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← If you don't have religion, where do you find your sense of community?

If you don't have religion, where do you find your sense of community? - Comments

bartvdo's Avatar Comment 1 by bartvdo

Family, sport clubs, hobby clubs, online communities (like this maybe).

The reply should be whether the asker has a so limited world view to think that the only communities are based on religion. He should get out more.

The need for a community is human, but it in no way needs to be based on religion (a personal hypotheses is that religion came into existence to support/create the common denominator for groups that exceeded the size of a family/tribes)

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 12:59:00 UTC | #93773

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 2 by Diacanu

Message boards, the face on my hand, and the spider people from Hell.

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 13:02:00 UTC | #93775

shmooth's Avatar Comment 3 by shmooth

pickup soccer has always been big for me, but i've been injured for a while now, and i recently found out about The Humanist Community - a local Humanist group in my neighborhood. They're definitely about community, and I'd like to see the idea spread.

Find a local group near you (Google Map):

You can also google for your national humanist org, and they'll usually have links to all the groups in your country.

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 13:11:00 UTC | #93782

smos's Avatar Comment 4 by smos

Is this debate point suggesting that religious groups hold a monopoly on gatherings of people?

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 13:15:00 UTC | #93786

ronnieharper's Avatar Comment 5 by ronnieharper

This is a really weird question - a 'sense of community' is entirely too relative a concept to pigeonhole as being derived solely from one set of values. I would just turn the question around and ask how early hominids or some society that doesn't embrace religiosity found its sense of community. This isn't a very good debate point because it loaded, and only exposes the narrow minded nature of people who lay claim to ultimate truths.

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 13:27:00 UTC | #93796

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 6 by Quetzalcoatl

Er, I find my sense of community with my friends and family. What kind of question is that?

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 13:34:00 UTC | #93799

Goldy's Avatar Comment 7 by Goldy

The pub. Where else?

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 13:36:00 UTC | #93803

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 8 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Atheists are loners.

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 18:48:00 UTC | #93953

automath's Avatar Comment 9 by automath

In the people around me!

Thu, 13 Dec 2007 18:56:00 UTC | #93956

sidfaiwu's Avatar Comment 10 by sidfaiwu

This is an important question. I think many atheists underestimate just how much most people value a sense of community. In the States, churches are the primary community-building institutions.

As Rational_G "Atheists are loners". Well, many of them are. This attitude may unwittingly be excluding much of the population from giving up their religion. We need to offer some kind of ready community to replace their churches.

For me, that is a Unitarian Universalist church. It's a dogma-free 'religion'.

Fri, 14 Dec 2007 07:26:00 UTC | #94199

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 11 by prettygoodformonkeys

This is just poking at a perceived weakness, striking from a position of strength, hoping we will falter.

What makes you think I don't have a sense of community: because I don't hang with the glassy-eyed throngs and drone Kum By Ya with them?

You call that a sense of community? How do cats get a sense of community? Lions? Birds?

We are animals, you stupid fuckwits, and we don't feel embarrassed about it. You think religion sets humans apart, and yet (so the poor 'design' doesn't kill you with your own urine) you get your prostates checked: you know, the ones right beside your vestigial prehensile tails.

"A world with a God would look quite different."

No shit.

Fri, 14 Dec 2007 22:00:00 UTC | #94355

gtcc's Avatar Comment 12 by gtcc

Atheism's biggest challenge is not proving the Bible wrong – That horse has been flogged to death! Most rational people know in their hearts, tacitly or otherwise, that it is a lot on nonsense.

The church provides something that people need and something which Atheism does not provide. The church satisfies many community needs, in many cases free of charge, or at minimal cost. Until Atheism can match churches in this respect, atheism is destined to attract very few followers.

Many people at times find themselves in unfortunate situations in life and frequently the church offers help at those times.

I never had much interest in religion but I have "used" the church several times in my life. As a teenager the local church ran an auxiliary "guild" for teenagers that met every Friday night offering interesting entertainment, games, talks etc. Apart from a 1 or 2 minute prayer to start off the evening the rest was non-religious (and the prayer could easily be avoided by arriving 5 mins late.)

I found no better and easier place to meet girls. Spectator Sport never interested me, it seemed absurd to watch some tattooed fellow chase after and kick a ball. My preference was for the opposite sex, preferably donned in that marvellous invention of the '60's – the mini skirt! During the '60's, in spite of the mini skirt causing droughts, hell fire and damnation, young ladies still pitched up at the church guild in the fashion of the day, Thank god! (the following year when the long "maxi" skirt became fashionable the drought was followed by floods in South Africa – scientific proof that that rainfall is inversely proportional the hemline of the skirt!)

Then my attendance suddenly ceased when I met a girl not associated with this "guild" – whom I finally married (she looked more smashing in a pink Bikini) – we planned to honeymoon on a cruise ship which sailed to the Seychelles. While I thought that it would be a great idea to ask the Chinese captain to marry us on the high seas my mother-in-law would not have it so to keep the peace we married in the local Anglican church. I was obliged to attend church for 3 Sundays before that and give the preacher a hefty tip. Thereafter I have never attended another church service.

25 years later I went through a marriage break up which I found unbearably traumatic.
We had emigrated to New Zealand just prior to the break up. Being in a new country I had acquaintances but no long term friends, no family and a need to talk a need for comfort and a need for company.

It's easy to scoff and ridicule lonely people but loneliness is awful and those experiencing loneliness often don't know how to correct it.

The catholic church ran a group for widowed/divorced/separated people. I joined this group, the fees were minimal. A cross section of people attended this group with occupations ranging from school teachers to lawyers to accountants to truck drivers to the unemployed. A mid week meeting was held that commenced with a few seconds of prayer followed by a useful group discussion about coping with loneliness and depression and similar topics. Apart from the short prayer to start none of the discussions invoked religion and one was not required to be catholic to join the group.
Best of all, the group held social parties, barbeques, theatre visits and the like every Friday and Saturday evening at private homes plus week end social events. It was wonderful to be able to meet others socially. None of these events invoked religion in any way and I never met anyone there who even brought up the subject conversationally. During that traumatic time in my life, this group was, dare I say (strictly in the Einsteinian sense) a "godsend" to me.

I confess that I had twinges of guilt at making use of the church but was so in need of some kind of psychological distraction and comfort that I justify my actions by telling myself that the catholic church has got where it has over the past 1700 years by perpetrating some very horrible dastardly acts. The murder of the Hypatia, and the Arians, the crusades, Queen Mary's rule, the inquisition and the beatings and abuse dished out to my brother who attended a catholic school – so if one steals from a murderer or criminal – it's not a crime!

But in fairness to the church, Atheism offers nothing even remotely like this. Sure, the church does it for the same reasons that breakfast cereal manufacturers put plastic toys in corn flake packages – to sell more of their product. Nonetheless these are services which no one else offers.

As Ted Haggard said to RD – many Americans think of his church services as rock concerts – he was right! They are rock concerts! – where else can a young person get a great evenings entertainment and meet others all for small donation?

If similar inexpensive services such as companionship, comfort, succour, entertainment, were offered by some "god-unrelated" (I don't want to use the word Atheistic) organisation it would have the additional advantage that people would not have to bluff that they are "believers" – as I had to. Closet Atheists could "come out"
– it would be a winner!

Thu, 20 Dec 2007 17:47:00 UTC | #96977

Jake Atkisson's Avatar Comment 13 by Jake Atkisson

Any sociology undergrad that's actually read their textbooks and thought about it for a while could likely arrive at the observable truism that where there are people, there is society.

Society is, of course, the interaction of peoples' cultures, beliefs, ideas, etcetera, so on, so forth; it's really quite simple, but very wordy stuff, so go look it up yourself if you want the long-winded versions.

Point in case, religion is just one potential vehicle for manifest society, and it is society (particularly social interaction) that people, in a sense, seek.

Honestly though, we could have perfectly functional societies based on any sort of mutually shared platform. I'd go into the particulars, but again, long-winded versions are elsewhere, go find them, enrich thy mind, better thy reading habits and a bunch of other important-sounding crap.

Toodles, and have a lovely day!


Fri, 21 Dec 2007 01:05:00 UTC | #97081

notsobad's Avatar Comment 14 by notsobad

family, school, work, interests

Tue, 01 Jan 2008 18:28:00 UTC | #100755

manolo007's Avatar Comment 15 by manolo007

Tricky question. Why do they think that the 'sense of community' is derived from religion in the first place?
Humans are 'social animals', that's why we developed language, to communicate and as a result early societies were born.
Religion doesn't hold monopoly on community sense.

Sun, 06 Jan 2008 02:42:00 UTC | #102998

ghost of numf-el's Avatar Comment 16 by ghost of numf-el

"You need to get out more!"

Fri, 01 Feb 2008 04:13:00 UTC | #114166

g czobel's Avatar Comment 17 by g czobel

Anyone involved in debating the religious should resolutely steer the dialog away from arguments such as this and toward arguments that deal strictly with the existence of God, however defined. The reason is that, without some clear evidence for the existence of God, or some supernatural agency, religion of any sort is eviscerated, dead in the water. It loses its power basis and a great deal of its instrumentation. It becomes just another philosophy, no better than countless others. This applies to Buddhism and Jainism as well; although not strictly theistic religions, they are based on supernatural beliefs in personal karma and an immaterial personal essence that suffers cycles of transmigration and rebirth.

All arguments that don't pertain to the existence of God or supernatural agency, such as most that are found in the various debate points here, boil down to the attempt to nudge the argument toward the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent (i.e. if A then B; B is true therefore A is true) In essence, the logical fallacy that such points want to lead to or tacitly imply is that demonstrating that the religious are better, happier, more moral, better members of communities, have purpose in life, in comparison to atheists, and so on ad nauseam, lead to the deduction that therefore God exists. Such a fallacious "deduction" is based on incorrectly reasoning from the valid assertion, "If God exists then the religious would have a more moral, satisfying, purposeful, happier, etc. life in comparison to atheists". The logical error here is that finding the consequent true necessarily makes the antecedent true. This is not to say that the various consequents have even been successfully shown to be true, but why bother to defend against such arguments if it will only lead to an attempt at a logical fallacy, even if only implicitly? Allowing arguments to drift off in such irrelevant directions simply expends mental effort in defending against claims that need not be defended from a logical point of view. Worse yet, one inevitably gets entangled by all sorts of sophistry in entering into such arguments and this is completely needless.

Most of the other debate points in this set, unless directly concerned with the existence of God or pertaining to methods of reasoning and standards of conviction, are thus a waste of effort and serve only to cloud the basic issue - is there enough evidence of the existence of God, over other competing explanations, to convince a rational person to devote considerable effort and time to follow God's edicts and make crucial decisions based on such convictions?

Sat, 09 Feb 2008 07:52:00 UTC | #118231

MuNky82's Avatar Comment 18 by MuNky82

Does communities need God? Isn't God a excuse for some communities? Would there be more atheists if it wasn't for the sense of community that churches provide? - I think, yes.

The God meme is a virus that sucked on to culture and community.

Thu, 28 Feb 2008 10:06:00 UTC | #128095

LetMeBeClear's Avatar Comment 19 by LetMeBeClear

There is this sight called highly recommend it.

Tue, 04 Mar 2008 09:07:00 UTC | #131298

prospero811's Avatar Comment 20 by prospero811

Mr. Dawkins,

Well, aside from the obvious answer being that having a sense of community has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the God proposition, this is a simple question to answer. I get my sense of community by participating in other social organizations besides religious ones. Like a high school as academic clubs, social clubs, and other student organizations, one can find a sense of communal belonging through many different interactions with other people.

Going to a church is a fine idea. One great one is Unitarian Universalist meeting houses, wherein one may choose to be a Christian, Jew, Muslim, pagan, pantheist, deist, agnostic, atheist or whatever. In that sense, a church can be used for communal purposes, educational purposes, and social purposes. Whether one believes in one or another ludicrous idea is wholly beside the point.

Tue, 11 Mar 2008 12:42:00 UTC | #134690

legionlabs's Avatar Comment 21 by legionlabs

Family and friends are important to me, however I find that the hacker subculture is an excellent extended community. No matter where I am in the world I am not alone, having access to effectively instantaneous communication with a large group of interesting and rational people. Many of them are fellow scientists or self-educated to an equivalent or higher level.

As a community that exists over a text-only medium, racism is a non-issue. There is a distinct lack of authority figures, and the anonymity of the internet combined with a high level of technical expertise empowers us to decide for ourselves what is right in the modern world. It is my opinion that most hackers freely choose to labour towards rather noble goals. It's almost utopian.

Unfortunately, poor news reporting has labelled us all after a few criminals that abuse the freedoms they have (fateless cowards!). Now you may be viewed with moderate suspicion for having technical interests outside of your field of expertise. Images of "mad science" are often invoked.

Overall my experience has at its centre a hilarious irony: As a scientist/hacker I feel I'm met with unfair suspicion for the knowledge I hold... and as an atheist for that which I do not.

Mon, 07 Apr 2008 11:55:00 UTC | #148547

tba93968's Avatar Comment 22 by tba93968

There can be no doubt that the church provides significant assistance and solice to many in the community. The sick, the greiving, the lonely and down and outs. This is not being addressed particularly well by the secular community. Other facets of 'community' are provided well by non religious organistions. However whatever aspect of community is provided it does not require a God to be involved in any way to make it work.

Fri, 02 May 2008 15:47:00 UTC | #165670

planeswalker321's Avatar Comment 23 by planeswalker321

Communities are becoming meaningless; the globalization thanks to the internet creates digital communities called "forums." Needless to say, flaming the occasional n00b is far less hazardous to his health than burning someone at the stake, circa that time when religion gave people a sense of "community."

Fri, 08 Aug 2008 18:10:00 UTC | #214968

DOD's Avatar Comment 24 by DOD

Yes, a lot of religious organisations do work for communities, but no community can be sustained purely by religion. What is behind communities are the people and they are the ones who must work for communities. The problem today is that in some cases community is being exploited by conservatives and the religious.

Wed, 20 Aug 2008 00:56:00 UTC | #221011

Jacquelyn's Avatar Comment 25 by Jacquelyn

Growing up my mother was very strict about who I was allowed to associate with, and this led her to join a religion with very strict social codes - namely the Jehovah's Witnesses. In fairness, my nephews seem to be allowed much more freedom than I was when I was a kid, but for me the situation was intolerable. Sure, I enjoyed it when I first started going, probably around the age of 8, and throughout middle school when my sheltered upbringing made me an outcast at my school. But by high school, I was sick of being told who I could be friends with, that I had to wait until I was older to date, etc. And to add insult to injury, the majority of the kids within the religion (whose parents were generally less strict than mine) were caught up in drugs, teen pregnancies, and run-ins with the law. The few that remained I have since lost touch with, as I never "came out" to them about my disbelief and had no intention of keeping in touch when I moved away. The only friend I still have from those days is one who I recently got back in touch with, one who many regarded as a "bad influence" when we were growing up and who has also left the religion behind.

In short, the sense of "community" was the worst part of that religion! I could deal with all the rules about what to do and what not to do, but the constant judging of who was good or bad, what was acceptable to pursue as a hobby, and having to be at meetings three times a week - that was the burden that DROVE me from the church. If you can't speak your mind and be yourself, than this so-called sense of community is much more a curse than a "blessing."

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 20:01:00 UTC | #225522

HollyLouise's Avatar Comment 26 by HollyLouise

I don't think you should count certain things such as sense of community, or ethical views as synonymous with religion. Those things are not all a religion is- religions such as christianity are fundamentally about believing in something supernatural. Are you saying you couldn't set up a club in your community, be supportive to others, be charitable etc without being religious? An ethical, supportive system within society can be created without believing in anything supernatural!

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 17:02:00 UTC | #255586

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 27 by Bonzai

I would rather be left alone than in some community of Ned Flanders. Thanks but no thanks.

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 17:17:00 UTC | #255591

Wosret's Avatar Comment 28 by Wosret

Well, my serious answer would be that I feel kind of solidarity with all peoples, and from this get a sense of a global community. I have no exclusivity, the type of which is created by communities that are religion specific, and have thus a wider, and almost entirely inclusive sense of community.

The actual answer would be that I'm a weird recluse that does actually talk to people in real life.

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 17:22:00 UTC | #255594

C.Q.A.E.'s Avatar Comment 29 by C.Q.A.E.

if find community through associations with other flesh and blood human beings. i find this to be more fulfilling than playing with supernatural imaginary friends.

Wed, 05 Nov 2008 21:30:00 UTC | #265591

misemii's Avatar Comment 30 by misemii

I am an teenager from Scandinavia and I can tell everybody that church has no power here and therefore it cannot offer any kind of community or social network. What do the scandinavian teenagers/adults do then? Well they are tightly connected via internet, they go to movies, do all kinds of hobbies and select their friends according to their interests, many people even do charity for the redcross which is very common here plus they donate money for the third world countries.
I have seen no problem with this kind of way of life and I have not seen the church doing this job any better and to be honest, here, church has never even proposed that the church was the way to build a strong community or social network.

I base my knowledge on my life experience and on the fact that I have been to every Scandinavian country for more than 15 times and had literally hundreads of friends here, plus I live in one of these countries.

Sat, 29 Nov 2008 15:13:00 UTC | #279710