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Humans have outgrown religion
Religion

dkturner
May 20, 2009
19 votes
15 debaters
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12
Religion is unnecessary


dkturner
May 20, 2009
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Let me begin by saying that I think religion was absolutely necessary in our early development. My hypothesis is that it is precisely the development of a religious sense that allowed our species to overtake the rest of the hominid family.

My argument is as follows: starting from a presumed amoral society, take the example of food theft. The strategy of stealing food is far less costly than the strategy of producing it, and so we must expect an evolutionarily stable strategy to arise where the number of stealers is kept in check by the number of producers available to steal from, and the risk of immediate retaliation by the stolen-from.

Into this stable strategy introduce the twin ideas that (a) stealing is "wrong", and (b) unbelievers must be killed or chased off. Neither idea is by itself an evolutionary advantage; however together they form a superior strategy to the simple stealer/producer strategies discussed above. This is the point at which I believe homo sapiens differentiated itself (prior to the development of full cognitive function!).

Fast forward to today. We now have full cognitive function, and are capable of debating (as indeed we are doing right now) moral and ethical issues. In fact, we have an extremely well-developed system of justice, manifest in our courts, lawyers, judges and prisons.

Observe that one of the twin ideas I mentioned, (a) stealing is wrong, has been codified into the various systems of justice. On the other hand, idea (b) that killing or driving off unbelievers is good has not generally been so codified. Why? Because we recognize rights such as freedom of speech, and the fundamental principle that disagreeing with someone is not grounds for murder or expulsion.

In short, our ability to reason has now superceded the axiomatic approach provided by our early superstitions. We no longer depend on absolute rules from an ineffable authority; rather we are capable of justifying the soundness and applicability of moral judgements on their own basis.

What does that leave for religion? In simple terms, we've taken the "good bits" - don't steal, don't murder and so forth - and made them into laws. That leaves the "bad bits" - kill the infidel, stone adulteresses, and so on - as the only value-add provided by religion.

It is my contention that we are now ready, as a species, to move on from such beliefs. The net value of religion to society is now negative. If you believe that ontogenesis parallels phylogenesis, then you might say that religion traps us in our pre-adolescence. The characteristic of adolescence is learning to question, to establish independent views, and to assume responsibility for one's moral judgements. By analogy, it is time for our species to do the same.

 
choccersthelegend
May 20, 2009
2 convinced
Rebuttal
I completely agree with the fact that religion is a net negative against society, even before the present day. The amount deaths that have been caused in the name of religion far outwiegh the positive benefits of such a religion, for example the current 'war on terror' which essentially boils down to Christianity vs. Muslim extremists, but stretching back further in time there is times such as the witch hunts in Britain commisioned by the church that led to the deaths of thousands of innocent women (unless someone wants to claim they were actually witches). Therefore we empatically no longer need religion.

 
dkturner
May 20, 2009
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thevenerablerob Show

One more point - if one's only hope is for an afterlife, then one is in a very sorry state indeed.

 
thoughtprocess
May 20, 2009
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Humans have obviously not outgrown religion as evidenced by the fact that there are quite a few religious people on this site. Should humans outgrow religion is the question. I believe they should. I have never really been religious, although I grew up in a pseudo-religious household (meaning they went to church for a half hour every week but led anything but a "Christian lifestyle").

I have seen up close and personal how ridiculous religion and many religious people are. "Let go and let God" is one of my favorite sayings by people looking to cop out. Religion many times goes hand in hand with backwards thinking. Refusal to welcome the achievements of science and other genuine developments of mankind. I feel religion is totally illogical.

 
thoughtprocess
May 20, 2009
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: frankiej4189 Show

I am actually quite proud that I criticize the saying and associate it with simple mindedness. I criticize myself in the same way when I have done this in the past.

When I analyze statements, or the people that make statements, like, "Let go and let God", I have noticed reoccurring behavioral traits and trends. Many times they are people who when faced with challenges in life that are surmountable by sheer use of willpower they are prone to using God as a way of copping out instead of working on facing the challenge head on in a healthy and realistic way.

I believe that kind of statement is the same as hoping for a miracle. They are hoping for a supernatural force to step in and help things go their way. I am sure it can have beneficial effects but in my opinion it is like a placebo effect.

I have known many religious people who have let the sh*t hit the fan in their lives, or the lives of their family members or friends, without saying as much as a word or making any attempt to help while they were witnessing or engaging in the very behaviors that led them to their respective crises. Then afterward, when catastrophe has struck, they whip out the Rosary beads or prayer cards and hope that God will set things right.

Do I think it can have beneficial effects occasionally? Sure, but I tend to associate it with the kind of mindset that is looking for a way to not confront something themselves and would rather leave it up to a God. I empathize with people who are truly in tough situations and look to a God but the people I am talking about have nothing to do with them.

 
dkturner
May 21, 2009
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thevenerablerob Show

"The Holocaust was hardly an incident of religious difference. It was one man's wild craze and hatred (prejudism) against the Jews, and his action to destroy them forever."

...and how did he managed to sway a whole nation full of otherwise very reasonable people? By exploiting their religiosity. Hitler made very definite efforts to appeal to Christianity, and in fact the "Fuhrer's Birthday" was officially celebrated in the Vatican for some time.

I am strongly against ANY sort of argument from authority, belief in the leader, jingoism, nationalism.... they're all the same thing, they all stem from our ability to swallow something just because of who said it.

I live in Africa and I have seen the effect of this all around me. Tinpot dictators and religious leaders use precisely the same techniques, and they exploit precisely that same function of our brain to spread their hogwash. It's hard not to get frustrated with this. We need, as a species, to grow up.

It starts with chucking out our childhood fantasies, facing reality as it is, and taking personal responsibility for our lives, morals and actions.

 
dkturner
May 20, 2009
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thevenerablerob Show

First point - the wars that weren't religious. I agree that they were not specifically religious in nature, but I will argue that many of them could not have taken place were it not for childhood indoctrination in religion. Specifically, I am claiming that religiosity is associated with that stage in our development when we are receptive to argument-from-authority. It appeals to that part of us that responds to our parents telling us "do this" or "don't do that". That same capacity to blindly follow a leader is most certainly to blame, at least in part, for the rise of Fascism. It is arguably also behind the resilience of the Communist Party of the USSR.

What I am saying is that the ills arise not necessarily from religion per se, but from the human capacity for blind faith that it fosters.

Second point - religion is not a necessary cause of good deeds. The fact that you point out the good deeds done in the name of religion suggests that you may have missed my point somewhat. Religion may well have been the initial instigator of a moral sense, but humans no longer require religion to make moral choices. To suggest that they do is to belittle our capacity to reason, which above all is what sets us apart as a species.

In terms of evidence, consider all the secular programmes - the World Food Programme, for instance - that perform humanitarian missions without any religious imperative.

Religion may well continue to unite us, but I am not convinced that this is prima facie a good thing. Too often it unites us in opposition to another religious group. How about plain old pride in humanity as a unifying factor? Or if you must be more selective of your friends, there's always national feeling (although I believe that this too is a dangerous motivator to violence).

 
dkturner
May 20, 2009
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: watchman81 Show

I believe we have already covered this territory. There is no doubt that religion WAS good for mankind; the question is whether it IS good.

I won't bother with your second paragraph since I have already addressed it (twice), except to say this: the very fact that you can read the bible and sort out the good ("love thy neighbour") from the bad ("if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one") is evidence that your moral value judgements have exceeded those available to the authors of the New Testament.

It follows that religious guidance is no longer necessary; and where it differs from common values is precisely where it is bad guidance.

 
dkturner
May 20, 2009
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: watchman81 Show

Missing the point, watchman!

You are INTERPRETING the bible. You can do this because you are RATIONAL. This means you can make moral judgements WITHOUT referring to a centuries-old text.

By claiming that I am misinterpreting the bible (and perhaps I am!), you are in fact proving my point.

 
dkturner
May 21, 2009
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: andre2552 Show

andre2552: If I understand you correctly, you're saying that yes, we have outgrown some parts of old religion, but there are other parts that will endure. I agree with that sentiment.

What I'm interested to know is your view on the nature of religion, rather than on specific religious dogma. I differentiate religion from science on the basis that religion asks for blind faith, and science asks for evidence and repeatable experiments. Sure, religion has plenty of good things to say. But its methodology is flawed. In that sense, I argue that we have outgrown it. Not outgrown some of its specific advice, but outgrown the process.

 
choccersthelegend
May 21, 2009
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thevenerablerob Show

Wars fought for territory or conquest aren't in the 'name of atheism' or caused by atheism howver you put it. The fact is there are many atrocities that have been caused due to differences in religious belief (the holocaust for example) however i find it difficult to argue that there have been many committed in the name of atheism. If you could give me a few examples of that then i'm sure that i would believe you more.

 
thoughtprocess
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: watchman81 Show

Come on, Watchman! Yo Momma was not and is not good for mankind.

 
thoughtcriminal
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: watchman81 Show

The MISSION of misionaries is not to HELP the less fortunate, but to CONVERT them.

 
thoughtcriminal
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: watchman81 Show

It is a means towards an end. The goal is to convert, so they help out a bit. My statement is sufficient to refute the notion that religion is some sort of bottomless well full of altruism. There is no altruism in religious indoctrination.

 
thoughtcriminal
May 22, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: watchman81 Show

My goal was to point out that missionary work was not altruistic.

 
thoughtcriminal
May 23, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: watchman81 Show

That argument depends on religion being more than manipulative lies, so it falls apart.

 
probablybored
Jul 22, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
While I don't think that we have necessarily "outgrown" religion, we certainly are starting to discard certain aspects of it as we further advance in science, such as the ever so popular agruement of human creation/evolution.
After all, it has been shown that religion was used to explain things that, at the time, we had no clue how to explain asides from including a super-natural forces. Now we can prove some of those things with, not religion, but with science.
Though I do believe religion isn't a "necessity" as people somehow do get along with not going to church or doing daily rituals, I believe religion would take a long time for humans to outgrow, if ever, due to some things that may not be able to be proven with sciences.



 
dkturner
Aug 11, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: akulakhan Show

I take issue with the idea that religious people are [necessarily] happier. As you say, ignorance is bliss, but my experience is that the more religious types are uptight and nervous, because of (a) the pressure that religion puts on them (fear of hell?) and (b) the perceived "wrongness" of the world (gay marriage, abortion, etc...).

The religious are trying desperately to conform to a morality that is not only inappropriate to the reality they live in, but also *designed* to be broken. Witness Ray Comfort asking a teenager, "Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever lusted after anyone? You're a sinner, but the good news is that God is willing to forgive you." Like the laws of George Orwell's Oceania, religious strictures are designed to be broken, to induce guilt, and therefore to render the population malleable and susceptible to dictation.

 
+ Add Argument

7
Religion is necessary


thevenerablerob
May 20, 2009
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: choccersthelegend Show

I have come upon this argument before, and let us consider the hundreds of wars that didn't fall between religious differences. Wars for conquest, power and might. Everybody yells, 'religious!' at the Crusades, but, in reality, the European powers were called forth in order to protect Byzantina and the Holy Land from Islamic conquest. The Holy Land is important to both religions for its sacred sites, and the wars were fought over them. It was fought over who would prevail. Sure the Pope used Christianity as a common cause to unite nations, but this is al it boiled to to - political summoning. Even the Revolutionary War and 1812, WWI and WWI, probly the most revered wars in the USA had nothing to do with religion. So, having stated that wars of conquest and greed were also frequent, may we also state that the amount of deaths that had been caused outway the benefits of atheism?

The war on Terrorism has nothing to do with the ancient 'Christians vs Muslims'. It has to do with the attempts to destroy terrorist regimes such as the taliban and Al Qaida - which are extremist groups.

The Catholics have done more than any other to aid the poor, the hungry and those in mental and physical turmoil. Non government run orphanages or soup kitchens are run by religious volunteers and workers. many charities revolve around churches.

The Salvation Army - largest distributor of secondhand products to underpriveleged in NA today - was founded on Christianity.

The point is, religion is not something that can ever become outdated as the time goes by. We're talking about personal faith and belief - not something tangible that can be thrown into a garbage bin. It's like saying we can dispose of your heart or soul and you may still live happily ever after.

people don't only use their religion and their God as a crutch and literal instructor - religion is far more than this.

In a time when society can fend for itself and belief in your innerself to be 'god' or there to be no god, it is easy to think that we can just throw away religion entirely. But, the fact is, we cannot and never will throw away religion. It unites people, gives them somehing to believe in, something to live for. The Christian Bible aptly states 'a Living Hope'.

 
andre2552
May 21, 2009
2 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thoughtprocess Show

There may be religious people, that's not even a question, but I certainly agree that humankind has outgrown the primitive beliefs that remain in religions today. We know better than them, even if some of us choose not to. The philosophies rather than the rules and beliefs in higher powers, creationism and so forth, however, might live longer as philosophy and one's own belief in certain philosophical ideas cannot be disproved by science.

 
jonjax71
May 20, 2009
1 convinced
Rebuttal
I don't believe in religion, I have no use for it and am of the opinion that religion has little to do with God and historically has been used by the forces that control religion to control people, let's not forget that for centuries religion was the government. All of that said human will never outgrow religion and it is necesarry because the majority of mankind as evident by the billions around the globe that do believe and follow some type of religion

 
watchman81
May 20, 2009
1 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thoughtprocess Show

Oh snapcracklepop son! Good thing you don't let go and let yo' momma! You'd be eaten out of house and home, along with the rest of the entire block!! Word!

 
lordhaines
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: choccersthelegend Show

I agree with everything you said, except for the witch part. Some women were proven to be involved with witchcraft, but more of a pagan type then Hollywood type. certainly not enough to kill them though, but still guilty of witchcraft nonetheless

The Roman Catholic Church pursued centuries of torture and murder around Europe, especially the Inquisition. It is time for the world to move on as you said.

 
hephaestus247
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
The majority of the world subscribes to one religon or another.If you asked them right now,I doubt they would be ready to give up their faith.Besides,maybe you need to respect the fact that some people have a religon and are not aetheists or humanists and they do not want to throw away what you claim to be a tired religon for somone on posting a debate online.

 
hephaestus247
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: choccersthelegend Show

You make a great point.Perhaps if association of religon was abolished then these things could be prevented.However,I think it is practical to say that these things have already taken root in a large part of the world (ergo the Vatican,Mecca,ect.)and perhaps there can be no religon without association.It seems to me that man is unable (this may not be true for all people however)to hold his faith without forming a community.Not only will groups naturally associate,but early man (and still many people today) needs the sort of confirmation that a large group of people brings.Structure cements his faith.

 
watchman81
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Religion has always been a necessary part of humanity. As thevenerablerob stated, religion has been far more good for the world than bad. Religious organizations have helped millions of people around the world. This is not to say that there aren't secular organizations that help people worldwide, but the majority of charity and help given is from religious organizations. Through donations and missionary work, these people do more than just giving money, they help build houses, churches, as well as bringing food.

There have been religions that have caused wars as well as other atrocities. I can only speak for Protestant Christianity in this regard. The people who have done evil in the name of Jesus Christ were clearly NOT following his teachings. They were only using the bible to justify their evil deeds. If one reads the bible, they have no justification for the inquisition, atrocities committied during the Crusades, and other evil acts. The people who committed these acts were not doing because they believed their religion told them so (at least the leaders weren't). They were doing it to maintain their power. If religion hadn't existed, they would have just found another reason. The capacity to commit these acts has nothing to do with religion, but with the flawed state of man. One only has to look at Communist Russia or China to see examples of atrocities that can be inflicted by those who don't even believe in God.

 
frankiej4189
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thoughtprocess Show

I've seen "Let go and let God" do some fantastic things for people and its a shame you belittle that saying and associate it with simple mindednes. The religious extremists/fundamentalists/whatever that you're talking about who ignore science and close their minds to anything contradictory to their beliefs are in the minority.

 
thevenerablerob
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: dkturner Show

agreed, watchman. The USSR was almost completely devoid of religion, and look at the treament of people, the constricted lifestyle, the coldness, the lack of love for life, the corruption and all that the USSR stood for - a cold hard industrial complex. A nation looking for war. Concentration camps for anybody who stammered out a protest. Russia is still far from perfect, but now that the Russians are able to utilize the Eastern Orthodox Church once again, many are happier. They have found reason to live. If church was something to be outgrown, why did the people during the USSR regime risk their lives to illegally import Bibles? The society in terms of moral choices and related modernization is roughly the same, so why would they risk their lives to slavery (or outright death) to secretly worship God if He wasn't needed, anymore? It is the same as China right now. While China is not completely offcially atheist, the Government frowns upon religion. This typically spells doom for believers. Yet, they choose to believe, anyway. Why would they do this if they believed that they could just throw God away, like I previously said?

The answer is, also as I previously said, that God cannot be thrown away. God is the allmighty being who (according to belief) has created us. He cares for us, loves for us, brings comfort etc. You cannot throw this away any more than you can throw away your heart or soul or even loyal spouse in which you love with all your heart. If you did lose it, you would feel a void - a nothingness. Faith is not tangible. It will never be outdated.

Your argument about blinde faith seems irrelevant and preposterous. Your soldiers marched off to the Civil war because of blind faith in leaders? WWI and WWII were fought and inexplicably connected to a religious brainwashing that summoned all soldiers to fight? The Crimean was fought because of the religiosity you claim? As were the napoleanic Wars, the Wars of Austrian and Spanish succession and the Seven Years War? Yeah, I seriously think your logic of chained events are flawed. these wars all started because somebody got it in his head to conquer and become the dominant power (thus having to be stopped).

watchman pointed out thatthere are wars in the name of religion that weren't really real at all. Just to enforce the position, have any of yuo heard about the LRA in Sudan and neighboring countries? Lord's Resistance Army, it's called. However, it is the farthest thing from the Lord that could be found. This 'army' kidnaps children, rapes them and abuses them and makes them fight for selfish reasons. This group is sickening in their behaviour - they take a name that doesn't apply to them, commit horrible deeds and try to destroy credibility for true Christians anywhere.

No, humans don't need to use religion to decide whether or not to murder somebody. Studying the Bible does aid one when making the moral decisions about such things as pornography, marijuana, abortion, smoking or even becoming drunk on alcohol etc, however. Sure, you can make this decision without the Bible, but, since there really isn't any law regarding such issues, there really wouldn't be any reason for people not to do it, eventually, would there? The Bible does clearly state that such desires will eventually overcome the human, and so it enforces that porn, smoking, drinking, doing drugs all should be avoided. It solidifies a positive moral decision.

There's also a World Child program set up by the church in which families and other churches may support an underprivileged child/ren in Africa and South America. Every Christmas a program sponsored by Billy Graham? called Operation Shoe Box is a time when people each fill a shoebox with toys and articles for a child in Africa.

Missionaries travel to remote places all over the world, sacrificing comfort to both teach the people about God and adminsiter to their mental and physical needs.





 
watchman81
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: dkturner Show

My argument was that religion WAS and IS good for mankind. The examples I gave of missionaries helping the less fortunate is still happening today.

"the very fact that you can read the bible and sort out the good ("love thy neighbour") from the bad ("if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one") is evidence that your moral value judgements have exceeded those available to the authors of the New Testament."

Not at all. As a matter of fact, using these two verses together isn't a good example that would prove your point. Jesus did say both of the quotes you have here, but you are misinterpreting what he meant in the second quote. Jesus telling his disciples to buy a sword isn't bad at all. Jesus told his disciples to buy a sword in order to defend themselves. There is nothing wrong or bad about self defense, therefore, there is no good or bad for me to separate here.

 
watchman81
May 20, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thoughtcriminal Show

As someone who has been on many missions trips, I will tell you that you are wrong. Yes, it is to both HELP them AND convert them. If they do not accept our religious views, we still help them. Your statement however, does not prove that religion is unnecessary, but I'm not even sure if you were trying to prove it is by your statement.

 
thevenerablerob
May 21, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: choccersthelegend Show

See, you've just clarified the point I was trying to make. Wars aren't fought in atheists name even if they aren't fought in religion's name. Yet, there were several wars which were fought in Religion's name that had nothing to do with religious ideals or advantage - unless conquering land is going to further a religious cause, which it doesn't. :P The point is, many wars are religious in name but not in action. We could tag a couple wars (such as Vietnam and Korea, IndoChina Wars, WWII) as 'atheist' wars, but what's the point? These wars weren't fought for atheism or, in name, religion. They were fought against conquerors and Communism.

The Holocaust was hardly an incident of religious difference. It was one man's wild craze and hatred (prejudism) against the Jews, and his action to destroy them forever.

 
watchman81
May 23, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: thoughtcriminal Show

Yes, but you failed. The goal of converting while helping people in other countries IS altruistic. Christians believe that converting others is good for them. So is helping feed, clothe, and house them. Therefore it is altruistic.

 
akulakhan
Jul 12, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Everyone needs something to believe in, and to take actions against beliefs is wrong. Think about it, Religious people are incredibly happy. As long as they think they know the truth, they will feel good about themselves. And that is fine. Ignorance is bliss my friends, and when you question too many things, you'll end up like me! All hollow inside. And that's why I would have taken the blue pill.

 
wajid
Jul 21, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
God created the devil for one purpose, to lead mankind away from the worship of God. The purpose of the devil is to influence mankind that it does not need God or His advice. By allowing the devil to influence man into not needing God man suffers from not recieving the countless blessings available.

 
wanttogetout
Aug 10, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
religeon is necessary without it there would be no rednecks or republicans now that i think about it that would be a wonderful thing and rid the world of retards

 
akulakhan
Aug 12, 2009
0 convinced
Rebuttal
Rebuttal to: dkturner Show

I see what you mean, that in it's nature, a religion builds on fear.

 


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