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Old 23.10.2006, 10:20
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Is religion the cause of all evil?

and before someone jumps on this, I am not singling-out any religion here.

Having watched "Kingdom of Heaven" and "The Da Vinci Code" this weekend and having seen on the news today that Taliban militants are targetting Europe.....I have to ask (in Carrie Bradshaw style)
  • Is religion the cause of all evil? [because of man]
Consider the movies;
  • Crusades - features heavily in Kingdom of Heaven and also in Da Vinci
  • In The Da Vinci Code it seems (although this book is fiction) that the Church transpired to hide the fact that Mary Magdalene had a child with Jesus - whilst some might cast doubt on this, the underlying position of [most] church[es] is that women do not feature
Consider history;
  • How many wars have been waged over religion, religious beliefs and so-on?
Consider [some of] the books upon which many religions are based;How much manipulation and editing and willful changing of these texts has been made by man? How much [deliberate] mis-interpretation has been made by man in his "understanding" of these texts (for example, homosexuality in the Bible)?

So, discuss (constructively) reglion, man's role in how religion has developed, etc. (Do note that reglious hatred has no place here, though)
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Old 23.10.2006, 10:27
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

No comment. Don't do religious stuff.

Except to say perhaps change your forum name to "Ground Zero" and I'm gonna stand the hell back...
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Old 23.10.2006, 10:39
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

No, but possibly the interpretation of some religious texts will certainly contribute to the evil score. However, if some people didn't have religious texts to reinforce their views then they'd find something somewhere else.
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Old 23.10.2006, 10:41
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

It's not the Bible or Koran that are the problem it's man's (an it's generally men) interpretation of the same and resulting impossition of his ideas in the name of religion.

It stands to reason that no releigion (Christian or Muslem) that preaches peace and turn the other cheek would not be resposible for so many wars without manipulation...
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Old 23.10.2006, 10:46
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

alright - we agree MAN is largely the problem.

Let's rephrase it - was the Pope correct in sanctioning the Crusades, for example?
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Old 23.10.2006, 10:47
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Gee Lob, you sure know how to pick them don't you?

This could turn into an interesting thread discussing issues in a rational way. On the other hand, the usual suspects may turn up and turn it into a free-for- all of hatred, fear, distrust and misinformation. Good luck keeping it on track!

I myself am an athiest, but will defend the right to religious freedom. So in other words if people believe in things like a virgin birth, creationism etc good luck to them. I'll defend their right to practice their faith in whatever way they so choose (as long as it is not violent or imposes on others), but don't expect me to actually believe any of it.

Lob, you mentioned that the Bible and the Koran were written by man. Since I don't believe in god(s), I would agree. Those documents themselves claim to be written by god, so people who follow those religions would automatically disagree.

But onto the question - is religion the cause of all evil? I think religion is just the manifestation of a deeper behaviour - our need to form beliefs about something we don't understand, then surrund ourselves with people who share that belief. Why? It validates our own belief and brings it closer to "fact" (at least in our own minds).

If we had one particular tribe which held a vastly different view to another tribe they usually had a choice - follow the same idea and way of thinking or face a war. It's been happening since the beginning of time, and it still goes on today. Sure, we all pretend that we are more civilised, but in reality we prefer to surround ourselves with people who hold the same basic beliefs and opinions as we do, be it politics, religion or anything else.

Is human nature the root of all evil?
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Old 23.10.2006, 10:49
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Quote:
alright - we agree MAN is largely the problem.

Let's rephrase it - was the Pope correct in sanctioning the Crusades, for example?
Is / was the Pope a man?



BTW I think continuously changing ones avitar is really the root of all evil...
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Old 23.10.2006, 11:04
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

I'm game. Religion is a lot of things. One of them is the obvious one, a belief in something supernatural that allows one to ignore tough questions by delegating them to a higher authority.

Other things religion is are:
A way for some people to exploit their fellow man
A way for some people to con their fellow man into acts they wouldn’t otherwise do

So I don’t believe that religion per se is evil. I believe that it is the use to which it is put that causes the problem.

We know that the Bible was edited together by Constantine in order to forge a weapon against the people he needed to control, particularly the forcefully converted pagans. It was used by the Church for centuries as a tool to oppress and exploit those unable to read it themselves. (Has anyone else actually visited the Vatican by the way? The wealth there has been toned down a bit recently, but it is still staggering). It is still used by various unscrupulous regimes around the world (the Bush administration for one) to control the suckers, but it doesn’t seem to work in more civilised areas, like Europe.

The Koran is a different kind of tool in that it appears to have been designed much less as a political tool, and more as a codex of law, health and dietary advice and general behaviour. There’s an awful lot of “If a man steals another’s goat, but gives him back another goat later the thief must also give the man who’s goat was got a year’s worth of goat milk.” etc. in it. Nevertheless, like the Bible and Torah, it’s full of archaisms and ambiguity which are the loopholes that the unscrupulous use to cause trouble. For example the, prohibition of alcohol is read in Saudi to mean all alcohol is illegal, but used to be (before the present regime) read in Iran as meaning that you shouldn’t drink spirits or drink to the point of drunkenness. Back in the old days Iran was pretty cool on this, at a time when, as now, getting caught with a bottle of beer in Saudi would have you jailed for 3 months and deported.

As far as the homosexuality thing goes, I cannot recall having read it myself, but I understand that the Bible says a fair bit in the whole Sodom and Gomorrah story, and a bit where the command is given “A man shall not lie with a man as though with a woman”. Personally I think that a 2,000 years dead Jew has very little relevance to what anyone does, but I don’t believe that anywhere it is written that we should sling Oscar Wilde in jail for his ‘sins’.

Islam is a lot more trenchant on the subject. While I was in Abu Dhabi there was a sad case of two Saudi men who wanted to live together as openly gay. The religious police were called and warned them to shut up. The guys were told that if they did what they did without telling anyone, no-one would bother them, but they wanted to make a point. So eventually they were threatened with public execution if they didn’t just keep it quiet. Again they refused, so they were arrested and thrown into separate jails. The execution threat had just been a bluff. They were released three years later and set up home again, but told the newspapers that they had realised their sin and were now living together as friends only. Sure!

The point of this last story was that, whatever “God” says, unless there is a benefit to those in power no-one will follow the rules too closely. The Saudis had a perfect excuse to execute those guys, but knew that it would be a political bullet in the foot, so they did all they could to just make it go away. You can bet your butt that, had it been politically beneficial those guys would have been beheaded within days.

I should point out that although I am anti-religion, it’s not a violent abhorrence. I consider it a stupid tool to put into other’s hands, and I believe it intellectually unjustifiable, but I don’t think it does a lot of harm if practised in moderation.

In fact, in a country like Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar or Oman Islam is a great thing. It’s not used by extremists; it is just the backbone of the law. In these countries they very, very rarely use the more vicious aspects of Sharia. You won’t see amputations or beheadings, though you will see what we would consider appalling injustice (throwing gays in jail, jailing girls who get pregnant outside marriage) these are rare though, and in general these regimes are very tolerant, decent and humane. I have never felt as safe as I did in Bahrain. The Bahrainis are the kindest, most decent generous people I have ever known and I believe that a large part of that comes from a religion that preaches sharing, generosity, peace and kindness (as well as death occasionally).

So, I repeat: religion isn’t bad, people are. Religion is just one of the tools used to keep political advantage. If it is used kindly it is a good thing, if it is used badly it is an awful thing.
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Old 24.10.2006, 11:43
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

As stated by others it is my belief it's religion used as an evil tool by man that causes problems. Then again mankind can be pretty evil without religion being the cause. Hitler and his gang are testomony to this. I reckon it's mankinds excuse for acting out a basic animalistic need for power over the masses, "the strongest lion, the biggest Silverback". Maybe it was mans inherent intelligence and social concience that caused them to write these books of guidance in the first place.
I've always found religion a puzzling thing, i dont object to it in it's gentle loving form but "it dont half " screw many people up. As far as i'm concerned if Jesus or Mohammed walked this earth today you'd most likely find them incarcerated in a state mental hospital or living in a remote commune in Cornwall or wales.
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Old 24.10.2006, 13:06
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Most of it, of course
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Old 24.10.2006, 13:31
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Good topic. I was about to post a similar one along the lines of George Bush, Tony Blair and Osama (the worlds favourite terrorist) and how religion is being used to exploit the masses.

Like the others, I don't believe that religion itself is evil any more then I believe that you can have a war on terrorism. But, I do despise the way that all of these people use religion to justify their crusades.

What really confuses me is how seemingly intelligent people can be led astray in such an obvious manner.
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Old 24.10.2006, 15:32
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

I'm just re-hasing what others have said on this post (I must admit I'm quite impressed with such an interesting conversation, so much so that this is actually my first post after being a member for a couple of weeks) but its when religion becomes Organised, that the problem lies.
For example somebody being higher up the chain than somebody else (priest etc.) and they end up being the ones that are listened to, and more importantly, not questioned.

Nothing should interfer with man's natural instinct to question the world around him/her and interpret it in their own personal fashion.


Now this completely contradicts what I just said, but i do believe that religion may have even been useful, and even necessary, at one stage in mankinds development (don't ask me for an example).
But now we know the answers to a lot of questions and don't need religion as a 'crutch' to support us.


A friend of mine once argued that religion shows people how they should behave, but I think that comes from within and people should not have to be scared into acting decently.



For the record I am Agnostic.
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Old 24.10.2006, 15:40
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Quote:
A friend of mine once argued that religion shows people how they should behave, but I think that comes from within and people should not have to be scared into acting decently.
I have to agree that religion (more so the texts) do seem to me to be a "guide to life" - or maybe started out as that.

Some think of other things: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_conspiracy_theory
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Old 24.10.2006, 16:06
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Quote:


A friend of mine once argued that religion shows people how they should behave, but I think that comes from within and people should not have to be scared into acting decently.


The problem that I have with religion is the people who preach it. You have priests / vicars giving sermons on how people should behave and what they should and shouldn't do , then it is discovered that these so called "men of God" have been abusing children for years or having affairs. Surely they should practice what they preach.
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Old 24.10.2006, 16:26
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Quote:
The problem that I have with religion is the people who preach it. You have priests / vicars giving sermons on how people should behave and what they should and shouldn't do , then it is discovered that these so called "men of God" have been abusing children for years or having affairs. Surely they should practice what they preach.
This is what you get for bottling up natural instincts to breed. By not allowing Catholic priests to marry (and 'get it on') they take out their urges to fornicate on young, accessible, boys.

'God' would not want little boys to get bummed.
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Old 24.10.2006, 16:57
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Organized religion always leads to disaster, it seems.

I think much of religion is as was said above - a guide for life. Even going back to egyptian and pagan times, much of the lore was simply to help people live good, orderly, law abiding lives, telling people what to avoid and what to embrace.

The problem is when man interprets and reinterprets what has been said or written, twisting it and using it for his own benefit.

Then there's the "one true god" thing and "if you don't believe with me, you're going to rot in hell" (or the religion's version thereof).

If there is a god, then everyone who worships something called "god" in whatever form is really worshipping the same god - if there were some being so supreme that s/he could create the earth, mankind, etc. then it would be also smart enough to know that not everyone will be willing to believe the same things or worship the same dieties.
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Old 24.10.2006, 17:32
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Listen to Zappa. He has shown a great deal of insight into the commercial side of churches operating as businesses, tax-free as charities, and their top-dog driving round in Bentley.

He went so far as to start his own religion which required I think at least 25 followers to achieve tax-exempt status while writing such gems as :

"Dumb all Over
You cant run a country
By a book of religion
Not by a heap
Or a lump or a smidgeon
Of foolish rules
Of ancient date
Designed to make
You all feel great
While you fold, spindle
And mutilate
Those unbelievers
From a neighboring state"


Dave


Quote:
Organized religion always leads to disaster, it seems.
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Old 24.10.2006, 17:59
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Quote:
Listen to Zappa. He has shown a great deal of insight into the commercial side of churches operating as businesses, tax-free as charities, and their top-dog driving round in Bentley.
At the radio station where I was a member in the US, the Church of the SubGenius made their home. I think that's the only religion that I could be a card-carrying member of. I liked Rev. Stang's way of thinking (not to mention he's one hell of a nice and funny guy)
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Old 24.10.2006, 19:22
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Personally, I am a disciple of the Church of the flying Spaghetti Monster.

Has anyone else been touched by his noodly appendage?
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Old 24.10.2006, 19:27
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Re: Is religion the cause of all evil?

Wow! another friend of the Church of the Subgenius.

Still. Yes. I am Pastafarian. The Flying Spaghetti Monster explains much about the universe that Christianity cannot. What about Piracy, eh? How else can you explain the inverse correlation between numbers of golden-earringed pirates and global warming?
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