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← Is religion a force for good . . . or would we be happier without God?

Is religion a force for good . . . or would we be happier without God? - Comments

beanson's Avatar Comment 1 by beanson

There are too many people involved in this debate- should not have included the accomodationalist Samia Rahma, her points are insipid- probably just there for ethnicity- doesn't add anything to the debate

CO: "Anthony – you must stick to philosophy, do not venture into unknown territory. The Catholic teaching is not about ours being the only way."

funniest comment so far

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 08:34:42 UTC | #550846

beanson's Avatar Comment 2 by beanson

Samia Rahma: Not wishing to enter into this sense of victimisation but there is quite a marked Islamophobia which exists, not just in the UK but across Europe.

another amusing quote- so I guess Samia has added something: a frisson of levity

Question: why does Cruddass keep identifying Atheism with Metropolitanism, I'm proud to be a pastoral dissenter

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 08:55:55 UTC | #550849

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 3 by Stafford Gordon

"...or would we be happier without God?"

We are without God, so why not just get on and be happy to be alive?

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 10:03:32 UTC | #550862

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 4 by Steve Zara

Is religion a force for good?

Of course religion is a force for good. How can it not be a force for good? Religion is good because God is good, and good is God. Want to know what good means? Ask religion. Any religion. There's all kinds of good, off the shelf good, tailor made good and do-it-yourself good. You can pick the good cherries yourself or get a strong mussel-man to do it for you, so you live the Good Life. They say all good things must come to an end, but not religion's goodness. Go softly into that good-night and you are good to go for ever and ever. When you are dead and alive in heaven, you can do nothing but good. Not just good times, but good eternity. Good heavens, what a thought?

Religion is good and attractive, it points the needle of the moral compass. Whereas poor secularists have no moral compass, religion has any number of them. Loads of compasses. Pick where you want to go, and find the right compass to point you there. Look - this moral compass is clever. See that dial? It can change moral North (or is it South, I can never remember!). This sounds like moral relativism? Don't be silly! Pick your North, and all other compass points are evil.

And, religion has force, all kinds of force: The force of money, the force of power, but both used with the force of love. Lots of love, the love of little children, the love of the sinner but not the sin, the love of poverty, the love of suffering, all good kinds of love, and love must be forced by doctrine and commandment, by proclamation and prayer, and, of course by force itself. Good women are chained by cloth, so they can only see eye-to-eye with others. Good children are cowed by their nightmares of hell. Good men fight with God on their side, whichever side that is.

Is religion a force for good? Of course. Religion is fearfully good at being forcefully good. Just be sure you know what a religion means by good. Otherwise, things could get really, really bad.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 10:16:48 UTC | #550866

josephor's Avatar Comment 5 by josephor

My answer to this question is I don't know. It is very easy to say a world without God would solve a lot of conflicts which is true but the concept of God has brought a lot of positives to civilization. The age of enlightenment should bring about the phasing out of God it should be replaced by reason. To religious people God is the purpose of their life, take away God and what do you have left? Not nothing but something far more horrible than that...Fear. This is what we have to deal with and Fear is not always rational.Religion is built upon fear catch 22.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 10:21:53 UTC | #550867

Jiten's Avatar Comment 6 by Jiten

Oh no, not Cristina Odious. Why o why is she ever asked to contribute to these debates? Her opinions are so cretinous. Even the religious should despair.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 10:57:13 UTC | #550878

Blaine McCartney's Avatar Comment 7 by Blaine McCartney

Is religion a force for good or would we be happier without god?

"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."- Carl Sagan

The question shouldn't be posed in the context of whether we would be living a happier existence, but whether we would be living a true existence. False consolation has run its course; it's time to respect and accept the realities of our lives and indeed, existence.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 11:06:47 UTC | #550879

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 8 by AtheistEgbert

josephor

Comment 5 by josephor :

but the concept of God has brought a lot of positives to civilization.

What positives? I see that you contradict yourself from your first sentence.

This looked like a very messed up debate to me. But then, I think the term 'debate' no longer makes sense in the British media. One leading thinker AC Grayling, against four other not-so-leading thinkers, does a fair job of attempting to bring rationality to an otherwise group of people with annoyingly stupid opinions.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 11:11:17 UTC | #550883

pari1985's Avatar Comment 9 by pari1985

I went to a catholic school being non religious. I believe in live and let live. I am an aethiest and would not try to force others to belive the same. What I dislike about all religons is that if you do not believe the same as them they try to force it upon you. It is almost as if they need reassurance on their own views. I watched a debate on evolution and genesis this morning and the religious man would not let any one else speak and got the most wound up and annoyed. If we are supposed to have free will as man then why dont religious fanatics let us have it?

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 11:31:16 UTC | #550888

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 10 by Mark Jones

It's interesting how such debates highlight the way that the religious are slowly morphing into good secularists.

Christina Odone said:

When I think of religion I think of the injunctions that it has given its followers. Repair the world, a Jewish commandment. Love thy neighbour as thyself, the most famous Christian commandment. And look upon charity as something that you must do every day that the sun rises, which is a Muslim injunction.

So what religion you practice isn't important.

Samia Rahman said:

I see religion and the practice of religion as often an extension of [an] individual's personality and their existing thoughts and beliefs and their characteristics. And so I see this oppositionality between belief and non-belief as almost a moot point. We have shared values. Religion offers many people a framework and a moral compass and they navigate through the framework and through the guidelines that their religion offers them and they come to their own conclusion and their own way of living.

So what religion you practice isn't important.

John Cruddas said:

Look, the notion that you have a very prescriptive belief system that you singularly attach yourself to, if you are part of one denomination or another, is a total falsehood. These are complex issues – they ricochet through all of these religions.

So what religion you practice isn't important.

These people are all becoming secular without apparently realising it, if they believe what they're saying here. Of course, the danger is they say this in public but go home and practise an exclusive form of religion. But, nonetheless, it's good to see that new atheism is forcing such conciliatory statements in public, and I think a liberal secular society will tend towards this marginalising of dogmatism.

And the way forward to improve matters further, of course, is more secularism, not less. Great good sense from Evan Harris and Anthony Grayling here.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 11:31:53 UTC | #550889

AlexP's Avatar Comment 11 by AlexP

Is it just me, or does it feel like, whenever a believer starts to speak about "religion", he puts on the blindfolds.

"Religion" is what he believes, what fits his definition. Of course nothing bad has ever been done in the name of religion. Because, after all, if someone does bad things, that's obviously no longer religion.

It doesn't matter when holy books are cited to suppress women, when the names of gods are shouted when homosexuals are beaten or killed, when any atrocitiy is done in the name of any faith. Those guys aren't following a real religion, are they?

For once, I want a believer admit that they don't get to monoplize the word "faith". The other guys, the "extremists", the fundamentalists, the intolerant and divise... they have every right to define faith their way. It can't just be dismissed by those who don't share this kind of faith.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 11:34:09 UTC | #550891

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 12 by the great teapot

Would we be happier without god.

No because we would make one (or 6 or 100 or 1000) up, and use them to obtain money, power and control and occasionaly do good anyway.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 11:36:49 UTC | #550895

The Plc's Avatar Comment 13 by The Plc

Hmm, the apologists simply didn't say much that matched reality accurately, by equivocating and special pleading a lot. Their statements basically seemed to take the form: Well that's not my religion, and everything athiests say is a caricature, and religion is really really really great because I said so. All this, without ever really demonstrating it. I can bet Grayling was chomping at the bit to refute this wooly-headedness, like he did at the start when he pointed out that the religious morals Odene cited were predated by religions by millennia, and appropriated by religious movements when it was realised that their original ethical constructs were a load of old wank that nobody could humanely follow.

Then you got statements like this:' I see religion and the practice of religion as often an extension of [an] individual's personality and their existing thoughts and beliefs and their characteristics' Yeah, we know that, they are the characteristic's that make a person want to believe in woo-woo, fantasy and wishful thinking. I'm afraid that's not values and morals I share with religious people.

It's just vacuous rhetoric.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 11:39:37 UTC | #550896

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 14 by the great teapot

I have mentioned this b4 (that means before - do you see what I did there) but why when we make a post do we have to exit the website and then renter it to read the post. it never used to happen, it's very onioining.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 11:40:29 UTC | #550897

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 15 by Vicktor

For the majority of practicing Muslims around the world (and most are), being 'good' is all too often conflated with the practices of Islam (praying, fasting etc.). Their thinking goes like this: "If you don't actually practice Islam, you can't be good. And if you're supposedly good, then why don't you practice Islam? God and his messenger would not have commanded us to do all these things unless they were 'necessary' for salvation. (But thinks: And don't even think about telling me that they're not really necessary because that would mean I've been wasting my time and energy all these years!)"

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 11:58:47 UTC | #550905

ajs261's Avatar Comment 16 by ajs261

Antony Grayling and Evan Harris get it right. Let people believe what they want but if they try and exert control or manipulate people based on their beliefs they should incur nothing but ridicule.

The very first comment by Odone is a significant insight into the religious mind. How dare she imply that non-religious people are incapable of charity or goodwill or good treatment! What a stupid and arrogant thing to say!

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 12:00:31 UTC | #550906

vega's Avatar Comment 17 by vega

For a start, how about clarifying the title?

"Is belief in the supernatural a force for good...or would we be happier without a belief in a supernatural being?"

...

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 12:15:27 UTC | #550908

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 18 by HughCaldwell

Comment 10 by Mark Jones It's interesting how such debates highlight the way that the religious are slowly morphing into good secularists.

What a pity that repressive regimes in Muslim-majority countries are holding back the civilizing influences of secular humanism that so many Christians are able to benefit from.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 12:33:30 UTC | #550913

BroughtyBoy's Avatar Comment 19 by BroughtyBoy

Read this in bed this morning. Harris and Grayling make some excellent points, none of which are answered. Rahmans contribution seems limited to pointing out that she is a muslim and therefore different from others, whilst Cruddas and Odone simply wring their hands. This was not a real debate.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 12:34:36 UTC | #550915

Moderator's Avatar Comment 20 by Moderator

Comment 14 by the great teapot
I have mentioned this b4 (that means before - do you see what I did there) but why when we make a post do we have to exit the website and then renter it to read the post. it never used to happen, it's very onioining.

We think that it's probably a browser issue, the great teapot.

Generally speaking, we recommend always using the latest version of your browser; and opting for Safari, Chrome or Firefox, rather than Internet Explorer, where possible.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 12:46:51 UTC | #550921

Drosera's Avatar Comment 21 by Drosera

"Is religion a force for good . . . or would we be happier without God?"

That's a false equivalence. Religion exists in thousands of specific forms, all ultimately based on man-made nonsense, ludicrous myths, mental pathologies, fraud and deception. 'God' is an ill-defined concept about which nothing meaningful can be said with certainty. The question makes no sense.

It is like asking: Do you like spicy food ... or don't you want to eat in the most fancy restaurant in the universe?

This kind of language abuse is a common debating tactic among the religious. We should not fall for it.

Before we even discuss the merits of religion we should first ask: How do you know this (for example, that god will punish our 'sins')? Is it true (that Jesus died on the cross for us)? Such questions never receive a satisfactory answer. Every possible answer boils down to an appeal to authority, or at best to a demonstration of ignorance. "I can't believe that life has no meaning, therefore there must be a god."

A better question would have been: Is it necessary to believe in superstitious nonsense in order to be a good person?

But that question answers itself, doesn't it?

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 13:01:50 UTC | #550932

josephor's Avatar Comment 22 by josephor

AtheistEgbert. "What positives? I see that you contradict yourself from your first sentence."

How? Look at how civilization has evolved and the "God delusion or concept" has influenced it.God filled gaps that were later filled with science and knowledge which gives people less and less reason to believe. It is important to accept the fact that "the God concept" has shaped all civilizations.Was it for better or for worse that is impossible to say. I just think today we don't need religion or god in society or government today, how am I contradicting myself ?

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 13:15:28 UTC | #550937

BowDownToGizmo's Avatar Comment 23 by BowDownToGizmo

Comment 8 by AtheistEgbert :

One leading thinker AC Grayling, against four other not-so-leading thinkers, does a fair job of attempting to bring rationality to an otherwise group of people with annoyingly stupid opinions.

What on earth have you got against Evan Harris' contributions? I thought the way he converted the philosophical debate into what that means for how you structure your society (i.e. policies) complimented Grayling's arguments to make a very sweet all-round case for atheism.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 13:48:14 UTC | #550945

JamesR's Avatar Comment 24 by JamesR

Excuse me but don't we already live in a world without god? You know. Reality? And now if we could just get the son of a bitch to stop talking to people we'd be alright.

I only got part way through this talk. Too much blecchh.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 13:56:48 UTC | #550947

Letsbereasonable's Avatar Comment 25 by Letsbereasonable

Comment 4 by Steve Zara :

Whereas poor secularists have no moral compass, religion has any number of them. Loads of compasses. Pick where you want to go, and find the right compass to point you there. Look - this moral compass is clever. See that dial? It can change moral North (or is it South, I can never remember!). This sounds like moral relativism? Don't be silly! Pick your North, and all other compass points are evil.

Err, I see what you are trying to say, but a shot to one's own foot might not be the wisest thing if one wishes to remain standing.

Does not the moral compass of the secular zeitgeist also point in many different directions depending on where one is in the world of place and time? Does the Chinese zeitgeist indicate the same direction as the Indian one? What about the Russian zeitgeist? Or that of Sweden or Nepal? Is there an absolute zeitgeist that somehow floats above politics and national custom? If so, where is it and in what direction should all of us be going?

The religions of course have each developed different customary behaviors from essentially similar root wisdoms, but what of zeitgeist-directed behaviors? Is there but one zeitgeist and one set of universally good behaviors?

And tomorrow the zeitgeist might have changed its mind and, to borrow from Orwell, good is bad and bad is good. For those caught in the transition it might be unpleasant.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 14:27:38 UTC | #550961

TreenonPoet's Avatar Comment 26 by TreenonPoet

Comment 16 by ajs261:

The very first comment by Odone is a significant insight into the religious mind. How dare she imply that non-religious people are incapable of charity or goodwill or good treatment! What a stupid and arrogant thing to say!

I sometimes wish that one of the sane participants would say something like "What a stupid and arrogant thing to say!". Of course, not only does this not address the stupid and arrogant thing that was said, it also gives a bad impression. The restraint in Harris' response sends the signal that what Odone said may have been valid - that she has made a point worth considering. Grayling's follow up is more damning of Odone's position, but, as has been said, Odone is not then invited to defend or retract her statement - she has got away with it and lives to say the same stupid and arrogant thing at the next 'debate'. Time and space constraints are on the side of the stubborn. How satisfying it would have been if half-an-hour or so had been spent wringing out of Odone some concession that could be quoted back at her in the next debate. That way, some slow progress might be made.

Talking of time constraints, I agree with comment 9 by pari1985 about the 'discussion' on creationism near the end of the BBC1 TV programme Sunday Morning Live this morning. A long time was spent putting forward many creationist lies, and in the interests of balance, a few seconds of interrupted refutation were allowed.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 14:50:51 UTC | #550968

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 27 by God fearing Atheist

AG: "Don't keep hijacking these notions as if [they are] monopolised by religion. You and I, Jon, will probably agree on very, very many points, politically and socially. I have exactly the same attitude to the need for society to be richly and deeply moral."

Go ACG! Surprised it took you so long. I had expected that about 10 paras. back.

Political, social and moral politics are human concerns, nothing to do with invisible sky fairies.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 15:57:55 UTC | #550987

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 28 by Steve Zara

Err, I see what you are trying to say, but a shot to one's own foot might not be the wisest thing if one wishes to remain standing.

It's only a shot to one's own foot if you have a gun and are aiming.

There's no hipocrisy as secularism isn't claiming to know the One True Way.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 16:09:28 UTC | #550998

greenwich's Avatar Comment 29 by greenwich

I liked the final comment from A. C. Grayling:

I think that a good world would be one in which people approached one another first and foremost as fellow human beings with whom they share far more than they have differences. Thinking of the people you encounter in the world as fellow human beings means that you put that fact before their gender, their sex or sexuality or their political orientation or their religious views or their social background or how much money they've got. And if we were to think in those terms, and I think of that as a fundamentally humanist approach to the world, it would be much more of a global community.

Amen to that. I hope one day those sentiments will be practised as well as preached on this website.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 16:17:37 UTC | #551002

epeeist's Avatar Comment 30 by epeeist

The thing that gets me about the comments is the sheer idiocy of many of the theists there. Try the comments of Johannes414, Kawaka, patrickfowke, truthandjustice28 and bobwilkinson. Note how many times the Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin and Hitler were atheists meme comes up.

To use a phrase from irate_atheist, fucktards the lot of them.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 17:25:38 UTC | #551034