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Old 12-06-2009, 12:38 PM   #226
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I believe in God and Jesus. I believe Jesus was the son of God but not God himself. This is why I do not call myself a Christian:

1. I do not believe that this is the only way to go to Heaven or that all other religions are wrong and must be converted to get their souls saved. I find it annoying and rude when people push this agenda.
2. I do not believe the Bible is the word of God, only the history of the people in the region in those days. Studying scripture is like studying history. Just because some guy felt that way one day thousands of years ago doesn't mean you have to live by it today.
3. I do not believe that all a persons' sins and purposeful transgressions against others are automatically erased just because he says some words on the back of a piece of paper- especially when he does not change his ways at all. People use "Christian forgiveness" to get out of things they really shouldn't have.
4. People use religion to scare and control people and to dislike or disapprove of others. I don't like that.
5. I am not a joiner, I do not want to go to church, be a member of a 'church family' or be bothered for money.
6. I don't label myself, I'm all over the place.
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Old 12-06-2009, 01:10 PM   #227
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Originally Posted by maycocksean View Post
This pretty much sums up my reply.

I don't think Stalinist Russia, China during the cultural revolution, or Nazi Germany was populated soley by evil people. There were a lot of good, non-religious people who did evil things.
Fair enough Just thought I'd throw that out there
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Old 12-06-2009, 06:44 PM   #228
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Committing is not the problem. Submitting may just be--sometimes handing over your own judgment to another, abdicating your personal responsibility to what you see as a greater authority--manmade or man-interpreted. You are not just not responsible. You feel you are absolved. There are plenty of psychological studies (some discussed previously in fym) demonstrating what generally decent people will do under the slightest whiff of authority. People will behave badly against all reason other than someone told them to, told them it was OK, told them it was necessary.

Certainly not everyone, religious or not, responds that way. But enough of them do to make a psychological strategy like that successful.

What makes the unacceptable acceptable? That's the problem.
I think you answered your own question, in part. There is such a thing as the authoritarian personality type (think Dwight in The Office).

But it's not just that. More nuanced individuals might be carried down some pretty weird roads by the pressure of crisis, real or perceived. You see it in political movements, commercial organisations, hell probably even recreational clubs that come under the sway of one or two dominant personalities.
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Old 12-06-2009, 07:03 PM   #229
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Agreed that it is only one component of what makes the unacceptable acceptable. It's not the whole discussion, but it's part of it. (Don't watch The Office even though I only live about twenty miles from Scranton and have a Dunder Mifflin kiosk in the local mall, but I think I get your point).
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Old 12-06-2009, 07:06 PM   #230
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Cultish behaviour may be produced by any human group, but religion seems to seed it better than other organisations.
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Old 12-06-2009, 07:39 PM   #231
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Well, sure. Religions from pagan onward have had millenia in propaganda development and you add an unseeable, untouchable, emotionally powerful supernatural that strikes a chord in many people, maybe a primal chord, you have fertile ground.

But most religious people do not fall under a dangerous sway.
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Old 12-06-2009, 07:44 PM   #232
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Oddly enough I thought a lot of the protestant branches of Christianity - which correct me if I'm wrong, tend to be the more dominant in the US, where most of you are posting from - were supposed to place a heavy emphasis on personal salvation, faith as a matter between a man/woman and their god. Which should rather cut against all those concerns about power structures and controlling people and the rest? Was that not why they cleaved away from Rome in the first place?

Of course I understand if it doesn't always work that way in practice.
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Old 12-07-2009, 03:45 AM   #233
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Was that not why they cleaved away from Rome in the first place?
Partly. It was mostly so they could use french ticklers if they wanted to
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:13 AM   #234
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every sperm is sacred, jive turkey.
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:30 PM   #235
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Originally Posted by AnnRKeyintheUSA View Post
I believe in God and Jesus. I believe Jesus was the son of God but not God himself. This is why I do not call myself a Christian:

1. I do not believe that this is the only way to go to Heaven or that all other religions are wrong and must be converted to get their souls saved. I find it annoying and rude when people push this agenda.
2. I do not believe the Bible is the word of God, only the history of the people in the region in those days. Studying scripture is like studying history. Just because some guy felt that way one day thousands of years ago doesn't mean you have to live by it today.
3. I do not believe that all a persons' sins and purposeful transgressions against others are automatically erased just because he says some words on the back of a piece of paper- especially when he does not change his ways at all. People use "Christian forgiveness" to get out of things they really shouldn't have.
4. People use religion to scare and control people and to dislike or disapprove of others. I don't like that.
5. I am not a joiner, I do not want to go to church, be a member of a 'church family' or be bothered for money.
6. I don't label myself, I'm all over the place.
I like you.
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:37 PM   #236
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An article on the links between religion and social dysfunction.
Quote:
Are we better off without religion?

Sue Blackmore

Popular religious belief is caused by dysfunctional social conditions. This is the conclusion of the latest sociological research (pdf) conducted by Gregory Paul. Far from religion benefiting societies, as the "moral-creator socioeconomic hypothesis" would have it, popular religion is a psychological mechanism for coping with high levels of stress and anxiety – or so he suggests.

I've long been interested in Paul's work because it addresses a whole bunch of fascinating questions – why are Americans so religious when the rest of the developed world is increasingly secular? Is religious belief beneficial to societies? does religion make people behave better?

Many believers assume, without question, that it does – even that there can be no morality without religion. They cite George Washington who believed that national morality could not prevail without religions principles, or Dostoevsky's famous claim (actually words of his fictional character Ivan Karamazov) that "without God all things are permitted". Then there are Americans defending their country's peculiarly high levels of popular religious belief and claiming that faith-based charity is better than universal government provision.

Atheists, naturalists and humanists fight back claiming that it's perfectly possible to be moral without God. Evolutionary psychology reveals the common morality of our species, and the universal values of fairness, kindness, and reciprocity. But who is right? As a scientist I want evidence. What if – against all my own beliefs – it turns out that religious people really do behave better than atheists, and that religious societies are better in important respects than non-religious ones, then I would have cause to rethink some of my ideas.

This is where Gregory Paul and his research come in. I have often quoted his earlier, 2005, research which showed strong positive correlations between nations' religious belief and levels of murder, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and other indicators of dysfunction. It seemed to show, at the very least, that being religious does not necessarily make for a better society. The real problem was that he was able to show only correlations, and the publicity for his new research seemed to imply causation. If so this would have important implications indeed.

In this latest research Paul measures "popular religiosity" for developed nations, and then compares it against the "successful societies scale" (SSS) which includes such things such as homicides, the proportion of people incarcerated, infant mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, teenage births and abortions, corruption, income inequality, and many others. In other words it is a way of summing up a society's health. The outlier again and again is the US with a stunning catalogue of failures. On almost every measure the US comes out worse than any other 1st world developed nation, and it is also the most religious.

For this reason Paul carries out his analysis both with and without the US included, but either way the same correlations turn up. The 1st world nations with the highest levels of belief in God, and the greatest religious observance are also the ones with all the signs of societal dysfunction. These correlations are truly stunning. They are not "barely significant" or marginal in any way. Many, such as those between popular religiosity and teenage abortions and STDs have correlation coefficients over 0.9 and the overall correlation with the SSS is 0.7 with the US included and 0.5 without. These are powerful relationships. But why?

The critical step from correlation to cause is not easy. Paul analyses all sorts of possibilities. Immigration and diversity do not explain the relationships, nor do a country's frontier past, nor its violent media, and so he is led to his conclusions: "Because highly secular democracies are significantly and regularly outperforming the more theistic ones, the moral-creator socioeconomic hypothesis is rejected in favour of the secular-democratic socioeconomic hypothesis"; "religious prosociality and charity are less effective at improving societal conditions than are secular government programmes".

He draws implications for human evolution too. Contrary to Dan Dennett, Pascal Boyer and others, he argues that religion is not a deep-seated or inherited tendency. It is a crutch to which people turn when they are under extreme stress, "a natural invention of human minds in response to a defective habitat". Americans, he says, suffer appalling stress and anxiety due to the lack of universal health care, the competitive economic environment, and huge income inequalities, and under these conditions belief in a supernatural creator and reliance on religious observance provides relief. By contrast, the middle class majorities of western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have secure enough lives not to seek help from a supernatural creator.

These are powerful conclusions indeed, and if they are right the US in particular needs to take note. But are they? I still retain some caution. I keep reminding myself of the obvious point that in science it is all too easy to apply a more critical eye to research whose conclusions you disagree with. In this case the wiggly route from correlation to cause includes many questionable steps, and clearly a lot more research is needed. I was also dismayed by what might seem trivial – the appalling number of typos and other mistakes in the only version of the paper I could find – the one that is linked from the press release and several other places. There are missing words, added words, "their"s for "there"s and other errors that sometimes made it hard to follow. If the text was so poorly checked, I wondered, what about the data? Should I apply my critical concerns to those stunningly high correlations too?

I guess we'll find out, for this is a hot topic and a thriving research area. For now we need not necessarily agree with Paul that "it is probably not possible for a socially healthy nation to be highly religious" but he has certainly shown that the healthiest nations are also the least religious.
Are we better off without religion? | Sue Blackmore | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Heres a link to the original paper http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP07398441_c.pdf

I think the causation/correlation issue makes it hard to declare that religion is bad a priori, but the social conditions that allow secularism and atheism to flourish are better than those that encourage religiosity.
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