Religion. Uh, Good Lord, What Is It Good For?

the stats on divorce and spousal and child abuse are almost exactly the same for religious people (at least for Christians) as for non-religious people. if religion doesn’t make us better people, more able to build loving, supportive families and protect them, what is it good for? or is this just what we’d expect – we’re all human? anyone who can add some stats for other religions in a comment, that’d be awesome… it’s not about starting a holy war, it’s about trying to understand

10 replies on “Religion. Uh, Good Lord, What Is It Good For?”

Well…you know my thoughts on religion. Is it real or just mind control? Interesting question though. It will be interesting to see what other people say.

My answer to your question is probably ‘both’. That is, I think there’s a real core to religion – or rather, to personal faith: whether or not you believe in the existence of a supernatural God, a reverence for life and some sense of spirituality can enhance life. But religion is also a big lever with which to move other people around and get your own way, and people are incredibly bad at resisting the temptation to use it that way. If you believe the stories in the Bible, when Jesus was on earth people flocked to just hang out with him, and kids climbed all over him. Believers these days often just don’t seem that cuddly!

On the abuse stuff (of all kinds), it’s a bit chicken and egg: does the religion cause the rigidity, strictness and sometimes violence, or are those kinds of people attracted to religion as a way of controlling others?

Perhaps the problem is not so much religion, as certainty: people who are certain they are right are always dangerous, whether it’s about religion or economics. As Gide said “Trust those who are seeking the truth, doubt those who find it”.

What’s religion good for? In my experience, it’s good for giving terrible people an “out.” No matter how many 11-year-old girls you rape, Jesus still loves you, according to most denominations of Christianity. Many people believe this is the beauty of Christianity. I believe it makes religion a force of evil. But then, I’m an asshole.

G’day Splitcoil, and I have to disagree with your assessment of your own assholiness. 😉

Do you think the distinction I made above between a genuine spirituality and the kind of use you describe holds though: maybe not even within Christianity, but maybe in Buddhism or somewhere? Or is all religion the same in that regard? (i.e. it’s just what LS87DS called ‘mind control’ above, or a mechanism for the shaman to eat without working?)(I guess Buddhism with an emphasis on karma and rebirth places quite a different notion on redemption.)

I should clarify that by talking about divorce stats I’m neither judging divorced people or saying divorce is always wrong. The point is that divorce does hurt everyone involved, but especially the kids if they’re there. I don’t think anyone gets married planning to get divorced, so in some sense it’s failure of something. If religion is good for anything, it should be good for helping us get along together and have good relationships. Or maybe not… Maybe it just gives solace as we struggle through? I dunno, but I’d hope a religion can improve life in this world – apart from anything else, just in case we’re wrong and there’s no next world! And I’d argue that it’s more important to pay attention to improving the lives of those around us, and particularly of our families (whatever form our families may happen to take) than to improve our own lives – because if we make life better for others, and they make life better for us, it’s better than just trying to improve our own lot. (Ack, that’s not such a clear sentence.)

I’m with Bravus on the expectations that religion should be able to provide a sort of framework for dealing with social problems, including conflict. Some people focus too much (imo, of course) on the ethereal/heavenly aspects as a form of escapism against the reality and the benefits wrt such that religion could supply. Other people get seduced by the power that religious authority can provide and certainly some religions have been deliberately manipulated in such a way that provides a form of political power. So does missing the point make religion worthless? I’d say no. Does catching the point reduce the number of divorces? Probably not, but I’d expect it to at least make the divorce more sane.

All you people with your I-can-screw-around-on-the-internet-during-the-day-job and your mid-morning replies! ; )

I think religion can be seen in two different ways in regard to this question: as a formative influence and as a personal tool.

1. A person who goes to what we would agree upon as a “good” religious institution (teaches respect for others, tools to attain good life while being decent to those around you, etc.) may be formed into the kind of person who would use his religion to make his life and the lives of those around him better. However, in my experience, most churches are not “good” churches, and people are more likely to be programmed to use religion as a crutch, excuse or easy out.

2. A ‘decent’ person, regardless of how he became decent, may use religion as his own personal tool for achieving a better life for himself and those he loves. But unless his decency was programmed into him by his “good” church, he probably would have found another tool to do the same thing (counseling, maintaining good relationships with the family, posting regularly on the WGB, etc.).

In short, I think that religion or spirituality in general can be a positive force, but it is more often a negative force. I have personally sat face to face with several murderer/child abusers who appeared happy that good ol’ Jesus would save them and they would go to Paradise. They even drew upon that security blanket to comfort themselves between their many crimes when the guilt started to get to them. Their religion allowed them to live with themselves and keep hurting others longer than they would have managed to do without it. And I’ve even known many preachers who were only too happy to go along with it, protecting their little lamb right up to the end. Worst people in the world, IMHO.

But I’m hardly a theologist.

I was taught that the word religion comes from the Latin religare (sp?) which essentially means to re-link, signifying the relinking of man with God and with his fellow man. As an added bonus, it also means we may experience the relinking of heart and mind inside ourselves, wherein the eyes of our understanding are opened. Religion that DOES not change us ultimately is worthless. Religion that CANNOT change us is futile, useless, and a waste of time. Thus religions that only serve to link us back in with ourselves as we are, or makes ourselves the sole or primary focus and end, without connecting us above and outward, are purely masturbatory. While today medical science and increased knowledge allows us to laugh at the old Victorian bugaboo which claimed masturbation caused blindness, it remains true nonetheless that spiritual masturbation most definitely causes spiritual blindness.

Religion should have no purpose in our day to day lives…especially in the future of ones nation and the world. Religion has not done anything positive for our way of life. Yes…people can drone on and on about humanitarian and medical care given to poor countries, and other instances where poeple have been given hope from religion. But…as a whole religion has done more harm than good. It’s closed our minds to the great beyond. It’s closed our society thinking. It’s been the caues for so much war and bloodshed. And many people have died and are still dying for their “faith in a God”. It’s also hindered our belief in ourselves. You all have heard people thank the “Lord” for there survival, achievments, or benefits in life. Why? If you won an Olymipc race…YOU won it. Not GOD. If you’re an actor and your movies sell…the public loved you and thought you where good. The LORD didn’t watch the movie…and bought 100 million dollars worth. People accomplish their goals on their own or at the very least with help from other people NOT by the LORDS blessing. Just one example…I used to have a problem with depression. When things would get rough or unfair (and they always did….the world is not fair) I would become drowned in a emptional slump…even attempting suicide on three instances. My family were always there, so were my friends. Some of my friends were trying to convert me from a active agnostic to a TRUE BELIEVER…saying that I NEED the LORD in my life to survive this depression. That this LORD will come and take away all the hurt. Yeah…sure. To make a long story short…I got out of my depression on my OWN…by setting small goals…finish school…get good grades…set out to get my real estates license. I also found the love of beautiful woman…who I eventually married…and are about to have a baby with in six months. I did all this without any help from HIM up there. In conclusion I would like to just state that people need to see that religion should not hold back our race (human race) it needs to nurture the growing mind and look to ways of making our WORLD not just individual countries a better place to live.

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