Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby Truthseeker » Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:50 pm

What are the source(s) of evil? Well, I don't think it boils down to any easy list. Any bad action you can think of has its own circumstances and explanations. I work in a court, so I probably get exposed to more of the day-to-day transgressions than perhaps many people reading these posts, and I can say from that experience that there is no one thing or a few things that explain(s) it all. The most encompassing theme I can come up with is that people who harm others have something that they care about more than the people they hurt. Maybe that "something" is an addiction, or hungry children, or a political belief, or something else. I have no doubt that for some people, somewhere that "something" is religion. That seems to be more common in the Middle East than in suburban Colorado, though. There is something to the idea that culture plays a role in religious violence, but saying religion plays no role would be just as naive as saying it is the only thing that plays a role.

Regarding whether it is impossible to find a motivation to be good without religion, my observation is that religious people have much more difficulty conceiving of an atheistic basis for morality than actual atheists do. I go back and forth between being an atheist and being an agnostic. These days I feel more agnostic. But I think my motivation for being good to people would be the same with or without the existence of a diety, and it's that we all have to live on this tiny rock called Earth together, and that experience would be so much easier if we, as housemates, could get along with each other. And people have an easier time getting along if they treat each other with respect.
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby ArcticFox » Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:18 pm

There is something to the idea that culture plays a role in religious violence, but saying religion plays no role would be just as naive as saying it is the only thing that plays a role.
I'm not too sure about that. If a culture (or an individual, for that matter) is predisposed to commit an act of violence, religion might be used as an excuse, but it's not like the person would abstain from the act absent his religion. Both Christianity and Islam are frequently blamed (by their detractors) for acts of violence and yet both religions have an overwhelming majority of peaceful adherents. So what is it? Is it the religion, or the people/culture?

Would I be justified in blaming Atheism for the evils committed by atheists? Atheist world leaders in the 20th Century are responsible for more deaths than all the wars in human history combined, religious or otherwise. If we're going to be pointing fingers at belief systems...

Or maybe it's something else. Maybe religion (or the lack thereof) isn't the issue or, if it's a factor at all, maybe it's a small one. If Stalin had been a Christian might he have done things differently and not killed 20M Soviet citizens? If Osama Bin Ladin had been an atheist might he have been less radical?

Maybe. I'll concede maybe.

But we can't know. So it's not really useful to say it's naive one way or another unless that can be backed with some real facts.
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby Truthseeker » Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:07 pm

I definitely agree that we can't know since we can't perform a laboratory experiment on history where the only variable is the existence of religion.
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby ArcticFox » Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:23 pm

Kinda makes me wonder how people who pride themselves on their "reason" and "scientific thinking" (like Christopher Hitchens) can draw that very conclusion when it's time to bash religion.

Well, I don't wonder. I know how.
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby ArchAngel » Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:28 pm

Preposterous.
I guess we should stop studying history, because we just can't learn anything from it.
Are we not able to draw conclusions of the dangers and affects of unchecked nationalism?
Tyrannical dictatorships?
Growing wealth inequalities?
A lack of code of laws?
Are these just answered with a nebulous shrugging of the shoulders?

And even if we were to accept that we can't draw conclusions from history, this also means that A) you can't say religion's a scapegoat and it was culture all along, and B) that religion can take credit for the good things it teaches. Neither of which you stopped saying. You don't accept this anymore than I do.

We can draw conclusions, albeit limited without our ability to form control groups and conduct systematic tests, but those are the nuances of history. Also, with religion around us, we can make even more specific observations. So I'm not accepting this "We can't know religion's effects" claim, especially in the same post with "religion does good," and "it was actually culture." If you want to be agnostic about religion's affects, it has to go both ways, and if you want to claim religion is benign, it also has to go both ways. I mean, those are both wrong positions, but at least it's consistent.

I can get lost in a WoT going into biblical cases for slavery and genocide, or the Catholic church systematically protecting pedophilic priests, but I think it's best maybe, at this point, to state my primary purpose, lest the conclusion is I'm just conducting a rage-fest on religion:

I want acknowledgement of the dangers of religion.
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby Sstavix » Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:37 am


I want acknowledgement of the dangers of religion.
While you're at it, why don't you talk to members of PETA about the benefits of eating meat?

Basically, the only ones who will offer what you're looking for are those who view religion as evil and as something that needs to be deconstructed and destroyed. And those, I hope you'll agree, are not really independent, non-biased approaches to the subject. Also, it's unlikely you'll find a lot of people on this site willing to jump on that bandwagon. ;)

I still say that, if the supernatural is not a factor in motivating people to do evil (in other words, the original source of humanity to determine what constitutes good and evil actions), then it stems from our biological inclinations. If religion is a factor - or, more precisely, it's because of the existence of a Heavenly Father to provide guidance and direction, and Satan's attempts to lure us to do the opposite of what Heavenly Father wishes of us - then I'm much more inclined to agree with that approach.

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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby ArcticFox » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:16 pm

Preposterous.
I guess we should stop studying history, because we just can't learn anything from it.
Are we not able to draw conclusions of the dangers and affects of unchecked nationalism?
Tyrannical dictatorships?
Growing wealth inequalities?
A lack of code of laws?
Are these just answered with a nebulous shrugging of the shoulders?
I don't think anyone here has said anything like that, Broamir. It's objective study of history that forces us to admit that we can't make sweeping claims like the one you seem to be championing. I'll ask again because it's important, if you aren't arguing that religion is always evil, and you aren't arguing that all evil comes from religion, then what are you asserting? That religion is sometimes to blame for evil? Ok, sure, but I'll maintain that it's not the sole factor, and you can never prove that it is.

For example, after the battle of Hattin in 1187 (A battle in which the King of Jerusalem, Guy of Lusignan, led a disastrous forced march of a heavily armed and armored Christian army through a desert with no supply lines and attacked a fresh Muslim army who was encamped around a well. Go figure the Christians got pwned.) the captured knights were given a choice to either convert to Islam or die. 200 Knights Templar were massacred after being taken prisoner because they would not renounce their faith. Where does the blame fall? On Islam? Or maybe the culture of the Ayyubids played a role in how they treated their PoWs. Can we know for sure?
And even if we were to accept that we can't draw conclusions from history, this also means that A) you can't say religion's a scapegoat and it was culture all along, and B) that religion can take credit for the good things it teaches. Neither of which you stopped saying. You don't accept this anymore than I do.
Nobody said we can't learn anything, or draw any conclusions from our study of history. That isn't the same as justifying unprovable and sweeping claims about religion being a force for evil in the world. (Or at least, more evil than good.)

In order to prove an assertion that religion is more evil than good, you would need to be able to take all of the significant historical examples of evil perpetrated in the name of religion and prove that religion was either the sole factor or at least the deciding factor in all of those cases. My assertion, that cultural implementation is the larger factor, is a much easier claim to back up because I can look at various places and times that share the same religion, but have drastically different cultures and behaviors.

But the culture question is already addressed in another thread. This thread is narrowing the focus on whether or not religion is the source of evil. I say it is not.
We can draw conclusions, albeit limited without our ability to form control groups and conduct systematic tests, but those are the nuances of history. Also, with religion around us, we can make even more specific observations. So I'm not accepting this "We can't know religion's effects" claim, especially in the same post with "religion does good," and "it was actually culture." If you want to be agnostic about religion's affects, it has to go both ways, and if you want to claim religion is benign, it also has to go both ways. I mean, those are both wrong positions, but at least it's consistent.
So are you saying that in order for me to acknowledge the benefits of Christian charities, I have to also blame Christianity for some evil? That's illogical. Just compare like to like. In our culture, we can examine the list of charitable organizations and then sort them by theme. If you do this, you'll find the majority of them to be Christian. Now, what does that suggest about Christianity? That it's a good thing, an evil thing, or indifferent?

Now look at something like the Catholic vs. Protestant fighting in Northern Ireland. Would the Irish be fighting the English if there wasn't a religious denomination to divide them? Very likely they would, because of Nationalism and other factors. Religion is a mechanism by which they divide themselves further, yes... but it's not the root cause of the conflict. If England hadn't taken control of Northern Ireland, would the Catholics and Protestants be fighting? I see no reason to believe they would be.
I can get lost in a WoT going into biblical cases for slavery and genocide, or the Catholic church systematically protecting pedophilic priests, but I think it's best maybe, at this point, to state my primary purpose, lest the conclusion is I'm just conducting a rage-fest on religion:

I want acknowledgement of the dangers of religion.
Can you be more specific? What dangers? I'll grant you that religion can be used to amp up an existing conflict and make it worse (like the Northern Ireland thing) but again, if you want to blame religion for something you have to be able to show that it is religion itself that is the root cause, and not a red herring. If the Catholic Church has protected criminals, and on that basis you want to push the notion of religion being dangerous, then you'll have to show me how the Church doing that is any different from secular organizations that have done it. (And there have been plenty.) And if secular organizations AND the Church have both committed the same crime, then we have to look at what they have in common. Namely, a culture.

And you can bring up Biblical cases for slavery and genocide all you like but, as I've said before, Christianity didn't create slavery, Christianity ended it. (or at the very least, was not an obstacle for a cultural shift that ended it.) Christianity doesn't commit genocide, but when you see genocide being committed in the world the military might that stops is is wielded mostly by Christians.

But here's a question. Why are you so committed to holding religion's feet to the fire when it comes to historical evils associated with it, but I've never seen you acknowledge the possibility of atheism playing a role in the death of tens of millions of people in just the last hundred years?
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby zekesnack » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:42 pm

1 tim. 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil. . . .
think this sums it up
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby ArchAngel » Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:49 pm

While you're at it, why don't you talk to members of PETA about the benefits of eating meat?

Basically, the only ones who will offer what you're looking for are those who view religion as evil and as something that needs to be deconstructed and destroyed. And those, I hope you'll agree, are not really independent, non-biased approaches to the subject. Also, it's unlikely you'll find a lot of people on this site willing to jump on that bandwagon.
Oh, come on.
Because you are religious, you can't acknowledge dangers of religion?
Frankly, if you are religious, it's all the more important that you admit dangers of it.

This is not about religion being evil, or the source of evil. Nobody's arguing that.
I still say that, if the supernatural is not a factor in motivating people to do evil (in other words, the original source of humanity to determine what constitutes good and evil actions), then it stems from our biological inclinations.
Yes, and humans make religion. It can be an expression of our good and our evil.
If religion is a factor - or, more precisely, it's because of the existence of a Heavenly Father to provide guidance and direction, and Satan's attempts to lure us to do the opposite of what Heavenly Father wishes of us - then I'm much more inclined to agree with that approach.
So, are all religions from the heavenly father?
we can't make sweeping claims like the one you seem to be championing
Ooooooh, son. You did not just...
I'm making sweeping claims?
Sweeping claims like:
Because it's the culture.
Organized Religion is just a red herring.
But the core of every organized religion is one of goodness, morality and order.

I'm not saying religion is the source of all evil, or that all religions are evil. Or that there is no goodness in religion. I'm talking about the problems with the structure of religion and the teachings that get propagated because of it.
I'll ask again because it's important, if you aren't arguing that religion is always evil, and you aren't arguing that all evil comes from religion, then what are you asserting?
*ahem*
I want acknowledgement of the dangers of religion.
*cough*
there is one quality to religion that makes it unique to any other set of beliefs: it is non-verifiable. Even politics has to stand up to evidence; it makes claims about what will happen in the real world and will inevitably be judged by it. But not religion, religion makes claims on the observable and makes predictions after death. It literally sets itself to never be proved wrong, which maximizes it's life and staying power.
*hack*
it is a catalyst of evil.
*harmph*
Religion perpetuates these evils.
*hurk*
the framework of religion is terrible. Beliefs that must be accepted without evidence is a poor structure, even if the teachings are good.
I'm sorry, I had a bit of a coughing fit.

I've never said that either religion is always evil, or that all evils come from it, but that it's built in a way that perpetuates evil through unverifiable teachings and mandatory beliefs. You gotta hope that you're right and there is some spiritual revelation behind these teachings (in which you probably should leave the other religions out the dry), because, at best, it's what a bunch of dead guys thought was right. At worst, it's what a bunch of dead guys thought they could scam others for money or power.
So are you saying that in order for me to acknowledge the benefits of Christian charities, I have to also blame Christianity for some evil? That's illogical.
No. It's not a quid pro quo thing; it's a consistent standards thing. If you want to be able to write off the inquisition, witch burnings, whatever, as a "culture thing," than why not charity is just a culture thing? Nope, somehow, it's the good of religion. If we can't know that it was religion or culture, why suddenly can you make the claim for charity? How is this not abundantly clear?
If we want to talk specifics of religion, like about ISIS and Islam, the various abuses of the Catholic Church, or Christian charities, then we can. But blanket statements won't do here.
Can you be more specific? What dangers?
I feel another coughing fit coming up.
I'll grant you that religion can be used to amp up an existing conflict and make it worse (like the Northern Ireland thing) but again, if you want to blame religion for something you have to be able to show that it is religion itself that is the root cause, and not a red herring.
No, and it's a false dichotomy to be either a root cause or a red herring. There are contributing factors. You even granted that religion can amp up existing conflicts and make it worse. That's a danger.

So, what is a root cause to you? The teaching that a suicide bombings are found good in the eyes of Allah and they will be rewarded in paradise, or is that just another red herring? Does a root cause have the be the complete and final source of evil, like the nature of man, or can it be the primary motivation of the one committing the act?
If the Catholic Church has protected criminals, and on that basis you want to push the notion of religion being dangerous, then you'll have to show me how the Church doing that is any different from secular organizations that have done it. (And there have been plenty.)
I don't know of a single secular organization that has not only continually used it's money and power to protect child rapists, but also mandating it in their doctrine, one written by the last pope, and that anyone who would speak up against it could face excommunication. People in power definitely have mobilized their resources to protect their own, but put out an edict making it law? And the thing is, this isn't even an evil motivated by religion, it's just one that religion is used as a very potent tool to protect the name of the church (because, for the cardinals, that's more important than protecting children from rape) and the perversions of men. But, it is a danger of religion.
And if secular organizations AND the Church have both committed the same crime, then we have to look at what they have in common. Namely, a culture.
Nope. The world is not NEARLY this simple. Besides the fact that religion and culture have a very intertwined way of influencing each other, this also makes false causal relationships. People do a lot of things for a lot of reasons, and someone of them are selfish, and some of them are because someone convinced them this is the way the world works. Just because a man killed his neighbor because of a spat and man killed his daughter because she was dating a non-muslim man doesn't mean it must be their culture of killing; they have their own separate motivations. Religion is a very central part of many people's lives, and depending on what the teachings are at the time, it can have wildly different effects.
And you can bring up Biblical cases for slavery and genocide all you like but, as I've said before, Christianity didn't create slavery, Christianity ended it.
Christians were on both sides of the slavery issue, and both cited their religion and their God. You can't chalk that one up to Christianity quite so quickly. Especially in a predominantly Christian nation. But if you want to trace influential concepts, the Bible does justify slavery and a lot of the ideas about freedom and rights comes from the renaissance thinkers. This isn't, of course, not to say the more egalitarian nature of protestant Christianity have it's part to play. In the end, first-world christian did just about entirely shift to become anti-slavery.
Christianity doesn't commit genocide
Except for, you know, like the LRA. Crusades had some bad moments. The Spanish had some bad moments, but also to the credit of the Friars, they are some of the only reasons that we knew of the cruelty done to the "savage natives."
when you see genocide being committed in the world the military might that stops is is wielded mostly by Christians.
Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.
Whoa.
...
whoa.
So, now Christianity can take credit for something just because the people who did it happen to be mostly of a christian statistic?
Why are you so committed to holding religion's feet to the fire when it comes to historical evils associated with it, but I've never seen you acknowledge the possibility of atheism playing a role in the death of tens of millions of people in just the last hundred years?
The question is bad. Atheism is a non position. It's the null hypothesis. It can be neither credited with good nor evil. You don't hear me preach about all the good atheism does; it can't do good. It can't do anything. There is no teaching in atheism that requires the death of infidels, I mean, religious people.
Be it that you are probably referring to Soviet Russia and PRC, pretty clear it's about government control. They even had state-mandated churches that they run. It's no secret that they were largely anti-religious, but that was for their own means.

Ugh, so, another quote heavy wall of text.
Alright:
TL;DR: People do evil and people do good, but we must analyze religion both for it's structure, as set of unverifiable and mandatory beliefs and teachings and the dangers that entails, and it's individual claims, which can be good, like love your neighbor, or bad, like stone the homosexual.
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby Sstavix » Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:43 pm

Oh, come on.
Because you are religious, you can't acknowledge dangers of religion?
Frankly, if you are religious, it's all the more important that you admit dangers of it.
OK, hang on a second. Anything and everything is dangerous if it isn't property handled. This sounds like you're taking the same approach of various gun control advocates who want to ban guns for the sole reason guns exist.

Let's look at another example. Suppose I leave a screwdriver on the floor. My son, being the curious tyke he is, decides to pick it up and take the DVD player apart while I'm not looking. When I catch him, what should be punished in this instance? My son because he should know better? Myself for not putting the screwdriver away? Or the screwdriver?

It seems to me that you want to take that third option - religion should be "punished" or blamed, for people using it as an excuse to do bad things. Is that what you're trying to get at?
If religion is a factor - or, more precisely, it's because of the existence of a Heavenly Father to provide guidance and direction, and Satan's attempts to lure us to do the opposite of what Heavenly Father wishes of us - then I'm much more inclined to agree with that approach.
So, are all religions from the heavenly father?
No. In fact, you'll notice that I've indicated a second supernatural player in my statement. ;) Not only that, some religions do stem from human beliefs systems. Such as secular humanism. Or Scientology. Or Discordianism, which sometimes makes about as much sense.

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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby ArchAngel » Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:59 pm

All do. Even if you claim exception for your personal brand, you can't justify all religions. If Christianity is from God, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wiccan, etc. are from the world/the Devil. I'd think you'd be even more opposed to those religions than I am.

And secular humanism is not a religion. It's more akin to a philosophy. If you include something that specifically distances itself from religion, you have a very broad definition of a religion.
OK, hang on a second. Anything and everything is dangerous if it isn't property handled. This sounds like you're taking the same approach of various gun control advocates who want to ban guns for the sole reason guns exist.
Absolutely, which is why need to approach this issue carefully. I'm not calling for the ban of religion. I'm curious, what do you think I'm arguing for?
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby ArcticFox » Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:13 pm

Ooooooh, son. You did not just...
Oh yes I did! *snap* *snap* *snap* :mrgreen:

But seriously, your point is well taken, but it's not quite the same thing from my point of view. I can say it's cultural because I can read a pattern and come up with a theory. If religion were more evil than good, then I'd look at history and expect religion to be the predominant factor in the worst episodes of human behavior. When we look however, that isn't what we see. What *is* consistent is that cultures tend to behave a certain way across religions

Now, you're right that that same logic can be applied to say religion isn't a strong force for good either, and I get what you're saying, but we take the analysis a step further: Within a culture, do people of religion tend to do more good or more evil? Of course, that gets subjective, and we may have to agree to disagree on what acts count toward good and evil. For instance, Christians in this country tend to oppose abortion and gay marriage. If you believe those things are evil, then you'd regard these Christians as being a force for good. If, on the other hand, you believe those things to be basic rights, then the Christians who oppose them are a force for evil.

But while you're considering that idea, bear in mind that, at least in our culture, there are Christians on both sides of the issues anyway.
I'm not saying religion is the source of all evil, or that all religions are evil. Or that there is no goodness in religion.
I acknowledged that in my last post. What I've been having trouble with is that I'm not sure what you are asserting. I know you've asked us to acknowledge bad things have been done in the name of religion, and I've done that, but that isn't the same as asserting a position.
I'm talking about the problems with the structure of religion and the teachings that get propagated because of it.
Okay, but what do you mean when you refer to the "structure of religion?" Are you referencing organized religion, or something more abstract? And different religions can have radically different teachings, so can I assume you mean it in the abstract here as well?
I'll ask again because it's important, if you aren't arguing that religion is always evil, and you aren't arguing that all evil comes from religion, then what are you asserting?
*ahem*
I want acknowledgement of the dangers of religion.
*cough*
Man, you better get some cough syrup for that. Seasonal flu really sucks ;)

But you see what I mean here? Your challenge isn't an assertion of a position. Or at least, it isn't coming across as one. The other comments about religion being non-verifiable isn't really a point under contention in this thread. Now, if you want to say religion is a catalyst of evil, would you be willing to concede that it's also a catalyst for good? Then we could maybe advance the discussion to the question of which outweighs the other.
But blanket statements won't do here.
Like "Religion is a catalyst for evil?"
No, and it's a false dichotomy to be either a root cause or a red herring. There are contributing factors. You even granted that religion can amp up existing conflicts and make it worse. That's a danger.
Sure, but that's not because religion is inherently dangerous. It is, however vulnerable to being manipulated to control people, which we've seen quite a bit of. That doesn't mean religion is the source of it. A guy like Bin Laden who uses it to manipulate people into becoming terrorists was evil (or insane, or both) without needing any help from Islam.
So, what is a root cause to you? The teaching that a suicide bombings are found good in the eyes of Allah and they will be rewarded in paradise, or is that just another red herring? Does a root cause have the be the complete and final source of evil, like the nature of man, or can it be the primary motivation of the one committing the act?
I think you have to be careful when dealing with examples of people being brainwashed. I assert that examples like jihadis blowing themselves up are brainwashed into pursuing a political agenda that's justified by clerics using Islam as the lever. What is the goal of an organization like Al-Qaeda? It formed originally to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Telling the insurgents they were doing Allah's will is just a mechanism for motivating them, but brainwashing comes in all flavors, not just religion.
I don't know of a single secular organization that has not only continually used it's money and power to protect child rapists,
Well there's the U.S. Congress...
but also mandating it in their doctrine, one written by the last pope, and that anyone who would speak up against it could face excommunication. People in power definitely have mobilized their resources to protect their own, but put out an edict making it law? And the thing is, this isn't even an evil motivated by religion, it's just one that religion is used as a very potent tool to protect the name of the church (because, for the cardinals, that's more important than protecting children from rape) and the perversions of men. But, it is a danger of religion.
I'm not going to defend any institution, religious or otherwise, protecting criminals but at the same time, it's not unique to Catholicism. Besides, if *only* Catholicism is known for that, then the blame should fall on that organization, and not on religion (or even Christianity) in general.
Nope. The world is not NEARLY this simple. Besides the fact that religion and culture have a very intertwined way of influencing each other, this also makes false causal relationships. People do a lot of things for a lot of reasons, and someone of them are selfish, and some of them are because someone convinced them this is the way the world works. Just because a man killed his neighbor because of a spat and man killed his daughter because she was dating a non-muslim man doesn't mean it must be their culture of killing; they have their own separate motivations. Religion is a very central part of many people's lives, and depending on what the teachings are at the time, it can have wildly different effects.
It can, but the only Muslims you see doing things like that are ones who are either originally from a Middle Eastern nation or are very heavily influenced by it. You take a second or third generation American Muslim and you won't see that kind of thing, because they've assimilated into a culture where that nonsense won't fly. Same religion, different culture.
Christians were on both sides of the slavery issue, and both cited their religion and their God. You can't chalk that one up to Christianity quite so quickly. Especially in a predominantly Christian nation. But if you want to trace influential concepts, the Bible does justify slavery and a lot of the ideas about freedom and rights comes from the renaissance thinkers. This isn't, of course, not to say the more egalitarian nature of protestant Christianity have it's part to play. In the end, first-world christian did just about entirely shift to become anti-slavery.
Remember how earlier we were talking about the motivation for getting people to blow themselves up for political gain being Islam? Well what do you think was employed to motivate the Union troops in the Civil War? That's right, the Bible. The South was populated with Christians but they weren't using the Bible to motivate the Confederate troops. They were using a purely secular argument about states' rights.
Christianity doesn't commit genocide
Except for, you know, like the LRA. Crusades had some bad moments. The Spanish had some bad moments, but also to the credit of the Friars, they are some of the only reasons that we knew of the cruelty done to the "savage natives."[/quote]

The LRA? You're seriously going to bring in a fringe lunatic cult to make a point that's meant to apply to religion in general? Negatory on that one, good buddy. I call shenanigans. As for the Crusades, they were not a pointed effort at genocide, but rather a huge variety of motives, including expansionism, nationalism, greed, defense, and prestige. Some of the Crusades were fought for nobler reasons than others but ultimately none of them were meant to slay all the Muslims. That would have been ridiculous anyway as it wouldn't have even been possible.
So, now Christianity can take credit for something just because the people who did it happen to be mostly of a christian statistic?
What if that's the only attribute they have in common? Would you still write it off as irrelevant?
The question is bad. Atheism is a non position. It's the null hypothesis. It can be neither credited with good nor evil. You don't hear me preach about all the good atheism does; it can't do good. It can't do anything. There is no teaching in atheism that requires the death of infidels, I mean, religious people.
Be it that you are probably referring to Soviet Russia and PRC, pretty clear it's about government control. They even had state-mandated churches that they run. It's no secret that they were largely anti-religious, but that was for their own means.
Fine, but that only supports my point in that it's a pretty good example of people being breathtakingly awful to each other without needing to justify it with religion.

And also, I know we're not going to agree on this, but while atheism may, to you, be a non-position, to most people it is an affirmation that there is no God. That IS a position and, I'd argue, can be taken to such an extreme that it becomes a religion. That's a topic for another thread though, I think.
People do evil and people do good, but we must analyze religion both for it's structure, as set of unverifiable and mandatory beliefs and teachings and the dangers that entails, and it's individual claims, which can be good, like love your neighbor, or bad, like stone the homosexual.
I don't see any homosexuals being stoned in this culture, and the vast majority of people in this country are members of religions whose doctrines do not support homosexuality. Meanwhile in the Middle East people are put to death for it, in the name of one of those same religions. So is it Islam, or the culture that is the differential here?
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby Sstavix » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:28 pm

All do. Even if you claim exception for your personal brand, you can't justify all religions.
If Christianity is from God, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wiccan, etc. are from the world/the Devil. I'd think you'd be even more opposed to those religions than I am.
Hang on there. While I do believe that Christianity - as well as it's "father," Judaism - were created by Heavenly Father, you seem to forget a couple of things: 1) I'm a Libertarian, and 2) I'm LDS. I'm not opposed to any of those other religions. Why should I be? Take a look at the 11th Article of Faith from the LDS doctrines:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
Note the last part of that quote. People should be free to worship whoever or whatever their conscience dictates. It could be God, Allah, science, Mother Earth, or their goldfish. Frankly, it doesn't really matter to me. Whatever they put their faith in is between them and their religion. As long as they don't adopt a "convert or die" mentality, I'm cool with that - and if they do have a "convert or die" mentality, I'm more motivated by the Libertarian/political leanings in terms of religious freedoms than anything.

People need to be free to worship whatever they want. Oppression from any religion - whether it's Christianity, Islam, or secularism - is a bad thing.
And secular humanism is not a religion. It's more akin to a philosophy. If you include something that specifically distances itself from religion, you have a very broad definition of a religion.
I think we can both agree that my definition of religion is pretty broad. ;) Basically, if it's a belief system that helps one come to terms with their place in the spiritual realm - including denying the existence of said realm - then it constitutes a religion to me. Now secular humanism and atheism are hardly organized religions (being that they don't have any leaders or doctrines or anything), but they still qualify as a belief system.
I'm curious, what do you think I'm arguing for?
It could be because I'm slipping into cloudcuckoolander mode (I get to go on a business trip tonight! First time for this company! Yaaaayyyy!), but that is a very valid question. What are you arguing for? I think I lost track somewhere....

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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby ArchAngel » Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:43 am

Well, I'll try to keep up with these WoTs, but I might have to start condensing my replies. I don't want to ignore points you guys have made, so, I'll do my best to answer as much in one section and leave individual replies afterwards.

<<Sorry, I was going to insert some summation of points, but I can't at the moment. I'll just post it later. Or something. Who knows. I might just take a nap. I have to practice the cello, too, so that might happen.>>
Like "Religion is a catalyst for evil?"
Fair enough, that statement can do with a little clarification. Religion can and has acted as a catalyst. It's not an inclusive, nor exclusive, statement about religion. Religion has more facets than that, and there are other institutions that catalyzes evil, but there are elements to the nature of religion that are prone to perpetuating and even accelerating evil acts.
Sure, but that's not because religion is inherently dangerous. It is, however vulnerable to being manipulated to control people, which we've seen quite a bit of. That doesn't mean religion is the source of it. A guy like Bin Laden who uses it to manipulate people into becoming terrorists was evil (or insane, or both) without needing any help from Islam.
Vulnerability to manipulation IS exactly what makes it inherently dangerous. "Communism" might look real good on paper, but it's proven to be very vulnerable to abuses in power. I'm opening up a whole other debate, and I'm hoping nobody bites, but that's a very large reason what makes communism a bad system. A good system should mitigate corruption, not catalyze it.
I've been using catalyze a lot. I should probably stop.
I think you have to be careful when dealing with examples of people being brainwashed. I assert that examples like jihadis blowing themselves up are brainwashed into pursuing a political agenda that's justified by clerics using Islam as the lever. What is the goal of an organization like Al-Qaeda? It formed originally to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Telling the insurgents they were doing Allah's will is just a mechanism for motivating them, but brainwashing comes in all flavors, not just religion.
And we must take up arms against all sorts of brainwashing, but I would not so quickly make the jihadis just pawns in a Imam's political agenda. The clerics can believe it in just as much; blind leading the blind.
What if that's the only attribute they have in common? Would you still write it off as irrelevant?
It's not, and yes. Correlation != causation. You'd have to demonstrate a causal relationship.
When I talk about some of the harms religion has done, I'm not pointing out that religious people have done them, but rather the teachings that motivate and justify such actions.
to most people it is an affirmation that there is no God.
Nobody thinks that. And by nobody, I mean the statistic nobody. There are definitely some gnostic atheists, but by and large, from Dawkins to Hitchens to Dennet to Harris to Dillahunty to little ol' me, we are agnostic atheists. The only people who I ever saw assert the claim that atheists actively believe there is no god are theistic apologists.
Maybe I should note, that for colloquial short hand, I will say things like "there is no god," instead of the more qualified "I have observed no conclusive evidence or argument for the existence of god, so I lack the belief in the existence of such beings or entities."
Take a look at the 11th Article of Faith from the LDS doctrines:
...
Note the last part of that quote. People should be free to worship whoever or whatever their conscience dictates. It could be God, Allah, science, Mother Earth, or their goldfish. Frankly, it doesn't really matter to me. Whatever they put their faith in is between them and their religion. As long as they don't adopt a "convert or die" mentality, I'm cool with that - and if they do have a "convert or die" mentality, I'm more motivated by the Libertarian/political leanings in terms of religious freedoms than anything.
I applaud your affirmation in tolerance of other beliefs, and I agree, oppression is bad. As vocal I am about my criticisms or opposition to religion, if I had a button that would eradicate it from the earth, I would not. Not even for one person.

This, however, is not telling whether you think these beliefs are true or not. As much as you've criticized moral relativism, I don't think you'd be a relativist for truth claims. I would think it obvious that you think you were right and those who thought different were incorrect (with a touch of humility).
So, would teaching falsehoods be beneficial?
I think we can both agree that my definition of religion is pretty broad. Basically, if it's a belief system that helps one come to terms with their place in the spiritual realm - including denying the existence of said realm - then it constitutes a religion to me. Now secular humanism and atheism are hardly organized religions (being that they don't have any leaders or doctrines or anything), but they still qualify as a belief system.
That definition is going to muddle up communication with people, as religion, by just about all accepted definitions, involves the belief and worship of supernatural entities or phenomena.

Welp, good luck on your business trip! Have a safe flight, Brozilla!
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Re: Organized Religion: The Source of Evil?

Postby Sstavix » Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:43 am

I applaud your affirmation in tolerance of other beliefs, and I agree, oppression is bad. As vocal I am about my criticisms or opposition to religion, if I had a button that would eradicate it from the earth, I would not. Not even for one person.
That's good! I think we can see eye-to-eye on that. :)
This, however, is not telling whether you think these beliefs are true or not. As much as you've criticized moral relativism, I don't think you'd be a relativist for truth claims.
What is truth? Again, this starts getting into the realm of subjective realities. My own experiences with something may be greatly different from your own experiences, and we could easily draw different conclusions from the same event. Howeverm this is getting into extremely abstract philosophy....
I would think it obvious that you think you were right and those who thought different were incorrect (with a touch of humility).
As I've often said, everyone has a right to their own wrong opinions. :P
So, would teaching falsehoods be beneficial?
Which falsehoods would those be, then? Again, subjective realities - what's real for me may not be for others.
I think we can both agree that my definition of religion is pretty broad. Basically, if it's a belief system that helps one come to terms with their place in the spiritual realm - including denying the existence of said realm - then it constitutes a religion to me. Now secular humanism and atheism are hardly organized religions (being that they don't have any leaders or doctrines or anything), but they still qualify as a belief system.
That definition is going to muddle up communication with people, as religion, by just about all accepted definitions, involves the belief and worship of supernatural entities or phenomena.
As we've already established, my definition is pretty broad. Did I mention subjective realities and cloudcuckoolander? :lol:

However, I don't think I'm alone with my definition of religion. Perhaps it's part of an attempt to put the belief systems in a recognizable box, but I wouldn't be the only Christian to view atheism and secular humanism as religions in their own right. In fact, it seems like the main ones who protest the label are atheists and secular humanists. Just out of curiosity, why do you so adamantly reject the label, Broamir?
Welp, good luck on your business trip! Have a safe flight, Brozilla!
Yay, the motel has free wi-fi! :) And I didn't have to fly - basically, I went from one office south of Spokane to the office north of Spokane. So a three-hour drive to stay ere for a couple of days, with costs reimbursed in addition to my regular wages - and probably some overtime to boot!


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