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 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 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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[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?]

These are the typical three loaded questions that attempt to inextricably link morality with some notion of a supernatural power. You can rephrase the questions much more usefully:
1. Why would you care?
The answer is because of the social values you grew up with, that inform you about social signfiicance and meaning, and which you continually get from your interaction with the social world. Religious ideas are just some of those inputs which you get. Take out the God part, and you are left with the same values from a secular point of view. You don't need a God to tell you what is and isn't socially acceptable. And you don't need religion to explain the social significance of those values. In fact, religion obscures the meaning and sends you off in a supernatural direction.

2. What does morality mean? And can it be objective?
Morality refers to the collective social values we try to adhere to irrespective of their sources. They are validated socially - that's the only real source of morality we can have. If someone comes along with a set of documents containing religious dogma, we FIRST compare them to our social values and if they are incompatible, we reject them. Sometimes, society is persuaded or coerced to change its values in line with dogma but in all cases, it is social practice that provided the validity of those values. Religions are very poor sources for moral values. Take for example the recent enquiry into child abuse: the catholic church went to court to prevent the names of those priests and nuns teaching in catholic schools who perpetrated the abuse from being revealed. That's an interesting moral standard... Morality is social in origin, and social in its implementation.

3. Why would you bother?
Of course, if you define there as being no point, you don't! It's been a popular religious fiction that atheists don't have any reason to be concerned about morals and ethics, other people, etc. It's shadow-boxing. Religious people see their morality as having its legitimacy in religious texts and rituals. Take those away and they themselves feel their ethics has no validity. They therefore see everyone else in the same light.

But ask them whether they would still make the same choices if God wasn't watching them? If they say no, then arguably they have no morality of their own at all, and are not exercising free will. Morality requires a conscious engagement in decision-making and a comparison of social and personal values. You bother because you are a social animal.
"I think it is very naive to believe that religion causes anything. We cause everything, including religion. Why?"

Whether man invented religion is irrelevant. If man invents a deadly virus, should we just accept the deaths from the virus, or should we try to prevent the deaths and irradicate the virus.
Actually, what they will say is that it's not Murder. When God commands people to kill, it isn't considered murder. So God is not being inconsistant, because God does not murder.

How could he? Though shall not murder is an absolute moral code, and therefore cannot be broken.

They are very good with these kinds of circular arguments and they are very good at redefining what they want to suit their purposes.

Anyway, I know I can't convince them and that wasn't really the point of my thread anyway. heh :)
I know!!! I try and explain this to them, that no matter how much they think they have an "objective" moral code, it cannot be objective because they as a human are choosing it and making a decision that it is the "correct" moral code. IE it's relative to the individual following the religion.

Obviously people can choose whatever religion they want, and you have a world of people doing and believing what they want....the very thing they are afraid athiests will do. We are all doing it!!(though athiests tend require verification we have still "chosen" this particular path too.)

No matter how many times I have that discussion, I cannot get them to see that their religion is a personal choice. Then again, I wonder how many of them actually feel as though they have made a choice in their religion? Perhaps because so many have been conditioned to accept it as a child, their views on this so-called objective morality are actually a projection of the fact that they were never allowed to choose themselves.

Not sure really, but its a difficult topic to debate with them.
Lots of faiths give children opportunities to "choose" publicly the religion they're raised in: Catechism, Baptism, altar calls, etc. So while it feels like a choice, there's actually so much social pressure behind it that it's almost impossible not to choose the only life option you've been presented with. It's not like they paint the alternative - another denomination, another religion, or atheism - in a fair light. It's "my way or the fiery way".
This unfortunately is never good enough for them.

The most common responses to your answers, would be...but WHY would you care about anyone else? Sure you love your family, but if stealing from another family would enhance your life, why wouldn't you do it if there was no moral code?

The point I'm making , is that WHEN I see people say things like this, I truly wonder if it is only religion keeping them in-line? I wonder if this view is just the fear-mongering they've been conditioned to believe(they have been told that athiets cannot be moral and will do whatever they want without a moral code) or I wonder if it's a Projection of their own personality?
Clearly to me, religion is used for one purpose only, the accumulation and maintenance of great wealth and political power. If you removed the money and the politics from any religion you would not have a religion.
1. Why would you "care" without a belief in God?

I don't think this question is properly asked. It should more be something in the lines of, "As an atheist, why would you care about the existence of god?". Well, I don't. Or do you mean why I care about those who believe in god? Those are two different things. Forgive me, English is not my native spoken language, added with some very poor phrasing I don't quite understand your question more than the one I rephrased.

I don't care about god, neither do I care about faith. I do however care about the humans who are living on this planet and the humans who will come after us. It is very likely there will at least be one person like me when I am dead and gone (and maybe there already are?), and if that person is like me, it means that person will experience things similar to the way I experience them, and I care because what I see are people forcing backwards thinking upon others, people who express such lack of respect of others you wonder if they read their own scripture, I see people who want to ban such natural things as sex. I don't care WHY they do this, I do however care that they are doing it. It just happened to be faith that motivates these people, and they clearly offend others. That is not ok to me. They could as well be animal rights activities or political extremists.

2. Why would you behave morally if there is no objective moral code?
Because I am a social animal and without a moral compass in our society it would completely crumble. People need to agree upon things to make things work. When it doesn't, internal warfare happens. Just look at women rights' or the black movements. People have literary fought for their moral worth. It is only natural, and society will adapt.

3. Why would you even bother if there is no point?
Read 1.

I wasn't asking people on this thread those questions. These are the questions that religious people ask us.

Considering the nature of these questions, is it only religion that keeps these people in line? that is the point of my thread, not the questions themselves.
I grew up being told the supernatural world was the more "real" one. It was rather upsetting to realize none of it was true. But I celebrated and rebelled in minor ways - sleeping in on Sunday, buying myself a present with "tithe" money now going into my savings, etc. and did not go on a murderous rampage. So, it's not religion that keeps them in line in terms of normal social values and ethics, but in terms of religion's crazy additional dictates, like feeling guilty for sexuality, raising kids certain ways, treating one day of the week differently, etc. Since the two very different things - social ethics, and religious mores - are presented as the same concept "Sin" and both are equally egregious, the believer can't see how you can possibly be "moral" if you're sinning all the damn time.
I agree with Joey, in that humans do not 'need' religion. Religion is ingrained from birth by parents, relatives, friends, society, etc. Without this constant support of religion from birth, there would be no seemingly inherent need for religion. People do not need religion to survive, but having religion as a constant and integral part of life from birth creates the individual's belief that religion is necessary. Take away television from most of the adult population of the United States and they won't know what to do with themselves. But take television away from a child permanently, then the absence of television will become the norm. Then the child grows into an adult who will never need television. The need for religion is not an innate human quality. What is an innate human quality is the desire to exist.

The desire to exist is an innate quality in all humans. Accompanying, necessarily, this desire to exist is the desire to have basic needs fulfilled (food, water, appropriate temperature, and interaction with other humans). These needs result in rules. In order to gain food or water in primitive human life, a human must avoid predators and must gather these necessities efficiently enough to survive. It is the fact that we are social animals (the most social primates) that results in codes of ethics/morals. We feel the need to interact with other humans (from friendship, to parenthood, to procreation), and the need to survive (be safe from predators, other humans, etc.). Morals, ethics, and laws are created in order to ensure that every person is allowed to interact with other humans in the way in which they deem fit, without being harmed by others. This is not necessarily a religious value, and it is certainly not necessary for religion to take part in these matters. Furthermore, religion can actually hinder the ability for people to interact with others without being harmed (through genocide, racism, and most of all, an absence of logic, which hinders the ability to perfect laws). Therefore, it is certainly not necessary for us to behave morally (in the great scheme of things), but our innate desire to exist and to interact with other humans results in rules that promote safe interaction.

In the most recent centuries, we have gained the ability to not only promote peaceful interaction, but to promote the benefits of interaction--like scientific advancement, or cultural acceptance, etc.. Most recently, we have begun to see the effects of ourselves on the environment. We need the environment to survive, therefore it is necessary for us to promote the health of the environment. Unfortunately, there are people that do not accept scientific proof (for things like global warming, or worldwide extinction, etc.) and would prefer to argue against changing the way in which they interact with their society (driving cars that pollute, not recycling, etc.). They do this because of their innate desires mixed with an incorrect sense of logic. This same kind of absence of logic results from a lack of good education, and the consistent promoting of illogical answers to important questions (like believing there is a God for no logical reason).

There is no point to life. We are insignificant. Even if we will someday control all aspects of physics (from below the Higg's boson to above the alternate rules of physics in other universes), there is still no point. But we are evolved animals; and evolution is the successful existence of a creature despite competition for, with, and against other organisms (inanimate or animate). The best way for the 'blind watchmaker' to have us survive is for us to want to survive, and we are genetically predisposed to desire survival--with or without religion.

1- We can survive and flourish without religion. 2- Religion results in illogical decisions and conclusions. 3- And we will 'bother' whether there is a real 'point' to life or not.


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