Tricky topic, but I'm honestly curious about what people think.

Quick background for me, I was raised by christian parents. My mother, due to doubts studied theology and become a militant athiest. Dad eventually became agnostic. Religion was never pushed on me at all, and I was allowed to make up my own mind. I have been a very militant athiest the majority of my life, although I'm more mellow now and would consider myself an agnostic athiest, purely because I cannot be intellectually honest and claim I "know" there isn't a God. I cannot. I lack a belief and have alway's been moderately to severely disgusted by religion and what it does to people and what it actually represents.

Anyway I was alway's under the impression, that by default the world would be better off without religion. I was completely sure of myself. I've recently become interested in philosophy and go to all sort of discussion forums(including religious ones).

In a nutshell, as much as I think humans don't NEED religion and are better off without it, I'm starting to think I may be wrong on this notion. I may infact, be behaving rather narcissisticly. IE, everyone is the same as me emotionally, just misguided.

The most common arguments I get from believers is

1. Why would you "care" without a belief in God?
2. Why would you behave morally if there is no objective moral code?
3. Why would you even bother if there is no point?

Now I can sit there and argue with these people all day. But once I took a step back I wondered...is it possible that people really, really cannot live without it?

Is it possible, that I'm not just a person who has been raised to think clearly, but that there is an inherant weakness among humans that is surpassed by only a number of us? Sounds arrogant doesn't it? and none of us want to be arrogant.

But what if that's true?

What if these believers, truly could not care, obey laws, or even respect themselves without faith? As much as I think faith is "taught" that is not entirely the case. People "convert", meaning..they need it.

So, I'm wondering...no matter how strong I think I am, or how weak I think they are, people do and will kill for the sake of their beliefs. If that's the case, are we better off leaving belief alone for the most part, and gently moving humanity along, while the believers play catch up?

Do they need it? Would humanity descend into chaos without it? This is not an attempt to convince people that religion is correct. It's not only a genuine question but a truly humbling one.

I wonder if I give humanity way too much credit, when I say that people can handle athiesm and would be much happier without their faith. I suspect truth, isn't so important to people because it hurts too much.

What do you think?

And before you answer with, HELL YEAH no inquisitions, no suicide bombers etc etc. I want you to REALLY THINK..what will these believers do...if they truly believe there are no rules at all?

Are we kidding ourselves in thinking humanity can deal with mortality and nihlism without a devastating effect on human life?

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In my opinion, most of them wouldn't need religion if it weren't already in the world.
Sure, it's the balm to soothe the suffering of the world for some people. When the balm is applied by the same knife that caused the wound, is it really any help at all?
It may act as a crutch for them. Without the religion in the world in the first place, would it be bad enough to require a crutch? Very unlikely.

Besides, how much of a balm can anything that tells you you're worthy of hell be? The entire foundation of religion is that people are disgusting worthless human beings. Crushing a person's self esteem to indoctrinate them is used in every last one of them. It's like smashing a guy's knee with a baseball bat and selling him a crutch for 10+% of his earnings, then claiming moral high ground for helping a cripple.

I'm less certain about how berserk they'd go if they suddenly were denied religion entirely.
I suspect most would continue on as they had up until that point with nary a cannibal or mass murderer among them.
I'm completely certain they wouldn't have gone berserk had they never had it to start with.

It's not like religion actually stops any of them from doing what they want anyway.
Just look at the stats on religion in prison, if you think religion is a deterrant.
In some ways it probably makes them worse. After all, if I murder, rape, and steal, then go to prison for life, who cares? It's only this life. This life isn't important. Heaven is. And I still go there.

I remain unhumbled. (Actually, the sunset this morning was quite beautiful and thoroughly humbling. I'm well behind on my bastard quota for the day and trying to make up for it.)
Thanks for the response.

[i]In my opinion, most of them wouldn't need religion if it weren't already in the world[/i]

There is a lot of irony in this statment.

People wouldn't need religion, unless it already existed.As an athiest, you will realize that religion is a creation of man.

Hence the creation of religion, filled a need within humanity. If it was a creation of MAN and not a god, people didn't need religion, because it already existed...people created religion, because of a human NEED.

It is this need, that I am trying to address.

So the question still remains, if we created this ridiculous hypothesis and then as a society supported despite it's obvious brutality for so long, to fill a need, and if we get rid of religion, how will this need be fullfilled?

I am much more wary now, of negating religion. Not because I agree with it. But because I've sat there, with this man made BS and thought..what on earth are we doing? WHY do we do this?

We CREATED these religions. They fullfill a need.

We are going to die. We are mortal. We also may be completely meaningless.

Can the majority of humanity deal with this?Honestly..can they?

As clever and strong-minded athiest, are we perhaps just a little arrogant, or at least naieve in believing everyone else can be the same as us?
"We CREATED these religions. They fullfill a need."

Well, for what they were created for, it'd be better to use the past tense.
They filled a hole....thousands of years ago when they were created.
When people didn't understand *anything* about the world around them, and had no method to even begin to understand it, that was religion's place.

How do you understand lightning, earthquakes, rain, wind, the sun, the stars, fire, biology, physics, mathematics, geology, and most importantly, life and death when your biggest technical accomplishment is figuring out how to brain your rivals with a rock?

Now we have real ways to look at the universe.
We can make and test data about things we can't directly observe...Then go on to use them in a practical matter that proves beyond any doubt the method works.

Religion has no practical place in the world. It exists to impede progress, as it always has.
Every major scientific discovery has been and will forever be automatically attacked by religion. When your god lives in the gaps of human understanding, your greatest enemy is the people that try to advance humanity.

Put bluntly, right now religion is, off the top of my head:
Telling people not to use condoms, which adds to overpopulation and the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS and other STDs. Causing people to kill women and children every time something goes wrong for being witches. Draining resources that could be used to feed people and give them access to fresh water. Indoctrinating people with a hatred of science and learning that demands they automatically reject anything scientists tell them, including HIV/AIDS being sexually transmitted or germs making them sick rather than demons or their own misdeeds.
That's *just* Christians and *just* in Africa and only harm the religion causes directly. If I tried to list the damage all religions cause over the entire world, I'd be here for days and probably crash my browser in the end, even if I tried to keep it brief and to the direct damage it causes.
No, suicide bombers are WAY the hell down my list. Millions of starving dysentery infected children in constant danger of being infected with HIV or stoned for being witches > a few terrorists. Especially since one can argue the terrorists are radicals. One cannot argue that for the damage it has caused in Africa. Verdicts handed down by the Poop himself are as mainstream as it gets.

So, is all that worth making a bunch of assholes feel smug they're going to get to party with Jesus while we burn? In my opinion, it certainly isn't.

Am I arrogant? I'm not sure. Do I feel superior to people that feel the need to cause untold amounts of harm to the world in the name of making themselves feel better? You bet your ass I do.
We CREATED these religions.

Not exactly. They evolved. Many religions are defensive responses to the religions of surrounding cultures- attempts at preserving and solidifying national identity in the face of a debilitating threat. In other cases, a religion is the result of an amalgamation of beliefs borrowed from conquered peoples, where superstitions once spurned become sanctified thanks to their "usefulness".
But this is the question I'm asking.

To you and I, it appears that religion does not help. It appears to us, that religion creates all sorts of problems. It seems religion is to blame. But since religion is made by man, why did we create it in the first place?Why did we create it, if it DIDN"T help us to deal?

I think it is very naieve to believe that religion causes anything. We cause everything, including religion. Why?

A philosopher once wrote "We kill, because we die".

I agree. What will all those people who think they will live forever do, when they realize they will actually die?

Faith and it's blindness has alway's greatly distrubed me. But lately. I've been more disturbed by the thought that these people, who believe in a higher power, may be only kept in line by their faith. What if they realize..that there is no higher power, no moral giver and that there is nothing to stop them.

What on earth will they all do?
Do religious leaders (IE the pope) realize this.

I wonder if the pope, is as innocent and naive as we think.

If I led a church, that so many had faith in...realizing that 1 billion people were about to lose everything they held dear if we accepted reality...would I tell the truth? Or would I encourage their naive faith for the sake of humanity.

I do wonder sometimes....
The premises here are silly, and illustrate the hollowness of atheism as an identity. You think you can isolate one factor and speculate on it as if nothing else changes. But religion grew intertwined in social institutions and man's relationship to nature. The two were inseparable until the modern period, i.e. the scientific revolution, the overthrow of feudalism, the beginnings of secularization, and the industrial revolution. You might as well ask whether people are capable of self-government. The overthrow of religion, if it is at all possible, is coincident with the overthrow of all oppressive social conditions, if that is possible. The question you pose is meaningless.
I'm not sure why you think my question is meaningless.

Religion is a part of life. I am pretty sure, it was created by man to fullfill a need. This is a premise and it may be silly, but why so?

Why was religion created? Why do people follow it despite any evidence to the contrary? I think, that this is the biggest of all questions I can ask as an honest athiest.

I'm not understanding Ralph why you are claiming my question as meanignless. Perhaps there is a better question?. I'd be very interested in understanding your point of view. Please share it :D

Cheers
Not only that, but it is an impossibility. The very thought experiment is senseless; it comes from looking at some phenomenon in isolation. And this constitutes the very backwardness of atheism as an identity. Such an illusion is only viable among the privileged and the comfortable, or a politically backward country such as the USA.
If atheism was the sum total of my intellectual life, I'd shoot myself. Aren't you a pagan-druid? How childishly idiotic is that? And why not add substantive commentary to these discussions, instead of dropping little druid-turds?
Yes, Alex is a Neo-Druid.
Jebus, agreeing with Ralph. No you don't play with trolls, you play with yourself.

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