Changing Religion
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12-01-2013, 11:21 PM (This post was last modified: 12-01-2013 11:26 PM by Reltzik.)
RE: Changing Religion
(12-01-2013 09:35 PM)Chujutsu Wrote:  Hey guys. My mind got curious all of a sudden.

First off, I was thinking about religion. During my reading of the God Delusion, I understood that religion should be abolished. I might give it another read soon (once I'm finally free from all the stuff I still have to do), but I had to ask myself why religion must be abolished. What are the chief "complaints" about it?

Aside from not having evidence for its beliefs, what would make it bad?

I thought of at least three things:

1.) Abuse - when killing innocent people is authorized by the religion or teaching that bad things happen to people who simply don't share their beliefs
2.) Neglect - when people are content in praying to their deities and not doing anything to make their situation (e.g., grave illness, natural calamities) better
3.) Willful ignorance - when people reject science because it contradicts religious teachings

I am not sure what else there would be, but additions would be nice.

Anyway, I also thought. What if these bad things about religion are removed? Is it possible to do so, and what would its result be?

Assuming that there can be such an "ideal" religion, what would it look like, and would there be a difference with atheism? If so, what would it be (perhaps aside from atheism's lack of belief)?

So, summing up:
1.) Why is religion bad? Why must it be abolished?
2.) Is it possible to remove these bad aspects of religion? If so, how would the result look like? Would it be different from atheism (with the exception of the lack of belief of atheism)?
Haven't read the book, actually. Will one of these days.

As for whether or not to abolish religion? ... well, I'm most likely opposed to doing so. First you have to get a clear definition of what is and isn't a religion. (For example, does Buddhism count, or is focus on some sort of deity a requirement?) Once that is done, I think it'd be important to do a cost-benefit analysis of some strategy for abolition, and compare it to not abolishing. In particular, this would require actually having some strategy for abolishing religion to analyze. I'll present two possibilities, which I'll refer to governmental and non-governmental, though I'll give them different names later. If you have a third strategy, please feel free to share it.

My analysis will be focused on the US, because A, that's where I live, B, it's the region I'm most familiar with, C, if you can't do it there you can't do it in half the places in the world, and D, it's in the habit of exporting beliefs, so you'd have to do it there anyway. Above all, I should emphasize that your first question -- why is religion bad? why should it be abolished? -- are actually two SEPARATE questions. Religion could easily be bad without justifying its abolition. The latter is a specific strategy for dealing with the former. It is not the only strategy, nor necessarily the best one, nor necessarily effective at all, and we should not think that religion being bad should mean we must abolish it.

So, first: Abolition by Governmental fiat. In this scenario, the government decrees the end to freedom of religion, and all religious practice. To achieve this (in the US), we would need the following: 60 senators, a majority of house representatives, and a president all willing to pass the bill. (Given 67 senators and 2/3rds of the house, we can in theory do away with the president. In practice, we can't.) 5 supreme court justices willing to uphold it as constitutional. And, most likely, a constitutional amendment. The constitutional amendment, in turn, requires either 2/3rds of both houses or 3/4ths of the state governments, AND roughly 3/4ths of the states' legislatures or elected conventions. In other words, it would require a HUGE groundswell of support, in several branches and levels of government, when the majority of those individuals would be hostile to that proposal. Furthermore, those politicians are answerable to voters, and the measure would be extremely unpopular with them as well. Even if those politicians were so anti-religion as to ever pass such a bill, they would be replaced in the next election by politicians who would repeal it. In short, it ain't happening, and will keep ain't happening until there's a huge demographic shift away from religion and towards... not just atheism, but militant atheism.

But that's just the beginning. We can't just pass a law and expect it to magically take effect. It has to be enforced. What would enforcement entail? First, you'd need an executive who was actually willing to put the law in effect, rather than sabotage it. (See every Republican-appointed head of the EPA from the 80s on.) This is why I said you need the president, even if you get a veto-proof majority in Congress. In truth, we do not have such a president, and (barring rumors about who might have been a closet atheist) we've NEVER had such a president. THEN, you'd need a law-enforcement structure from the top down willing to get behind the law and push. I'm talking everywhere from the attorney general down to beat cops. Again, we don't have that. THEN things get messy.

What exactly would constitute religion, anyway? Well, let's see. We'd have to ban the holy books, except maybe as items of literary and historical impact. ... but of course, we'd have a hard time ensuring that anyone reading them viewed them ONLY as literature or historical references, so better make it a total ban. Destroy as many copies as possible. Burning is traditional. Of course, since most homes have a Bible, we'd have to actually SEARCH homes for them. And do so repeatedly, because copies would get around. Everyone with a printer could be producing them illegally. Oh, and we'd have to block any copies to be found on the internet, and maybe any internet searches for them. And of course, there's all the literature that's specificly about religion. And books where religion isn't the subject, but is heavilly the context. Have to ban 'em all, really.

What else? Prayer, that's a big one. Except the problem is that prayer can be conducted in the privacy of one's own mind. How in the world could we abolish that? We'd need some sort of mind-reading technology.

Then there's congregating for church on the various Sabbaths. Hmm. Well, obviously we could tear down the churches (or nationalize them and sell the building). But it's not the building, it's the assembly. Groups as small as, well, two or three can be doing communion and readings (er, recitals, we banned the books) in the privacy of their own homes. We'd need some way to regulate these gatherings.

What else? Right! Passing it on to the children! OH, but that's the big one! Either we'd have to watch every moment between a parent and a child to catch indoctrination, or we'd have to separate children automatically from their parents and put them in appropriate fostering.

Then -- and this is the big part -- we need MONEY to do all that. We need money to seize all the bibles, money to tear down the churches (even if we don't pay for them, we have to pay for the bulldozers), money to monitor the parents and care for the children, money to break up any gatherings in private homes on Sundays, and money to determine whether that was just a jello-mold party or not. We need money for all the trials and money to imprison (or maybe execute) all the people who insist on clinging to religion despite the government's authority. And believe you me, that will be a LOT of people. And then, you'll need money to draft, train, equip, and mobilize a military to fight the inevitable revolt. This would be a NEW military, you understand, being as the old one would be on the opposite side, being fairly strongly Christian. Oh, and they'd have more experience. And more numbers. And the support of the majority of the population.

... you know what? Let's call this strategy "Tyranny, Going on Suicide." A, it wouldn't work. B, if it did work, its methods would be unconscionable. And C, it's worse than the disease. Besides, even if you DID get the government fiat in place (huge, huge, HUGE if), the backlash would be so stupendous that you'd lose ground in the long run. Also, D, you'd upset the (oft-breached but largely honored) truce of the first amendment. You know that? That thing which is largely what keeps (a subset of) Christians from walking all over our faces as is?

Okay, so let's talk about abolishing it WITHOUT government. Tell you what. Let's get a bunch of ski masks, some assault rifles and Compound 4, and a list of churches tha--

Scratch that. This one's called "Anarchist gunmen, going on suicide." See A, B, C, and D above.

Granted, the picture might look significantly different in other countries. But you can't do it worldwide unless, as part of that, you do that in the US.

So no. No, no, no, no. No way abolishing religion is a good idea, or a workable idea, or a tolerable idea. In fact, I'd be first in line to oppose it. (Well, probably not, I'm slow to learn these things are in motion.)

That said, I'll address your actual questions in my next post.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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Messages In This Thread
Changing Religion - Chujutsu - 12-01-2013, 09:35 PM
RE: Changing Religion - PoolBoyG - 12-01-2013, 10:04 PM
RE: Changing Religion - DLJ - 12-01-2013, 10:11 PM
RE: Changing Religion - EvolutionKills - 12-01-2013, 10:32 PM
RE: Changing Religion - amyb - 12-01-2013, 11:41 PM
RE: Changing Religion - Reltzik - 12-01-2013 11:21 PM
RE: Changing Religion - Chujutsu - 12-01-2013, 11:34 PM
RE: Changing Religion - Reltzik - 13-01-2013, 01:17 AM
RE: Changing Religion - Reltzik - 13-01-2013, 12:58 AM
RE: Changing Religion - Chujutsu - 13-01-2013, 01:15 AM
RE: Changing Religion - Reltzik - 13-01-2013, 10:33 AM
RE: Changing Religion - Chujutsu - 13-01-2013, 07:45 PM
RE: Changing Religion - Chas - 13-01-2013, 07:56 PM
RE: Changing Religion - DLJ - 13-01-2013, 11:14 PM
RE: Changing Religion - EvolutionKills - 13-01-2013, 11:35 PM
RE: Changing Religion - Chujutsu - 14-01-2013, 05:48 AM
RE: Changing Religion - Starcrash - 14-01-2013, 06:21 AM
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