Religion - Do we need it?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Religion - Do we need it?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:44 pm

Greetings

Do we need oranized religion anymore in the 21st century? Does it do any good and actually cause harm?

Some Good points here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_religion

and good film here http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?doc ... lous&hl=en


I say humans dont need it anymore and things would be better without it, what does everyone here think?




N.B. This isnt a continuation of the other thread that closed down, im discussing religion itself and not certain ones. Im also not including Buddhadhamma in this since i take it as philosophy and not religion


Metta
Last edited by clw_uk on Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:52 pm

My opinion: Religion ROCKS.

I also see Buddhism as a religion.

My question to you, what's your intention behind asking this? :)

Peace be upon you :) :anjali:
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:56 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:My opinion: Religion ROCKS.

I also see Buddhism as a religion.

My question to you, what's your intention behind asking this? :)

Peace be upon you :) :anjali:


Its an interesting opinion that has come up lately via authours such as

Christopher Hitchens and "God is not Great, How religion poisons everything"

Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion"

and Sam harris "The end of faith" (great book btw)

I thought it would be interesting to discuss it here

In light of what you said, why is believing in something that has no evidence a good thing? (what religions teach which is why i dont include buddhism). Why is religion good when it encourages non-thinking and irrationality (through faith in extraordinary claims) instead of rationality and being able to think for oneself

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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:09 pm

As to whether Buddhism is a religion or not, you can define it however you like. When I fill in a form and it asks what religion I am, I put Buddhism.

Religion can provide practical help for people in need of hope. Christian Aid is a fine example. Religion gives people an identity and a sense of fraternity that maybe our society now lacks. These are just my opinions.

Now, if we examine societies where religion is forbidden (a past phase of soviet history comes to mind) we don't see a wonderful utopia. The reason as I see it is that human nature is filled with dissatisfaction. Life in the human realm is afflicted by dukkha, am I wrong? We are all subject to the human condition and grasping for something to blame (be it religion, politics or materialism) is not productive and I think misses the point. To end dukkha let's not turn against religion, let's do what the Buddha taught in the four noble truthes.
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:19 pm

Religion can provide practical help for people in need of hope. Christian Aid is a fine example. Religion gives people an identity and a sense of fraternity that maybe our society now lacks. These are just my opinions.


So do other charities that are non-religious. There are many atheist and secularist people who work hard for charity, once again comes back to the question "are they only doing it because of the religion?" if so then they arent that moral, if they woud do it regardless then the religion is just an unnecessary extra. Your last point i agree with though it does give a communal aspect in life

Now, if we examine societies where religion is forbidden (a past phase of soviet history comes to mind) we don't see a wonderful utopia.


Because the soviet union was based upon suppression not freedom. The murder was done in the name of communism which resembles religion slightly (even more so in stalinist terms). If you had a society based upon the thinkings of Einstein, Voltaire, Betrand Russel i think the story would be different

The reason as I see it is that human nature is filled with dissatisfaction. Life in the human realm is afflicted by dukkha, am I wrong? We are all subject to the human condition and grasping for something to blame (be it religion, politics or materialism) is not productive and I think misses the point. To end dukkha let's not turn against religion, let's do what the Buddha taught in the four noble truthes.


Yes but doesnt mean we shouldnt try to make life more comfortable by removing sources of suffering, otherwise why bother with medical science?

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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:28 pm

clw_uk wrote:comes back to the question "are they only doing it because of the religion?"

So? I doubt the people who are helped care. Also, think about how much comfort the belief in an afterlife can provide to someone who is terminally ill. I believe studies have shown than being calm can help your body physically heal.
clw_uk wrote:the soviet union was based upon suppression not freedom.

A good reason why religion should not be suppressed and people should be free to follow whatever religion they choose, like they can on the majority of countries around the world.
clw_uk wrote:Yes but doesnt mean we shouldnt try to make life more comfortable by removing sources of suffering

I agree. I don't believe religion is a source of suffering.

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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:30 pm

My main point against religion is that it doesnt really explain anything, the "truths" it proclaims have either now been shown to be false through science or are unprovable in the first place. It offers no evidence and just requires that you believe, the moral acts it proclaims can be done just as well by the non-religious and in fact are and it causes wars, sectarianism, persecution, suppression, superstition and irrational set backs of human advancement


I think that if religion went tomorow the world, although not being perfect, would get a whole let better and with nothing to lose. Not denying there should be a spiritual side through meditiation, boundless love and compassion and ethical conduct but all that can be done witout invoking the supernatural and going back to irrational beliefs IMO


Not wanting to offend, just my view :smile:
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:41 pm

So? I doubt the people who are helped care. Also, think about how much comfort the belief in an afterlife can provide to someone who is terminally ill. I believe studies have shown than being calm can help your body physically heal.


There was a study that showed that the religious were more scared during death than the atheist non-religous person. Ajhan Brahm does discuss it in a lecture, he puts it down to them being affraid of going to hell fire


Craig wrote - the soviet union was based upon suppression not freedom

Mawkish wrote - A good reason why religion should not be suppressed and people should be free to follow whatever religion they choose, like they can on the majority of countries around the world.


Im not saying it should be suppressed. I dont want to burn churches down and tell people what to do lol :shock: . Id like people to think rationaly though to see the massive drawbacks of religion, that way it can fade away naturaly and the religions we have today can join the dead ones such as the ancient greek religion and eqyptian religions as just history and myth

I agree. I don't believe religion is a source of suffering.


Its a massive source of it, the crusades, inquisition, suicide bombers, hating gays and in some cases putting down women. There are many more examples



Metta
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 4:54 pm

clw_uk wrote:the "truths" it proclaims have either now been shown to be false through science or are unprovable in the first place

Like what? God? Heaven? Valhalla? Reincarnation? Miracles? Rebirth? Karma? Levitation? Astral projection? Quantum entanglement? Quantum Tunneling? The Higg's Boson? Special Relativity? Here's a tidbit for you: there is absolutely no reason to assume inertial mass and gravitation mass are the same thing according to the standard model, but it's a commonly held belief. I have a master's degree in Physics and I can tell you there's a fine line between science and philosophy. What is 'true'? I don't know. I know electrons aren't hard sphere's that orbit neuclei but it's a handy model to help us understand. I know the conservation of Energy law isn't correct when we look at quantum field theory but it's a handy model to help us understand. I don't believe the Bible was inspired by any god but some people do, and it IS a handy model to help us understand. Truth? Who is to say Solipsism isn't truth... so why should I even be having this discussion? Well, because I believe solipsism is not true despite the complete lack of evidence against it. Why? I don't know, it's just what I believe. Just remember, nothing can ever be 'proven' and even in the canki sutta the Buddha taught that EVERYTHING begins with faith.
clw_uk wrote:the moral acts it proclaims can be done just as well by the non-religious

Sure :) and they are.
clw_uk wrote:it causes wars, sectarianism, persecution, suppression, superstition and irrational set backs of human advancement

I completely disagree, as I already said :) I believe the cause of these things is human nature.
clw_uk wrote:I think that if religion went tomorow the world...

Moot, you and I both know this won't happen :) craving for a world free from religion will only cause yourself to suffer.
clw_uk wrote:there should be a spiritual side through meditiation, boundless love and compassion and ethical conduct

Agreed.
clw_uk wrote:Not wanting to offend, just my view :smile:

Of course :) sharing views is fun :)
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:14 pm

Like what? God? Heaven? Valhalla? Reincarnation? Miracles? Rebirth? Karma? Levitation? Astral projection? Quantum entanglement? Quantum Tunneling? The Higg's Boson? Special Relativity? Here's a tidbit for you: there is absolutely no reason to assume inertial mass and gravitation mass are the same thing according to the standard model, but it's a commonly held belief. I have a master's degree in Physics and I can tell you there's a fine line between science and philosophy. What is 'true'? I don't know. I know electrons aren't hard sphere's that orbit neuclei but it's a handy model to help us understand. I know the conservation of Energy law isn't correct when we look at quantum field theory but it's a handy model to help us understand. I don't believe the Bible was inspired by any god but some people do, and it IS a handy model to help us understand. Truth? Who is to say Solipsism isn't truth... so why should I even be having this discussion? Well, because I believe solipsism is not true despite the complete lack of evidence against it. Why? I don't know, it's just what I believe. Just remember, nothing can ever be 'proven' and even in the canki sutta the Buddha taught that EVERYTHING begins with faith.


A lot to cover here lol

Theistic God has been pracitcaly disproved

Deistic God hasnt and never can be, although good arguments against

Reincarnation and Rebirth cant be disproved and i would say cant be proved either

Kamma, do you mean buddhist or hindu or jainism?

Levitation you cant prove or disprove but can only go by rationality and logical thinking and so i would say the probability is low

Quantum entanglement? Quantum Tunneling? The Higg's Boson? Special Relativity?


this is science but im aware of the point your trying to make. While im not a scientist and only have laymans understanding isnt there a difference since these things the result of educated guess based on scientific evidence?

I know electrons aren't hard sphere's that orbit neuclei but it's a handy model to help us understand. I know the conservation of Energy law isn't correct when we look at quantum field theory but it's a handy model to help us understand


But you dont live your life by it, you dont take it as divine word and define what is moral or amoral in terms of it

I don't believe the Bible was inspired by any god but some people do, and it IS a handy model to help us understand


understand what, when it comes to explaining things the bible is usualy wrong (evolution, age of earth, adam and eve and genetics etc)



I don't know, it's just what I believe. Just remember, nothing can ever be 'proven' and even in the canki sutta the Buddha taught that EVERYTHING begins with faith


There is blind faith and rational faith


Just remember, nothing can ever be 'proven'


I agree, we can only go on what is more logicaly probable



I completely disagree, as I already said I believe the cause of these things is human nature.


but religious belief adds more danger because its irrational. For example those people who flew the planes into the twin towers did so because the had faith in allah, same for suicide bombers for the most part. The community that helps spread aids is completely from faith, sunni killing shia, catholic killing protestant and so on. The most dangerous of all, the belief in the end of days. the faith that the end of the world brings a better paradise and that it should be ushered in as soon as possible

Science has had to fight religion for most of history inorder to impove things for manking, if religon had its way we would all still be sat in the bronze age

Metta
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:17 pm

Wow Makwish, great posts :anjali:
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:21 pm

Like what? God? Heaven? Valhalla? Reincarnation? Miracles? Rebirth? Karma? Levitation? Astral projection? Quantum entanglement? Quantum Tunneling? The Higg's Boson? Special Relativity? Here's a tidbit for you: there is absolutely no reason to assume inertial mass and gravitation mass are the same thing according to the standard model, but it's a commonly held belief. I have a master's degree in Physics and I can tell you there's a fine line between science and philosophy. What is 'true'? I don't know. I know electrons aren't hard sphere's that orbit neuclei but it's a handy model to help us understand. I know the conservation of Energy law isn't correct when we look at quantum field theory but it's a handy model to help us understand. I don't believe the Bible was inspired by any god but some people do, and it IS a handy model to help us understand. Truth? Who is to say Solipsism isn't truth... so why should I even be having this discussion? Well, because I believe solipsism is not true despite the complete lack of evidence against it. Why? I don't know, it's just what I believe. Just remember, nothing can ever be 'proven' and even in the canki sutta the Buddha taught that EVERYTHING begins with faith.



you raise a point here, we dont know so why should we take up a belief system that has no evidence for it? If we dont know we can only go on empirical evidence and rational thinking
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:48 pm

clw_uk wrote:... has been pracitcaly disproved ... cant be disproved ... can't be proved ... cant prove or disprove
Mawkish1983 wrote:nothing can ever be 'proven'

I agree

Just thought I'd summarise the above for clarity. I may be wrong here, but it seems you believe religion should be abolished because it's based on things that are beyond proof, then you conceed that proof itself is impossible. I think we both agree that the most logical explanation for things is the 'best'. The benchmark forever moves, so I think being flexible is adventageous. I can only assume people who adhere to a religion have experienced things in their lives to make those teaching seem more rational <shrugs>
clw_uk wrote:only go by rationality and logical thinking

And love? Loving-kindness? Compassion?
clw_uk wrote:these things the result of educated guess based on scientific evidence?

Ah, evidence! Christians believe to have experienced the holy spirit themselves, their personal experience is their evidence.
clw_uk wrote:
Mawkish1983 wrote:I know electrons...I know the conservation of Energy law...

But you dont ... define what is moral or amoral in terms of it

Christians base their morals on a personal relationship with Jesus. They believe Jesus changes them when they became saved and born again. I tried to make this point in another thread before it got closed but I think I did a poor job.
clw_uk wrote:
Mawkish1983 wrote:the Bible ... is a handy model to help us understand

understand what

I think you'd have to ask some Christians that.
clw_uk wrote:There is blind faith and rational faith

Rationale is subjective. Christians, for example, may call you blind because you've not experienced Jesus.
clw_uk wrote:but religious belief ... is irrational

See above
clw_uk wrote:those people who flew the planes into the twin towers ... suicide bombers ... community that helps spread aids ... sunni killing shia, catholic killing protestant

These are minorities and I am sure you know of examples of Buddhists commiting very un-buddhist crimes. I don't really want to go into specific religion-bashing, but the fact it is pandemic across all religions suggests religion isn't the cause. As I said before, dukkha is a dhamma seal.
clw_uk wrote:Science has had to fight religion for most of history

Scientists tried to present ideas that undermined the ruling authority. Religion wasn't the problem, it was love of power.

I don't think you or I will agree with each other about this :)
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:56 pm

This has raised an interesting point in my mind.

As Mawkish has pointed out, it's been human nature that is responsible for the horrors mentioned, more than the religions or philosophies themselves.
So if we didn't permit religion of any sort, or just made it somehow evaporate from everyone's consciousness, what would be left? How would people behave? I think the dharma seals would still hold true, even without buddhism as we know it today. They're stainless.

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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:10 pm

Just thought I'd summarise the above for clarity. I may be wrong here, but it seems you believe religion should be abolished because it's based on things that are beyond proof, then you conceed that proof itself is impossible. I think we both agree that the most logical explanation for things is the 'best'. The benchmark forever moves, so I think being flexible is adventageous. I can only assume people who adhere to a religion have experienced things in their lives to make those teaching seem more rational <shrugs>



I believe it needs to go because it has no evidence for it, there is no reason to believeor adhere to it. If religion was good then i would say it doesnt matter but it isnt, it has nasty elements that come through and spread not only thought the minds of the believers but into politics where its forced on others. As for proof, there is no wasy to say something is 100% ture in my understanding of things we can only go on what is logically true. The religions we have dont stand up in face of evidence, logic and reason

I can only assume people who adhere to a religion have experienced things in their lives to make those teaching seem more rational <shrugs>


Im my exp. it always comes down to an answer of "its a faith thing" so they concede that its just belief for belief sake

And love? Loving-kindness? Compassion?


of course this as well, when i said "only logcal thinking" i meant in deciding what is true and not

Ah, evidence! Christians believe to have experienced the holy spirit themselves, their personal experience is their evidence.


but this doesnt stand up to rationality, e.g. "why would an all powerfull god only appear to you and not to everyone"

Christians base their morals on a personal relationship with Jesus. They believe Jesus changes them when they became saved and born again. I tried to make this point in another thread before it got closed but I think I did a poor job.


Im going to leave this one, i dont want to go into xtian specific arguments


Rationale is subjective. Christians, for example, may call you blind because you've not experienced Jesus.


Doesnt stand up to rationality

These are minorities and I am sure you know of examples of Buddhists commiting very un-buddhist crimes. I don't really want to go into specific religion-bashing, but the fact it is pandemic across all religions suggests religion isn't the cause. As I said before, dukkha is a dhamma seal.


a growing minority. however the fact these religions and there books exsist and are followed only allows for more of the same down the future, since they are justified in the texts/religious thought


Scientists tried to present ideas that undermined the ruling authority. Religion wasn't the problem, it was love of power.


Id say that played a part but supersititon was there as well, look at whats happening today with the ridiculous creationism v evolution argument


It wouldnt be bad if the religions were nice, then i would say it doesnt matter that much. The problem is though that they arent for the most part, the "holy" books that people so believe in are full of horrible acts and "moralities" that are allowed by God and any true believer can engage in them if they abandon modern rationality and ethics to much (which many sadly do)

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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:32 pm

Well, I think I've said all I can without repeating myself again, and I don't think it's benefit any of us if I did repeat myself, so I'm done [for now :D] :)

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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:52 pm

:shrug: i guess the real question is does the bad outweight the good...

people wont stop doing good things just because any of the religions we have today are gone, people were pretty much the same before they were around.
they are handy for getting large masses to get behind and approve of horrible things though they dont seem to have the reverse effect.
theyre good for getting people to believe that nothing will change or that things are out of their hands which i find very disturbing.
they seem to inspire in a few people a reason to overcome a situation though and do great things and this in turn inspires others, though sadly most wait on other great people to come along and not to rise up themselves...

i also include buddhism here, the dhamma may or may not be a religion, but take one look at buddhism in asia now or what we know of it going back a couple thousand years and it's a religion just like anyother and has been used to control societies, get approval for war , etc.
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:56 pm

Greetings,

I see we're talking about other religions again. :tongue:

To help ensure that this topic does not go the way of the "Overlap between Theravada sila and Biblical commandments" topic, please remember that...

Members are expected to self-moderate, being mindful of the adage that 'behaviour breeds behaviour'. Mutual respect and friendliness should be the basis of all interactions.

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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby Jechbi » Sun Jun 07, 2009 12:07 am

Howdy clw,
clw_uk wrote:I believe it [religion] needs to go because it has no evidence for it, there is no reason to believe or adhere to it. If religion was good then i would say it doesnt matter but it isnt, it has nasty elements that come through and spread not only thought the minds of the believers but into politics where its forced on others.

As a practical matter, how do you propose to bring about the abolition of religion? By imposing non-religion as a matter of law? Or by aggressive proselytizing?

And if you and other like-minded people somehow succeed in abolishing religion through one of these means, what will you do when the powers that be come after the beliefs that you hold dear?

I prefer individual choice in matters such as this, along with the recognition that in a civil society, we need to have respect for opposing views.
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Re: Religion - Do we need it?

Postby pink_trike » Sun Jun 07, 2009 12:12 am

I find religion, both the institutional aspects and the "religious" mind state, to be unnecessary layers of obscuration, distraction, "defilement", and conceptual confusion that has grown (and been cultivated) like mold on top of actual truth (The Law, The Dharma, The Way, Just What Is, etc...). Religion has no beneficial purpose in our modern culture - and in fact has become a source of much suffering, and the mind-state of religiosity is just fantasy that fuels intellectual/emotional masturbation.

We have a hard time seeing religion clearly in our modern culture for what it is...a hallucinatory fungus that has grown on top of original wisdom that nearly completely hides the stainless truth buried under it. Original wisdom wasn't "religion", "religious", or "spiritual"...it was just a clear understanding of how things work in the phenomenal world and how we can best live in balance with the patterns of time/space and the natural world. Original wisdom was a combination of science (knowledge) and practicality (knowledge put into practice).

Original wisdom is nearly forgotten and lost - there are small distorted bits and pieces of it preserved, obscured, and ignored under layers of lovely, florid religious rantings and ruminations, the weight of heavy powerful institutions, and seductive simulacra that stirs emotional attachment. We're all amnesiacs - a clear memory of original wisdom gradually became lost to us after the global geological/atmospheric events that took place around 10,000 to 12,000 BC destroying a highly advanced global civilization (did you just roll your eyes reactively there?) and humankind has been in a state of post-traumatic stress, denial, and ignorance since then, clinging to false memories and increasingly irrational but comforting stories. Fortunately, rationality, mathematics, and science emerged again and is steadily uncovering the factual basis of original wisdom (and also the cause of our amnesia) which inspires fear, denial, and irritation in religious people who use religion to build a false identity and baseless sense of certainty and who indulge in the mind-state of religiosity in the same way that a drug addict indulges in drug use. And religious institutions have a lot of power, authority, and money to lose if everyone begins to wake up to original wisdom.

Visualize a post-religious era.
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