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Is the Issue Religion vs. Atheism?

November 27, 2011

How much an issue, really, is religion vs. atheism? Or similarly, “true faith” vs. secularism or humanism? (For “true faith” most Americans would insert Christianity or “relationship with Christ”.) Or do the real issues which concern people in any of the categories one might call “non-religious” revolve mainly around immature or fanatical religion?

In the latter case, maybe people like the “New Atheists,” or anyone opposing religion in general and accusing all religion of promoting evil, holding back society in various ways, misplace their attacks.   What do you think?

I’ve studied this and related issues in depth and think it is clear religion is a complex mixture of beneficial and detrimental.  That I mean both for individuals and for society.  Now, this raises another set of questions about whether and how we might increase the beneficial and diminish the detrimental.  It’s not time for those questions now.

If you don’t even agree with the “mixed bag” concept, why not? If you do, what leads you to belive that?  

If you have religious faith, how has the nature of your faith changed to create more benefit to you, or greater maturity? And are you convinced that what is personal benefit in your beliefs and practices of faith is also likely to benefit most people around you or in your society? (For example, you feel it’s made you more compassionate and likely to do good to others, made you more accepting, etc.)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. David Blacklock permalink
    November 28, 2011 12:22 am

    I went to an extremely religious college and gave it a good shot. I ended up not believing and after over 40 years I still don’t. I agree that religion offers good and bad. Most of the bad has to do with the money and power. Most of the good has to do with hope and peace – but I’m science based and would rather have facts. To one who believes evidence is important, everything appears to happen as if there were no god(s). It would be nice to believe in an afterlife but a person doesn’t always have a choice as to what you believe. No amount of wanting believe in college kept me from being more and more skeptical. Pretending to believe because you might want it to be so doesn’t make it any more factual or even plausible. I admitted to not believing in my 20’s but I think there are many more who just aren’t admitting. This world simple works as if there is no god.

    In the last ten years I have done enough study on many subjects to be equivalent to a couple more college degrees – including an extensive study on the origins of religions. I found nothing to change my mind.


  2. November 28, 2011 8:05 pm

    David, Thanks for your comment. You’ve put your finger on some good points. Few people are able to separate their wishes (which seem to be the seeds of a given person’s “Absolutes”) from the actual data as well as you do. Besides wishes, there are social influences, need for a structure of meaning, a caring community, etc. that draw people to religions. All this and general intellectual disinterest (and/or laziness) works, for most people, against the kind of evaluation you went through.

    I’m glad to hear you continue to study on origins of religion. I may want to connect more seriously with you in the fairly near future, as time allows, to discuss long-percolating ideas for writing and other educational projects.

  3. December 21, 2011 11:19 am

    I think religion holds too much sway in our society. I’m an atheist and I strongly support freedom of religion. However, I do not want it in our politics and I do not want it in our school systems. Religion to me is an idea (and not even a very good one) that is unsubstantiated and yet people use it with certainty. Many are certain that such and such a moral is ordained by God, yet God has not been proven and the probability of a creator God becomes more unlikely with every passing day. Thanks for the read. I enjoyed your blog!

    • December 21, 2011 9:29 pm

      Thanks for the comment and the compliment, ghostwryter. I like your wording of “religion holds too much sway in our society.” It is both influence and, to me, HOW people treat certain religious concepts and symbols within their own lives, and outwardly toward others that creates problems. But, as you can probably tell, I’m “in the middle” between two generally warring camps. I observe that “science” also functions basically like a religion. The way scientists generally, and much of the public, treats science amounts to a worldview as well as a learning methodology. For example, creationism gets opposed by “evolution” in ways that are far from objective and rational in many cases. Both models are seriously flawed and virtually no one (there ARE a few exceptions) is pursuing alternate models which HAVE been suggested–one of them being, in general terms, “catastrophism.”

      Technically, the creation/evolution (and potential other models) debate is not the same as theism/atheism or religion/atheism but the dynamics of research, discussion and debate are basically the same. It is ignorance and ingorING of this process, even when some are pointing out the “meta” issues, that tends to hold up real progress and greater civility in society.


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