I guess what I really meant to say was; As long as it gets replaced with something more reasonable how would I be worse off? Civil rights left me no worse off. Womens suffrage, same thing. Neither of these things drastically improved MY status quo. I am a white male. I do however feel more free because others are free. In order for me to be a free man everyone else has to be free too. I only make the argument that if I'm not worse off where is the negative for me? I know where the negatives for religion and its follower's is. And I think you are correct there are nicer ways to achieve the same goal. Maybe what I intended to say is if the worse case scenario is 'we are no better off without religion, but no worse' then we would still have a society that is based on reason. That could only lead to positive things in the long run for the human race even if there was no direct benefit for me from my sacrifice.
I consider the common cri de coeur from some atheists that we would be better off without religion to be unsupported by evidence. I think the assertion is probably unprovable and unfalsifiable without actually abolishing religion.
I believe the world would be better off without poverty or hatred; however, by your standard, this is conjecture on my part as the world has never been without either. I think we all agree that with or without religion there will be evil in this world, but I'm all for subtracting one source of it from the list. Of course, I don't believe we will ever actually eliminate religion (at least not via any methods I could support), but we can hope to moderate it and reduce it's impact.
I believe the world would be better off without poverty or hatred; however, by your standard, this is conjecture on my part as the world has never been without either "
My position implies no such thing, nor may such an inference be logically derived:
(1)Organised religion is relatively recent, invented along with city state,around 5000 years ago. So in fact,humanity has indeed been without it for most its existence.
(2) Poverty is an economic and social phenomenum which may or may not have a moral component. Hatred is an innate human response based on fear,it is involuntary..
(3) Religions are cultural constructs.
(4) The perception of all religion in negative terms is one of opinion, and as I mentioned, not supported by evidence..
(5) Your argument is a straw man, I assert there is no evidence.Disagree by all means,but if you want to be taken seriously,provide some evidence to refute my claim.
My perception is based my university studies in Social Anthropology in which I have have a degree.Part of my approach is that of structural functionalism underpinned by theoretical Marxism with. I don't don't claim my view is THE right one ,or that it is complete,only that I've not yet found a better one.
"I cannot imagine accepting one evil on the assumption that another worse evil could take it's place."
Argument from personal incredulity,a form,of argument from ignorance. What you can or cannot imagine is irrelevant. People do exactly that all the time.We even have a saying to describe it;"better the devil you know than the devil you don't". Large chunks of humanity live with exactly that fear.
That is all I have to say on the matter. Quite happy to agree to differ.
I said :"I cannot imagine accepting one evil on the assumption that another worse evil could take it's place."
Tarquin said: Argument from personal incredulity,a form,of argument from ignorance. What you can or cannot imagine is irrelevant. People do exactly that all the time. We even have a saying to describe it;"better the devil you know than the devil you don't". Large chunks of humanity live with exactly that fear.
Tarq, I think it's pretty clear that what I was saying is that were I confronted with a choice of accepting stagnation and evil verses action and the possible elimination of said evil, then I would prefer the latter. Let me re-phrase the sentence in question to avoid any further confusion: I would not accept one evil on the assumption that another evil could conceivably take it's place.
We of course fundamentally disagree about the effects of religion. Again, having said all of this, I agree that my points are pure conjecture since the reality I seek is likely unachievable.
I don't feel the need to rehash the multitude of arguments for the overall negative effects of religion. You feel that I hold a conclusion that is completely unsupported by evidence and I feel that you are oblivious to something that I (and countless others) believe to be a conclusion supported by virtually all of human history. There we're even. Congratulations on your degree and field of study, but essentially all I and my ilk are saying is that we as a species do better when the decisions that effect the establishment of our governments; the direction of our sciences and the formation of our morality are based upon reality rather than bronze age myths...personally I can't image this notion could be even remotely controversial to a fellow non-believer. That being said, I don't believe everything religion has done over the course of human history has been negative, and I don't believe that religion in every instance is to be despised. Ultimately, I do believe that religion is by-and-large detrimental to our species and a phenomena we'd be better off without. Again, that's something we can agree to disagree about.
Tarq, I find myself in disagreement with you on this one. While I do agree that regions are invented by people, I have doubts that they were created to meet a need of our species. My observation is that they have been used effectively over the last several thousand years to obligate populations into accepting their role in society (usually one of subservience). I'm know there are exceptions, but they IMHO largely serve a nefarious purpose.
I doubt that the disappearance of religion would be unfelt (were it to actually happen) as I believe that the institution has served a largely negative role in human existence. Rational people can of course disagree on this point.
I feel that you have mis-characterized the circumstances under which Stalinism and Nazism developed in their respective nations. Communism did not fill a avoid left by the disappearance of religion in Russian nor did Nazism in Germany. The Soviets did attempt to ban religion but eventually decided to incorporate it (as you see in China and North Korea today); and Nazis did attempt to regulate religion, but never banned it. Neither developed in the absence of religion as both nations had very strong religious institutions when communism and Nazism came to power in their respective nations.
My belief is that all dogmatic belief systems are bad and that we would be better off without any of them (religion, totalitarianism, communism, libertarianism, etc.). I cannot imagine accepting one evil on the assumption that another worse evil could take it's place.
Again, rational people can disagree on the effects of religion and I'm really not trying to start an argument here. I do disagree with your assessment of Obama, but that's neither here nor there.
I doubt that the disappearance of religion would be unfelt (were it to actually happen).
So many people in this discussion seem completely oblivious to post-Christian Europe where secularism has become dominant. We do know what happens when religion goes away. Life improves for everyone. United Nations surveys and EU surveys show substantial gains in the factors that go to make up a quality life: low infant mortality, improved health, fewer incarerations, better educations and so on. Our beloved country is down in the range of 15th or so - the highly secular Scandinavians and Northern Europeans are all bunched up in the top 10.
Excerpt: “The data examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular, pro-evolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come closest to achieving practical “cultures of life” that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion. The least theistic secular developing democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in these regards. The non-religious, 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.”
According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.
Based on a year's worth of research conducted while living in Scandinavia, SOCIETY WITHOUT GOD by Phil Zuckerman explores life in a largely secular culture, delving into the unique worldviews of secular men and women who live in a largely irreligious society, and explaining the reasons why some nations are less religious than others, and why religious faith doesn't seem to be the secret to national success that so many claim it to be.
If you want to see societal disaster look at Iran, Iraq or any of the Islamist countries. They all compete for the very bottom of the quality of life and peaceful existence lists.
In terms of a peaceful society, we hyper-religious Americans are ranked 80th in the list of 144 nations. And it is not just Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan and other countries are also far ahead of the USA.
There is far more I could add, but I will just refer you to my blog where there are several relevant articles on the subject of secular society :