To my mind religion is the worse thing that ever happened to mankind. Sure, it converted the Vikings to civilization, but it also repressed and stifled knowledge that kept humanity in the Dark Ages until now and maybe centuries to come. As long as women are forced to wear a burka, humanity remains enthralled.

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Amer, I don't understand to whom you are addressing your statement. I'm the one you are quoting, so do you agree? I certainly think that if more people were non-believers there wouldn't be so suicide bombers. I wouldn't commit suicde for ten million dollars, myself.
Seems to me we have yet another case of ex-Christians taking refuge in atheism as an identity and presuming the entire history of the human race is just what they've experienced in their little niche. It's really important to get an intellectual life beyond Dawkins, Harris, or Sagan.

Once again, there's the fundamental question of social causality. For example, it may be good PR to paint the conflicts of the world as strictly religious conflicts: Protestants vs Catholics in Ireland, Hindus vs Muslims in South Asia, Jews vs Muslims in the Middle East, western civilization vs the Muslim world (clash of civilizations, a right-wing idea that Harris subscribes to)--but this is an eminently childish approach to grasping history or social reality. Religious populations clash over more than religions: they fight over territory, resources, the expansion of or rebellion against empires . . . Religion doesn't drive society on its own; society creates religion as its self-understanding and legitimation. The issue is complicated in the modern world because of the differentiation of institutions and sources of knowledge claims. To protest about religion and nothing else is to act as if nothing new has happened since the 18th century, except for of course your new deity Darwin. Anyway, I'm done with this tiresome thread.

Also, I've got to remember that this is a forum on atheist writers, and I've neither discussed nor advanced the writerly art.
Dan, You're telling me to keep my facts straight. "But that does not mean that the introduction of religion some 5000 years ago made people more militant because they believed in some afterlife."

Does this mean the Egyptians had no religion? I used 15,000 years for a reason.
Dan, pardon the delay in getting back to you but I have a terrible bone disease and need a lot of pain killers. When I do my brain is obtunded like I got hit with a sledge hammer.

I'm a retired high school bio teacher and tend to see things in geologic time rather than historical. I did believe Egyptian culture went back as far as 10,000 years and I stand corrected.

The reason I used 15,000 years is because it is estimated that glaciers receded about that time and the Ice Age ended. This changed the world and agriculture was discovered and developed. As a stated in the June 8 post, “But it wasn't until about 15,000 years ago that religion took root. Agriculture was a big factor for this because the hunter-gatherer society became a farmer-herder society.”

I don’t follow why you ask, “Where did the 15,000 years come from?” I even referenced a rather eminent, world renowned source, Dr. Desmond Morris, of Oxford. It was the production of food that enabled mankind to grow from a few million to 6.7 billion we have today.
This was the time of specialization of labor among other immense changes. For one thing, a police and/or army emerged. “I'll protect your farm if you cut me in on the harvest” More importantly, a shaman and then scribe class developed. Lawyer/notaries came about in order to enable a smooth transfer of poverty. Private property changed everything.

Please bear in mind that H. sapiens is the descendent of quadruped primates. Hierarchy is important for those living in trees—alphas live longer; it's healthier on the higher branches.

Shamans grew in power, especially with the onset of organized religion, probably some sort on animism. They became so powerful that they eventually determined who lived and died in some societies such as the Aztecs.

Anyway, in a nutshell, the point I think you’re missing is that agriculture enabled the transformation of tribes to mega-tribes. I good example of this is that most people can only recall the names of about 100 to 150 people they know. Much of our instincts and emotions are still at the tribal level.
Because of God a people slept
For God they conquered
Mothers wept
For king and country under God
Over they innocent they trod
Yea, there were those to question "why?"
In public did those people die
God gave the rulers holy right
God's armies show his righteous might
Asleep the people yet remain
For God forbids an active brain
Until the day the people wake
Free thought will sizzle at the stake
It says it all, Kitty.
Reminds me of one of my maxims: If polticians are so religious, why are they so corrupt?

Larry, one of the theses of my writing is atheists can be good people even though we don't believe in God. I was actually taught the opposite in Catholic high school.
I've been trying to calculate the cost in terms of human lives (viz, innocents murdered by those with "god on their side") -- just one metric point, but an important one. I'm up to about 200 million lives in just the last 1700 years, and I'm sure there are many more.

Other costs include the billions of dollars in land or chattel plundered or annexed by the Church; child abuse, including not just genital mutilation or rape, but also instilling the fairy-tale fear of the Christian "Hell" -- what a lovely religion we have here!

It's funny, because it's true.
Disappears as
Interrupts the
Universe with
but also instilling the fairy-tale fear of the Christian "Hell" -- what a lovely religion we have here!

Good post, Michael. I certainly agree. Just to throw a little gasoline on the fire, (literally) it was the early Christians that came up with the idea of an eternal hell—no hope, no chance of assuagement of pain, for ever and ever.

The Greeks had Hades. The Romans and Egyptians also had an underworld but the idea of an never-ending torture was too terrible even for their primitive imaginations. (And the Romans came up with some pretty gruesome stuff.)
Interesting question, Carli. I don't see them as twins but rather antagonists. In memetics, skepticism is called a vaccime (with two “c”s) because skepticism through education can help defend against exposure to religion in the same way as a flu defends against the swine flu.

Knock, Knock on your door. It’s a Jehovah Witness. “Do you want to save your soul?”

To a scientist this is a pretty lame question. What soul? Why do I need my soul to be saved. What did I do? The sales pitch about Adam and Eve is pretty far-fetched. It’s unreasonable that my soul is damned (unless I accept Christ) because it happened thousands of years before I was born. How could a good God punish me for the sins of my ancient relatives? I had nothing to do with eating the apple. And what does God have against the tree of knowledge anyway?

“the former rooted in longing at the expense of reasonability...”

I often quote a line from the movie Apocalypse Now: “Hell is where there is no reason.” And humanity lived through hell in its history because of it.

To my mind, humanity will never have wisdom until it lives free from supernatural nonsense.




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