Was/Is Religion Useful Even if it isn't True?

by cofty 74 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • azor
    azor

    I think our own biases play a role in what level of atheism most come to. For example the four authors mentioned have very different backgrounds. The 2 that are more anti theist Dawkins, and Dennett were raised with religion. Haidt, and Harris were not.

    This does not take away from the veracity of their viewpoints. I just think it's important to know where one is coming from when considering their viewpoints. For example while I understand why Dennett and Dawkins refer to religion as a virus, I now find that viewpoint to be overly simplistic and incomplete.

    Just because religion helped us along the way in our development. It does not mean that it is right. Anymore then how our compassion for others drops when the number in need gets larger. I believe we need to grow beyond our baser instincts. In order to do that we need to understand how religion developed and what function it served.

  • cofty
    cofty
    while I understand why Dennett and Dawkins refer to religion as a virus, I now find that viewpoint to be overly simplistic and incomplete

    I also find Haidt's evidence to that effect to be persuasive.

    How would it be possible to replace the group cohesion of religious ritual without lying to ourselves about the supernatural?

  • Finkelstein
    Finkelstein

    Being that religion is mostly composed of ignorance, circumventing power, fear and deception, it might be better for humanity to leave religion and move away from all of which religion is composed of. ???

  • cofty
    cofty
    Being that religion is mostly composed of ignorance, circumventing power, fear and deception, it might be better for humanity to leave religion and move away from all of which religion is composed of. ???

    Ok it's hard to disagree. But if it's true that religion has been a main factor in social cohesion what will fill that role?

    Are some of the social problems we face in the west today at least in part due to an extreme emphasis on individualism? I know it is controversial and there are studies supporting both sides but Haidt presents some data to support the claim that religious people are more community minded. That includes contributions to the community that are not directly related to church.

  • azor
    azor
    Jordan Peterson has made another interesting observation about religion that I find thought provoking although controversial. How it developed as an archetype to benefit us as individuals, our families, and our communities, today, tomorrow, a year from now, and as a civilization a hundred years from now, and so on. I was really hoping he and Harris would have gotten into that when they spoke.
  • Finkelstein
    Finkelstein

    But if it's true that religion has been a main factor in social cohesion what will fill that role?

    That may be true but mainly for each religion on its own most of the time.

    Its seems that humanity can accomplish empathetic virtuous things for humanity by creating laws or social directions done without any religious intervention.

    Religions have been known to oppressive social awareness and knowledge.

    Think secular humanism.

  • cofty
    cofty
    I was really hoping he and Harris would have gotten into that when they spoke - Azor

    Yes that was a very disappointing conversation.

    Think secular humanism - Fink

    Yes I would identify as a secular humanist but I don't feel in any way connected to any other human just because they share that philosophy.

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat

    I think the word "even" in the title of the thread is interesting. It seems to imply there is a close correlation between things that are "useful" and things that are "true", such that deviations from this rule would be exceptional rather than commonplace. But is that really true? I'm not sure that's an assumption that should be granted in the fire place.

    Which actually touches upon one of the most compelling arguments in favour of God: the argument from evolution. Because if we grant evolution as true then out mental capacities are a result of a long process of refining cognition in the direction of what is useful for survival. And what is useful for survival is not necessarily what is true about the world.

    One example (probably not the best since it is disputed) is the psychological bias toward optimism that most humans share, except those who suffer from depression. It's a consistent finding of psychologists that humans are extremely poor at judging risk, and for example consistently underestimate the chances of them encountering major difficulties in life such as major illness, bereavement, unemployment, separation, injury, crime and so on. Interestingly clinically depressed people are much better at assessing the true odds of encountering negative life changing events. Yet the price they pay for having this "true" picture of reality is a mental condition which can be extremely debilitating. The point being this is an example where a "true" picture of reality is not "useful" in that it impacts a person in ways we would normally judge to be detrimental.

    In a broader sense, if evolution is true, then it follows that our mental perception is a tool which has been shaped for survival rather than a tool for accurately depicting the world around us.

  • cofty
    cofty
    if evolution is true, then it follows that our mental perception is a tool which has been shaped for survival rather than a tool for accurately depicting the world around us - SBF

    That is a false dichotomy between perceiving what is objectively true about the world and survival. What we choose to believe about unknowable future events is a different matter.

    Science is the best tool we have to discover what is true. It makes up for the weaknesses in our subjective perception of the world.

    It is certain that superstitious religious beliefs are not objectively true. However it is also possible that the advent of groupish religious ritual conferred an evolutionary advantage. If our brains are descended from ancestors whose brains tended towards groupish ritual that would explain a lot about our world.

  • Finkelstein
    Finkelstein

    Religion has had its place in mankind's history to create social cohesiveness in civilizations but due the greater knowledge of the world in which we live and of are selves toward the human experience, its time to let religion go with the acknowledgment that some are built up social behavior awareness has come from religious beliefs and practices.

    If religion oppresses knowledge but knowledge is what mankind can utilize to improve the human experience, then would it not be better for mankind to oppress religion ?

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