What of the benefits of community and common cause, Adamah?
Challenge to Athiests - is Religion a Pox on Mankind?
Jgnat-- i was not ignoring your comment, i didnt respond to it because i felt it was more directed to the benefits of religion than its truth, and i didnt want to go off-topic. Wrt to the op, i dont think religion is a pox, but i think religion often tie into unhealthy ways of thinking on evidence, moral and worth which is a pox.
What of the benefits of community and common cause, Adamah?
Most people are 'joiners', and seek a sense of identity from the group or sub-culture they're a member of; that's part of evolution of the brain, the drive that has served ALL organisms well, since 'loners' tend to not do as well....
The problem comes from where to draw the line in the group, i.e. an organized peaceful protest rally can quickly devolve into an angry mindless mob, if mob mentality prevails.
I don't see JWs as an "evil" group of people, just one formed by like-minded individuals who share anachronistic beliefs which are dogmatically out-of-touch with reality (eg refusing blood, flag, neutrality, etc). The problem (as pointed out by Sam Harris above) is that many religions DEMAND faith, and Xianity made a point of placing faith above "human logic": that's a problem in my book, since it denies the efforts of, eg the great Greek philosophers and thinkers by placing Jesus at the pinnacle, and dismissing them as 'fools'. There's an invisible 'religion tax' to pay in that kind of dogmatic bias, where religious belief comes at a some non-zero COST to society.
One of the problems with atheism is the lack of group support and social structure: until non-believers hit 'critical mass', it's going to be tough to overcome resistance from those who enjoy the rituals of religion. Some groups are experiencing with 'atheist churches', to provide for the need to meet in a group.
Jgant - Thank you very much for your link, it is a brilliant article.
I just want to paste this paragraph on the foundations of morality before I lose track of it and come back later to discuss how it relates to your OP.
From a review of the anthropological and evolutionary literatures, Craig Joseph (at Northwestern University) and I concluded that there were three best candidates for being additional psychological foundations of morality, beyond harm/care and fairness/justice. These three we label as ingroup/loyalty (which may have evolved from the long history of cross-group or sub-group competition, related to what Joe Henrich calls "coalitional psychology"); authority/respect (which may have evolved from the long history of primate hierarchy, modified by cultural limitations on power and bullying, as documented by Christopher Boehm), and purity/sanctity, which may be a much more recent system, growing out of the uniquely human emotion of disgust, which seems to give people feelings that some ways of living and acting are higher, more noble, and less carnal than others.
bohm - i think religion often tie into unhealthy ways of thinking on evidence, moral and worth which is a pox.
Which is why I am enjoying my new find Haidt, so well. His study of morality and disgust for instance, indicates that we use reason more to bolster our point of view and to frame arguments for our opponents, rather than trying to find empirical "truth". It's building our powers of persuasion. Gut feelings come first, reasons come later. If it is unhealthy, it is a nearly universal human condition, not exclusive to religion.
adamah - The problem (as pointed out by Sam Harris above) is that many religions DEMAND faith, and Xianity made a point of placing faith above "human logic": that's a problem in my book, since it denies the efforts of, eg the great Greek philosophers and thinkers by placing Jesus at the pinnacle, and dismissing them as 'fools'. There's an invisible 'religion tax' to pay in that kind of dogmatic bias, where religious belief comes at a some non-zero COST to society.
As in, those without faith will die. I imagine if we extended our tribal identity to all of humanity, there won't be "others" to convert to our point of view. Which is likely why I have affinity for Barbara Armstrong's Charter for Compassion.
Funny how the early centuries of Christianity were heavily influenced by the greek philosophers. The idea of the universe having an underlying order, the superiority of the life to come over the earthly, carnal one are Platonic, Pauline.
One of New Zealand's leading theologians, Lloyd Geering, is an athiest, so you are not alone. From what I've read, he seems to think Christianity doesn't need to scrapped, but it does need to be dragged into the 21st century. I see that as being about as futile as trying to 'reform' the WT, but kudos to him for trying.
Just a thought ... adaptation (survival of the 'fittest' and 'strongest' is not really correct) is the key to species' survival. So, looking at it from the position that it (religious thought) was a necessary part of our survival and growth as a species, could it be that we are now evolving in our thought processes (and it helps that science is always changing and learning new things) to the point where we may no longer need religion? It *has* been a tool of the power elite for ,, well, for EVER ... so, maybe its time for being helpful to humanity is done? The collective unconscious plays a part in this way of looking at the issue as well.
Edit: *waves* to BlackSheep. :D
I've heard a few speak of our need for religion. But there's also the advantage of collective action. That is, even wiithout our biological drive to belong, as a species we may depend on our ability to "swarm" in response to a common threat. I'd like to see us broaden our tribe to the whole human race and the treat, anything that threatens all of humanity. Global warming might be such a threat. The trick is to convince us that it is immediate and critical.
Interesting, this is close to what I have come to believe. I cannot refute the argument that there is no evidence for the existence of God, and there have been and continue to be many horrible things done in the name of religion. But I still feel religion has some value. I feel most comfortable with Christianity, but I don't think it's the only way, I find Buddism interesting.
I agree that Christianity needs to adapt. More and more people are seeing that you cannot put your head in the sand and pretend there is not overwhelming evidence for evolution, while at the same time there is no real evidence for the existence of God. Some churches are already adapting, I think that trend will continue. I think we need churches to be there to guide people, to bring people together as a community, to push us to be the best we can be, to make religion a force for good in the world.
I do not enjoy the threads where Athiests and believers argue, although I read them. It seems so futile, what matters is not whether you believe in God or not, it's what you are as a person and what you do with your life. If you do not need religion for that, good for you, but if religion helps someone else to be a better person, why would you want to take that away?
Why debate its value to mankind, why not simply ask whether it is true or not?
this is the big desicion of someone on the precipice of atheism.... Truth V Comfort.
Did you watch the Life of Pi? We may want the tiger story over the real one, but it doesn't make it real.