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Are the benefits of religion greater than the costs to society?:

 76 USAF713, Tue, 6th Dec '11 7:25:58 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Disregard what facts? The absence of evidence is only a fact in favor of there being an absence of evidence. It's highly unlikely that the Christian mythology, for example, is correct, but we couldn't prove it either way. I fail to see what facts they're being "forced to disregard."

Now, if you object to their morality, that's fine, but morality is subjective, so you don't really have an empirical base to stand on there, other than "I disagree and therefore I think we should treat them as idiots!" which is essentially a non-argument.

Not that I don't find plenty of morally-objectionable things within religion. I simply can't agree with the idea that they are both thoroughly and inherently immoral.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 77 De Marquis, Tue, 6th Dec '11 7:36:02 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
10 gets you 1 he mentions evolution.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
[up][up]pick your religion. all of them have some kind of source of morality. very few of them say that humans are inherently moral and are capable of coming up with morality on their own. moral development is stifled- Homosexuality is a good current example. Almost none tell you to use reason and logic to figure out what's best.

lastly, i believe there is a basis for morality that is founded on logic, that is non-subjective. it requires very few premises and everything builds on top of those premises.

1. equality. Morality must be followed by everybody. the "golden rule" is a natural consequence of this premise.

2. Good is defined as what gives the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people for the greatest time.

done.

[up]that's too easy.

edited 6th Dec '11 7:44:55 PM by willyolio

Adel: Low EARTH orbit! Quistis: FIRE Cavern! Selphie: AIR head! Edea: ICE spear! Rinoa: HEART illy! Ultimecia: By powers COMPRESSED
 79 Erock, Tue, 6th Dec '11 7:41:37 PM from Toronto
Proud Canadian
Gogogo humanism.
If you don't like a single Frank Ocean song, you have no soul.
 80 USAF713, Tue, 6th Dec '11 7:43:40 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
pick your religion. all of them have some kind of source of morality. very few of them say that humans are inherently moral and are capable of coming up with morality on their own. moral development is stifled. Homosexuality is a fine example. Almost none tell you to use reason and logic to figure out what's best.

I think morality is relative, so, where they get their moral system isn't really relevant, so much as whether or not they can achieve societal support for it in general.

As of right now, sociology says no, they won't, so I'm not particularly worried about it.

Like I said, overt religiousness and fundamentalism is subject to a decline over time simply via how technology and economics influence society. In fifty years or so, the "fundies" of the United States will be like the "sane" (as the non-religious term it) religious people of today, while the "sane" religious people will be like the "religious" people in Europe.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 81 The Earth Sheep, Tue, 6th Dec '11 10:00:41 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
@Willy: Wow. OK. First, Shift key: invest.

And second, almost all religions I can think of encourage self-discovery and personal experimentation. Christianity? Check. Hinduism? Check. Confucianism? Check. Taoism? Check. Buddhism? Double-check. Maybe even three checks for Buddhism, actually. Edit: Hell, even Wicca encourages experimentation!

The Catholic Church, which is far and away the largest Christian Church (not to mention that Orthodox is basically the same and is far and away the second largest), allows homosexuals to be part of their clergy, just so long as they don't practice, but they also require chastity from heterosexuals anyway, so that's equal. And while we're on the subject, the Vatican was never officially against the Theory of Evolution, and they were officially for it only decades after it was first hypothesized, beating many scientists of the day (a lot of whom were still vying for Malthus, if I remember correctly).

Also, if you were to only follow those rules, there would be nothing stopping you from killing of the 49.9% most wealthy in your society and redistributing their wealth to the rest. Hey, it's better for a greater number of people, right?

edited 6th Dec '11 10:01:43 PM by TheEarthSheep

Still Sheepin'
 82 USAF713, Tue, 6th Dec '11 10:07:11 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
lastly, i believe there is a basis for morality that is founded on logic, that is non-subjective. it requires very few premises and everything builds on top of those premises.

1. equality. Morality must be followed by everybody. the "golden rule" is a natural consequence of this premise.

2. Good is defined as what gives the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people for the greatest time.

Well, I personally think this is an excellent moral system—provided, perhaps, several sets of qualifiers to close logical loopholes, but that is neither here nor there.

Point is, you said it yourself: you believe. And though I agree with you, this doesn't make it objective or holding of any kind of authority. It is merely an opinion on how morality should work.

edited 6th Dec '11 10:08:41 PM by USAF713

I am now known as Flyboy.
tilkau
[up][up] Is it? Encouraging the meme that it's okay to use such means, seems like a clear loss for humanity in the long term.

That's quite aside from the effect that the 50% who are poorer, are poor partly because they don't understand how to manage their money effectively.

edited 6th Dec '11 10:16:09 PM by SavageOrange

 84 The Earth Sheep, Tue, 6th Dec '11 10:17:20 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up] I may have misread, but I don't think he said anything about potential long-term effects on sociological structure. I wasn't saying he was wrong, I was just trying to point out that it's naive to say that you can solve all of humanity's problems with two rules, even if they followed them.
Still Sheepin'
tilkau
greatest benefit for the greatest number for the greatest time
Anyway, I agree with your elaborated point.
[up][up]religions promote self-discovery? Hah. you mean they promote self-discovery of new paths towards a predetermined goal or only within a sandbox. Buddhism: get to nirvana. Christianity: more ways to praise god. Confucianism isn't even a religion; but it's mostly like humanism, but with more hard-coded rules. Haven't studied hinduism all that much.

also, you need to think more. you made several false assumptions: that money is an inherent good, a person's money will benefit others more than his life, and that halving the population will have no ill effects on those remaining alive, short- or long-term. and even making those incredibly wrong assumptions, you didn't factor the time effect- the repercussions will last generations. try harder.

edited 6th Dec '11 11:58:21 PM by willyolio

Adel: Low EARTH orbit! Quistis: FIRE Cavern! Selphie: AIR head! Edea: ICE spear! Rinoa: HEART illy! Ultimecia: By powers COMPRESSED
 87 USAF713, Tue, 6th Dec '11 11:58:27 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Well, Buddhism and Christianity both postulate that Nirvana and closeness to God, respectively, are the way to ultimate happiness for all.

So... I don't see how they're not utilitarian like you are. They just happen to be utilitarian in a spiritual way, rather than in a materialist, realistic way.
I am now known as Flyboy.
[up]personally, i find that as bad as consumerism. they're all paths to happiness, sure, and everyone's free to achieve happiness their own way. The problem with this is, if all (or the majority) of society subscribes to it, it slows progress.

if people can find more joy in learning about the real world, deriving morality in a much more fundamental common ground (reason), and putting their faith in an ever-improving humanity instead of invisible sky people, i think society as a whole will benefit much more greatly.

there will always be outliers who will do what they want, but i'd prefer the outliers to be the religious and the majority to be more rational, critical thinkers.

edited 7th Dec '11 12:07:04 AM by willyolio

Adel: Low EARTH orbit! Quistis: FIRE Cavern! Selphie: AIR head! Edea: ICE spear! Rinoa: HEART illy! Ultimecia: By powers COMPRESSED
What'd you just say about my hair?!
Okay, I think this has been said before, but I have to say it too.

First of all, [up] stop being so patronizing. It does not help your argument.

Secondly, you have to get it out of your head that "religion is holding us back". It's not. What is holding us back is humanity as a whole basically being unable to accept that people believe something different to them.
In our heart, Mr. Ando will always be a penguin.
Adveho in mihi Lucifer
Sure, but when you have a philosophy that dictates proselyting absolute truth, progress is bound to be slowed.

The Catholic Church pragmatically destroyed their chains in order to advance. Islam, on the other hand, is at best a rock in the torrent.
A single phrase renders Christianity a delusional cult
Moar and Moar and Moar
[up][up]Well the problem is that there are a lot of religions that have the concept of exclusivity baked into them. While some or even most adherents may ignore this it's still there waiting to be acted upon. Truth be told I am being quite charitable, this type of thinking is so common that people do it without thinking sometimes. Even people who in other contexts would argue against it.
Democracy is the process in which we determine the government that we deserve
 92 USAF713, Wed, 7th Dec '11 4:42:12 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
@willy,

What does it matter? If people are happy as they are, "progress" is unnecessary.

Besides, I already said, overt religiousness trends down, not up.

@Gannet,

And yet countries like Qatar and Turkey are generally reasonable. Islam isn't really the problem, corrupt bastards in power are.

That religions are too absolutist about morality is something I can agree with, though.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 93 Carciofus, Wed, 7th Dec '11 4:43:48 AM from Alpha Tucanae I
Is that cake frosting?
The Catholic Church, which is far and away the largest Christian Church (not to mention that Orthodox is basically the same and is far and away the second largest), allows homosexuals to be part of their clergy, just so long as they don't practice, but they also require chastity from heterosexuals anyway, so that's equal.
I am sorry to say that this is not the case, not after some relatively recent regulations on the issue. Basically, all those who have "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" are excluded from the priesthood, as well as those who "support gay culture" (no one seems to be entirely sure of what that means, but eh).

According to what I heard, there was a problem of homosexual Catholics entering the priesthood out of sheer lack of anything else to do within the religion, even in the absence of any genuine vocation to celibacy and priesthood; and, while most of them ended up being perfectly good priests, the fact that most of the child abuse cases involved priests and male children apparently led the hierarchy to think that this was one of the aspects that needed tightening up.

I do not particularly approve of the way in which this was done, but on the other hand it is not really my place to approve or disapprove here.

edited 7th Dec '11 4:44:12 AM by Carciofus

But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

 94 Blurring, Wed, 7th Dec '11 6:22:40 AM from Ampang, Selangor, Malaysia.
A force
@Gannetwhale

Why must we believe the morals others want us to follow is superior. And to say that it never adopt modern progress in other fields is totally wrong.
I'm making effort to ensure that it is highly unlikely that any bigfoot will ever get to see me, take that bigfoots!
 95 The Earth Sheep, Wed, 7th Dec '11 7:02:18 AM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
87: "Nirvana" and "Heaven" are basically synonyms for "finding happiness". If you want a belief system built around finding misery, go right ahead, but you can't say that because every other belief system is built around finding happiness that they are all "only in a sandbox".

Also, Confucianism is totally a religion. Saying it's not just shows your ignorance.

First, money is an inherent good. The misuse of money is bad, but that's irrelevant. Second, as I've already clearly said, that wasn't an actual intended argument against your idea, as I've said, I agree with you. It's just that it is patently impossible to build a complete ethical system based around two rules.

This: stop being so patronizing. It does not help your argument.

And also, DEAR GOD, YOU HAVE A SHIFT KEY, USE IT.

Still Sheepin'
Adveho in mihi Lucifer
And yet countries like Qatar and Turkey are generally reasonable. Islam isn't really the problem, corrupt bastards in power are.

Well, there's Adnan Oktar and his creotard fanboys who have been in quite morally heinous shenigans. But I digress.

Why must we believe the morals others want us to follow is superior.

Hasn't all the shit that occured by not acknowledging the rights of non-muslims provided you enough clues already?

And to say that it never adopt modern progress in other fields is totally wrong

In terms of scientific progress, Islam was not really an obstacle through most of history. In fact, the anti-scientific muslims like the already mentioned Adnan Oktar are an extremely recent phenomenon.

In terms of social progress, however, I don't think I need to elaborate much.
A single phrase renders Christianity a delusional cult
Carc: Wha...really? Isn't it basically a fact that men who sexually abuse young boys aren't actually homosexuals, in that their attraction is to the age primarily and to the sex of their victims secondarily? I don't see how banning people who admit to being attracted to adults of their own gender or supporting gay rights will cut down on child sex abuse, sadly.
"You fail to grasp the basic principles of mad science. Common sense would be cheating." - Narbonic
 98 Blurring, Wed, 7th Dec '11 8:38:10 AM from Ampang, Selangor, Malaysia.
A force
@Gannetwhale

Today, in my country, the non-Muslims have equal right. The jizyah stuff, it's NOT syaria and bad implementations abound. It's not like everyone else is superior at that time. And really, everyone forget wherever jizyah is collected, Muslims pay zakat and still required to join the military. Also, is it really the government or Islam is at fault in some countries.
I'm making effort to ensure that it is highly unlikely that any bigfoot will ever get to see me, take that bigfoots!
 99 Fighteer, Wed, 7th Dec '11 8:45:25 AM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
Thread Hop.

I posted this in the humanism thread, but it's probably more relevant here.

Religion actually does have an interesting role in human societies, one I've thought long and hard about (with a bit of help from Neal Stephenson, admittedly). Religion is a channel for rapid and efficient propagation of memes.

People naturally resist new information. Therefore, it's a struggle to get a population to adopt viable survival strategies in the face of established tradition that says otherwise. Take food sanitation for example. Early humans observed that eating pork had a higher chance than other meats to cause sickness. Since germ theory and genetic theory had yet to be invented, they had no way to understand that the reason for this is that the genetic similarity between pig and human allows for easy disease transmission. They needed a way to get people to stop eating pork, but nobody would do it just because they said so.

Enter religion. Insert "Because God(s) said ..." in front of any statement, and you automatically bypass the mental defenses of a properly conditioned population. Further, labeling it as "God's will" reduces the Chinese whispers problem — the risk of information loss in transfer — because people have a strong motivation (being called a blasphemer) to transmit the memes verbatim — especially in the millennia before reading became commonplace.

In short, religion is an extraordinarily successful (by evolutionary standards) means of transmitting cultural memes. It's no wonder it's stuck around so fervently. It also, unfortunately, is a correspondingly successful tool of political control, and by its nature it propagates harmful memes as readily as beneficial ones. People with the religion virus are susceptible to any idea, good or bad, that is framed in the context of their existing beliefs.

 100 captainbrass 2, Wed, 7th Dec '11 10:51:19 AM from the United Kingdom
[up]That's perilously close to saying "the religious are idiots who will swallow any old toot that's sold to them as the will of God/Allah/whoever."

This isn't completely baseless, but I think it's too simplistic. If that was all it took, you would never get Catholics who openly disagree with the Pope, evangelical Protestants who don't care for the Republican Right or Muslims who oppose the government of Iran. They exist. Claiming something is in accordance with the tenets of a religion does not guarantee all its followers will roll over and agree.

Hence why the Pope, the Republican Right and the Iranian government all use the usual techniques of political power like propaganda, institutional power and (in Iran) physical violence.
"Well, it's a lifestyle"
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