John Locke

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Religion and why we believe in it.

Religion - A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

My professor once said the religion was created to explain the unknown, the unknown being what happens when we die, is the earth flat, are we the center of the universe, why are we here, etc. But over the years, some of these answers have been answered by science.

My question is, do you think that, eventually, religion will be replaced with science? Will people try to answer every question scientifically or will religion stay the reason for these difficult questions?

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    Nov 21 2011: I don't think science needs to replace religion. Or rather: that what will replace religion doesn't need to be called science.

    A community that is based on our actual knowledge of the world would be great (Like TED, or Humanist and other secular organisations)
    Though there is a lot to learn from religion that needs to be incorporated (Cfr Alain De Boton).

    I do hope religion will gradually cease to exist (or rather: that current religions abandon their dogma and false beliefs)
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    Nov 21 2011: I agree with your professor to an extent. Yes, religion arose as a way to explain the world around us. However, I do not believe that that is the only purpose religion serves. I myself am atheist, but as an observer, here are the two things that I believe to be the main functions of religion beyond explanation of the world outside of ourselves:

    1) Self-actualization. Religion is often a way for people to reach their full potential as contributing human beings. Many religious factions have a very positive influence on their surrounding communities because they make an effort to do so by reaching out to those communities. This is an example of self-actualization as a group, and it also translates into self-actualization in individual members of that group.

    2) Support. In times of crisis, many religious people turn to their church (or mosque, synagogue, etc.) for help. By relying on their religious community, they can find meaning and comfort in whatever plight they face at that time.

    I'm sure there are many more functions, but those are the main two that I have seen. These are much more personal than simply an explanation for our world. Therefore, I believe that science will not replace religion. However, I do think it will change what it means to be religious, and that the religious community will evolve as a result of scientific advancement. Religion has been evolving for millennia due to scientific progress, and I think that it will continue to do so.
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    Nov 6 2011: Thing is Jake I think you are looking at it at the wrong way because people go to churchs/mosque/temples for a variety of reasons and not all of it is to do with worship. I often go to a pretty church in a part of England called Sussex its in the countryside in my opinion most go for social reasons the Church of England is for those who don’t do religion.

    If you are talking about the middle east I don't see science replacing religion as there are/were many Islamic scholars of science so naturally science and religion will sit side by side. I recently saw a recent documentary witch featured a Saudi geneticist, to all intent and purposes he was a devout Muslim. I was actually in church this morning, it was a Catholic one but I have no bias as I also go to a Church of England one. The church was quite full which sometimes surprises me as we are told we are living in secular times. My brand of faith if I can call it that is very tolerant, for me it does not matter where I pray as I will often say prayers in an Islamic mosque on a Friday with my colleagues too.
    My faith is not about rigidly sticking to doctrines, judging and having set rules my faith is about praising the creator, honouring the family and contributing to the wider community. Yes I do go to church for social reasons nothing wrong with this, and I also like to hear sermons and to help if I can in the local community. In the mosque many old friends and acquaintances will meet up exchange gossip, read some text and perhaps buy some oil, this is a social thing so where does science fit in? also in the churches I go to, we can donate food for harvest festival, have our kids in the play centre have a chat or volunteer to help the homeless. Where does science fit in? in other words people don’t go to worship because of just worship, there are many factors (including getting your child in a faith school)
    Many people in good times and bad like to go to church, I don’t think talking about replacing church wit
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      Nov 6 2011: I think Guillaume you've got over the limit of 2000 Characters.

      I like your approach of church and community.
      Yet bit by bit all churches are closing and communities fall apart here in Holland.
      The best way to prevent this is to get all religions together in the community.
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        Nov 6 2011: Yes I did go over Frans. Yes you 'indigenous' Dutch will give up your Christian faith, I have not been to your country in over 10 years but your so called immigrant Islamic communities will never give up their faith, NEVER.
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    Dec 6 2011: For the millions of people who do not use religious faith, it is not necessarily science that has replaced the faith, it's rather acceptance of uncertainty. Willingness to acknowledge uncertainty about things that we cannot at present know is a result of maturing and learning, and it replaces the faith-based practice of relying on invented answers, as our distant ancestors initiated when they invented gods and stories that provided the answers they needed. (I consider their invention one of mankind's greatest intellectual advances.) Our modern religions are direct ancestors of those old god-stories, chants and rites, and they provide the same firm answers to those who need them. Science, as we know, raises many new questions for each question it answers, and can never answer all questions about man's existence. So there may always be some who need assurance and firm answers and will find them in religion, but we can't know at this point. It's uncertain. And that's OK.
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    Dec 2 2011: Each person has own reasons to believe in religion. Each person has own reasons to believe in sciences. These are different things. These are strings. And finding the joint to claim that religion is superior to sciences or sciences are superior to religion, are pointless. Please advice me if there is the universal reason for believing in religion or sciences.
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    Nov 29 2011: Alternative definitions:
    Religion: (n.) Those human activities performed for the purpose of interacting with that which is supernatural.
    Science: (n.) Those human activities performed for the purpose of understanding that which is natural.
    If Science were to delve into the supernatural it would become Religion.
    If Religion dabbles in the natural it remains Religion.
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        Dec 2 2011: Thanks for your perspective, Mr. Schulte. I must say that it seems to be contrary to reality to say there is no difference between religion and science. Science is paralyzed without opportunities to observe, measure and experiment. Religion is limited only by the imagination of Man. Those sound really different to me.
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    Nov 22 2011: Your professor is very wrong that's not religion .
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    Nov 21 2011: I believe that no matter how science evolves it will never replace religion, because as human beings living in this universe we do not consist of only matter, science can never explain things we can't touch or see but can only feel.

    And do we really want that to happen, even if science can explain every single thing in this universe it would be terrible for human beings to let go of the one non materialistic factor in our very materialistic lives.
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    Nov 14 2011: There was a time when there was no difference between religion and science. At some point in the future these will have to intercet again. If we find comprehensive truth, truth will be religion and that same truth will be science. If we fail to understand truth we cannot be dogmatic about either. But our bias must be on the side of truth. Right now we should not be quick to dismiss ideas that has always been a part of human experience.
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    Nov 6 2011: It is human nature to be superstitious. Being rational is a trick humans teach themselves, as unnatural as bears riding tricycles.
    It's a very tough trick to learn : you need the right kind of institutions, serious education and probably some kind of creativity. So religions are still dominant, just as there are more bears on all fours than bears on tricycles.

    But progress is being made. Not so long ago, I would've suffered ostracism for having learnt this trick.
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      Nov 14 2011: If we are born with the equipment to trick ourselves, that is as natural as nature gets.
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    Nov 6 2011: I can just imagine going to the lab every week to read the periodic table and revere the patent holders on all the best science.

    But at least we'll have a logical and rational view of existence and permission to ignore what we can't measure in the lab.
  • Nov 6 2011: No. Scientific explanations have yet to answer the unexplainable answers of life conclusively. Even if there were answers, many people either unable or unwilling to consider them because the messages of faith are easier to accept. Only those that reject faith based answers look to science for explanations today. Organized religions re very powerful political influences and do not like this sort of challenge.

    Forever is a long time, so perhaps there will be tragedy, triumph and world events that permit widespread acceptance of a scientific explanation. However, it would seem unlikely that ALL people would abandon faith based beliefs.