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Is religion a net benefit to humanity?

tejretics
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2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
The debate between those who identify as "antitheist," believers that religion is a net harm to society, and those who hold that religion is a net benefit, has been raging for centuries.

Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity? Why/why not?
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
tajshar2k
Posts: 2,383
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2/13/2016 3:39:10 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM, tejretics wrote:
The debate between those who identify as "antitheist," believers that religion is a net harm to society, and those who hold that religion is a net benefit, has been raging for centuries.

Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity? Why/why not?

Certainly not. Religion has created a divide amongst humanity, and has driven people to madness, causing them to kill others in the name. Religion is causing wars, unrest, and this is not good for humanity.

If there was one thing I'd say is a positive, then it would be charity, since many religions advocate to be generous.
"In Guns We Trust" Tajshar2k
PeacefulChaos
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2/13/2016 4:08:02 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM, tejretics wrote:
The debate between those who identify as "antitheist," believers that religion is a net harm to society, and those who hold that religion is a net benefit, has been raging for centuries.

Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity? Why/why not?

Religion has been one of the strongest unifying forces in history. As with any other force, however, it has the potential to bring great harm, in which case society would be better without it.

It is often a misconception that religion is the number one cause of war. Approximately 7 - 10% of all wars were a result of religion. That's quite a low value for the way religion is painted by many in today's society.
Skepticalone
Posts: 6,110
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2/13/2016 5:37:01 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM, tejretics wrote:
The debate between those who identify as "antitheist," believers that religion is a net harm to society, and those who hold that religion is a net benefit, has been raging for centuries.

Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity? Why/why not?

It depends on what day you ask me. I have generally held the opinion that religion is net neutral, but I think I'm starting to lean towards religion being harmful. Religion was a crutch to help us walk, but we no longer need it. It is actually slowing our progress technologically, medically, socially, politically, educationally and probably many other areas I'm not aware of.
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RuvDraba
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2/13/2016 6:05:20 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM, tejretics wrote:
Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity? Why/why not?

If you said 'was', then I think its arguable that it was, Tej. Here's a simple sketch:

Most of the harm done by ancient religion to the people of the day is harm done by ancient autocracy. But autocracy is simply coercive power without accountability. We know from modern history that such power is harmful with or without religion. There's no evidence that religion ever reduced autocracy, but no evidence that religion substantially increased it either. All the evidence is that it simply exploited and pandered to autocracies already occurring, or else fought some other autocracy for its own autocratic control. So the harm then produced in the name of religion is not directly attributable to religion, but to ancient structures of coercive power without accountability which religion supported, exploited and fought sought to usurp and control, but which would likely have occurred anyway.

Meanwhile, most of the good done by ancient religion relates not to morality (religious moral thought has never been strong), nor physics (its physics are near universally false), but using metaphysical thought to pursue the idea of a universal rule of law. In ancient times, the rule of law didn't scale well. If you were an autocrat, subjects wouldn't do what you'd expect; they'd do only what you'd inspect. And infrastructure was so poor that in the larger kingdoms and empires, you'd only know what was happening by hearsay. The benefit of a common religion for your monarchy or empire is that everyone believed themselves subject to the same universal laws, inspected constantly by some supervisory being(s). So even if your monarch or emperor weren't checking up on you in that moment, you'd believe something was. So at times, that could dissuade disobedience, malfeasance and overt rebellion.

So we can make a case that, in helping to establish the rule of law in large, ancient polities, religion has had done little significant additional harm, given the routine injustices of the day, but has done some modest good due to the difficulty of establishing the rule of law in the first place.

However, you asked a different question, Tej: not whether religion was a nett benefit to humanity but whether it is. And the world we live in is changed in four key respects from the world in which ancient religions first developed:

1) The best modern moral thought is tremendously more sophisticated, sensitive, empowered and effective than the moral thought enshrined by any ancient religion;
2) In scope, detail and accuracy, our natural knowledge vastly exceeds anything an ancient mind could ever have conceived;
3) Our societies, economies and cultures are immensely larger, more complex and diverse than those when religion developed; and
4) We now have far better means than religion for establishing and pursuing the rule of law.

In this frame, ancient religions are not a benefit but a liability. They not only contribute nothing helpful to modern moral thought, but they frequently hinder the moral thought that's developing to uphold irrelevant, unjust and insensitive traditions that should have been abandoned long ago.

They not only contribute nothing to modern natural knowledge, but fight tooth and nail in dogmatic rebuttal after unsuccessful dogmatic rebuttal against the natural knowledge accumulating.

Ill-designed to serve complex societies, economies and cultures, they're in denial that this is the social context in which we now live -- to the point that they constantly spawn militant nationalistic elements trying to wreck modern societies and reduce them to the simpler, ancient structures that are the only ones their stunted vision can comfortably accommodate.

And religions don't actually deliver a single benefit for public safety and the rule of law more effective than surveillance cameras and a modern well-managed police-force.

So religions aren't helping morality, justice, or science, are out of their depth in increasingly diverse and sophisticated societies, and are now unable to deliver anything effectively in the one area they used to help in: upholding the rule of law.

Consequently, while religions arguably were a nett benefit to social cohesion and public safety in ancient societies, they've lost that claim by becoming a significant moral, intellectual and social liability to modern ones.

I hope that may be useful.
matt8800
Posts: 2,077
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2/13/2016 8:06:38 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM, tejretics wrote:
The debate between those who identify as "antitheist," believers that religion is a net harm to society, and those who hold that religion is a net benefit, has been raging for centuries.

Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity? Why/why not?

I believe religion is a net detriment because it discourages logic and accurate thought. Grown adults believe in talking snakes, people living in fishes, etc and this makes perfect sense to them.

While it may be argued that it is unifying within the group, it is even more divisive outside of that group. Religious people actually think that non-religious people deserve to be burned and tortured forever simply for not sharing the same belief, which is sick and psychopathic.
Redfordnutt
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2/13/2016 10:29:00 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM, tejretics wrote:
The debate between those who identify as "antitheist," believers that religion is a net harm to society, and those who hold that religion is a net benefit, has been raging for centuries.

Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity? Why/why not?

The division of people is the worst thing about religion. It gives the illusion of inclusiveness yet actively excludes people that disagrees with the religion's proposition.
Yassine
Posts: 2,617
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2/14/2016 1:25:00 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM, tejretics wrote:
The debate between those who identify as "antitheist," believers that religion is a net harm to society, and those who hold that religion is a net benefit, has been raging for centuries.

Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity?

- Evidently.

Why/why not?

- Without it, there would be no Humanity!
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tejretics
Posts: 6,089
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2/14/2016 2:37:19 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/14/2016 1:25:00 AM, Yassine wrote:
At 2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM, tejretics wrote:
The debate between those who identify as "antitheist," believers that religion is a net harm to society, and those who hold that religion is a net benefit, has been raging for centuries.

Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity?

- Evidently.

Why/why not?

- Without it, there would be no Humanity!

The question is in present tense...if religion goes away now, I don't foresee any significant harm.
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
Yassine
Posts: 2,617
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2/14/2016 2:54:15 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/14/2016 2:37:19 AM, tejretics wrote:

The question is in present tense...if religion goes away now, I don't foresee any significant harm.

- This doesn't make much sense. One, it isn't going away ; the premise is unrealistic. Two: if it is, hypothetically, then 'harm' would have no sense to begin with, unless you mean by 'harm' some specific designation.

I remember you said that Christopher Hitchens isn't smart when it comes to issues of religion,

- I didn't say he isn't smart, I said, he is, one: ignorant, two: irrational.

but his arguments that religion is a net harm to society are pretty compelling.

- What argument is that? The one presented to me, then, was clearly self-contradictory.

I don't agree with his extreme position, but I was commenting in response to an old post of yours that said Hitchens isn't smart when it comes to religion.

- He knows as much about religion, as the next ignorant guy. My judgement here is based off his claims about Islam, I don't know about his familiarity with Christianity. One of the most dangerous aspects of judgement is transitive judgement, that is, assuming if one's intellect can produce correct judgement on one thing, then it can produce correct judgement on all things, or that, if one is excellent in one aspect, then one is excellent in all aspects! Which is the trap most people (including many scientists) fall for when they over-reach to frameworks they are not as familiar with. Whatever Hitchens is good at, he is not good at religion, as far as I am concerned (i.e. Islam).
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Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,280
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2/14/2016 11:39:41 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM, tejretics wrote:
The debate between those who identify as "antitheist," believers that religion is a net harm to society, and those who hold that religion is a net benefit, has been raging for centuries.

Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity? Why/why not?

It's not a net benefit so much as it's an essential part. Most people cannot function without religion. It's why a movement like New Atheism quickly adopts all of the attributes of religion. Traced back into prehistory, the sociological origins of religion as a social construct lie in the awareness of something larger than the self residing in the universe, and a sense of 'smallness' by comparison. That's the essential attribute, and it's why New Atheism became so quickly wrapped up in 'nature porn', and pondering over the infinite universe. In fact, you can find the same, slightly-deified sentiment all throughout the works of Giordano Bruno. The sense of reverence and smallness is there, the camaraderie is there, and just as Christianity vilified and eventually persecuted the Pagans whose place they usurped, New Atheism is wrapped up in the same demonization and rejection of Christianity/Islam/Judaism (to a lesser degree). This is because the vast majority of people are still predisposed to certain psychological responses to a mass movement, and can only really function within them. It's why Christianity adopted and rationalized Pagan Stoicism, and why New Atheists adopt and rationalize Christian morality under the moniker 'humanism'. We are seeing a huge religious revolution, but we are not seeing a rejection of religion, and never will. This is because the alternative to religion is moral nihilism, which destroys the pious fiction at the heart of any human society.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,280
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2/15/2016 4:50:12 PM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/14/2016 2:54:15 AM, Yassine wrote:
At 2/14/2016 2:37:19 AM, tejretics wrote:
I don't agree with his extreme position, but I was commenting in response to an old post of yours that said Hitchens isn't smart when it comes to religion.

- He knows as much about religion, as the next ignorant guy. My judgement here is based off his claims about Islam, I don't know about his familiarity with Christianity. One of the most dangerous aspects of judgement is transitive judgement, that is, assuming if one's intellect can produce correct judgement on one thing, then it can produce correct judgement on all things, or that, if one is excellent in one aspect, then one is excellent in all aspects! Which is the trap most people (including many scientists) fall for when they over-reach to frameworks they are not as familiar with. Whatever Hitchens is good at, he is not good at religion, as far as I am concerned (i.e. Islam).

Hitchens was one of the most brilliant rhetoricians of my era, and a very astute political commentator. I didn't find his views on religion to be particularly stimulating.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
Yassine
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2/17/2016 3:15:36 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/15/2016 4:50:12 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:

Hitchens was one of the most brilliant rhetoricians of my era, and a very astute political commentator.

- I noticed his speech is quite witty, but it lacks logical rigour, which I suppose is to expected form such an accomplished rhetorician. Rhetoric & Logic don't bode well together.

I didn't find his views on religion to be particularly stimulating.

- Me neither.
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Islam is not a religion of peace vs. @ Lutonator:
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RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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2/17/2016 3:49:55 AM
Posted: 9 months ago
At 2/14/2016 2:37:19 AM, tejretics wrote:
At 2/14/2016 1:25:00 AM, Yassine wrote:
At 2/13/2016 3:29:27 PM, tejretics wrote:
The debate between those who identify as "antitheist," believers that religion is a net harm to society, and those who hold that religion is a net benefit, has been raging for centuries.

Do you think religion is a net benefit to humanity?

- Evidently.

Why/why not?

- Without it, there would be no Humanity!

The question is in present tense...if religion goes away now, I don't foresee any significant harm.
In principle I agree, Tej, but I think it depends on whether it's replaced with some other self-absorbed cultural preoccupation, and if so, with what.

You could replace religion with ethnic nationalism for example, and that'd be no good at all.

Or you could replace it with Cross Fit, and aside from everyone boring each others' face off at dinner parties and a revival of Body Shirts from the 70s, there'd be no harm done. :)