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Religion in today's society

I haven't read much of this thread, so I'll just state my opinion.

Religion for me has always been a bit of a complex subject. I was born into a Roman Catholic family and I believed in God up until secondary school (age 11). However, I solely believe the only reason I ever believed was because that was what I was taught. I knew no better. Children in general cannot grasp the concept of religion - believing in God was like believing in Santa Claus - I outgrew it. My views have changed drastically over time. I'm an atheist. I believe there is no God, but I'm open to the concept that there may be some form of afterlife.

Religion has caused so many conflicts around the world, and sometimes I ask, are all the deaths worth it? No they're not. I think the world would be better off without religion. We don't need faith or religion to have morals, or to have fulfilling lives. That is my personal opinion, and I don't judge anyone who is part of a faith, unless what they say is complete bull and/or offensive. I won't deny that religion has done good - many charities are run by religious groups and often religion and going to the house of prayer ties a community together. One thing I do believe though, is that religion and the state in every country should be separate.

I have so many more opinions on this topic, so if anyone has any questions then fire away.
 
If churches are so vital to society, where does it show?
Assuming freedom of religion is never encroached upon, is there any reason not to want to see a total eradication of religion from society? When the best they can say in its defense is that it adds a form of culture and social interaction unavailable any other way? I don't see the true advantage either.

I believe there is no God, but I'm open to the concept that there may be some form of afterlife.
This is odd because those who claim knowledge on an unfalsifiable proposition generally disregard the potentiality of a god's existence and would generally discount life after death as well. Just an observation.

EDIT: Realized this sounded convoluted right after I posted. To clarify, I meant that those who are gnostics as far as a god claim goes (i.e. god DOES or DOES NOT exist) will usually follow through with a gnostic interpretation of other unfalsifiable claims (i.e. this IS or IS NOT an afterlife).
 
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Brutaka

Ignition
This is odd because those who claim knowledge on an unfalsifiable proposition generally disregard the potentiality of a god's existence and would generally discount life after death as well. Just an observation.

EDIT: Realized this sounded convoluted right after I posted. To clarify, I meant that those who are gnostics as far as a god claim goes (i.e. god DOES or DOES NOT exist) will usually follow through with a gnostic interpretation of other unfalsifiable claims (i.e. this IS or IS NOT an afterlife).
Unfortunately, those who are atheist or discount a belief in god in whatever respect aren't necessarily skeptics as well - though they usually are.
I have a family member who is atheist, but believes in ghosts. :I
 

Profesco

gone gently
I wouldn't advocate that view of morality or of God, but--and I'd love to link to it if it weren't so hard on this tablet I'm using--that idea formed a crucial part of what was probably the most ominous post in the atheist/agnostic club.
Shame, I'd get a kick out of reading it. I'd bet my left foot it's an argument that features often in the libertarian wing of the atheist menagerie. But yeah, we've got ours too - think Penn Jillette.


This is the same basic topic I was addressing in a recent portion of our VM conversation. The consensus of the scholars who study manuscripts and how the text of the NT was copied is that this section was added to John's gospel some time after it was originally written, by a different author. Check here, specifically the very lengthy discussion in note 139. It's kinda technical, but the upshot is that earlier manuscripts, including manuscripts from widespread geographical locations, give a reasonably clear answer.

There's more I might like to say on that topic, including a link to a textual critic (manuscript scholar) who I really like discussing why attachment to this text against the best evidence has caused problems for the church, but...well you just saw one way, didn't you? And there was even an argument I read for its inclusion that was valuable for showing the carelessness to which some people will go to save this text which shows Jesus doing something lots of people seem to want Him to have done. But it would be too difficult on the device I am currently using.
Is there a version of the Bible that contains, to your best estimation, all and only those components you judge to be legitimate?



The prohibitions of homosexuality are real enough in the New Testament as well as the Hebrew Scriptures which came before them, much like with many other issues (you know, stealing, murder, adultery). The commands to stone offenders of this or that rule--in fact any of the specific punishments, even something like a fine or whatever other Mosaic punishments I've forgotten--were not repeated in the New Testament. I know some people reject this idea offhand (usually with a clear religious or anti-religious motive for doing so), but the church didn't have the same sort of structure as a nation like Israel, and therefore didn't have the ability to carry over the judicial punishments.

I would not turn this into the claim that none of the standards expressed in the Scriptures are meant to express moral principles. I've heard that some theologians of a previous era fell into that trap. But the punishments attached to specific Mosaic Law violations would at least generally fall outside that.
So, if I'm understanding you correctly, what you're saying is that the condemnation of homosexuality is still amply evident to a scripturally conscientious Christian, while at the same time there is also a sound NT argument against actually killing homosexuals as in the OT? In other words, the point I was making to Sephora stands.

And here is something I would like to get your knowledge on, for it was the original topic of discussion that led to my and mattj's morality discovery: what exactly is the scriptural standard for determining which Biblical passages convey eternal moral principles and which do not? The furthest I got with mattj was the point that homosexuals "deserve" death, as recommended in the OT, and his reasoning that the Jesus "cast the first stone" thing was the NT revocation of Christians' responsibility to carry out that particular just desert. (Even though he argued for absolute literalism, whence I pointed out that he could not identify where the "first stone" story literally addressed homosexuality. We progressed no further after that.)

And the most common relevant thing you hear from the anti-theist side is the trope-y business about Jesus saying he didn't come to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it, or something to that effect. Not very helpful. Perhaps you can make the actual argument for me, TFP, because I never achieved understanding from my discussion with mattj.



Love to. Don't think it's available online. Might be able to summarize some key points from it. Wouldn't do so in this thread, as another would be the place for it.
Ah, okay. Well, if you ever feel like it, then, I'll be your audience. =)


Sounds good. I let myself wait too long to get back on that, especially when the link you provided on Christians arguing against anthropogenic global warming caused me to read an entire book of the Bible in preparation of my response!
Haha, I am honored by your thoroughness, but you know it's okay that our VMs be casual too, right? ^_^




I've since then re-converted to Christianity, though.
Do you mind if I ask you to explain your reconversion? I'm curious what would cause you to become credulous towards beliefs you presumably realized were false. Or, I suppose, whether your reconversion is only nominal, e.g. you've chosen to live as part of the community an organized religion creates, but you don't necessarily affirm all of the faith claims it makes.

Edit: Of course, if you'd rather not discuss your personal experiences and beliefs, that's perfectly understandable too. ^_^
 
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Silver Soul

Well-Known Member
Rock Singer Tom Petty gives his thoughts on religion and says, "Nobody got Christ more wrong than Christians." His recent single called "Playing Dumb" takes a shot at the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/tom-...es-got-christ-more-wrong-than-the-christians/

Considering how the right-wing beloved Ann Coulter took shots at Catholics for wanting to show care to migrant children, he's got a point.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/coul...ant-children-you-want-to-be-a-moral-show-off/
 

Jazzy-Strings

Aggression
You do realize that Christianity consists of both the new and the old testaments? Trying to pass off mistakes in the OT as if they don't matter is excusing the issue rather than addressing it.
Admittedly, I don't find the NT mistakes very reliable. A lot of the 'rules' (eg homophobia and stuff) were written by Paul (As far as I remember) who was not Jesus or god or anyone really. He was just a guy who wrote a lot of letters. I also think a lot of the people take the bible far too seriously, and don't see things in it as a metaphor, which I found vital. I mean, there is stuff in the real world that shows that the Bible doesn't list everything. It's not a history book. So, use it as a metaphor or something to that effect.

Have you noticed that the less religious western Europe seems to be doing just fine? In fact, it's not uncommon for them to have a welfare state superior to the US. It's not that hard for the state to be more efficient than churches because so much of their funds goes to practising religion and so little to actual charity or community service.
...
If churches are so vital to society, where does it show?
Yes, it is true that the less religious European countries seem to do just fine (then again here in the UK we've just had a whole fiasco about a muslim take over) And yes, I would agree that if you want charity, leave it to the state. Churches don't really do anything other than donate to food banks once a year or so. Then again, I do think that the whole church needs to start from scratch (yes I know its impossible but I can dream) from what's happened in the past everything has everything all wrong, and most churches lack the people and recousers to do anything. Which is a shame, but also not suprising.

I would say that they're not vital to society, in fact, I would say that a lot of them are a hinderance. However, if we were going to abolish religion, I'd keep a few of the nicer buildings for historic and cultural reasons. I know a lot of people won't agree with me on that but still, religion drove the world for many many years, you have to have something to commemorate such an awesome yet terrifying thing.

Religion for me has always been a bit of a complex subject. I was born into a Roman Catholic family and I believed in God up until secondary school (age 11). However, I solely believe the only reason I ever believed was because that was what I was taught. I knew no better. Children in general cannot grasp the concept of religion - believing in God was like believing in Santa Claus - I outgrew it. My views have changed drastically over time. I'm an atheist.
I was also born into a Christian family, in fact, my mother is now a preist of the CofE. When I was younger I went through multiple stages, the longest of which was when I took the bible as complete and utter truth. No quiestions asked. Once I hit the age of around 10, I got more and more and more liberal in my beliefs and then went through a pantheist phase. Now, in a not religious school, I am agnostic. I do object to teaching and forcing religion onto children, I think it can be quite damaging and confusing. I think that from the start people should form their own beliefs, whether they be theist, atheist or somewhere in between or something else entirely.

I have a family member who is atheist, but believes in ghosts. :I
My brother's an atheist (supposedly) and he believes in heaven and hell and that. In fact, I think the majority of atheists I;ve met are like that in some respect.

Rock Singer Tom Petty gives his thoughts on religion and says, "Nobody got Christ more wrong than Christians."
That guy knows what's up that is so true.

I hope that all made sense... and I didn't miss the point...
 

Aegiscalibur

Add Witty Title Here
I also think a lot of the people take the bible far too seriously, and don't see things in it as a metaphor, which I found vital. I mean, there is stuff in the real world that shows that the Bible doesn't list everything. It's not a history book. So, use it as a metaphor or something to that effect.
Calling something a metaphor means that you think the authors themselves considered it a metaphor. But knowing the culture back then, it is far more likely that they believed that e.g. homosexuality literally is evil. It was the popular stance.

When the authors took it literally, it would be more accurate to say that it's simply wrong.

I would say that they're not vital to society, in fact, I would say that a lot of them are a hinderance. However, if we were going to abolish religion, I'd keep a few of the nicer buildings for historic and cultural reasons. I know a lot of people won't agree with me on that but still, religion drove the world for many many years, you have to have something to commemorate such an awesome yet terrifying thing.
Eh, I haven't seen many atheists particularly interested in tearing down church buildings. They mostly care about the actual beliefs. Only demolish the buildings if they have no architectural value and can't be used or maintained otherwise.

My brother's an atheist (supposedly) and he believes in heaven and hell and that. In fact, I think the majority of atheists I;ve met are like that in some respect.
Really? I have seen a very different picture.
 

Brutaka

Ignition
Another family member shared this article on FB earlier today: http://www.faithit.com/3-common-traits-of-youth-who-dont-leave-the-church/?c=fbo_tsal
(If you can't tell, familial relations amongst various of my family members are a bit strained at the moment, focusing mainly on theology. That, and many of us are still reeling from that message I got a few weeks ago.)

I got a little chuckle from skimming it, and of course, being the person I am, I was inspired to write a decent response to it.

"Oh, I just had to read this one. But never fear - I'm approaching this nicely. No harsh words, no insults.
1. "They are converted."
I'd agree with that one, actually. People who are converted to a religion are much more likely to stay in the religion than those who are simply brought up in it. And I've always found moderacy in religions as fairly hypocritical anyway.

2. "They have been equipped, not entertained."
This is pretty much just a reiteration of the first point in different words. Though my harsher atheist friends would liken to this to brainwashing or rigorous indoctrination.

3. "Their parents preached the gospel to them."
Huh. That's the complete opposite of the 1st and 2nd points. Strangely, I find that parents are the LEAST equipped to ensure "the faith" in their children. Many things parents tell their children as they grow up are falsehoods, and during the teenage years, education generally makes the best of them. As soon as kids realize that their parents aren't a source of irrefutable truths, anything their parents say to them about any subject is open to question. Including, er, especially religion.

The one I like to talk about is something they mentioned here:
"The daunting statistics about church-going youth keep rolling in. Panic ensues. What are we doing wrong in our churches? In our youth ministries?"

I almost feel sorry for churches. Almost. But it isn't their fault. The churches aren't doing anything wrong - in fact, they likely peaking at a higher efficiency in recent times. That's why they're all so noisy lately and we've got this influx of blockbuster christian movies like "God's Not Dead" and "Heaven is for Real". But the truth is that even at max effectiveness, it still just isn't enough. The culprit? The Internet. Nothing more, nothing less. See, the Internet is unfettered access to any and all information. Suddenly, kids have the knowledge of other ideologies, not just the ones their parents gave them. They can suddenly decide for themselves what they want to believe - before, they didn't even know that was another option.

It's a change in times. Ultimately, religion is outdated. It cannot survive. As many prominent atheists have said, the backlash in religious practices we see know and the uprisings from theology are akin to animal lashing out in its death throws.

I hope that one day, the term 'atheist' will be but a memory. After all, the term 'atheist' isn't a claim itself - it's a rejection of one. So if the original claim - the one that there is God - fades away, so will the responding claim. We are, in a way, working towards our own unnecessity."
 
It's a change in times. Ultimately, religion is outdated. It cannot survive. As many prominent atheists have said, the backlash in religious practices we see know and the uprisings from theology are akin to animal lashing out in its death throws.
Religion will probably have a central spot as the predominant expression of worldview for as long as it takes humanity to eliminate all sources of doubt and fear, because it is there that religion is born and resides. I too would like to think that knowledge alone has the fortitude necessary to conquer and vanquish blind viewpoints, but it's nothing more than wishful thinking. I saw someone post the teleological argument on FB the other day, and I too would have loved to comment on it and explain the obvious falsehoods. The only problem with that is, I'm not anonymous on FB... I can't bring myself to potentially bring harm to a future me by offering an unwanted refutation now.

All this to say, I feel you man. Sooner or later we will come to a point where religion is not a huge force globally, and we might see a drastic decrease in violence among other "sins".
 

Brutaka

Ignition
Religion will probably have a central spot as the predominant expression of worldview for as long as it takes humanity to eliminate all sources of doubt and fear, because it is there that religion is born and resides. I too would like to think that knowledge alone has the fortitude necessary to conquer and vanquish blind viewpoints, but it's nothing more than wishful thinking. I saw someone post the teleological argument on FB the other day, and I too would have loved to comment on it and explain the obvious falsehoods. The only problem with that is, I'm not anonymous on FB... I can't bring myself to potentially bring harm to a future me by offering an unwanted refutation now.
I don't mean this to say religion would go away completely. The world has always had fools, but if we can reduce it to just them, the force of religion would become practically benign.
 

Silver Soul

Well-Known Member
So, the ISIL are killing religious minorities in Iraq and attempting genocide of Yazidis who are of Zoroastrianism. Even if those try to convert, they will still be executed anyway since even Sunni Muslim moderates would be executed by them. It's best to not call them actual Muslims but actual killers because if they respect their religion, they wouldn't destroy Jonah's tomb which is sacred even in Islam.

Not to mention, it really says a lot when American Family Association's Bryan Fischer agrees with ISIL which Al-Qaeda found too extreme that Yazidis are devil worshipers. When I said that religious fundies are not so different, this is what I was talking about.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/08/...into-iraq-to-save-devil-worshipers-from-isis/
 

Joth

Back from the Dead
*Just so you know, I am an Aethiest.

In my mind, religion should not be a part of society, especially not politics. I think that when the church (note, I am using "church" as "any religious group",) has too much power, it causes war over religion, no matter what the beliefs are. Religious friction is the cause of almost every war in history, and all the rest is resources. I'm not saying that religion should cease to exist, but merely that it should not have too much influence in the governing of a country. Religion should only have power over it's followers. That being said, people should be free to choose what religion (or lack there of, such as in my case,) without fear of judgement and hate from other religious parties and their comminty. That's just my two bits on this subject.
 

Profesco

gone gently
Because it likely won't be pursued in the General Chat thread, why not here?

My opinions on religion:
I am a strong believer in God. However, I do not really care what your religion is, I don't mind. If you get to the point where you are insulting me for my religion or are trying to impose me with rules that go against it, therefore denying God, then I have a problem.
But for the most part that doesn't happen (except for the good ol' US government)
But how would you suggest we go about avoiding that? It's tricky, since most religions have particular beliefs and/or rules that people who don't follow that religion have no reason to accede to, and that means two things: 1) a secular government can't make those rules into a law because it would be forcing others to follow the rules of someone else's religion, and 2) a secular government sometimes has to allow other laws that are good for people in general but which someone's religion has a rule against.

As an example of #1, consider that only two of the ten commandments are laws in the US - no stealing and no killing. None of the rest are laws, and in fact making some of them into laws would itself be illegal according to our Constitution (e.g. no graven images/no other gods before Yahweh/no working on the Sabbath).

As an example of #2, consider current divided topics like gay marriage, stem cell research, and vaccinations. Some religions have rules that say these things are bad or immoral, and believers want our laws to reflect those beliefs, but outside of those particular religious beliefs, these things are actually good for individuals and society in general.

The US government is one that explicitly forbids privileging one religion over any other (or over none) by means of law. That means inevitable conflict. When an Evangelical thinks homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be counseled away, but the reality ends up being that so-called "ex-gay therapy" and other forms of religious counseling actually do more damage than anything else, our government not only can't make laws that treat homosexuality the way the Bible does, but it also has a responsibility to make laws banning people from causing harm by trying to counsel people out of it.

But there's a very real chance that the Evangelical who believes those things will feel like the government is thus forcing them to deny their religious teachings. That seems to be the source of most of the claims of "Christian persecution" we see in the news. But what else is there to do?

And here is a link to a blog post explaining secularism as it appears in the form of the "good ol' US government."



______________________________________________​




Another interesting Chat Thread topic, brought on by a post describing criticism of religion as "being a d**k to people":

On the contrary, it is possible to both politely and reasonably "go there" in regards to religion. In regards, specifically, to some of the very unfortunate moments when a person's religion gives them (according to their interpretation) license to do terrible things to other people*, one might say a principled criticism is ethically necessary.


*
See: ISIS forcing conversion on pain of death
See: Mohels giving infants herpes via metzitzah b'peh
See: African Christians cutting up girls' genitals to prevent sexual pleasure
See: Muslim victims of rape forcibly removed from safe shelters and handed over to people who will perform "honor killing"
See: Scientologists pressuring victims of psychiatric disorders into denying needed medication
See: Scientologists forcing the estrangement of family members who are not part of the church
See: Christians homeschoolers denying their children any education in expectation of an impending Rapture
See: Christian politicians serving on governmental committees on science decrying established scientific theory as "lies from the pit of Hell"
See: Christian politicians explicitly endorsing death-by-stoning of gay people
See: Christian children dying from easily preventable ailments because their parents prefer prayer to medicine

I could, to my great dismay, go on for dozens more lines. I provide no links, but if any of these strike you as unbelievable, Google will turn up results. Needless to say, not everyone who practices a religion practices it in such horrible ways, nor is every idea within a religion as bad as the ones I've listed. But we still do have a responsibility to those people being hurt by the really bad religious ideas to voice our criticisms of such bad ideas.
I would argue that one of the reasons people can actually get away with things like these in the 21st century is because of society's reticence to questioning religion. When someone does a horrible thing, and says, for example, "my belief in racial superiority is my reason for acting this way," or, "my belief in socialism/free market capitalism is my reason for acting this way," or, "my belief in 'survival of the fittest' is my reason for acting this way," we do not hesitate to criticize. But when someone says, "my belief in [religious tenet] is my reason for acting this way," our critical faculties are rebuffed? We even run the risk of being called d**ks, or strident, or fascists, or - I am not kidding you - evil global conspirators possessed by demons.


Should religion really be immune from criticism? I know what those who agree with me will say, Baba Yaga and The Federation, etc: "Heck no!" But what about those who disagree? If you think so, what are your justifications? Are comedians who criticize religion through their jokes being d**ks? Granted you can criticize with nuance or specificity, as (I hope) I do above, and maybe you do not disagree with nuanced criticism. But what about someone who says, flatly, "religion sucks" (where "sucks" is a stand-in for whatever variety of criticism the speaker chooses)? Is that person being a d**k? What about "capitalism sucks," or "scientism sucks," or "philosophy sucks"? Is any blanket castigation enough to call someone a d**k, or is religion, specifically and specially, immune - in other words, does religion deserve more respect and/or sensitivity than other ideas? And if so, why?
 
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I don't so much think that the real message is that we cannot criticize religion, even though from my experience many have that attitude. I think the main question being asked to us, (Us, being those who actively oppose religion, not just criticize it.) is, how do we differentiate the problems with religion from problems with any other worldview? The argument being, that the problems associated with religion are hardly unique to religion. I'm willing to concede that there are many beliefs out there that are toxic, and when widely held, yield toxic social consequences. I don't claim that religion is particularly unique, but that doesn't make it unworthy of being opposed. Just because there's lots of shoddy ideas throughout human history that also have death and destruction on their resumes doesn't make religion any less of a bad thing. It seems as though what people want is an argument that religion is instrinsically bad. Which, I don't think is fair because A) We can't show that anything is intrinsically bad. It's not impossible to conceive of a religion that does no harm and offers nothing to humanity accept pleasure, charity, and good will. The thing is, it's also not impossible to conceive of a benevolent dictatorship. We can't show anything is *intrinsically* bad. The point being, we shouldn't have to be required to offer a reason to oppose religion that's more concrete and rigorous than commonly accepted reasons why we oppose anything else. Religion isn't an inherently bad, destructive, evil, oppressive institution. However, it almost always is. That's what's important. And B) Which worldviews we do and do not criticize is largely based on prioritization. The destructive effects of religion are more easily noticed and widespread than belief in astrology, that 9/11 was an inside job, alien abductions, or Marxism-Leninism. So, I don't think I'm being unfair when I say religion is destructive, that it needs to be done away with, and that we'd probably be better off without it. The charge of "How come you don't criticize X?" or "Is religion really any worse than X?" seem to me more like distractions than actual engagements.

In regards to all the good religion can do, I feel like that if you immediately have to start the conversation by justifying all the bad, horrible, and unspeakable things something is responsible for producing by listing off all the good things it does, that something you're talking about really isn't all that great. To me, it's like saying "Are Mexican drug cartel leaders really so bad? I'm sure some of them are nice to dogs." or "Sure, the guy is a rapist, but he makes really inspirational popsicle stick art. Who are we to judge?"
 
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bobjr

EVERYONE WANTS THE BIG CHAIR MEG
Staff member
Moderator
When it comes to criticism with Religion, it's really that it should be exempt for it, but when it starts to overreach it's bound it should be subject to it. When the Mormon church donated millions to stop gay marriage bills from passing, they deserved it because they were crossing that line between church and state. If a church doesn't like gay marriage I could care less, they don't have to allow it, but if they're going to actually try and make that the law of the land, then they should be prepared for the consequences. Even those apathetic to religion aren't going to like it when a church decides to push for power and then covers themselves up by saying that they're just going with their beliefs. Some churches are smart and keep to themselves, that's why the most criticized ones are the ones that are the most open and forceful with pushing for their beliefs.
 

Profesco

gone gently
A+ post, Baba Yaga. =o

When it comes to criticism with Religion, it's really that it should be exempt for it
What is your explanation of why, though? Even if religious ideas did stay firmly inside the heads of those who believe them, why should those ideas be exempt from criticism?

On the one hand, I am fine with this - in practice. There are no atheist street preachers who seek out communities for the express purpose of disabusing them of their false religious ideas. And I do not join religious discussions just to tell people they're wrong. It is only when the ideas become harmful influences in the world that I actively oppose them.

But on the other hand, there is intrinsic value to truth. Everyone wants to have true beliefs, if only implicitly. It is difficult to discern between true and false ideas if you do not expose them to scrutiny. To exempt a given class of ideas from criticism seems akin to saying it doesn't matter if they're true or false.


Some churches are smart and keep to themselves, that's why the most criticized ones are the ones that are the most open and forceful with pushing for their beliefs.
You're undoubtedly correct here, but we would still hit a bump in the road due to first quoted portion of my previous post: in a secular government, there will almost surely be some laws that require certain people to act out of accordance with their religious beliefs, despite their otherwise keeping said beliefs to themselves.

As a whole though, is religion really capable of keeping to itself?
I would like to say yes, but could only do so after a discussion about those tenets of some religions that recommend, or even require, preaching, conversion attempts, or even penalties for apostasy.
 

bobjr

EVERYONE WANTS THE BIG CHAIR MEG
Staff member
Moderator
Oops, I meant shouldn't instead of should. Guess I was trying to word that differently.


As a whole though, is religion really capable of keeping to itself?
I think it's alright to "advertise" and have events to open themselves up to new people, and that's not keeping to themselves.
 
Oops, I meant shouldn't instead of should. Guess I was trying to word that differently.




I think it's alright to "advertise" and have events to open themselves up to new people, and that's not keeping to themselves.
You're right. It isn't. Better phrased then: is religion really capable of not imposing itself? I understand not every religion has a zero tolerance policy on non believers, i.e. "You disbelieve, you burn." or actively seeks to convert non believers, but when it comes down to it, if you see yourself as having access to a particular truth that others do not have access to (Arguably, the most important truth there is, as it encompasses morality, ethics, the meaning of life, our origins, etc.) you have an incredible incentive to impose it on others.

The definition of religion that I work with, anyway, is belief in God(s) (Or just supernatural creatures that are more or less euphemisms for God(s) as we commonly understand them) that are the source/creators of reality as we understand it, as well as the ultimate sources of moral truth. Working with any other definition I feel just reduces religion to philosophy. I also feel the definition works because if people didn't believe God(s) were the source of these things, nobody would bother believing in them. It also separates lesser superstitions and claims about the supernatural, like black cats causing bad luck or astrology. Which I still think are harmful, just not authoritarian the way religion is. Now, if we're using the definition I'm working with here, I don't think it's possible for religion to not impose itself because the concept of religion alone is inherently authoritarian. I know I'm stealing a page from Hitchens here, but I think he's on the mark. You must derive your source of meaning, understanding of reality, and sense of morals from the agency of another. I feel like if the concept of religion itself is authoritarian, then how can we expect religion to not behave in an authoritarian manner?
 
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As a whole though, is religion really capable of keeping to itself?
Yes, but more positive interfaith dialogue must occur. Although the Catholic Church has its issues, the open dialogue between Islam, Judaism, and Catholicism under John Paul II was a welcome change and helped ease the tensions from all sides. People of differing spiritual backgrounds must learn to respect one another. And yes, atheists do count as well. Spirituality is an acceptable and tenable aspect of life, but unbridled scorn for people of divergent viewpoint creates schisms. And ultimately, religiously motivated violence can be boiled down to ignorance and xenophobia, the fear of the unknown, more than anything else. Open dialogue is the key to any negotiation, and the same applies to matters of religion.
 
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