Will we ever be able to kill off religion?

That’s “we” as in the human race, BTW.

It cannot be disputed (although I’m sure some will try to do so) that religion is the single biggest threat to civilisation, and the biggest factor in holding back progress. While we could be working together to end poverty and disease, we instead squabble over whose myth to believe, or which centuries-old fraudster was the genuine prophet. There’s nothing deadlier than an army that believes God is on its side.

Clearly, a world without religion would be a great improvement.

But could such a thing ever be achieved? Is there something about human nature that needs some deity to believe in? Is the idea of worshipping some mythical higher being so entrenched in the human psyche that we could never get rid of it. Or can the human race eventually grow out of this adolescent phase and reach maturity?

My own feeling is that, sadly, we’ll never reach that stage. Some nutter with God on his side and a nuclear button under his finger will see to that.

Perhaps there is an argument that can be made that God (or the belief in one…) I highly doubt it. Perhaps a better argument can be made that religion—the practical application of a belief in God (should he exist)-- is the real problem.

But when you start your post with , “It cannot be disputed …” and end with , “Some nutter with God on his side …” exposes the post as intellectually vacant.

Well that is an extremely ignorant thing to say. Are you suggesting that without religion we wouldnt have any more problems? How has religion held back science?
For every nut that religion may spawn, I will bet there are twenty that religion has saved. While I dont agree with alot the established churches say, I cannot deny that for most they provide a comfort and sense of purpose. How is that bad?

What? Are you kidding here?? Established churches do more to combat poverty than any agency (short of government) I know of! Go to some poor depressed third world country and I will guarantee that a church is there providing food, clothing, and medicine. Usually at great personal risk to themselves.

So some nutter who doesnt believe in God with his finger on the button would be okay with you then? Or are you suggesting that all atheists are perfectly normal rational people and couldnt ever possibly be a nutter?

Well far be it from me to ask you to explain the joy and bliss that a purely “rational” outlook managed to provide for various Russian or Easter European populations over the past 100 years or so. No religion there and yet mass amounts of depravation, tyranny and out right death.

Now, given that people can feel awe and wonder in a variety of situations and that they are inclined to associate with others that share their outlook and interests it seems inventible that people will defer to experts on the subject of their spiritual inspiration. Congratulations you now have a spiritually oriented organization that just might issue declarative statements on the nature of it rasion d’etre.

IF we (human race) live another 1,000 years i believe religion at least as we know it will no longer exist . The issue of course is we probably won’t make it that long due to natrual or man-made destruction. I believe though should me make it another millenium rationality/science will overcome superstition and members of religions will get tired of waiting for a diety’s return.

While i essentially agree with the OP, i do believe your post sounds a little arrogant, it certainly CAN be disputed that religion is the biggest threat to civilization, regardless of what we believe it is our responsibility to treat others with respect…thus bringing us a little closer to the human progress of which you speak.

Yes, I know. I was deliberately phrasing it in a rather confrontational way.

I am not suggesting that the world’s problems would miraculously disappear if there were no religion; rather, that the energies of the human race could be far better directed than in worship, which generally has at its roots divisiveness and hatred for those that do not follow the same creed. Not to mention channelling vast amounts of money into the coffers of churches, cult leaders and TV evangelists.

This is not meant as a personal attack on religious people, BTW.

As I say, I was being deliebrately provocative with the OP, but a couple of things:

No, not at all.

Let’s see now… just to throw out a random example, the astronomers who were burnt at the stake in Italy for espousing the heliocentric theory of the solar system were perhaps slightly inconvenienced by religion.

I’m sure they do, but why does this aid need to be provided by religious bodies - which, historically at least, have been responsible for corrupting centuries-old cultures under the guise of enlightenment?

No, and no. But religion is probably the number one reason for hatred and murder in the world, and has been for generations - no figures to back that up I’m afraid, just a gut feeling.

Colophon backtracks…

No offense taken. It still remains that your post was intellectually dead on arrival, arrogant, poorly concieved and constructed. It also shows not just arrogance, but a certain lack of awareness.

This, if course, is not meant as an attack.

Sure it wasn’t :rolleyes:

Your post is a perfect illustration of the great division among atheists. It splits them into, basically, two camps.

The first, the largest of the two, are people who simply have no faith. They don’t have hostility toward toward religion, though, or at worst they regard believers as misguided but well meaning.

The rest are like you, Colophon. They are hostile to heligion, and want to remove all traces of it from the public square. These sorts of atheists are far out of the mainstream of the American tradition, and give the rest of the atheists a really bad and largely undeserved reputation.

**Colophon goes on… **

No surprise here, huh?

I’m guessing that if intrellectually pressed we’d get a lot more where this comes from.

That’s a pretty huge “generally”, friend. Your whole argument seems more like a rant than a real invitation to debate.

This is a moronic assertion.

Is it religion that spawned the environmental problems we see today? Is it religion causing the tensions in east Asia (China-Taiwan, North Korea, etc.)? Is it religion sparking the genocides in sub-Saharan Africa? Was it religion that caused the Cold War? Was it religion that sparked the World Wars?

Most clashes look like they’re about religion, when it’s actually more about cultural differences. The Arabs hated the Turks (and still aren’t particularly fond of them) even though they were all Muslim. Even the current threats of Islamist terrorism have less to do with religion than about culture and imperialism- if he couldn’t use Islam, ObL would simply be using Arab nationalism to incite violence.

Religion was sometimes used to justify European colonialism, but let’s be frank - that was just a side issue. The driving impetus was economic in nature, not religious.

Doubtful. I doubt it would be much different, frankly. Except the battle lines would be a bit different.


Double :rolleyes:

Jeez, everytime I crawl into Great Debates I feel like I’m dipping my toe in molten lava, but here we go.

I’m very glad you posted this follow-up, because I was seriously worried after the OP that you weren’t quite… well.

Religion isn’t the problem here, IMO. But two closely related things are.

Fanaticism - Unquestioning, overriding belief - is a huge issue. It makes people blind. It breeds intolerance of other’s beliefs. That’s bad. Yes, religious folks are sometimes fanatics. There are other sorts of fanatics out there as well, however - witness PETA. Eliminating religion won’t eliminate fanaticism - people will find other outlets in which to direct their passions.

Organizational Corruption - I have a problem with Organized Religion. I consider myself a nondenominational Christian. I don’t fall in with a particular church hierarchy. One only has to look at the apparent rampant spread of child molestation amongst the Catholic Church to realize that the power structure their is flawed, and being used to hide misdeeds. But I trust I don’t have to point out the secular parallels - most infamously, labor unions.

I think religion divorced from the two above issues is a very handy thing - while it may be ascientific and superstitious to a degree, it does tend to give one a moral compass.

People are quite capable of doing incredibly shitty (as well as incredibly wonderful) things to each other and wrapping it up in any sort of justification - the justification very often comes after the action. Without religion, people will still do shitty and wonderful things, motivated and justified by other schemes, such as national identity, allegiance to political movements, worship of celebrities etc.

People are the problem.

Other than that, I’ve not much to say; the OP is such a skewed summary of ‘religion’ that there’s little point in addressing it further.

Sorry, Colophon, but with content such as “It cannot be disputed (although I’m sure some will try)” the OP was not provocative, it was needlessly antagonistic. With that language you run the risk of ab initio excluding from participation in the thread anyone who does not agree with you on the desirability of the extinction of religion, or the reasons (which you only mention generically and glancingly as if already established as axioms) why that’s desirable.

Or, as you noticed, of attracting to it those who will call you up on the gall and arrogance of holding up your position as an established premise.

Now you’re gonna have the thread fill up with people throwing in arguments, examples and couterarguments and counterexamples of how religion HAS been beneficial or HAS been deleterious (at best) or how you are or are not craniorectally inverted (at worst) as opposed to the “begged question” in your OP, which is if “killing off religion” is even a viable possibility, never mind a desirable one.
In any case…
… even among those who would subscribe to the basic OP POV on “religion” itself, there are many who will tell you that if anything, you are talking about “killing off” A noxious form of “religion”, BUT, they could argue, that form of “religion” may just as well be simply supplanted by another form of “idolatry”, be it of ideology, nation, “race”, class, gender, your taste in cheeses, what have you, that will interfere just as much with your vision of how a mature species should behave. There will be those who argue that the need for a structured belief-system that seeks a “meaning” to existence, to be found above and beyond yourself, is an adaptive trait of of the evolution of human society or even an emergent trait of the evolution of the brain’s consciousness itself, so you will never be rid of something that fulfills the sociological/anthopological role of religion right up to and including faithful adherence to teachings (v. followers fo Ayn Rand)
And of course, the extinction of that pernicious form of “religion” need not require the “killing off” of the entirety of that socio/anthropological phenomenon.

Your vital error is that you’re are trying to put negative human traits all into religion. I am an atheist, but i see religion as a man made thing that (like all constructs of man) has good and bad. Yes there have been countless wars and death in the name of god…but i’ll be damned if i hadn’t seen plenty beautifull acts of kindness in the name of god as well.

Humans created religion, that tells you that the negative traits are human nature…and they would exist no matter what we labeled it. All bad things done in the name of religion are motivated by FEAR, or GREED, ect…these exist no matter what front we use to act them out, just as LOVE and EMPATHY exist.

In my opinion all human nature exists for biological reasons (we are greedy so that we may sustain ourselves, we love so that we may be loved), and if religion suddenly dissapeared off the planet we would label our nature in some other way…maybe we would call it secular morality.

Woah there! Hold on just a minute! I am not “hostile” to religion in the slightest. I just fail to see a need for it.

I phrased the question in a stupid way, as all it’s going to do is ignite a load of flames.

This is the key question:

Is there something about human nature that needs some deity to believe in? Is the idea of worshipping some mythical higher being so entrenched in the human psyche that we could never get rid of it?

Ignore the rest of the OP - it does not represent my views. It was just a misguided attempt to get a reaction.

There’s a word for deliberately inflammatory posting.

There’s a word for this as well -“wrong”.

And here are some figures to back that up.

Isn’t summer vacation over yet?


Colophon writes:

> Let’s see now… just to throw out a random example, the astronomers who
> were burnt at the stake in Italy for espousing the heliocentric theory of the
> solar system were perhaps slightly inconvenienced by religion.

Maybe you should study some history of science. No such thing ever happened. In particular, read the life of Galileo. This isn’t even close to what happened.

Alright Colophon has admitted her worded the OP in a needlesly hostile way, let’s move on and address the heart of the “question” he was asking. Do i believe that it is in a nature to invent higher powers to worship? I believe it is in our nature to “explain” the world around us…in the times before science had really advanced to what we know it as today people made mythologies around why the sun would set or why it would rain. This evolved into what we now know as religion…so in a since…yes it is in our nature.