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Author Topic: Religion - good or bad?  (Read 1192327 times)
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Tomahawk
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« on: Dec 25, 2004, 03:48PM »

For the religious among us, for the purposes of this topic I would like you to make the following assumption:

There is no God.

Wether you believe there is or not is not the question here.  What I'm wondering is, taking as assumption that God does not exist, is religion or any sort (organised or non-organised) a good or a bad thing?  And why?

What good points does religion have?

What bad points does religion have?

And please - no 'but God does exist' comments.  This topic is not about the existance or non existance.


Some points that I can think of offhand:
Good points:
- religion helps to organise thought;
- religion helps to organise a community to a common good;
- religion can help form a basis for moral and ethical codes;
- religion brought us music;
- religion brought us good teaching;
- religion gave us holidays (holiday coming from holy day);
- Christmas!  (sorry, had to slip that one in);
- Religion (Belief in the afterlife) can ease suffering after the death of a loved one;

Bad points:
- religion can lead to intolerence of those people who partake in 'evil' things;
- religion can overly define right from wrong;
- religion can be dated, not 'with-the-times';
- religion can stray off course;
- religion can over-regulate, sometimes with silly rules (cite: RC priests can't marry - not for religious reasons, but because the church doesn't want to loose property to the widow - it's a monetary thing);


What has religion given us that is good?  What has it given us that is bad?  What could a 'modern' religion do without, and what should it have in it?


Remember, for the purposes of this discussion, we are assuming that God does not exist.


T.
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 25, 2004, 04:54PM »

Egad, Tomahawk!

What do you do for entertainment outside the forum - throw rocks at hornet's nests?
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 25, 2004, 08:02PM »

At the risk of being stoned to death, I don't think religion is that important. I think it was originally contrived as a way for dwellers of a pre-scientific era to explain the unexplainable and rally support by instilling fear upon the public. Members of religions often just believe because they're afraid not to -- of what "God" will do to them, and that they'll have a bad afterlife if they question their faith. I detest the idea of organized religion, for the most part. However, it does have quite a few positive benefits. If we didn't have organized religion, I feel that suicide rates would be higher. However, there would probably be less deaths related to religious intolerance.

Religion has its place, but too many people take it too far and stretch and twist the original message for political purposes.

Just my take on it.
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 25, 2004, 08:16PM »

Quote from: "JohnL"
Egad, Tomahawk!

What do you do for entertainment outside the forum - throw rocks at hornet's nests?


 Grin  Grin ROTFL!
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 26, 2004, 08:27AM »

Quote from: "JohnL"
Egad, Tomahawk!

What do you do for entertainment outside the forum - throw rocks at hornet's nests?


Wasps, actually!  :)

Nah, the idea came to me when I was talking to someone about something else.  Decided I'd open this up for debate here, just to see what peoples thoughts on the subject are.


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« Reply #5 on: Dec 26, 2004, 09:24AM »

Quote from: "Tomahawk"
Quote from: "JohnL"
Egad, Tomahawk!

What do you do for entertainment outside the forum - throw rocks at hornet's nests?


Wasps, actually!  :)

Nah, the idea came to me when I was talking to someone about something else.  Decided I'd open this up for debate here, just to see what peoples thoughts on the subject are.


T.


Hi T:

To paraphrase Idries Shah----religion is that which brings you closer to God. Everything else is imagination, social or emotional.

My own observations on this lead to me to conclude that 99.9% of "religious activity" falls into the second category. Most of it seems centred around preserving the religion itself rather than bringing "believers" to God.

"Oh, my, aren't we better than everyone else?" "Oh, if everyone only believed as I believe---then the world would be OK." "If everyone doesn't believe as I do they are all going to burn in _______." "I shall show them how good people like us can be." "I shall kill them because they don't believe (and they have oil)." "I shall find the answer in "X" book, which contains all the answers to problems posed by human existence." This seems to sum up religious philosophy as it is expressed in the community and among people  I know.

I don't know that this results in any "good."

E
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« Reply #6 on: Dec 26, 2004, 09:28AM »

(and the first stone arcs gracefully through the air, having been plotted a perfect parabola 'twixt hand and hornet...)   Pant
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« Reply #7 on: Dec 26, 2004, 10:06AM »

Quote from: "Tomahawk"
What good points does religion have?

What bad points does religion have?

Consider what items of your lists are often faithfully duplicated in secular organizations, and which are more exclusive to religious ones.
 
If you can do this objectively it doesn't paint a very pretty picture for religion, pointing out that it only gets credit for being a "force for good" because we've been recalibrated (socialized) so as to presume so. In truth I think most modern religions have developed into generally good organizations due to the cooperative nature of humanity (just as with any social species -- we're just a haell of a lot smarter and more capable) and in spite of religion, which has been consistently dragged behind like an anchor on land (one that can kick and scream a lot). Without the anchor maybe we could have gotten a whole lot farther by now?
 
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« Reply #8 on: Dec 26, 2004, 11:38AM »

... i classify all "religions" as cults, as they (as you guys have said) spend more time worrying about the religion than God or a god or gods or goddesses. They seem to get to their points in rather round about ways and always have a way of avoiding questions that they can't answer with a creative interpretation of a "X" book. It amazes me what people blame on religion when it's not the religion, it's that particular group of people getting together and making a mass (often irrational) decision to do something drastic. So, I don't see a point in blaming anything on "religion" rather the cults that form due to religion.
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 26, 2004, 11:41AM »

By-the-way, I like your guys' views.
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« Reply #10 on: Dec 26, 2004, 11:50AM »

Quote from: "JohnL"
Egad, Tomahawk!

What do you do for entertainment outside the forum - throw rocks at hornet's nests?

Awesome!
 
That comment just makes me happy -- thought I'd mention it.
 
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« Reply #11 on: Dec 26, 2004, 12:39PM »

*puts head in a slump* what is this world coming to?? i just think that all of us "religious" ppl here in the forum have learned not to speak out, because all you guys are going to do is beat us to the ground no matter whether we're right or wrong, all im asking some of you to do is read "X" book which you all know what it is, read it from start to finish, remember what you can, then go out and find ways to disprove what you read, if you can find actual evidence against "X" book,  and those disclaimers can have actual backing to it, go ahead, but so far noone has been able to do that, so go ahead, keep on ranting, i wish i could help you guys, but hey, its your life, i cant control it, youre probably looking at me and laughing saying "who is this kid? some idiot?" well im an idiot that doesnt like to conform to the crowd, someone who likes to stand up for his religion, and i know some ppl stray away from the true meaning of their religion, but hey, dont let what only a couple ppl do allow you to make up your mind about the entire religious community of that religion, for example, if you go to a big gumball machine, you just happen to get 6 or 7 yellow gumballs in a row, does that mean that the other 500 gumballs in the machine are yellow? and im sorry if i "offended" anyone, dont want to start any fights, but hey, thats my view
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« Reply #12 on: Dec 26, 2004, 01:22PM »

Quote from: "SchuylkillCountyBonerand im sorry if i "offended" anyone, dont want to start any fights, but hey, thats my view[/quote


No; as long as you don't call us "geezers" everything should be fine! Grin .

Besides, SCB, I thought the hornet and wasp references should be ample warning.

But, re: Tomahawk's question. Do you think your religion provides anything useful to your community? Let me tell you a story:

We have a very polarized community; hippies v. right wing extremists. The "Interfaith Food Bank" in town objected when the Unitarians tried to donate food, because, in their words, the "Unitarians are not people of faith so should be prohibited from donating!" Now assuming that in some strange way, the food bank was actually designed to place needed food in the mouths of the poor, what was the purpose in turning away their donations?

E
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« Reply #13 on: Dec 26, 2004, 01:54PM »

OK SCB,
I have read the "X" book from start to finish before. I'm not against the book itself, since it teaches very good morals and values, I'm against how some people interpret it. You see pastors, priests, preachers, and whoevers doing the interpreting for people, does it occur to you that there are those few (very few, I know, but still) of those higher church powers that have molested young boys, and you excpect them to interpret for people the correct way it was meant to? There seems to be a lack of people being able to interpret the Bible for themselves, does that concern anyone? Do the religious wars in the past worry anyone? "Thou shall not kill." ..... yet, more people die in the name of God or a god or gods or goddesses (hmm...there seem to be many options there....) than for any other reason in history. Seems like the people who started those wars really got that "Thou shall not kill." commandment through to them really well huh?

You do have one very good point though SCB, you "religous" guys have kept rather quiet, but I think that those of us that are starting these (quite intrigueing) arguements and everyone else, really should keep our religion, or lack of, to ourselves because it is such a personal issue for some people and it leaves bases for grounds of discrimination before knowing a person. "He/She doesn't "believe", they aren't worth my time, they aren't a good person, or they're evil, so I'm not going to talk to them" or "He/She is a religous nut, they'll spend all their time that they talk to me trying to convert me, so I'm not going to respond.

So, I, myself, am not going to make any major comments on religion for quite a while, if not ever again in the forum.
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« Reply #14 on: Dec 26, 2004, 02:12PM »

GO! SCB
Religion it self is a touchy subject just because there are so many opinions about it and many people want to enforce their beliefs on others.  It is most often very difficult for some one to talk about it here and not get persicuted in some way.  I have just come to accept that.  We all are different people with different opinions and different beliefs.  That is how we were made.  I have not read the "X" book. So i really dont know what all that is about. But I have faith.  I myself think religion is a good thing.  If I look back on my life to see how I was with out it and how it changed my life I would deffinatly say it was a good thing.  We humans need order and rules.  We can not have everything our heart desires. Not here on this earth.
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« Reply #15 on: Dec 26, 2004, 02:55PM »

There is a good point presented by sdibel06. Religion does have some good effects. I personally know of several people whose lives were dramatically changed for the better by  believing. Religion can make people feel like they have a reason to live and to do good with their life -- it can also make them feel better about themselves and the universe in general. Which raises a few questions: are those feelings based on a lie? If so, do people flock to religion because they can't handle the truth? Does it even matter?
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« Reply #16 on: Dec 26, 2004, 03:10PM »

Personally I don't think religion is very beneficial to society.  It gives some people a sense of belonging and something to believe in, but also can cause hatred and intolerance for others.  And in my opinion, there are many better things to believe in than something that may not even exist.
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« Reply #17 on: Dec 26, 2004, 03:50PM »

really, i think the hatred and intolerance is really just "the devil", i really dont believe that its the religions fault, its just the devil manipulating weak ppl and causing hell on earth, which is what he wants! but religion seeks unity, not separation! and to comment about ShortStuff's post, priests that molest boys, first of all, im not catholic, i hate that whole priest and confession and hail mary stuff, second, like i said, dont let the actions of just a few ppl affect your view on the entire religious community, and you said about the 6th commandment, "thou shalt not kill", God is saying, do not kill in anger, do not kill just for the hell of it, this was in the Old Testament before Christ was born and died, back then they had to sacrifice animals and whatnot, etc, but those wars in the name of God, God commanded those people to go to war, he commanded his followers to vanquish the sin that was rampaging in this world at the time, we all know all sin isnt going to be vanquished, but you gotta hold it at bay, but i believe that those ppl that God had his followers kill, were people that were never going to be saved, that were never going to see the light, and were just destroying the world that He had created, so he basically "killed 2 birds with one stone" he got rid of some sin, and he had a lesson to get across to everyone, and i hate to say this, i also think population control was a side-effect of the wars, without war and natural disaster,etc, this world would be overridden, we'd be like the deer population in the United States, thered be WAAAYYYYY too many people, right now the world is actually overcrowded, and its going to just keep getting more crowded, im not saying that death is great, but it happens, and to me, God has every persons life planned out and that each life has a purpose, as long as its not death as a sin, i have no problem with death, God created life, so theres going to have to be death, but im not saying its ok to go out and kill your neighbor if he is a sinner.... NOOOOOO WAYYYYY, but you guys know what i mean though, but anywho, thats enough of my ranting for now
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« Reply #18 on: Dec 26, 2004, 04:30PM »

Holy run-on sentences, Batman!

Quote from: "SchuylkillCountyBoner"
really, i think the hatred and intolerance is really just "the devil", i really dont believe that its the religions fault, its just the devil manipulating weak ppl and causing hell on earth, which is what he wants! but religion seeks unity, not separation!


Religion seeks unity in the form of itself. Not a good thing when you've got umpteen-dozen religions all 'seeking unity' against each other.

If the devil causes intolerance, why are religious people, in general, more intolerant than say, secular people? It's such a cop-out to blame everything bad on the devil. "Oh, yeah, um... we didn't kill your people.... the, uh, devil did..."

Quote

and to comment about ShortStuff's post, priests that molest boys, first of all, im not catholic, i hate that whole priest and confession and hail mary stuff, second, like i said, dont let the actions of just a few ppl affect your view on the entire religious community,


True -- you cannot generalize about the whole by observing a few choice individuals. But it does go to show that even the 'holiest'/'righteous...est' of people are fallible.

Quote

 and you said about the 6th commandment, "thou shalt not kill", God is saying, do not kill in anger, do not kill just for the hell of it,


Yet another person deciding what God is saying. The commandment says 'Do Not Kill'. I think if God wanted to say 'Unless it's the thing to do' he could have added a few more words to the tablet.

Quote

 this was in the Old Testament before Christ was born and died, back then they had to sacrifice animals and whatnot, etc, but those wars in the name of God, God commanded those people to go to war, he commanded his followers to vanquish the sin that was rampaging in this world at the time, we all know all sin isnt going to be vanquished, but you gotta hold it at bay, but i believe that those ppl that God had his followers kill, were people that were never going to be saved, that were never going to see the light, and were just destroying the world that He had created, so he basically "killed 2 birds with one stone"


How about the Crusades? Did God command them to go to war? Couldn't anyone just go outside, shoot their neighbor of another faith, and say (1) God commanded them to and (2) they weren't gonna be saved anyway?

Quote
he got rid of some sin, and he had a lesson to get across to everyone,


What a wonderful lesson. "Believe in God because otherwise we'll kill you!"

It seems that killing any group of people will get rid of sin...

Quote

 and i hate to say this, i also think population control was a side-effect of the wars, without war and natural disaster,etc, this world would be overridden, we'd be like the deer population in the United States, thered be WAAAYYYYY too many people, right now the world is actually overcrowded, and its going to just keep getting more crowded, im not saying that death is great, but it happens, and to me, God has every persons life planned out and that each life has a purpose, as long as its not death as a sin,


Before you speculate about population control, you might want to actually look at facts and demonstrate that holy wars did in fact reduce the population by a significant amount so that we would not be over-run now... they were probably just a dent -- there were many people killed by plain ol' disease, too.

Quote
i have no problem with death, God created life, so theres going to have to be death, but im not saying its ok to go out and kill your neighbor if he is a sinner.... NOOOOOO WAYYYYY, but you guys know what i mean though, but anywho, thats enough of my ranting for now


Even if God didn't create life, there's gonna be death.

Hmm... I don't really know what you mean, actually. It seems okay to kill if its in the name of your 'loving and caring' God...
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« Reply #19 on: Dec 26, 2004, 04:36PM »

Quote from: "SchuylkillCountyBoner"
... you said about the 6th commandment, "thou shalt not kill"...


Er, that's the 5th commandment.  The 6th is the 'do not commit adultery' one.

Quote
God is saying, do not kill in anger, do not kill just for the hell of it, this was in the Old Testament before Christ was born and died, back then they had to sacrifice animals and whatnot, etc, but those wars in the name of God, God commanded those people to go to war


Er, where exactly is that commandment written?  I don't believe I ever saw anything in the Bible where God actually turned around and said 'kill that lot over there'.  Yes, he asked Abraham to kill (sacrifice) his son, but he was really only calling Abraham's bluff, and then gave him a lamb.

God laid down 10 commandments, and Jesus 'summarised' these into 2 - love God, and love one another.

There is no provision there for war.


This, I feel, is one of the bad things about religion - it can lead people into thinking there have a ligitimate excuse for war - they can said that God told them to go to war.  The use their religion as a cushion to allow them to do what they want.  They can intreprete the 'rules' or 'guidelines' according to how they feel, and bend them to their will, and then pass everything off as being allowed according to the will of God.


Anyway, the debate on hand here is whether religion is and has been a good thing or a bad thing for society.  It's not a debate where people need to defend their particular religion.  I'm curious to know what peoples viewpoints are on the merits and dismerits of religion.  Not any specific religion, just the ideas of religion in general.

This isn't a place for anyone to give out about any particular religions, or anybodies faith or beliefs.  And I encourage those with strong beliefs to post your views here also.


We have determined so far that religion is beneficial as it gives people something to believe in and to live for.  We've determined that religion could very possibly be holding mankind back.  We've determined that, for some, finding religion can change their lives for the better.  We've questioned whether religion is a lie, and whether living that lie can still be a good thing.    We've seen that religion can sometimes hinder charity and compassion.  And we've determined that I like to throw stones at hornets nests for fun.


For those that questioned, then yes, I have read the Bible, and took a lot from it.  It has moral and ethical learnings.  Aesop's Fables has moral and ethical learning of similar benefit, as do the Harry Potter books (love is a very powerful force, friends work well together, etc).  I personally do not believe that the Bible is the work or the word of God, I believe it was written by poeple, religious people, who wanted the world to be a better place.  I can't agree with everything they wrote, but society as a whole also doesn't agree with everything they wrote either (for example, we don't cut of the hands of theives [in most countries]).  I think the 'rules' and 'guideslines' are a little dated, but they were written for a group of poeple at a certain time.  I think some of the teachings are still valid, but it should not be taken as a rule book, and should not be taken too literally.  But that's my opinion, which I am entitled to have.  And you are entited to have yours.


So again, I ask, what are the good and the bad of religion.  Would society be better or worse off if we didn't have religion?

[edit]
I missed this point...
Quote
God has every persons life planned out and that each life has a purpose, as long as its not death as a sin,

I find it difficult to believe that God has every persons life planned.  This seems to contradict the Free Will bit that gets bandied about so much.

If we have free will, then how can we follow God plan for us?

Also, what is God's plan for a baby that is born, and then killed along with his parents in a terrible car crash on the way home from the hospital.  Does God actually plan terrible events like that, and bring people into the world specifically for that purpose?

Anyway, back to the debate - good and bad points on religion.  Sorry to get a little sidetracked here.
[end of edit]

T.
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