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The God Delusion: Would society be better off without religion?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Truronian, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. Truronian

    Truronian Quite unfamiliar Retired Moderator

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    The second documentary in the Dawkins season was on last night. Here it is for anyone in the UK or in the UK by proxy. This one was a collage of clips from some previous documentaries so might not be new viewing for some.

    Dawkins (predictably) came to the conclusion that religion was not a force for good. He interviewed a number of dislikeable figures including wonderfully hypocritical evangelist pastor, a fundamentalist Muslim, a chap who supported the murder of an abortionist and a pastor that tried to scare people Christian with a hell themed horror play. He did not tackle any non-Abrahamic religions, nor did he spend much time at all interviewing moderates.

    The main problem with the documentary was his claim that religion is bad while the subsequent only successfully showed the negative influence of extremist religion. He conveniently ignored the moderate churches that do a lot of good for both the community and the wider world by way of charity. He called moderates fence-sitters but he did not explain why this was inherently dangerous for society.

    The documentary as a whole was pretty good none the less. Dawkins steeled my dislike for faith schools in the small section on the religious education of children, while the interviews varied from being very funny (a Rabbi the everyone's favourite fallacy, evolution is only a theory) to very worrying (the Jewish-Muslims extremist convert was a vile individual with some chilling opinions).

    Anyone else see it? Thoughts?

    EDIT: It was apparently a repeat of The Root of all Evil? under a different name.
     
  2. Miles Teg

    Miles Teg Nuclear Powered Mentat

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    There are apparently, a number of Christians who don't understand how Atheists can be moral without a god, and why we don't just go out shooting up an orphanage or something.

    I think we can all agree that it's important that these people never loose their faith.
     
  3. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    Didn't watch the documentary, but he (attempts) to explain it in the book. The reason he hates religion in general, despite the apparent problem or moderate religion being harmless, is that moderate religion enables, or in some cases, actually encourages the extremists. This is why he comes to the conclusion that religion is fundamentally evil.
     
  4. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus

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    OK, I'll bite. Did he mention that as well as extremists we have saintly people because of religion? For every bin Laden there's two Mother Teresas (Mothers Teresa?). From a personal perspective I've seen a lot of people comforted in extreme circumstances by religion, and people inspired to acts of huge courage by it. It's probably also worth mentioning that I've had friends shot in Jesus' name. Nevertheless I think the good side outweighs the bad and that it is possible to get rid of the evil people who use religion as an excuse, if the religions in question will make it very obvious, on all levels, that they don't support them.
     
  5. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

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    Moderate cooking encourages mostly healthy eating. It also sometimes encourages extremist cooking which is unhealthy. Therefore it must be evil.
     
  6. Mise

    Mise isle of lucy

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    Right now, yes, we would. For the past five thousand years or so, yes we would. For the first 195,000 years? Probably not. I doubt we would have survived the first 195,000 years of human existence without the cognitive biases that give rise to religion; our survival of that period was dependent on those biases, and without them, we would neither have survived, nor would we have been religious. Religion is a giant manifestation of the cognitive biases that helped us survive, and is inseparable from those things. Religion, by itself, is useless, but it is a by-product of something eminently useful. Now that we realise this, however, we are free to shed the nasty by-product and keep the useful snap decision making biases that are useful.

    At least, that is my relatively uninformed take on pre-historic human development.
     
  7. Haseri

    Haseri Emperor

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    I haven't watched the last 20 minutes, but yes, there were some thorougly awful figures featured on the programme.

    I think none of the non-Abrahamic religions were featured simply because we don't contend with Hindu or Buddhist extremists in the west. We're far more likely to recognise the Christian, Jewish or Muslim nutters.

    Marcus Brigstocke said it best at the 6:00 mark.
     
  8. Tani Coyote

    Tani Coyote Billions and Billions

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    Depends. We'd be better off without religious crazies. Better off without religious right interference in politics. Better off without dogmatic religious belief damaging scientific advances.

    But would we be better off without a huge charitable core? Or people inspired by their faith to acts they otherwise would never do? Or people who are happier overall due to the peace they find? Or who have a strong moral code and have it backed by the belief it is divinely-mandated? (Not saying atheists cannot have a moral code either, but having a deity or force certainly assists in keeping the code strong I'd imagine)

    Be prepared for someone, rather than taking the example as is, to nitpick and talk about how Mother Teresa was actually evil for whatever reason. I've run into these people.

    It promptly becomes religious people supporting Teresa and non-religious types critiquing her. Hmm. Almost seems like partisanship!
     
  9. spryllino

    spryllino Deity

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    We wouldn't be better off without the huge charitable core because no-one should be deceived into giving away money or anything else. That's fraud, and it's quite clearly wrong.
     
  10. Mise

    Mise isle of lucy

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    They're not being deceived, they're not being lied to, and they're not the victims of fraud. The preachers genuinely believe what they're preaching; they're intent is not to deceive or to trick the congregation into believing in God, but to preach what they believe is the truth. There may be deception in some religions or in some parts of the world (indeed, the entire "church" of scientology is a giant scam), but that doesn't mean that preachers are deliberately lying with the intent do mislead or deceive. It isn't fraud.
     
  11. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus

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    Watching that video now. Some of the education (the Jews and the Hell house) section is pretty worrying, to say the least. Although can I express that I actually quite like the man about twelve minutes in; to use an old phrase I don't agree with his opinions, but his heart's in the right place.

    I think Dawkins' overall problem, especially with his take on the Jesus story, that he takes everything far too literally and insists that to be religious you have to follow the whole bible to the letter. He doesn't accept that some people think, for example, that the Old Testament is just that and as useful for today as studying Roman law to build our own legal system; good for the basics, but needs to be built-up on.
     
  12. Monsterzuma

    Monsterzuma the sly one

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    He does interview a moderate pastor in one of his documentaries, coming to the conclusion that moderates engage in a double betrayal: that of reason on one hand by embracing religion, and that of religion by not taking it's tenets as absolutes. Something along those lines in any case. What is clear is that he doesn't hold any less contempt for the moderately religious than for the fanatically so, be it that he sees in the former the potential for turning to atheism.
     
  13. Tani Coyote

    Tani Coyote Billions and Billions

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    Whoops, fixed the post to say "without."

    :huh:

    Are you saying Churches deceive people into giving money?

    No, I'm pretty sure the people willingly and knowingly give donations...

    So how is it fraud?

    Pretty much, everything Mise said.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding you though.
     
  14. Souron

    Souron The Dark Lord

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    Many of these people still base their behavior on what they consider right, not the actual bible though. They still have a moral compass, they just call it God's will.
     
  15. Truronian

    Truronian Quite unfamiliar Retired Moderator

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    I don't think so. He calls the moderate pastor's views "music to my ears", it's clear he has a lot more respect for the pastors views than for those of some of the other extremists. He simply doesn't understand why they insist on taking some things (benign as they are) on faith rather than basing one's entire world view on reason.
     
  16. Monsterzuma

    Monsterzuma the sly one

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    k, you're probably right. I don't have more than a shallow knowledge of the topic. I'm pretty sure he mentioned the "double betrayal" thing at one point, though.
     
  17. civver_764

    civver_764 Deity

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    Oh undoubtedly society would be better off today. Religion, or at least the major ones, have acted as a means to suppress the freedoms of the population, intentional or not. I think you would find a much more liberal and egalitarian society today had "religion" never taken off(as improbable as that may be).

    However now that we're moving towards a more secular society, this seems to be coming undone anyways. It's becoming more and more objectionable to mix religion in politics. We're going in the right direction.

    I don't personally care what you believe privately or at place of worship, just don't mix it with politics.
     
  18. spryllino

    spryllino Deity

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    No, the world and its institutions are defrauding them; viz. if we had the power to remove religion and we declined to on the basis that it convinces people to be philanthropic, we would be defrauding them.
     
  19. civver_764

    civver_764 Deity

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    Getting rid of capitalism > religion philanthropy.

    I mean I'm just saying.
     
  20. spryllino

    spryllino Deity

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    Decent welfare state > Getting rid of capitalism > religion philanthropy
     

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