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Imagine, there's no heaven 
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Post Imagine, there's no heaven
So one of the things that Dawkins argues in The God Delusion is that if there was no religion we'd have

Quote:
no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no persecution of Jews as 'Christ-killers', no Northern Ireland 'troubles', no 'honour killings', no shiny suited bouffant-haired televangelists fleecing gullible people of their money.


And also:

Quote:
Imagine no Taliban to blow up ancient statues, no public beheadings of blasphemers, no flogging of female skin for the crime of showing an inch of it


Elsewhere he has stated

Quote:
I mean that if you look at the Middle East, if you look at India and Pakistan, if you look at Northern Ireland, there are many, many places where the only basis for hostility that exists between rival factions who kill each other is religion.


Now, I'd imagine that we could all agree that Richard is exaggerating, but to what extent is he right?

To what extent does religion cause conflict? If religious justifications for war and the like were removed, then would the world become safer, or would we just find other justifications?

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Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:32 am
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Post Re: Imagine, there's no heaven
One point that goes against Dawkins's argument, and those of Sam Harris as well, is that in Western democracies, and particularly in the United States, people of different religious persuasions have learned to live together peacefully if not always amicably.

Sure, there is the lunatic fringe that needs to be restrained, but it is restrained -- action supported by the vast majority of the population. Where religious strife is rampant is in authoritarian/totalitarian states, particularly in the Middle East. This suggests that while religious belief might be a catalyst to violence, it doesn't necessarily have to result in violence. Additional factors must also be present.

What the arguments Dawkins makes here actually amount to are sweeping generalizations from someone who demonstrably hasn't done his homework.

Fiske
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Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:38 am
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Post Re: Imagine, there's no heaven
Would all conflict cease if religion stopped existing? Obviously not.

But religion does add an element, a flash point if you will, that is easily exploited by those who want to make use of it to promote their own ends. And in places in the world where the political situation is unstable, religious differences may exacerbate existing fault lines so that they become the tipping point, pushing a society into chaos.

It is certainly simplistic to maintain that religion is responsible for all the world's ills



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Post Re: Imagine there's no technology
Let's see, no medical technology, no surgery (curtains for me years ago, unfortunately), no vaccines (curtains for about 75% of us I'm thinking), indoor plumbing is out, no computers, ditto transportation, ditto electronic communication, ditto any objective knowledge of our universe, infant mortality rates would sky-rocket, plagues (that's always a fun one), books (who needs 'em), average life expectancy would fall back to about, what, 40?, hey we could have the Inquisition back. Yeah. I like it.

Where do I place my vote for a return to ignorance, superstition, fear, and stupidity? Oops. Scratch that last item -- we obviously still have THAT.

Good thinking, DH.

Fiske

Edited by: FiskeMiles at: 1/9/07 4:47 pm



Tue Jan 09, 2007 2:08 pm
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Post Imagine there's no technology
I think the same thought experiment could be made of say, technology: Imagine there's no technology.

No toxic waste dumps, chemical weapons of mass destruction, nuclear warheads, torture devices, strip mining, clear forest removal, mercury, lead, pesticides poisoning in drinking water, and the general lack of human emissions increasing global warming and the impact on ecological, agricultural, industrial, metropolitan and community living.

Perhaps we can think of more.

Just as we can think of many benefits from technology, we can identify many virtues from religion: if we are willing to see it.

Part of a delusion is purposefully not seeing what is clearly right in front of you: I think Dawkins has his own delusions regarding the virtues that religion has, does, and will hopefully continue to bring to the human experience.




Tue Jan 09, 2007 2:41 pm
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Post Re: Imagine there's no technology
Ah I have been wanted to make a post on this topic and I will take this as a lead-in...

Yes...but is medical technology keeping us alive longer than we should be alive? IS it a moral imperetive to keep us alive at any cost? (Think physical/mental suffering, drain on resources & overpopulation and all the ills that brings.) I do not pretend that this is an easy topic to talk about or decide...so lets talk about it and decide, if we can!

I can agree that maybe technology needs to be checked as well as religious overindulgence. I do not think that just because we CAN, we SHOULD.

What are your thoughts on this?

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I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

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Post Re: Imagine there's no technology
Mr. P:

I think there is an argument to be made for limiting medical support at the extreme limits of life, BUT that conversation more properly belongs in another area. It would be off-topic here, don't you agree?

Fiske




Tue Jan 09, 2007 3:38 pm
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Post Re: Imagine there's no technology
Maybe...but I am never one to be afraid of tangents. I take conversation to be an open source type of thing.

But, Ok.

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I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Tue Jan 09, 2007 3:44 pm
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Post Re: Imagine there's no technology
Fiske: Where do I place my vote for a return to ignorance, superstition, and fear, and stupidity? Oops. Scratch that last item -- we obviously still have THAT.

Well, if you live with humans, or stake some claim within the Human Race...you're never too far from the vile and superstitious. Sometimes it's clearest, closest, smack dab in the mirror. I think one of the best things about Religion involves the many practices of self examination, exploration and confession: millenia spent sharpening the skills of observing personal appetites, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, habits...focusing and paying attention through prayer, meditation, and careful scrutiny of fears, ambitions, and desires.

When considering the consumerist delusions that pervade our contemporary landscape, demanding some of the very worst that technology can provide (and is steadily pumping in our air, water, soil and food)...I think there is a good deal to be said for some of the ancient methods of self examination and personal scrutiny that religion has long provided.

Niall: To what extent does religion cause conflict? If religious justifications for war and the like were removed, then would the world become safer, or would we just find other justifications?

What if the questions were: To what extent does religion encourage peace? If religious justifications for peace and the like were intensified, then would the world become safer, and could this help mobilize other attempts at peace making?

I think there is enormous, admittedly not enough, effort by multiple religious communities and faithful individuals around the planet working to increase peace, secure justice, and develop more ecologically sustainable ways of life. They are, in many cases, in the forefront of crucial peace and reconcilliation movements around the globe; demanding alternatives to geopolitical conflict than militaristic domination; working to develop economic structures that support participatory democracy and ecological sustainability; and providing many ways for individuals to grapple with personal guilt, meaning for life, and hope for a better future.

Mr. P: I can agree that maybe technology needs to be checked as well as religious overindulgence. I do not think that just because we CAN, we SHOULD.

I think you can safely dismiss the maybe in that statement and loudly demand a must...and I think it is true for both technology and religion. Actually, it is very difficult to simply separate the one from the other. Perhaps it is best to understand religion as a kind of technology?

I agree that just because it is possible and the technology avaialble is no imperative that we pursue any and every endeavor: I think the same can be said of religion.

Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 1/9/07 4:04 pm



Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:01 pm
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Post Re: Imagine there's no technology
Is it a distinct human trait that we over-indulge...take a good thing and abuse it till it turns against us? Are we our own worst enemy?

If so, why is that do you think?


Mr. P.

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I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper




Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:26 pm
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Post Re: Imagine, there's no heaven
Garricker
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But religion does add an element, a flash point if you will, that is easily exploited by those who want to make use of it to promote their own ends. And in places in the world where the political situation is unstable, religious differences may exacerbate existing fault lines so that they become the tipping point, pushing a society into chaos.


I think that you're probably right here, but what I'm uncertain of, is if you were to remove religion from the situation, what would happen? Would some other sort of belief system take its place? Would we just replace God with Good? Would people become equally obsessed in following what Goodness directs us to do? Would the philosophies that lead us to decide what constitutes Good and Evil/Bad take over the roles that holy books have taken?

I'm not arguing that they would, I'm just asking the question.

Dissiden
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I think the same thought experiment could be made of say, technology: Imagine there's no technology.


At first, I had a pretty similar reaction to Fiske when you asked the question. I think that religion and technology can't really be compared. For one thing, if you take out religion, there are secular equivalents that could probably take its place. Where as, if we imagine no technology, well, there isn't really anything that can replace it.

However, I suppose technology is different to science. If we chose to, we could probably do away with technology to a certain extent, and by using scientific knowledge, we could prevent certain diseases etc.

Quote:
Part of a delusion is purposefully not seeing what is clearly right in front of you
Quote:


Actually, I think that part of the definition of a Delusion is that it is not a choice. But that isn't really here nor there.

Mr. P
Quote:

I can agree that maybe technology needs to be checked as well as religious overindulgence. I do not think that just because we C




This is certainly an issue. We were a hair away from a nuclear winter not all that long ago. Science has brought us to a point where we could wipe ourselves out, not to mention every other living creature on the planet.

The problem with both science and religion is deciding what constitutes an overindulgence. One solution would be to eliminate them both, but that would be a bit of a waste in my opinion.

Dissident
Quote:
What if the questions were: To what extent does religion encourage peace? If religious justifications for peace and the like were intensified, then would the world become safer, and could this help mobilize other attempts at peace making?


Now there's the interesting point. If as garrick says, religion can exacerbate existing fault lines in conflict situations, then are there not also situations where it is (or at least can be) used to push societies back from the edge of chaos?

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Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:58 am
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Post Quiet proselytizing
Dissident: I've not finished Dawkins' book yet, and I don't know if he mentions the growing movements of religions environmentalism or ecotheology across the planet. Maybe I've missed it, but I don't see it in the index either.

Why on god's green earth (heh heh) would you even imagine that Dawkins would mention this? I really question your motives sometimes. I find you don't really like to engage in discussion so much as you enjoy preaching. Which is also why, I think, you didn't respond to my question/request above.




Sat Jan 13, 2007 3:11 am
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Post Re: Imagine there's no tech
Niall: I tend to think that regardless of the prevailing philosophy, people will tend to be people, and people with certain personality types and intelligence levels will always become sheeple.

I definitely hear you; I never give people's minds the benefit of the doubt. I just think that religion lends itself to creating sheeple. It, in fact, revels in and often relies on ignorance (and faith) which does not lend itself to critical thinking. Will people always question ideas if released from the shackles of religion? No. But they are less likely to think critically if they are told, and believe, they are going to hell for it. Why encourage blind acceptance? Why encourage indoctrination? Why encourage faith without knowledge? Religion (specifically Christianity in the U.S.) continues to do all these things.

BTW, sheeple is a pretty common term here in the states. Probably because we have more than many other countries.




Sat Jan 13, 2007 3:24 am
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Post Re: Imagine there's no tech
People: people can be hot headed, companionate, rude, charitable, violent, kind... well you know.

Anyway an aggressive, hot headed, person will always be quick to violence. Now what might set a person like that off?

How about a discussion where you disagree but there is no possible conclusion?

My god is the one true god! Oh no he's not it's my god!

Now neither arguer has any evidence to support their conclusion and they will both be quick to tell the other that fact.

Do you think that this might be an acceptable catalyst for violence?

We all know that it is. We have seen it countless times through our history.

Now it is true that the violent people of the world will always find ways to justify their actions, (What are you lookin at?) but if you could stop each violent person from doing violence one time in their life that would be a very measurable positive effect.

That is what I think removing religion would do, it would remove much of the tension and needless conflict between people of opposing faiths. It would not make violent people nice, but it might take away one reason that they might have to cause conflict.

Religion's positives are easily replaced; moral tales, myths and community do not have to go away because religions do.

In fact churches could still remain as a group of people who agree to get together as their own community for socialization and charity. Let's face it a good church has a lot to offer, but it need not include a god.

Later




Mon Jan 15, 2007 2:44 pm
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Post Re: Imagine, there's no heaven
Great topic, Niall. I have given this some thought, but not really enough thought. It has been interesting to read the posts in this thread. At first thought I want to say that most people suck and will find a way to do eachother in one way or the other. But, the people that point out how religion has a unique way of causing problems have a point. With god as dictator and having final say in matters of morality, religion is different from any other catalyst to violence or goodness. Replacing god with good doesn't seem to have the same impact. Discussing what is good and what constitutes good behavior without religion can be an open debate. With religion one can use god or the bible to back their opinion of goodness divinely. It seems to me that we could do away with religion and continue to argue goodness and morality. However, we would do so without any parties feeling that their opinions are absolutely correct because something other than humans said it is so.




Mon Jan 15, 2007 3:45 pm
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