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. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Yes...it's the Blind God. Actually Stover did a great job of fleshing it out.




    I tend to like that description of human nature. It makes sense. At least to me.
  2. Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2003
    star 6
    Mahayana Buddhism claims to be nothing more than a useful lie which will likely cease to exist once everyone has become a Bodhisattva. Hinduism essentially allows its adherents to accept or reject any piece of dogma because it views them as simply various paths (as it does its deities and all religions) to a single transcendent truth.
  3. king_alvarez Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2007
    star 3
    Yes, there are religions that do not demand that it's followers hold to certain views of god or perhaps other aspects of the universe, but there are still truths that you must accept if you are going to believe that religion. I don't think you can be a Buddhist without also accepting its ideas of enlightenment as truth or that a single transcendent truth actually exists. In any case, Buddhism is more of a philosophy than a religion precisely because it has less dogma and doctrine. It only becomes a religion when people insist on creating customs, rules, and doctrine out of it.
  4. Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2003
    star 6
    Hinduism doesn't really have truths that all believers must hold to though. There are beliefs that most hold such as reincarnation and the existence of some divine external source (be it a deity or Brahman), but the fact that Hinduism says a Christian is just as valid of a Hindu as either a Buddhist or what one would typically describe as a Hindu demonstrates that reincarnation is an unnecessary belief (given that Christians don't hold to it) and that belief in the existence of god isn't necessary (given that the Buddha didn't really care about the existence or non-existence of a god.)

    You're probably right that someone can't be a Buddhist without believing that some sort of enlightenment is possible, but the specific dogma that must be held is somewhat more arguable.

    And of course, you're right about many viewing Buddhism to be more of a philosophy than a religion, and I can see both sides of that argument.

    I'm not saying that either Hinduism or Buddhism says that they're complete fabrications, merely that strictly speaking, they could be said to self-describe as being 'half true.'
  5. king_alvarez Jedi Knight

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    May 31, 2007
    star 3
    As Valentine Michael Smith would say, 'Thou art God.'
  6. king_alvarez Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2007
    star 3
    Master_Starwalker, I really don't have much to say except that I agree with pretty much everything you said, and that Buddhism's lack of strict doctrine and dogma in favor of focusing instead on spirituality is what I find appealing and refreshing about it. But that is specifically what, at least in my opinion, makes it a philosophy instead of a religion, and when it is turned into a religion, then it loses some of its value.
  7. Master_Starwalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2003
    star 6
    It's what I find appealing about it as well. I don't know that I would self-identify as a Buddhist, but definitely find it to have some very sensible aspects.
  8. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Let's not talk about stupid, because you'll feel different when you've read my reply.

    Pages ago, I was claiming that religion is neither inherently harmful nor beneficial. Guess you've missed that. No problem, I don't expect you to read every single post. But let it be said that my position is square in the middle. This topic, however, annoys me, because it just produces endless circular discussion that's going nowhere. So I thought, let's try to deepen the topic by talking about 'beneficial' and 'harmful'. Hasn't really been picked up, because nancyallen always steals the limelight in here, and I think that's a shame. Actually, you're the only one to pick it up Espy. So thanks!

    I basically agree with you. I didn't really care about what examples I took, because they were just to create a frame of reference. Egyptians didn't have slaves? Fine. I really can't pretend to know much about the ancient Eqyptian religion. All I wanted to do was open up discussion about the value of the terms 'beneficial' and 'harmful'. You may want to tackle me on the examples taken, but then they were just bad examples. Hope I got the general point across, though: how do you apply value. Because note that I haven't even said that slavery or sacrificial killing is harmful to society...

    I'd be the last one to claim every single bad thing that ever happened, happened because of religion. Again, I'm exactly in the middle. Just because we don't agree on Palestine or gay marriage doesn't mean we have to be at odds here.
  9. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Here's one example of howe religion can be harmful to children and therefore society:

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/10yearolds-given-permission-to-marry/2009/01/15/1231608829171.html

    Honour killings are another, together with rape victims either being lashed or stoned to death.
  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    But if you can also stone to death the people who speak up about religion being harmful to society, the problem is effectively solved.
  11. nancyallen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 4
    Wait, evidence of atheist harm doesn't seem to count because it's not American government policy. How is this any different?
  12. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    Nancy, there is no "evidence of atheist harm", so no, it doesn't count. Atheists doing harm does not equate to "evidence that atheism is harmful to society", whereas Christians doing harm could be used as "evidence that Christianity is harmful to society", because in most cases that are cited, it is in fact Christianity that is causing those Christians to do what they are doing, whereas in the first example it is not atheism causing its "followers" to do something, because that would be impossible for something like atheism to do. Atheism is not a particular belief system, whereas Christianity is.

    That said, I would make the argument that things like honor killings and such would certainly exist in a society without religion. There simply wouldn't be religious justification for them. The subjugation of women is one example of something that religion can be used to justify, but something that does not explicitly come as a result from religion.
  13. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    Ah what the hell, I can do this one more time:

    Let's separate the elements here:

    CASE A:
    Perpetrator: Atheist
    Act: Something Bad (I'm not sure what you're referring to so I'll just assume it's bad)
    Is Act Inherently Atheistic?: No, because atheism has no dogma.

    Case B:
    Perpetrator: Muslim
    Act: Marrying 10 year old girls
    Is Act Inherently Religious?: Well, it's a religious leader ruling on how/when to conduct a religious ritual in accordance with his religion, so......yeah.


    Now, I'm not saying all of Islam is accountable for this one sect's craziness, but this particular sect IS responsible for itself.
  14. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I don't know about that. I feel that religion allows human beings to objectify one another as being the product of a maker. Some products are 'good' and some products are 'bad' according to the instruction manual which the maker handed out with his/her/its creation(the bible, the torah, the koran). The more the 'good' products objectify 'bad' products, for example by labelling them as "sinners", "evil", "non-believers", "abominations" etc, the less empathy the good products have with the bad products making it that much easier to obliterate the bad products in good conscience. If we took out the creator/instruction manual model of life and we just treated one another as human beings and not as objects of creation by a supreme being then I believe our natural human propensity for empathy would be released, making it that much more difficult to creat suffering and death.
  15. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    LostOnHoth, I think you can certainly make that case, but on the flip side of it, I'd wonder how many instances there are of elements of religion causing people to reject tribalism and view people as all creations of god. That's not to say that religion hasn't made an excellent tool, at times, to divide people, but I think that at the same time, religion can be used by others to argue against tribalism, and not even neccessarily limited to those of the same faith, although I think it probably is often with that limitation.
  16. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Yes, most definitely as was the case with Islam. Islam very much brought people together under the premise of everyone being God's creations, rather than the tribal adherence to totems and other objects. It's really an example of why you can always argue that religion has been both good and bad for human society, as it unites the 'good' creations together in a manner unprecedented prior to advent of relious thought, but at the same time divides the "good" and the "bad" products according to an old instruction manual thus creating division and a lack of empathy for the "bad" products (to continue the analogy).
  17. nancyallen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 4
    On that note wouldn't identifying yourself as atheist and opposing religion add to trubalism and the us vs them mentality?
  18. Quixotic-Sith Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2001
    star 6
    It may or may not. I'd suggest not trying to paint with a broad brush or assuming doctrinal uniformity like you see with individuals who choose to identify with a given belief set.
  19. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    The "and opposing religion" part of your post is a pretty important qualification. If you oppose anything you can argue there is necessarily an 'us' versus 'them' mentality. However, as atheism does not necessarily involve opposing religion your comment is neither here or there.
  20. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Please allow me to quote a couple of passages from my own Faith that I feel expressly forbid that particular line of thought:
    As I interpret it, this particular bit of Scripture clarifies that there is no so-called moral justification for what would otherwise be considered sinful behavior because the person or group acted upon is not worthy of due consideration. Put another way, there is no "But They're Naughty" clause.
    Also...
    I interpet this to mean that it's is not our place as mere mortals to judge who is "worthy" or "unworthy," "good" or "bad" product, to draw upon your analogy. None but God knows the souls of men. Therefore I concur with Lowbacca_1977 that religion can (and should) be used to reject tribalism of all sorts and instill empathy for others.
  21. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    So your scripture does not contain any concept of 'sin' or 'abomination' or any 'thou shalt nots'?
  22. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    LostonHoth, absolutely. But like Lowie says, I think it creates the opposite effect as well.

    For example, because of my belief that all humans were created by God and are loved by God, I'm far more inclined to reject things like patriotism that. I view all people as my brothers and sisters, and I am called (by God) to love them all. Regardless of skin color, nationality, religion, gender, age, or anything else. So, while your post brought up a point I hadn't though of, and is a good point at that, I think that we need to acknowledge that the opposite is true, as well.
  23. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Agreed. I did acknowledge the point with my example of Islam, but the same is true for any of the Abrahamic religions.
  24. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

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    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Caveat: I'm still relatively new to the Faith (less than 3 years now), so I've not read every bit of Baha'i Scripture published, but I did a lot of investigating prior to ocnverting. From what I've read, Baha'i Scripture is very heavy on the "thou shalts" relative to the "thou shalt nots." To a Baha'i, not sinning is not enough; you have to actively do good.

    Even the "thou shalt nots" are geared towards interactions with our fellow mortals. Like the above "thou shalt not steal, even if you're dying of hunger, even if it's from the nastiest dude on Earth." Essentially, there's a lot of "thou shalt not be a jerk towards your fellow mortals."

    As far as the concept of "abomination," ehhh...not so much. The closest thing I've come across, which I've discussed at greater length in pertinent threads, is (to grossly paraphrase, since I don't have my Scripture database handy) "thou shalt not marry your father's wife," and "the idea of grown men sleeping with little boys is so gross that I'm not even gonna talk about it."

    Hope that helps [face_peace]

  25. goraq Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2008
    star 4
    Could intitutionalized authority been created and maintaned without religion?
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