The merits of religion

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by ophelia, Oct 20, 2002.

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  1. Master-Jedi-Smith Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2002
    star 4
    Smith:

    One's assertion that God is a "fictional character" is, to put it mildly, a bit presumptuous.

    At any rate, your list can be subdivided into two camps, one that says to avoid doing harm and the other that says to actively do good.

    "Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others," is a bit different from actively treating others the way you'd like to be treated.




    Bubba,

    I never specifically identified a particular god or supernatual being, but here I will. :D

    Indeed, I would group the judeo-christian god into my list of "fictional characters", just as I would the Greek and Egyptian pantheons.

    All supernatual beings make for good story telling, and for scaring little children into doing what they are told, unless they want to go to their particular faith's hell.


    Despite our differences, the two camps you pointed out is a very good observation. :D

    What one should one follow? Don't harm others as you would not like to be harmed, or do onto others as you would have done to you?

    Myself, I would probably go with the don't harm others, for the simple fact that perhaps others would not like me to do onto them some of the things that I would like done onto me.

    That being said, I won't avoid helping someone out in a time of need. (Giving money to bums begging on the streets excluded. I do have my limits. :p )

    But again, my point in the first post was while I do believe that religion promotes good values, those same values could be promoted all the same without the need of supreme beings making all the calls.


    My God!
    Smith will suffice.
    :D

  2. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    Indeed, I would group the judeo-christian god into my list of "fictional characters", just as I would the Greek and Egyptian pantheons.

    Good for you, but your decision to believe that God is fictional is not accompanied by a reason to make that decision (much less a pursuasive reason).

    (And may I ask if there was intent behind typing "Judeo-Christian" sans capitalization, when you have no problem capitalizing "Greek" and "Egyptian"?)


    What one should one follow? Don't harm others as you would not like to be harmed, or do onto others as you would have done to you?

    Myself, I would probably go with the don't harm others, for the simple fact that perhaps others would not like me to do onto them some of the things that I would like done onto me.


    Certainly, one has to be intelligent about the Golden Rule.

    Let's say that your name is Robert and your friend's name is Thomas. You like being called by your full, formal name, and he prefers to be called by the shortened "Tom."

    The Golden Rule misapplied would result in this: "I like being called by my full, formal name, so I'll call Thomas by his full, formal name."

    But the better application is this: "I like people respecting my wishes when it comes to my name, so I will respect my friend's wishes and call him 'Tom.'"

    It's still "do unto others," but it's applied more sensibly, to the point that your concern diminishes or perhaps disappears entirely.

    There's another reason to follow "do no harm" instead: it's simply easier. The merely negative Golden Rule (negative in that in tells you what not to do) says that once a person has made an effort to avoid harm, he can do what he wants. The positive Golden Rule implies a greater vigilance in treating people as they want to be treated.

    But I think the more stringent rule is more moral, at least in this case. We're not here just to stay out of each other's way.


    But again, my point in the first post was while I do believe that religion promotes good values, those same values could be promoted all the same without the need of supreme beings making all the calls.

    Thing is, when religion's primary purpose is twisted away from God -- either worship of, obedience to, or (in the case of Christianity) a personal relationship with the Almighty -- it loses its potency to "promote good values."

    The church should preach salvation, and social reform follows. When it focuses on social reform as primary, the church becomes impotent and irrelevant. (See also: Europe.)
  3. Master-Jedi-Smith Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2002
    star 4
    Excellent post Bubba. Well said! :D

    It's still "do unto others," but it's applied more sensibly, to the point that your concern diminishes or perhaps disappears entirely.

    As I will agree with you on that point, the flaw here though is that humans are not always sensible, and in that case, the rule is misapplied quite often.


    We're not here just to stay out of each other's way.

    And who determines that? For the most part, I would rather not be bothered by others. And, I do my best not to bother them.

    Sometimes "staying out of each other's way" is a better solution to a problem. Now, if one is confronted by another, I am not against them doing what is necessary to solve the issue, either by working together or through conflict.

    I guess I was raised not to "bug" others for help unless it was absolutely necessary. But as I have said before, I will help others out if needed, even at my own expense.

    Is that a bad way to live? Do I need religion and a god in order to live my life in a generally peaceful and rewarding manner?


    (And may I ask if there was intent behind typing "Judeo-Christian" sans capitalization, when you have no problem capitalizing "Greek" and "Egyptian"?)

    [face_mischief]

    (Just for the record, I believe that if you check some of my old posts, I have never, or almost never, capitalized either.)


    My God!
    Smith will suffice.
    :D


  4. Master-Jedi-Smith Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2002
    star 4
    The positive Golden Rule implies a greater vigilance in treating people as they want to be treated.

    I was just rereading your post, and thought to comment on this.

    This would only work in a perfect world, as well as a world where everyone could read each others' minds.

    Here you run into the rule being misapplied again. One could think they know how others want to be treated, but unless told so, they do not and more than likely they will misapply the rule.

    In conclusion, let me state that I don't think it is a bad rule to live by, but when misapplied, as you have pointed out, it may do more harm than good.

    My God!
    Smith will suffice.
    :D

  5. Master-Jedi-Smith Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2002
    star 4
    Thing is, when religion's primary purpose is twisted away from God -- either worship of, obedience to, or (in the case of Christianity) a personal relationship with the Almighty -- it loses its potency to "promote good values."

    And is that because there would be no Being to enforce these values?

    I would like to ask this:

    If God's rule was law, and everyone is ultimately answerable to him, then why do we need "man made" laws?

    Why not just leave it up to the almighty as to what will happen to individuals who break his laws here on Earth, and leave it at that?

    If everything is based upon religion, than one would have to believe that is all you need to live in peace and harmony.

    While religion may "promote good values", it sure doesn't enforce them, at least not any more. That is what the justice system is for. (Of course I speak of here in the U.S., as other countries may carry out their justice in a religious manner. :) )

    Just something to discuss.

    My God!
    Smith will suffice.
    :D

  6. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    A lot to reply to...


    As I will agree with you on that point, the flaw here though is that humans are not always sensible, and in that case, the rule is misapplied quite often.

    Sure, but "do no harm" isn't perfect either, considering how short-sighted people are, how we often do not see how are actions impact others' lives.

    I don't think "do unto others" requires that much more thoughtfulness than "do no harm."



    (Just for the record, I believe that if you check some of my old posts, I have never, or almost never, capitalized either.)

    I did glance at some of your older posts, but I grant that I didn't look very long.

    The fact is, I don't see any good reason to refuse to capitalize Judaism and Christianity.

    This seems to be an extension of refusing to capitalize God, so let's look at that first. The most common reason I've heard to not capitalize God is a belief that He's not real. But the same people who write "god" capitalize fictional characters' names, including Luke Skywalker. More to the point, most of them also have no problem capitalizing Zeus, Jupiter, Thor, Osiris, Brahman, or Allah.

    Continuing in that trend, some people refuse to capitalize Judaism or Christianity. Many of these same people still capitalize Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, even if they don't believe that these religions are based in truth.

    To what end is all this done?

    I can only think of one reason to have such an inconsistent rule -- a rule that picks out only one faith and demeans both that faith and its deity. That motive is anger. This behavior strikes me as a childish attempt to piss off Christians.

    Well, congratulations for a job well done, but you undermine your own credibility as a reasonable skeptic. Doing stuff like this makes you like you're bitter at Christianity rather than a pilgrim in a genuine search for the truth.


    "Thing is, when religion's primary purpose is twisted away from God -- either worship of, obedience to, or (in the case of Christianity) a personal relationship with the Almighty -- it loses its potency to 'promote good values.'"

    And is that because there would be no Being to enforce these values?


    No. I honestly believe that God blesses genuine efforts to seek Him, but that He does not bless efforts to use His name to push some political or social agenda.


    I would like to ask this:

    If God's rule was law, and everyone is ultimately answerable to him, then why do we need "man made" laws?

    Why not just leave it up to the almighty as to what will happen to individuals who break his laws here on Earth, and leave it at that?


    God is just, and He will establish justice, but He will do so in His own time. (Bringing His complete justice now would shatter free will and close the door on the possibility of people turning to Him of their own wills.)

    We have man-made governments to keep the peace until then. Notice this: the God of the Bible condones the government as an institution. The government, run by imperfect people, can still be corrupted, but that doesn't diminish the idea of government.


    If everything is based upon religion, than one would have to believe that is all you need to live in peace and harmony.

    While religion may "promote good values", it sure doesn't enforce them, at least not any more. That is what the justice system is for. (Of course I speak of here in the U.S., as other countries may carry out their justice in a religious manner. )

    Just something to discuss.


    I'll tell ya this: if everyone chose to follow the precepts in the Bible, police stations would be very quiet, indeed.

  7. Master-Jedi-Smith Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2002
    star 4
    I did glance at some of your older posts, but I grant that I didn't look very long.


    :D

    While that particular religious belief has indeed turned me away from religion, and perhaps has made me "bitter" towards it, I in no way feel that others who find peace and comfort in it should not partake in it.

    I had no intention of "pissing off" individuals who practice it. Instead, I would have to say it is sort of my way of "giving the finger" to the establishment itself. Again, not at anyone individual.

    If that is childish and undermines my credibility, oh well. There are few things in life that I take issue with. This just happens to be one of those few.

    On a side note, I will be in and out the house over the next day or two, so if you don't see me for awhile, don't worry, I'll be back. I would love to still continue this line of conversation with you Bubba. I would also love to here what others have to say.

    My God!
    Smith will suffice.
    :D
  8. epic Ex Mod / RSA

    Member Since:
    Jul 4, 1999
    star 7
    question: why did god create the material world for? for us to worship him and stroke his ego? for god to want mortal beings to come to love him means he has unfulfilled desires, or needs. if god is all-knowing, then he already knows our love or admiration, so what exactly is the point of the material world again?
  9. LadyElaine Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 2
    Whoo! *bouncing up and down* A religion thread I hadn't seen before! Fun, fun!

    [insert annoying theology nut here]

    Personally, I think that organized religion's problems would be solved if there were no such thing as organized religion.

    People of all stripes have religious experiences, things that transcend the everyday, things that some people may call mystical and others may call psychotic episodes. It's a human thing; these experiences exist in every culture, in every time period. For individuals, these experiences can be powerful and life-transforming.

    Organized religion takes stories of these expereriences and codifies and depersonalizes them. Then it forms societies and cultures around the stories, and proclaims (in Western religion, mostly) that those who do not follow and believe in these stories are Lost. And that's where organized religion, IMO, goes wrong. Believe what we tell you, or you will suffer eternal torment.

    For goodness sake, let people have their own, personal relationship with whatever aspect of Deity touches them!
  10. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    Actually an interesting question may be that although religion does have its merits, are the problems that go along with religion worth keeping it? The idiots who twist the words of those who preached love to spread hate, Inquisitions, Manifest Destiny, Crusades... all the bad things that have come from (at least in part) perverting religion; is religion worth having given what harm it has lead to?

    I wonder how many people in life have had horrible lives due to religion, or much more likely, the twisting of religion by those in power. And I wonder how many people have been screwed over in the afterlife because of believing in the wrong words of people? With those risks, is religion worth keeping?

    (well, with the last point I made, I guess it is better than a few make it to heaven or whatever good there is beyond than none, but still).
  11. ELoZuZ Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2003
    star 1
    Best line to answer your question SG. From the movie "Dogma" Chris Rock says mankinds biggest mistake was taking a good idea and making it into a religion. Its easier to change an idea than it is to change someone's faith.
    The problem with religion is that each one think they're right... when it is so arrogant to think that any denomination can possibly have it right seeing as how we are all mortals. And because of this we have 9/11's, the crusades, manifest destiny, etc. I believe in an idea, not religion. And my idea is always changing as i learn new things... thats what we need to do instead of crying jihad or inquasitions!!
  12. LadyElaine Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 2
    I wonder how many people in life have had horrible lives due to religion, or much more likely, the twisting of religion by those in power. And I wonder how many people have been screwed over in the afterlife because of believing in the wrong words of people? With those risks, is religion worth keeping?

    The mildest stories from the Inquisition are the stuff of nightmares. And today, how many people live in constant fear in Islamic countries? Even in China and the Soviet Union (when it still existed), the religion of State brought repression, terror, and death to millions.

    As for being screwed over in the afterlife, I think that's preposterous. A just, fair, and loving God will not damn anyone for following the Buddha, any more than He/She/It/They would damn anyone for touching their left shoulder before their right when they cross themselves.

    Salvation through faith: Many Nazis were practicing Catholics. They would kill their quota of Jews, then go to confession.

    Salvation through works: Anyone who isn't a Mother Teresa is doomed.

    Universal salvation: It doesn't matter who you are, what you believe, or what kind of life you've led. You will eventually be reunited with an all-loving God.

    Gee whiz, I wonder which of these I'll choose to believe in. I wonder which one makes God big enough for the whole world.
  13. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    EloZuZ

    I actually agree with that pretty much. However in a case like that, there is still the possibility that you could be mislead. You may ask someone for advice of a spiritual matter and me misled. But then again, that is why you think about what others say and try to make sense of it yourself.

    LadyElaine

    Actually technically, I was under the impression that communist countries preached atheism and I think that they would be appalled to have that called a religion.

    As for the other point you made, you misunderstand what I said. I mean people who are mislead by something like "Kill those people to get into heaven," and then they don't. I do not mean a situation like a honest Muslim going to hell if the Christian God is true.

    As for your salvation through faith/works, I feel you are separating the two too much. I would think that your works would show your faith. That if you honestly were sorry about something, you would not do it again. Faith or God's gift of salvation and forgiveness should not be used as a crutch, as I feel your Nazi example would be. Then again, I understand that there was not much else they could do.

    As for universal salvation: I feel that we should earn it somehow. I also wonder what would happen if a person feels that they do not deserve to be forgiven for what they have done.
  14. Qui-Rune Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
    I also wonder what would happen if a person feels that they do not deserve to be forgiven for what they have done.

    That is assuming that the "person" did something wrong, correct?
  15. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    According to some, simply not accepting salvation is a sin.
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