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Does religion do more harm than good?

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Does religion do more harm or good to society?

Religion harms society
12
18%
Religion is beneficial to society
9
14%
Depends on the particular beliefs of the religion
15
23%
Depends on how extreme a particular person may take the religion
30
45%
 
Total votes : 66


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Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:03 am
AubrielRose says...



Religion, as I'm sure most of you are aware, creates a lot of arguement and controversy between people. There are societies where rights of women are sacrificed due to religion, and one can actually be punished or even executed for denying a religion. But then there are several charity organizations founded by religious groups, and churches offer support and friendship that is beneficial to people. What do you think? Does religion corrupt society or encourage kindness?




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Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:11 am
Snoink says...



Also! There are some really interesting ideas here: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=75729
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Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:53 am
inkwell says...



Snoink wrote:Also! There are some really interesting ideas here: http://www.youngwriterssociety.com/view ... 13&t=75729


Nice reflection. You probably know this but I'd like to point out to everyone that this thread, judging by the title, is focusing on the context of society. The linked thread is more general.
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Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:17 pm
Aet Lindling says...



Religion does not necessarily corrupt society. However, every benefit it offers is easily available elsewhere through secular means. You name things such as charities founded by religious groups, and yet there are so many religious groups that have not founded charities. If all these people were not religious, I have a hunch that the people who had founded charities when religious would found them all over again anyway, simply because they are good people, not because they are religious.

Mental and moral support and guidance is, of course, easily found in other places. These are not unique to churches.

As for the detriments... Any change would have to come about through free choice, but I absolutely hold that an overwhelmingly secular world would be a better one. Here is why.

I hold nothing against the religious individual who is a good person. The problem is that when there are so many good religious people, there will undoubtedly be branch-offs of religious people who are less benevolent, who will feel vindicated because there are so many good religious people that the branch-off perceives as being similar to them. When their behavior grows hateful, I would say it is a mental abnormality. One which, regardless of whether or not God exists, would never have come about if not for all the other religious followers inadvertently making these abnormal people feel that their hateful views have acceptance and ground in reality. "I am a devout follower, and millions or billions of others are as well! Surely I am correct!"

Of course, it would be inaccurate to blame anyone for these cases, but with a lack of religious people, these cases would simply stop appearing.
12-18-12 7:43 PM
AmelieoftheValley: ...Aet and Bog sometimes sound like a comedy duo.
12-18-12 7:43 PM
AmelieoftheValley: Just pointing it out.

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Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:04 pm
Pigeon says...



Aet, the same thing happens when any principals or beliefs are taken too far, not just religious ones. If you remove religion people will find other principals to base their belief in their own superiority on.
Religion does make it easier for that kind of thing to happen, but ultimately humans are to blame, not religion, and humans will always discriminate on one basis or another. If you take away one platform, such as religion, they`ll simply make another.
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Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:57 pm
Aet Lindling says...



Yup, absolutely. I don't think the world would become perfect if there was no religion. But it would be better, I think. Even without bad people, mere religious differences can cause estrangement and pointless debates such as the Ground Zero Mosque "scandal".

An alternate choice could be a universal religion, which would solve many problems, as long as the holy texts of the religion were free of any unjust writings or prejudices that could introduce flaws, since things like that would be magnified if it was a universal religion.
12-18-12 7:43 PM
AmelieoftheValley: ...Aet and Bog sometimes sound like a comedy duo.
12-18-12 7:43 PM
AmelieoftheValley: Just pointing it out.

RIP Bog 2008-2013. If only we could comede once more...

The neap tide draws.
The Leviathan nears.
Caterjunes.




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Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:18 am
skwmusic says...



An alternate choice could be a universal religion, which would solve many problems, as long as the holy texts of the religion were free of any unjust writings or prejudices that could introduce flaws, since things like that would be magnified if it was a universal religion.


Technically in humanities there is a term called a Universal Religion. Basically it is a religion that can appeal to anyone and is out looking for followers. Examples would be Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism. And if you've been reading on the One World Religion thread, I'm sure you'll see that a single religion would pretty much have to be forced into people's minds.

As for would society do better without religion? Ultimately yes. Religion has caused many bad things to happen. Superstitious beliefs set scientific thinking back hundreds of years because it was "blasphemous" (save for the early Islamic societies). Same for women's rights, slavery, orientation tolerance, psychological disorder tolerance, physical disorder tolerance, and even simple things like being left handed.

Pigeon does make a good point in saying that people will just create another platform of superiority, but I don't think any platform could possibly be as powerful. I mean think about it, you are doing this for GOD. He sent YOU down here on the ONLY (known) PLANET WITH LIFE ON IT. And now he wants YOU to kill those people that don't agree with him. Are you going to as so heretical as to defy him? And of course this is an extreme example but you can reformat the same rhetoric with multiple political and ethical issues. I mean can you think of anything that people throw themselves, or could throw themselves upon, as strongly as religion?
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Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:47 am
Attolia says...



This'll be the longest post you've ever read, and you probably don't even want to read it. It's really not that great. Just me having to finally unload my two-cents on religion in general and on a personal level.

Spoiler! :
There's always a lot of religious debate on these threads and I never really participate because it doesn't usually interest me much. I feel like religious debates are usually monopolized by people of extreme belief at both ends, and it's just the same old arguments repeated again and again. But that this is YWS and here there's very intelligent discussion with many good points made by both sides. Anyway, I can't sleep right now and I got to thinking about religion. So here is going to be my two cents on religion just so it's out there. I'm almost absolutely sure it's going to offend both of your guys' sides, the believers and the atheists. So, at least I'll be uniting you guys in annoyance toward me?

I have to start off with my background. My mom is from a lower middle class family who was brought up believing in God, because that's their Scandinavian Lutheran culture/morality, but they never attended church. They also didn't think about or discuss religion that frequently.

My dad is from an upper middle class family of Presbyterians, of the old traditional type that believes in attending church more than they actually believe in God. Not that they didn't believe in God, persay. But, it's that old-fashion culture that you go to church every Sunday and wear nice conservative clothes, you have to go to confirmation when you're a young teen to learn the bible for yourself and all, you associate with the other church-goers, you possibly pray every night and teach your children the Lord's Prayer at a young age, but you also don't talk about religion in day to day life. You don't hold contempt for other sects/religions but mostly respect them for following a religious culture in the same way you do. Basically, religion for them is very societal and community based. It's not about evangelizing (which is generally frowned upon when done overtly/obnoxiously) and it's definitely not about preaching everyday to anyone who can hear about how wonderful Jesus is. It's a private matter that you generally don't talk about to those outside of your church. You go to church every Sunday, and in between then you live your regular life. This is my grandfather, my grandmother, and to a slight degree my own father. To this day I have no absolutely no idea how much any of them believes in God. Again, it's that practice that religion is held as a private matter - it's not something that is right to talk about; it is very personal, and you don't want to offend/influence/hurt anyone. It's what you keep to yourself. (I've asked my sister if she believes in God, but I'd never ask my parents.)

I was brought up mostly with the latter with some influences of the former. Basically, I was brought up going to a Lutheran church because my parents believed that was good for my sister and I. They believed in going to church, but we never talked about God as a family but that sometimes morals were backed by God. Sorry that I'm probably repeating myself, but again, it's that practice of the family going to church, but it's up to each family member to personally (and privately) decide what he makes of it.

So, I went to Sunday school every Sunday as a kid. I also prayed every single night from the earliest I can ever remember until maybe 9 months ago. I used to pray as a kid because I was told that's what you're supposed to do. Nobody ever told me I had to pray every night, but I got into the habit. Also, I got kinda paranoid. I would have these long-winded prayers meticulously thanking God for all my family, friends, and pets. It got to be the type of thing that one night I'd pray that God helps my cat get better from her disease. Then, I had to say the same thing about asking God to watch my cat's health every single night, or I was convinced she might die the next day. That type of thing would continue until as a 8 year old I was saying 10-minute prayers (no joke) of repeated stuff every night before I could let myself go to sleep.

Eventually, as a preteen I realized that repeating the same prayer every night didn't really show good faith. I was just being a robot and not genuinely thanking God. So then I started shifting to the complete opposite - I had to say something new and genuine every single night, to show God how truly thankful I was for my good life. But I'd include in there "and everything else I usually say in a prayer" to cover that lingering fear (metaphorically, now) of my cat dying.

In high school I started thinking more and more of the subjectivity of all religions, and how there's really no proof for any divinity. You could say that sometimes I wondered how much I really believed in God's existence, deep down. But I never really pondered it that much, as I chalked it up to this, in the spirit of my dad's family's way: it didn't matter too much. It didn't change anything. It didn't change my praying every single night - because by this time my prayers were therapeutic. As much as I sometimes disliked the routine of always having to pray before I could let myself sleep, I liked and needed the reflection time. It was when I reminded myself of my own relative insignificance and that my problems were in fact petty, no matter how much they may've hurt. It was when I thanked God for everything and remembered how much I really had to be grateful and lucky for.

Honestly, I still believe in praying. I bet I'll go back to it eventually. I only ever stopped praying because I started drinking with a lot more regularity as I entered college. At first I would usually still pray while tipsy-drunk before going to bed. But then I figured to myself it was kinda wrong to pray drunk, so I allowed myself this: if I was drunk, I wouldn't pray that night. For a while I kept to that, but eventually the routine just finally broke.

So maybe it was the stopping praying that allowed me to finally reflect more. Around a month ago I realized I considered myself sort of a closet-atheist. As in, I believed in God in a sort of cultural way, but I ultimately doubt His real existence. I suppose this would be how I believe today.

However, I must say my view of "Christianity" (those who term themselves by "Christian" more so than by their sect, generally because they don't have a sect) as a religion has been tainted. NOTE: I know many people who call themselves Christians (not Anglicans, Catholics) who are the most pious, genuinely good, respectful, caring individuals. Much better people than I could ever hope to be. However, here on out I am going to generalize because the most vocal of these "Christians" I don't usually view as what I just characterized.

One of those non-denominational mega-churches became very popular in my community throughout my youth. These churches are good for many reasons; however, I'm going to list my complaints. Church, as a preteen, is supposed to be boring; that's after Sunday School era (so no more fun), when you're forced to go to church but before you really believe for yourself. You're used to going, but it's boring, plain and simple. My friends who went to this mega-church (and frequently commented how it was superior) did not feel this way. They put on makeup and trendy skirts and tops to go to "church", they had their first spin-the-bottle games at this church, etc. Eventually I went to this church one Sunday with one of my friends. We went to this youth-group type event with a lot of lot rock and roll Christian music and dancing, broke into small groups to talk a bit, and then the youth group leader said a prayer. So, I was like, "cool, that was fun! Do we go to the sermon now?" And my friend laughed at me told me that was the sermon - that was the whole "service." You don't sit in pews, no Eucharist, no sermon, no greeting time where you shake hands with the old ladies - in fact, you didn't see people of different age brackets at all. It was not a family, community thing. It was a time to wear makeup, dance, have fun, and flirt with boys. Anyway, that was my impression of it at the time - it didn't do what church is meant to do: connect you with the community and try to make you think.

Over the years, my contempt for these mega-church non-denominational Christians grew. Mostly because of how loud and intolerant they seemed to me. They would talk loudly about Jesus at every turn, and those who didn't weren't as good. They would ask me what I "was" and I would answer with Lutheran. They would then reply with "Oh. Well, I'm Christian" as if they were better than me. Hello, I'm a Christian too - my contempt for them grew that they didn't understand the concept of differing sects all being Christian. Gradually, these started being the same people who looked down on anyone who wasn't Christian - myself almost included for being Lutheran. (Lol, right.) Anyway, these people still annoy me today, as I feel like they have no respect or tolerance for those that wish to believe (or choose not to) in a different way. And I still believe religion isn't something you should be overly vocal about - it should be a personal matter. That these people can act this way (and did so loudly in my youth) is a large part of why I consider myself semi-atheist now.


So that's my spiel on that. However, I feel like a lot of atheists are just as bad. I was talking to my dad about it - he was telling me how among his intolerant atheist friends he always tries to talk about his church. And among his narrow-minded religious friends he downplays the significance of religion. I feel like that's what you have to do with both parties - the EXTREMISTS, that is. Which together only make up probably 10% of the population, but unfortunately they're also the most vocal. I'm not saying all you here are part of these extreme ends of the spectrum - most of you aren't.

Anyway, my dad and I were saying how it's the same exact person - the intolerant atheist and the intolerant religious person. It's that type of person that has to have a dogma and, mostly, a reason why they are superior. AKA, since I've already burned self-proclaimed Christians so badly: "Atheists are clearly superior because 1) Science proves God wrong. Can people not read a textbook? Evolution is proven. How do you not see that in this day and age? and 2) Religion is so intolerant and has killed, hurt, and still persecutes so many people. Thus, anyone who believes in God is an ignorant, racist, sexist, religious zealot. They can't see clearly and are probably rednecks. They need dogma to give them answers and purpose, they can't just live to live. They're scared." <Those people annoy me just as much. It's the same exact intolerance they criticize. And it's the same need of a reason why they're superior. To them I would say this: "I can be just as smart, clearheaded, and sensible as you are if I believe in God. I was brought up with a religious culture, and I simply agree with it and believe it does a lot of good. It boils now to this: I can believe simply because I choose to believe. " Anyway, I'm sure you religious people could've answered that better, but I believe there are so many things that church is good for.

Personally, I believe attending church is good. It brings a community together. It's kinda sad, but it's often the highlight and possibly only outing of the week for the old ladies at my church. I get offended when people attack church. But unfortunately, I feel like there's getting to be less and less of the church-goers of my father's family: those who don't push religion on anyone, but believe in going to church and deciding the matter privately for oneself. I feel like this used to be the majority of people (Americans, at least, as that's the culture I'm familiar with), but I think lately there's been a widening gap. The traditional denominational churches which I believe more enable this way of practicing are dying out. They're being replaced by mega-churches, which in my opinion often lead more to those sentiments of superiority. And then to combat this (or perhaps it's the other way around, who really knows) the intolerant atheists are growing in number, also, and being just as vocal and self-righteous.

Basically, live and let live, and I strongly dislike when anyone try to sway others into their own (clearly the only correct) belief. Basically, both of the extremes annoy me, just as I probably have annoyed anyone who read any of this post. :)
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Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:25 pm
fireheartedkaratepup says...



(I looked at that other thread briefly beforehand. Some of that is reflected here, though it's my take.)

Define religion.

When viewed as a specific set of beliefs, there is no such thing as not having religion. Everyone has a set of beliefs, no matter what it is that they believe. If everyone has it, it is neither harmful nor beneficial.


My definition: A set of rules to be followed.

When viewed this way, there are two sides.

Side one: We need rules. If we do not have them, society runs amok. Religion lays the basis for law, so religion is good.

Side two: In adhering to a strict set of rules, people become dogmatic, inflexible, and stubborn. This encourages behaviour such as the Crusades of old and the terrorist attacks of our generation. Therefore, religion is harmful.

I do not like religion. It is polarizing, and causes arguments. Therefore, I say that religion is harmful. Faith--new life--that is what saves us.
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Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:23 pm
Cole says...



Define religion.

When viewed as a specific set of beliefs, there is no such thing as not having religion. Everyone has a set of beliefs, no matter what it is that they believe. If everyone has it, it is neither harmful nor beneficial.


My definition: A set of rules to be followed.

When viewed this way, there are two sides.

Side one: We need rules. If we do not have them, society runs amok. Religion lays the basis for law, so religion is good.

Side two: In adhering to a strict set of rules, people become dogmatic, inflexible, and stubborn. This encourages behaviour such as the Crusades of old and the terrorist attacks of our generation. Therefore, religion is harmful.

I do not like religion. It is polarizing, and causes arguments. Therefore, I say that religion is harmful. Faith--new life--that is what saves us.


Amen! My thoughts exactly Fireheartedkaratepup.

I think you made an interesting point here, too. I feel like religion is so much about bigotry, rules, regulations, and judgment. Religion is about restrictions, order, and laws.

Faith, on the other hand, is powerful, stirring. It inspires people, it moves people, it gives people hope, strength, and has shown to be beneficial (and even healthy!) in a variety of cases and situations. Religion is different from faith. Though they can be combined, I think it should be known that there is a difference between the two.

I like your summary, Fireheart:

Religion is bad. Faith is good. That is my vote.

(If anyone needs me to clarify on what I have said, just let me know.)
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Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:44 am
shiney1 says...



HaydenSmith wrote:
Define religion.

When viewed as a specific set of beliefs, there is no such thing as not having religion. Everyone has a set of beliefs, no matter what it is that they believe. If everyone has it, it is neither harmful nor beneficial.


My definition: A set of rules to be followed.

When viewed this way, there are two sides.

Side one: We need rules. If we do not have them, society runs amok. Religion lays the basis for law, so religion is good.

Side two: In adhering to a strict set of rules, people become dogmatic, inflexible, and stubborn. This encourages behaviour such as the Crusades of old and the terrorist attacks of our generation. Therefore, religion is harmful.

I do not like religion. It is polarizing, and causes arguments. Therefore, I say that religion is harmful. Faith--new life--that is what saves us.


Amen! My thoughts exactly Fireheartedkaratepup.

I think you made an interesting point here, too. I feel like religion is so much about bigotry, rules, regulations, and judgment. Religion is about restrictions, order, and laws.

Faith, on the other hand, is powerful, stirring. It inspires people, it moves people, it gives people hope, strength, and has shown to be beneficial (and even healthy!) in a variety of cases and situations. Religion is different from faith. Though they can be combined, I think it should be known that there is a difference between the two.

I like your summary, Fireheart:

Religion is bad. Faith is good. That is my vote.

(If anyone needs me to clarify on what I have said, just let me know.)


I feel exactly the same way. It's too bad "Religion" seems to be a lot more common than "Faith".
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Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:17 am
Confictura says...



Religion was and is a set of morals and beliefs that set how we as a species saw the world. However, as we grew up and looked closer at the world around us, we realized that some things are just plain silly. For the longest time we believed that the female gender was inferior in society, is this true? No, and if it is, it's only because we make it so. Is it fair that one half of our species is seen as inferior through no fault of their own? No.

So, we changed the way we see things, we grew up and realized that things change.

If religion was simply about believing in a god, there would be no harm in it, however, Religion is much more than that, and I fear that it's for the worse.
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Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:33 am
Nate says...



Those who are argue that society would be better off without religion are in substance no better than those who argue that society would be better off without group X. Both are statements of outright bigotry based on nothing more than ignorance and hatred.
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Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:59 am
Lumi says...



Nate wrote:Those who are argue that society would be better off without religion are in substance no better than those who argue that society would be better off without group X. Both are statements of outright bigotry based on nothing more than ignorance and hatred.


Das ironic, bro.

Anyway, my stance on the entire subject is less that religion causes problems; you can't really say yes or no to that without being at least ~50% wrong. Religion, at its core, is a construct of moral and spiritual beliefs that guides someone through life, and, hopefully, beyond. Issues begin cropping up when evangelism comes into play. While religion is geared to be very personal, very intimate, it often ends up being a publicity stunt--at least in experience from my end of the field.

Either way, statements about the issue can't get a run past second base either way, so it's better left to personal, intimate dealings.

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Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:12 am
inkwell says...



Nate wrote:Those who are argue that society would be better off without religion are in substance no better than those who argue that society would be better off without group X. Both are statements of outright bigotry based on nothing more than ignorance and hatred.


So arguing that the world would be better off without the church of scientology would make me a hateful bigot?

I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to clarify, as I can think of a lot of substance in that arguement and don't see it as bigoted, or hateful. But religious group X often is hateful. Like the Westboro Baptist group, al-Qaeda, etc. But surely I have you misunderstood.
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