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Why do we need religion? (in the traditional sense)

Anyone can interpret the Bible, the Torah, the Quran... After all, they are all just books - men wrote these books, they did not fall from the sky or were delivered to the human kind. And that's a fact.
Yet, somehow we let ourselves judge one another by quoting them. The whole concept of religion is not to question, not to doubt - but to blindly believe texts written by other men. It is obvious to everyone I guess, that the whole purpose of it is control.

Why do we need it? So our existence would make sense?
Also, do you believe that in the future the human race would become more or less religious?
And another - are intellect and religion 'at odds' - the more you know the less religious you become?

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    Mar 2 2012: Sitting in church on a Sunday was a good exercise in being silent. As a teacher, these days I find that many students are incapable of shutting up long enough to hear anything except their own thoughts, own music, own whatever. Religion gave me the capacity to shut up and listen and reflect. I am now an atheist, but value that experience enormously.
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      Mar 2 2012: Apparently you've never been to a LDS chapel. Those are not quiet places! Except for, perhaps, during the sacrament.
  • Mar 6 2012: I believe we dont need religion,but people do need spirituallality.just the thought of the punishments of heresy in the past showed me this at an early age.churches do the same rites and quotes over and over and over and over.isnt that brainwashing?ipeople need not to pray for something to happen make something happen by acting on true goodness.PEACE.
  • Mar 1 2012: We don't necessarily need it, except to live longer. But we created it to overcome the fear of death.
    Stories, myth, fairy tales are also probably a good way to get similar results.
    Maybe man will give a bigger place to imagination and meditation in the future to counter balance with the death of god proclaimed by Nietzsche?
  • Mar 7 2012: Religion is a cornerstone for spirituality which, in my opinion, helps develop a grasp of moral characters and ethics. We don't really need it as a necessity to survive but it does help us get along. Also, sometimes people feel lost and often it's religion that guides them towards a new understanding, insight, or perspective.

    Character can also be formed through religion. Often there are fundamental principles in religion that help us become more of a "holistic" person
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    Mar 4 2012: Hello Branislav,
    The modern definition of Faith is; unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence. Just over 100 years ago the definition was; the ascent of the mind or understanding to the truth of what God has revealed. There is no comparison between these two definitions. The old definition, and part of the Eastern philosophical tradition, required that you search it out to obtain its meaning. Until you understood it, it was regarded as faith without substance.

    Religion was developed by a right-brain oriented culture. Religious literature was written in the age of mythology. It is all built on associations. The right brain sees the forces of creation as a creator, hence the term supreme being, a personification of the ineffable mystery. The ineffable mystery is the underlying cause of reality.

    During the Renaissance, humanity shifted to a left-brain orientation. This is where the path to the unified field theory of physics unfolded. When the Catholic Church rendered its attack on Galileo, they took God out of reality so that science could develop without infringing on the doctrines of the church. Once you put God back into reality, and recognize that God, and the unified field theory of physics, are two different expressions of the same thing, it clears up a lot of misconceptions.

    Religion deals with morals and ethics, whereas science deals with structure. Without morals and ethics, science can become manipulated to control the masses just as cruelly as corrupt religion can. Right and wrong has to be built on what promotes the most good, while preserving the planet in the process. I see these two coming together at the end of this year (the end of the Mayan calendar) in what will be a spiritual ascension to higher levels of consciousness.

    For more info, visit my website; scienceandreligionconverging.com
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    Mar 1 2012: "Each religion, by the help of more or less myth, which it takes more or less seriously, proposes some method of fortifying the human soul and enabling it to make its peace with its destiny."
    George Santayana

    Someone (I cannot recall/google it at this time) made the point that the bible is literature, not literal..
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    Zack K

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    Mar 1 2012: To me religion is outside of science, it fits under the spiritual part of the human race that is unique to us alone -which to me puts us a little beyond computers-. I agree that many blindly follow a faith but that is a choice each of us must make. Some people "need" beliefs to counter the unknown or to have stability in the world around them. I think that there is nothing wrong with people having beliefs as long as they follow the same basic code of ethics that everyone else does.
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    Mar 1 2012: Why do you need to have any form of belief system? To try and make order in a seemingly chaotic universe.

    *Why do we need it?
    First of all, stop generalizing all religion into one word - this is the arrogance of the neo-atheism trend and it does nothing but further divide more than bring together - which without a gathering of people, there is no religion. However we gather under common belief systems naturally, being human, we tend to find those whom mirror ourselves in chains of thought. We need to gather in order to grow.

    *So our existence would make sense?
    We are all killer apes with metaphysical longings to know... Biological machines with instincts and (compared to the rest of the animals) have a very high ability of cognitive processing. Reality is what you make of it, religious or not, no amount of philosophy or science can say other wise.

    *Also, do you believe that in the future the human race would become more or less religious?
    Since religion is people gathering under a common belief, I do not see it going anywhere except more sophisticated ones like tran-buddhism or something. Some alternative for you; religious naturalism, ignostism, irreligion

    *And another - are intellect and religion 'at odds' - the more you know the less religious you become?
    As far as I am concerned, my studies of religions just prove that people misinterpret based off of third parties far too commonly... And NOT just in religion, but even in science (i.e. bad science).

    Instead of generalizing ideas that the majority of the world believes fundamentally, why not just learn more about those beliefs in order to connect them - because at the root of them all is humanism - the golden rule.
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      Mar 1 2012: I did say in the TRADITIONAL sense... :) (I meant, Christianity, Islam, Judaism)
      I think that the religion should be a personal thing, not something thrown at you and then made accept under the threat of burning in Hell - and according to all the books I mentioned above, our lives are always presented as either/or situation. There are no gray areas according to those books... and I disagree, I think that everything in life - there's more than a simple yes/no answer.
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        Mar 1 2012: So correct yourself and say "modernly fundamental religions."

        A year or two ago I made the same thick-headed argument, but by this argument you are doing nothing better than those fundamentalist, because you aren't learning the original context of those books.

        Religion IS a personal thing... Jews don't believe in hell also... If the readings were so black and white why are there a bunch of subset religions of each of those listed? See? Just generalizing under some deluded facts you got from the internet, blogs or from a third party is not a case to dictate anything beside your own unawareness of the facts.

        The traditional sense of "religion" for the younger generation are those religions you listed, yes. However our traditions proves dumb founded as it is led blindly off a cliff by people who also generalize words and meanings and beliefs.
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          Mar 1 2012: Ok, so basically you did not answer my initial question and used my questions to mock me. Let me rephrase again - I did read the Bible, and studied Islam - and we can agree to disagree that those religions are fundamentally judgemental and exclusive - you either obey the rules or you go to Hell. (I am talking about the official stand THE CHURCH takes) and I am just trying to explain that even today the church can be vigorous on quoting the bible, using it as a source (ONLY source) considering certain questions. To me religion seems like a new onset of chains that we put on every new born - the society today is harsh to atheists. We may not be be burning witches at the stakes, but most of us usually frown on atheists.

          Why you do you need it? Did you decide on your religion? No, you were born into it. I come from a small country - if you decide to switch religions here, you get ostracized.
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        Mar 1 2012: I'm pretty sure I answered every question you posed in order.

        See now you are changing the terms of argument.. You dropped Judaism from the list of three fundamentals. Also you ignored my other point of subsets of those religions. Born-Again, Protestant, Catholic.... three different churches will declare three different rules.... Not all of them dictate JUST the Bible is the answer, but rather the book of lessons we should take from.

        Also you never stated before here that you have read the Bible, read like a politician or a scholar? Politician seems correct right about now.

        Again you are generalizing the word religion. Atheism (belief system) is as misguided as this argument is ...

        We don't 'need' it but we always circle to belief systems... You can always stop believing, but then you would probably be going against your family's traditions. So rather than tell people you switched religions... You are simply learning more of the basics... What Jesus said is a huge debate today because of the gospels not put into the Bible.

        I know Christians who say they are more pantheistic than they are monastic... All three of these major religious sets of Abrahamic Religions, why not start learning what Kabbalah had to say and the original texts of Islam (some even claimed math is God's language of reality) ...
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    Mar 2 2012: It's obvious you're bound in your judgement by the methods of the orthodox church . You can be religious and doubt everything , only to do it in the right way .
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    Mar 2 2012: "Are intellect and religion 'at odds' - the more you know the less religious you become?"

    No. Many highly informed people: scientist, scholars, philosophers have said their faith has increased their belief in their formalised faith. For others it goes the other way.

    Knowledge of how (intellect) is entirely different to belief in why (religosity)
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    Mar 2 2012: I would have been good to separate these out into individual questions or at least tried to address all the topics in an overarching thesis you could have called for comment on. As it is, and I don't say this to be harsh, this seems a existential crisis dumped on an academic forum. However, i will try to address the points you raise from the perspective of someone who was not raised in a religious upbringing but whom came to a belief in God later in life.

    You question whether religion make life make sense. I would argue that it does not always do so, it does however give purpose to action and thought. The fear-driven brimstone or harps approach to morality you proscribe to "the Church" is a limited subset of beliefs, even in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic tradition. Most interpretations of the end result of faithful and moral living focus on the Grace of God/Christ/Yahweh/Allah as bringing us up to a standard we can not meet but must nevertheless strive to obtain. Not to avoid punishment but rather to improve ourselves and the world in which we live.

    Is it needed? Compared to relativistic humanist morality I think an externally set standard is highly essential to stop society drifting into normalising destructive and hurtful behaviours and relationships. When you reach the base of every religion you find a simple command: "just damn well be nice to people, okay?". yet there are proscriptions and instruction on behaviour in an explicit way but only because these are needed to guide the "least of these my children." If we could all be trusted to always be our best, then maybe religosity will not be required. However, we aren't getting there anytime soon.

    As for whether people will get more or less religious in future, a clear answer to this can be seen in the great sacred texts: people go in swings and roundabouts. Sometimes they live in a highly systemised society, other times individuality reigns. What is interesting is to see when society performs best.
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      Mar 2 2012: I know - I broadened the topic to much, but my initial intention was not to mock religion (even though somehow everyone here seems it did exactly that) - I just wanted to gather personal experiences on their views of religion i..e. what it meant to them, why did they need it and how do they see the future of major religions nowadays.
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    Mar 2 2012: Tradition in religion,what a killer,being born into the church, i've never felt that that was a requirement if anything it takes away your right to choose for yourself.

    This is where i have a major gripe with the christian churches that still push this archaic device,i personally believe that parents should give their children the right to choose what they want to do after 16 - 18,if the child still wants it then baptise but not when they don't get a chance at a choice.

    I have noticed that a few writers of note have town-cried the end of god,the death of god but if you've read the bible you would already know this would come to pass,that the churches will fall.this is nothing new,read the book before you make generalised comments.
  • Mar 1 2012: "And another - are intellect and religion 'at odds' - the more you know the less religious you become?"
    Not at all. I'd even go as far as to say that it's more intellectual to not think in black or white.
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    Mar 1 2012: We need religion in order to choose where we wil go after death. I always aay, science can built us the best houses, but only love can make it a home.

    To know what love is and how to use it, we need religion based on revelation. If we interpret this revelation right we become loving people.

    This link is a way of showing that what the Bible says was not dictated to the writers. However, someone was in charge. Every name, word and number in the Bible has a spiritual meaning. It is not the historic text that makes it God's word but the internal, spiritual meaning does show His truth and His Love. In fact, the first eleven chapters in Genesis are even made-up history.
    http://sites.google.com/site/liveitupspiritually/home/writings/Arcana%20Coelestia%2001.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1
    Have a taste..
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      Mar 1 2012: Still. to me it seems like fiction used to control the chaos in a society. We're not talking about creative writing here, the Bible was written. or even better compiled to serve a purpose.
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        Mar 1 2012: Depends on who you see as doing the creating. Don't get me wrong, there is no way I would ever imply that not seeing the Bible my way is going to send you somewhere you don't want to go :)
        I see the Bible is snippets of human history which are used to portray and guide humans to a spiritual recognition, IF we want to. We can only go there if it is our own wish, not someone else's

        Those same snippets in human history portray the spiritual development, to the very details, of each human individual. We have an Adam and Eve in us as well as a Jacob and Esau, even a Mozes and Paraoh. We even go to 'Egypt' and could also become slaves of that stage of development. All the way to 'kanaan'. Who would not like to have some milk and honey? :)

        Even in the spiritual meaning are different levels. One is history, the next one is a history of Churches, the next one is our spiritual development and then Jesus who went through this 'same' development on the Divine level.
        A building only works, and makes sense, if the floors iinterconnect..
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        Mar 2 2012: Yes, it was written to serve a purpose. And it has been modified over time to suit changed purposes of the current hegemony at the time of review. But the Bible (or Koran or other sacred text) is not the same as a religious model of living.
        The central message of faithfulness (by which I mean a belief in something not proven) is simple: By your belief in a greater good and the actions by which you demonstrate your faith in this greater power or being, you can make the smallest of changes to the smallest part of the world. But all those small changes add up to something much greater than yourself.
        Whether you believe in Christ or Allah or Sheba or the Great Spaghetti Monster, if you live the creed of your religion, which in nearly every case is "just be nice to people" the world in which you live is improved. Everything else is just an appendage to this great truth.
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    Mar 1 2012: 1. Who or what else informs morality?

    2. Religion is a psychological imperative for many people.

    Those who do not consider religion to be an imperative for themselves, should at least be more understanding of those who do, instead of making certain that polarization exists as strongly as possible.

    What is the point of polarizing something that exists as an imperative for a large percentage of people who happen to think differently to you?
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    Mar 1 2012: Religion is one thing. Form, tradition etc all has it's place, but I personally couldn't care less. The bible is another thing entirely. Sixty six books; written by men; but telling the history of the world from beginning to end. Stuff that no mere man could know. Plus who we are, why we are, & where we are going. It also encourages us to study & search out the truth. Don't know where you got your stereotypes, but I certainly don't recognise them. Mankind will always be asking these questions & seeking the truth, so I guess the bible will always be read.

    :-)
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      Mar 1 2012: Stereotypes come from talks with church officials. (I'm Orthodox Christian, Southeastern Europe) And, the official stand is... you're either with us, or against us. Atheists are considered enemies of the church; you don't get to choose your religion - you're born into it.
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        Mar 1 2012: You're right there are stereotypes everywhere, their output is usually based on how they, themselves, see and have accepted their truth and are shaping their behaviour accordingly.. They are, however, not automatically bad or selfish. But not always correct either.

        I believe we are given the freewill to choose between good and evil, not to make a choice between one religion or another. Before 2000 years ago this question between religions never came up, it always was between good and bad (or who owned the land).

        The God of Love created every single human being for heaven. Not just one religion or only 144000 individuals of the many billions :)
        Branislav, find the religion you like and join (if you want to)
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          Mar 1 2012: I know that - thanks for the support. :)
          It's as though the churches have done so many bad things using their books as means of justification of their actions in the past, that I'm surprised that after all these years their power and influence is still as strong as ever.
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        Mar 1 2012: I don't think it is "still as strong as ever"

        For some reason, at least here in North America, there seems to be an emptying of churches going on. But then there seems to be more freedom to leave here too, compared to where you are maybe.

        It never helps when people are asked to leave their shoes and brains at the door :)

        Swedenborg saw the message "Now it is permitted to enter faith with the understanding." Humanity has come to a point where it is not deemed acceptable to have faith in something that is not understood.
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          Mar 2 2012: What is sad, ultimately, is that religion increasingly appears to push more people away from God that to bring them closer. I would even dare to say that religion is the best advertisement for atheism. Many Christians are so only by cultural or family identity, and the message of Christ's love has never been shown.

          This is why churches are emptying, because religion has been coopted by forces antithetical to God, and quite frankly the trend will continue. All we can do is to be Lights for the world with compassion and love.

          Adriaan, your encouragement is excellent. Thanks for being a positive voice.

          Branislav, I would suggest that any religion that won't let you question or think is one to be avoided. The truth never minds being tested, because thr truth has nothing to hide. Keep asking, keep seeking. That's what this wonderful gift of life is for.

          To answer the question: no, we don't need religion in the traditional sense. The best that traditional religion can offer us now (in the most positive aspect) is tools for research and a plethora of methods to focus our thoughts on our studies of scripture. Religion can offer us the chance to meet people with whom we can study, debate,learn . . . Kind of like TED!
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        Mar 2 2012: Thank you Verble, it is sad indeed but certainly not the first time. And in some ways I'd like to think God is still in charge and will make the outcome fit His plans.
        Just as each individual has to go through a process, with its struggles, of self-denial and rebirth, so does humanity have to walk the same tight-rope of rebirth and spiritual betterment. I'd like to think we have come a long way and that this is a (spiritually) better world than it was e.g. 1000 years ago.

        So far, according to Swedenborg, there have been five church 'systems' and each time there was this spiritual "suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."
        Humanity (as any individual) is somewhere on the way from the innocence of ignorance to the innocence of wisdom. That means going through different stages with each stage having its own hardships and challenges. The "sun" is the love of God and the "moon" is the love of the neighbour and the "stars" are the knowledges of religion and life. they all stop working and stop being applied in life.
        So I do believe that we do need religion because we do need revelation, but that it is up to us individually to make a choice which one works for us. We cannot 'go to heaven' based on someone else's truth or say so. We have to, and can only, make up our own mind and in freedom.
        And if it takes TED, so be it LOL
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    Mar 1 2012: People that are born and raised within a religious group need that religion to be accepted and valued. Often it is necessary to function economicaly within that group and religion becoming the base of the own identity is hard to get rid off without denying a part of what that person has become to be.
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    Mar 1 2012: QUOTE: "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."-- Albert Einstein