , but be carefully , when I'm saying religion I'm not thinking at just some rules of doing something good for living a better life , that's nonsense , the rituals are just opium for fool people . I think that the religion is more than that, a state of spirit , you can't be manipulated if the religion is that , ant it is , certainly , it haven't been resisted until now.
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    Feb 17 2011: It would look like a self-help book. Life would become like a manual and not experiential; one would need something to hold on in any case.
  • Feb 17 2011: Until education is accessible to the poor on the same level as the rich, the need for religion, and an omnipotent power, will be needed. The more people understand how science works, the less likely they are to identify an event as a miracle.
    However, religion does not equal peace - and not having a religion, and trusting good science, does not equal mayhem. Quite the opposite.
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    Feb 17 2011: Interesting question.
    I think religion and science actually have the same goal (the answer of all our eternal questions) but approach the questions from different angles.
    I see 2 possible outcomes:
    1) the more answers science can provide, the less room for mystical believes and/or superstition. If (and we can't say for sure) science one day can explain everything then religion would become obsolete.
    2) religion and science merge into one. This is the scenario that seems more likely to me. If we look at theories like superstring theory for example, religion and science are not so far apart anymore. It becomes more a question of terminology.
  • Feb 17 2011: Your comment suggests a gulf between religion and science that does not exist for me. I believe strongly in both, though I know SOME religious beliefs leave no room for science, and SOME scientists leave no room for religion.
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    Feb 16 2011: Exactly the same, in my opinion, if not more absurd. Take a look at failed attempts at communism - Mao's and Stalin's cults of personality largely replaced religion in China and Russia; and, at least in Russia, knowledge and research were prized. But society in both country's became horribly distorted and perverse. In comparison to that, I'd much rather have us all believe in Scientology.
  • Feb 16 2011: I think religion at the moment indicates peoples moral compass,tells people what is wrong and what is right.This for most people,since most ( a very big % really) religious people just belief in a higher power and are very skeptic towards the things in the Bible,not thinking past the ideologies they were raised up with and questioning what the church tells them is the right thing to do.
    So for a first religious people,no matter the religion should openly discuss their belief and realize that there really isn't much difference between them and other people from different religions.By doing that maybe a universal religion can be created in which "God" doesn't have different names and the message that religion tells people doesn't get lost.
    But for a world without religion we have to go a long way.People need to be smart enough to be able to dictate their own moral compass,something that atheists are doing nowadays.

    This can be debated for hours on end,that`s just my 2 cents on morals in religion and what would be if a world without religion can be achieved.If one day that may happen society will reach a new peak,and human progress may know no limits.
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    Feb 16 2011: I think that your question should be a world with less religions or with less importance for religion in people's life. A world without religion is a theorical scenario.

    The seek for a religion come from fear or a non understanding of something. But, always, there will be things to be discovery about life and death and always there will be doubt about this things in people's mind.

    I think that the faith is the bad part of religions and is one of cause for intolerance. There are the spiritual part that is a good thing that can coexist with a rational mind.

    Whether the world goes down this path, the religion will be changed but not should disappear.
  • Feb 15 2011: world without religion is like body without mint all people will do wht they want (kill,rope and more and more)
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      Feb 15 2011: Pfff... statements like that are the main reason this world is still not a fact.

      Religion doesn't equal morals.

      Societies without religion have (had) morals similar to ours. I'm thinking of some african tribes in particular, though I can't remember the name or in which TEDTalk I saw it.

      The basis for most moral questions that shapes morality as we have it today is "the golden rule" - treat others like you want to be treated, or the negative of that - don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you. The golden rule is one which even atheists follow. You don't need a book to make you see the wisdom in it. You don't need to believe in god or any other supernatural being(s) to know that YOU and everyone around you has value, and you should all therefore be bound by this rule.

      edit: Well, I haven't found the african tribe part, but here's a TEDTalk about the golden rule at least -
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      Feb 15 2011: wow, this is the first comment I've read on the TED conversations that made me look for a "vote down" button (which I'm happy doesn't exists, which I think is actually a good thing, since it doesn't discourage people from expressing contrarian / unpopular views...)

      I'm part of a growing number of atheists and agnostics who try to apply rationality and skepticism. We don't go around at nights to engage in rape or murder or 'more and more and more'. Why do you assert his opinion? What are your experiences with people who lose their faith (or never had any) and also their moral compass?

      On the other hand, there are some religious people who use their faith to justify acts of extreme cruelty, including genital mutilation, murder and 'more and more and more'. I'm not saying that religion leads necessarily to violence (although you say the absence of it does), and indeed most people of faith are good people just as most people without it are, but there is a worrisome tendency for extremists 'who have god on their side' to really lose a sense of moral boundaries.
      I concede the opposite point however: If you are a person who has violent tendencies, religion might be one way to channel it, with a big leviathan looming overhead, keeping you in check. Maybe for some people this makes them behave morally, and they might really behave otherwise without diving Big Brother. It seems to me however, that this isn't a very high standart of morality at all. Not doing evil simply for fear of punishment is surely the least moral reason.

      The fact is: Human beings (psychopaths exluded) are born with an immense innate capacity for empathy and morality. We enjoy being good to one another much more than doing harm.