General Question

Paradox25's avatar

Do you believe that the world would be a better place without religion?

Asked by Paradox25 (9895 points ) December 12th, 2012

Has religion hindered or helped mankind in your opinion?

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42 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Like anything in life it has it’s upside and it’s downside. All depends on how you want to play the cards life deals you. It can help, it can hurt.

McCool's avatar

I don’t believe it’s religion within itself that makes the world a bad place, It’s the people that interpret it. Without it people would just interpret other things for their own malicious intentions. Religion has been used in awful ways by awful people, but it has also been used in wonderful ways by wonderful people.

JenniferP's avatar

Most of religion. But when people truly follow the Bible, the world is a better place.

AstroChuck's avatar

Organized religion? Yes.

Silence04's avatar

Religion has completely hindered peace of all mankind. They are beliefs that have been written in stone, and because of that people will forever follow them. Nothing should be written in stone.

elbanditoroso's avatar

People need belief systems – I think it is some sort of a human thing to want to believe that something is bigger than they are. The average person looks up at the night sky and gets the idea that the universe is bigger than just them and their community.

So if there weren’t religion, mankind would invent some other sort of belief structure. Not sure what it would be, but I think it would involve a superstructure over humankind.

My quarrel is not with religion per se – it is with coercive religion – closed minded religion – religion that denies that there is any other truth outside of that religion. Once a religion has closed off rational inquiry and explanation, it is no better than a cult or means to brainwash.

Silence04's avatar

@jenniferp same can be said for any one religion. Christianity is equally as crippling to world peace as others.

marinelife's avatar

Who knows? But the urge toward religion is very ingrained in human beings.

hearkat's avatar

I believe the world would be a better place without tribalism and dogma. Humans no longer have a biological need to group ourselves and shun others by our differences – whether those differences are physically visible, determined by geographical boundaries, or based on belief systems. We know enough about humanity that we all can cognitively understand that we are all far more alike than we are different in biological terms and in psychological/philosophical terms. Killing each other because someone’s ancestors had a border dispute 3 millennia ago just seems pointless.

ragingloli's avatar

*the worlds. We would have colonised the galaxy by now without religion.

syz's avatar

Another vote for organized religion being a force for evil.

syz's avatar

@JenniferP You do realize that that’s the very attitude (“my religion (Bible) is the only true religion”) that causes so many problems?

FutureMemory's avatar

Absolutely.

LostInParadise's avatar

Religion has outlived its usefulness. It was a way of providing explanations of the natural world when none were available. It gave a rationale for moral behavior. In a world of tribes, it helped to provide identity.

Now we know enough about nature not to need religious explanations. We have evolved morally to the point that we consider collective decisions on matters like discrimination and pollution, which are not covered by religion. Modern communication and transportation has freed us from the need for the equivalent of tribal identity.

There is a danger of trying to replace religion with science. You can’t use science to make moral decisions. We still need to openly discuss moral issues, and to have the courage to acknowledge that decisions on these issues must to a degree be arbitrary, a preferred way of dealing with conflicting issues.

zensky's avatar

John Lennon did. RIP.

JenniferP's avatar

@syz -Well I can truly say that “MY” religion doesn’t go to war. It is not that I am acting superior. It is true. We are conscientious objectors.

Merely thinking one’s religion is true doesn’t cause trouble. It is when one thinks it is true and tries to suppress others because of that that causes the problems. For instance, if I try to force others to give up their beliefs or if I get involved in politics to change things to fit my views. My religion does none of that. So if I privately think it is true (and even if I tell others I think this) it shouldn’t be that disruptive.

digitalimpression's avatar

Some religions have hindered. Some have helped. Lumping them all together is incorrect.

josie's avatar

Religion is only a problem when it gets mixed up in any fashion with politics. But since it does so with great regularity, it is a problem.

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DominicX's avatar

For once I think I actually agree with @digitalimpression. But to me, it’s more that some parts of some religions have helped and some parts have hindered. The parts about helping those with less? Probably helps. The parts about killing infidels wherever you find them? Probably hurts.

But certainly, some religions have done more damage than others and pretending that they’re all exactly the same isn’t productive.

Kardamom's avatar

@JenniferP Which Bible do you mean? This One possibly? Or This Bible Or here’s a Cool Bible Or maybe you’d prefer This One

If everyone followed the Christian Bible, slavery would still be legal. As would stoning people to death as a penalty for certain crimes. Women would be the property of their husbands. And don’t forget, even though there is a “Christian Bible” each one of the many, many Christian sects believes and interprets that bible very differently. Remember Henry the VIII?

Did you mean the Old Testament or the New Testament?

Or did you mean that we should pick and choose the parts of the bible that we like, or interpret certain passages in a way that’s more palatable, or maybe disregard some of the icky stuff? That seems to be what people do today.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

YES! We need to get rid of every stinking solitary religion; they are of MAN. We all should be focusing on out relationship with God. I don’t give a flying [redacted] what you call me, I want to have my virtical relationship correct because it will keep all of my horizontal relationships true.

CheshireCatsWit's avatar

I’d say religion was created for the mere fact that humans needed to have a ‘last hope’.
Religion has helped us to evolve society in different ways, some being good and some being bad.
The ‘last hope’ reasoning is that, even if your world is crumbling and tumbling and most of yourself is half-dead, there’d still be God to turn to. I’m not saying it’s mandatory to set God to be your last hope but I’m saying that it’s fairly common to do so. It’s to ask for help and for support. In other cases, if you don’t believe in religion this could be interpreted as your unconscious mind providing you with support and don’t forget your friends and family…

In another point of view, Religion may have been created to control people by making them believe that there’s someone that’s unrealistically superior to them. That the superior one makes them cower in fear for what might happen after death.
Speaking of death, religion may have also been created to reason what happens AFTER death and what to do during the death of someone.

There are many points of view and frankly, I’d rather not go on and on about it but what I’m saying is that there is a good and bad side to religion. I’d rather not be biased and stick to one opinion then provide some evidence to back it up only to spark an argument over religion. No. The higher-ups have already done that and I, a commoner, would rather not go into detail about that either.

JenniferP's avatar

@Kardamom You brought up too many points to address them all. As far as slavery, the slavery practiced by Israel was different than modern day slavery or even American slavery. Israelites were supposed to treat them well and it was very much like modern day employment, like McDonalds or something. There were Jubilees when slaves were freed as well. I believe every seventh year and 50th. I would have to research that to know if that is correct but that is what I think it is.

As far as stoning people to death, they were stoned to death for reasons of gross wrongdoing and that is the consequence that God dictated for those actions. He gives life and has the right to expect us to obey him. It is different now and we are not under the Mosaic Law, but I believe if we disobey him willfully that ultimately we will face the same outcome, just not at the hands of people. (I know that everytime I respond to something people say to me, than more will challenge me about other things I say and it will turn into a big debate. Oh well.)

As far as women, I believe the husband is the head of the household but I also believe all of the scriptures that say that a woman should be treated well by the husband. It even says that if a man treats a woman badly, his prayers will be hindered.

I know that all of the religions interpret the Bible differently, but that is straying from the question submitted here. It was asked if religion is a force for bad and I brought up my religion and that it is a force for good. The person didn’t ask about whose interpretation was best. But if it had been asked I would respond that people in my religion study the whole Bible through once each year and supplementary material as well. We are very well informed and can give good answers as to why we feel we have the best interpretations.

Henry the VIII? What about him? Didn’t he start his own church because he wanted to get divorced? My religion would never do something so foolish.

Picking and choosing parts of the Bible? Never would I do that. Now I am going to be bombarded with people challenging me about my views on women and a whole mess of other topics when all I wanted to do was make one initial comment but go ahead everyone. I will be waiting.

syz's avatar

If you’ll excuse the expression: Oh! My! God!

ninjacolin's avatar

@Paradox25, “religion” has too many definitions to answer your question directly.
I would need to know what definition you are thinking of and I could reply to that.

It’s my opinion that everyone has a religion unto themselves that they perhaps don’t share with anyone else but if they became a loving parent they would ultimately raise their kids in it to the best of their abilities.

In that sense, I don’t think religion can ever be done away with because it just breaks down to “your life etiquette.”

starsofeight's avatar

Faith has helped. Religion, as an exercise, depends on those who use it. Only the misuse of religion has hindered.

Sunny2's avatar

No. It’s human beings that are causing our troubles. Some of them just use religion as one of the justifications for wrong doings.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m with @Sunny2 on this one.

PeppermintBiscuit's avatar

@JenniferP The Bible says that if you have a lazy son, you should stone him in the middle of town. Is this your idea of “gross wrongdoing”?
As far as a man treating a woman badly, it says that if a man rapes a woman, he has to marry her. Who exactly is being punished there?
You believe the man is the head of the household. So much for gender equality.
Frankly (and I don’t expect to make friends by saying this), the main problem with a lot of religions is that they are slow to change. People think it’s okay to believe the same things that were believed two thousand years ago.
People should be trusted to think for themselves, without the guidance of organized religion. Belief in a deity is not required in order to have a good set of morals.

JenniferP's avatar

@PeppermintBiscuit-I knew that when I responded to one challenge it would open up a can of worms and everything else I said would be challenged. I am too tired to research to debate with you. You didn’t include the scriptures and context they are set in so I can’t respond. Also you are getting off topic. The question was whether religion improves things or doesn’t improve things. I shared that I believed my religion made the world better. It is non-violent and doesn’t believe in going to war. Its members are required to lead moral lives. You (and others) chose to scrutinize Biblical issues, some from the Old Testament Law, which my religion isn’t even under. We don’t stone children to death. You guys are introducing non related stuff. And your views of women’s roles are shaped by modern society and our culture. Therefore you can’t think in any other way then the way you are trained. I am trained according to the Biblical outlook so I think differently. You are conditioned your way, I am conditioned my way. It is as simple as that. And if you garner support for your outlook it is because yours is the majority opinion. I do believe women are equal to men but they have a different role. Your upbringing makes that sound bad to you. I am not going to debate this further.

mallei's avatar

I’ve begun to wonder how religion came to be so major to people—those traditions followed daily, weekly, yearly, ... the songs and chants, the rules and taboos, the establishment of inclusion and exclusion…
For me, religion represents a colossal waste of time and resourse, but then again, so are internet games, so I guess we all follow what fulfills us.

tinyfaery's avatar

Religion and money have been nothing but a detriment to humanity and a danger to every living thing on earth.

Paradox25's avatar

@ninjacolin I know the term religion is a vague term by itself, and I was thinking about confining the term to the two most popular religions in the world, Christianity and Islam. Those two religions have had the most influence on mankind more than any other religion in my opinion, but there are other religions that have a fundamentalist element to them as well so I kept the question open to any type of religion.

The main point of my question was trying to determine whether the world would be a better place if the majority of mankind would have adopted a more secular approach to life. I’m aware that there were atheistic aristocrats as well throughout the years. Hitler used religious rhetoric as well, though I highly doubt that he was really a religionist, let alone a theist.

Obviously even secular individuals have used religion to their advantage to influence, brainwash and control the masses in the past. This question could pertain religious ideology and subjective interpretations of each religion by themselves, but it could also relate to how different religions have been used by powerful people to manipulate the weak as well. Would a more secular world be better overall for most of us?

@McCool “Without it (religion) people would just interpret other things for their own malicious intentions”, that is my opinion as well, and we see this when it comes to politics, race, culture, etc.

ninjacolin's avatar

I imagine that a reduction in superstitious belief would make things easier, yes. But I feel certain that the diversity of thought has its own benefits too.

What I really want is to take the secular world for a test drive and determine the better world only after rigorous experimentation. ;)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@JenniferP The Bible says that if you have a lazy son, you should stone him in the middle of town. Is this your idea of “gross wrongdoing”?
As far as a man treating a woman badly, it says that if a man rapes a woman, he has to marry her. Who exactly is being punished there?
You believe the man is the head of the household. So much for gender equality. Each one of those statements can be set right or debunked in the context they are presented in, but it would be as a dry wall installer trying to tell the carpet guy why dry wall screws will not work right installing carpet. If the carpet guy doesn’t want to respect the context or application on why or how dry wall screws are used and simply want to say all screws are equal, so they should also work in laying carpet, you will never be heard. What did it say in Isaiah 6:9 ”He said, “Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people callused; make their ears dull and close their eyes . Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed’” That is why it is important to have your relationship right notwithstanding what MAN wants to call it.

DominicX's avatar

People always say “it’s the people, not the religion”, but sometimes I think it is the religion. If, for example, you have religion A and religion B. Religion A’s holy text contains passages that say “kill people who do not follow religion A”. Most followers of religion A say “that passage is old and outdated and doesn’t apply anymore”, but some extremist members of religion A say that passage still applies and commit violence accordingly. Religion B, on the other hand, contains no such violent hostile passages.

Can we blame violent acts committed in the name of religion A solely on the people? If there are very few extremists of religion B (and they have no holy text support for their actions), is it worth looking at the religion itself as perhaps being part of the source of the violence? For what makes the extremist’s interpretation so wrong? I’m not saying it’s not the people’s fault. But can it be said that some religions, by the nature of their doctrine, are more likely to breed violence and extremism?

JenniferP's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central -You quote one part of the Bible but then question why I accept the part that says men are the heads of the houses.

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rojo's avatar

I believe it would be a different place. Better (or worse) would depend on the outlook of the individual.

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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@JenniferP @Hypocrisy_Central -You quote one part of the Bible but then question why I accept the part that says men are the heads of the houses. On the contrary, I was alluding to some would cleave a passage from the Bible out of context and make a truth of it, because to them it is as a small motor mechanic believing a jet engine is the same simply because they are both engines and refuse to hear the difference even when they ask the jet mechanic to explain. I do not question the man being head of household and not just because the Lord created me as a male. If anyone wants to get ticked off because woman is under man, they need to blame it on Eve. Just as their need to be a captain of the ship, there has to be a captain of the house. When the captain says “come about, fire the 16in on the frigate off the starboard side”, he don’t have time to cobble together the 1st lieutenant, the commodore, or any other officer to have a committee meeting so that everyone agrees on the battle plan. The Lord made that captain the man; the husband, less anyone get that twisted.

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