This is a cut and paste from another forum post where I responded to some one that thinks religion in and of itself is negative, just figured I would throw it out there for you guys. I know very few people have ever been exposed to any religious beliefs outside of the abrahamic ones so I thought this could be nice.
it sounds to me like your making a very simple mistake. You assume all religions are bad, probably because you have only been exposed to Abrahamic religions. I doubt you will ever get into a fight with a Taoist or a budhist over there beliefs. The belief that there is more out there than man and that we need to explore our spiritual and emotional selves was what led to the golden age of science and reason in 800 BC. It has lead to every major philosophical discovery mankind has ever made, and lead to the creation of every thing from physics, democracy and the scientific method.
Its not religion thats bad, its unnatural religions that most athiests and humanists find disturbing. The difference being that Unnatural religions believe god created the universe and so every thing is a product of his will. natural religions believe that god is a product of the universe. The god of the christians, jews and muslims, is an "unnatural" religion and tells people that they exist to please some supernatural force and that they need to abide by the rules he has set forth. It stymies social and scientific progression of humanity. If you take something like the Hellenic, ancient egyptian, ancient persian religions where there gods are the embodiment of basic characteristics of the universe you get something much different. In religions such as these the quest to understand "God" is the quest to understand the universe. This is why cultures with natural religions where able to make such incredible scientific and social achievements, and why there extermination led to what we now call the dark age of man.
The best and most obvious example I can give is the story of Prometheus, when he gave man fire (IE man discovered fire) the gods where diminished, thats why they got so mad. They didnt punish man for that, it wasnt there place to punish man but they did understand that the more man learned the less they would be needed, and the less influence they would have over man. It was understood by many ancient cultures that the greater man grew the less power the gods would have over them.
This also gave rise to humanism, the idea that it is mans obligation to become as perfect or as close to perfect as he could be so he could help elevate his fellow men. It wasnt a contest between men and gods, it was the natural order of things that men would rise to replace the gods, just as the gods replaced the titans, and the titans replaced the primordial essences of the universe. These were religions that pushed man into exploring the universe and bettering himself rather than tried to control him.
so no, religion is not bad, it is not for every one, but it is not bad. However any religion that tries to control or supress humanity is a bad thing. So some gods are bad, some are not, some are just concepts given human form. To lump all religion together as bad is as silly as lumping all religions together as good.
Another point I want to make is that holidays are good, religious or otherwise, people need a reason to get together with there loved ones and celebrate. As an athiest and a humanist, I dont want to see the end of religion, I understand that some people need religion, not every one is strong enough to face the universe alone, and the thought of an afterlife is a necessary comfort for some people. I would however like to see the end of religions with the goal of controlling mankind.
Oh, that's right, it embraces 'spirituality' so call it an evil 'thing' instead.
I would say that something would be "bad" if it fails to align with reality, and worse if it actively denies reality in favor of what it wishes to replace reality with. I say this because to be effective in this world, one's actions should be informed by reality and in general, how things are and work.
Most religions fail this test because they want to assert their own realities which at minimum are unprovable and at maximum are obviously at odds with what is demonstrably real. Blind acceptance of such principles may have little or no impact under some circumstances or may result in serious if not fatal consequences, depending on how rigorously the religious principles are observed and followed. Something as simple as:
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.
-- Matthew 6:34
has the potential for catastrophic results if one presumes that some supernatural entity will provide, fill in the blanks, et cetera.
In the final analysis, belief should be informed by fact, and not vice versa. To the degree that this is not the case would be the degree to which I would consider any religious belief to be deleterious to the believer.
Loren I could not have expressed what you posted any better myself. I absolutely agree with you in all respects. You are one wise and intelligent man. Your every post impresses me. Keep up the good work man.
Well said Loren.
I've often thought that A/N should have a group "The Good Side of Religion". It would have to be moderated to avoid being swamped by postings on what's bad about religion.
Religions aren't totally good or totally bad, they have good aspects and bad aspects.
“To think new thoughts you have to break the bones in your head”
- Jean-Paul Sartre
The term "spirituality" can imply a belief in anything. Earth religions have a certain reality to them, but you have to understand that reality and the fact that nobody is promising you something eternal for "being good," etc.
Spirituality can be the fact that you believe your cat is your wife's long dead sister, you think you will exist on Jupiter when you die, you believe in ghosts, or you just make up anything and say or believe it!
In fact, there is "something for you after death." It's the same thing that you had before you were born.
Religion is bad. Always. Anybody who has his head in a cloud can not think clearly about reality. BTW, there's a difference between Buddhism and Buddha. The source of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama, who "became" The Buddha, which means, more or less, "one who is awake." Some will say, "Enlightened One," but that's where the deification begins, something he never wanted. Just fyi. But yeah, religion is always, forever, entirely bad bad bad!
One might ask Mohammad Asghar, a 65 year old British national of Pakistani origin if he thinks religion is bad. He was just convicted by a Pakistani court of blasphemy and condemned to death! His crime: claiming to be a prophet of Islam. By the way Asghar suffers from mental illness.
Pakistan is not on my bucket list vacation spots!
No, Pakistan is not a sweet place. I have always wanted to go there, though, because my dad was there back in '41 when he was in the Army. Sailed in to Karachi. It was India then. Oh well, I'll never have the dough for a trip like that anyway.