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Atheists. What should be done about Religion?

  1. janesix profile image60
    janesixposted 2 years ago

    This is mostly for the atheists, but of course, anyone can give their opinion.

    You all say religion is to blame for much of the strife in the world.

    I have to agree, although I suggest it stems from things that are much deeper, such as psychological/instinctual issues (like, groups of people separating themselves and feeling other groups are different, and worse, than they are. This is also true with things like patriotism and nationalism, but I'm not going there in this discussion).

    I say religion isn't the "cause". Religious institutions are.

    They have a huge amount of influence over people. Which amounts to political influence as well. They have huge sums of money, which also equals power.

    In America at least, they have exemptions from paying taxes. They make huge amounts of money from tithing. In religions like Mormonism, you can basically pay for a seat in Heaven.

    Politician use religion to gain votes and influence voters.

    And yes, wars and fights are often caused by religions.

    There are STILL ongoing debates and legalities over whether or not creationism can be taught in schools.

    So. What do you suggest be done about religious institutions. Without violating people's rights to choose and practice their own religions?

    1. EncephaloiDead profile image60
      EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Not much can be done about religions. If people aren't going to accept reality for what it is and live their lives in fantasy and delusion, they are free to do so. They shouldn't be free to push their delusions on everyone else and deny the rights of others if they want their right to practice religion, though. But, they do, anyways.

      It takes good people to do good things and bad people to do bad things, but it takes religion to make good people do bad things.

      1. janesix profile image60
        janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Things MAY be able to be done about it though. Like taking away political power. Make it illegal to try to influence voters with religion. Make sure separation of church and state is COMPLETE.

        Take things like "In God we trust" off the dollar bill. It doesn't belong there. Government needs to be secular.

        Stop giving churches tax breaks, except for actual charity work and the minimum to run the charity work. If they want a church, let them pay for it themselves. A church itself has nothing to do with charity organizations. Let them pay their pastors themselves.

    2. Don W profile image82
      Don Wposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      I think it is the biological imperative to form social groups and compete with others for resources that is the root of most conflict. It causes us to seize upon natural differences that allow us to distinguish our group (us) from other groups (them). This behaviour is observable in other social animals too (see prides of lions, packs of wolves, troops of monkeys etc.)

      In humans this behaviour is compounded by our self-awareness. This adds a layer of socialisation that is not there with other social animals. We call it culture. So we discern cultural differences as well as natural ones. We label these differences (which are mainly conceptual) as race, religion, ideology, nationality, worldview etc.

      The result is that our behaviour becomes one step removed from its cause, so it appears to be about the cultural differences. This aligns with the emphasis on rationality over animal instinct which emerged as part of 'civilisation'. Cultural differences are a way for  human beings to rationalise killing and committing violence to other humans. The alternative (it's simply a biological imperative) is not palatable to our civilised sensibilities because it emphasis animal instinct over rationality. The outcome is that we do not kill and commit violence to other humans because of our biology, we do so in the name of  race, religion, ideology, nationality etc.   

      As a result, some people mistakenly believe that race, religion, idealism, nationalism etc. are the actual causes of conflict, when in fact they are merely indicators of an underlying cause. This leads to the erroneous belief that eliminating the concept of race, religion or ideologies etc could eliminate conflict in human society, but doing so would not accomplish that goal, in my opinion. Eliminating conflict from human society would instead require a fundamental change in human nature. By focusing on the rationalizations for conflict we are only chipping away at the tip of the iceberg. Meanwhile the bulk of the problem remains in the depths below.

      1. janesix profile image60
        janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Wow. That was a really thoughtful (and thought-provoking) response. It seems very reasonable.

        "Meanwhile the bulk of the problem remains in the depths below".

        So, are you saying the problem is a psychological one? That we are going to just behave the way we do because that's our nature? That society isn't really "changeable" in any fundamental way?

        Is there anything you think can be done about it?

        1. EncephaloiDead profile image60
          EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          But, it's not reasonable. While Don points out pack wolves and lions, animals that do indeed kill other animals, he conveniently ignores animals (mammals) that never kill or are violent or have an "us vs. them" group mentality, that possess quite docile and according natures. He seems to put humans in the light that we are just too happy to kill one another and find any reason to do so, quite contradictory to reality and how the vast majority of humans co-exist with one another.

          We can see right here on these forums, members who are taught by their religions to be bigots, to rationalize an "us vs. them" group, tribal mentality, who could actually care less about anyone but themselves and to hate anyone who doesn't share their religious beliefs.

          Does Don even mention any of this?

          1. 0
            Deepes Mindposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            He didn't directly mention it exactly the way you pointed it out. It appeared (from my perspective) that he was basically indirectly pointing out the similarities between the pack mentality of those animals with the ideology claimed by a lot of people, but not in the sense of killing others, but in basically there being  an exclusivity in a group environment that turns away those who are not part of that group.

            1. EncephaloiDead profile image60
              EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              Sure, we do that because of religions and other failed ideologies, not because it is in our nature to do so.

              1. 0
                Deepes Mindposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                I don't recall saying it was in our nature to do so. I was just pointing out the bridge in the comparisons. The reasoning behind the comparison is not totally (I did say not totally) relevant. But I certainly can agree with a majority of what is being said about the pack and the "us vs them" mentalities

        2. Don W profile image82
          Don Wposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          This is obviously all just my opinion, but objectively speaking it's not actually a problem. Lions have no problem killing lions from other prides. Nature is amoral. It's just a problem for us. There are reasons for that and understanding those reasons is useful.

          There are survival benefits to competing (selfishness) and survival benefits to aiding others (altruism). A tendency to dislike those we deem to be 'other' helps us compete. A tendency to empathize, sympathize, feel remorse helps us to form and maintain cooperative social groups.

          Focused through the lens of self-awareness, that second set of traits develop into codes of conduct which we call morality. It is the conflict between the selfish traits (competitive behaviour) and the altruistic traits (moral behaviour) that makes violently competing with others a 'problem' for us in a way that it is not a problem for any other animal.

          Given that it is a problem, what can we do to change it? First, acknowledge it. Recognize that violent competitive behaviour is a fundamental aspect of human nature just as it is with other animals. That's not to say we have to be content with that nature, but acknowledgement is often the first step towards change.

          Secondly, competitive behavior exists as a response to environmental pressures. In other words, we became competitive because our survival depended on it. If our survival did not depend on competitive behavior, it would serve no purpose. Unfortunately as resources become more scarce, such behaviour becomes more likely. The only thing that could reverse that is an abundance of resources. For that we must look to scientific discovery and the associated technological advancement.

          A clean, abundant energy source, such as nuclear fusion would be a good first step. Exploration of asteroids and other planets in the solar system as alternative sources of minerals and other resources would also contribute. Neither of these are beyond the realms of possibility. Furthering the development of additive manufacturing (3d printing) would also contribute, as it could lead to individuals having the ability to produce objects as they need them. Again, not beyond the realms of possibility.

          If these advancements became reality then abundance becomes a real possibility. As such our survival would no longer depend on competitive behavior. There would simply be no value in it. The rationalisations of such behaviour (religion, the concept of race, nationalism etc) would therefore lose their utility. They may not disappear entirely, but they would become less potent. There would simply be no need to identify people as 'other' and compete against them. There would still be interpersonal conflict, but current armed conflicts between nations would be looked upon by our future selves with the same curiosity that we would look upon the dwellings of a cavemen.

          1. EncephaloiDead profile image60
            EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            What about the vast majority of other mammals who do no such thing? You're just dishonestly cherry picking.



            And yet, the vast majority of mammals do not violently compete. Cherry picking.



            You mean a small minority of animals. Don't cherry pick.



            Nonsense, there are many religious people who are well off that behave very badly because of their religions. You're way off base, dude.

            1. Don W profile image82
              Don Wposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              In case no one has actually ever stopped to show you what constructive (or at least non argumentative) criticism looks like, here is how you could have said the same thing:

              I disagree. According to [insert reliable source here] the majority of mammals don't violently compete. Do you have any evidence to support your view?

              Unfortunately what you actually said was more like:

              You're wrong, and a liar, and I'm right, and your not.

              If you had written the first version, I'd be responding to that now by offering some (hopefully) useful references to support my view. Instead I'm explaining to you what constructive criticism looks like. I'll let you decide what you could do differently to achieve a different outcome.

              1. EncephaloiDead profile image60
                EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                lol By changing what I actually said, which was: "What about the vast majority of other mammals who do no such thing? And yet, the vast majority of mammals do not violently compete. You mean a small minority of animals", to calling you a liar is probably the most dishonest thing you've said thus far.

                Of course, you had no choice to change what I said because you know you were cherry picking, which means you had no intention of writing anything "constructive" in the first place.

                1. Don W profile image82
                  Don Wposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  Look at the approach others took to disagreeing in relation to my earlier comments. Righteous Atheist agreed to a certain extent, but disagreed with the idea that religion doesn't play a major role. This is how he did it:



                  So my view was summed up in the first sentence, an opposing view was stated, then an explanation given as to why that view is held. Simple. No accusations of dishonesty. Just an assertion of a different opinion, and the reasoning behind it. Do you see any difference between this approach and yours?

                  When Deepes Mind disagreed with you about what I had said, this is how he did it:



                  Do you see that he disagreed with you (while recognising this was from his perspective), stated what he thinks, then stated why he thinks it. No casting of aspersions on your honesty. No argumentative approach.

                  Look at other discussions on this thread like the one between janesix and Wilderness around evolution (too long to post). Do you see how they are asserting their views, questioning each other's views, giving reasons for their opinions, sharing information etc. Again can you see the difference between that approach and yours?

                  How you say something is just as important (sometimes even more important) as what you say. If you genuinely cannot see the difference between:

                  I disagree. According to [reliable source] the majority of mammals don't violently compete. Do you have any evidence to support your view?

                  and:

                  What about the vast majority of other mammals who do no such thing? You're just dishonestly cherry picking.

                  Then I don't think I can help you. But if you think a point is worth making, then it's got to be worth expressing in a way that maximises the likelihood it will be properly received. For me, your current approach only maximises the likelihood that your point will be lost in a wave of argumentative noise. That only lowers the the level of discussion to that of "you're wrong, I'm right". I'm happy for you if that's your thing, but it really doesn't interest me. I will engage with anyone who has something to say and can say it in a sensible way. At the moment you seem as though you want to engage, but are unable to do so constructively, or at least in a non negative way. I hope the examples above will help you expand on your ability to do that.

                  1. EncephaloiDead profile image60
                    EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    Your approach was to take a minority of carnivorous mammals and use that to suggest humans behave the same way, which they don't because obviously, we are not carnivorous mammals like them, nor is the vast majority of mammals.



                    You're not really helping anyone by presenting a misinformed opinion, and if not misinformed, a dishonest one.



                    I'm not saying I'm right, the facts are showing you to be wrong.



                    And, I am free to continue pointing out your misinformed/dishonest opinions. See how that works?

    3. Righteous Atheist profile image60
      Righteous Atheistposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      To a certain extent, I agree with Don -there is a deeper problem. But - and this is a big but - religion, along with Nationalism and other factors serve to continue to divide us. This is in our nature, but it is possible to reject the natural tendency to want to join a "tribe," which is propagated by both major religions.

      The Bible is basically tribal in its message. And this is all pervasive in our societies. Education and removing religion and nationalism will help but it will be a slow and painful process. We must learn to think of ourselves as humans instead of members of a tribe. This will take time.

  2. psycheskinner profile image80
    psycheskinnerposted 2 years ago

    --You all say religion is to blame for much of the strife in the world.

    No I don't.

    --I say religion isn't the "cause". Religious institutions are.

    I disagree.  Many religious institutions do great good.  And most conflicts based on religious difference are stoked by individuals or political groups with religious affiliations, not specific denominations or truly religion-focused entities led by clergy.

    --So. What do you suggest be done about religious institutions. Without violating people's rights to choose and practice their own religions?

    Nothing.  Freedom of association is a basic human right.  You can only regulate what groups do (bribery, incitement to violence), not what they are. And any regulations should apply to all social/cultural entities, religious or not.

    1. janesix profile image60
      janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Should religious institutions get tax breaks? If so, why?

      Should courts use Bibles to swear an oath of truth on? (Do they even still do that anymore, I'm not sure).

      I'm not sure that church and state are truly separated here in America, like it's supposed to be.

      I'm assuming you don't think religion is a major cause of problems in the world. What do you think is? Is it more of a "people are just selfish and greedy" type of problem? A psychological one?

  3. psycheskinner profile image80
    psycheskinnerposted 2 years ago

    --Should religious institutions get tax breaks? If so, why?

    If they qualify the same as any other group IMHO--e.g. charities, non-profits etc

    --Should courts use Bibles to swear an oath of truth on? (Do they even still do that anymore, I'm not sure).

    It's optional, which is just as it should be.

    --I'm not sure that church and state are truly separated here in America, like it's supposed to be.

    There is clearly a struggle in that area if you look at 'religious freedom' bills etc.

    --I'm assuming you don't think religion is a major cause of problems in the world. What do you think is? Is it more of a "people are just selfish and greedy" type of problem? A psychological one?

    I think religion is a cause of both good and bad things equally.  Badness comes generally from people with antisocial personality traits.  How that happens is a rather long and complicated discussion.

    1. janesix profile image60
      janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      .



      " Badness comes generally from people with antisocial personality traits.  How that happens is a rather long and complicated discussion."

      Plenty of people are "bad" without having antisocial traits. Right? I know you're the one here who understands psychological issues more than most. So can you explain it to me?

      Because everyone, pretty much, has at least some degree of badness. Selfishness, laziness, control issues, etc.

    2. wilderness profile image96
      wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Tax breaks - should religious institutions get a tax break for purely religions things - the church building, pastor's salary, etc?  Or only for those things that other non-profits have?  Maybe a tax break on that church, based on the size of the building less chapel or other religious parts?  Same for the salaries? 

      Home day care does that kind of thing - churches obviously could if they wanted to.

      1. janesix profile image60
        janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        "The Trinity Broadcasting Network has always been proud of its extravagant profits, but rarely mentions the extravagant tax breaks that fueled them. According to a recent lawsuit, the company provides mansions for executives and calls them “parsonages” to avoid property taxes, and it ordains TBN chauffeurs and sound engineers and performers at the Holy Land Experience theme park, meaning their pay is tax-free.
        Religious exemptions from taxes and regulations are often thought of as separating church and state, but are they having the opposite effect — serving as a state subsidy for religious organizations? Should religious entities be subject to taxes and rules like labor and civil rights laws?" NYTIMES

        1. wilderness profile image96
          wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          Yes, the effect of the tax breaks is a subsidy for religion, from tax breaks for the church organization itself to breaks for contributions to build a new clubhouse somewhere.  It's all a subsidy masquerading as separation.

  4. janesix profile image60
    janesixposted 2 years ago

    I haven't processed all of the information you guys have presented here (it's a ton of information to think about).

    But, what I seem to be seeing is that there is some sort of agreement that it is a psychological issue as opposed to a cultural one.

    More of an issue of balancing intelligence and our ability to overcome our natural instincts, against those instincts.

    In other words, we just need to become a more mature species. Somehow.

    1. wilderness profile image96
      wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Yes, we need to grow up.  It takes decades for a human to grow, how long will it take the species?  Another million years?

      1. janesix profile image60
        janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Evolution wise, I don't think it will take a million years. I COULD. But, the human beings are advancing rather quickly. Advances in the brain are in thousands of years. Some say we are even more advanced biologically than we were just a few thousand years ago.

        Maybe we can make it, before blowing ourselves up, or ruining the environment to the point where it is unlivable.

        1. psycheskinner profile image80
          psycheskinnerposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          And we evolve towards a state that leads to production of more offspring.  Those are not necessary traits of non-violence and enlightenment.

          1. janesix profile image60
            janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            Really? I've never heard of that. How does our evolving brain lead to more offspring?

        2. wilderness profile image96
          wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          I don't know about being more advanced.  We are different and evolution has not stopped, but more advanced?  If so, I haven't seen any sign of it.  I don't even see us as more intelligent, just more knowledgeable in some cases.

          1. janesix profile image60
            janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            I am talking advancement such as the advancement that happened around 30,000 years ago, when there was a sudden flourish in art, such as cave paintings. I think there have been other advancements of this nature after that, but nothing specific comes to mind at the moment. I could be wrong though, that advancement 30,000 years ago may be the most recent one of that nature. But I seem to remember reading about studies that are brains actually are evolving, rather rapidly.

            1. wilderness profile image96
              wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              Haven't heard that the brain is rapidly evolving, just other things.  It's hard to see how or why brains would continue to evolve in a world where intelligence or anything else from the brain is not useful in a reproductive sense.

              1. janesix profile image60
                janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                I'm not sure. That might be an interesting thing to do a little research on.

                How has the advancement 30,000 years ago to learn how to create art been any benefit to our reproduction or survival though? Any ideas on that?

              2. janesix profile image60
                janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                Found this on it:

                "Comprehensive scans of the human genome reveal that hundreds of our genes show evidence of changes during the past 10,000 years of human evolution.

                "We know the brain has been evolving in human populations quite recently," said paleoanthropologist John Hawks at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

                Surprisingly, based on skull measurements, the human brain appears to have been shrinking over the last 5,000 or so years.

                "When it comes to recent evolutionary changes, we currently maybe have the least specific details with regard the brain, but we do know from archaeological data that pretty much everywhere we can measure — Europe, China, South Africa, Australia — that brains have shrunk about 150 cubic centimeters, off a mean of about 1,350. That's roughly 10 percent," Hawks said. "
                http://www.livescience.com/7971-humans- … hrink.html



                "We are more different genetically from people living 5,000 years ago than they were different from Neanderthals," according to John Hawks -University of Wisconsin anthropologist. "Five thousand years is such a small sliver of time - it's 100 to 200 generations ago. That's how long it's been since some of these genes originated, and today they are in 30 or 40 percent of people because they've had such an advantage. It's like 'invasion of the body snatchers.'What's really amazing about humans," Hawks continued, "that is not true with most other species, is that for a long time we were just a little ape species in one corner of Africa, and weren't genetically sampling anything like the potential we have now."

                In a finding that countered a common theory that human evolution has slowed to a crawl or even stopped in modern humans, a study examining data from an international genomics project describes the past 40,000 years as a time of supercharged evolutionary change, driven by exponential population growth and cultural shifts. The findings may lead to a very broad rethinking of human evolution, especially in the view that modern culture has essentially relaxed the need for physical genetic changes in humans to improve survival.
                In 2007, a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropologist John Hawks estimated that positive selection just in the past 5,000 years alone -dating back to the Stone Age - has occurred at a rate roughly 100 times higher than any other period of human evolution. Hawks is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and Associate Chair of Anthropology"
                http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/20 … pular.html

                I don't know how accurate these articles are, though, I didn't do any fact checking or anything yet.
                EDIT: Looks like it's due to rapid population growth, and selection for intelligence as opposed to physical strength.

                1. wilderness profile image96
                  wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  Rapid population growth, quite possibly.  Again, though, I don't see the selection for intelligence, at least in the last couple hundred years.  Instead, I see a handful of people "dumbing down" everything in our lives, making intelligence less necessary all the time.

                  But another possible reason, going back, say, 2,000 years or so, is that the world suddenly shrunk in terms of travel.  Man has learned to travel the world and intermingle very suddenly, and that has to be a factor in evolution.  Long separated groups suddenly reproducing together should give rise to some startling changes.

                  1. janesix profile image60
                    janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    What I wonder about is the brain shrinkage. Lot's of genetic change, but a shrinkage of the brain. I wonder what that's about. Maybe we're Devolving...? Maybe we are getting dumber lol.

  5. lone77star profile image90
    lone77starposted 2 years ago

    Janesix, I'm no atheist, but I thought I'd put in my opinion based on more than half a century of observation.

    Religion is not the cause of any difficulty. Neither are religious institutions. An institution has no volition of its own. People do.

    The source of all problems (evil) in the world is ego.

    Ego pollutes religion (and its institutions), science, governments, businesses and much more.

    Ego is blindness and selfishness. Ego is separateness (me versus you; us versus them). Ego can even be suicide, where the perpetrator destroys self just to show the world who is right.

    Ego is the enemy of love. Humility is the antidote for ego.

    1. janesix profile image60
      janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      I think I agree.


      "Humility is the antidote for ego"

      How do you get some of that? People say that a lot, but it's easier said than done. Do you have any practical advice for that? That's one of my own personal biggest issues.

    2. EncephaloiDead profile image60
      EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      It's the other way round, religion pollutes science, government, businesses and much more.



      Nope, that's religion once again.

  6. oceansnsunsets profile image89
    oceansnsunsetsposted 2 years ago

    I would say we should all "live and let live."  Promoting freedom most of all.  Considering the views of many atheists and others out there, wouldn't they be first to jump on that bandwagon?

    I imagine if atheists want to be left alone, having nothing to do with religion, why should it be any other way for anyone really?  Letting people choose as they see fit for their lives, BUT while not hurting others or causing negative influence.

    All this while being fair to the facts, and practicing the golden rule always.  It just is a good way to be, I think.

    1. EncephaloiDead profile image60
      EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      We are already on the bandwagon, Christians are not because the don't follow it, they want everyone else to live as they do, or else.



      Most religions would have to cease to exist for that to happen.

    2. janesix profile image60
      janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      I think I should have said "religious institutions", not religion. (Because, I don't have a problem with that, just the abuse of power by churches of different religions)

      1. oceansnsunsets profile image89
        oceansnsunsetsposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Yeah, abuse is no good.  What is a good current example of abuse by the organizations you are speaking of?  (Not saying it doesn't happen, not at all.  Just curious about an example.)

        Edit: I often think of religious abuse by what we saw so long ago, for instance.   Things used to be pretty bad with certain religions and institutions long ago.  Now at least its not like that.

        1. janesix profile image60
          janesixposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          "The Trinity Broadcasting Network has always been proud of its extravagant profits, but rarely mentions the extravagant tax breaks that fueled them. According to a recent lawsuit, the company provides mansions for executives and calls them “parsonages” to avoid property taxes, and it ordains TBN chauffeurs and sound engineers and performers at the Holy Land Experience theme park, meaning their pay is tax-free.
          Religious exemptions from taxes and regulations are often thought of as separating church and state, but are they having the opposite effect — serving as a state subsidy for religious organizations? Should religious entities be subject to taxes and rules like labor and civil rights laws?" NYTIMES

          stuff like this

 
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