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JosephM

Religion - Positive or Negative

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Do you think that religion in general has had a positive or negative effect on the world? Can you give some examples?

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2 hours ago, JosephM said:

Do you think that religion in general has had a positive or negative effect on the world? Can you give some examples?

Depends on where you put the emphasis in "General".

I remember in my university days hitching to London and being picked up by a born again Christian. He claimed he had been a drug addict (I believed him) and that one day coming out of trip on train Jesus had come to him and changed his life forever. From my perspective he had swapped one dependency to a less harmful one. Which of course is fine. I am all for harm reduction. This why I am all for Sophisticated Theology®. Basically it is or can be a gateway out of the more harmful forms of religion.

The etymology of the word religion comes from the Latin "to reconnect" (at least this is the most commonly accepted one - Oxford Dictionary, and therefore right). The question is, reconnect to what? For some it is God, one another, society, faith, church - whatever. For me it is the universe. So if we take a no free will look at positive and negative the question seems a little human.

 

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This is certainly a topic that could be debated for pages and pages! :)

For me, like Rom alludes to, religion does provide positive benefits I think when one faces a ,more harmful future otherwise.  However, for many people, religion (and for even more people - specific religions) are unnecessary and yet those people contribute just as much to the world (or more) than a religious person and live just as good or even better lives (Mark Twain, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Edison, to name a sample).

There are religions that teach people all will be well one day (after death) so that might be a positive to help them through a crappy world experience.  Then there are harmful religions that tell people they are born evil and will burn in hell for all eternal unless they accept that religion's tenets.  I see that as harmful.

Having just returned from Indonesia, Hinduism & Buddhism is fresh in my mind and I found the Hindu & Buddhist people there to be quite relaxed, gentle, and accepting of their lot in life.  That seemed to be a positive for them as they were in a pretty miserable situation compared to western wealth & culture.  So they might be dirt poor, but if they're happy because of their religion then I guess that could be a positive.

Perhaps in a more violent, less communicative world, religion has played a part in trying to maintain some order in society historically.  But with many of those old superstitions being blown away by science and modern thinking, I see less and less place in the world for religion.  I expect that it will gradually die out although like we see in Progressive Christianity, that dying out becomes the religion adjusting itself to new ways of thinking.  So perhaps more than dying out, religions will just continue to change as they have throughout history.

 

 

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I agree with the obvious that religion has been a great benefit for some, some benefit to others and of no benefit to still others - and this last includes those who feel that religion impacted their lives negatively. As to lists of people for whom religion is necessary or unnecessary, and which of these has contributed more to life or led a 'better' life, we could go on and on with our lists and prove nothing - and there is also the question of how one defines a better life.

The belief in the fullness of life and trust in 'God' frees some to do something about their lives (if crappy) and still others to be creative and loving forces in the world for others. There were religions who clung fast to 'their truths' and preached damnation to those who weren't part of their tribe. And there are still some religions, or expressions (distortions) of religions who continue on that same path. However, not only has that tune changed for many, it is something that has no place in progressive expressions of religions, including Christianity (seen in this site and on other such sites and in those communities). 

I agree that many former beliefs about lots of things has gone away thanks to modern insights, discoveries, the sciences, critical history, biblical scholarship, modern theology, etc. Religion will evolve as it has before and "continue to change as (it has) throughout history." Spirituality will continue to find its place, some expressions of religion will 'adjust' to new ways of thinking and the human desire to seek meaning will continue anew.    

Edited by thormas

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Personally, i have found religion to be a stepping stone to that which is beyond it.  In that sense, it has been a positive influence in spite of its perceived (to me) inherent weakness. It seems to me that religion presents a dichotomy between itself and that which goes past the words, laws and rituals that i have experienced. As a stepping stone it seems to me to be a positive influence but to remain in its social structure can, and as history has show to me, lead to what i consider negative , howbeit  perhaps  necessary  pain and suffering for society to, through experiences, break away from and evolve.

Joseph

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I guess, for some, religion is a stepping stone for the beyond. However, for others, religion or spirituality is more (or also) a take on the meaning of the now (which some believe does include the 'beyond').

I would be curious about the weaknesses and the dichotomy you mentioned - just to see if others see the same thing and agree. 

I left the social structure ages ago for the simple reason that it failed to 'speak to me' and had been (even with some nice moments) rote for quite a while. It was the study of philosophy that taught me the language of theology (and gave me a way to think about "God") and much of Christianity came alive over the years but the routine of the Catholic expression and practice I put away years ago. 

I would also like to get a better idea of what you mean by necessary pain and suffering for society. Or do you mean what I was talking about (although there wasn't much pain and suffering for me) when I left it and came to what is, for me, a better understanding and life? 

Edited by thormas

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On 5/4/2018 at 5:30 PM, thormas said:

(snip)

I would be curious about the weaknesses and the dichotomy you mentioned - just to see if others see the same thing and agree. 

(snip)

I would also like to get a better idea of what you mean by necessary pain and suffering for society. Or do you mean what I was talking about (although there wasn't much pain and suffering for me) when I left it and came to what is, for me, a better understanding and life? 

I have personally found that progress seemed to come often after some degree of individual or societal pain or suffering. We often (but not always) learn from our mistakes which often have repercussions that trigger what many would call pain and suffering in our life. It seems to me it is mostly self created but nevertheless present until we transcend the anguish of the mind wherein i perceive lies the real suffering.

To me the weakness inherent in religions ( not necessary all these in all religions) could be its use of fear, reason seeking,  separation such as we and them,  requiring proselytizing, requiring an organization, and too many rules, controls, programming and fixed opinions. Religion has in the past and in some even in the present often preaches love and violence in the same sentence. Love for those within the group and violence for those without.

Joseph

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OK,  I agree on the use of fear, an us vs. them mentality, forced proselytizing, programming and fixed opinions.

I'm okay with sharing one's message, not sure what you mean by reason seeking, seemingly some organization is necessary but think a completely vertical org with a group of people (ex. men) in charge is wrong and counterproductive, and some rules, understood as principles governing/guiding behavior, are fine and one suspects that within this there will be agreed upon opinions. There should always be a door and all should be free to exist if they disagree or have had it!

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On ‎5‎/‎4‎/‎2018 at 10:00 AM, JosephM said:

Personally, i have found religion to be a stepping stone to that which is beyond it.  In that sense, it has been a positive influence in spite of its perceived (to me) inherent weakness. It seems to me that religion presents a dichotomy between itself and that which goes past the words, laws and rituals that i have experienced. As a stepping stone it seems to me to be a positive influence but to remain in its social structure can, and as history has show to me, lead to what i consider negative , howbeit  perhaps  necessary  pain and suffering for society to, through experiences, break away from and evolve.

Joseph

As a stepping stone perhaps. But there are many flavours of religion. But think of people that get stuck in a pattern of thought eg those that withhold life saving interventions to their children. We don't choose our stepping stones ... we find ourselves moving towards them.

Again it really does depend on what we mean by religion. If it is a recognition that we are connected to the "universe" then most religions would not qualify as religions in this sense.

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16 hours ago, JosephM said:

It seems to me it is mostly self created

Pain and suffering self created? I thought evolution imbued with this capability? 

Society, experiences, genetics etc shape us and our suffering. Whether I have the tools or not to avoid this suffering (if indeed this is our goal?) is a matter of luck.

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5 hours ago, romansh said:

Pain and suffering self created? I thought evolution imbued with this capability? 

Society, experiences, genetics etc shape us and our suffering. Whether I have the tools or not to avoid this suffering (if indeed this is our goal?) is a matter of luck.

Well, taken a bit out of context of what i said,  but okay.

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19 hours ago, thormas said:

OK,  I agree on the use of fear, an us vs. them mentality, forced proselytizing, programming and fixed opinions.

I'm okay with sharing one's message, not sure what you mean by reason seeking, seemingly some organization is necessary but think a completely vertical org with a group of people (ex. men) in charge is wrong and counterproductive, and some rules, understood as principles governing/guiding behavior, are fine and one suspects that within this there will be agreed upon opinions. There should always be a door and all should be free to exist if they disagree or have had it!

Thomas,

Yes. as i said "To me the weakness inherent in religions ( not necessary all these in all religions) " was typo should have read (not necessarily all these in all religions)

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3 hours ago, JosephM said:

Yes. as i said "To me the weakness inherent in religions ( not necessary all these in all religions) " was typo should have read (not necessarily all these in all religions)

Agreed!

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On 6 May 2018 at 9:52 AM, JosephM said:

I have personally found that progress seemed to come often after some degree of individual or societal pain or suffering. We often (but not always) learn from our mistakes which often have repercussions that trigger what many would call pain and suffering in our life. It seems to me it is mostly self created but nevertheless present until we transcend the anguish of the mind wherein i perceive lies the real suffering.

To me the weakness inherent in religions ( not necessary all these in all religions) could be its use of fear, reason seeking,  separation such as we and them,  requiring proselytizing, requiring an organization, and too many rules, controls, programming and fixed opinions. Religion has in the past and in some even in the present often preaches love and violence in the same sentence. Love for those within the group and violence for those without.

Agreed. 

I think also the idea or promise that pain and suffering can somehow be averted through religion, whether that promise is for this life or an afterlife, has been just as damaging.

Religion has the potential to divide or to unite and connect us. I sometimes think the more solid, definitive or concrete a religion appears, the weaker its ability to unite and the more it divides us.

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6 hours ago, possibility said:

Agreed. 

I think also the idea or promise that pain and suffering can somehow be averted through religion, whether that promise is for this life or an afterlife, has been just as damaging.

Religion has the potential to divide or to unite and connect us. I sometimes think the more solid, definitive or concrete a religion appears, the weaker its ability to unite and the more it divides us.

It does seem that way.

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Some negative aspects of some religions

 

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Hazardous to your Health......

Yes, or an unavoidable and necessary stepping stone for some. 

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1 hour ago, JosephM said:

Hazardous to your Health......

Yes, or an unavoidable and necessary stepping stone for some. 

Did you watch it Joseph? 

Perhaps we should put hazard warnings/metaphors on some of those stepping stones?

Edited by romansh

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15 minutes ago, JosephM said:

Hazardous to your Health......

Yes, or an unavoidable and necessary stepping stone for some. 

Agreed!

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47 minutes ago, thormas said:

Agreed!

Did you watch the video?

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14 hours ago, romansh said:

Did you watch the video?

I took a quick look but it wasn't worth the time. Anyone can discuss negatives of religion (or anything else) and many of those who value (aspects of) religion are typically the biggest and best critics because we know what we're talking about - being or having been insiders. 

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1 hour ago, thormas said:

I took a quick look but it wasn't worth the time. Anyone can discuss negatives of religion (or anything else) and many of those who value (aspects of) religion are typically the biggest and best critics because we know what we're talking about - being or having been insiders. 

So what are the negative aspects of religion?

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58 minutes ago, romansh said:

So what are the negative aspects of religion?

I think we have been over that and others have shared their experiences. 

I recognize the negative in religion (which like all institutions are man made) as we do in everything else. It could be said and has been said that science has negatives aspects but, I think, instead, that science, the chid of man, is sometimes misused or abused by men. But not always and its proper use is glorious. So too religion, or for me, theology.

 

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Based on what psychologists know about religious participation, it's mostly positive.  Some religious beliefs can be problematic, of course, but it's hard to generalize.

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