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14 bad justifications for religion

Discussion in 'Interfaith Dialogues' started by Psycho Dave, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. Psycho Dave

    Psycho Dave
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    I saw the post "14 good reasons society needs religion", and have this response to it. Since it was originally posted in lots of Christian forums, there are lots of references to Christianity. I traced the post to this website.

    (1) Religion helps to regulate our conduct and behaviour in society by
    providing a set of morals and value-system for human existence.

    I would argue that simply living with other people in any society
    forces all involved to adopt a system of values, a set of compromises,
    agreements, and social obligations, in order to maintain peace in the
    society. All religions provide is a different form of these social
    contracts.


    Our values are human values. Religions always try to take credit for
    the values that most human societies have in common, when in fact, they
    are so universal that they predate and transscend religious values.
    Christianity, for example, was easily adopted by the Romans, primarily
    because it's values were perceived as being very similar to what most
    Romans already beleived.

    (2) Religion guides our actions in life, putting a check on criminal
    tendency in human nature.


    It has never been established as a fact, that human nature tends
    towards criminal behavior. Of course, when a religion declares which
    things are crimes and which aren't this can be a whole different ball
    game. Take for example religions which actively persecute other
    religions (like Christians who Persecuted Jews for centuries). When
    your religion condones terrible actions against unbelievers, is it only

    approving what would be crimes in otherwise more secular societies. Of
    course, it works the other way, too. When a religion can declare
    certain things to be crimes, which would otherwise not be crimes in
    secular societies, more criminals can easily be created by the adoption
    of laws based on these religions.

    (3) A true religion will ensure peaceful co-existence,love and harmony
    among human beings.


    This is an interesting statement, because if this is true, then we have

    never really seen any true religions. All of the world's major
    religions have struggled against each other for dominance over socieity

    for millenia. No religion can claim to ensure peace, love, and harmony,
    because religions are practiced by people, and people make mistakes.
    When a religion condemns groups of people (such as unbelievers or
    homosexuals), and even asks that they be executed or physically
    punished, it is not calling for peace, but tyrrany.

    (4) Religion keeps our feet firmly planted on the ground even when our
    heads are up in clouds because of fast-moving technology resulting in
    hectic and stressful lifestyle.

    Does this statement even make rational sense? If one's head is in the
    clouds, it's generally understood that the person's thoughts are
    wandering, that they are not focused, that they are daydreaming. How
    does religion keep a person's feet planted (and planted in what?
    Reality? Morality? Just what are one's feet kept firmly planted in?)
    when a person's thoughts are elsewhere?

    This statement also seems to blame modern technology for creating
    stress, even though the opposite is actually the case. Machines and
    computers save people lots of time, work, and effort, allowing us more
    liesure time. You don't get fat sitting in front of a TV or computer
    because it's stressful work. You get fat because it's liesure.

    (5) A true religion gives you a clear conscience while performing an
    action or taking a difficult decision,like resorting to arms in
    self-defence or in war.


    More likely, it gives you a clear conscience when murdering unbelievers

    and their children, blowing up abortion clinics and shooting doctors
    who provide abortions. It gives you a clear conscience when taking
    civil rights away from groups of people like atheists, gays, and Jews.
    It gave Nazis clear conscience when they persecuted and murdered
    millions of Jews, and gives Americans a clear conscience when killing
    Muslims, while calling them "rag-heads".


    (6) Religion ensures balance in a life where negative social influences
    can be increasingly disruptive,immoral and corruptive for the mind.

    But what if the negative social influence is caused by religion? There
    are plenty of cases where religious movements cause chaos and havoc in
    otherwise peaceful places. When Christianity became the official
    religion of the Roman Empire, it wasn't long before the Christians in
    power began to persecute pagans and threaten them with violence and
    death if they didn't convert. The City of Alexandria, Egypt was laid to

    ruin merely because the pagans refused to turn over Jews to the
    Christians, who wanted to persecute them. Modern day Americans, in
    Pontotoc, Mississippi, created turmoil in their town when a single
    family complained that their children were being indoctrinated into
    Christian Fundamentalism in their public school. The court agreed that
    the local schools were indoctrinating kids into a specific religious
    sect, and found in favor of the family. The whole community rose up and
    persecuted this family, got their employers to fire the parents, and
    basically turned their lives into a living hell, all with a clear
    conscience. Think of how many religious people have murdered
    unbelievers with a clear conscience over the centuries.


    (7) As a science of self-improvement,religion offers a therapeutic and
    success-oriented lifestyle,a victorious way of life.

    If this is true, we should be able to see results. There are no studies
    that show that people from one particular religion generally live
    better than people of other religions (or no religions). If anything,
    studies have shown that the diet, environment, and exercise are the
    factors which lead to healthy living.

    (8) Religion prevents deterioration of the mind due to dehumanization
    and desensitization caused by highly mechanized modern living, thus
    providing stability.


    This is totally false. If anything, religion has a longer track record
    of dehumanizing people (such as the way that Christians dehumanized
    Jews and muslims, and the way Hindus and Muslims dehumanize each
    other), and desensitizing people (Christianity practically invented
    most forms of torture during the inquisition) to treating others poorly
    -- especially treating unbelievers, women, and gay people as
    second-class citizens.

    (9) True religion is the manifestation of mercy - God's mercy for His
    Creation and man's mercy towards his fellow-beings and
    environment(Creation).


    How does mercy manifest itself in the stoning to death of people for
    being unbelievers, or for being gay? How does mercy play into the call
    to slaughter people of an opposing religion? History is full of
    examples of religious people murdering others, and intimidating
    witnesses who appealed to secular authorities for justice. Most
    recently, Gudjarat, India, where survivors of a religious massacre were

    threatened and intimidated to the point that they refused to testify to

    the authorities out of fear of their lives. Most importantly, how does
    Mercy manifest itself when one decides to bomb an abortion clinic?


    (10) Religion prevents us from being carried away by the tides of the
    times, because a true religion has an eternal value-system.

    This is fairly true, as far as I can see it. But my spin on this is
    that religions tend to keep people thinking in a medieval or even a
    bronze-age mode of thinking, where people are not concerned with modern

    concepts like civil rights, fairness, or cooperation. Religious,
    bronze-age mentality has no compromise, does not accept that
    unbelievers have the same rights, and that women are weak, an
    therefore, property. This is an eternal value system, as it has been
    with us for centuries, and as far as I can tell, it's long overdue for
    an upgrade to a 21st century values system.


    (11) True religion protects the human rights of everyone and prevents
    their violation.

    Again -- it's not been shown hisorically. If Christianity were "the
    true religion", then Jews' rights were not violated when Christians
    tortured them during the inquisition. organized religions have
    traditionally opposed human rights activism, from giving women the same

    rights as men, to giving black people the same rights as whites, and to
    giving Jews the same rights as Christians. Time and time again, it has
    been religious people who fought to prevent human rights from being
    equally spread.


    (12) True religion ensures social justice,equality and security for all
    its adherents.

    Well, if your religion controlls the society, and has control of the
    law enforcement, you do not perceive injustice, when people who are
    unbelievers are hurt by your religion.

    (13) True religion ensures a happy, holy, healthy mind in a healthy
    body.


    Religion has nothing to do with mental illness. the causes of mental
    illness are complex, and no religion can effectively prevent the
    biological, social, and circumstantial factors that cause mental
    illness from occuring. That having been said, social pressures can
    often cause mental problems for people. Religions use social pressure
    to persuade people to give into the will of the faith, religious
    leaders often condemn critics, unbelievers, or people who they think
    are not faithful enough. The pressure to be accepted into the group or
    to be accepted into the inner circle of the faith is often too great
    for people to bear, and the result can often be mental illness. One can
    easily see that there are very few atheists in mental hospitals, and
    studies have been done of religion in mental hospitals. Nearly all the
    patients are religious. Mental illnesses often manifest themselves in
    perceptions of supernatural things -- hearing voices that the patient
    thinks are gods, devils, or spirits, believing themselves to be the
    messiah, or the antichrist, etc.

    (14) True religion provides for good governance of society and good
    care of its citizens.

    There is not one case in history of this ever happening. Every single
    time a religious society allowed their religion to dictate the
    governance of society, the result has been injustice, wars, purges,
    pogroms, and persecutions. Case and Point -- the Holy Roman Empire,


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  3. Arvind

    Arvind
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    Dear Dave,

    Although I am not the original writer of the article, but I am going to share my thoughts with you. You have raised good points, and I appreciate your time for sharing those. In my embedded (bolded) reply, I have included some Gurmukhi quotes in brackets and a quick translation of those for your benefit.

    At any time, please do not take my writings as a justification for the 14 points or as a denial of your rationales… consider those as a question to all of us – How about having a religion which has this or that….

    Due to time constraint, I could write about a few points only… I will get back sooner after your initial response.

    Thanks for reading.

    Sincerely, Arvind.




    I saw the post "14 good reasons society needs religion", and have this response to it. Since it was originally posted in lots of Christian forums, there are lots of references to Christianity. I traced the post to this website.

    (1) Religion helps to regulate our conduct and behaviour in society by
    providing a set of morals and value-system for human existence.

    I would argue that simply living with other people in any society
    forces all involved to adopt a system of values, a set of compromises,
    agreements, and social obligations, in order to maintain peace in the
    society. All religions provide is a different form of these social
    contracts.


    Our values are human values. Religions always try to take credit for
    the values that most human societies have in common, when in fact, they
    are so universal that they predate and transscend religious values.
    Christianity, for example, was easily adopted by the Romans, primarily
    because it's values were perceived as being very similar to what most
    Romans already beleived.


    How about having a religion which teaches that the supreme religion is to work selflessly, and keep the one and only one creator in mind always. (Ref: Sarab dharam mein shreshtra dharam, har ko naam jap nirmal karam)?

    How about having a religion whose founding tenets are
    • Earn an honest living (Kirat Karni)
    • Remember the Creator always (Naam Japna)
    • Share the belongings with others (Vand Chakna)


    (2) Religion guides our actions in life, putting a check on criminal
    tendency in human nature.


    It has never been established as a fact, that human nature tends
    towards criminal behavior. Of course, when a religion declares which
    things are crimes and which aren't this can be a whole different ball
    game. Take for example religions which actively persecute other
    religions (like Christians who Persecuted Jews for centuries). When
    your religion condones terrible actions against unbelievers, is it only

    approving what would be crimes in otherwise more secular societies. Of
    course, it works the other way, too. When a religion can declare
    certain things to be crimes, which would otherwise not be crimes in
    secular societies, more criminals can easily be created by the adoption
    of laws based on these religions.

    As briefed in point 1 above, those principles tend to guide actions in life. “Criminal” is a heavy word whose meaning is not yet clear to me as its meaning changes depending on social cluster or land-rules, so no comments.

    (3) A true religion will ensure peaceful co-existence,love and harmony
    among human beings.


    This is an interesting statement, because if this is true, then we have

    never really seen any true religions. All of the world's major
    religions have struggled against each other for dominance over socieity

    for millenia. No religion can claim to ensure peace, love, and harmony,
    because religions are practiced by people, and people make mistakes.
    When a religion condemns groups of people (such as unbelievers or
    homosexuals), and even asks that they be executed or physically
    punished, it is not calling for peace, but tyrrany.

    How about having a religion which teaches – The only race is mankind himself (Manas ki jaat sabey eke pehchanbo)? This leads to everyone’s interconnection with the thread of love, because there is no discrimination based on race, color, caste, gender, age… Most of the problems around are due to power struggle or desire to prove supremacy. But what if the Guru of a religion calls Himself the servant of the servants, which means there is no ego around… hence a great harmony in our world.

    (4) Religion keeps our feet firmly planted on the ground even when our
    heads are up in clouds because of fast-moving technology resulting in
    hectic and stressful lifestyle.

    Does this statement even make rational sense? If one's head is in the
    clouds, it's generally understood that the person's thoughts are
    wandering, that they are not focused, that they are daydreaming. How
    does religion keep a person's feet planted (and planted in what?
    Reality? Morality? Just what are one's feet kept firmly planted in?)
    when a person's thoughts are elsewhere?

    This statement also seems to blame modern technology for creating
    stress, even though the opposite is actually the case. Machines and
    computers save people lots of time, work, and effort, allowing us more
    liesure time. You don't get fat sitting in front of a TV or computer
    because it's stressful work. You get fat because it's liesure.

    How about having a religion which teaches to uproot ego within self and asks for submitting oneself to the Guru?

    (5) A true religion gives you a clear conscience while performing an
    action or taking a difficult decision,like resorting to arms in
    self-defence or in war.


    More likely, it gives you a clear conscience when murdering unbelievers

    and their children, blowing up abortion clinics and shooting doctors
    who provide abortions. It gives you a clear conscience when taking
    civil rights away from groups of people like atheists, gays, and Jews.
    It gave Nazis clear conscience when they persecuted and murdered
    millions of Jews, and gives Americans a clear conscience when killing
    Muslims, while calling them "rag-heads".


    Remember when a religion originates, after some time (centuries), its followers keep on finding loopholes in the original teachings according to their own (perhaps intentional) misinterpretation, and start suiting religion as per their desires. Some even justify the wrong actions by giving reference to their Guru’s teachings by misinterpreting! And then an ignorant sees this misinterpreter being a representative, and then falsify everyone in totality.
    Question: Where have the things gone wrong? The teacher, his teachings or followers!

    How about having a religion which teaches that When all peaceful means fail, it is righteous to raise a sword? Remember peace, harmony, freedom of expression is the FIRST thing all the time.
     
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  4. Arvind

    Arvind
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  5. shearwater

    shearwater
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    Dave:

    Those who are unfamiliar with the Bible or the Guru Granth Sahib can't speak with much authority on what they teach. To makes these broad claims against religion in general may be your own cultural perceptions. I will say that the Sikhs I have met are wonderful people with a high ethical sensitivity. I can say the same for many Christians I have known who profess to be transformed by their association with the Bible and who profess a personal experience with Jesus Christ as they claim. As for history, I will grant you there are many abususes that may be heaped on Christendom as well as other religious systems. But the Bible is clear in 1 John, Chapter two, that he who hates his brother is evil.
     
  6. pk70

    pk70
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    Arvind jio
    Thanks for adding these views here, the drums of the atheists are beaten on malpractice of religious teachings.
    Religions are used as weapons to divide people and to exploit people, almost in all organized religions, this disease is present unfortunately.
     

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