Will we survive religion?


#1

I am becoming more and more convinced that civilization cannot survive religion unless we are all willing to acknowledge that no religion has a monoply on absolute truth; that our scriptures are flawed, human documents; and that it is the height of folly to assume that the road to faith was perfected 3,500, 2,000 or 1400 years ago.

Any religous system that imposes ethical behavior, promotes civilization and discourages violence, must be respected, acknowledged and given equal value to one’s own religious system. Anything in one’s own religous system that does not fit this criteria needs to be changed. Otherwise, we’re doomed.

People are willing to die for beliefs that have as much evidence to support them as we have to support the belief that Zeus exists. In fact, people would rather kill or die their own set of stories than to acknowledge that their neighbors stories are just as “true.”

This has led to disasterous results in the past. In a nuclear age, it can only lead to the annihilation of civilization, unless things change.
If that doesn’t change, we’re doomed.


#2

I disagree.

Jesus is the Truth. He gave humanity a Master Plan for happiness and Peace. When mankind learns the lesson He taught, and puts it into practice, His Kingdom will truly have Come. The word is LOVE!

[quote=Valke2]In fact, people would rather kill or die their own set of stories than to acknowledge that their neighbors stories are just as “true.”
[/quote]

Truth is an absolute, it cannot be relative. Two contradictory statements cannot both be true.

In Christianity, Catholicism has the fullness of Truth


#3

And the guy who’s going to burn your house down would also agree that Truth is an absolute and cannot be relative. The men who flew planes into our buildings were embracing their absolute truth. The Crusaders who cut down women and children were embracing absolute truth. There’s so much absolute truth in the Sudan right now that over 400,000 have died for it. Where’s the absolute truth in Bosnia? In Auschwitz? In Gaza? Maybe we need less absolute truth and more lies that we can live with.

Maybe the absolute truth is that to survive we have to love each other and acknowledge the value that each of us have. If that is the absolute truth, it can be found in several religions. There can be more than one story that is told to convey a truth.


#4

I cannot agree. What civilization cannot survive is atheism in all its forms. Atheists have killed hundred of millions compared to the millions by those who have waged wars as believers.

Secondly, truth is eternal not temporal, which is why what is true is true no matter who says it or believes it. The passage of centuries means nothing at all. You may as well say that what was true on Monday cannot possibly be true because it is now Tuesday (to use G. K. Chesterton’s example).

Any religous system that imposes ethical behavior, promotes civilization and discourages violence, must be respected, acknowledged and given equal value to one’s own religious system. Anything in one’s own religous system that does not fit this criteria needs to be changed. Otherwise, we’re doomed.

Not quite. Any religious system that does all the things you describe must certainly be respected, but that doesn’t automatically make it as true as any other. What you are promoting isn’t ecumenicism, but indifferentism. And indifferentism leads to loss of any sense of truth and so on to chaos, as it has in our own Western society.

Violence, in and of itself, is no more an evil than is any other action when it is done at the right time and the right place and under the right circumstances. For instance, it is prefectly all right for any of us to defend our families from those bent on killing us through acts of badly motived violence (such as robbery and other such crimes), as long as oujr violence is governed by mere necessity and not a desire to destroy others.

People are willing to die for beliefs that have as much evidence to support them as we have to support the belief that Zeus exists. In fact, people would rather kill or die their own set of stories than to acknowledge that their neighbors stories are just as “true.”

I find this commendable, actually, not to be damned. At least they believe in Someone higher than themselves to whom they must answer. They may be quite wrong in their beliefs about that Someone and act in ways really would not please Him, but that is something for which they will have to answer to Him and to society by giving their lives or being put on trial and given the proper sentence, if that is what is called for.

This has led to disasterous results in the past. In a nuclear age, it can only lead to the annihilation of civilization, unless things change.
If that doesn’t change, we’re doomed.

Oh no. Religion won’t do that. People being misled in their beliefs will do that, certainly, be those beliefs religious in origin or atheistic. The problem is we are ruled by our passions, not that we believe this or that.

I am not a pessimist but according to my beliefs the world will end in fire. Now, whether that comes from war, or an asteriod or the direct hand of God no one can say, but no matter how it comes God knows all about it and we cannot prevent it. We can work for peace by standing against power mad men who will use anything as an excuse for grabbing power. And because we are all flawed, fallen human beings, the most effective method is usually war–or taking out such people before they can do more harm. And that has nothing to do with religious truth but with our need to be alert and responsible in how we deal with each other.


#5

Uh.

Atheists who have presided over incredible mass murders:
Josef Stalin
Mao Zedong

Religious people who have presided over incredible mass murders (‘mass’ goes up with time/weapons technology/available slaughterees):
Ramses II (Exodus)
Joshua (Exodus – Jericho and several other Caananite city-states)
David
Solomon
Judas Maccabeus (Maccabees)
Alexander the Great
Romulus
Tarquinius
Gaius Julius Caesar
Octavian Augustus Caesar
Constantine
Charlemagne
Urban II (First Crusade… wow, we haven’t even really started that… let’s assume the rest are listed and move on, shall we?)
Torquemada and all the various Inquisitions that wiped out the Cathars, Waldensians, lots of Jews, and so on
the entire Tudor family in England, Catholic and Protestant (Wars of the Roses, Thirty/Hundred Years’ Wars, etc, etc)

…you know what, forget the rest of it. One more name.
Adolf Hitler.

I haven’t even touched on great killers who were Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or on the many, many dictators in Africa right now who praise God with one voice and order genocide in another. And there’s more. Feel free to think up other atheists who’ve done as much damage to people and property. Castro? Please. Pretty small potatoes.

I’m not knocking the good that religion has done – there’s a lot of it – but it just isn’t all good.

Secondly, truth is eternal not temporal, which is why what is true is true no matter who says it or believes it. The passage of centuries means nothing at all. You may as well say that what was true on Monday cannot possibly be true because it is now Tuesday (to use G. K. Chesterton’s example).

Sure, but what if you’re wrong? You’re human and fallible and plenty of other people believe differently from you and believe they’re right.

Not quite. Any religious system that does all the things you describe must certainly be respected, but that doesn’t automatically make it as true as any other. What you are promoting isn’t ecumenicism, but indifferentism. And indifferentism leads to loss of any sense of truth and so on to chaos, as it has in our own Western society.

I thought we were doing pretty well until the pendulum started swinging back towards general fundamentalism (Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, etc) :frowning:

Violence, in and of itself, is no more an evil than is any other action when it is done at the right time and the right place and under the right circumstances. For instance, it is prefectly all right for any of us to defend our families from those bent on killing us through acts of badly motived violence (such as robbery and other such crimes), as long as oujr violence is governed by mere necessity and not a desire to destroy others.

Violence is evil; sometimes it is necessary. These things happen.

I find this commendable, actually, not to be damned. At least they believe in Someone higher than themselves to whom they must answer. They may be quite wrong in their beliefs about that Someone and act in ways really would not please Him, but that is something for which they will have to answer to Him and to society by giving their lives or being put on trial and given the proper sentence, if that is what is called for.

Which, ideally, is how they would see you, no? If everyone who practices religion gets along, agrees that there is a common Good and that each sect is a different way of trying to attain that Good? Even atheists who don’t perceive it as being divine?

Oh no. Religion won’t do that. People being misled in their beliefs will do that, certainly, be those beliefs religious in origin or atheistic. The problem is we are ruled by our passions, not that we believe this or that.

I envy your conviction but not your naivete. If people keep becoming more and more divided and angry because of religion… it could well happen, even if religion isn’t the actual cause of conflict (that’s usually money, but religion is quite often used to promote and aggravate it).


#6

I have to admit that this seems to be a switch in your perspective Valke2.

Why the change, or this more of an exploration of a potential concept rather than a personal conviction?


#7

Hitler WAS NOT religious - he was raised in a relgious tradition to a certain extent, he played on the religious convictions of others and had a couple of superstitious obsessions such as with the Spear of Longinus.

But he himself was much more in line with the atheistic philosophies of Nietsche et al, and superstitions and trappings of religion do not a religious person make.


#8

Adolf Hitler was essentially an atheist who subscribed to those elements of germanic pagan philosophy that he thought were good for national morale. Add him to your list of atheists.


#9

Then I would rather have civilization destroyed tommorow in God’s Name, than have it last ten thousand years in Man’s.


#10

Valke2,

All of this is operating under the assumption that truth is relative. Since truth is not relative and opinion does not equal truth this idea can’t work. Even if this all happened like you want we would still destroy ourselves. Religion is not the problem so much as evil is the problem. Your theory reminds me of gun control. If you take away all of the guns people won’t kill each other with guns. Thats true, so they would just kill each other with something else. Acceptance of religion will not eliminate sin and evil on Earth. People do evil and they always will until God himself comes down here and fixes this whole thing once and for all. People will always form groups centered on belief and they will always do evil without grace.

-D


#11

To a large extent Valke, none of this stuff really matters. God’s will will be done. Just put your trust in him; put your faith in him and everything will be OK. Wars, famine, and strife of any kind are all temporal things. What really matters is how we ourselves live in this life. And then, if we are lucky and from the mercy of our Lord, we may receive eternal life. This is what we should be focused on; everything else is just the train ride there. Just make sure you are on the right train, and try to help those you know onto the right train as well. That’s really all we can do!


#12

Nietzsche himself took great pains not to be associated with people like Hitler, so you know – it was his Nazi sister who compiled a lot of out-of-context quotes in Der Wille zur Macht which unfortunately gave him that reputation. Nietzsche himself was an atheist, but highly critical of socialism and anti-Semitism, the two pillars of Hitler’s ‘philosophy’. He also had a great sense of humor and mind for puns :wink:

[quote=jmcrae]Adolf Hitler was essentially an atheist who subscribed to those elements of germanic pagan philosophy that he thought were good for national morale. Add him to your list of atheists.
[/quote]

And now, for both of you, a selection of quotes from the man himself:

I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work. - 1936

Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . we need believing people. - 1933

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly, it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people. And when I look on my people I see them work and work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week they have only for their wages wretchedness and misery. When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people are plundered and exposed. - 1922

I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so. - 1941


Does this make him a shining paragon of religious virtue? Not at all! It doesn’t even mean he necessarily believed in anything as much as he said he did. It does mean he used religion as an excuse for his takeover of the chancellorship, his war against Europe, and his extermination of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled, and his political enemies. If we consider the uses of religion only by people who don’t have an agenda, I agree, the list becomes much shorter – but all people have agendas. I do, you all do; it’s just a fact of being human.


#13

What’s your source? Throwing up a bunch of quotes is not going to convince anyone. What about the Christians (Catholic included) that were persecuted, right along with the Jews, under Hitler?


#14

atheism.about.com/library/quotes/bl_q_AHitler.htm is where the quotes came from. Uncle Cecil has more on the subject, presenting both sides and more or less concluding that Hitler’s faith was mostly lipservice – a position I haven’t contradicted at all.

What about the Christians Hitler persecuted? I’m a big fan of Titus Brandsma, don’t presume me ignorant :stuck_out_tongue: . Certainly the big four (Jews, Roma, gays, and the mentally or physically handicapped) weren’t the only people to die when he was in power. Those were simply the groups he focused specifically on; I’m not disputing that he killed many others.

The point I’ve been trying to make is that Hitler enveloped his actions in a religious mantle, using that as an excuse for the deaths he caused. This is what gave him a place in my abbreviated list of murderers who committed their crimes under the banner of faith. I’m not claiming he was exclusively murdering non-Christians; aside from being false, that simply isn’t relevant to the discussion at hand.

However, I can fully understand why other Christians wouldn’t want to claim him among their ranks; I wouldn’t either :wink:


#15

part of it comes from various posts that I’ve read here. But I have always maintianed that a component of faith is recognizing that your beliefs may be wrong and the beliefs of your neighbor may be right (and then following your beliefs anyway). And I’ve always thought that religion is a mythic structure designed to give one access to God or the Divine however one defines it, although I may not have addressed that issue on these boards.


#16

You may get your wish, as insane as it is. Especially if you live in or by Pakistand or India. Of course such destruction would probably violate the commandment prohibiting the taking or carrying of God’s name in vain, but who’s going to be around to quibble over things like that?


#17

I would say that all this is operating under the assumption that everyone claims to know what ultimate or absolute truth is, and that their neighbors got it wrong.

As I posted earlier, you can have several stories that are remarkably different and yet tell/teach the same truths.

As for destroying outselves even if there is a radical shift in how we view each other’s and our own religion, what you are really saying, based on your closing sentence, is that people will always gravitate toward the kind of faith or beliefs and kill for them. I can only hope that is not the case.

If you were to wipe the religious slate clean, so that no one ever heard a word of Torah, Koran, or Bible, what kind of religous dogma do you think would take its place? I think a lot of what we are forced to adopt today because of scriptures would not make the final cut.


#18

ok. But if what really matters is how we ourselves live this life, Iand I agree it does), then we need to live it in a way where we don’t feel the need to kill each other over what we believe happens to us after we die. We’ve had several thousand years to do so, and so far we’ve failed.


#19

I agree. I don’t think it is OK to kill each other because we believe something different to the other person. However, I do think it is actually necessary to kill someone in order to save someone else’s life, under certain situations - including the inability to stop this person in any other way. Do you agree?


#20

Sounds Utopian, my friend. The closest mankind ever came to implementing these ideals ended in the murder of more people than at all previous eras combined. And it was in the name of Atheism. Communism was the result and it was these Atheistic regimes that killed 200,000,000 people.

Religous practitioners have their flaws, but man, unchecked by belief in God is a monster. Further not all religions are created equal. Christianity has it’s periodic black eyes, but it has done more for the advancement of mankind than any other philosophy in human history. Judaism is not too shabby either, both having the same moral foundation and linear view of the advance of history. Other religions, on the other hand, should be judged by the same standard of benefit to mankind. The obvious one(s) having mostly a negative effect on all aspects of life that they touch. Keeping people stuck 1,000 years in the past and offereing almost nothing to civilizations that compares to Judeo-Christian thought and practice.

If you are happy for hospitals and modern medicine, orphanages, science, governmentsthat are flawed but based on intrinsic human dignity, education and western civilization in general you can thank Christianity for that, or rather the God of Christianity.

Mel


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