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tantalus
23 Dec 14,, 16:45
Atheism is on the rise around the world, so does that mean spirituality will soon be a thing of the past? Rachel Nuwer discovers that the answer is far from simple.

A growing number of people, millions worldwide, say they believe that life definitively ends at death – that there is no God, no afterlife and no divine plan. And it’s an outlook that could be gaining momentum – despite its lack of cheer. In some countries, openly acknowledged atheism has never been more popular.

“There’s absolutely more atheists around today than ever before, both in sheer numbers and as a percentage of humanity,” says Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and author of Living the Secular Life. According to a Gallup International survey of more than 50,000 people in 57 countries, the number of individuals claiming to be religious fell from 77% to 68% between 2005 and 2011, while those who self-identified as atheist rose by 3% – bringing the world’s estimated proportion of adamant non-believers to 13%.

While atheists certainly are not the majority, could it be that these figures are a harbinger of things to come? Assuming global trends continue might religion someday disappear entirely?

It’s impossible to predict the future, but examining what we know about religion – including why it evolved in the first place, and why some people chose to believe in it and others abandon it – can hint at how our relationship with the divine might play out in decades or centuries to come.

Scholars are still trying to tease out the complex factors that drive an individual or a nation toward atheism, but there are a few commonalities. Part of religion’s appeal is that it offers security in an uncertain world. So not surprisingly, nations that report the highest rates of atheism tend to be those that provide their citizens with relatively high economic, political and existential stability. “Security in society seems to diminish religious belief,” Zuckerman says. Capitalism, access to technology and education also seems to correlate with a corrosion of religiosity in some populations, he adds.

Crisis of faith

Japan, the UK, Canada, South Korea, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, France and Uruguay (where the majority of citizens have European roots) are all places where religion was important just a century or so ago, but that now report some of the lowest belief rates in the world. These countries feature strong educational and social security systems, low inequality and are all relatively wealthy. “Basically, people are less scared about what might befall them,” says Quentin Atkinson, a psychologist at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.


The US, too, is an outlier in that it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but also has high rates of religiosity. (Still, a recent Pew survey revealed that, between 2007 and 2012, the proportion of Americans who said they are atheist rose from 1.6% to 2.4%.)

Decline, however, does not mean disappearance, says Ara Norenzayan, a social psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and author of Big Gods. Existential security is more fallible than it seems. In a moment, everything can change: a drunk driver can kill a loved one; a tornado can destroy a town; a doctor can issue a terminal diagnosis. As climate change wreaks havoc on the world in coming years and natural resources potentially grow scarce, then suffering and hardship could fuel religiosity. “People want to escape suffering, but if they can’t get out of it, they want to find meaning,” Norenzayan says. “For some reason, religion seems to give meaning to suffering – much more so than any secular ideal or belief that we know of.”

This phenomenon constantly plays out in hospital rooms and disaster zones around the world. In 2011, for example, a massive earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand – a highly secular society. There was a sudden spike of religiosity in the people who experienced that event, but the rest of the country remained as secular as ever. While exceptions to this rule do exist – religion in Japan plummeted following World War II, for instance – for the most part, Zuckerman says, we adhere by the Christchurch model. “If experiencing something terrible caused all people to become atheists, then we’d all be atheists,” he says.

The mind of god

But even if the world’s troubles were miraculously solved and we all led peaceful lives in equity, religion would probably still be around. This is because a god-shaped hole seems to exist in our species’ neuropsychology, thanks to a quirk of our evolution.

Understanding this requires a delve into “dual process theory”. This psychological staple states that we have two very basic forms of thought: System 1 and System 2. System 2 evolved relatively recently. It’s the voice in our head – the narrator who never seems to shut up – that enables us to plan and think logically.

System 1, on the other hand, is intuitive, instinctual and automatic. These capabilities regularly develop in humans, regardless of where they are born. They are survival mechanisms. System 1 bestows us with an innate revulsion of rotting meat, allows us to speak our native language without thinking about it and gives babies the ability to recognise parents and distinguish between living and nonliving objects. It makes us prone to looking for patterns to better understand our world, and to seek meaning for seemingly random events like natural disasters or the death of loved ones.

In addition to helping us navigate the dangers of the world and find a mate, some scholars think that System 1 also enabled religions to evolve and perpetuate. System 1, for example, makes us instinctually primed to see life forces – a phenomenon called hypersensitive agency detection – everywhere we go, regardless of whether they’re there or not. Millennia ago, that tendency probably helped us avoid concealed danger, such as lions crouched in the grass or venomous snakes concealed in the bush. But it also made us vulnerable to inferring the existence of invisible agents – whether they took the form of a benevolent god watching over us, an unappeased ancestor punishing us with a drought or a monster lurking in the shadows.

Similarly, System 1 encourages us to see things dualistically, meaning we have trouble thinking of the mind and body as a single unit. This tendency emerges quite early: young children, regardless of their cultural background, are inclined to believe that they have an immortal soul – that their essence or personhood existed somewhere prior to their birth, and will always continue to exist. This disposition easily assimilates into many existing religions, or – with a bit of creativity – lends itself to devising original constructs.

“A Scandinavian psychologist colleague of mine who is an atheist told me that his three-year-old daughter recently walked up to him and said, ‘God is everywhere all of the time.’ He and his wife couldn’t figure out where she’d gotten that idea from,” says Justin Barrett, director of the Thrive Center for Human Development at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and author of Born Believers. “For his daughter, god was an elderly woman, so you know she didn’t get it from the Lutheran church.”

For all of these reasons, many scholars believe that religion arose as “a byproduct of our cognitive disposition”, says Robert McCauley, director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Culture at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and author of Why Religion Is Natural and Science Is Not. “Religions are cultural arrangements that evolved to engage and exploit these natural capacities in humans.”

Hard habits to break

Atheists must fight against all of that cultural and evolutionary baggage. Human beings naturally want to believe that they are a part of something bigger, that life isn’t completely futile. Our minds crave purpose and explanation. “With education, exposure to science and critical thinking, people might stop trusting their intuitions,” Norenzayan says. “But the intuitions are there.”

On the other hand, science – the system of choice that many atheists and non-believers look to for understanding the natural world – is not an easy cognitive pill to swallow. Science is about correcting System 1 biases, McCauley says. We must accept that the Earth spins, even though we never experience that sensation for ourselves. We must embrace the idea that evolution is utterly indifferent and that there is no ultimate design or purpose to the Universe, even though our intuition tells us differently. We also find it difficult to admit that we are wrong, to resist our own biases and to accept that truth as we understand it is ever changing as new empirical data are gathered and tested – all staples of science. “Science is cognitively unnatural – it’s difficult,” McCauley says. “Religion, on the other hand, is mostly something we don’t even have to learn because we already know it.”

“There’s evidence that religious thought is the path of least resistance,” Barrett adds. “You’d have to fundamentally change something about our humanity to get rid of religion.” This biological sticking point probably explains the fact that, although 20% of Americans are not affiliated with a church, 68% of them say that they still believe in God and 37% describe themselves as spiritual. Even without organised religion, they believe that some greater being or life force guides the world.

Similarly, many around the world who explicitly say they don’t believe in a god still harbour superstitious tendencies, like belief in ghosts, astrology, karma, telepathy or reincarnation. “In Scandinavia, most people say they don’t believe in God, but paranormal and superstitious beliefs tend to be higher than you’d think,” Norenzayan says. Additionally, non-believers often lean on what could be interpreted as religious proxies – sports teams, yoga, professional institutions, Mother Nature and more – to guide their values in life. As a testament to this, witchcraft is gaining popularity in the US, and paganism seems to be the fastest growing religion in the UK.

Religious experiences for non-believers can also manifest in other, more bizarre ways. Anthropologist Ryan Hornbeck, also at the Thrive Center for Human Development, found evidence that the World of Warcraft is assuming spiritual importance for some players in China, for example. “WoW seems to be offering opportunities to develop certain moral traits that regular life in contemporary society doesn’t afford,” Barrett says. “People seem to have this conceptual space for religious thought, which – if it’s not filled by religion – bubbles up in surprising ways.”

The in-group

What’s more, religion promotes group cohesion and cooperation. The threat of an all-powerful God (or gods) watching for anyone who steps out of line likely helped to keep order in ancient societies. “This is the supernatural punishment hypothesis,” Atkinson says. “If everyone believes that the punishment is real, then that can be functional to groups.”

And again, insecurity and suffering in a population may play a role here, by helping to encourage religions with stricter moral codes. In a recent analysis of religious belief systems of nearly 600 traditional societies from around the world, Joseph Bulbulia at the University of Wellington, New Zealand and his colleagues found that those places with harsher weather or that are more prone to natural disasters were more likely to develop moralising gods. Why? Helpful neighbours could mean the difference between life and death. In this context, religion evolved as a valuable public utility.

“When we see something so pervasive, something that emerges so quickly developmentally and remains persistent across cultures, then it makes sense that the leading explanation is that it served a cooperative function,” says Bulbulia.

Finally, there’s also some simple mathematics behind religion’s knack for prevailing. Across cultures, people who are more religious also tend to have more children than people who are not. “There’s very strong evidence for this,” Norenzayan says. “Even among religious people, the more fundamentalist ones usually have higher fertility rates than the more liberal ones.” Add to that the fact that children typically follow their parents’ lead when it comes to whether or not they become religious adults themselves, and a completely secularised world seems ever more unlikely.

Enduring belief

For all of these reasons – psychological, neurological, historical, cultural and logistical – experts guess that religion will probably never go away. Religion, whether it’s maintained through fear or love, is highly successful at perpetuating itself. If not, it would no longer be with us.

And even if we lose sight of the Christian, Muslim and Hindu gods and all the rest, superstitions and spiritualism will almost certainly still prevail. More formal religious systems, meanwhile, would likely only be a natural disaster or two away. “Even the best secular government can’t protect you from everything,” says McCauley. As soon as we found ourselves facing an ecological crisis, a global nuclear war or an impending comet collision, the gods would emerge.

“Humans need comfort in the face of pain and suffering, and many need to think that there’s something more after this life, that they’re loved by an invisible being,” Zuckerman says. “There will always be people who believe, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain the majority.”

BBC - Future - Will religion ever disappear? (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141219-will-religion-ever-disappear)

SteveDaPirate
23 Dec 14,, 19:57
Interesting article, thanks.

gunnut
23 Dec 14,, 20:08
BBC - Future - Will religion ever disappear? (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141219-will-religion-ever-disappear)

Too long, didn't read. However, I will ask the following questions:

What is "religion?"

What is "god" or "deity?"

Is Atheism - the fervent belief that god(s) do not exist - a religion?

Is ancestral worship a form of religion?

I consider the belief in man-made global warming via atmospheric CO2 content a form of religion. It has all the hallmarks of a religion, with a prophet. He talks about angering (upsetting the balance) of God (nature) which will bring the end of the world (temperature rising 2C over 100 years) as we know it. We must appease God by repent for our sins (using fossil fuel). Only through the prophet can we find our salvation (green energy). So what if the church (97% of scientists and politicians) makes a little extra money on the side by investing in our future? The end justifies the means.

Mihais
23 Dec 14,, 20:22
Even if disaster does not strike us,the universe will always have mysteries.

Beside anything else,God is a powerfull weapon,and those having faith they fight for a purpose greater than life will always prevail against those who value life and comfort.Thus the idea of divinity will always be reinforced by political needs of the moment.
Thus,as the article said,religion binds communities.So if one leader loves his own,he must be wise enough to encourage religion.

SteveDaPirate
23 Dec 14,, 20:33
Too long, didn't read. However, I will ask the following questions:

Really?


What is "religion?"

I'd define it as a collection of beliefs or cultural systems that attempt to explain the origin or meaning of life.


What is "god" or "deity?"

I'll borrow C. Scott Littleton's definition of a deity as "a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life."


Is Atheism - the fervent belief that god(s) do not exist - a religion?

No, Atheism does not attempt to explain or assign meaning to life. Explicit Atheism boils down to asserting "at least one deity exists" is a false statement.


Is ancestral worship a form of religion?

Addressed in the article.


I consider the belief in man-made global warming via atmospheric CO2 content a form of religion.

I disagree, for the same reason that Atheism does not qualify as a religion.

tbm3fan
23 Dec 14,, 20:33
“Humans need comfort in the face of pain and suffering, and many need to think that there’s something more after this life, that they’re loved by an invisible being,” Zuckerman says. “There will always be people who believe, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain the majority.”

If this is what religion was actually used for then I would have no problem with it. Yet, it seems that religion actually creates pain and suffering rather than alleviate it so to me religion has more downside than upside.

tantalus
23 Dec 14,, 20:47
Too long, didn't read. However, I will ask the following questions:

What is "religion?"

What is "god" or "deity?"

Is Atheism - the fervent belief that god(s) do not exist - a religion?

Is ancestral worship a form of religion?

I consider the belief in man-made global warming via atmospheric CO2 content a form of religion. It has all the hallmarks of a religion, with a prophet. He talks about angering (upsetting the balance) of God (nature) which will bring the end of the world (temperature rising 2C over 100 years) as we know it. We must appease God by repent for our sins (using fossil fuel). Only through the prophet can we find our salvation (green energy). So what if the church (97% of scientists and politicians) makes a little extra money on the side by investing in our future? The end justifies the means.
In fairness, not reading an article and then posting up several open end questions is not really in the spirit of a constructive discussion.

There are so many definitions of religions and ultimately no definition will ever satisfy everyone. The semantics aren't really that important, I would focus on organisation, a belief system concerned with the ultimate questions of existence and some reference to the supernatural, as in looking for explanations and meaning that by definition are not contained within the laws of nature/universe. Religion has this supernatural element, but requires a belief system and a certain level of organisation that lifts it above the superstitious opinions of an individual.

God, deity...an entity with a supernatural element.

Atheism makes no reference to the supernatural, but one can twist definitions any way one wants, there just words. Apples and oranges are both fruit, but they are clearly different things.

The article reveals plenty about ancestry of religion and the mechanisms behind this type of human behaviour and culture, ancestral worship is bedded within religion.

Global warming. I am aware of your position on the matter, and as you know I wouldn't agree with your account. That said, even if I did, I wouldn't define it as a religion due to a lack of a supernatural component. Even if it did, religion as a word, and language in general under such a context would be utilised only to obscure the differences between different objects and phenomena, rather than reveal them bare.

gunnut
23 Dec 14,, 21:12
Really?

Yep.



I'd define it as a collection of beliefs or cultural systems that attempt to explain the origin or meaning of life.


So it doesn't need to have a god/deity?



I'll borrow C. Scott Littleton's definition of a deity as "a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life."

Mother nature.



No, Atheism does not attempt to explain or assign meaning to life. Explicit Atheism boils down to asserting "at least one deity exists" is a false statement.

Really? If I'm correct in interpreting your words, atheism does not care about the "meaning of life?" Does that mean a true atheist would not care about the meaning of life? Does that mean a true atheist's life has no meaning, because he does not believe in the meaning of life?

Further more, does the "lack of attempt to explain or assign meaning to life" a meaning of life in itself?



Addressed in the article.

My apologies.



I disagree, for the same reason that Atheism does not qualify as a religion.

Global warming cultists do believe in the "meaning of life." They want to save the planet, protect biodiversity, be guardians of "mother earth," a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life.

True atheists cannot believe in the harm of global warming. By definition, they don't care. Things are what they are. To care indicates there is a meaning to their life.


I argue true atheists do not exist just like true altruists do not exist. Altruists do things for the benefit of others to feel good about themselves. That is a reward. The existence of a reward means they didn't do it to be altruistic. They were selfish.

The only possible way that a true altruist can exist is one who helps others but feel miserable about it. But then feeling miserable about it indicates that he wants to be a true altruist. By doing so, he's not altruistic.

gunnut
23 Dec 14,, 21:26
In fairness, not reading an article and then posting up several open end questions is not really in the spirit of a constructive discussion.

Sure it is. See how many replies there were in just half an hour?



There are so many definitions of religions and ultimately no definition will ever satisfy everyone. The semantics aren't really that important, I would focus on organisation, a belief system concerned with the ultimate questions of existence and some reference to the supernatural, as in looking for explanations and meaning that by definition are not contained within the laws of nature/universe. Religion has this supernatural element, but requires a belief system and a certain level of organisation that lifts it above the superstitious opinions of an individual.

You are correct. Religion can have a very broad definition. Yours is not the same as mine. Just like taxes and abortion. We all believe in paying taxes. The difference is the amount. We all believe in abortion being murder. The difference is the time frame. No single definition can satisfy everyone.



God, deity...an entity with a supernatural element.

And my question is, what is "supernatural?" What you think or believe is supernatural maybe very different from others.



Atheism makes no reference to the supernatural, but one can twist definitions any way one wants, there just words. Apples and oranges are both fruit, but they are clearly different things.

Again, what is "supernatural?" Is a theory on what cannot be explained by current science a form of "supernatural?" We cannot explain the origin of life. We have a theory. But we cannot recreate it.



Global warming. I am aware of your position on the matter, and as you know I wouldn't agree with your account. That said, even if I did, I wouldn't define it as a religion due to a lack of a supernatural component. Even if it did, religion as a word, and language in general under such a context would be utilised only to obscure the differences between different objects and phenomena, rather than reveal them bare.

Lack of "supernatural?" All predictions from global warming cultists have been proven wrong. Global warming is now "climate change" to explain the inexplicable. Actual observations have repeatedly disproven a theory, yet people kept coming up with excuses as to why the world didn't end. That's not "supernatural?"

tantalus
23 Dec 14,, 21:48
And my question is, what is "supernatural?" What you think or believe is supernatural maybe very different from others.



Again, what is "supernatural?" Is a theory on what cannot be explained by current science a form of "supernatural?" We cannot explain the origin of life. We have a theory. But we cannot recreate it.



Lack of "supernatural?" All predictions from global warming cultists have been proven wrong. Global warming is now "climate change" to explain the inexplicable. Actual observations have repeatedly disproven a theory, yet people kept coming up with excuses as to why the world didn't end. That's not "supernatural?"
You put too much focus on definitions. The fact that people disagree on definitions carries little importance as people still understand the differences even if they can't agree on defining words for them. If we disagree on calling oranges and apples fruit, would we have lost all ability to see the distinction between them, discuss their physical differences etc.

Supernatural is something that does not function within the laws of the universe or nature. Take the christian god, the abilities ascribed too him by his followers means he must be supernatural, and that is the open policy of christian faiths. For religion, there is no need to explain many of its beliefs according to physical laws.

I will leave global warming to that thread.

SteveDaPirate
23 Dec 14,, 21:52
So it doesn't need to have a god/deity?

Nontheistic religions are a thing.


Mother nature.

A personification of nature common in many cultures. While veneration of a deity is common in many religions, they are not implicitly connected. One can believe in a deity outside of religion, and there are religions that do not incorporate deities.


Really? If I'm correct in interpreting your words, atheism does not care about the "meaning of life?" Does that mean a true atheist would not care about the meaning of life? Does that mean a true atheist's life has no meaning, because he does not believe in the meaning of life?

Atheism is the disbelief in deities. A Buddhist may be deeply religious and yet, an Atheist.


True atheists cannot believe in the harm of global warming. By definition, they don't care. Things are what they are. To care indicates there is a meaning to their life.

I think you may be confusing Atheism with Nihilism. Atheists deny the existence of deities, that does not preclude them from all religion, or of a basis for moral and ethical belief.


I argue true atheists do not exist just like true altruists do not exist.

I think your argument rests on the assumption that deities and moral values are inseparably connected.

gunnut
23 Dec 14,, 22:00
You put too much focus on definitions. The fact that people disagree on definitions carries little importance as people still understand the differences even if they can't agree on defining words for them. If we disagree on calling oranges and apples fruit, would we have lost all ability to see the distinction between them, discuss their physical differences etc.

Supernatural is something that does not function within the laws of the universe or nature. Take the christian god, the abilities ascribed too him by his followers means he must be supernatural, and that is the open policy of christian faiths. For religion, there is no need to explain many of its beliefs according to physical laws.

I will leave global warming to that thread.

Definition is very important. Our languages, human languages in general, are inadequate in describing or explaining what "god" is.

I believe your position is "I don't know what it is but I know it when I see it."

I know it when I see it - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it)

tantalus
23 Dec 14,, 22:14
Definition is very important. Our languages, human languages in general, are inadequate in describing or explaining what "god" is.

I believe your position is "I don't know what it is but I know it when I see it."

I know it when I see it - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it)
Wait just because people don't have a coherent idea of what god is doesn't fall on people who don't belief in it. The idea is an incoherent one, that contradicts logic and the laws of nature.

A single/different word for a thing or phenomena does not alter the nature of it. Unable to describe for some, because its not a coherent idea.

My position is clear, Gods and deities are supernatural beings, and de facto, supernatural exist outside physical laws, the need for further words ends here.

gunnut
23 Dec 14,, 22:14
Nontheistic religions are a thing.

That is true. The believe in government can solve our problems even after repeated demonstrations of failure, is a religion.

But is the belief in the bureaucracy a belief in "deity?" The belief that the bureaucracy can solve problems regardless of observed facts to the contrary make it "supernatural?"

With the existence of "nontheistic religion" you have proven that global warming can be a religion without a deity.



A personification of nature common in many cultures. While veneration of a deity is common in many religions, they are not implicitly connected. One can believe in a deity outside of religion, and there are religions that do not incorporate deities.

Disagree. Deity without religion is without context. Religion might exist without a deity, but deity cannot exist without religion.



Atheism is the disbelief in deities. A Buddhist may be deeply religious and yet, an Atheist.

Uh...no.



I think you may be confusing Atheism with Nihilism. Atheists deny the existence of deities, that does not preclude them from all religion, or of a basis for moral and ethical belief.

I am working within the title of this thread, "Will religion ever disappear?" and the context of the first sentence of the article, "Atheism is on the rise around the world, so does that mean spirituality will soon be a thing of the past?"

That is why I asked for a definition of what "god/deity" is. How can you define what "atheism" is without define what "deity" is?



I think your argument rests on the assumption that deities and moral values are inseparably connected.

I believe they are. We all justify our existence with a higher power. This "moral" behavior guides our existence and gives meaning to our lives. We do things, good or bad, because they are right in our view. Some people kill because they believe in what they do. Some people steal because they believe in what they do. Some people renounce consumption of animal flesh because they believe in what they do. No one does things for the express purpose of being wrong.

Of course what is "right" and what is "wrong?" Now we're dealing with moral relativism and moral absolutism. What if we don't agree on what is right and what is wrong? What if we don't agree on the existence of moral absolutism?

Moral absolutism is relevant because religion is all about moral absolutism. The difference is what qualifies as "absolute." Everyone agrees murder is wrong. But what is "murder?"

tantalus
23 Dec 14,, 22:38
I am working within the title of this thread, "Will religion ever disappear?" and the context of the first sentence of the article, "Atheism is on the rise around the world, so does that mean spirituality will soon be a thing of the past?"

That is why I asked for a definition of what "god/deity" is. How can you define what "atheism" is without define what "deity" is?


We all have more or less a general agreeable idea of what deity or atheism refer to, the absolute details for the context of the article are not important. You are creating unnecessary confusion with semantics.

Atheism at its core is the rejection of the supernatural, there isn't anything ambiguous about that. That said, if we all agreed that for some reasons our definition of deity excluded santa, would the question of santa's existence evaporate, would these newly defined atheists cease to have opinions about the existence of santa...



I believe they are. We all justify our existence with a higher power.
No we don't.



This "moral" behavior guides our existence and gives meaning to our lives. We do things, good or bad, because they are right in our view. Some people kill because they believe in what they do. Some people steal because they believe in what they do. Some people renounce consumption of animal flesh because they believe in what they do. No one does things for the express purpose of being wrong.

Of course what is "right" and what is "wrong?" Now we're dealing with moral relativism and moral absolutism. What if we don't agree on what is right and what is wrong? What if we don't agree on the existence of moral absolutism?

Moral absolutism is relevant because religion is all about moral absolutism. The difference is what qualifies as "absolute." Everyone agrees murder is wrong. But what is "murder?"
Moral behaviour is a product of cultural and biological evolution and can be discussed within such a framework. It exists within the laws of nature. I am not seeing a direct relevance of those interesting questions regarding morality to the thread so I am taking a pass on them.

SteveDaPirate
23 Dec 14,, 23:17
With the existence of "nontheistic religion" you have proven that global warming can be a religion without a deity.

While the proponents of global warming are certainly zealous about promoting certain actions they think should be taken, it is not a religion, it is a political platform. There is no attempt to explain the meaning behind life.


That is why I asked for a definition of what "god/deity" is. How can you define what "atheism" is without define what "deity" is?

How do you define them? I've given definitions earlier in the thread.


We all justify our existence with a higher power. This "moral" behavior guides our existence and gives meaning to our lives.

There are clearly people who do not justify their existence with a higher power. Some consider human morals to be merely a Darwinian adaptation with no relation to objective truth. Intuitive, and emotional judgements just happened to give our ancestors an advantage.

This is just one example of a number of philosophical ideas about Moral Ontology and Epistemology.

gunnut
23 Dec 14,, 23:23
We all have more or less a general agreeable idea of what deity or atheism refer to, the absolute details for the context of the article are not important. You are creating unnecessary confusion with semantics.

Basically, you don't know what precisely religion/god is, but you know it when you see it.



Atheism at its core is the rejection of the supernatural, there isn't anything ambiguous about that. That said, if we all agreed that for some reasons our definition of deity excluded santa, would the question of santa's existence evaporate, would these newly defined atheists cease to have opinions about the existence of santa...

So man-made global warming is a religion, as it believes in a supernatural force that has been disproven by direct observation many times.



No we don't.

Well, what makes you do the things that you do? What prevents you from stealing or killing people? What makes you donate to a charity?



Moral behaviour is a product of cultural and biological evolution and can be discussed within such a framework. It exists within the laws of nature. I am not seeing a direct relevance of those interesting questions regarding morality to the thread so I am taking a pass on them.

Cultural...where did that come from? Name one culture that did not believe in the "supernatural."

Biological, what started it? Where did life come from? How did life begin?

gunnut
23 Dec 14,, 23:31
While the proponents of global warming are certainly zealous about promoting certain actions they think should be taken, it is not a religion, it is a political platform. There is no attempt to explain the meaning behind life.

But it is "supernatural." According to tantalus, believe in the supernatural is to believe in a deity. A deity cannot exist without a religion. Supernatural deities are make-belief. They exist as a matter of faith. Without faith, there is no religion. Therefore, man-made global warming is a religion.



How do you define them? I've given definitions earlier in the thread.

Deity/god is a belief of a powerful entity who interacts with humans.

Notice I use the word "belief" and "entity" instead of "being."



There are clearly people who do not justify their existence with a higher power. Some consider human morals to be merely a Darwinian adaptation with no relation to objective truth. Intuitive, and emotional judgements just happened to give our ancestors an advantage.

In this case, evolution is the higher power. It shaped him, molded him, and gave him the capacity to make the choices that he makes.



This is just one example of a number of philosophical ideas about Moral Ontology and Epistemology.

Yes, and fascinating subjects they are. :)

gunnut
23 Dec 14,, 23:38
Disclaimer: I'm not a religious man. I am an agnostic. I don't know if there is a god or not, or many gods. I believe in being nice to people because I want people to be nice to me. Maybe, just maybe, there might be an afterlife. If so, I don't want to miss the boat. I am definitely not a fan of organized religion. I believe that organized religion are run by man, same as big government. Men are inherently corrupt and will abuse power if given such.

I argue against the assertion that atheism is on the rise and religion is on the wane because I believe atheism is a form of religion. Atheism only believes in a different deity, one that is not recognized by traditional definition, hence "a"theism.

To me, the blind belief in whatever ideology there is, when such ideology has been proven wrong by direct observation, is a form of religion. That's why I argue man-made global warming is a religion. The belief in big government will solve our problems is a religion.

tantalus
23 Dec 14,, 23:47
Basically, you don't know what precisely religion/god is, but you know it when you see it.


No, and I will only repeating myself at this point.




Well, what makes you do the things that you do? What prevents you from stealing or killing people? What makes you donate to a charity?


People who always killed didn't succeed in evolution. I am direct descendant of a more nuanced social approach.

Charity is probably partly a byproduct of doing things to improve one's reputation, most of the time people honestly want to do good, evolution has selected for people who are unconsciously generous, they don't even have to realise the social benefit accrued. Furthermore, they enjoy giving, the biochemical rewards are not there by accident, but as a mechanism to encourage generosity and accrue the improved benefits to one's reputation.

This is at least part of the explanation of what is a complex evolutionary question.



Cultural...where did that come from? Name one culture that did not believe in the "supernatural."

Biological, what started it? Where did life come from? How did life begin?
All cultures believe in the supernatural...read the article.

Culture is a product of our biological evolution and expanding brains. Those who developed it, killed and out-reproduced others.

Life developed from some form of chemical evolution, there are many competing theories to the exact chemical pathways and mechanisms involved and the science is in its infancy.

tantalus
23 Dec 14,, 23:50
In this case, evolution is the higher power. It shaped him, molded him, and gave him the capacity to make the choices that he makes.



Evolution is not a higher power. Natural selection is merely a description of a series of events, the non-random, differential survival and reproduction of living entities.

tantalus
23 Dec 14,, 23:55
Disclaimer: I'm not a religious man. I am an agnostic. I don't know if there is a god or not, or many gods. I believe in being nice to people because I want people to be nice to me. Maybe, just maybe, there might be an afterlife. If so, I don't want to miss the boat. I am definitely not a fan of organized religion. I believe that organized religion are run by man, same as big government. Men are inherently corrupt and will abuse power if given such.

I argue against the assertion that atheism is on the rise and religion is on the wane because I believe atheism is a form of religion. Atheism only believes in a different deity, one that is not recognized by traditional definition, hence "a"theism.

To me, the blind belief in whatever ideology there is, when such ideology has been proven wrong by direct observation, is a form of religion. That's why I argue man-made global warming is a religion. The belief in big government will solve our problems is a religion.
So you can take the article as having as a different definition of religion, now we can have a discussion in the context of their definition...

Your definition of religion and will it disappear is a separate question ...

That's the full significance of having 2 separate definitions of religion in this scenario....2 separate questions...

edit. also I would ask you, if I said I believed in a minute undetectable tadpole that ruled the universe and lived at the bottom of the ocean would you not believing in it be a belief.

And even if it does, than I would say too you that the problem is not having a belief, but having a belief that cannot function within the laws of the universe and openly makes no attempt too. If atheism is a belief in your mind, (and I would say that its not), but it doesn't really matter as that is a matter of semantics, than the real problem is a belief in a phenomenon that openly resists logical explanation and physical laws, it becomes a matter of the right type of belief, because your definition of belief allows for correct and incorrect beliefs. I simply called correct beliefs something else. The definitions aren't important.

Also, I don't get it when you say that atheism believes in a different deity.

SteveDaPirate
24 Dec 14,, 00:16
I argue against the assertion that atheism is on the rise and religion is on the wane because I believe atheism is a form of religion. Atheism only believes in a different deity, one that is not recognized by traditional definition, hence "a"theism.

Atheism is neither a belief system nor a religion, it is the lack of belief. Saying Atheism is a form of religion with a different deity is equivalent to saying that abstinence is just a different kind of sex position.


To me, the blind belief in whatever ideology there is, when such ideology has been proven wrong by direct observation, is a form of religion. That's why I argue man-made global warming is a religion. The belief in big government will solve our problems is a religion.

That is not a religion it is a belief. Religions are belief systems, but not all belief systems are religions. Belief in the utility of big government, or man made global warming is no more a religion than belief in the free market, or private ownership of property.

Bigfella
24 Dec 14,, 00:21
In fairness, not reading an article and then posting up several open end questions is not really in the spirit of a constructive discussion.

Clearly you haven't tried to debate GN before. He's not after a 'constructive discussion', he's after an excuse to hammer at the half dozen or so talking points he's been hammering at ever since I got here. Doesn't matter how often they get picked apart, the same points & same arguments just zombie again and again. No matter how good your arguments you won't get anywhere and you'll spend forever in pointless definitional arguments. Same old same old.

Don't say you weren't warned.

tantalus
24 Dec 14,, 00:26
Atheism is neither a belief system nor a religion, it is the lack of belief. Saying Atheism is a form of religion with a different deity is equivalent to saying that abstinence is just a different kind of sex position.

.
It can be if you have a different definition of belief, but words cant change the fundamental nature of something.

edit. Although I agree with what your actually saying, within reason, and on a practical level you cant be endlessly flexible with the meaning of words.

Samuels creek
24 Dec 14,, 01:11
I argue against the assertion that atheism is on the rise and religion is on the wane because I believe atheism is a form of religion.

If Athiesm is a religon, not just a form of feeble mindedness, whats it doing? I'm taking for granted all posters are aware of religions roots, hate to think people are being expert in something they don't understand.

Bigfella
24 Dec 14,, 01:12
On the topic at hand, I don't think religion is going anywhere. As the article points out, people seem to have some fundamental psychological needs that are met by belief in metaphysics. Even those who don't need that generally seem to fell the need to believe in things greater than themselves. The latter doesn't qualify as a 'religion', but sometimes (only sometimes) it can function in a similar way.

I think there are some problems with the 'rise of Atheism' idea that seems to be quite popular at the moment. I'm not sure how firm a basis of comparison we have.I think we lack proper historical information & therefore a proper historical context when it comes to religious belief. I certainly accept that people are more prepared to self-identify as a non-believer and that 'Atheism' has become the most commonplace way to describe that. I also accept that in an immediate historical context that corresponds with some decrease in actual religious belief. I'm just not sure how much & quite what it means historically. I often wonder how much of that is to do with people no longer feeling societal pressure to identify as religious and/or that phenomenon simply not being effectively measured. The changing religious data on the Australian Census gives an example:


A voluntary question on religious affiliation has been included in every national census. In 1911 and 1921 an instruction was included indicating that people could 'object to state' their religion. From 1933, the voluntary nature of the religion question was emphasised on the form. As a result, at the 1933 Census, 13% of people did not answer compared to 2% in 1921. In 1971, the instruction 'if no religion, write none' was introduced with the result that 7% of people reported having no religion compared to less than 1% prior to that. In 1991, the form of the religion question changed from a write-in response to a tick-box response for the most commonly reported religious groups and a write-in space for the others. This is likely to have increased the selection of one of the seven largest religious groups included in the list.

4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1994 (http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/10072EC3FFC4F7B4CA2570EC00787C40)

It seems unlikely that between 1966 & 1971 close to 6% of the population suddenly decided they had no religion. Notice the pattern of people becoming aware of a change in definition & rushing to take advantage of the opportunity. It would be reasonable to conclude a much longer term phenomenon of private unbelief, but with people publically associating themselves with a religious belief out of convenience - I suspect the belief of parents or a spouse. You have to wonder just how many more people didn't believe but simply didn't have the language or the courage to admit it.

I also recall when I was studying US history some mention of anecdotal evidence that before the 'great awakening' of the early C19th there were quite low levels of religious belief in some areas. Unfortunately there isn't much hard data because it either wasn't recorded or because people wouldn't publically admit it. In earlier periods even less is known about how widespread particular beliefs or lack of belief was. The data points are sufficiently sparse that we can't always know just how prevalent such private thoughts were.

Do we know the extent to which we are measuring a new phenomenon or simply observing the recurrence of a relatively common older one with a new name?

tantalus
24 Dec 14,, 01:50
On the topic at hand, I don't think religion is going anywhere. As the article points out, people seem to have some fundamental psychological needs that are met by belief in metaphysics. Even those who don't need that generally seem to fell the need to believe in things greater than themselves. The latter doesn't qualify as a 'religion', but sometimes (only sometimes) it can function in a similar way.

I think there are some problems with the 'rise of Atheism' idea that seems to be quite popular at the moment. I'm not sure how firm a basis of comparison we have.I think we lack proper historical information & therefore a proper historical context when it comes to religious belief. I certainly accept that people are more prepared to self-identify as a non-believer and that 'Atheism' has become the most commonplace way to describe that. I also accept that in an immediate historical context that corresponds with some decrease in actual religious belief. I'm just not sure how much & quite what it means historically. I often wonder how much of that is to do with people no longer feeling societal pressure to identify as religious and/or that phenomenon simply not being effectively measured. The changing religious data on the Australian Census gives an example:



4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1994 (http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/10072EC3FFC4F7B4CA2570EC00787C40)

It seems unlikely that between 1966 & 1971 close to 6% of the population suddenly decided they had no religion. Notice the pattern of people becoming aware of a change in definition & rushing to take advantage of the opportunity. It would be reasonable to conclude a much longer term phenomenon of private unbelief, but with people publically associating themselves with a religious belief out of convenience - I suspect the belief of parents or a spouse. You have to wonder just how many more people didn't believe but simply didn't have the language or the courage to admit it.

I also recall when I was studying US history some mention of anecdotal evidence that before the 'great awakening' of the early C19th there were quite low levels of religious belief in some areas. Unfortunately there isn't much hard data because it either wasn't recorded or because people wouldn't publically admit it. In earlier periods even less is known about how widespread particular beliefs or lack of belief was. The data points are sufficiently sparse that we can't always know just how prevalent such private thoughts were.

Do we know the extent to which we are measuring a new phenomenon or simply observing the recurrence of a relatively common older one with a new name?

Interesting. The trends seem to be there in more reliable data sets than the one you have posted, but granted they are over a short time period.

Let's speculate and make some assumptions to allow us tease it out.

Let's take the spike in religiosity associated with the Christchurch earthquake alluded to in the article/op and the limited but highly suggestive evidence that wealth and social-economic security reduces religion and increases atheism. More people than ever live better lives in the modern world, than one would expect religion to have decreased compared to historical levels, if only we could look at those imaginary surveys. Of course this is deductive reasoning based on the assumption that wealth and security have increased in modern times.

I subscribe to the idea that religion comes more naturally to us than the rejection of it as alluded to in the op article. Rejecting it is a calculated decision that becomes more likely with education and exposure to scientific ways of viewing the universe. Over the centuries science, most notably, planetary and evolutionary science, have eroded religious views, the case against religion has strengthened over time, and one would expect, in combination with an increased exposure to these views through modern education, a weakening in religious belief.

Both these patterns in time are theoretical, but the underlying mechanisms I believe are established, its just a matter if the conditions have occurred historically and gradually over the last 3 or 4 centuries to bring about a real rise in atheism. Without reliable data I still consider the case a strong one. While atheism has always been around, I expect we are seeing a consistent increase over centuries in the western world.

In the coming century I also expect to see the significant emergence of anti-theism.

Parihaka
24 Dec 14,, 02:36
I've never experienced the religious grouping thing, I wasn't raised as any religious type and was happily resistant to the 'born-again' hype that swept up so many of my contemporaries. I've always been interested in the communal/community aspects of religions though and wonder how much of peoples identity toward a particular faith/order is based on their need for community and belonging rather than an ideology of a particular prophet. I'd suggest Christchurch's increased 'religiosity' was as much from the need for a coming together of community, with our kirks being the obvious place to congregate, and priests being the obvious first point of contact for introductions.

Monash
25 Dec 14,, 05:04
In the coming century I also expect to see the significant emergence of anti-theism.

Does that include anti-atheism?

Officer of Engineers
25 Dec 14,, 08:11
The article got it wrong. Religon changes along with science. As of right now, the multiverse theory is a whole bunch of bullshit based on made up maths. We cannot disprove the math because it works but in the end, there is no observational evidence of a multiverse. Yeah, there is indirect evidence but in the end, both monks and theorists are made from the same cloth.

If something doesn't work, they invent something to make it work. Grant you, monks have an easier time with God changing his mind but not much more. The multiverse theory gives the science nerds a way out. Yeah, it should happen that way and it did ... in the other universe.

Monks.

tantalus
26 Dec 14,, 13:09
Does that include anti-atheism?

No doubt. Sometimes, I wonder if different religious authorities take comfort in each other and feel allied in the face of atheism. In the western world, the continued privatisation of religion, and removal from the state, is key for a civilized difference in opinion.

I don't foresee a significant physical threat against atheists in the western world, but directed violence against atheists by fundamentalists may become a central theme in our global society in the future. Normally we associate religious violence between 2 different faiths, in time, that may change.

anil
26 Dec 14,, 15:00
Will religion ever disappear?
The question being asked(unconsciously) is whether man can live without "philosophy"?


Philosophy is a critical part of everyone’s life – without philosophy, one cannot live. Even if one hasn’t consciously adopted a particular philosophy, one is following “some” philosophy – a default one that is a strange mix of religion and various other societal norms.

Philosophy consists of four main branches:
1) metaphysics (which deals with the nature of reality/ existence)
2) epistemology (which deals with the theory and sources of knowledge)
3) ethics (which deals with the “right” way to live)
4) politics (which deals with man’s interactions with society)

As I said, even if people don’t consciously adopt a particular philosophy, they are working on the basis of a default one – generally religion.

Philosophy emerged out of man’s need to explain the world around him – the need to know the hows and whys. And religion – whatever its nature – was one of the first attempts at providing a complete system. For example, in most religions, the universe is created by God and so are all lifeforms, faith is how people gain “higher” knowledge – you need to believe, commandments and duties provide man with a moral code, and the State is organized on religious lines. Thus metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics are taken care of.

The trouble begins when scientific discoveries clash with the religious views, and when philosophers move beyond the simplistic system-building of religion. You have at least one perpetual war – reason vs. faith. And that shows no signs of ending thousands of years after it first began.
Way of life (http://pastebin.com/fEZ5Jg39)

The govt and the constitution is an attempt to replace religion and its teachings but as it has already been said here, a part of the population desires "community" to feel secure. Security ranks above reason. Perhaps diversity and culture shock causes it.

Nationalism and Patriotism to the motherland is one form of community that can replace a religious community. Can the state make a god out of the country? Manifestation: eg: bharat mata (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharat_Mata) for indians.

http://i59.tinypic.com/2hprjon.jpg

The state can build churches devoted to this manifestation: eg: temples (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharat_Mata#Bharat_Mata_temples) where people can show up every sunday? http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/images/smilies/innocent0009.gif

commander
27 Dec 14,, 04:01
I have once heard someone say Religion is like the soul of this soulless planet. It needs the soul to function effectively. Similar to the consciousness that keeps humans from tearing each other apart at any given time. In a way consciousness of the planet. Life form just cannot simply exist without consciousness , even a single celled organism will have it's own mind. So no religion is here for the long haul.

Bridgeburner_
27 Dec 14,, 09:00
Demographics inherently favor theists, at least until the entirety of Asia and Africa fully industrialize. From then on.. who knows, the world will be a very different place.


Japan, the UK, Canada, South Korea, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, France and Uruguay (where the majority of citizens have European roots)

The countries that prominently feature atheism have either near replacement-rate demographics or have to have import migrants (usually from the developing world that heavily features religion) to make up for their demographic shortfall. The former atheist USSR and its constituent nations have experienced increased fervor with Orthodox Christianity in the last 20~ odd years. As is the case with Christianity in China, which has surprising popularity. Which would mean atheism is experiencing significant growth in Western Europe and parts of America really, which isn't all too surprising. I'm surprised to see S.Korea on that list since trends up to now have indicated increasing religiousity, rather than decreasing.

It is far easier dealing with the nihilism and existentialism that atheism provokes when surrounded with material comforts and an easy living, it is much harder to confront a meaningless existence when you struggle for to fulfil basic biological needs and make base ends meet. A side by side study of atheism and prosperity would be extremely interesting, to see at what socio-economic levels atheism is present the most.

A question for atheists that has puzzled me, how do you establish an objective, universal system of morality independent of any influence from religion or appeals to emotion ? An empirical morality, if you will. I stress the last part, because many legal/political concepts taken for granted today have religious roots beginning in the Protestant reformation under Luther which divorced theology from the structure of the Catholic Church. Liberalism(european, not american definition of the term) itself is basically derived by extension from the "Protestant work ethic" that Weber talks about, and concepts of universalism and egalitarianism that have judeo-christian roots.

In absence of a morality that derives its authority from a "divinity", what is the basis for an objective, universal morality in a society that rejects the existence of the divine? If a movement seeks to tear down an existing system, there must be an alternative proposed to structure society around.


Beside anything else,God is a powerfull weapon,and those having faith they fight for a purpose greater than life will always prevail against those who value life and comfort.Thus the idea of divinity will always be reinforced by political needs of the moment.
Thus,as the article said,religion binds communities.So if one leader loves his own,he must be wise enough to encourage religion.

Well, if demographic transition occurs and the atheistic part of society cannot reproduce to forestall a social-security demographic time-bomb, migration will be a necessity and re-introduce religion to (future) irreligious countries.

tantalus
27 Dec 14,, 12:26
The question being asked(unconsciously) is whether man can live without "philosophy"?

I think there could be a serious error contained in a larger truth given a particular interpretation of this statement. The question is twofold, and can be both conscious, does man's philosophy require religion, and if not, how many will learn this to be so?

The four fields of philosophy do not require religion to explore or answer them. However, there is practical reason not to expect everyone to realise this. Religion as a cultural phenomena or meme is especially effective at spreading and sustaining itself.

tantalus
27 Dec 14,, 13:25
Demographics inherently favor theists, at least until the entirety of Asia and Africa fully industrialize. From then on.. who knows, the world will be a very different place.

Yes, the first stage of the question will be an economic one, the spread of wealth and education, independently influential.


A question for atheists that has puzzled me, how do you establish an objective, universal system of morality independent of any influence from religion or appeals to emotion ? An empirical morality, if you will.
It is a difficult question. There is no clear answer. But first, the lack of a definite answer with complete clarity does not necessitate that religion is required, a necessary evil, as religion has clearly not provided a clear, agreeable morality.

Morality stems from biology. Bring up children without never having been exposed to religion, they will still have moral experiences. Bring them up devoid of morality as a concept, they will still experience empathy, love and compassion. Morality does not come from religion, its roots are based within the biological evolution of a social, co-operating mammal. In the truest sense, there can be no objective morality, as it is a biological adaptation that has allowed individuals in our species to thrive through co-operation over individuals that did not co-operate at all, or as well.

Morality can therefore be studied by science, but it does leave us with major difficulties. Morality as an evolutionary force was adaptive, and utilised for discrimination, easily directed towards violent narratives. Religion is a codified form, but empirically baseless. Religion suffers some of the same problems as an atheistic morality, it does not have an objective morality that can be proven correct. Religion has benefited from its ability to create the illusion that it does have an objective, all ending force that supports it, but to achieve this, religion requires a level of faith that lacks flexibility in its morality and leads to discrimination to out groups.



I stress the last part, because many legal/political concepts taken for granted today have religious roots beginning in the Protestant reformation under Luther which divorced theology from the structure of the Catholic Church. Liberalism(european, not american definition of the term) itself is basically derived by extension from the "Protestant work ethic" that Weber talks about, and concepts of universalism and egalitarianism that have judeo-christian roots.

The historical narrative of a concept is not tied to a modern argument for its continuance. Religion, due to its central position in human culture has a historical link to many desirable ideas, but it does not possess a logical monopoly on them. Equality, for example, is an intrinsic concept of the human mind, its not difficult to envision its adaptive purpose in evolution. Egalitarianism as a political concept would be quickly discovered in a society devoid of religion. Its roots are biological.


In absence of a morality that derives its authority from a "divinity", what is the basis for an objective, universal morality in a society that rejects the existence of the divine? If a movement seeks to tear down an existing system, there must be an alternative proposed to structure society around.

We study morality with science as a biological phenomenon. We learn the negative tendencies of our human nature, and contain them with law, we encourage our better tendencies with law and society. We even harness some of our negative qualities in economics, capitalism and greed. These are the benefits of understanding our true nature and origin.

We are a social species, with a moral mind, we develop these tendencies over others. The desire to do so stems from the fact that are minds are tailored in our genome to be this way. We don't have to figure out how to be hungry for breakfast. An ultimate objective justification I believe will remain impossible, the explanation why we do so rests in our evolutionary history, the justification is our democratic desire to follow through over the will of those that would oppose us. The answer is not a clear one, there is no clear one, not all questions have answers, sometimes the problem is with the question.



Well, if demographic transition occurs and the atheistic part of society cannot reproduce to forestall a social-security demographic time-bomb, migration will be a necessity and re-introduce religion to (future) irreligious countries.
Population models indicate a stalling of population growth in the second half of the century, and a decline subsequently globally. Trends for population and wealth appear to favour an increase in atheism on this time scale.

tankie
27 Dec 14,, 18:12
Even if disaster does not strike us,the universe will always have mysteries.

Beside anything else,God is a powerfull weapon,and those having faith they fight for a purpose greater than life will always prevail against those who value life and comfort.Thus the idea of divinity will always be reinforced by political needs of the moment.
Thus,as the article said,religion binds communities.So if one leader loves his own,he must be wise enough to encourage religion.


Rubbish , it divides communities , countries , and causes wars ,as millions of murdered humans can testify to it , killed in the name of religion .just another political tool .

But to answer the original Q , no it will never disappear ,its too far ingrained , but if people want/desire/have faith in it , thats up to them , go for it .

tantalus
27 Dec 14,, 18:21
Rubbish , it divides communities , countries , and causes wars ,as millions of murdered humans can testify to it , killed in the name of religion .just another political tool .

But it does bind a group against another foreign group.

Monash
28 Dec 14,, 11:24
Rubbish , it divides communities , countries , and causes wars ,as millions of murdered humans can testify to it , killed in the name of religion .just another political tool.

Sorry Tankie, in terms of dividing communities Religion is no better or worse than race, politicsor football. In terms of war's and deaths directly attributable to Religion you have to produce stats, and the only major study I am aware of on the topic disproved any such causal link. I have no access to my computer until next week but when I do I will post derails of the study. It turns out most war's (by a large margin) originate from other causes, chiefly competition for scare recources, population pressures, political instability and a history of prior animosities.

tankie
28 Dec 14,, 14:47
Sorry Tankie, in terms of dividing communities Religion is no better or worse than race, politics or football. In terms of war's and deaths directly attributable to Religion you have to produce stats, and the only major study I am aware of on the topic disproved any such causal link. I have no access to my computer until next week but when I do I will post derails of the study. It turns out most war's (by a large margin) originate from other causes, chiefly competition for scare resources, population pressures, political instability and a history of prior animosities.

Ok mate ,take ISIS frinstance , / crusades / the holy wars etc etc the world of Islamic radicals is at war with the west , in N/Ireland we were led to believe it was prods against catholics :whome:, and dont forget the padres before military go into battle , there he is stating god is on our side , god be with you , ha , it made me think that the enemy never had our god or their god on side , politics/footy/ yes people treat them religiously and will and have , killed in the name of it . Heysel stadium springs to mind as one time ref football , yea I take your points on board but still believe in my own thoughts .And im not looking for argument here either , religion divides , this is my opinion ,as for stats Monash , just look at history .

As for the original Q , once again , no , its here to stay .

kuku
28 Dec 14,, 15:17
Let's just say we don't need more reasons to fight. Religion will not end just like fantasy novels and the guys who like to play them.

kato
28 Dec 14,, 15:30
the only major study I am aware of on the topic disproved any such causal link. I have no access to my computer until next week but when I do I will post derails of the study.
Can only find something on some dubious - religious, proselytizing, evangelical - Swiss website, in German; but that one cites a study by an "Institute for Economics and Peace" together with a "Religious Freedom and Business Foundation" that claims that 14% of armed conflicts fought in 2013 were religiously motivated (nevermind that that sample size is rather small). The same study also supposedly found that apparently atheists and communists are to blame for the world's wars.

That the one you mean? :whome:


Let's just say we don't need more reasons to fight.

Personally, i like what the UN Special Envoy for Religious Freedom usually says on this matter. That is that religion is used as both an attribute of group identity and as a segregating barrier to form groups in the first place, easing its use as a separating factor in conflicts with other groups. And that effectively every religion on this planet is culpable of both letting itself be used and itself using this fact like this.

Mihais
28 Dec 14,, 16:00
Communists are definetely behind the worst wars and excesess of the 20th century.And they're definetely atheists.Also,the French revolutionaries were quite keen in eliminating religion and the religious.

As for today,the premises for a conflict are created inside the western societies.All of them.We have a universalist,leftist,multiculti alliance with the migrants from all corners of the earth.That is opposed to a conservative(for that reason partially religious),right wing and patriotic faction.Is this nascent conflict religious?Well only in part.It's economic,national,racial,cultural,it contains class struggle and only lastly it's religious.
We managed the performance to bring together all the causes that,indepenent of each other,caused wars and conflicts in the past.The effects of this synergy will be interesting to notice and quite funny to be played.

FJV
28 Dec 14,, 17:03
Rubbish , it divides communities , countries , and causes wars ,as millions of murdered humans can testify to it , killed in the name of religion .just another political tool .

But to answer the original Q , no it will never disappear ,its too far ingrained , but if people want/desire/have faith in it , thats up to them , go for it .

Even without religion we will fight plenty of wars, just because some people are dumb and easily manipulated. Religion is usually blamed, because otherwise we would have to admit that we are dumb and easily manipulated.

With religious books it often is the way you choose to understand and explain whether it is a tool for oppression or not.

And then there will be the fights over limited resources, which means a war over the last remaining bottle of whiskey in the world is a possible scenario.

kato
28 Dec 14,, 17:42
Communists are definetely behind the worst wars and excesess of the 20th century.
World War Two? Fascists.
World War One? Monarchists.
Second Sino-Japanese War? Monarchists.
The Congo Wars? Protofascists.
Vietnam? Nationalist junta.
Chinese Civil War? National-Conservatives.
etc


Also,the French revolutionaries were quite keen in eliminating religion and the religious.

Hebert's and Chaumette's anti-clerical actions were a rather minor part of the Reign of Terror; the War of the Vendee that saw most deaths as part of this was actually a counter-revolutionary uprising by Royalists. Of the trialled and executed during the Reign of Terror, only 6% were clergy while 72% were proletarians accused of counter-revolutionary actions. Hebert himself was guillotined in spring of '94.

Mihais
28 Dec 14,, 18:16
WW2 fascists&communists.

Vietnam-communists.
China-communists vs the rest.
Russian Civil war is worse than WW1 for Russia.
All the hot wars during the Cold War have a communist component.

What the hell are protofascists and what the hell have these invented culprits with the Congo wars?

It would be terribly strange for clergy to be a majority of victims in any anti-religious persecution.To ignore the religious part in the royalist uprising and the atheist part in the revolutionary genocide is to simply ignore one of the reasons for the vast cultural differences that led to such a brutality in Vendee.

kato
28 Dec 14,, 19:12
WW2 fascists&communists.
Stalin had time to think over whether he actually wanted to commit to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact before his troops crossed the border into Poland - two weeks after the Germans.


Vietnam-communists.
Communist dissidence against Diem was merely a reaction to his anticommunist pogroms that if Vietnam was in Europe would have been called White Terror.


China-communists vs the rest.
It was the Right KMT who started it in 1928.


Russian Civil war is worse than WW1 for Russia.
The Russian Civil War had less than 3 million dead, hence not even making that short list that is merely sorted by casualties.


All the hot wars during the Cold War have a communist component.
And an anticommunist component. Domino Theory took care of that. The number of hot wars of the Cold War of mentionable quantity in the context of this is rather small though.


What the hell are protofascists and what the hell have these invented culprits with the Congo wars?
It's a bit difficult to characterize Kagame and Kabila, but they do fit the Duce role regionally. Of course one has to adapt some concepts of the Fasci, but overall it works quite well as a description.

Mihais
28 Dec 14,, 19:46
A very convoluted thing passes for logic in you,mon ami.So Stalin and Hitler make a deal to divide Eastern Europe.At the time Hitler was not convinced the Western powers will declare war,but Stalin was aware.Because the Western diplomats told the Soviets this time is no bluff.
The Soviet attack came late,but it was the thing that broke Poland militarily.Up until then Polish prospects to continue resistence were reasonable.There are plenty of myths on the Polish campaign,but it was the Soviets that sealed their fate.
Both were assholes of first class,but Adolf turned out to be a bit more naive than Joe.
Russian civil war is worse than WW1 for Russia from any pov. But if doesn't makes it to your list...
You don't get the damn point.An anticommunist faction is a GOOD thing.But absent a Red faction,there is no need for something opposed to that.Btw,White Terror,anywhere, is a mere fraction of the Red Terror and it's a just a response anyway.

Which supports the wider point that reds are behind the worst crimes in the 20th century.Not religion :D

kato
28 Dec 14,, 20:20
You don't get the damn point.An anticommunist faction is a GOOD thing.
Nah, the point is pretty much that Imperialist Scum (tm) of all kinds is to blame for the last century.

Parihaka
28 Dec 14,, 22:27
In absence of a morality that derives its authority from a "divinity", what is the basis for an objective, universal morality in a society that rejects the existence of the divine? If a movement seeks to tear down an existing system, there must be an alternative proposed to structure society around.
.
IMO Religion co-opts morality from society, not the other way around.

tantalus
28 Dec 14,, 23:33
IMO Religion co-opts morality from society, not the other way around.

I suggest that is part of the truth, but fundamentally it stems from an innate biological sense, a moral instinct we are born with, although we vary individually to different degrees. Sociopaths deviate considerably from the median. We are born with morality, society, culture, religion et al. shape it to the specifics.

Parihaka
29 Dec 14,, 03:04
I suggest that is part of the truth, but fundamentally it stems from an innate biological sense, a moral instinct we are born with, although we vary individually to different degrees. Sociopaths deviate considerably from the median. We are born with morality, society, culture, religion et al. shape it to the specifics.

Is there a genetic component for our need to group? Yes, all species are born with it in order to survive. Beyond that, no, the moralities are nurture, not nature and are necessary for the survival of a tribe.

Officer of Engineers
29 Dec 14,, 04:38
Good God! Do you need any more proof than Stephen Hawking's imaginery time? Instead of accepting the fact that the equations cannot work, the most celebrated physicist of our time had to create imaginery time to make his equations work.

Imaginary time! The name says it all. It's all 100 percent pure bullshit. The equations works but the concept? Pure manure!

Mihais
29 Dec 14,, 08:05
I suggest that is part of the truth, but fundamentally it stems from an innate biological sense, a moral instinct we are born with, although we vary individually to different degrees. Sociopaths deviate considerably from the median. We are born with morality, society, culture, religion et al. shape it to the specifics.

To the Aztecs is perfectly right to sacrifice humans to Huitzilopochtli.Without that,the world ceases.So,are they psychos?Are they immoral?

snapper
29 Dec 14,, 13:31
I remember studying the four 'traditional' proofs' of the existence of God as an undergrad. As I recall them they were the Ontological Argument (a form of logical argument found in Descartes and before), the Argument from Design (if I find a watch in a desert then I must infer a watch maker etc) which Einstein referred to when he said "God doesn't play dice", the Cosmological Argument (a kind of cause and effect regression where 'God' is the first cause) and the Argument from Morality, which I think is what tantalus is denying here. I found none them to be actual proofs but I am a theist and (more or less) practicing Catholic myself, when I can I go to Church every day, nor need it be a Catholic Church; I've prayed in Mosques with Muslims before and love Orthodox Easter.

I generally have to agree with tantalus that Argument from Morality doesn't hold up: A good case can and has been made for morality as a form of species self preservation. Murder is bad because it diminishes the gene pool (re Dawkins Selfish Gene theory) but looking after orphans is good because it adds to the human sum etc. This though denies any true form altruism. Just because we have a sense of morality therefore does not mean there necessarily is a God.

I would also comment that religion is not the same as any one persons belief in the Divinity. My belief in God is very personal whereas a religion - any religion - is an organisation of humans normally with a hierarchy that operates within society. The humans that work in the organised religion being fallible and society being interest laden and political any religion is therefore bound to tempted and fall to political manipulation from time to time. I have several times seriously considered becoming a Nun myself as I regard the truest form of real religious observance the deep introspection and simplicity of life that only the Monastery can offer. If you want to 'be religious' 100% it seems to me you must renounce the world. To blame a religion that operates within society for being fallible is akin to saying society isn't perfect. Sure religion has, still is and will be used again as a pretext for war - the war in Syria is touted as Sunni vs Shia but this is abuse of true religion in my view.

I also think it wrong not to see Communism as a form of religion; in many ways it was the supreme attempt to create 'Man as God' that resulted from 19th Century Humanism with a mix of Left Hegelianism. Hell they made Lenin immortal and erected shrines to him everywhere... New Holy Scriptures emerged - from Karl Marx to Mao's Little Red Book. Even a theory of historical progression was dreamed up which showed that Communism was our destiny; heaven on earth. So when you say "the commies caused the most deaths between x and y" in many ways you are blaming a religion. Not that it's High Priests were believers themselves of course - they merely manipulated the existing belief structure and tried to substitute it's icons and festivals with their own, much the same as Christianity itself incorporated and changed many older pagan customs and dates - why do we paint eggs at Easter and when did a Christmas tree appear in Bethlehem? There again in many ways the Communist religion was merely a renewed form of old the oriental idea that Kings should be worshiped and can 'transcend' humanity - Lenin became immortal and 'pure' in the 'true' sense; pilgrimages were to the mausoleum were encouraged and his replica/shrine set up in 10,000 towns. The Party became his priests.

Regarding the religions of others - be it the Aztecs or those of ancient societies such as Carthage that we know to have practiced human sacrifice and others that used and stil worship polytheistically, I do not think we have the right to say they were or are wrong. Each culture represents their theism in different ways but this does not mean that religion is just a cultural phenomenon but rather that the belief in divinity is trans cultural - it is part of the 'human condition'. I must admit I would find it hard myself to pray the elephant God Ganesh but I can respect another persons faith as being of the same qualititative value as mine. In general I believe religion has been positive sociologically for humanity. Faith is more what matters though and is individual and private, no doubt all theists arrive by different paths, some look into the abyss and others have 'religious experiences', Saul on the road to Damascus or Lewis Carroll on a tram. I personally count myself lucky to have crossed the 'leap of faith' and know with surety that that there is a Divinity from where I came and to which I will return. I am quite sure when meet 'intelligent' aliens (or when we admit having met them perhaps) they will have a divinity too.

tantalus
29 Dec 14,, 20:01
Is there a genetic component for our need to group? Yes, all species are born with it in order to survive. Beyond that, no, the moralities are nurture, not nature and are necessary for the survival of a tribe.
Nature and nurture interact to produce the effect. The basic tendency to believe that killing a person is wrong, to have a sense of fairness, to desire cheaters to be punished are innate in humans, you don't need society to teach people from scratch to feel these emotions. Society can alter the perception of the circumstance of a moral killing, but people will always grow up to believe it is immoral to kill certain people, or that people who steal from them have committed an immoral act, ergo, an innate sense of morality, a very basic moral structure, which is then shaped by the person's environment.

Let's imagine I was correct for a moment, how could I prove that morality has a key genetic component that interacts with nurture, what kind of evidence would we expect to find if a moral instinct existed. It is not an easy question. We should expect some universal responses across cultures with people on moral issues that persist independent of culture. For food for thought, I offer the below article, which is long I apologise, but it is worth the read. I have extracted some passages, but it would be best to read the entire article.


The gap between people’s convictions and their justifications is also on display in the favorite new sandbox for moral psychologists, a thought experiment devised by the philosophers Philippa Foot and Judith Jarvis Thomson called the Trolley Problem. On your morning walk, you see a trolley car hurtling down the track, the conductor slumped over the controls. In the path of the trolley are five men working on the track,
oblivious to the danger. You are standing at a fork in the track and can pull a lever that will divert the trolley onto a spur, saving the five men. Unfortunately, the trolley would then run over a single worker who is laboring on the spur. Is it permissible to throw the switch, killing one man to save five? Almost everyone says “yes.”

Consider now a different scene. You are on a bridge overlooking the tracks and have spotted the runaway trolley bearing down on the five workers. Now the only way to stop the trolley is to throw a heavy object in its path. And the only heavy object within reach is a fat man standing next to you. Should you throw the man off the bridge? Both dilemmas present you with the option of sacrificing one life to save five, and so,
by the utilitarian standard of what would result in the greatest good for the greatest number, the two dilemmas are morally equivalent. But most people don’t see it that way: though they would pull the switch in the first dilemma, they would not heave the fat man in the second. When pressed for a reason, they can’t come up with anything coherent, though moral philosophers haven’t had an easy time coming up
with a relevant difference, either.

When psychologists say “most people” they usually mean “most of the two dozen sophomores who filled out a questionnaire for beer money.” But in this case it means most of the 200,000 people from a hundred countries who shared their intuitions on a Web-based experiment conducted by the psychologists Fiery Cushman and Liane Young and the biologist Marc Hauser. A difference between the acceptability of switch-pulling and man-heaving, and an inability to justify the choice, was found in respondents from Europe, Asia and North and South America; among men and women, blacks and whites, teenagers and octogenarians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and atheists; people with elementary-school educations and people with Ph.D.’s.

Joshua Greene, a philosopher and cognitive neuroscientist, suggests that evolution equipped people with a revulsion to manhandling an innocent person. This instinct, he suggests, tends to overwhelm any utilitarian calculus that would tot up the lives saved and lost. The impulse against roughing up a fellow human would explain other examples in which people abjure killing one to save many, like euthanizing a hospital patient to harvest his organs and save five dying patients in need of transplants, orthrowing someone out of a crowded lifeboat to keep it afloat.

By itself this would be no more than a plausible story, but Greene teamed up with the cognitive neuroscientist Jonathan Cohen and several Princeton colleagues to peer into people’s brains using functional M.R.I. They sought to find signs of a conflict between brain areas associated with emotion (the ones that recoil from harming someone) and areas dedicated to rational analysis (the ones that calculate lives lost and saved). When people pondered the dilemmas that required killing someone with their bare hands, several networks in their brains lighted up. One, which included the medial (inward-facing) parts of the frontal lobes, has been implicated in emotions about other people. A second, the dorsolateral (upper and outer-facing) surface of the frontal lobes, has been implicated in ongoing mental computation (including nonmoral reasoning, like deciding whether to get somewhere by plane or train). And a third region, the anterior cingulate cortex (an evolutionarily ancient strip lying at the base of the inner surface of each cerebral hemisphere), registers a conflict between an urge coming from one part of the brain and an advisory coming from another. But when the people were pondering a hands-off dilemma, like switching the trolley onto the spur with the single worker, the brain reacted differently: only the area involved in rational calculation stood out. Other studies have shown that neurological patients who have blunted emotions because of damage to the frontal lobes become utilitarians: they think it makes perfect sense to throw the fat man off the bridge. Together, the findings corroborate Greene’s theory that our nonutilitarian intuitions come from the victory of an emotional impulse over a cost-benefit analysis.

A Universal Morality?

The findings of trolleyology — complex, instinctive and worldwide moral intuitions — led Hauser and John Mikhail (a legal scholar) to revive an analogy from the philosopher John Rawls between the moral sense and language. According to Noam Chomsky, we are born with a “universal grammar” that forces us to analyze speech in terms of its grammatical structure, with no conscious awareness of the rules in play.

By analogy, we are born with a universal moral grammar that forces us to analyze human action in terms of its moral structure, with just as little awareness. The idea that the moral sense is an innate part of human nature is not far-fetched. A list of human universals collected by the anthropologist Donald E. Brown includes many moral concepts and emotions, including a distinction between right and wrong; empathy; fairness; admiration of generosity; rights and obligations; proscription of murder, rape and other forms of violence; redress of wrongs; sanctions for wrongs against the community; shame; and taboos. The stirrings of morality emerge early in childhood. Toddlers spontaneously offer toys and help to others and try to comfort people they see in distress. And according to the psychologists Elliot Turiel and Judith Smetana, preschoolers have an inkling of the difference between societal conventions and moral principles. Four-year-olds say that it is not O.K. to wear pajamas to school (a convention) and also not O.K. to hit a little girl for no reason (a moral principle). But when asked whether these actions would be O.K. if the teacher allowed them, most of the children said that wearing pajamas would now be fine but that hitting a little girl would still not be.

...Though no one has identified genes for morality, there is circumstantial evidence they exist. The character traits called “conscientiousness” and “agreeableness” are far more correlated in identical twins separated at birth (who share their genes but not their environment) than in adoptive siblings raised together (who share their environment but not their genes)...

http://www.faculty.umb.edu/adam_beresford/courses/phil_281_11/reading_moral_instinct.pdf

The basic moral structure is born to all humans, consider the underlined above. There is not a shortage of evidence to indicate the universality of the above, underlined traits. These are adaptive in evolutionary terms. Furthermore, conformity appears to be an additional layer, whereby people conform to the moral standards of their time. Our moral codes are clearly flexible, an adaptable feature that has proven evolutionary successful, allowing individuals to utilise their moral natures to thrive in various social circumstances they find themselves.

I am not sure if we are on the same page or merely talking past each other. When you say “moralities are nurture”, would you consider the above underlined traits to be included? Take the proscription of murder, I would suggest that the very idea that it is not acceptable to murder is innate, nurture has the ability to determine the people and circumstances that do and do not apply, a vital role nonetheless.

Would you concede the list to nature, while allowing the specifics to nurture? While acknowledging the caveat that they occur in unison in the real world.

The distinction is very important because the lack of it could allow for some people to conclude that religion may be necessary to teach morals, and that a way of life involving atheism could not, and because if we desire to teach our children a certain way to live, it is best to know they have the raw ingredients, we merely need to logically justify why it is unacceptable to murder anyone, we just need to define who is on the list. If our task is to define the list, not the game, we will develop, teach and enforce a moral code with greater success.

tantalus
29 Dec 14,, 20:12
To the Aztecs is perfectly right to sacrifice humans to Huitzilopochtli.Without that,the world ceases.So,are they psychos?Are they immoral?
I would consider such an act as immoral. That said you do have to judge people by their time as alluded to by Snapper in her post. Immoral is a label that exists only with the person who makes a judgement on an action. You cannot ask if they are immoral, only ask a person if they think a particular action or person as immoral. There is a subtle, yet vital distinction to be made here.

To extend on this, ask yourself if the aztecs had any sense of morality? Did they believe it an immoral act to kill someone, anyone? Was their list (see my above post) of people greater than 1. Under the appropriate circumstance there was surely murder and and the subsequent immorality of it in their society.

tantalus
29 Dec 14,, 20:48
I generally have to agree with tantalus that Argument from Morality doesn't hold up: A good case can and has been made for morality as a form of species self preservation. Murder is bad because it diminishes the gene pool (re Dawkins Selfish Gene theory) but looking after orphans is good because it adds to the human sum etc.

That is an old case in evolutionary biology and now are largely refuted one. Individuals refrain from murder for a lot of reasons, but in evolutionary terms out of self-interest, and to avoid the cost of reprisal. Thankfully individuals found a successful strategy that involved co-operation and refrained from murder, thriving over the eons, and reducing the sociopaths with a tendency for murder to a minority strategy that could only work in a larger population of those who do not murder.

In present time, we seem to be a species, under the right circumstances, dominated by a majority of individuals who have no interest in murder, the descendants of those with less of an appetite for the act. I grant the massive influence, and I mean massive, effect that society and nurture has allowed us to channel our better tendencies to further reduce murder rates, and create an environment that rewards those who do not murder, and punishes those who do. Nature and nurture, the evolution in biological terms and the evolution in culture, have interacted over tens of thousands of years leaving us with a complex historical narrative to study.



This though denies any true form altruism. Just because we have a sense of morality therefore does not mean there necessarily is a God.

The first sentence is very tricky. The second one is logically sound and I believe empirically true and must follow. In regard to the first, I believe that it does not, but my argument is under-developed. If all morality and emotions can be left to evolution, as adaptions, functional for the purpose of survival and/or propagation, explained by science, what are we left with? The subtle point has been made that humans have free will beyond their genes, in some cases we may have evolved to exercise it as the ultimate adaptation. As Dawkins states the use of condoms outwits a genome that "desires" reproduction. Furthermore, true altruism may exist, because you can only really trust and co-operate with a real altruist, not someone who just acts the role. Therefore, genes that produces real, altruistic behaviour thrived over the liars and actors. These are major themes, contentious ones, in evolutionary science.



I also think it wrong not to see Communism as a form of religion; in many ways it was the supreme attempt to create 'Man as God' that resulted from 19th Century Humanism with a mix of Left Hegelianism. Hell they made Lenin immortal and erected shrines to him everywhere... New Holy Scriptures emerged - from Karl Marx to Mao's Little Red Book. Even a theory of historical progression was dreamed up which showed that Communism was our destiny; heaven on earth. So when you say "the commies caused the most deaths between x and y" in many ways you are blaming a religion. Not that it's High Priests were believers themselves of course - they merely manipulated the existing belief structure and tried to substitute it's icons and festivals with their own, much the same as Christianity itself incorporated and changed many older pagan customs and dates - why do we paint eggs at Easter and when did a Christmas tree appear in Bethlehem? There again in many ways the Communist religion was merely a renewed form of old the oriental idea that Kings should be worshiped and can 'transcend' humanity - Lenin became immortal and 'pure' in the 'true' sense; pilgrimages were to the mausoleum were encouraged and his replica/shrine set up in 10,000 towns. The Party became his priests.

Semantics I think. There is a wide and loose definition that is used for religion, and I don't think bolshevism meets all the basic standards. The reality is, if you are flexible enough, various monarchies, dictatorships and pop bands can make the grade. Many of the features of religion exist elsewhere, religion does not have monopoly on them, and if you are flexible enough with a definition, you can make a case for a fit. I would agree that many of the same features appear in communist regimes that thrive such as the idolized leader. I don't think it is an ideological necessity for communism to be structured such a way, only that a communist state could never establish nor persist very long without such a behemoth dominating at the top, because the economic system is so alien to humans, in its extreme form of collectivisation, that the "Man as God" was required to maintain it. Any other communist state failed to establish, and cannot now be counted in history.



...I do not think we have the right to say they were or are wrong. Each culture represents their theism in different ways..
I understand this statement is from the perspective of someone with faith, but with respect (and I mean that, I enjoyed your post), I do. I treat religion and god like any other issue, evidence, facts, reasoned arguments, laws of the universe etc

No exceptions.



I am quite sure when meet 'intelligent' aliens (or when we admit having met them perhaps) they will have a divinity too.
Maybe so, that may be tied to the same potential pattern alluded to in the thread title and op. If they do, I believe it will be for similar reasons, [steeped in evolution, they too will be products of an evolutionary history (excluding AI)], the same, wrong reasons.

snapper
29 Dec 14,, 21:35
You mistake my meaning tantulus; I am not a priest and have no burning desire to convert you. I do not believe your evolutionary selfishness theory is a proof of the non existence of God - it clearly isn't - so please pay me the same courtesy of not preaching trying to 'convert' me as I do to you.

tantalus
30 Dec 14,, 01:46
You mistake my meaning tantulus; I am not a priest and have no burning desire to convert you.
I don't think I did. I did not perceive any "burning desire" either. I just replied to your text as how I saw appropriate.


I do not believe your evolutionary selfishness theory is a proof of the non existence of God - it clearly isn't
Nor do I.


... so please pay me the same courtesy of not preaching trying to 'convert' me as I do to you.
Posts are fair game for reply, but now that you have requested, fair enough.

Monash
08 Jan 15,, 11:24
Can only find something on some dubious - religious, proselytizing, evangelical - Swiss website, in German; but that one cites a study by an "Institute for Economics and Peace" together with a "Religious Freedom and Business Foundation" that claims that 14% of armed conflicts fought in 2013 were religiously motivated (nevermind that that sample size is rather small). The same study also supposedly found that apparently atheists and communists are to blame for the world's wars.

That the one you mean? :whome:

T. I finally got back home to check and no that wasn't the study I had in mind. As I recall it was a book call 'The Encyclopedia of War' which contained a detailed list of every every documented war in human history including their causes and outcomes. I believe the contributors found that Religion was a significant factor in less than 8 or 9% of all wars. And the authors in question have no religious 'bone' to pick.

Mihais
08 Jan 15,, 11:43
This one ? Amazon.com: Encyclopedia of Wars - 3 Volume of Set (Fact on File Library of World History) (9780816028511): Charles Phillips, Alan Axelrod: Books (http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Wars-Volume-Library-History/dp/0816028516)

tantalus
08 Jan 15,, 11:57
T. I finally got back home to check and no that wasn't the study I had in mind. As I recall it was a book call 'The Encyclopedia of War' which as I recall contained a detailed list of every every documented war recorded in history including their causes and outcomes. I believe the contributors found that Religion was a significant factor in something like 8 or 9% of all wars in recorded human history. And the authors in question have no religious 'bone' to pick.

I don't find that surprising. Warfare is another favourite practice of our species. It surely predates religion and certainly has no necessary link to it.