Does religion cause harm?

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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Canuckster1127
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#16

Post by Canuckster1127 » Thu Nov 30, 2006 12:46 pm

sandy_mcd wrote:
Turgonian wrote:89.2% of all the wars in history were fought on matters unrelated to religion.
OK, this is the second (?) time this fact has been posted. Where can I find sources and more information? How many wars were fought? What are the won-loss-tie records of various countries or entities? How many different groups fought in wars? How many wars had more than two participants and what is the maximum?
More importantly .... when wolves fight among themselves, what religion should we attribute that to? When lemmings plunge over the cliff what philosophy is at work? As long as we're going to make religion the root of war, violence and evil, and eliminate God and then claim we'll arrive at Utopia we're going have to explain how inter-species violence and suicide exist in nature where religion does not exist. ;)

Maybe instead of all this front page reporting on Iraq we could just include a box-score on the sports page. ;)
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#17

Post by Turgonian » Thu Nov 30, 2006 1:00 pm

Search for '89.2'.

Mailvox: in defense of Sam Harris
Vox wrote:I got that statistic by reviewing the 489 wars listed in the Wikipedia.* 53 had religious causes; one obtains that number if each of the 10 Crusades is counted separately. (489-53)/489 = 89.2 percent. The inquisitions weren't wars and only killed some 5,000 people in 300 years. The Holocaust was not religiously motivated nor was it a war.
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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#18

Post by Shambler » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:43 am

To answer Canuckster1127…

1. Is violence an absolute in your belief that it is never justified and therefore if violence occurs within any religious context, religion as a whole must be judged as lacking?

Of course violence is necessary to defend oneself against violence but in any other context it is wrong. No ideology is 'all bad' but you cannot ignore the fact that religion causes people to go to war, either to 'claim back what is rightly ours' i.e. holy land or to 'eradicate the unbelievers'.


2. Are you justified in making such a universal appeal against all religion or would it be more reasonable to take them one by one and factor in these other elements when you do?

It is true to say that some religions e.g. Christianity, Judaism have become 'soft', they have become this way through sociological and political evolution. The western world has been becoming 'nicer' e.g. we don't think cruelty to animals is a good thing anymore and we are working our way to a utopian society, though we have a long way to go. People who are relatively happy with their lives are less likely to go to war. Other civilizations however are still in the dark ages as far as ethics go.

It is the sociological and political evolution that the western world has gone that has drawn us out of our dark age, if all of us still adhered so vehemently to the biblical texts then we would still be back there, burning witches and occasionally relying on the testaments of children to do so.

3. Can you point to a secular country or system that has demonstrated more restraint and has a better history and track record than those in which religion has been involved or appealed to?

There are no secular countries or systems. Religion is all pervasive and stems from mans early thoughts of 'who created the earth' and 'why are we here'. It stems from a time when little was known about how things actually work and the answers that these primitive peoples obviously would arrive at are that the earth is here because someone 'made' it and we must therefore worship them. These thoughts must go the way of offering human sacrifices and believing that diseases are caused by witches if we are to have any hope of reaching a utopian society.

To FFC…

Religion may cause harm, but true Christianity does not.

Can you give me an example of this 'true' Christianity? Where does one find it on this earth?

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#19

Post by Shambler » Mon Dec 04, 2006 4:00 am

You have to have serious misgivings about much of what Vox says when you read

Quoting from Vox...

'The Holocaust was not religiously motivated nor was it a war.'

...Unquote.

Sorry? did I misinterpret that?

If it was not religiously motivated then why expend such an effort to send Jewish people to the camps?

It is maybe an arrogant view on the part of the Jewish community at that time that they called themselves a race, but WHY did they call themselves a race?

It was because they wanted to insulate their religion from outsiders, to protect their view of God.

It was this twist that allowed Hitler to describe what he was doing as racial rather than religious, either way religion was the chain that bound this group of people together.

And as for the Holocaust not being a war :shock:

Yes it was not a war, it was the systematic killing of millions and millions of innocent people because they could be singled out by their religion...but hello? this is a direct result of Hitlers war, he had a goal and part of that goal was exterminating the Jews.

To miscount it because it 'was not a war' beggars belief.

How can someone nitpick so disrespectfully with the sad loss of millions of people to try and validate their beliefs?

Outrageous :?

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#20

Post by Canuckster1127 » Mon Dec 04, 2006 6:08 pm

Shambler wrote:To answer Canuckster1127…

Of course violence is necessary to defend oneself against violence but in any other context it is wrong. No ideology is 'all bad' but you cannot ignore the fact that religion causes people to go to war, either to 'claim back what is rightly ours' i.e. holy land or to 'eradicate the unbelievers'.
Religion has caused and been involved in war. There is no question. However, it is rarely that cut and dried. Other motives play such as greed, nationalism, etc. Are you consistent in your assessment of your perceived results of "religion" in general? How do you explain violence in nature where religion has no involvement?

Further, assuming the mechanics of your thoughts were correct, on what basis do you assert your assessment that violence is only justified in the case of self-defense? Please be specific.
It is true to say that some religions e.g. Christianity, Judaism have become 'soft', they have become this way through sociological and political evolution. The western world has been becoming 'nicer' e.g. we don't think cruelty to animals is a good thing anymore and we are working our way to a utopian society, though we have a long way to go. People who are relatively happy with their lives are less likely to go to war. Other civilizations however are still in the dark ages as far as ethics go.

It is the sociological and political evolution that the western world has gone that has drawn us out of our dark age, if all of us still adhered so vehemently to the biblical texts then we would still be back there, burning witches and occasionally relying on the testaments of children to do so.
There is some truth in what you say here but again it seems pretty slanted to me. Christianity is a peaceful religion because it was founded by Jesus Christ and on His teachings which espouse the principles of servanthood, returning good for evil and demonstrating love to one's neighbors and enemies. I certainly will and do condemn where Christianity has been misused and tainted by deluded or willfully duplicitous persons to mask their baser motives.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which seems to be involved in your statements, whether you intended it to be or not (let me know if you need me to explain further) is certainly a factor in some regards to war and violence where poverty and persecution push people who have little to lose and so they respond with violence seeking political or sociological change. This certainly is deeply rooted and deeply involved in the current Middle Eastern Islamist terrorism. However, you're naive if you imagine that with comfort and stability the nature of man is to be content and not seek for more.
There are no secular countries or systems. Religion is all pervasive and stems from mans early thoughts of 'who created the earth' and 'why are we here'. It stems from a time when little was known about how things actually work and the answers that these primitive peoples obviously would arrive at are that the earth is here because someone 'made' it and we must therefore worship them. These thoughts must go the way of offering human sacrifices and believing that diseases are caused by witches if we are to have any hope of reaching a utopian society.
Oh come now. No secular countries of systems? I was hoping for better than this.

The Soviet Union was declaritively an Atheist State as was Cambodia under Pol Pot as is China today. The 20th century is rife with examples of non-religious secular philosophy and atrocities, pograms and killing on a scale which is no better, and arguably worse than the standard by which you seek to make such broad sweeping statements.

If you imagine that science and objective knowledge has the power to answer the questions of meaning of life that are universal I also believe that to be naive. Science can be a wonderful thing, but the same knowlege that provides nuclear power also build nuclear bombs. The knowledge itself is value neutral. It is what man decides to do with it that determines the impact of it.

To FFC…

Religion may cause harm, but true Christianity does not.

Can you give me an example of this 'true' Christianity? Where does one find it on this earth?[/quote]
Dogmatism is the comfortable intellectual framework of self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is more decadent than the worst sexual sin. ~ Dan Allender

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#21

Post by Turgonian » Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:37 am

Shambler wrote:Of course violence is necessary to defend oneself against violence but in any other context it is wrong.
Not necessarily -- I'd call consolidation of power a good reason. Kind of 'preventive defence'.
Shambler wrote:The western world has been becoming 'nicer' e.g. we don't think cruelty to animals is a good thing anymore...
We've never done so. Unless you're talking about sacrifices, which can't be called 'cruelty to animals' anymore than a butcher can be called cruel to animals.
Shambler wrote:...and we are working our way to a utopian society, though we have a long way to go.
* cough, cough, cough * Forget it. In all these long years, man hasn't changed one whit -- still irrational, prone to laziness (remember the Soviet Union, where mediocrity was encouraged?) and destructive. The years haven't changed it and they won't do so in the future. Am I a pessimist? No. As Dr Aalders was fond of saying, 'The situation is hopeless, but not grave' -- because I do not have to found my hope on humans.
As Peter Kreeft says in his excellent article Darkness at Noon:
P. Kreeft wrote:Socialism's dream is naive because mere equality does not automatically destroy oppression. Egalitarianism can be as oppressive as any tyranny. De Tocqueville pointed out long ago that democratic totalitarianism is not a contradiction in terms, and that Americans are naive if they think that the sheer political structure of democracy will protect them against totalitarianism. For democracy and totalitarianism are not opposite answers to the same question, but answers to two different questions, and thus can be compatible. Democracy is an answer to the question: In whom is the social-political power located? The answer is: in the people at large. Totalitarianism is an answer to the question: How much power are the social-political authorities to have? The answer is: total power, power to reshape human life, human thought, human nature itself.

Here are three examples of democratic totalitarianism: in theory, Rousseau's "General Will" (vox populi, vox dei); in fiction, Huxley's Brave New World; and in fact, the American media establishment.

Only the Tao can ensure freedom. Only when we are bound to a higher law of permanent, unchangeable, objective moral absolutes, are we free from being determined by the lower laws of animal instincts, selfishness, sin, and propaganda. Only conformity to the trans-social Tao can make nonconformity to a decadent society just, or even possible. For we do, and must, conform to something, or else we are formless. The only question is: To what? There are only two possible answers: to what is higher than ourselves or to what is lower, supernature or nature, the Bible or MTV, Jesus Christ or Norman Lear, the Crucified or the crucifiers.

Let's take a time-out and take stock for a moment. How far down the slide have we slid? How much of the Tao is already lost? How many of the objectively permanent things have become subjectively impermanent?

I count at least 33: silence, solitude, detachment, self-control, contemplation, awe, humility, hierarchy, modesty, chastity, reverence, authority, obedience, tradition, honor, simplicity, holiness, loyalty, gentlemanliness, manliness, womanliness, propriety, ceremony, cosmic justice, pure passion, holy poverty, respect for old age, the positive spiritual use of suffering, gratitude, fidelity, real individuality, real community, courage, and absolute honesty (the passionate, or fanatical love of truth for its own sake). That's one lost value for each of the years in Christ's life.

We could, of course, profitably spend hours, days, perhaps lifetimes exploring each one of these 33 lost values; and we could probably add 33 more. But in this age of progress and time-saving devices we have no time for such important things any more — things like conversation, debate, meditation, prayer, deep friendship, imagination, even family. (If the sexual revolution doesn't do the family in, it will die for lack of time.)

But, you may think, this gloomy picture I have painted of a spiritual Dark Ages is only half the picture. What of all the progress we've made?

Well, let's look at the progress we've made. It can be divided into two kinds: spiritual and material. Let's take spiritual progress first. I think there has been some significant spiritual progress in modernity in at least one area: kindness vs. cruelty. I think we are much kinder than our ancestors were, especially to those we used to be cruel to: criminals, heretics, foreigners, other races, and especially the handicapped. I think this is very real progress indeed. I wonder, though, whether one big step forward offsets 33 steps back, some of them also big, some medium sized, but none small.

[...]

The essence of modernity is the death of the spiritual. A modernist is someone who is more concerned about air pollution than soul pollution. A modernist is someone who wants clean air so he can breathe dirty words.

A modernist cares about big things, like whales, more than little things, like fetuses; big things like governments, more than little things like families and neighborhoods; big things like states, which last hundreds of years, more than little things like souls, which last forever.

A modernist, thus, is one who puts his faith and hope for progress in precisely the one thing that cannot progress: matter. A traditionalist, on the other hand, is one who ''looks not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (II Cor 4:18) A traditionalist believes in "the permanent things," and the permanent things cannot progress because they are the things to which all real progress progresses.

Perhaps I should modify my stark statement that matter cannot progress at all. Perhaps matter can progress, but only with and in and for spirit. If your body and your tools and your possessions serve your spirit, make you truly happy and good and wise, they contribute to progress too.

But this modification does not help the progressive at all, since it is pretty obvious that modernity's technological know-how and power has not made us happier, wiser, better, or more saintly than our ancestors. When we speak of modern progress, we do not mean progress in happiness, in contentment, in peace of mind. Nor do we mean progress in holiness and moral perfection or wisdom. We speak readily of "modern knowledge" but never of "modern wisdom." Rather, we speak of "ancient wisdom." For wisdom is to knowledge what kairos is to kronos: the spiritual and purposive and teleological and moral dimension.
Shambler wrote:It is the sociological and political evolution that the western world has gone that has drawn us out of our dark age, if all of us still adhered so vehemently to the biblical texts then we would still be back there, burning witches and occasionally relying on the testaments of children to do so.
Emperor Nero didn't adhere to any religious text and burned Christians anyway. It was more the need for a scapegoat than religious teachings put into practice. And anyway, what if there really were some witches engaged in diabolical practices which harmed people?
Shambler wrote:It stems from a time when little was known about how things actually work and the answers that these primitive peoples obviously would arrive at are that the earth is here because someone 'made' it and we must therefore worship them. These thoughts must go the way of offering human sacrifices and believing that diseases are caused by witches if we are to have any hope of reaching a utopian society.
Except the worshipping part, this argument is still very much in power among modern, enlightened, educated philosophers. The statement 'Matter is eternal' is pretty asinine, and because everything with a beginning has a cause, there must be an uncaused cause. Aristotle said the same. Worship or no worship, positing a creator is philosophically quite sound.
Shambler wrote:Can you give me an example of this 'true' Christianity? Where does one find it on this earth?
Have a look at the New Testament.
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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#22

Post by Turgonian » Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:07 am

Shambler wrote:Sorry? did I misinterpret [Vox's statement]?
Yes.
Shambler wrote:If it was not religiously motivated then why expend such an effort to send Jewish people to the camps?
It was ideologically, not religiously motivated. Are people always inactive without religion?
Shambler wrote:It is maybe an arrogant view on the part of the Jewish community at that time that they called themselves a race, but WHY did they call themselves a race?
They didn't -- Hitler did. The most foolish racist theories were en vogue in that time, as historian J. Huizinga notes.
Shambler wrote:It was because they wanted to insulate their religion from outsiders, to protect their view of God.
No -- they were a community and didn't need to insulate themselves by calling themselves a 'race'. And anyway, the Europeans preferred them to live in separate quarters.
Shambler wrote:It was this twist that allowed Hitler to describe what he was doing as racial rather than religious, either way religion was the chain that bound this group of people together.
Which religion? A religion has a god somewhere.
Shambler wrote:To miscount [the Holocaust] because it 'was not a war' beggars belief.

How can someone nitpick so disrespectfully with the sad loss of millions of people to try and validate their beliefs?
1 - Vox didn't 'miscount it', he just didn't include it in a list of wars. He didn't say it was a trifle because of that, just that he didn't use it because it didn't fit the category. You might as well say, 'I'm going to compile a list of animals, leaving out the Holocaust because it isn't an animal' -- how is that 'miscounting' the Holocaust? Vox really isn't in favour of it...
2 - If he would have counted it, it would only have reinforced his case, because he was counting the percentage of non-religious wars (89.2).
The Bible says they were "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, this means "be dumb on purpose". (Kent Hovind)

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#23

Post by FFC » Tue Dec 05, 2006 11:06 am

Bart wrote:Can you give me an example of this 'true' Christianity? Where does one find it on this earth?
In the hearts and lives of those who obey follow and keep the teachings of Jesus Christ, just as Jesus gave us the example when He heard and obeyed the Father in all things.


John 15:9 ¶ As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.


John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.


John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full.


John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.


John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.


John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.


John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
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And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

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#24

Post by sandy_mcd » Sat Mar 10, 2007 11:43 pm

Turgonian wrote:
Vox wrote:I got that statistic by reviewing the 489 wars listed in the Wikipedia.*
Thanks for the source. When I see such a precise figure for something which seems hard to determine, I wonder where the number came from. While the list of wars is not exhaustive, it certainly seems broad enough to support the statement that most wars are not fought over religion.

But the criteria involved in deciding whether a war is fought over religion is not given in the article. If a pagan nation attacks a Christian nation over Christianity, then clearly the war is fought over religion. But religion should not be blamed for this war. A better method would be to list the wars fought over religion and then decide who is the aggressor (if possible). Next decide if the initiating nation is religious or not. Finally, divide the number of aggressor religious countries by the total number of religious countries and divide the number of aggressor non-religious countries by the total number of non-religious countries. Comparing these two numbers would show whether religion is an incentive to warfare. [Perhaps even better, look at wars fought over other issues - is the percentage of aggressor nation higher for religious or non-religious states?]

What are we to make of the 10% figure given above? Isn't even 10% too high a figure? And wars are fought over matters important to people - there aren't a lot of wars waged over football. What does that mean?

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#25

Post by Seeker of Knowledge » Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:15 am

Sandy_mcd wrote:
What are we to make of the 10% figure given above? Isn't even 10% too high a figure? And wars are fought over matters important to people - there aren't a lot of wars waged over football. What does that mean?
I thought this was interesting and a bit off topic...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_War

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#26

Post by RoyLennigan » Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:27 pm

Any ideology has the potential to cause harm. But it is not the ideology at fault, it is the individuals who desire to weild the ideal for their own means (whether consciously or subconsiously realized). When someone desires to maliciously and/or purposefully force someone to think differently without outside support. There is a fine line between forcing someone's ideals and showing them a part of the world that reveals the truth of their ideals.

The only way for an ideal (such as religion) to work as intended is if we either all know our limitations and support each other completely honestly, or if we only trust our experience and the teachings of the world around us, rather than take for granted the words that others write to imprint our minds.

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#27

Post by Yh-is-El » Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:03 pm

Religion is meaningless ... It is the father of war, and his children are grief and pain and disappointment.

Needless to say, I'm an not a religious fanatic.

Religion is an invention of man ... I say, it's time to re-establish the RELATIONSHIP and do away with the religion.

With religion, man reaches to God, not God to man. This is the fallacy of fallacies, to think we can, with our "keen intellect" and philosophical notions, somehow draw closer to the Almighty. It allows us to have control over God with traditions and assumptions supported nowhere in Scripture. I don't serve a god that can be controlled ... My God is a consuming fire and a vicious lion, unquenchable and untamable.

So, yes, I do think religion, in and of itself, is harmful. I do not think a relationship with the one True God of the universe is, though. I'm not striving for worldly, temporal peace, either, but for inner Peace, the kind only Yeshua Messiah can give to me, the kind he promised.
"And I am convniced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or the earth below--indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

--Romans 8:35-39

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#28

Post by FFC » Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:43 pm

Yh-is-El wrote:Religion is meaningless ... It is the father of war, and his children are grief and pain and disappointment.

Needless to say, I'm an not a religious fanatic.

Religion is an invention of man ... I say, it's time to re-establish the RELATIONSHIP and do away with the religion.

With religion, man reaches to God, not God to man. This is the fallacy of fallacies, to think we can, with our "keen intellect" and philosophical notions, somehow draw closer to the Almighty. It allows us to have control over God with traditions and assumptions supported nowhere in Scripture. I don't serve a god that can be controlled ... My God is a consuming fire and a vicious lion, unquenchable and untamable.

So, yes, I do think religion, in and of itself, is harmful. I do not think a relationship with the one True God of the universe is, though. I'm not striving for worldly, temporal peace, either, but for inner Peace, the kind only Yeshua Messiah can give to me, the kind he promised.
I wasn't sure where you were going with that until the end...to which I say amen!

Your right, religion is man reaching or working his way to God. This is self effort that can only lead to pride. Thankfully Christianity is God reaching down to us and doing all the work through Jesus Christ's/Yeshua Messiah's atonement on the cross.
"Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible." - Corrie Ten Boom

Act 9:6
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

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#29

Post by IRQ Conflict » Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:36 am

Here is a good article dealing with the traditions of man. Although I think the author may be stretching it when he questions whether or not keeping the sabbath holy can make you lose your crown (of life).

It's my opinion Christ was referring to the gamut of mans traditions as opposed to just the sabbath day. Romans 14

Linky

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#30

Post by acrossandasong » Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:28 am

people are like their fellow creatures, war is certain where ever we go. why? you may ask-> because people are corrupt and not only that but war is a way of survival as well as death, it's never pretty but people fight to maintain their ways of life, not only because of religion, war is grossly essential to life, there is competiton in the wild as well as in civilization, until this age, this time, is over there will be war-> it is only going to get worst and we might as well brace ourselves and stop trying to blame it on something.

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