LucidChimp, I rephrase all the time, too. I crave dialogue and understanding. That takes work. I think you are pretty close to what I am getting at.
Challenge to Athiests - is Religion a Pox on Mankind?
Reopened mind, it was a talk by Haidt that inspired me to finally start this thread. Here is a challenge that religion is not a pox but an evolutionary necessity.
Thanks Jgnat I'm reading Jonathan Haidat's article now.
I have read the article by Haidt you reference above and found many of his arguments quite compelling. However I agree with Sam Harris conclusion in his comment:
"Religion remains the only mode of discourse that encourages grown men and women to pretend to know things they manifestly do not (and cannot) know. If ever there were an attitude at odds with science, this is it. And the faithful are encouraged to keep shouldering this unwieldy burden of falsehood and self-deception by everyone they meet---by their coreligionists, of course, and by people of differing faith, and now, with startling frequency, by scientists who claim to have no faith. Even if Haidt's reading of the liteature on morality were correct, and all this manufactured bewilderment proves to be useful in getting certain people to donate time, money, and blood to their neighbors---so what? Is science now in the business of nurturing useful delusions? Surely we can grow in altruism, and refine our ethical intuitions, and even explore the furthest reaches of human happiness, without lying to ourselves about the nature of the universe. It is time that atheist scientists, above all people on this infatuated planet, acted as if this were so."
People like to be deluded and religion gladly complies. I suggest that the surveys which show religious people as more generous than secular people also show the control that the religious group holds over its people, that perhaps people aren't donating purely for atruistic reasons but because they feel a certain amount of pressure to do so, bragging rights, if you will. Another possibility is that the surveys themselves are biased.
religion at it's worst could be seen as a puss infested wound on mankind, but
at its best, has it not has left beautiful SCARS, BIRTH MARKS?
The sculptures, paintings, temples, cathedrals, the music of Hayden, Bach, (not wagner's nibelungen)
That the works of Aristoteles, Newton, Faraday might have been tainted by religion or religiosity, but they were the best that could be had at the time.
The bigger higher questions are still being adresses in our laboratories , space centers,
apart from the navelgazing that is the analizing of our fictional fascination with the "supernatural" ?
So this is my challenge to the logical non-theists; could it be possible that religions are evidence of an evolutionary imperative, which humankind has leveraged to superior advantage, for collective action? For instance, a pleasure hormone, oxytocin, is released when we participate collectively.
That's without question, jgnat: homo sapiens are social animals, and common shared beliefs and herding instincts (going with the pack) without a doubt had survival value as consciousness emerged. Rejection from the group stimulates the release of stress hormones, etc. It's why JWs still shun: they EXPECT the shunnee to play the game, but are actually projecting how THEY'D feel if they were shunned. Who gives them that power, BUT the shunnee? They can simply refuse, and maintain control over their emotional reaction, since relegating that control to others weakens ONLY the person.
Many books have been written on the subject of the emergence of religiosity as a cultural trait, and I've written extensively on the topic in MANY posts about cultural anthrologists who've written books on their studies into how various religious practices offer some benefit to society in which they developed (Marvin Harris wrote "Cannibal and Kings" looking at Yanomamo material culture, and "Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture", looking at NW CA's indigenous people's practice of potlatch).
Many atheists hold that humanity and the age of reason means we don't need to cling to ancient myths, which served a useful purpose in THEIR ancient societies, but are now simply cultural "vestigial organs", a useless appendage which takes more resources than it contributes. It's time to put the silliness and fantasies to rest, and move beyond.
religion at it's worst could be seen as a puss infested wound on mankind, but at its best, has it not has left beautiful SCARS, BIRTH MARKS? The sculptures, paintings, temples, cathedrals, the music of Hayden, Bach, (not wagner's nibelungen)
Even if we overlook the obvious problems (which you mention: Wagner was Hitler's fave musician, also being intensely anti-Semetic), it's a specious argument: religion got to that point of amassing vast wealth and being in the position of sponsoring artists via extortion, fear of Hell, etc. As such, the RCC commissioned artists like Michangelo to produce religiously-themed art for their churchs, but he also accepted commissions from secular patrons, too, who's ducats paid him just as well as the Pope and inspired many great works of beauty.
Reopened mind, you have expressed well your opinion and found arguments to match. Religion has repurposed it's beliefs when reality intervenes. I am sure The Christ was swiftly repurposed in to a god of love shortly after his sacrifice. Few Christians profess a flat earth today. Granted religion adjusts slower than our outliers, but it does change.
Aristotle preceded Christ.
Shunning is a most powerful punishment. One cannot pretend the pain away. I encourage exiting JWs to establish new social networks and because of this special damage, I think secular outlets are better.