The Benefits of Religion

Is there a god? What is the meaning of life?
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katzenjammer
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The Benefits of Religion

Post by katzenjammer »

I am unable to decide. “Does religion do more harm than good?” or put another way, does religion do more good than harm?

There are obviously many people who are religious. Some of them are well educated and intelligent. It is quite probable that the majority of the faithful adopted their belief system from their parents but it is true that some clear-headed sober adults have become religious as a deliberate choice.

As can be seen on this forum, the faithful hang on to their belief system with the tenacity of a pit bull’s bite on a postman’s leg. Religion must endow its adherents with benefits. Belonging to a church, for example, provides a sense of community and comfort. I would like to explore further why it is that religion is so important to some people.

The various beliefs systems cannot be justified in any rational sense but this has been well hashed over in these threads. Perhaps it does not matter if your belief system incorporates ethereal winged creature and supernatural beings (or magic undies); the benefit of belief and faith seems to trump rationality.

So what benefits do you get from religion?
(Religion = belief in god or gods and the worship of same)
What benefits do you receive from attending church?


PS…. This is in no way an attempt to belittle or ridicule any one who might help to enlighten this a-religious a-theist.
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cerealkiller
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Post by cerealkiller »

Great question katts! Image

that's going to be interesting....
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Boda
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Post by Boda »

Very good question Katts. I myself also try to weigh religions positive effects on society vs. its negative effects.

I think the negative effects are easily pointed out and easily critisized. While some positive repercussions are not so visible.

How many of our societies members would be angrier, or harder to get along with in general if they didn't have a diety to fear or thier interpertation of the doctrine guiding them to being a pleasant person?

From what I've learned in my short exposure to this forum I should probably discribe myself as agnostic. However recent exposure to religion thru a family member has me wondering if spending time @ church wouldn't help me to become the better person I strive to be.

I'm sure many would suggest that I don't need the church to become a better person, I'm also sure that they're probably correct.
Fact is I haven't acommplished my goal. Question is can the church help me to achieve it?

Sorry to make this response alll about me, but to relate it back to general population the question I ask is how many religious people would not be positively contributing to society if they they didn't use the church?
Conversely, how many thugs or negative contributers to society might be better people if they used the positive influences the church?
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pat1167
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Post by pat1167 »

Religion -- particulary Christianity in its purest form teaches the to "love your neighbour as your self" and "pray for those who would harm you". It more clearly defines what may be required of you, such as to look after widows & orphans, the crippled and those unable to work, to look after the "least of my brothers", such as the aged and disabled. More importantly, it often puts into place the methods by which this can be done, such as hospitals, homes for the aged, orphanages for many years, St. Vincent de Paul - serves the poor and people who are victims of fires or tragedy.

There is much good done by both the members (staff) of the church and the people who belong to them.
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Nebula
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Post by Nebula »

Boda wrote:Question is can the church help me to achieve it?


An atheist would answer perhaps, but so could the flying spaghetti monster or praying to a can of tuna.
You cannot reason someone out of a position that they did not use reason to arrive at.
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zzontar
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Post by zzontar »

It's funny how I've heard of a number of atheists, who in times of crisis or near-death will suddenly pray to God, why is it they never seem to pray for the sphagetti monster at these times?

Anyway, growing up, I went to a United Church, everyone seemed nice, after church the adults would socialize and the kids would play downstairs, they had things like bake sales and new-to-used sales that brought people together to raise money for different charities, church camp in the summer was good, clean, fun... my parents met most of their friends through church... I don't recall anything negative about it, everything seemed to be based on doing good things.
Sure everyone could have met if they would have joined other clubs, but would they have? In many cases, I doubt it. And it was something the whole family did together that focused on being and doing good.
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pat1167
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Post by pat1167 »

In addition to creating a community to belong to, religion has also been linked to better health as many discourage drinking & overindulging and encourage self-control, monogomy, and the family.

Studies also show that religion can improve a person’s mental well being. Their belief system is reinforced and the interaction with other members is very beneficial to overall mental health.
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
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Nebula
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Post by Nebula »

pat1167 wrote:In addition to creating a community to belong to, religion has also been linked to better health as many discourage drinking & overindulging and encourage self-control, monogomy, and the family.

Studies also show that religion can improve a person’s mental well being. Their belief system is reinforced and the interaction with other members is very beneficial to overall mental health.


Well, I've known a few alcoholic, women-chasing, Catholic gamblers in my day.
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pat1167
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Post by pat1167 »

writerdave wrote:Well, I've known a few alcoholic, women-chasing, Catholic gamblers in my day.


So have I. Every religion is made up of individuals who choose to or not to follow the tenets of their chosen church. Because 100% of the persons attending are not perfect does not mean that the religion has no benefits.

Religions/churches encourages people to improve and give people standards to strive for, it does not assume they are already perfect.
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
Galileo Galilei
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AlanH
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Post by AlanH »

Religion, as a base is a wonderful guideline on how one should base their core morals and life. It is not however the be all end all of how life should be led. Living life 100% devoted to any religion is as ridiculous and narrow minded as Athiesim can be in it's fundamental finality of thinking.

If you aren't living life with an open mind, and thinking for yourself, as well as learning along the way then you aren't following the core teachings that any religion teaches.

Sorry if I sound rude, but hey, that's an Agnostic for you.
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pat1167
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Post by pat1167 »

AlanH wrote:Religion, as a base is a wonderful guideline on how one should base their core morals and life. It is not however the be all end all of how life should be led. Living life 100% devoted to any religion is as ridiculous and narrow minded as Athiesim can be in it's fundamental finality of thinking.


Exactly right! :smt023 Otherwise a person leaves themselves open to the tyrants of this world, like David Koresh or the so-called extreme right in the U.S. The following is actually an athiest's quote, but I like it:

There has never been a philosophy, a theory or a doctrine, that attacked (or 'limited') reason, which did not preach submission to the power of some authority. [Ayn Rand, The Comprachicos, in The New Left]

Make sure you have examined the matter and agree, rather than submit.
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
Galileo Galilei
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katzenjammer
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Post by katzenjammer »

Good responses.

If I may summarize:
1. A fear of God will encourage better individuals
2. Without churches there would be less contributions to society
3. Churches (Christian) teach “ Love thy neighbor”
4. Churches provide a place to meet people
5. promotes better health by discouraging bad habits (drinking and smoking)
6. encourages personal improvement by setting moral standards

Please feel free to expand the list
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cerealkiller
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Post by cerealkiller »

No mention of the common good, just individual 'benefits'

What is always interesting to read are the comments about fear, love, charity and family. katts summarized nicely what has been said so far:

Religion sets moral standards, and encourages better individuals.

What does that mean? People without faith in a supernatural phenomenon have less morals and are less decent? Does it mean that all the faithfuls would be murderers and rapists without religion?

Without churches there would be less contributions to society

Can anyone prove that with numbers? I can prove the opposite:
The percentage of religious Canadians is about 80%. Stands to reason thatreligious non profit charities make up 80% of ALL charities in Canada. Actually, there should be 100% religious charities because the non religious are less caring and emphatic since we are living 'in a moral vacuum'. Fact is that only 40% of all non profit charities in Canada are religious and 60% secular! Translated: the non religious care more about our fellow humans than faithfuls despite their pretensions.

Churches (Christian) teach “ Love thy neighbor”

This is a very non human requirement. Nobody on this planet loves their neighbor like him/herself! Emotionally totally against our nature! And it doesn't make sense anyway. I am an atheist and always had great neighbors with close social contacts.

Churches provide a place to meet people

So do clubs, pubs, hockey games, weddings and funerals.

encourages personal improvement by setting moral standards

If the bible is any indication for setting moral standards, I have to say thanks but no thanks. But let's look at that claim. 86% of Americans are of faith, believe in a creator and an afterlife. That should make the US the moral highground of the world. Fact: the US has the highest divorce rate in the western world, one of the highest abortion rates, the highest inmate to population ratio and of the highest teenage pregnancy rates.

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
G.B. Shaw

Let me expand the list katts:

7. is a major cause for conflict and war, past and present
8. infringes on people's personal lives (abortion, gays)
9. discourages scientific progress and research
10. is an additional tax burden for ALL
11. relies on supernatural phenomenon to explain things
12. is of very little benefit for all but supports weak and needy individuals

to be continued...
I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.
A.Einstein
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zzontar
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Post by zzontar »

Wow, leave it to cerealkiller to look at katts' list and see everything on it as completely negative.

If everything had to do with religion I'll bet this would be his take on things:

Sunshine: It gives you sunburn and skin cancer

Food: It makes you fat:

Shelter: It's only there to cost you and make you you spend time
maintaining it

Friends: Just gives you something turn on you

What a cheery individual.
They say you can't believe everything they say.
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cerealkiller
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Post by cerealkiller »

zzontar: "facts suck!" :139:
I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.
A.Einstein

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