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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > Can culture advance without religion?      Home login  
 AUTHOR
 balrog67
Joined: 4/1/2012
Msg: 176
Can culture advance without religion?Page 8 of 39    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39)

yes I have heard of it; but in practical life it just doesn't work because of the lack of one key ingredient that you'd need to have in place for it to work. That ingredient would be "motive". Mankind would have to have motive (which leads to obligation)to put the normative theory into clinical practice, and that just hasn't happened.


You might benefit from reading up on Reciprocal Altruism. It provides plenty of motive and is evidenced every day.
 red_fir
Joined: 11/21/2011
Msg: 177
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/8/2012 4:20:13 PM
I can only suppose you didn't actually read this ^ ^ ^ article? Because it doesn't support your position that religion is a necessary source of morality or that atheism necessarily leads to apocalyptic social breakdown.
Here are some extracts -


Umm.....
I didnt reference this materiel....the OP brought it up as a paradigm to be critiqued.
And while I notice your excited about critiquing others views you don't have much content on the OP itself.

And I didn't express that religion is a source of morality, I stated that religion contributed to the "advancements" that culture has made and noted as a side reference that atheists never congregate around a country that supports their ideals, but prefer to inhabit countries that tolerate religion if not outright encourage it.
And theists do believe that God works by an inviolable code of morality (and is in fact the wellspring of the same).

But here is where we run into the Mormon problem, There is no reason, no matter whom theorizes what, to believe that "morality evolved".

And moral codes DID emerge but the society's that had them universally ascribed them to Divinity, Are you (or the "researchers" of this article) so much wiser than those whom were on the scene at the time, to gainsay the matter?

And I don't need to "establish the direct causal link between the two (spirituality = cultural advance)" any more than you need to establish that there is causal link between atheism and cultural advance, (kinda gets back to that lots of critique with no content, thing).


Bizarre. You have it completely backwards.

No, I have it right, its just your filter of seeing through a mirror, that warps your perspective.


Uh-oh... religious types appear to be less moral, and more irrational than atheists? Yet some of them still cling to the idea that 'religion' is necessary for culture to 'advance'? pfft.


And nothing in the materiel you referenced showed a definitive clarity of morality for either side,
but you've made no case whatsoever for "why we'd be better with a society of atheists".
As I've said before we've seen the results of an atheistic society and there aint nothin to brag on.


Science operates by using evidence and reason. Doubt is prized, authority rejected. No finding is deemed "true" — a notion that's always provisional — unless it's repeated and verified by others.


This is an outright lie, science has proposed many theories that have been expanded on by others without any more foundation than the fact that the first fool had proposed it.
The only true statement is that authority is rejected. (Usually the focus IS the rejection of authority) and the detail that two fools repeat and verify each others errors hardly substitutes for reason.

And the Middle East conflict isn't about two religions vying for supremacy, its about two brothers (or by proxy their progeny) fighting the last will and testament of their father, Abraham.
While either side will co-opt faith to support their cause the focus is about possession of the land and the wealth to be garnered there.

And your fantasy land of a world without religion would have no less violence,
there will always be someone who feels they deserve "MORE" and they'll kill, co-opt, legislate, collude, and steal to get it.
Hell they'll even become a lying cheat.
 A_Gent
Joined: 8/18/2011
Msg: 178
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/8/2012 4:48:52 PM

Science operates by using evidence and reason


And yet, there is more to knowledge and reason that is outside of the domain of science.
 Kevin554
Joined: 3/20/2012
Msg: 179
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/8/2012 6:42:38 PM
"Support services in your local community? Counselling? An acute psychiatric facility?
But none of that has anything to do with the original context and exchange. "

-If people feel hopeless they arent going to seek out social or medical attention. And yes it does have value in discussion here, in an oblique way. This helps answer his question 'in context' by showing the common differences in ways athiests and thiests go about our lives, directly relating to the relationship between culture and religion. Let me ask you this. How do you reverse a pandora's box? How do you ease it's effects? Can you justify or rationalize it's 'usefulness'? A thiest and athiest would normally view this in very different ways. And that difference shows the effectiveness of culture advancing alongside religion.

"hope for what?"

That would depend on the person's situation who needs it.
 Kevin554
Joined: 3/20/2012
Msg: 180
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/8/2012 6:45:08 PM
"Support services in your local community? Counselling? An acute psychiatric facility?
But none of that has anything to do with the original context and exchange. "

-Also I would like to add a more direct answer that it is far more healthy to always have hope, than to be without a god and be prone to hopelessness. Sometimes hopelessness can cause people to be self-destructive or just plain destructive.
 RainGrimoire
Joined: 2/2/2011
Msg: 181
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/8/2012 9:16:46 PM
Seeing how religions by their nature do not progress, one could say that we have to progress without religion, or we simply won't progress culturally.
 red_fir
Joined: 11/21/2011
Msg: 182
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/9/2012 3:53:18 AM
It rolls back to a definition of "progress".
Many people don't care for the direction we're going and would gladly roll back to a simpler time.
Many can't get rid of their roots fast enough.
For "progress" to occur for both, schisms have to deepen and social integration come to an end,
The current tension between Liberals and Conservatives is becoming increasingly polarized.
Like the Israeli/Arab conflict the definition of each is becoming diametric opposites.
If we cannot separate the two, than violence will become the order of the day.
Think of Russia's Siberian political prisons and Chinese "reeducation centers" both efforts at enforced social "unity" and "progress".
 A_Gent
Joined: 8/18/2011
Msg: 183
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/9/2012 4:52:06 AM
Religion does seem to provide comfort to people during times of stress.
... may also be that religion generally prohibits suicide, on penalty of damnation, that prevents people from taking the easy way out. The net effect would be the same, people toughing it out rather than eliminating themselves and whatever their contribution to the society may be, but may be out of fear rather than hope.



whether religion is right or wrong, and whether there is a god or not, and we all have our views, we can agree at least that all our cultures have advanced (at least moved forward in time, which is inevitable) in conjunction with a religion of some kind. except china.
"In the Shang Dynasty (about 2000 BC), the earliest period we know much about, people in China worshipped a lot of different gods - weather gods and sky gods - and also a higher god who ruled over the other gods, called Shang-Ti. People who lived during the Shang Dynasty also believed that their ancestors - their parents and grandparents - became like gods when they died, and that their ancestors wanted to be worshipped too, like gods. Each family worshipped their own ancestors." http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/china/religion/index.htm

It seems that humans are hardwired to find connections and reasons... including... How and Why am I here ... What is the significance of my existence... What happens when I die? Religion, provides an answer to such existentialist questions. As a cultural force, it appears that religion is universal....including ancient China. I do not have any research to support if there were atheist cave men, or ancient Greeks, or Romans, or Chinese.


is china the control in this global experiment?
Apparently not. While there is some debate is ancestor worship is a religion... if one contends that religion is a way to connect with the spiritual world and life after death... it fits the bill.

It may be that a sense of morality is an essential human quality.. and it makes sense that morality helps people get along better - at least in-group cohesion - and such cohesion promotes the evolution of a society.


It rolls back to a definition of "progress".
Much as trying to nail down an effective definition of culture, civilization, and society. Progress... toward what?

Cuba may not have the economic clout and degree of affluenza that the US boasts... but the people in Cuba enjoy education, health care, and basic needs as a privilege of their society.. and for the most part... despite the lack of stuff they may have, Cubans are much happier as a people than most of North America.

One could imagine the Nazis (and please, I am not personally endorsing such... the thought terrifies me) if they had prevailed leading humanity toward a golden age of prosperity, highly cultured, and an ordered and highly functional civilization ... German engineering and discipline.... would make Rome look like hacks... IF you were part of the in-group.

No doubt whatever semblance they would have of God would have been invoked to justify their superiority and right to rule the world. (As it seems the ruling classes have done throughout history).

For those people outside of the ruling class and their minions... a life of slavery only as long as you were useful... Does anyone think there would be any atheists at all?
 Kevin554
Joined: 3/20/2012
Msg: 184
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/9/2012 3:23:26 PM
"Steve Jobs would now think otherwise if he hadn't placed all his hope and faith in a quack cure instead of seeking a timely appropriate and quite probably successful cure for his cancer.

When i get my terminal illness, I will probably understand it for what it is and be grown up about it. i may hope that medicine has a cure somewhere, or that it invents one before it is too late for me, but I wont be praying to an imaginary friend because it is completely pointless.

I understand that i will die, that my molecules and atoms will disaggregate and reform in some other manner, probably worm food, soil, dust, ash, and get taken up by some other form of life - many other forms of life, just as every one of my atoms was stardust, rock, water, wormfood and, who knows, a bit of galileo's breath at one point. I am just using these atoms now but they weren't mine originally and they will not be mine in 50 years' time. and in the end, in 5 billion years' time, all my atoms and all your atoms and all everyone elses' atoms will be stardust again, blown out into the vastness of space. that's how it is.

i have no fear of any of that. it doesn't render me hopeless and it doesn't make me self-destructive. I am happy with my lack of delusion. "

-Good, so you prove that everyone is different in the way we handle our issues emotionally. That's the point i am making, that some people will need god in their lives. Also you can call it a delusion if that makes you feel more comfortable. But if a 'delusion' cannot yet be scientifically proven false or true, then how could you call it a delusion to begin with? A delusion is the belief into something that is proven false. This reminds me of the Iranian Coup detat, a little off the subject i know but look in to it, and tell me if any normal person would've believed it at the time it happened? note: In this story the sceptics were the ones delusional right?

edit: heres a link to it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat
 Yule_liquor
Joined: 12/7/2011
Msg: 185
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/9/2012 5:26:03 PM
@Fred


Members of the Wehrmacht swore this loyalty oath: “I swear by God this holy oath to the Führer of the German Reich and the German people, Adolf Hitler.” For Schutzstaffel (S.S.) members it was: “I pledge to you, Adolf Hitler, my obedience unto death, so help me God.”


And what kind of God were they making this attestation to? Surely not the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jesus. Think about it; they swore to a God that they would unquestionably carry out the directives of a man who violated every one of the 10 commandments (to say the least).


except china.


I don't know what you are implying but Buddhism serves as both a philosophy & religion. The philosophy is contained within its religious casing, and reconciles well with those who wish to believe in a diety or not. Thus to say that China had NO religion(akin to some imagined atheistic society) is wrong. China certainly made cultural strides under the aegis of Buddhism, and when China became communist (in 1950); it regressed culturally & otherwise


second; as we enter a more secular age, is there any reason to suggest that, given we are where we are, we will be unable to progress?


Though we are progressing technologically; we have regressed (as a whole) culturally with the ushering in of secularism. We have (slowly) had a loosening of morals which has led to the disintegration of the ethos in each successive generation that has produced varying degrees of civil dysfunctionality (disarray) in many aspects of society such as the fragility of the family unit; out of wedlock births leading to increased prevalence of social pathologies among the offspring. All of this can be corroborated by the respective statistics (ie rise in crime; drug use; mental disease, social ineptitude, etc).


i have no fear of any of that. it doesn't render me hopeless


the Atheist forfeits his "hope" just like a passenger who is on board a ship without any life boats forfeits a timely (and safe) rescue, should his ship start to sink! You seemed to have anchored your "hope" on the fact that you will one day die physically; yet you cannot disprove (or falsify) that your essence may live on in some other realm.
 lyingcheat
Joined: 9/13/2009
Msg: 186
view profile
History
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/9/2012 7:45:15 PM

....as we enter a more secular age, is there any reason to suggest that, given we are where we are, we will be unable to progress?

None. Unshackled from primitive superstitions there's no doubt that 'culture' will 'advance'. Necessarily so, since even the act of discarding irrational fairytale-like foundation myths is a kind of progress.

What if one wanted to 'progress', or 'advance', in any endeavor?
Is it more helpful to confront and examine the actual issues, fix the negatives, facilitate the positives, and then measure the progress?
Or attribute vast swathes of the process to 'a higher power' that is operating on rules we don't understand and can't influence, pray and 'hope' things get better for our in-group, and write off failure as just 'gods will'?

Which of the two methods is more likely to work for anything one is trying to get better at?
Which method should any sensible person choose to... say, learn to play billiards? Fix their car? Or improve society?

Looks pretty obvious to me...

________________________________________________________________________________________________
...everyone is different in the way we handle our issues emotionally. That's the point i am making, that some people will need god in their lives.

That people vary in the way they react to stress, and have developed varying coping mechanisms, is not justification in itself of the mechanisms they are using.
Some people 'handle their emotional issues', or cope, by emotionally abusing others and throwing things, some people handle their 'issues emotionally' via catatonic withdrawal and depressive collapse.

That they do so, and afterwards feel better, is (obviously) not necessarily a rationally meaningful recommendation of the method.

________________________________________________________________________________________________
the Atheist forfeits his "hope" just like a passenger who is on board a ship without any life boats forfeits a timely (and safe) rescue, should his ship start to sink!

That's ridiculous. As if, for the secular person, concern for ones family or love of ones children, are not sufficient reasons to have 'hope' for the future. As if a simple determination to preserve ones own life is not a good enough reason to endure.
To suppose that only irrational belief in an invisible wizard/god thing is adequate to motivate feelings of 'hope' is ludicrous.



Though we are progressing technologically; we have regressed (as a whole) culturally with the ushering in of secularism. We have (slowly) had a loosening of morals which has led to the disintegration of the ethos in each successive generation that has produced varying degrees of civil dysfunctionality (disarray) in many aspects of society such as the fragility of the family unit; out of wedlock births leading to increased prevalence of social pathologies among the offspring. All of this can be corroborated by the respective statistics (ie rise in crime; drug use; mental disease, social ineptitude, etc).

Unfortunately for you, statistical research says the opposite.
By research I mean, studies that have actually gone to the trouble of establishing the connection between 'religosity' and "civil dysfunctionality".

Which differs from your analysis/opinion which appears to be based on guesses and assumptions produced from a pre-existing bias.

Here's some, presumably surprising, reading for you.
Cross-national correlations of quantifiable societal health with popular religiosity and secularism in the prosperous democracies: a first look.
http://www.rationalist.com.au/archive/73/p20-27_paul_ar73_web.pdf
The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions
http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP07398441_c.pdf



A few extracts for those interested -

Abstract
Large-scale surveys show dramatic declines in religiosity in favour of secularisation in the developed democracies. Popular acceptance of evolutionary science correlates negatively with levels of religiosity, and the United States is the only prosperous nation where the majority absolutely believes in a creator and evolutionary science is unpopular. Abundant data is available on rates of societal dysfunction and health in the First World.

Cross-national comparisons of highly differing rates of religiosity and societal conditions
form a mass epidemiological experiment that can be used to test whether high rates of belief in and worship of a creator are necessary for high levels of social health.

Data correlations show that in almost all regards the highly secular democracies consistently enjoy low rates of societal dysfunction, while pro-religious and anti-evolution America performs poorly.
http://www.rationalist.com.au/archive/73/p20-27_paul_ar73_web.pdf




Better understanding the nature, origin and popularity of varying levels of popular
religion versus secularism, and their impact upon socioeconomic conditions and vice versa,
requires a cross national comparison of the competing factors in populations where opinions
are freely chosen.

Utilizing 25 indicators, the uniquely extensive Successful Societies Scale reveals that population diversity and immigration correlate weakly with 1st world socioeconomic conditions, and high levels of income disparity, popular religiosity as measured by differing levels of belief and activity, and rejection of evolutionary science correlate strongly negatively with improving conditions.
The historically unprecedented socioeconomic security that results from low levels of progressive government policies appear to suppress popular religiosity and creationist opinion, conservative religious ideology apparently contributes to societal dysfunction, and religious prosociality and charity are less effective at improving societal conditions than are secular government programs.
The antagonistic relationship between better socioeconomic conditions and intense popular faith may prevent the existence of nations that combine the two factors.


The non-universality of strong religious devotion, and the ease with which large populations abandon serious theism when conditions are sufficiently benign, refute hypotheses that religious belief and practice are the normal, deeply set human mental state, whether they are superficial or natural in nature.

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

Youth suicide is an exception to the general trend because there is not a significant relationship between it and religious or secular factors.

No democracy is known to have combined strong religiosity and popular denial of evolution with high rates of societal health. Higher rates of non-theism and acceptance of human evolution usually correlate with lower rates of dysfunction, and the least theistic nations are usually the least dysfunctional.

None of the strongly secularised, pro-evolution democracies are experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction.

Although they are by no means utopias, the populations of secular democracies are clearly able to govern themselves and maintain societal cohesion.

The nonreligious, pro-evolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator.

The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.

Contradicting these conclusions requires demonstrating a positive link between theism and societal conditions in the First World with a similarly large body of data – a doubtful possibility in view of the observable trends.
http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP07398441_c.pdf

The "observable trends" he is referring to are these -
http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2009/03/fastest-growing-religion-no-re.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism

 60to70
Joined: 7/28/2008
Msg: 187
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/9/2012 10:29:15 PM
I am just wondering....lacking in time...etc....where are these flawless societies that are godless? Lacking in dysfunction of any kind? I want to go there. I want to be strong like in a Ayn Rand story. Do you also promise me that if I have a daughter she will not experiment sexually and get friggen pregnant and get STD infection and god! have to abort the foetus? And she will govern the man she chooses to live with easily and he will govern her with the same respect and affection for her being. Oh please. What is definite about mankind is that ego always gets in the way of wisdom. Yep. And if ego isn't the issue, its always about something more than the secular pap and crap. By the way in no way am I being disrespectful. I value the work you do in finding all of these venerable links. Etc.
 Kevin554
Joined: 3/20/2012
Msg: 188
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 1:12:46 AM
Just wanted to add that I totally support 60to70's post :) .
 Kevin554
Joined: 3/20/2012
Msg: 189
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 1:24:26 AM
"That people vary in the way they react to stress, and have developed varying coping mechanisms, is not justification in itself of the mechanisms they are using.
Some people 'handle their emotional issues', or cope, by emotionally abusing others and throwing things, some people handle their 'issues emotionally' via catatonic withdrawal and depressive collapse.

That they do so, and afterwards feel better, is (obviously) not necessarily a rationally meaningful recommendation of the method. "

- ...that is what im saying. How could it be healthy for individuals to cause harm to themself or others, when those indivuals could instead open up to god and finally see the light? What's even funnier is that alot of people who are athiest don't even realize the damage they do to other people because their huge ego's keep justifying their own actions over and over! Let me put it this way: In what way does it profit the athiest to to help out a fellow stranger even financially, considering this athiest was born fortunate in the first place? To the athiest, the thing that matters most in his life is himself! Not everyone around him! Athiest's see that every other man on earth either deserves is unfortunate life, or flat out ignores it cause the sight ruins his day. This is a good reason cultures would not advance with god. You get enough athiesm, you'll get plenty enough blimping egos to go around and start a new revolution.
 Earthpuppy
Joined: 2/9/2008
Msg: 190
view profile
History
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 2:56:53 AM
The golden rule and social cooperation were around long before mankind created gods.
The US experiment worked well eventually because religions were kept in their houses, and the affairs of the public were inclusive of all. Now, with the advent of the former majority, threatened with becoming the minority, religion is being used as a weapon to set back decades to hundreds of years of cultural advancement. The explosive growth of hate groups in the US are predominately religiously and racially motivated people resentful of an equitable, inclusive, diverse culture.
 balrog67
Joined: 4/1/2012
Msg: 191
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 4:36:22 AM

What is definite about mankind is that ego always gets in the way of wisdom. Yep. And if ego isn't the issue, its always about something more than the secular pap and crap.


Can you describe anything more egotistical or narcissistic than a belief that a deity created the entire universe just for your benefit?

We agree - ego always gets in the way of wisdom.....
 Kevin554
Joined: 3/20/2012
Msg: 192
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 4:38:36 AM
"Kevin, you seem to imply that mankind can only be good because it is afraid of the wrath of god. That is as sad as it is feeble minded"

- Would you say god is very different from nature? And no, mankind as a whole will never be good. It will always be a whirlpool of good and bad people alike. So tell me.. Why should an athiest help out an unfortunate person? Or atleast not take from him? In your perspective, what wrath does a person fear for doing the worst to someone else? In athiesm, there is one goal. To make 'your' world better. Why would an athiest sacrifice himself for another? That would be pointless, atleast if such a sacrifice didn't cost really anything in the long run. Also, to fear god, is futher from being feeble minded than anything else I could even compare it too. If there's one thing an athiest needs to realize: in a world we all share, you do not and cannot control your own life entirely. Only except it's not god, it's another human being willing to pour out all kinds of wild beliefs into people, with one primary effort to profit. Being agnostic is one thing. But Athiesm is a form of religion difficult to describe without being rude by describing all of it's shortfalls. Truly, why battle against a god, if you don't believe in one? How does that help anyone? Only the attraction of profit would cause one to bang heads against the peaceful religions. Or a very narrow mind.
 A_Gent
Joined: 8/18/2011
Msg: 193
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 4:46:53 AM

The golden rule and social cooperation were around long before mankind created gods.


What is the foundation of that statement... or are you just s'pposing??
 A_Gent
Joined: 8/18/2011
Msg: 194
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 6:50:14 AM
For a society to "progress," there needs be some method to entreat or coerce people toward the common goals. Religion is one such method. Generally, conservative values correlate with religiosity and adherence to the authority of state. In the absence of religion, there must be some other method to coerce people to put the needs of the state (others) above their own. Some societies have attempted to do this through authoritarianism. There does not yet appear to be a society that has proven itself sustainable on humanistic goals. (Sweden may be the best example to watch).

It may be however, that a society with the right combination of culture, civilization, environmental and economic circumstances may germinate and emerge ... to ripen to its golden age ... only to grow to the point that it is no longer sustainable... then rot within and away.


"Although secularism is proceeding rapidly in many of the world’s societies, and although this trend seems connected in some way to the process of economic development, nevertheless religion continues to be an important political phenomenon throughout the world, for multiple reasons. Even the most secularized countries (Sweden is typically cited as a prime example) include substantial numbers of people who still identify themselves as religious." http://www.iep.utm.edu/rel-poli/

"Americans' religious intensity continues to be a major predictor of party identification. A new analysis of more than 29,000 interviews Gallup conducted in November finds that Republicans outnumber Democrats by 12 percentage points among Americans who are classified as highly religious, while Democrats outnumber Republicans by 30 points among those who are not religious." http://www.gallup.com/poll/124649/religious-intensity-remains-powerful-predictor-politics.aspx

"Sociologist Paul Froese says the survey finds the stereotype that conservatives are religious and liberals are secular is "simply not true. Political liberals and conservative are both religious. They just have different religious views." " http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2006-09-11-religion-survey_x.htm

"Typically, the most religious Christians back Republicans candidates at much higher rates than the less observant. ... However, it is important to recognize that strong correlation between religiosity and political preferences is often not a direct one, but rather reflects the linkage between religion and other factors, like ideology and ethnicity. " http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/10/30/the-role-of-religion-in-the-2012-election/in-religion-and-politics-correlation-but-not-causation

"For citizens of contemporary liberal democracies, this three-fold dynamic has yielded a curious situation. On the one hand, most take it for granted that the authority of the state is located in the people, that the people are religiously diverse, and that important segments of people doubt the rationality of religious belief and practice of any sort. On the other hand, contrary to the predictions of many advocates of secularization theory, such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, and (at one time) Peter Berger, this mix of democracy, religious diversity, and religious criticism has not resulted in the disappearance or privatization of religion. Religion, especially in liberal democracies such as the United States, is alive and well, shaping political culture in numerous ways. Consequently, there very much remains a theologico-political problem. The problem, moreover, still concerns political authority, though now reframed by the transition to liberal democracy. If recent reflection on the issue is any guide, the most pressing problem to address is this: Given that state-authorized coercion needs to be justified, and that the justification of state coercion requires the consent of the people, what role may religious reasons play in justifying state coercion? More specifically, in a religiously pluralistic context such as one finds in contemporary liberal democracies, are religious reasons sufficient to justify a coercive law for which reasonable agents cannot find an adequate secular rationale?" http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/religion-politics/
 balrog67
Joined: 4/1/2012
Msg: 195
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 7:54:41 AM

What is the foundation of that statement... or are you just s'pposing??


The foundation is evidenced in Biology. Humans and other social, pack mammals have evolved a sense of Empathy. Social species naturally express this Empathy without any regard for whether some deity bribes them with Heaven or threatens them with Hell - unless you believe the Gorilla that protected the child that fell into her Zoo enclosure was a Christian......
;-)

Morality was born with this evolutionary trait, and humans needed no deity to determine their collective morals. Cavemen had no need of a deity to tell them that caring for others in their tribe was beneficial to their survival, and neither do wolves, or whales, or other social animals.

Moral codes existed before Gods. Competing moral codes is why Gods were invented. 'My God is better than your God, and he says it's OK do nuke yer ass - cuz he just happens to hate the same people we do'.....
 A_Gent
Joined: 8/18/2011
Msg: 196
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 9:40:08 AM
Morality was born with this evolutionary trait, and humans needed no deity to determine their collective morals. Cavemen had no need of a deity to tell them that caring for others in their tribe was beneficial to their survival, and neither do wolves, or whales, or other social animals.
An interesting supposition, yet can you offer any research to support your comment? Perhaps you are referring to Dan Quinn's fictional philosophy of animism? It could just as well ....and more so.. be that empathy, morality, and theism are intertwined as humans advanced enough to think about what they were feeling. How and why did we get here..and where are we going? And what is the meaning of that blue black thing up there with all the lights?

Where then are the societies of empathetic and moral, yet atheist peoples?

Perhaps animism per Dan Quinn's Ishmael is the truly harmonious way for humanity to exist upon this planet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael_%28novel%29

Yet, if one takes a sociobiological perspective, natural selection favours religious societies.

Societies that developed religion supersede those without.

It may be that as the societies are able to raise their collective affluence to the point that survival becomes.. easy... and suffering becomes more of an existential issue than simply trying to exist, that the natural selective advantages that religion provide may no longer be operative. Perhaps atheistic societies may have an opportunity to flourish.

I submit that such a society must have some form of ideology and the willingness to coerce its members to cooperate if it is to survive, let alone progress, lest greed, corruption, and individualism rot out the foundations of its social cohesion.

A secular totalitarian society could do this by force... as per Orwell's 1984 or the hypothetical victorious Third Reich. China was perhaps the closest to this ideology being successful ... but it seems greed has taken over and they have gotten in bed with the capitalists.

Perhaps a humanitarian society could do this by education and enlightenment... but individualism and selfish greed must be curtailed in favour of a collective egalitarian culture... as per Cuba ... officially a secular society with a huge % Christian constituency... but once Fidel goes and they get back in bed with the Americans, I fear they will lose their soul. Perhaps Sweden.

I doubt a capitalist society could do it as capitalism relies on individualism and greed and economic coercion and covetousness to keep it going....and the fact that it is inherently anti-ecological.

Pure communism...per Utopia, if such a thing were possible, or enlightened socialism may show the way.

 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
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Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 12:16:58 PM

Would you say god is very different from nature?


This would have made sense if that is what religions claimed. They didn't. The claim is that God created nature. Always the one upper. They could have made the claim that God was the engine that made it all run, but they didn't. They claim God caused it to all run.

Religion separated God from Nature and probably out of a requirement to deal with the pagan spiritualists. Tree's no longer have spirits. Plants don't.

It is not a bad question and it has to be asked and answered. Which definition of God is official. Because the actual definition of God contains the 'it is not possible for man to know' than any definition man gives is pretty much made up. The guide posts are supposed to be biblical texts but there was no distinction between oral traditions and symbolism and just makin’ 'chit up in the credits.

If you pick the Old Testament god well... he's pissed. You can pick the more loving new testament version and claim oral traditions of historical events but then you still have questions of definition. Did Jesus actually say he created all matter?

If you want to create a God of the gaps this is my favorite one to be:

77 Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained.

Split a piece of wood; I am there.

Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”


I call it nothing. The space between. It exists throughout everything and everyone and through the whole entire universe. Everything exists within it. Without it nothing could exist. Because everything is in it this 'nothing' is something. If it was nothing then there would be nothing. A hole is something (refrence from neverending story, haha). The problem with this definition is it is opposite of the above quote. It is the opposite of light. Which means this definition that matches the description is totally opposite of what could be derived literally.

So, how can religion possibly survive the modern world? It kind of sucks. It really isn’t far off but the infallible claims kind of screw it up.
 A_Gent
Joined: 8/18/2011
Msg: 198
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 12:44:56 PM

Culture was held back for 1,000 years by religion....... Dark ages anyone


To say a myopic statement would be an understatement.

Religion may very well have kept the western culture afloat and unified through desperate social-political-economic times.

"In the fifth century AD, the mighty Roman Empire "fell" to invading barbarians and complex internal pressures. The land that had been centrally governed for centuries disintegrated into numerous warring states. The safety and privileges enjoyed by some residents of the empire vanished to be replaced by a constant state of danger and uncertainty; others merely traded one set of daily terrors for another. Europe was plunged into what Renaissance scholars would label a "dark age."

Yet Byzantium remained. ... for over a thousand years. ... Its stable economy provided a strong military and, together with an abundant food supply and advanced civil engineering, a high standard of living.

Christianity was firmly entrenched in Byzantium, and literacy was more widespread there than in any other nation in the middle ages. ... at one point all seventy-two of the world's known languages were represented in Constantinople. Intellectual and artistic endeavors thrived.

Byzantium remained the most stable nation of the middle ages. ... Its rich historiographical tradition (strongly influenced by the church) preserved ancient knowledge upon which splendid art, architecture, literature and technological achievements were built. It is not an altogether unfounded assumption that the Renaissance could not have flourished were it not for the groundwork laid in Byzantium."

http://historymedren.about.com/cs/byzantinestudies/a/forgotten.htm
 Aries_328
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Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 1:29:48 PM
a_gent, What is your opinion about how it is possible for religion to continue in the modern world? I really do not see how it can without it changing core foundations of definition of God.
 A_Gent
Joined: 8/18/2011
Msg: 200
Can culture advance without religion?
Posted: 4/10/2012 4:35:07 PM

What is your opinion about how it is possible for religion to continue in the modern world? I really do not see how it can without it changing core foundations of definition of God.


Aires: I'll respond in reference to Christianity as it reflects my own experience. Perhaps others may be able to offer insight into Islam, Judaism, Hindu and its younger cousin Buddhism, and all the other Xanities and Xisms...

Personally, I have seen Christianity in North America shift from a more legalistic (Angry God - live by the rules - avoid punishment) basis to a more grace (God's love and forgiveness - the nurturing God helping us learn to live a wholesome and virtuous life) base. Both are founded on God, but a different understanding of what God wants for and from humanity - collectively and individually. At one time a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of Creation was the norm. Despite the propaganda of fundamentalists, more Christians accept an allegorical interpretation.

R. Heinlein made the comment that most people have some degree of religion ... like dandruff... Some fuss with it a lot, others try to ignore it.

The majority of people want and perhaps inherently need religion.. something to give their lives meaning beyond what comforts cold science can offer. ..which at this point suggests that a person is nothing more than a fart in the babblings of entropy. Perhaps religion is the opiate of the masses, but then it beats a life of hopelessness and meaningless desperation. The tougher life is, the more people lean on religion.

I expect as western culture continues to become more liberal, a more liberal and inclusive form of Christianity will continue to evolve. God is love, is open to many interpretations.

The interesting phenomenon will be the influence of Islam in western culture. And for the die hard atheists who think they have complaints against the tyranny of Christianity... In Canada, within 20 years, Muslims could elect the government.
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