The dangers of religion
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30-04-2012, 04:30 PM
The dangers of religion
Ok, my new blog post is the first in a series of similar-ones-to-come, dealing with the dangers of religion. Here is the c/p of it, and, well, I'm sorry if there's a topic like this, but search revealed nothing to me (almost the same like faith, mind you). I guess the main idea behind this topic is clear, or will clear out while reading the post. If it doesn't - talk about the real dangers of religion, and how to put an end to them. Big Grin


Quote: So I got into a discussion with a friend of mine today, about the good and bad aspects of religion. I maintain the belief that any and all kinds of religion are positively harmful for human society. Even if we ignore all the terrible things some religious congregations or individuals did throughout history (which is, admittedly, quite hard to do) - even putting that aspect of religion aside, I still believe it is harmful, in a way which is maybe even more disturbing. I'm talking about a kind of brainwashing which goes side by side with religious upbringing. By this I mean simply the way of thinking practiced by most of religious individuals. As a former member of Catholic Church, I feel versed enough to be able to talk about the 'Christian mindset', but I believe most of other religions have the same way of operating on human brains and thinking processes. When you are a Christian, chances are you were taught never to question, never to doubt the holy scriptures and the words of the preacher, who represents a direct connection to god, and is the highest authority down on earth. Blind faith and silent obedience are stuffed into children's heads and encouraged in adults. And this is what I find the most disturbing, and the most harmful effect of religion - it teaches humans to be dumb, to accept the earthly things as dull and not worthy of admiration. It teaches humans to dream about the impossible and unreachable, and in the same time to ignore the beauties of this world, which are innumerable. It is easy to see why this is so - control the way people think and you control all of their lives. But if you teach a child to ask questions, to be curious about the inner working of things, you risk the possibility that it will come to conclusions which do not correspond with your teachings; the teachings that are created in such a way to put an effective stop to human ingenuity and creativity. Nurture the people as mindless worker drones, and you have made yourself a vast source of income as well as a strong army of blind supporters and deaf zealots. Put an end to creativity, skeptical questioning and free thinking, and you can be sure that the level of human society will stagnate on the one from centuries ago, where your caste of mystic wise old men is on the top of the hierarchical order.

Honestly, I'm afraid of this. I'm afraid of people who do not think for themselves. Not only are they more receptive to harmful, aggressive ideas and violence, but they hinder the progress of science, medicine, culture, and human society in general. I think we must always ask questions about every single thing that surrounds us. Curiosity is a beautiful thing, and should not be viewed as something bad, as a great number of preachers and 'holy men' seem to do. As a matter of fact, it should be encouraged, especially in young children. They must learn to ask questions, to wonder, to appreciate the inquisitiveness of the scientific method. What great feeling of joy does knowledge bring! Or, as Neil deGrasse Tyson said in his interview with KCTS9: "If you're scientifically literate, the world looks very different to you, [...] and that understanding empowers you."

I'm not saying that religion does not have its merits. It cannot be questioned that some of the best works of classical art, be it in music, painting or sculpture, were directly influenced by religion. Christian Church spread the written word, set the course for what would become the Renaissance, and sometimes even actively encouraged scientific experiments. Isaac Newton, possibly the greatest mind ever to live, believed in biblical prophecies. Many a scholar was a priest, and many a priest a scientist. But, undoubtedly, these individuals were not the typical examples of religious minds. These were great minds, set apart from the rest of humanity by sheer potential of their thinking process. I am not concerned with people like this - I am concerned with the ordinary men and women, those regular people who go day after day doing the same task, doing their jobs (which quite often do not comprise of philosophical debating and writing mathematical treatises), raising their kids and propagating that which they have been taught. Faith is very similar to a genetic disease - it also has a tendency to spread from one generation to the other, although by different means. And these means - upbringing, education and indoctrination - are what needs to be changed, I believe. This is not an easy thing to achieve - tradition has terribly strong and deep-grounded roots - but it can be done with time, if only we try hard enough. The educational system has to change in a way that promotes critical and skeptical thinking more strongly. Scientific values must be promoted as the only ones which bring true and concise results, the scientific mindset as the one most productive and beneficial for the society as a whole. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, but nobody wishes for the Dark Ages to return either.

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30-04-2012, 05:43 PM
RE: The dangers of religion
I think you would like Jonathan Adler's "Faith and Fanaticism" essay no. 20 in "Philosophers without Gods".
http://www.us.oup.com/us/catalog/general...0195173079
I used his essay as a reference in a discussion on how faith can close the gap from thought to action for fanatics.

Another guy to take a look at is Paul Hill, abortion doctor killer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Jennings_Hill
His story is that he just "thought about it" one day while detailing a car that if he truly believed that abortion was murdering unborn children that god would want him to act. Two week later he gunned down a doctor in his car.

The old gods are dead, let's invent some new ones before something really bad happens.
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30-04-2012, 05:53 PM
RE: The dangers of religion
I agree.

Very well written.

I particularly like how you make the point about how reigion dumbs us down. Also, how ultimately it is all about control of people.
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30-04-2012, 07:14 PM
RE: The dangers of religion
Nice post, though I somewhat disagree regarding what the most dangerous aspect of religion doctrine is.

While it's true that it tends to dumb down people and can lead to acts of terrorism, mass murder, etc, for me the dangerous aspect is that it can be used by agencies of power (governments, companies, etc.) to influence public policy.

My mom, for example, only factors in one thing when voting: who her pastor told her to vote for.

And I know she's not alone.

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01-05-2012, 03:17 AM
RE: The dangers of religion
Well, good point, but I think that aspect also boils down to 'not thinking for yourself'.

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01-05-2012, 04:40 AM
RE: The dangers of religion
(30-04-2012 04:30 PM)le_procyon Wrote:  Scientific values must be promoted as the only ones which bring true and concise results, the scientific mindset as the one most productive and beneficial for the society as a whole.

Can you clarify more what you meant by "scientific values" and “scientific mindset” that will be most "productive and beneficial" to the society as a whole.

Reason is, in doing business, I prefer to hire religious people FOR a job that involves handling money, cold cash.

Religious people are afraid to steal money for some "higher reasons".

Kindly note that the business am in, is beneficial for the society as a whole as well.
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01-05-2012, 08:19 AM
RE: The dangers of religion
Well, by 'scientific values' I mean the factual proof, the requirement to test and re-test ideas and do experiments (on whatever matter) until you can be sure that the hypothesis is valid, that kind of thing. The 'scientific mindset' would then be simply to accept the scientific method as the only one which can, with any certainty, get to the 'core of things', as in how and why stuff happens and exist at all; and the questioning and curious mind which does not accept hear-say as an evidence for anything. I thought it was quite self-evident among the atheist community.

I also believe that this mindset can also lead people to become more responsible and less greedy for money, without the need of celestial policemen.

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01-05-2012, 08:38 PM
RE: The dangers of religion
I disagree with most of what you say (obviously) but mainly upon the point of encouraging you do be dumb. AT least in terms of the catholic church. The Catholic church has been a huge supporter of critical thinking throughout the centuries. Everything from genetics to the big bang has been funded by the Catholic church. Is it true that the church encouraged the lower orders not to think. Sure, but why should should a farmer have to worry about how many electrons are in plutonium. All he is going to do with this information is forget about it and continue farming.
for reference I'd like to use Sherlock Holmes (not sure if a fictional character carries any weight) he is considered to be a genius, and yet he did not know that the earth revolved around the sun. When Watson mentioned this fact, Holmes said he would try his best to forget it. Since each thing he added to his brain that he did not need was merely taking up space for more useful information.

incidently I think intelligence can be more dangerous than stupidity. Just look at 4chan, the Majority of people on there are agnostic Atheists who are much smarter than average. Yet they are some of the most degenerate people on the planet. intelligence doesn't stop you from doing evil it just allows you to rationalize it better.

Also I don't think that the church teaches you to ignore the beauty of the world. There are many songs and psalms which call out that the wonders of his work are his works on earth.

I'm homophobic in the same way that I'm arachnophobic. I'm not scared of gay people but I'm going to scream if I find one in my bath.

I'm. Also homophobic in the same way I'm arachnophobic. I'm scared of spiders but I'd still fuck'em.
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01-05-2012, 08:47 PM
RE: The dangers of religion
(01-05-2012 04:40 AM)ahoy Wrote:  Can you clarify more what you meant by "scientific values" and “scientific mindset” that will be most "productive and beneficial" to the society as a whole.

Reason is, in doing business, I prefer to hire religious people FOR a job that involves handling money, cold cash.

Religious people are afraid to steal money for some "higher reasons".

Kindly note that the business am in, is beneficial for the society as a whole as well.
I'm going to have to reject your assertion for a variety of reasons, none the least of which is the fact that the majority of the current prison population is religious (e.g. the people that steal, rob, rape, kill, etc.).

Moreover, you provide no evidence to support your very general assertion that "religious people are afraid to steal money for some 'higher reasons'".


And while I'm at it, what do you mean exactly by "higher reasons?" If you mean morals or ethics, it's worth pointing out that most self-professed atheists I've interacted with are highly committed to behaving morally and ethically.

As for your last statement, again I'm not sure what that has to do with this post. Sorry if I'm coming off as confrontational. I just take issue with what I perceive to be your point of view on these matters. Definitely open to clarification if I'm off base on anything.

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02-05-2012, 03:18 AM
RE: The dangers of religion
(01-05-2012 04:40 AM)ahoy Wrote:  
(30-04-2012 04:30 PM)le_procyon Wrote:  Scientific values must be promoted as the only ones which bring true and concise results, the scientific mindset as the one most productive and beneficial for the society as a whole.

Can you clarify more what you meant by "scientific values" and “scientific mindset” that will be most "productive and beneficial" to the society as a whole.

Reason is, in doing business, I prefer to hire religious people FOR a job that involves handling money, cold cash.

Religious people are afraid to steal money for some "higher reasons".

Kindly note that the business am in, is beneficial for the society as a whole as well.
Gosh, that's interesting, because I see the exact opposite.

Generally speaking, I find Christian people more likely to be untrustworthy. I think they are just as likely to steal. Don't forget many con artists masquerade as Christians.

What is more, I find them more likely to be paranoid, unpredictable, opinionated and poor communicators. Usually they are not as bright as atheists.
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