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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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Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:36 am
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skwmusic says...



All I am seeing by reading your post over and over is, you are speaking from just one side. You know a life without any religion. And I guess that makes you happy. But that means you cannot really say religion is unnecessary.
Oh wait, of course you can say that, but that doesn't mean you know it to be absolutely true.
Many people's lives revolve around their faith. Social order, daily routine, and many other day-to-day essentials.
So maybe you don't pray and don't need it and don't feel empty without it.
That's fine.
But that does not mean that hopeless child, or that hopeful parent, or that believing teacher does not need a prayer to get their spirits up.
Raw science and facts are not always enough for everyone. When the Depression hit, people may have seen the charts and facts about the economy. They may have seen that they would get out of the slump in due time.
But the churches began to fill up once again. The people needed more than numbers and statistics. They needed much more. They wanted to feel that Someone was there, watching and helping them. Hearing their prayers. Wrapping His arms around them.


The problem is that we don't teach children that they don't need religion. For lots of kids, all their lives they're taught that god is the only way to goodness and that staving off that path means total destitution and destruction for their lives. And even when their beliefs become a little more moderate (which most kids do especially those that go to public schools) they just say what you say. "Yeah it's great they don't want a god and all, but I feel that god keeps me on the right track."

Instead of telling children to draw whatever hope you can, even if that hope is completely false, we should tell them how to solve problems. How to make the best out of a bad situation. How to dig themselves out of a deep hole. I can still be good without religion and find no reason to kill myself anytime soon. Part of the reason is because I was never taught that religion was this important thing that I needed. If you we can pass this on to other children, I think less people will feel the need for god's grace or whatever when bad times come.

I am very offended. But it's not like you care, right?

Don't you dare assume that you know what I have gone through; blowing off my testimony as just "another suicidal teen story" is blatantly insensitive, heartless, disrespectful, and thoughtless.

I was an atheist and my life was a wreck. It was not until I became a Christian that I realized how miserable atheism was for me. I had nothing to live for until I discovered faith. You do not know how personally it has changed my life. You have no idea how unbelievably happy and joyful it has made me to know Christ. You do not know how dramatically my life was transformed because of faith, because of religion.

But you don't care. You just spat at my testimony like it was some joke. "Well the flying spaghetti monster" --No. Don't even go there. I am appalled at how totally ignorant you are. It has nothing to do with your atheism. Not at all. Your ignorance comes from your bigotry, from your hatred of religious people. Your prejudice of people, human beings. You are completely blinded by arrogance and intolerance.


You know my favorite part of that rant? It's that you completely ignore my statements after that.

No offense Hayden, but who isn't suicidal when they're a teenager? Part of growing up in your teens is learning to accept that you don't control the world. I don't know why you were suicidal and maybe something serious did happen but for most teens it's just dealing with things they can't control.


My flying spaghetti monster reference? Sure I guess that was kind of insensitive but you totally missed the underlying point. I was saying if someone was "saved" by some belief that you thought was utterly ridiculous, would you still respect that belief, even though you KNOW, or at least with a reasonable degree of certainty, that it was wrong?

And where did I ever spout hatred for you or religious people? Sure I pointed out why I think their beliefs are unnecessary but I never said I didn't like the people. I have lots of religious friends as well as many non-religious friends. Most of them know I'm an atheist and they don't really care. I think they're beliefs are wrong and stupid but I don't think they are stupid. I think they are stupid when it comes to the question of god or religion but to other matters?

How is that offensive? Lots of teenagers are depressed or at the very least bothered by mostly things they can't control. I know I was for a while and most of my friends are too for varying reasons. That's like if I said "well lots of old people have fears of death" and some old guy said "that's insensitive! You have no idea how much I have tried to stave off the fear of death, and when I finally come to terms with it I have some guy saying I'm fearful of death!".

Yeah, I'm not the bigoted one here. Good try though taking my quote out of context.

If you're offended, I'm sorry Hayden, but you need to cool the s*** down. You're debating, on the INTERNET. It's not like you are ever going to meet me or Ink or Nate or anyone on this thread EVER. And if you do, we won't even notice. You'll just be some random dude walking on the street and I'll be the same to you.
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Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:47 am
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shiney1 says...



If you're offended, I'm sorry Hayden, but you need to cool the s*** down.


Okay, if this debate has come down to this low, then I want no part of this "civilized argument."


Have fun debating your lives away.
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Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:57 am
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Cole says...



I do apologize for getting a little crazy (I tend to do that). I should not have been so malicious.

However, the reason I was offended wasn't that you were pointing out that other teens are suicidal. I was offended because it seemed you thought that that statistic defused my testimony, like that statistic made my story insignificant or irrelevant. It was the fact that you were brushing it off as no big deal, over-generalizing. That event in my life was a HUGE deal to me and you just kicked it to the curb. I felt you were making it a joke. It was insensitive of you. You should not expect everyone to take things "the right way". Remember that next time.

As for being a bigot...

Bigotry is when you think you are better or more superior to someone just because of your beliefs. (I'm not directing that sentence at you, by the way) The fact that you don't respect faith no matter what, though, is bigotry, in my opinion. I believe atheism has no purpose. But do I let that blind me, do I let that become a prejudice against atheists? Do I believe it is stupid, or something not worth respecting? No. I respect atheism and have never believed it to be stupid.

I would also suggest to let the discussion die, seeing that I feel like it is going nowhere in an aggressive, vicious cycle. I feel like all that can be said has been said. We are really never going to convince everyone entirely that religion is wholly good and beneficial or wholly crippling and destructive.

I feel like when Nate left, that might have been a warning to end this discussion.
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~Hosea 6:3~
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Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:37 am
inkwell says...



Perhaps this is what you are getting at, Nate. Good talking.

"The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible." — Einstein




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Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:42 am
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Rubric says...



I cannot speak for Nate, but I see no connection between the content of that video and the content of his posts.

This video asserts a dichotomy between "religion" and "christianity" that emphasises the character of the christian message as inherently radical, revolutionary and both personal and transcendental. It rebukes the proceduralism of organised religion in its modern form, particularly in the political arena. Through analogies to sports and American politics, it critiques the tribalism that dogmatic attitudes can enable. It sums up these areas of critique as "religion" and is wrong to do so. For that reason it is worse than useless for this debate as it adds yet another definition for "religion" but does not bother to unpack it for its audience.

Inkwell, your posts regarding tolerance appear to be fairly inconsistent, such as the immediately adjunct "I think they're beliefs are wrong and stupid but I don't think they are stupid." and the "I think they are stupid when it comes to the question of god or religion but to other matters?"

You state that the beliefs of the religious are stupid but the religious people themselves are not. You then, immediately thereafter, assert that religious people are in fact stupid, but limit your claim to the subject at hand. These claims are both dissonant and intolerant. Allowing that religious people may not be stupid in other areas of their lives does not make your claims less intolerant. The fact that you confuse the adjective "their" with the contraction "they're" further confuses your attempts to differentiate your attacks on beliefs with your attacks on people.

I think this debate has been hindered by its use of the word "religion". In one sense it widens the debate from the veracity of a certain set of beliefs or religious dogma to a broader debate on the social worth of theism itself. On the downside it allows you, Inkwell, to constantly conflate a lack of education and irrationality with religious belief (as others have repeatedly pointed out). I am well educated. I am not strictly rational, as no man is, but will test my beliefs with the tools of logic and critical thinking with which I have been educated. I am religious in many ways, but despise many ideas people associate with it. I am open to critique and rebuttal and will attempt to develop more consistent beliefs in the light of both.

I also think that "religion", as well as religious people, has been the cause of inestimable good and unfathomable evil and that very few people have attempted to address which of these contributions might be the greater. I think this is probably because they intuitively realise that there is no measuring stick for "harm" and "good" that will not be argued over vehemently.
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Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:10 am
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Snoink says...



inkwell:

That is a more fundamentalist Christian message, which tends to say that there is no religion and that faith should only be a relationship between God and yourself. I am sure many Christians would believe in that video, but I know that it contradicts what many other Christians believe in, including Nate and myself (understand that I speak for Nate because we belong to the same Christian sect). So, no, that video is wrong for us. Perhaps you were speaking to another person?

And quite honestly? I've spent a lot of time reading atheistic philosophies and stuff just to understand what atheists believe in. It's important to me, because I adore philosophy and I want to understand how people work... and philosophy is something that helps me do this.

If you want to understand Christianity, you can't just read the bible, because the bible mostly consists of just stories. You need to read Christian philosophy, because that shows you how Christianity was pursued and what is followed and why. It shows you the rationality of Christianity. And you need to approach it with an open mind. I know it's hard... trust me. I've read Nietzsche and Rand (and I have a bunch more on my list, including Comte, Marx, and others). We have completely opposing views, but I still read it thoughtfully with an open mind because I needed to know how things worked and why people believed what they believed. I don't know if you have that kind of intellectual curiosity or not, but if you do, then you need to start really searching into it more.

In any case, if you want to start understanding what is the thought process behind Christianity (and there is plenty of rationality behind it) you need to read the philosophies behind it. If you want to get a taste of Catholicism, you should probably start with St. Augustine's commentaries and St. Thomas Aquinas. In fact, Augustine is the basis of many branches of Christianity, so definitely take a look at some of his writings. There's also a bunch of Doctors of the Church who have conveniently died before copyright was made, so a lot of their works are free. This is a good thing, trust me. To understand Protestantism, there is, of course, Martin Luther's writings. To understand Calvinism (and, remember that many fundamentalist Christian sects are based on Calvinism) you should read John Calvin's writings. Dwight L. Moody is good as an American evangelist. George MacDonald did a number of works against the idea of Calvinism. John Bunyan is a good person to read for a Puritan perspective. Tolstoy had an interesting view of Christianity to the point where they call his perspective "Tolstoian philosophy." C.S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers are good for a modern look from an Anglican perspective. Ellen G. White is famous for her ideas on Seven-day Adventists. John Andreas Widtsoe is good for Mormons. And on and on, the list goes.

Mind you, the people who I have mentioned? Some of these people are in complete opposition with the other people also mentioned. There is disagreements abounding! So, since you still seem to have that idea that Christianity is homogenous, throw it out of your head immediately. You are simplifying a highly complex set of beliefs. The way you're simplifying it is the way many Christians simplify the ideas that atheism encompasses... you know, the Christians who say, "Oh, but don't you believe that spirituality doesn't exist at all?" Or, "But, don't you worship Man instead of God?" Some atheists would say no... some atheists would say yes. It depends on what they believe in.

Of course, you may not care at all and be content to guess at what we believe in. If that is so, then fine. But realize that your knowledge of Christianity is limited and superficial. And this isn't a bad thing, necessarily. But, it does make it a lot more difficult to conduct a serious debate with you about Christianity (as that seems to be the only religion that seems to be discussed in these kinds of debates, unfortunately).
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Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:32 pm
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inkwell says...



Rubric, don't misquote me. Thanks.

I only used a Christian video because I know that Nate's a Christian. If he were a muslim the discussion would not be the same. The video was an honest attempt to recognize that there are people who think religion and their faith are separate, and perhaps even incompatible. I don't think religion is homogeneous, Snoink! Haha, it's far from it. But my point was that they all share the same underlying feature, the same definition. Otherwise they wouldn't be religions.

Unfortunately, any relevant scrap of what we were exchanging thoughts on has been left aside to focus on the fact that I don't respect religious beliefs, or to be exact, faith. I don't think that's relevant. If you want to PM me I'll continue to hash it out with you guys, but this has gone way too far off-topic.
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Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:04 am
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Aet Lindling says...



Oh dear, I left this reply for a while and what it's replying to is a bit old now. Nonetheless, I'll post it, and also this paraphrased quote of Steven Weinberg's. The original is more inclusive and biased against religion specifically as opposed to faith (that is, a belief in something unprovable or irrational for the sake of belief) in general, and/or indoctrination. This quote is more or less the point I've been trying to get across. It's been repeatedly said that I am calling religious people "bad", wishing for some Holocaust, or that I am claiming that religion going away would solve the majority of the world's problems. Not at all. I'll let my paraphrasing of Weinberg finish this off...

With or without faith you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes faith.

Get the idea? Anyway, I'll post the reply below before it gets any more outdated in the conversation.


Nate wrote:You said that you think that the world would be better without people such as myself that follow a faith.

Whether or not this would be a "good" solution similar to eugenics which, though morally unacceptable, would result in a theoretically better society years down the line, is irrelevant, since I never said that. I assume you are referring to forceful elimination of such people, through brain reprogramming, arrests, or death.

Read my sentence again. The only thing I said or imply is that a world without religion would be a better one. I'm not sure why you're insisting on injecting such tones.

Eugenics is indeed an interesting thing to think about, a topic I think about on occasion, a 'what if?' eugenics programs had been implemented. It is not, however, bigotry. These people were not spurred by hatred against these so-called lesser men, though perhaps their own arrogance helped them on their way, but for the most part I believe they were legitimately interested in created a better world. I was considering posting the definition of bigotry in my last post, but I see you have done so for me now. The "obstinately devoted" language seems to define the word as irrational in almost all cases, but now this is just getting into semantics.

You said earlier that you think the world would be better off without religion. So this does not seem to match with what you saying.

Yes I did, and sure it does.

Are you ready to say that religion is no longer necessary for every single one of the nearly 7 billion people alive today?

Tricky question. As for that I'm not sure. Many people who lose religion have crises of the mind and soul, not having had any time in their life to reconcile with the idea they may not live forever.

What I am ready to say is that religion is no longer necessary for every unborn child. Those who grew up with religion may find it hard or catastrophic if they suddenly woke up one day thinking their religion was wrong. Those who have not grown up with it will need no such thing.

A lack of belief in God is a doctrine.

Nope. Not any more than not chewing gum is a habit, or not collecting stamps is a hobby. There is no doctrine involved, the person simply lacks a belief in God. Where can you find any principles to be derived from this? There is no way to figure out literally any thought or value the person might hold, especially if they are an atheist because they have somehow never even been introduced to the concept of a god. The only continuous concept among atheists is simply the lack of a belief, which isn't really a concept at all.

One can still seek to force their lack of belief in God upon others. Moreover, while some atheists may indeed be neutral, that would not seem to apply to all atheists. Indeed, outspoken atheism is perhaps the most visible form of atheism today.

Obviously one can, and these links don't really help your point. As for the first link, insults are not much compared to religion's offenses.

As for everything related to advertisements, any criticism must be coming from a rather self-entitled stance. There is only one component of those ads I find needless and over the top, and that is the Santa Claus aspect. However, though I find it needless and over the top, it is simply nothing compared to the countless condescending and insulting religious advertisements on billboards and buses everywhere.

The census one, I'm really not sure why you put it on there. Obviously countries should not be religious, and all this ad is even saying is that people who are atheists should proclaim so on the census so that a more accurate picture of the non-religious community can be painted.

As for the protesting image, church and state should obviously be separated, I am fairly sure you agree with me on this based on previous statements you have made in this debate. Even if church and state should not be separated, what is wrong with protesting?

None of this is "forcing a lack of belief in God". I never claimed that all atheists were neutral, either, and in fact I would not like it to be this way. Neutrality in most cases, no matter your position, breeds stagnation with no discussion. So you're saying that because atheists protest, advertise, and debate, they force a lack of belief?

Indeed, outspoken atheism is perhaps the most visible form of atheism today.

Outspoken atheism is more visible than quiet atheism? I had no idea.

If there's anything I failed to address, it can probably be refuted in much the same way I addressed everything above.

Oh, and those last two paragraphs are, as I'm sure you know, loaded and irrelevant, not to mention that they aren't even true.

I really could care less if someone is atheist or religious.

Which of course explains why earlier in your post you demonstrated a bias, such as stating that atheistic advertisements were "forcing atheism down throats".
12-18-12 7:43 PM
AmelieoftheValley: ...Aet and Bog sometimes sound like a comedy duo.
12-18-12 7:43 PM
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Cole says...



Aet, I don't really care to debate about anything else you have said, but you suggested that Nate was being hypocritical or that he was making conflicting messages.

First of all, I feel like you could be a little less sarcastic, especially when addressing the creator of the website you're debating on. Have a bit of respect.

Just because someone says they don't have a problem with atheism and then claim that they think atheistic advertisements are aggressive; it doesn't disprove or contradict their first initial claim that they don't care if someone is an atheist or a person of faith. I'm in that same boat.

I do not understand how merely thinking modern atheistic messages "shove atheism down throats" is exactly biased or one-sided. It's not a crime to have an opinion.

People might be biased about many things, but it doesn't have to affect the way they look at other people—and I think that's what Nate's position is. It is definitely mine. Even if he is religious, even if he thinks that some atheists shove their anti-theism down people's throats, it is obvious that he does not let it affect his opinion of people, as he just said.
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Nate says...



Hayden, there's no need to defend me, especially since I largely agree with Aet. He earlier had said that atheists are neutral. I shared a number of articles that showed that was not really the case for all atheists, and Aet actually agreed that at last one of the examples given was indeed uncalled for. He dressed up his response in antagonism toward me, but we're really on the same page. Which is exactly the problem with these kind of discussions. They stir up a lot of hate and cause people to find disagreement where no disagreement exists.

However, many in this thread should keep in mind that it's not that long ago that a very similar discussion took place in the Christian Writers club regarding Catholicism, and how some viewed Catholics in quite an unkind manner.

In any case, I really would rather leave this discussion alone. Please, no one else try to defend me. But before I leave, here are two quotes that I think everyone would be good to at least consider. The first is from one of the greatest Western philosophers, while the other is by one of the greatest satirical genius' of our time.

Voltaire wrote:What is tolerance? it is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly--that is the first law of nature.

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster.


This quote is an excerpt from Voltaire's essay on Tolerance, in which he mocks the intolerance among Christians at the time. But, the brush of his argument is that we should not criticize each other for the religious views we hold as we are all formed of frailty and error. In the context of the current debate, that would mean respecting the decisions each of us has made in our lives.

Ultimately, I think Voltaire would have disagreed with every person in this thread. He believed that God was self-evident, but he was also very critical of priests and of artificial religion. However, on the basic question of whether religion is harmful, I think he would have mocked both sides before coming to the conclusion that we should just concentrate on improving our own lives and the lives of those around us rather than jumping to conclusions about people we don't know.

Which takes me to what I believe is a logical extension of Voltaire's philosophy:

Matt Stone wrote:At the end of the day, if the mass delusion of a religion makes you happy, makes your family work better, is that bad or good?


I disagree with Matt Stone on the mass delusion part (I agree more with his creative partner's, Trey Parker, view on religion), but this is the view most atheists I know in my everyday life hold, and I have no problem with it. It's a far cry from the anti-theism brand of atheism, and the arrogance and insults thrown about by men like Dawkins. It's a more humble view that treats people as people.


Inkwell ->> The video is interesting, and while I of course personally agree with the video that Jesus is greater than religion, I do not agree with his views on religion. If you wish to understand where I'm coming from, then read about Stephen Colbert and his faith. I pretty much agree 100% with the way Stephen Colbert (the person, not the character) views faith. Or Georges Lemaitre (the guy who developed the Big Bang theory). But, that's only if you wish to know where I'm coming from.

__________________

... and, I'm a hypocrite. Said I would say no more, and here I am saying more. Nonetheless, please feel free to attack any of the above (including my hypocrisy in writing this post). I won't be responding, unless someone tries to defend me. So please, no one defend me! Because then I feel compelled to say something lest it be construed that I believe something that I really do not.

I will say that I do wear my faith on my sleeve, but I wear it on the inside of my sleeve. It defines who I am, but I try as much as possible to let that show through my actions and deeds rather than through mere words. In my life, I have considered faith and the lack thereof, and for me, I found the latter to be a wholly unsatisfying view of our universe. That is not to say, however, that is the same for everyone. I merely desire that my rejection of atheism not be labeled ignorant, and that my acceptance of faith not be treated as harmful to society. Far from being irrational, I view my faith as being perfectly rational. I believe not in a god of the gaps (note the lack of capitalization) or in a skyfairy type god. I believe that God is one, immutable, infinite, simple, and perfect (see Thomas Aquinas).

Lest the above be considered an attack on atheism, it's not. I have far more respect for the person who believes in no God but helps others than the person who believes in God but helps only himself. The latter is a pious hypocrite; the former is a brother. What I don't like are unnecessary attacks on others, and as a Catholic, I've experienced unnecessary attacks from all sides. Live and let live. Life is hard enough.

And don't defend me! :)


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One last point. I have never once believed that people should treat me with respect merely because I'm the creator of this site. To me, that's monarchial nonsense. By joining this debate, I invite criticism. But of course, I'm always right and everyone else is always wrong ;)
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hopeispeace says...



Warning: my opinion might be a little biased.

I understand that a lot of religions create dis-function in society, but it isn't right to say that people shouldn't take their religion to the fullest extreme, as it is their religion.
Of course, if someone's religion involves human sacrifice or self-maiming, non-religious laws should prevent such rituals.
However, I myself am a Christian (go ahead, moan, groan, and boo me) and I take my beliefs very seriously. My religion has never caused me to harm society in any way at all. In fact, my fellow Christians have made a pretty positive impact on our community, helping people who need it, being charitable, and not to mention bringing gifts of help to third world countries during mission trips.
Just because someone takes their religion seriously and applies their beliefs in extreme levels, doesn't mean that society will be harmed. What about those peace-loving meditation religions in Asia? I seriously don't think that society gets hurt just because a few people say "uuuuum....uuuummm" every once in a while.

So, yeah, some religions might cause trouble, but because of what they believe and how they think they should enforce their religion, not because of how seriously they take it.

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Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:33 am
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Cole says...



Sorry Nate and Aet. Thanks for letting me know. I think was misunderstanding. Aet, I fear I might have sounded a bit malicious in my post towards you. No hard feelings?

And I'll let you fight your own battles, Nate : P Sorry for that...

And I apologize for any other drama I have caused.
My heart holds all secrets; my heart tells no lies.

~Hosea 6:3~
ונדעה נרדפה לדעת את יהוה כשחר נכון מצאו ויבוא כגשם לנו כמלקוש יורה ארץ׃