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Religion (not spirituality) has Done More Harm than Good?

Religion (not spirituality) has Done More Harm than Good


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The Giant Noodle

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Religion (not spirituality) has Done More Harm than Good?

The wars, the murders.....
The hope given, finding a better way to live......
 

Jucon

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Religions have created good people with good morals... even if few religious people choose to ignore the principles of their faith. People can disagree with some of their opinions, but almost all of the religious people I know have their hearts in the right place.
 
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Groucho

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Religions have created good people with good morals... even if some religious people choose to ignore the principles of their faith. People can disagree with some of their opinions, but almost all of the religious people I know have their hearts in the right place.
I'll agree with that.

I will also say that most of these people would have their hearts in the right place even without religion. If there were no religion in the world, nice people would still be nice people.
 

Jucon

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I'll agree with that.

I will also say that most of these people would have their hearts in the right place even without religion. If there were no religion in the world, nice people would still be nice people.
Well since that will never happen anytime soon... I guess we'll never know.
 

Redress

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I'll agree with that.

I will also say that most of these people would have their hearts in the right place even without religion. If there were no religion in the world, nice people would still be nice people.
Conversely, I think bad people will still have found excuses to commit the things done in the name of religion.

I think religion serves a useful purpose in those who chose to go that route. Religious groups do some wonderful charity work, and offer support to their members. This is not unlike many social/charity groups. I would go with more good than bad overall.
 

Wiseone

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I think trying to analyze the impact of such a huge and complex factor in human history, and then trying to analyze how every other factor of human history would react without it is so insanely huge a task that it can't be completed with any kind of accuracy.
 

Catz Part Deux

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Religions have created good people with good morals... even if few religious people choose to ignore the principles of their faith. People can disagree with some of their opinions, but almost all of the religious people I know have their hearts in the right place.
Almost all of the atheists I know have their hearts in the right places, too.

What if all of the money that was spent in our country on big church buildings to feed the egos of religious leaders was instead given to house the temporarily homeless? OR to cure cancer? Or to feed the hungry people around the world?
 

spud_meister

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people are people, good or bad, and i think all the good done in the world, as well as all the bad, that has been done in the name of religion would have still been done, people of like-mindedness would still coalesce, religion just provides a convenient vehicle for that to happen.
 

Jucon

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Almost all of the atheists I know have their hearts in the right places, too.

What if all of the money that was spent in our country on big church buildings to feed the egos of religious leaders was instead given to house the temporarily homeless? OR to cure cancer? Or to feed the hungry people around the world?
At least with the church my family attends, a lot of the money DOES go to those things. A group of about 40 christians a day goes to another church to serve meals to about 300 poverty stricken people. And the operation is funded by churches in the area as well as other donations from charitable people.

Not to mention the money spent on the church is intended to bring in and support more members... not to "feed the ego" of the pastor. More members = more money donated.

The money also supports students in going to college, funding operations to feed the hungry in other countries, and sends members to locations all over the world to donate their time to help the needy (among other things).

Edit: PLUS the church is sometimes used to temporarily shelter the homeless.
 
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Catz Part Deux

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people are people, good or bad, and i think all the good done in the world, as well as all the bad, that has been done in the name of religion would have still been done, people of like-mindedness would still coalesce, religion just provides a convenient vehicle for that to happen.
IF that's the case, then the net effect of religion is zero. And when one takes into consideration the amount of money spent on the PRACTICE of religion (separate and apart from charitable activities), then the financial impact of money being spent on an religion purely for entertainment value is substantial.

When I drive past the huge churches near my house, monuments to someone's huge ego, and empty about 90% of the time, I think about all of the poor people in our community who struggle, the senior citizens who can't afford their prescriptions, the children who never get new clothes, and I am rather disgusted by it all.
 

Catz Part Deux

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At least with the church my family attends, a lot of the money DOES go to those things. A group of about 40 christians a day goes to another church to serve meals to about 300 poverty stricken people. And the operation is funded by churches in the area as well as other donations from charitable people.

Not to mention the money spent on churches is intended to bring in and support more members... not to "feed the ego" of the pastor. More members = more money donated.

The money also supports students in going to college, funding operations to feed the hungry in other countries, and sends members to locations all over the world to donate their time to help the needy (among other things).
That's good, but I suspect that if you looked at it on a percentage basis, it's probably 25% of tithes that go to charitable purposes, and the rest goes to pay for a building, pastoral staff, music director, secretary, etc.

What would you think of a charitable organization where only 25% of contributions actually went to the cause, and 75% went to administrative costs?

And what do those full-time people actually DO with their time when they aren't preaching?

I mean, think about it. Matthew 25 suggests the kind of things that Christians should be doing, and yet, a lot of pastors are paid to do those things, and members aren't. Why is that?

Really, the message of the Bible isn't that complicated:

Micah 6:8: "What does the lord require of you but to do justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly before your God."

Does someone REALLY need to spend their time, 40 hours a week, to help you figure out how to do those 3 things?

Religion, to me, is like a sort of Amway scheme where you have an entire group of people who've figured out a way to get paid for finding new recruits to buy into their pyramid.
 
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spud_meister

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IF that's the case, then the net effect of religion is zero. And when one takes into consideration the amount of money spent on the PRACTICE of religion (separate and apart from charitable activities), then the financial impact of money being spent on an religion purely for entertainment value is substantial.

When I drive past the huge churches near my house, monuments to someone's huge ego, and empty about 90% of the time, I think about all of the poor people in our community who struggle, the senior citizens who can't afford their prescriptions, the children who never get new clothes, and I am rather disgusted by it all.
and if governments met under a tarpaulin on top of a hill, they'd save money too, and if people didn't fix dents in their cars bumpers, they could give that money to charity, but appearance, to some, is just as important as their actions.
 

Morality Games

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That's not possible to quantify, because religious experience is too personal, fluid, and subjective, on both an individual and cultural level, and too integrated with other aspects of the human condition.

Take 'motives' for example. How often, and in what cases, has religion been a primary motive for a good or bad action? How often a secondary motive? How often has it occupied a sort of in-between zone of these intentional states? For what people and civilizations and in what times? The answer is too subjective to uncover.

In the case of integration, consider the following not implausible scenario: a secularist devises a method for saving/improving the lives of millions of people in developing nations, but is only able to implement it in tangent with the large network of developing nation focused religious organizations and their charitable backing, secularists in general being too few or too disinterested to actively engage in charitable enterprises on a regular basis.

Or (also theoretically), to what extent was Galileo's interest in the cosmos, which set him down the path of science, inoculated by the biblical account of Creation? Even though relations between him and the Catholic Church became strained, without this initial stimulation, his analytical mind might have been attracted by a career like banking or accounting.

Personal comparison - I am not a Platonist, but without Plato, I might not have become interested in the larger contexts of philosophy and the insights study of them offers.

Even from the most hardcore atheist perspective, our 'superior' ethical and scientific knowledge would not be possible without first having an 'obstacle' like religion to overcome, in the same way the scientific method could not be refined without practitioners apprehending the strengths and limitations of empirical experimentation and making modifications to compensate.
 
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Catz Part Deux

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and if governments met under a tarpaulin on top of a hill, they'd save money too, and if people didn't fix dents in their cars bumpers, they could give that money to charity, but appearance, to some, is just as important as their actions.
Too true.

Think about this one...

Afghan claims explosion causes more damage to Buddha statue « RAWA News

The net effects of religion are probably a wash in the civilized west. But what about the net effects in someplace like Afghanistan or Uganda? More negative than positive, I'd suggest.
 

Winston Smith

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Really, the message of the Bible isn't that complicated:

Micah 6:8: "What does the lord require of you but to do justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly before your God."

Does someone REALLY need to spend their time, 40 hours a week, to help you figure out how to do those 3 things?
I think so. "Doing justly" isn't such a simple concept, as the discussions in this forum show. There are many different ideas and many bitter disagreements over what it means. Clergy need to be educated in the teachings of Christianity in order to educate the people, and that means we have to support them in their vocation. The benefit is that religion, rightly understood, gives us a true understanding of justice and a weapon against the abuse of power. Expensive mega-churches are another issue. From what I know of them, they tend to preach a message of personal satisfaction rather than justice.
 

Jucon

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That's good, but I suspect that if you looked at it on a percentage basis, it's probably 25% of tithes that go to charitable purposes, and the rest goes to pay for a building, pastoral staff, music director, secretary, etc.

What would you think of a charitable organization where only 25% of contributions actually went to the cause, and 75% went to administrative costs?

And what do those full-time people actually DO with their time when they aren't preaching?

I mean, think about it. Matthew 25 suggests the kind of things that Christians should be doing, and yet, a lot of pastors are paid to do those things, and members aren't. Why is that?

Really, the message of the Bible isn't that complicated:

Micah 6:8: "What does the lord require of you but to do justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly before your God."

Does someone REALLY need to spend their time, 40 hours a week, to help you figure out how to do those 3 things?

Religion, to me, is like a sort of Amway scheme where you have an entire group of people who've figured out a way to get paid for finding new recruits to buy into their pyramid.
As I'm guessing you're an atheist, this might be hard to understand... but I'll do my best...

I don't know the exact % of donations that the church donates elsewhere, but I'm guessing you don't know either. Though you may believe funding a church with donations is a waste of time, MANY religious people would disagree. Last I checked being a pastor was a job... and most jobs pay money. Churches can sometimes be huge! And they require people in many different areas including accounting, marketing, secretaries, people planning the volunteer programs, people planning the kids programs, people planning visits to other cities/states/countries, people running the nursery,... You seem to be simplifying what a church really requires to properly function. You can disagree with funding a church all you want... but many people feel it's money well spent to donate to a place of worship.

Pastors do MUCH more than preach on Sundays... baptisms, weddings, funerals, donating their time, visiting the dying, being a counselor for members,... Not to mention they often write long sermons at least once a week.

Though you may find it silly to believe in a God and to praise a God for creating this planet, your family, your life, your kids, etc... many people wouldn't find that silly at all. Many people prey simply to thank God for all that he/she has done. And going to church can be a constant reminder to some people of how great and precious one's life is and that we should always make the most of it. To each his own I guess.
 

Catz Part Deux

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secularists in general being too few or too disinterested to actively engage in charitable enterprises on a regular basis.
INteresting claim, but is it factual? Was Doctors Without Borders, for example, started by religionists or secularists? THere are plenty of examples of charitable enterprises started by secular humanists.

How about this one...would we have spent billions on the War on Drugs if not for religious groups pushing the war on alcohol, which led to the development of organized crime in the U.S.?

our 'superior' ethical and scientific knowledge would not be possible without first having an 'obstacle' like religion to overcome.
It took mankind around a thousand years to recover the medical knowledge, alone, that was lost during the religious dark ages after the fall of Rome.

Do you know how much knowledge has been destroyed by religious morons in the past 2000 years?

Read it and weep.

Book burning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Catz Part Deux

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As I'm guessing you're an atheist, this might be hard to understand... .
It's not hard to understand at all. And, I'm sure that religious people do disagree. Clearly, y'all need to spend a lot of time at church each week learning how to follow the golden rule, and for some of you, it never quite sticks.
 

Catz Part Deux

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I think so. "Doing justly" isn't such a simple concept, as the discussions in this forum show. There are many different ideas and many bitter disagreements over what it means. Clergy need to be educated in the teachings of Christianity in order to educate the people, and that means we have to support them in their vocation. The benefit is that religion, rightly understood, gives us a true understanding of justice and a weapon against the abuse of power. Expensive mega-churches are another issue. From what I know of them, they tend to preach a message of personal satisfaction rather than justice.
I have very few problems with small groups of believers that meet in homes with unpaid clergy.
 

RightinNYC

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That's good, but I suspect that if you looked at it on a percentage basis, it's probably 25% of tithes that go to charitable purposes, and the rest goes to pay for a building, pastoral staff, music director, secretary, etc.

What would you think of a charitable organization where only 25% of contributions actually went to the cause, and 75% went to administrative costs?
Do you have any evidence to support this or are you just making it up?

Moreover, even if we're just talking about monetary donations, there are plenty of charitable donations that are made in part because of a person's religion that aren't specifically given to the church itself.

edit: As an aside, you presume that money spent on pastors, music, the building, etc. is just wasted as administrative expenses. Why on earth would you assume that? One of the main purposes of a church is to provide religious services for its members, so it makes perfect sense that a substantial portion of donations would be spent on those things.

If a homeless shelter spent 75% of its revenue on its building and staff, would you consider that to be "administrative costs"?
If a suicide counseling hotline spent 75% of its revenue on its phone lines and operators, would you consider that to be "administrative costs"?
 
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Morality Games

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Bear in mind, the category of obviously good or bad religious actions has a much smaller pool of examples than the uncertainly good or bad religious actions. That's what makes the answer to this question indefinite.

This is the anthropological equivalent of asking, "If humankind's sense of smell was 30% more acute, would that have had good or bad results for our species?"

Answer: a civilization produced from a species more reliant on smell and less reliant on sights and sounds would have produced completely different kinds of arts, technologies, and values. For one thing, there probably would be more insistence on the rudeness of farting in public. The broader results are unimaginable in any concrete form.

The question here isn't even, "Is religion best for humanity's future?" It is, "Has religion done more harm and good in history?"

Religion is so pervasive that it has had its fingers in everybody's pie.
 
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RightinNYC

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Imagining what would have happened in the past without religion is just pointless, because there always would have been something serving a similar role.
 

spud_meister

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Too true.

Think about this one...

Afghan claims explosion causes more damage to Buddha statue « RAWA News

The net effects of religion are probably a wash in the civilized west. But what about the net effects in someplace like Afghanistan or Uganda? More negative than positive, I'd suggest.
then you look at New Zealand, and see it was religion that stopped the Maoris from eating "long pig", and inter-tribal warring, but just next door, in Australia, it was religion that rounded up the Aboriginal people, causing many of them to die from just being removed from the land their tribes had lived with for hundreds of thousands of years.

the pro's and con's could be listed indefinitely, and it is also an entirely subjective view, as in New Zealand, it destroyed a lot of Maori culture, and in Australia, they got moved to lands where they wouldn't succumb to western diseases :shrug:
 

Winston Smith

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I have very few problems with small groups of believers that meet in homes with unpaid clergy.
I have one big problem with them, which is that they tend toward exactly the kind of uneducated fanaticism that you don't seem to like. Religion is like any other subject. It takes study to understand it.
 

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Do you have any evidence to support this or are you just making it up?

Moreover, even if we're just talking about monetary donations, there are plenty of charitable donations that are made in part because of a person's religion that aren't specifically given to the church itself.

edit: As an aside, you presume that money spent on pastors, music, the building, etc. is just wasted as administrative expenses. Why on earth would you assume that? One of the main purposes of a church is to provide religious services for its members, so it makes perfect sense that a substantial portion of donations would be spent on those things.

If a homeless shelter spent 75% of its revenue on its building and staff, would you consider that to be "administrative costs"?
If a suicide counseling hotline spent 75% of its revenue on its phone lines and operators, would you consider that to be "administrative costs"?
Does your church house homeless people or spend 24 hours a day counseling suicidal people?

As far as pastoral work goes, it's a good gig for someone who can find a gullible herd to support him/her. Most of the pastors in my area, with a decent-sized congregation, make far more money than I do.

For the record: I'd have similar problems with a teen center whose building was only used 10% of the time.
 
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