Is religion beneficial or harmful to society?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Obi-Wan McCartney, Dec 1, 2008.

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  1. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 26, 2001
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    What about Luke 16:19-31?

    Anyway, this is besides the point, not the least reason being that I think that even the doctrines that do have a Biblical basis are false, and also because this is off the topic. As Merkurian said, Christianity isn't the only game on the block.
  2. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Hey, we've defined what 'religion' is, we know what a society is, but what about 'beneficial' and 'harmful'? How do you apply inherent value to a society? It's a matter of taste and focus, really, isn't it...

    I could argue that the Prohibition and the Crisis were good for American society, because it created a situation in which blues and jazz could thrive and thus helped shape America's impressive cultural identity. Or, more on topic, I could say that the ancient Egyptians' religion were beneficial to society because it motivated them to build these mysterious, awesome pyramids - while, at the same time, I could say that it was bad because building those things instutionalized slavery. And since you can't weigh slavery against architecture, these labels 'beneficial' or 'harmful' need some refining.
  3. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    While the Greeks said they were built by slaves, the modern view is that the workers were salaried or worked as a form of paying taxes, rather than being slaves.
  4. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

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    Jul 31, 2002
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    drewjmore: Jesus descended into Gehenna, which is the Hebrew word for the underworld.

  5. DVCPRO-HDeditor Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 24, 2006
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    The Jerusalem Bible, in a footnote, acknowledges that this passage is a ?parable in story form without reference to any historical personage.?

    The teaching of eternal torment in Hellfire has its origins in ancient Babylonian and Assyrian beliefs. According to those religions, the nether world is pictured as a place full of horrors, and is presided over by gods and demons of great strength and fierceness. Early evidence of the fiery aspect of Christendom?s hell is found in the religion of ancient Egypt. Buddhism, which dates back to the 6th century BCE, in time came to feature both hot and cold hells. Depictions of hell portrayed in Catholic churches in Italy have been traced to Etruscan roots.

    Through Catholicism, the teaching of Hellfire spread to nearly all Protestant religions. Some, having learned of the non-Biblical origin of the teaching, have rejected the doctrine. Such is but one difference between Christianity, based on the word of God, and Christendom, based on philosophies and doctrines of man.

    I hate to burst your bubble, friend, but Gehenna got its name from a garbage dump located outside of ancient Jerusalem. Dead bodies and garbage were burned there. The dead whose bodies were thrown there were considered by the Jews to be unworthy of a burial and a resurrection. So Gehenna is more a symbol of everlasting destruction. The "underworld" was Sheol, which, in A Compendious Hebrew Lexicon, Samuel Pike stated that it is ?the common receptacle or region of the dead; so called from the insatiability of the grave, which is as it were always asking or craving more.? This would indicate that Sheol is the place (not a condition) that asks for or demands all without distinction, as it receives the dead of mankind within it.

    [face_praying]
  6. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Lowie: pft, okay.
    How do you know these things?

    Anyway, I don't think it changes what I was trying to say. Otherwise, replace 'Egyptians' and 'slaves' with 'Mayas' and 'sacrificial killing'.

    ... Unless Lowie knows something I don't.
  7. DVCPRO-HDeditor Jedi Master

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    I think it's how, in a few centuries, historians will believe that there really were WMDs in Iraq. :p
  8. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    No, but really... You can't get away with the tiniest bit of disinformation on this board as long as Lowie is a mod!
  9. LordNyax113 Jedi Knight

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    Oct 11, 2007
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    =D= Excellent post.
  10. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

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    Unless there is no God to deliver such a word, in which case the "false" doctrines are just as valid as the ones you label "true," and the verbal distinction is purely arbitrary. The only difference is that you like one set better than the others.

    As others have quipped before me, "how amazing it is to discover that the great and powerful God of the universe loves and hates all the same things that you do!"

    One could argue that if man is making God in his image, then it is the man and not the God that is the problem; but it seems to me that the unassailable nature of "it's what I believe" allows people to hold onto their prejudices without having to actually confront them, or allow them to be confronted. And they get to appeal to an authority which they have declared above question.

    Of course, this point isn't directed at any of the folks in this thread who are trying to tell me that God's not such a bad guy. As I said, I think that reflects on your character, in that it indicates what you're willing to accept as worthy qualities of a transcendent being.

    I'm talking about in the case of people who use the Bible to justify their own hatreds and prejudices -- they get away with it if they stamp it part of their "religion." The fact that there are many nice people who make it "impolite" to question religion only gives the not-nice ones a thicker wall to hide behind.
  11. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    star 5
    Christendom = Dutch for "Christianity".
  12. VadersLaMent Chosen One

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    star 9
  13. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    It seems that the author of that list is only looking at one particular brand of Christianity, and isn't open to the possibility of other forms of Christianity existing. Which is exactly my problem with the idea that all religion is harmful to society. Yes, there are forms of Christianity that fit into the box that the author of your list creates, but there are other forms that do not. Yes, there are some religions that are harmful to society, and some religious institutions that are harmful to society, but there are some that aren't.
  14. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    I find it interesting when one historical example doesn't suit you, you just move on to completely different cultures. But in no way have you proved that it was religion that caused those bad things because we don't have an ancient atheist civilization to compare it to. And seeing how the Mayans and the Egyptians were developed completely separate from each other and neither have anything but the most tenuous connection to modern religions, I don?t see how they can be used against them. If you consider religion to be the result of superstition and lack of scientific understanding, then I hardly see how you can claim that the other results of those two forces were results of another result. In other words If S and L, then R, If S and L then M; does not mean If R, then M.

    You know you don't have to blame every single bad thing that ever happened on religion to be an atheist and that doing so makes you look stupid, right?
  15. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    You can't blame every bad thing that's ever happened on religion. And by that same token you can't blame every good thing on religion, either. The truth is in the middle. While faith can be a terrible thing and cause people to do terrible things that doesn't mean that it's inherently an evil thing. Again, the converse is also true. It goes back to the point I made earlier: humans are stupid. Well, not all humans are stupid. But the general populous is stupid. They take ideas and twist them in ways that they were never meant to go and then corrupt the whole meaning. Atheism isn't immune to this either. It too can be corrupted. And treating it as if it is immune is a terrible mistake.


    Whether religion is good for society...I think it equals out in the long run. You have to take the good with the bad and accept that sometimes people treat their religion as a tool to hide behind and still others treat it as it was intended: a way for living.
  16. nancyallen Jedi Master

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    Nov 19, 2007
    star 4
  17. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
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    Oh for crying out loud. Can you give this a rest? Not everything needs to be opposite day.
  18. king_alvarez Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2007
    star 3
    Ah, it's nice to finally see the list that you've been using to create your comments. Do you just select sentences at random, or do you have a specific method for determining the content of your posts?
  19. nancyallen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 4
    Isn't this going off topic? Isn't going off topic against the rules?
  20. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I made a joke a while back about making a bingo board with nancyallen's stable of comments, so everyone could play along at home.

    I actually started making it for my own personal amusement, and discovered that her standard rotation doesn't include enough unique comments to actually fill a bingo board.

    But Saying "Stick to the topic" after pulling it off-topic was one of the squares. As was Reversing any comment about religion to be about atheism. There was also "It seems atheism is held to be above criticism", Claiming to be persecuted, Posting links without checking/understanding their content, and Accusing others of trying to outlaw religion.

    And of course, her almost inevitable follow up to this post, "Let's leave out the personal comments."
  21. DVCPRO-HDeditor Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 24, 2006
    star 4
    Back on topic!

    It's been established in this thread that organized religion has, at many points in history, been responsible for atrocities. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the World Trade Center attacks, and many others. Yet, at the same time, the first organized, codified law system was "handed down" to a Babylonian king by his gods. Also, the most brutal wars with the highest body counts - the World Wars (both I & II) had no discernible religious causes. Hence, while organized religion can be blamed for much of the evil in the world, it is by no means responsible for all of the evil in the world. If anything, religion has given us as much good as it has evil.

    Such is the dichotomy of human nature - we are each, as imperfect humans, capable of good and of evil. Thus, the evil in religion is not inherent to religion of itself, but more inherent to the nature of the practitioner. Both Islam and Christianity teach love and tolerance, and yet both are held accountable for violence and discrimination in the modern world. And while discrimination and a sense of elitism may be generated by following the true tenets of those faiths, violence and hatred are neither encouraged nor condoned by either (in most cases).

    Further, to try and blame all of society's ills on religion absolves us as individuals and as a society of any wrongdoing. We cannot allow our own behavior to be transferred to an abstract ideology. If we do not take responsibility for ourselves as people, then what sense is there in having a judicial system?
  22. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Alright, this is obviously being said with me not knowing what was edited out here, but there's no need for personal comments that go beyond statements they're currently making.
  23. king_alvarez Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2007
    star 3
    I'm pretty sure that no one here is making the claim that religion is responsible for all of the evil or all of society's ills.

    Rather, the more appropriate question is whether there is an intrinsic quality of religion that is inherently harmful and/or whether religion's cost to society is greater than the benefits that it may create.
  24. DVCPRO-HDeditor Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 24, 2006
    star 4
    Perhaps there is not an intrinsic quality of religion that is harmful - perhaps it is a quality inherent to human beings that leads us to abuse and oppress our own kind.
  25. king_alvarez Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2007
    star 3
    Although I don't see how the matter can be proven either way, obviously I disagree.

    While religion has been used to do good, can it be demonstrated that religion can provide something beneficial that cannot be provided through non-religious means? I do not think so. Thus there is no intrinsic benefit to religion.

    So what about the costs of religion? First is the notion of ultimate Truth. As soon as you adopt a particular religion, you also adopt its truths over any other competing truths. That may be fine for a philosophical viewpoint of the world and universe, but religion is specifically not mere philosophy; it's a set of instructions about how to live your life based on unquestionable and therefore irrational truths. Not only does this create problems when it comes to a society with mixed faiths, it also affects one's personal spirituality. Accepting a religion forces you to shoehorn all of your own spiritual experiences and views through someone else's worldview. I think this is inherently limiting to one's spirituality.*

    Therefore, if there are social and personal spiritual costs and no inherent beneifts, then it would seem to me that the costs do indeed outweigh the potential benefits.


    * Sure, you can pick and choose what you want to believe by accepting and rejecting tenets of different religions that you personally feel to be correct, but by doing so, you're also rejecting each particular religion by admitting that while there may be some insightful bits of wisdom in it, the religion itself is not actually true (as I can't think of any religions that claim to only be half true).
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