Tricky topic, but I'm honestly curious about what people think.

Quick background for me, I was raised by christian parents. My mother, due to doubts studied theology and become a militant athiest. Dad eventually became agnostic. Religion was never pushed on me at all, and I was allowed to make up my own mind. I have been a very militant athiest the majority of my life, although I'm more mellow now and would consider myself an agnostic athiest, purely because I cannot be intellectually honest and claim I "know" there isn't a God. I cannot. I lack a belief and have alway's been moderately to severely disgusted by religion and what it does to people and what it actually represents.

Anyway I was alway's under the impression, that by default the world would be better off without religion. I was completely sure of myself. I've recently become interested in philosophy and go to all sort of discussion forums(including religious ones).

In a nutshell, as much as I think humans don't NEED religion and are better off without it, I'm starting to think I may be wrong on this notion. I may infact, be behaving rather narcissisticly. IE, everyone is the same as me emotionally, just misguided.

The most common arguments I get from believers is

1. Why would you "care" without a belief in God?
2. Why would you behave morally if there is no objective moral code?
3. Why would you even bother if there is no point?

Now I can sit there and argue with these people all day. But once I took a step back I it possible that people really, really cannot live without it?

Is it possible, that I'm not just a person who has been raised to think clearly, but that there is an inherant weakness among humans that is surpassed by only a number of us? Sounds arrogant doesn't it? and none of us want to be arrogant.

But what if that's true?

What if these believers, truly could not care, obey laws, or even respect themselves without faith? As much as I think faith is "taught" that is not entirely the case. People "convert", meaning..they need it.

So, I'm matter how strong I think I am, or how weak I think they are, people do and will kill for the sake of their beliefs. If that's the case, are we better off leaving belief alone for the most part, and gently moving humanity along, while the believers play catch up?

Do they need it? Would humanity descend into chaos without it? This is not an attempt to convince people that religion is correct. It's not only a genuine question but a truly humbling one.

I wonder if I give humanity way too much credit, when I say that people can handle athiesm and would be much happier without their faith. I suspect truth, isn't so important to people because it hurts too much.

What do you think?

And before you answer with, HELL YEAH no inquisitions, no suicide bombers etc etc. I want you to REALLY THINK..what will these believers do...if they truly believe there are no rules at all?

Are we kidding ourselves in thinking humanity can deal with mortality and nihlism without a devastating effect on human life?

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People who have never been raised with religion, or indoctrinated into any belief, still end up supporting religion.

This show's me, that there is more going on than just a childhood belief system and human conditioning.
I'm a good example of this....I was baptized, taken to church etc....
Then around age 8 I seemed to just grow up and realize they were full of it.
I was quite astonished for several years that others did not realize the same.
There is still usually someone putting the ideas into their head.....they just fall for it for some reason.
We're all born without religion. It's implanted into us. In most cases, we're taught that we're inherently sinful, weak, in need of a redeemer, incapable of dealing with life with the stuff we're made of- needing to be propped up by supernatural forces.

A naturalistic worldview holds that the concept of sin is a lie. It shows that our perceived strengths and weaknesses are relative and products of our genetics and environment. It suggests that we can improve our situation by means of cooperation between ourselves and our fellow humans.

I think the superiority of naturalism over religion for nurturing empowered and self-aware human beings is obvious.
I don't think you could make people instantly stop believing without negative effects. I do think the world would be better off without religion, but we would have to replace it with other ideas and beliefs to fill the void and it would have to be a gradual transition over the course of a few generations. We would have to condition people to rely on themselves and their fellow man instead of putting their trust in a deity.

There may be some positive effect to believing that their is an outside source helping you, even if the outside source is nonexistant. Perhaps imagining that The Great Gazoo (character from the Flintstones, for those who are unfamiliar) is floating above your shoulder and helping you overcome challenges provides you with the motivation to actually overcome them. This may be a good technique to use, provided that you are able to recognize that The Great Gazoo isn't real and that you only use the technique when it is appropriate.

In regards to morals, we need to instill values in children beginning at a young age. We need to not only state that it is wrong to steal, for instance, we need to make them understand why it is wrong to steal.
It always kills me when Christians start a conversation with the assumption that I am a Christian as well. A guy at work asked me one day "Do you consider yourself to be a true Christian?". What kind of way is that to start a conversation? It is arrogant, inconsiderate, and short-sighted.
Dismissing someone as a moron because they do not share your world view is the exact behavior that most Atheists argue makes theistic thinking people intolerable.

Religion works for some people. It doesn't mean they are stupid or less intelligent, they have simply led a different life than you. I know many intelligent people who are religious, and I try to treat them with respect in order to have that feeling reciprocated. If you appear to be a "better than you" atheist, what makes that any different from a "holier than thou" theist?
Dismissing someone as a moron because they do not share your world view is the exact behavior that most Atheists argue makes theistic thinking people intolerable.

I not a theist sympathizer as much as someone who believes in peoples right to freedom. Please stop trying to paint every person you disagree with as somehow being less of an Atheist. It makes you appear petty.
Actually, dismissing someone as a moron when they have made a logically and empirically superior case is the behavior that most atheists find intolerable on the part of theists. Evidence and reason make the difference between a "better than you" atheist and a "holier than thou" theist, though neither is pleasant to be around, and so their arguments both suffer in the presentation.

While arrogance is certainly annoying, the truth claims of religion are so prima facie ludicrous and baroque compared to the explanations of science, that contempt for religious ideas is a reasonable position to hold, especially in light of the damage they have done. Contempt of people should be avoided, though that can be tough when religious people persist in beliefs that so conspicuously fail the test of Ockham's Razor, even after exposure to extensive scientific enlightenment. There are plenty of intelligent theists out there, but they lose a lot of perceived IQ points when they prefer bogus biblical arguments to sound scientific ones.
The sad truth is there is a lot of real suffering in this world.

I mean Real suffering. And it's not new, but probably in fact better now then it ever has been, but there is more spread between rich and poor then in any time in human history, and technology (mostly communication) makes it obvious to the have nots that they are 'have nots'.
Religion fills people with the thoughts that everyone is equal even though they appear not to be. It makes them feel important, when they feel insignificant. It's the bottom half of any society that will cling to the idea that there is an afterlife to pay them back for their current inequality, to level the playing field so to speak. And to go one step further, punish the rich (to hell) that have surpassed their success in 'this' life at the expense of moral high ground.
Once someone has bought into this, they hold on tight, because it's the only thing they have.
This is also why the religious hang on so tight to the 'morals' argument. This is the rule book which they get their points for heaven. They feel like they've been playing by the rules, and you haven't, so they will get rewarded. But just like a little kid playing hide and go seek, they get really mad when they find out you aren't playing the game (atheist) or playing a different game (different religion).

So I guess my conclusion is, we don't need religion, but psycologically it provides comfort. And this comfort probably controls the masses as much as it causes upheaval.
Look at some of the videos on youtube of the religious (like the christian wife swap)
There's no changing her mind...ever.
"She's Dark SIDED!!!"

Also, good intellectual points. I just crack up over the crazy lady.



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