What place should religion have in the modern world?

Discussions relating to the positive and negative aspects of traditional faith-based religions

What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:21 pm

Religion is a very influential force in the world today, and this has been true since the beginning of recorded history. What are your thoughts on religion in general? Should religion be as influential as it is today? Would it be better if religion changed significantly so as to lead the world into a new era? If so, how?
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby kansasdad on Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:24 pm

All one has to do is take a look at history,and they ca clearly see what a complete disaster religion has been.In particular,"revealed religions".That being said,it is the extremeists in any religion who are the real problem.If people want to believe in Allah or Christ or the God of the old testament more power to them,but I hope they don't look down on others for believing in the Easter bunny or Tooth Fairy or any such figures.There seems to be the same amount of concrete evidence for one as the other. ;)
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Tue Oct 06, 2009 10:25 pm

I do largely agree with you that "revealed" religions have been a disaster to the world. The concept of revelation depends on people believing what others say or what they read in a book without any sort of evidence. This line of thinking has encouraged mass ignorance and has wrought horrific carnage throughout the world. It is about time for society at large, at least our relatively enlightened western society (compared to many other places in the world i.e. the Middle East) to finally realize that the truth about the world and life are not "revealed" in any book or through any privileged group, but can be understood by anyone who pays attention to how things work and questions every claim that they hear to try to figure if the claim makes sense in light of all other knowledge. People should understand that sometimes what they think they already know is wrong and that the new information that they come across is more justified.

That being said, I think that there can be religion that is not "revealed", or to put this another way, there can be religion that does not rely on faith. Religion is the belief in the supernatural. If one can come to a conclusion that something supernatural exists on the basis of actual evidence, then I don't see a problem with this. Though the word "supernatural" seems to have mystical implications, it simply means that which is not natural and "natural" means when things happen with perfect regularity based on laws, such as the laws of gravity. This also refers to anything created through natural laws, such as matter. I have come to the conclusion that the universe as a whole is best understood as supernatural because it could not have been created through natural laws. At least, if it was, then it would not be considered "the universe as a whole" because this would have to include the very laws of nature through which things come to be and which govern the change of things through time.

Just to clarify though, this belief is not near as important for me as understanding the laws of nature. I simply have come to the conclusion that a supernatural higher power is the best explanation for the existence of the universe and that this higher power can be called "God" though I am not yet sure if this word is appropriate. If anyone wishes to discuss the specific issue of whether there is a higher power then please see that discussion topic. I have already posted a more detailed explanation of the argument that I am posting here. Also, if anyone has a different explanation for the universe, then there is a separate topic for this as well, which up to this point nobody has posted to except me. I am interested to read the responses of anyone who is reading this.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby VA on Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:05 pm

I do think religion has had and still has a place in the modern world. Yeah, I guess you can look at history and see wars that were fought in the name of religion. But I think wars would be fought without any religion. There are many reasons for wars, it seems to be part of man's nature. I suspect that the reasons for wars (land, wealth, pride) caused many wars but their religion was used to justify their actions.
Religion should be a way of seeking, or further understanding Truth.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:13 pm

VA wrote:I do think religion has had and still has a place in the modern world. Yeah, I guess you can look at history and see wars that were fought in the name of religion. But I think wars would be fought without any religion. There are many reasons for wars, it seems to be part of man's nature. I suspect that the reasons for wars (land, wealth, pride) caused many wars but their religion was used to justify their actions.
Religion should be a way of seeking, or further understanding Truth.

Thanks VA. Just to clarify, I never intended to imply that all wars were fought in the name of religion. The truth is though that there have been some wars, acts of injustice, arrogance, ignorance, terrorist acts, etc. that can be directly attributed to blind faith in religion. Though it is rare that any one factor leads to something, the fact that blind faith in religion has contributed to these is cause for concern. Also, I want to clarify on what I mean by "blind faith". In this context, blind faith is simply believing in something without evidence. You believe in something though you have neither seen it or heard it yourself nor do you have any reason to logically conclude that this is true based on what you have seen or heard. Note that induction and abduction are valid forms of logic. Induction allows us to understand the laws of nature through observation of existing states of affairs. Nobody has ever seen gravity, but we can logically conclude that there is gravity by observing things fall. Abduction is useful for understanding the cause of things. Though this never leads to only one logical conclusion, we can use occam's razor to eliminate theories that are more complex than they need to be to explain a given phenomenon. So if one believes something without any logical reason whatsoever, then this is blind faith. I am arguing that people should not act on blind faith. If there are religious beliefs for which there is no evidence whatsoever, then it would be better for one to not believe this. Continuing to believe this may cause people to discount actual evidence if it does not easily square with their faith. This has lead to unnecessary suffering in the past and continues to lead to this in the present day.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Rich G on Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:23 am

Your definition of blind faith maybe more rare than you think it is. Let me use another word for faith. Let's use the word trust. There are many aspects and understandings in religion. Even in the same sect of religion, I don't know of anyone who understand all the aspects.

Let me say it this way: Instead of religion, lets use parents. When your parents tell you as a child not to talk to strangers... you listen because you trust your parents or have faith in them. But I agree for discussion sake to your definition of "blind faith". I just wanted to point out why having "blind faith" is not a bad thing.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Tue Oct 20, 2009 9:15 pm

Rich G wrote:Your definition of blind faith maybe more rare than you think it is. Let me use another word for faith. Let's use the word trust. There are many aspects and understandings in religion. Even in the same sect of religion, I don't know of anyone who understand all the aspects.

Let me say it this way: Instead of religion, lets use parents. When your parents tell you as a child not to talk to strangers... you listen because you trust your parents or have faith in them. But I agree for discussion sake to your definition of "blind faith". I just wanted to point out why having "blind faith" is not a bad thing.


Thanks for the post Rich. Blind faith, as defined above, is actually quite common. Here is why - although it is rare for a belief to be lacking any sort of reason to believe it, it is also common for people's beliefs to be incompatible with a clear understanding of how things work based on personal experience in life. When there are many millions of people in the world who either believe that Jesus had divine power or was an incarnation of God or that Mohamed was God's main prophet or that Jews are more important to God than other people, then these beliefs run counter to an understanding of the laws of nature that one can understand from personal experience. There might be a reason one can point to for believing these things, but these reasons for most believers usually don't involve either personal experience or logical conclusion. Some point to personal experience, but for those who don't experience this themselves, it does not make sense to believe other people's whimsical claims seeing Jesus or whatever. Some point to logic to make their case, but if they do it is always on very flimsy grounds and seems to violate the modern understanding of the laws of nature.

It is true that "faith" has many meanings. I discuss this in my book. One common meaning is an ongoing relationship of trust. As you mentioned, this can be a child trusting his or her parents, among many other examples. The child in this situation, though, has reason to trust the parents on the grounds of prior experience. I believe that this is a factor for many people's religious faith. They go to church and receive emotional help from the community. This often leads them to trust what is said there. The way I see it though, it makes more sense to separate the personal help from the content of the claims that are made in religious settings. If the church leaders or the scriptures are saying things for which no evidence can be found and run counter to a modern understanding of the world, which of course is based on society's collective personal experience and logical conclusions, then the churchgoer should be concerned about accepting this on the ground of blind faith. If one will accept that belief without evidence, then what else? Is there no limit? For many, there is no limit. Their blind faith leads them to believe things that clearly hurt themselves and others. This is very common this day and age. Yes, blind faith is very common.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Rich P G on Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:30 am

these beliefs run counter to an understanding of the laws of nature that one can understand from personal experience. There might be a reason one can point to for believing these things, but these reasons for most believers usually don't involve either personal experience or logical conclusion. Some point to personal experience, but for those who don't experience this themselves, it does not make sense to believe other people's whimsical claims seeing Jesus or whatever. Some point to logic to make their case, but if they do it is always on very flimsy grounds and seems to violate the modern understanding of the laws of nature.


Faith in religion deals with the supernatural. Personal experiences (depending on the experience) can bring enlightment or an understanding of the supernatual. Personal experiences are basically miracles. When a miracle takes place we only see the result of the miracle. ( Someone has cancer, prays, and then is cured. Or water, then wine.) You see the result, not actually it being done. The skeptic can say; The women with cancer was misdiagnosed, or there was some wine in those vessells and water was added and they thought they were drinking pure wine. Faith is a difficult thing to understand.

You conclude with saying blind faith can harm people. I recently saw a news story on parents that refused medical help from doctors for thier son. I believe that he ended up getting help but they were going to let him die because God would help him. I don't know anyone like that but would love to talk to someone with that type of thinking. That type of blind faith is dangerous.

For some reason I can not submit my reply without changing my user name. Rich G
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:50 pm

Rich P G wrote:Faith in religion deals with the supernatural. Personal experiences (depending on the experience) can bring enlightment or an understanding of the supernatual. Personal experiences are basically miracles. When a miracle takes place we only see the result of the miracle. ( Someone has cancer, prays, and then is cured. Or water, then wine.) You see the result, not actually it being done. The skeptic can say; The women with cancer was misdiagnosed, or there was some wine in those vessells and water was added and they thought they were drinking pure wine. Faith is a difficult thing to understand.

I have never had a personal experience that cannot be naturalized. If someone I knew had cancer and then was cured, it would not be difficult to come up with several naturalizable theories such as those that you mentioned and others, such as that cancer sometimes is cured naturally by the body or through chemotherapy. I wouldn't believe in a supernatural explanation for a phenomenon unless no reasonable naturalizable explanation can be found. For the existence of the universe, which contains all that is natural, there can be no naturalizable explanation because this would violate the premise. This is why I believe in God. For matters that can be explained within the system of laws that God put in place, I find it most reasonable to go with the natural explanation. I am not a skeptic. I am an empiricist. If I ever saw water turned into wine before my very eyes and could not see any natural way in which that could occur, then I might just call it a miracle. I haven't seen this and I will have to say that any claim that anyone saw this, be it in a holy book or from someone they know very well, the most reasonable thing to do is to not believe in this claim until something similar is personally experienced. The way I see it, if one attributes someone's cancer being cured to God, then the question that arises is why God allowed this person to get cancer in the first place. Of course, this question can be asked regardless of whether this person is cured or not. I have an answer to this, and I will provide it on this forum if anyone responds to the topic that I have posted under advanced concepts: "The problem of evil".
Rich P G wrote:You conclude with saying blind faith can harm people. I recently saw a news story on parents that refused medical help from doctors for thier son. I believe that he ended up getting help but they were going to let him die because God would help him. I don't know anyone like that but would love to talk to someone with that type of thinking. That type of blind faith is dangerous.

I agree. I certainly don't mean to proclaim that all blind faith is harmful. Some of it is quite spiritually helpful to people. But the nature of how blind faith works makes it so that people with the mindset of believing things without evidence or even in the face of strong counter-evidence can end up believing harmful things without realizing it. The way I see it, all of the important things about God, morality, and the meaning of life can be known through experience and reason so therefore I am seeking to encourage people to form a worldview that is based on these instead of blind faith. This will allow people to get the spiritual fulfillment of religion while avoiding the traps that come with blind faith.
Rich P G wrote:For some reason I can not submit my reply without changing my user name. Rich G

I think this might be caused by posting without registering your username on this forum. You should be able to post as many times as you like on this forum without registering, but I think this program that I am using only lets you do that if you are posting from the same computer each time. Otherwise it assumes you are stealing someone else's username. If you register then you should be able to use the same username everywhere.
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Re: What place should religion have in the modern world?

Postby technicolor on Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:59 pm

Once, in the news there was a boy, about 11 years of age who had a growth in his mouth. The cancer hospital said that it must be removed and that he must have a full round of treatment. His parents said no; that there was no proof that he had cancer, and that they weren't going to treat him without more evidence and other opinions; preferably from the holistic world of medicine. The State found the Parents negligent in their duty as parents and threatened to take him into custody. The parents fled with their son to Idaho in civil disobedience. The long story short, they won their case and determined to wait and see. The boy never developed Cancer and remained healthy. The part that I didn't mention was that they had prayed in earnest and felt, as a result, that he should not get the conventional treatment, that also would have left their son sterile. This is the other side of the coin of conventional wisdom. I know, the gamut of stories in the column of conventional wisdom is great, but for me and my house we shall serve the Lord.
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