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Imagine there was no religion
04-26-2011, 05:00 PM
Post: #1
Imagine there was no religion
Hypothetically, if we all woke up tomorrow and everybody abandoned any religion that they hold, how would that affect society? I'm not talking about faith, keep your faith if you want, but what would be the consequence if organised religion was abolished?

This isn't a discussion about creationism vs evolution, the existence of god or any of those things that have been/are being covered in other threads or even the basis for morals and ethics.

This is a thread about the continuing validity of organised religion. The question is about whether or not organised religion is still valid in this day and age.

If we keep all of our history but move forward tomorrow with no religion, what would be the affect on society? Is there anything that religion offers today that cannot be provided just as effectively in another form?

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. - Nietzsche
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04-26-2011, 05:25 PM
Post: #2
RE: Imagine there was no religion
As long as people have faith, they will want to congregate. Organization is inevitable. It's almost as if you're asking what if we woke up tomorrow and gave up on nations and embraced anarchy (in the pure political science sense of the word). I don't think it's such a simple thought exercise.

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04-26-2011, 06:43 PM (This post was last modified: 04-26-2011 06:44 PM by Flipper.)
Post: #3
RE: Imagine there was no religion
I never said it was possible, it is the Secular Humanist Utopian dream to be free of organised religion.

If it is simply a need to congregate that still doesn't require an organised religion.

It depends on your concept of anarchy as well and probably nihilism too. As I said in another thread, the concept behind these two words has become subverted by those that think it would be "cool" if there were no rules and you only had to give a stuff about yourself.

What about anarchy as the concept that no man has a right to rule over any other man? Not just in the egalitarian sense that every man has the right to be heard but that power is not invested in a privileged group whether that be an oligarchy or a group of elected officials.

Same with nihilism, the common usage of the word is caring only for oneself, selfishness and self-gratification. What about as the concept that life has no intrinsic meaning? The only meaning that life has is the meaning that we construct for our own lives. This means that instead of working towards a better life in some imagined afterlife we could concentrate on making this life more meaningful and enjoyable.

Of course these are Utopian dreams, but if we don't have dreams to work towards then we would achieve nothing.

It links into my perception of the religious persons solipsism. They are so concerned with ensuring that they have the best possible afterlife that their every action, whether they are prepared to admit it or not, is driven by the promise of eternal paradise or the threat of eternal damnation. Yes, they are involved in charitable works etc, but deep down they believe these actions will also benefit themselves.

So which is truly altruistic? The charitable works performed by the religious or the secularist.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. - Nietzsche
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04-26-2011, 07:47 PM
Post: #4
RE: Imagine there was no religion
Hello,

I'm not sure what you mean by organized religion. Can you please tell me what mean by this term. It is hard to say what would happen if everyone would seize to believe in their religion. My guess would be that the world will look from a moral standpoint pretty much the same as it looks now. It may be that some individuals will change some of their moral values but largely I think there would be no significant difference. However I don't see how any result on society would validate or invalidate religion. For instance if you could show that a certain feature of reality we believe in is not useful or even damaging for society it would not follow that this believe is false or invalidated. Beliefs are for most part not about usefulness, but about a certain truth content.
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04-26-2011, 08:02 PM (This post was last modified: 04-26-2011 08:06 PM by jrpurdon.)
Post: #5
RE: Imagine there was no religion
(04-26-2011 06:43 PM)Flipper Wrote:  I never said it was possible, it is the Secular Humanist Utopian dream to be free of organised religion.

Secular Humanism seems slightly more organized than other atheist groups, so I suppose it's possible that this is an explicit "dream state" of SH... but as a secular humanist, why should you be opposed to people organizing themselves by similar faiths?

Quote:If it is simply a need to congregate that still doesn't require an organised religion.

Required? Perhaps not. Inevitable? So it seems. I doubt that organized religion would exist at all were there not a tendency for it to happen.

Quote:It depends on your concept of anarchy as well and probably nihilism too. As I said in another thread, the concept behind these two words has become subverted by those that think it would be "cool" if there were no rules and you only had to give a stuff about yourself.

What about anarchy as the concept that no man has a right to rule over any other man? Not just in the egalitarian sense that every man has the right to be heard but that power is not invested in a privileged group whether that be an oligarchy or a group of elected officials.

No need to define anarchy to me. But you're essentially asking the same question. Is government necessary? What can government provide that social contracts cannot? How a church benefits society isn't exactly the question (certainly charity can happen without religious organizations). How a church benefits a person spiritually is really where things get interesting. Some people of faith agree that organization gets in the way. A vast majority seem to disagree.

Quote:So which is truly altruistic? The charitable works performed by the religious or the secularist.

Seems like the topic of another thread. There is evidence to suggest that doing charity lights up the pleasure pathways of the brain, essentially giving you a biological reward for being "altruistic," similar to how the brain rewards us for having sex. Does it make you a better person to seek the pleasures of sex? Does it make you a better person to seek the pleasures of charity? Do you do charity because you feel like it's the right thing? Because it defines you as a better person? It's rewarding for a person to feel that they are a good person, that they will be seen as a good person by their peers, is it not? What exactly is the difference between these motivators and ones that say that God prefers people who do good deeds, rewards them with Heaven?
I have to apologize for not being a typical atheist (or perhaps being all too typical). I don't mind challenging any particular position that seems built on a shaky premise, even if that means defending the religious a bit. And it's not like there's a lot of hot debate going on right now. I'm tempted to take any contrary position just to keep things alive Tongue

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04-26-2011, 08:38 PM (This post was last modified: 04-26-2011 09:04 PM by Flipper.)
Post: #6
RE: Imagine there was no religion
(04-26-2011 07:47 PM)Hamza Abdulhakim Wrote:  Hello,

I'm not sure what you mean by organized religion. Can you please tell me what mean by this term. It is hard to say what would happen if everyone would seize to believe in their religion. My guess would be that the world will look from a moral standpoint pretty much the same as it looks now. It may be that some individuals will change some of their moral values but largely I think there would be no significant difference. However I don't see how any result on society would validate or invalidate religion. For instance if you could show that a certain feature of reality we believe in is not useful or even damaging for society it would not follow that this believe is false or invalidated. Beliefs are for most part not about usefulness, but about a certain truth content.


By organised religion I mean an organisation based on faith that has a system of rules etc by which the adherents are expected to conduct themselves, that's my short generic answer.

I don't mean to give up belief in whatever deity/deities a person wishes to believe in, but just abandon the doctrine on which the religion is based.

I guess the question that I am asking is, if faith in a deity is sufficient to guarantee acceptance into whatever paradise may await, then what is the point of the organised part of religion? Is there anything that religion currently offers that is not also offered by a secular organisation. If not, then why isn't faith enough?

(04-26-2011 08:02 PM)jrpurdon Wrote:  Secular Humanism seems slightly more organized than other atheist groups, so I suppose it's possible that this is an explicit "dream state" of SH... but as a secular humanist, why should you be opposed to people organizing themselves by similar faiths?

I am opposed to people organising into a religion when they believe that this gives them a mandate to dictate how other people should live their life. A perfect example is the Australian Christian Lobby. These people hold a inordinate of influence in Australian politics, why should they care if I choose to play R18+ rated video games, choose to end my life at the time and in the manner of my choosing or if two people wish to marry even though they are of the same sex.

Quote:Required? Perhaps not. Inevitable? So it seems. I doubt that organized religion would exist at all were there not a tendency for it to happen.

I'm not arguing the evolution of religion or even the contribution that religion has made to humanity up to this point. My major question is about the effect that disbanding organised religion from here on out would have. Personally, I don't think that for the most part anything would change. Though from some comments that I have read it seems to me that there are people out for who it is only their faith that prevents them from descending into complete hedonism and lawlessness, which scares me more than a little.

Quote:No need to define anarchy to me. But you're essentially asking the same question. Is government necessary? What can government provide that social contracts cannot?

Yes, I realise I don't have to define anarchy for you, but I'm kind of hoping that you and I aren't going to be the only ones in this discussion and other people may need that point of reference. Not to say that I don't want to discuss with you Big Grin it is just that the more points of view the more interesting this going to be. However, the overthrow of government is not what is under discussion here, though I would be quite happy to discuss that somewhere else if you want.

Quote:How a church benefits a person spiritually is really where things get interesting. Some people of faith agree that organization gets in the way. A vast majority seem to disagree.

Herein lies the crux of my question. On what grounds do the vast majority disagree that organisation is unnecessary for the observance of their faith? Sorry about the double negative.

Quote:Seems like the topic of another thread.

You right, slightly off topic there. My bad!

Quote:I have to apologize for not being a typical atheist (or perhaps being all too typical). I don't mind challenging any particular position that seems built on a shaky premise, even if that means defending the religious a bit. And it's not like there's a lot of hot debate going on right now. I'm tempted to take any contrary position just to keep things alive

No need to apologise, if we were all the same this would be one hell of a boring place. Perhaps a special kind of hell in itself! Perhaps we could discuss what you find so shaky about Secular Humanism in that thread so we don't get off topic here. I realise that the question I have presented here is entirely impossible, but I reckon it is at least easier to comprehend than Kev's bit about the supposed non-existence of the unobserved universe.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. - Nietzsche
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04-27-2011, 06:18 AM
Post: #7
RE: Imagine there was no religion
(04-26-2011 08:38 PM)Flipper Wrote:  I am opposed to people organising into a religion when they believe that this gives them a mandate to dictate how other people should live their life. A perfect example is the Australian Christian Lobby. These people hold a inordinate of influence in Australian politics, why should they care if I choose to play R18+ rated video games, choose to end my life at the time and in the manner of my choosing or if two people wish to marry even though they are of the same sex.

You're from Australia then, I take it? Must be nice to have such a minimal breach of Church and State. Try following American politics! I absolutely agree that it's a pain when people try to govern me according to their religious beliefs. But part of agreeing to be governed generally involves that we want some say in the rules. Who are the Australian Christian Lobby to tell gays that they can't marry? Who are we to tell thieves that they can't steal? They don't see a big difference between gays and thieves.

Quote:Though from some comments that I have read it seems to me that there are people out for who it is only their faith that prevents them from descending into complete hedonism and lawlessness, which scares me more than a little.

Agreed. For what it's worth, also agreed that society should theoretically be able to function in the absence of organized religion (that it's not contributing to society at large in any way that secular organizations or individual charity can't also do). I'm just not sure that some individuals would know how to function without it.

Quote:Herein lies the crux of my question. On what grounds do the vast majority disagree that organisation is unnecessary for the observance of their faith? Sorry about the double negative.

All I could do for this is to parrot the talking points I've seen of this debate elsewhere amongst believers. People seem to need it (or desire it) so it's not going anywhere anytime soon. Also, if people seem to need it (or desire it), perhaps it is fulfilling a useful purpose in society. Much like a brothel for people to get their spiritual jollies, perhaps?

Quote:I realise that the question I have presented here is entirely impossible, but I reckon it is at least easier to comprehend than Kev's bit about the supposed non-existence of the unobserved universe.

There have certainly been more pointless threads, that's for sure Wink If what you're after is why do people of faith seem to want or need organized religions, that's a debate I wouldn't mind seeing unfolding. But to most churchgoers, asking what would happen if tomorrow all the churches disappeared, I imagine they'd just respond that they'd feel lost and be done with the discussion (well, they'd actually be more likely to respond with something like "why do you atheists always try to rain on our parade?" and indignantly leave it at that).

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04-27-2011, 01:36 PM
Post: #8
RE: Imagine there was no religion
I really think more people everyday have begun to see organized religion as more of a social club than something spiritual,10 yrs ago most of these discussions would not have been possible
I will always practice the traditions of my faith, not because I necessarily agree with them, most of the time I don’t, but more to conform and be a part of society and family
Is it needed? Personally I think not ,but not so sure about society in general,But hey,every little tax break helps
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04-27-2011, 01:44 PM
Post: #9
RE: Imagine there was no religion
Sorry Flip, I normally get annoyed with people who refuse to play on threads like this, but I'm going to have to join them for this one. As JR said, it's human nature to congregate and create groups and communities - if it was possible for people to have faith without organised religion, those people would be too different from the ones we know for me to be able to imagine what their society is like.
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04-27-2011, 04:48 PM (This post was last modified: 04-27-2011 04:50 PM by Flipper.)
Post: #10
RE: Imagine there was no religion
(04-27-2011 06:18 AM)jrpurdon Wrote:  You're from Australia then, I take it? Must be nice to have such a minimal breach of Church and State. Try following American politics! I absolutely agree that it's a pain when people try to govern me according to their religious beliefs. But part of agreeing to be governed generally involves that we want some say in the rules. Who are the Australian Christian Lobby to tell gays that they can't marry? Who are we to tell thieves that they can't steal? They don't see a big difference between gays and thieves.

Yeah, I'm an Aussie. But that was only a small example of the influence that "church" has over "state" here in Aus. Another hot topic at the moment is the federal funding of chaplains in state school to the tune of approximately $300 million, not qualified councellors or social workers, chaplains and the only qualification required is to be an ordained memeber of a recognised religion. On the topic of gay marriage, who is gay marriage actually affecting? To compare it to having the right to tell theives they can steal is a fair stretch because someone is always affected by theft which makes it wrong in terms of SH.


(04-27-2011 01:36 PM)Yefet Wrote:  I really think more people everyday have begun to see organized religion as more of a social club than something spiritual,10 yrs ago most of these discussions would not have been possible
I will always practice the traditions of my faith, not because I necessarily agree with them, most of the time I don’t, but more to conform and be a part of society and family
Is it needed? Personally I think not ,but not so sure about society in general,But hey,every little tax break helps

And I guess that is the question really. Not so much what would happen but why people need?want organised religion.

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. - Nietzsche
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