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Religion. Delusion or Empowerment?

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Genkai
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Religion. Delusion or Empowerment?
PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

I am an atheist. I do not believe in a God of any sort and believe that mainstream religion is a tool which keeps early civilizations together by circumventing crime. Whether or not that is moral is a topic for another day, however.

Could taking up an empowering, non consequential belief cause any real harm? Even if it is false, what if its only intended purpose was to give some people hope during their lives? My question is where Atheism fits into all of this.

My apologies that this may have come off as offensive, I was just attempting to make a point.

So what do you think? Do religions simply exist to better the quality of one's life? Is home brewing religions for a sense of empowerment moral?




Last edited by Genkai on Sun 19 Aug, 2007; edited 1 time in total
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Hamedo
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

My dad became a Jehovah's Witness when I was 10 and the family was torn to shreds. Needless to say, I'm not fond of religion. A friend of mine in high school let me borrow a book on Buddhism, and I loved it. It seemed to all click.

I don't know what I would call myself in terms of religion nowadays (and nights), but I consider myself a Pisces INFP who meditates, lucid dreams, and has no fear whatsoever of death, among other things. I think if (a/your) religion is the source of suppressed feelings and/or vice-gripped happiness, then it's not right at all.

I have to say though, without meditation, I might not be typing this right now. Depression just about had me if not for meditation. By the way, Jehovah's Witnesses think that meditation opens up your mind to demons. If that's true, then I'd like to take time to say thanks to all the demons that cured my depression. grin


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Vagabondage
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

I'm an agnostic with mostly Christian tendencies... (Christian morals, that is... I guess)

I became agnostic a while ago because up until then I realized I was simply being brainwashed.

Another reason I left Christianity was because although I was surrounded by "loving" people of a "loving" religion, I felt completely alone in my church. Barely anyone in my Sunday School could remember my name. No one ever bothered to invite me to the teen get-togethers (except the teacher herself). And anyone I attempted to greet on mornings would seem to avoid looking at me.

I know they didn't treat me this way on purpose, but it was obvious they were comfortable with the people they had been with since they had first come to the church and were not very loving of newcomers.

Now that I am agnostic, I feel that my mind is very open. I love to learn about every religion out there... Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoisn... but when I was Baptist, I felt alone in my religion. Many of my friends were raised Catholic and whenever religion popped into conversation, they became different people, they became snobs.

I try to avoid the subject of religion when I am around my close friends.

I am very happy with my beliefs. I cannot and never will say that what I believe is right and should be followed by everyone.

Religion is private not public.


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ThePromethean
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

they are naturally, in your head, just like an LD. If we say no to religion on these grounds, surely we should say no to LDs as well? a thorny issue.

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DayLight
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Re: Religion. Delusion or Empowerment?
PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

Genkai wrote:
I was thinking about death when I began to wonder about whether Religious people understand, in the back of their minds, that their beliefs are false,


Do I smell arrogance? Mixed with...is that ignorance? Nothing like fresh athiesm in the morning!

Let me say two thing here:
Friday night, and the means by which I did this shall remain a mystery, I saw God. I existed at all times and all places at the same time. I toyed with the building blocks of life and the laws of nature and the universe. I was transported to vast interdimensional jungles, and huge voids filled with blackness and swirling waves of energy. This was the clear light, the self, Satori enlightenment, etc. This lead me into the second thing I have to say. With reports of direct contact with the divine, with the majority of the world belonging to tons of different religions, which at heart are all very similar, it must take as much faith as it does to believe that there is a God to believe that there is not a God. Personally, due to my direct experience with the sacred, it would take more faith to convince myself there is no God. So religion - delusion or breakthough? Neither. Religion is what life revolves around.


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sno_isulli
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

Genkai wrote:
I was thinking about death when I began to wonder about whether Religious people understand, in the back of their minds, that their beliefs are false…

So what do you think? Do religions simply exist to better the quality of one's life?


There are many different religions in the world today. More than I know of, undoubtedly. But that doesn’t mean that parts of each religion aren’t correct, or that it’s pointless to live your life with a strong belief in something greater than yourself.

What gets me, though, is the first sentence I quoted. Sure, most peoples’ religions are false. Can it be possible that everybody’s afterlife is what they believe it will be? Probably not. But who’s to say that Atheism is any more correct than anything else? Couldn’t we turn the question around… Do you understand that, in the back of your mind, your beliefs are false? You can’t target all religions and beliefs without targeting your own as well.

I really am not a religious person. Not at all. I’d call myself spiritual. But in the end, I possess beliefs just like any religious person does, and to a great many people on this planet, they are wrong. But they aren’t wrong to me, and that’s what’s important. They wouldn’t be a part of my life if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in them and found them to be true.

Does this mean I'm deluding myself? Does it mean that I only seek solace and comfort from my spirituality?

Who are we to question peoples' motives or morality anyway? We can't all be right and we can't all be wrong, so it's rather hypocritical to stand back and judge other peoples' beliefs and their (conscious or unconscious) reasons for holding them. smile


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shatterspike1
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Re: Religion. Delusion or Empowerment?
PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

Genkai wrote:

I was thinking about death when I began to wonder about whether Religious people understand, in the back of their minds, that their beliefs are false, but however choose to perpetuate them because they are spiritually empowering.


I think this is the statement which could cause a flamewar. Generally Genkai, religious people believe in things that they belive, and think them true. To say that they are false without question is, well, offensive. Maybe you ought to edit.

As for me, I created my own religon and don't believe it entirley, because it COULD be false. This keeps me more open to new ideas. The problem with religon is the fighting and the rules.


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The Nameless One
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Re: Religion. Delusion or Empowerment?
PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

Genkai wrote:
With threats from an imaginary man who lives in the clouds.

Though religion has been and is used to keep populations at bay (more in the past, though), not all religions in the world are Bigoted American (or any other country in which they threat people with hell at everything they do) Christianity.

Thought I'd clear that up.


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TwilightDreamer
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

Quote:
Can it be possible that everybody’s afterlife is what they believe it will be?
Yes, if the afterlife is like a dream.


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ThePromethean
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

sno_isulli wrote:
Do you understand that, in the back of your mind, your beliefs are false?


As an athiest, i too find it difficult to believe that all religious people do not have that same doubt at the back of thier minds. but i have many christian friends and know for an UNQUESTIONED FACT (im not afraid to use the ter because its true - and not really offensive in this case) that all religious people wonder that we athiests do not similarily doubt that the notion of a godless, or spiritless universe is anything but a cruel and silly paranoia. the truth is that we have no ideas about what other people truly believe, and what seems simple to us is ludicrous to another (check my 'faithfullness - society is wrong' thread, its simple enough but those whacks... )
we can of course, ignore what you said as a lot over-zeal, and treat your question as a hypothetical, but all to difficult question.


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Genkai
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

Thank you for pointing that out, Shatter, Paradise. I edited it but still hopefully preserved the point.

I was considering picking a religion based on what I would enjoy believing in rather than something that was "true". I was curious about whether that was a moral thing to do.


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ThePromethean
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

its really not moral at all, is it? even you want fun, LD. you dont follow a religion unless you really believe. otherwise you are just a hypocrite filled with a satisfying knowledge of an afterlife which you have no faith in anyway

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Amused Himself to Death
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

As a Christian, even I have doubts in the back of my mind. I have fears that what I believe in is wrong. Of course I do. Who doesn't? I have no idea what death will be like, and I don't know what will happen when I die. It is only natural to have doubts such as this. All atheists and all religious people have these doubts. The only difference between everybody here is the willingness in which they admit their doubts to others. I am intensely curious as to see what death is like. Will I go to Heaven? Will I go to some other existence, form of life? Who knows. All I know is that it is something that everyone on Earth must face alone eventually. Hopefully I go to Heaven. Hopefully the existence in the next life is meaningful and peaceful. Hopefully it is good. But really, what I think actually happens when we die is as much of a guess as anyone else. The only difference is I put my faith in it. Is it truly correct? I don't know. No one knows. That is, yet.

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Bruno
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

I'm an atheist. I acknowledge one cannot prove or disprove the existence of a God of any sort, and prefer that they don't exist myself. I believe organized religions to be nice as far as "people gathering because they share beliefs," but also know of some cases in which they started developing social functions which were, at best, only tangential to "reaching the transcendental." I believe in respect to the social establishment on behalf of religious organizations, and in the respect of free thought (including religion) and the right to gather (including for religious ends) on behalf of society.

Genkai wrote:
Could taking up an empowering, non consequential belief cause any real harm?

Hell yes, but ain't that what we do? That's what all of us do: politicians, economists, the military— or, we: individuals, families, groups, nations— or even we: teachers, artists, philosophers... Power is the matter here: as long as "power over other people" is coupled with your subjective beliefs of what's better for those people, there is no Justice.

There's a discussion concerning Democracy in another topic in which I expose that same reasoning in an attempt to demonstrate how Democracy can (and usually does) decay into a "Dictatorship of the Majority" which has little to do with how we dream of democracy. But sure, this works for religion too: and lets never forget strong atheism is a religion in that it makes metaphysical assumptions (that God does not exist) which cannot be proved and are passionately—as opposed to logically—defended.

Genkai wrote:
Even if it is false, what if its only intended purpose was to give some people hope during their lives?

Once again, you talk about religion, but you could be just as easily be talking about: philosophy, democracy, liberty, capitalism, chocolate. Think about it. smile This matter does not concern only religion. It's far broader than that.

Genkai wrote:
My question is where Atheism fits into all of this.

Aww, the atheist wondering about the meaning of life. I have that, sometimes, too. yes Atheism fits where religion in general fits: theoretically, that means away from politics. What does it mean, to say a republic should be secular? It means the government should be atheistic, right? Wrong. It means the politics are supposed to be lead in spite of religious beliefs.

Therefore, it is immoral to get yourself a seat in the parliament to defend Islamic morals. It is immoral to massively kill Jews. It is especially immoral to invade countries, take over their governments and kill & torture people not really based on how "guilty" they are, but plainly based on suspicious behaviour due to (allegedly) Christian morals and Democracy. There's a fabulous paper on the subject, by Richard Rorty, it's called "Human Rights, Rationality, and Sentimentality."

Hamedo wrote:
Jehovah's Witnesses think that meditation opens up your mind to demons. If that's true, then I'd like to take time to say thanks to all the demons that cured my depression. grin

*Bruno hugs Hamedo smile

Rotten Apples wrote:
I am very happy with my beliefs. I cannot and never will say that what I believe is right and should be followed by everyone.

Religion is private not public.

Exactly! applaus

Dan wrote:
Friday night, and the means by which I did this shall remain a mystery, I saw God.

lach2 Dan you rule.

Dan wrote:
I existed at all times and all places at the same time. I toyed with the building blocks of life and the laws of nature and the universe. I was transported to vast interdimensional jungles, and huge voids filled with blackness and swirling waves of energy. This was the clear light, the self, Satori enlightenment, etc.

Hm, sounds like something I'll like to hear about in detail when we meet again over MSN. I've had similar experiences (for reasons that shall remain mystery, but which were definitely different from the means by which you did), very similar indeed—yet very different in terms of how the quality I experienced came about in terms of words later.

Dan wrote:
Religion is what life revolves around.

You mean religion is what your life revolves around, white man. tounge2 Mine definitely doesn't.

Bree wrote:
There are many different religions in the world today. More than I know of, undoubtedly. But that doesn’t mean that parts of each religion aren’t correct, or that it’s pointless to live your life with a strong belief in something greater than yourself.

Having said a lot about it being perfectly possible (and sometimes desirable) to live your life in spite of religion, I should say I fully agree with that. It's also perfectly possible (and sometimes desirable) to life with a strong belief in something greater than yourself, I agree with that. yes

Bree wrote:
Does this mean I'm deluding myself? Does it mean that I only seek solace and comfort from my spirituality?

Why not, perhaps you are; you are the one to tell us what is it you're trying to get. smile If it's just solace and comfort, just solace and comfort it is, that's a valid position. If it's more (and it usually is more) or some unspecific quality or sentiment there is to this or that particular belief, then hell, that's just as valid, right? wink5 What's dangerous is tricking yourself, I think. Like saying you believe that religion "in order to go to heaven." Because then in ain't religion, don't you think? I don't know...

Same goes for "fear of God" versus "love for God." If you believe your religion because you fear your God won't be happy otherwise, that's just a wee excuse and you probably don't really believe the damned thing for real, or don't get it. But if you say you believe your religion because you love God... Sounds completely different, doesn't it? I don't know. Perhaps I'm being prejudiced, what do you think? eh

Bree wrote:
Who are we to question peoples' motives or morality anyway? We can't all be right and we can't all be wrong, so it's rather hypocritical to stand back and judge other peoples' beliefs and their (conscious or unconscious) reasons for holding them. smile

I agree with that applied to religion as an isolated phenomenon, but when it comes to religion and society, or when it comes to morality in general, I think it's trickier. This is not the topic for it, but consider the question: is honour killing moral? What about abortion? Terrorism? Invasion of Iraq? Democracy?

Spike wrote:
The problem with religon is the fighting and the rules.

The problem with Religion is Politics, you mean, then!

Promethean wrote:
all religious people wonder that we athiests do not similarily doubt that the notion of a godless, or spiritless universe is anything but a cruel and silly paranoia.

Really? My religious friends don't seem to mind it all that much. "You an atheist? Cool. Myself I'm Protestant." Don't you ever get that?

Promethean wrote:
we can of course, ignore what you said as a lot over-zeal, and treat your question as a hypothetical, but all to difficult question.

No. It's a simple question: what if there is a God? Or a soul? Or an underlying sense to all this? What if. Do you admit that possibility? If you don't, you're just as blind as the person who refuses to admit God might not exist. In that sense, Moogle's words (in another topic, and a long time ago) are enlightened: "I know he might not exist, but I know he exists." smile Religion, and Atheism is a religion, is an irrational, passionate set of beliefs. You cannot prove God exists, you cannot prove the nirvana, you cannot prove karma, but you cannot disprove them either. Just try and see. wink5

Genkai wrote:
I was considering picking a religion based on what I would enjoy believing in rather than something that was "true". I was curious about whether that was a moral thing to do.

Aah, now I see what you're trying to do! Hey. Have you heard about a philosopher called Gabriel Marcel? He was a French atheist who, fascinated by the power of faith, decided to try and experience that himself. So he became a pretend–Catholic: not in that he started to attend masses, but in that he started to trust his life and soul to a God he didn't believe in. There's a book on his account. Eventually, what he experienced was so pure and overwhelming he decided to convert to Christianity. Marcel is one of the preeminent philosophers in Christian Existentialism. You should take a look on his books.

Promethean wrote:
its really not moral at all, is it? even you want fun, LD. you dont follow a religion unless you really believe. otherwise you are just a hypocrite filled with a satisfying knowledge of an afterlife which you have no faith in anyway

Wait. We agree at some points here, but you're being uncannily arrogant! I think it's moral as far as it's immersing, as far as you're really willing to give yourself entirely to the religion and see what happens. I think people who support a religion without believing it for the sake of going to heaven are tricking themselves, but hypocrites? Come on. Fearing a God you were supposed to love is a tad bit more serious and complex than mere hypocrisy.

Jon wrote:
As a Christian, even I have doubts in the back of my mind. I have fears that what I believe in is wrong. Of course I do. Who doesn't? I have no idea what death will be like, and I don't know what will happen when I die. It is only natural to have doubts such as this. All atheists and all religious people have these doubts. The only difference between everybody here is the willingness in which they admit their doubts to others.

Fully agree with you here! yes

Jon wrote:
I am intensely curious as to see what death is like. Will I go to Heaven? Will I go to some other existence, form of life? Who knows. All I know is that it is something that everyone on Earth must face alone eventually. Hopefully I go to Heaven. Hopefully the existence in the next life is meaningful and peaceful. Hopefully it is good. But really, what I think actually happens when we die is as much of a guess as anyone else. The only difference is I put my faith in it. Is it truly correct? I don't know. No one knows. That is, yet.

Brilliant. ^^


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Muzzius
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

I'm an Atheist/Nihilist and I believe that belief in a religion is delusional because how they explain things make no sense at all to me and most of it has benn proved to be wrong by science. As far as I can tell religion has harmed the world in more ways that it has done good, would there have been a Holocaust if there had been no religion? No.Would Muslim extremists become suicide bombers if there was no religion? No. Religions also condones many bad things like sexism, and tells you that we should kill people, for example In the bible it says we should kill people who work on the sabbath (a bit contradictory as the bible also says we should not commit murder). Now i'm not saying that religion does nothing good, there are quite a few Charities run by religous people, but one thing I cannot stand is how some people argue that we need religion for the morals it teaches us, I hate this because I am not religious (you may have guessed that already) and my morals are usually better than most people around me and that If someone needs a religion to tell them that killing people is wrong, and that they should be kind to others, and help people who are in need is mentally wrong in the head. I also believes that choice over some of our morals is important as well, If someone does not want a child but has become pregnant and there religion says it is wrong to murder and that having an abortion is wrong so they have to bring an unwanted child into the world is this right, also many religious people get angry at the ways people treat animals in medical science for testing new medicines but some people are in desperate need of these medicines and i'm sure no religious person who need it would turn it down because of the way it was made. If the really think it is wrong why don't they step in to take the place of these poor animals, it would even make the process quicker as the medicine wouldn't need to be tested on people again. Now I really hope noone gets angry at me as I am only stating my point of view.


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