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Uthman
06-15-2009, 04:36 PM
Link: Can religion save the world?
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Uthman
06-15-2009, 06:11 PM
Monday's Response:

Mehdi Hasan: Religion, in and of itself, neither provokes war nor promotes peace – and it is naive, not to mention utopian, to believe otherwise.
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KAding
06-16-2009, 11:10 AM
On the contrary, it is naive to believe religion, like any other ideology, does NOT provoke or stimulate war.

If you bring all wars back to their basics, they are IMHO always about two things: Material gain and/or Ideology

I do not know which of these two matter more overall, but without doubt people are willing to kill for their ideas and beliefs and this starts wars.

The only real question is whether religious beliefs are in this context any different from non-religious beliefs. One could make the argument that religious beliefs are by definition more dangerous in this sense, simply because they are based on immutable sources ('God wants us to fight, who are we to stop then?'). Religion and pragmatism simply don't coexist that well. I'm not so sure though, it is especially pointless to generalize about all religions, since they can be so different in style and substance. Yes, the substance does matter as well. Some ideologies are simply more easy to hijack for war than others IMHO.

On a last note, personally I think ideologies play a much larger role in starting wars then stopping wars. IMHO actual 'real-world' suffering, material losses and circumstances are what matter most when people consider whether to sue for peace or not. Once you are losing the war, lose your house and people die around you, most people will probably downgrade the importance of their beliefs in the 'stop vs. continue fighting' equation.
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czgibson
06-17-2009, 11:51 PM
Greetings,

If someone has a belief that they are prepared to commit violence for, there is often no rational argument that can make them change their mind.

For this reason among many, I don't think religion can save the world.

Peace
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Clover
06-17-2009, 11:56 PM
I do not believe any single religion could, I believe if several religions would work together for peaceful ends, maybe.
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Eric H
06-18-2009, 07:18 AM
Greetings and peace be with you Uthmān;

It only takes one side to start a war, it needs two sides to talk peace.

God is the creator of all that is seen and unseen, the same God is the creator of all people. God is greater than the sum of all the religions of the world put together.

We only need to understand that we shall never look into the eyes of anyone who does not matter to God.

In the spirit of praying for justice for all people

Eric
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crayon
06-18-2009, 08:16 AM
Originally Posted by czgibson
If someone has a belief that they are prepared to commit violence for, there is often no rational argument that can make them change their mind.

For this reason among many, I don't think religion can save the world.
Such as a belief in democracy?

Random question I just thought of. As an atheist, do you believe that the world can be 'saved'? If yes, by what means?
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KAding
06-18-2009, 10:42 AM
Originally Posted by crayon
Such as a belief in democracy?
Well, there is this thing called a "democratic peace". No developed democratic country has ever fought a war against another developed democratic country.

In that sense at least democracy offers more hope for peace than religion, since historically countries that ruled on the basis of religion were involved in plenty of wars, internal (fighting heretics) or external (fighting the heathens).

I'm actually quite optimistic about our future regarding war/peace. The more developed a country, the less likely it is to fall to civil war. And intra-state wars have become particularly rare in the last five decades or so already.

Our best hope for peace IMHO, is strong economic growth and the rise of a assertive middle class that is capable of controlling the political scene.
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Thinker
06-18-2009, 11:19 AM
Religion can only be a part of the solution if it advocates and promotes non-violence unreservedly. The problem arises when religious leaders find evidence from within their religious beliefs that sanctifies acts of violence. There will always be disputes between men but when one side or the other suggests that God will reward them for acts of violence that’s when religion becomes part of the problem not part of the solution. That’s why (IMHO) religious leaders should stay away from any form of political or public life beyond that of pursuing their religious beliefs with those of like mind.
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Eric H
06-18-2009, 11:24 AM
Greetings and peace be with you KAding;
Our best hope for peace IMHO, is strong economic growth and the rise of a assertive middle class that is capable of controlling the political scene.
This is the formula the world is working towards, and it is exactly the formula that leads to continued injustice and war, it can never work.

About a billion people live on less than a dollar a day, and as long as they are out of sight, we don’t care.

About half the world population lives on less than two and a half dollars a day, and as long as we can exploit them, we don’t care.

The cumulative wealth of the top 100 richest people in the world, is equivalent to the combined wealth of the poorest eighty countries in the world, about a third of the world’s population live in these countries.The top richest people don't care.

We don’t worry if we buy products that were made by someone earning two dollars for a twelve hour day, thank you very much, it just means I can have more.

Unless we seek justice for the poor the oppressed, we will never see peace on Earth.

Justice for the poor and oppressed is at the heart of all religions, and this is the part we choose to ignore.

In the spirit of praying for justice for all people

Eric
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Pygoscelis
06-18-2009, 12:46 PM
Originally Posted by crayon
Such as a belief in democracy?

Random question I just thought of. As an atheist, do you believe that the world can be 'saved'? If yes, by what means?
Indeed. Define "saved". We could have very different ideas as to what "saving the world" means.
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Zafran
06-18-2009, 01:21 PM
Such as a belief in democracy?
well said - whats even more intresting is that some democratic countries will overthrow others for there own gain - eg - US in Iran.

the problem is humans - you dont realy need religion to start wars - the past century has taught us that lesson
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aamirsaab
06-18-2009, 02:49 PM
:sl:
Approx 80% of the worlds population is thiest. We're now living in the year 2009. I say religion has already done a bloody good job of saving the world so far and long may it continue.
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crayon
06-18-2009, 10:02 PM
Originally Posted by KAding
Well, there is this thing called a "democratic peace". No developed democratic country has ever fought a war against another developed democratic country.

And yet they join together and prey on a weaker country? Where's the 'peace' in that?

Originally Posted by Pygoscelis
Indeed. Define "saved". We could have very different ideas as to what "saving the world" means.
Yup, figured we'd need a definition of 'saved'. How about eliminated most (if not all) of 'evil' (do we need a definition of that too?), everyone lives happily ever after, sadness becomes rare, people live free and equal, poverty and prejudice become things of the past, rainbows, sunshine, daisies; the whole shebang.

How is the world 'saved' according to your definition?
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Clover
06-18-2009, 10:08 PM
Originally Posted by crayon
How is the world 'saved' according to your definition?
I know the question is not directed at me, but I'd love to answer it, cause it's sort of a dream I have, of course it will never come true I believe, but we can be dreamers. (Had to do the Beatles song lol)

I believe a 'saved' world, would be a world where we know a lot more knowledge, and respect and tolerance are valued above all.
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czgibson
06-18-2009, 10:15 PM
Greetings,
Originally Posted by crayon
Such as a belief in democracy?
Belief in democracy could in theory be negated by a rational argument which outlined a system that was demonstrably better. Religion, on the other hand depends on faith, which cannot be negated by any rational argument.

Random question I just thought of. As an atheist, do you believe that the world can be 'saved'? If yes, by what means?
That's one of the biggest questions of all, and I don't really know what the answer is. As others have said, it depends what you mean by 'saved'.

Peace
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crayon
06-18-2009, 10:25 PM
Firm believers in anything, whether it's a religion or form of governance, must have some amount of faith in what they believe in, and there are certain times when a rational argument, no matter how logical, will not affect the beliefs that a person holds.

How do you interpret 'saved'?

Another question to anyone with an answer. This concept of 'saving the world', is it explicitly stated in Islam? Personally, I view the coming of Jesus peace be upon him, and getting rid of Al Dajjal, and bringing peace and prosperity to the world as the 'saving' of the world. Although now that I think about it, after that happens, the world goes down the drain yet again. So I guess eternal salvation is not attainable in this world, just the temporary kind?..
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Zafran
06-18-2009, 10:39 PM
Belief in democracy could in theory be negated by a rational argument which outlined a system that was demonstrably better. Religion, on the other hand depends on faith, which cannot be negated by any rational argument.
not realy........dont people actually believe in democracy for it to work? Even if other systems were "better" - wouldnt that be a threat democracy? it would react - atleast the people who actually believed in it would.

systems of governing are not always based on reason inculding democracy - humans are not purely rational beings - i'm sure some people who are in support of democracy believe in it for other reasons which are not rational - sometimes to keep out other systems which is most of the time based on fear.
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czgibson
06-18-2009, 11:49 PM
Greetings,
Originally Posted by crayon
Firm believers in anything, whether it's a religion or form of governance, must have some amount of faith in what they believe in, and there are certain times when a rational argument, no matter how logical, will not affect the beliefs that a person holds.
True, but the more faith involved, the more impervious the belief will be to rational criticism. I would argue that it takes far more faith to believe the things that religions expect us to believe than it takes to adhere to a political persuasion.

How do you interpret 'saved'?
For the purposes of this post I'll interpret the question as meaning "how could we become a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful planet?"

Again, the answer is "I don't know". I can't help suspecting, though, that religion may be one of the things preventing us from getting there. I wouldn't support the forceful eradication of religion, or anything like that, but I would like to think that eventually humanity will just grow out of it. Having said that, I doubt it will happen any time soon. Although there are many factors involved, two are crucial: as long as poverty remains widespread and high quality education remains scarce, religion will have a place.

Peace
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AntiKarateKid
06-19-2009, 12:13 AM
If religion can make people act like Prophet Muhammad pbuh, then yes.

There has never been an atheist or agnostic like the Prophet. True religion is what brings us up as his life shows.

False religious beleifs make us monsters just like every other false ideology.
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crayon
06-19-2009, 10:13 AM
Originally Posted by czgibson
Greetings,

True, but the more faith involved, the more impervious the belief will be to rational criticism. I would argue that it takes far more faith to believe the things that religions expect us to believe than it takes to adhere to a political persuasion.

For the purposes of this post I'll interpret the question as meaning "how could we become a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful planet?"

Again, the answer is "I don't know". I can't help suspecting, though, that religion may be one of the things preventing us from getting there. I wouldn't support the forceful eradication of religion, or anything like that, but I would like to think that eventually humanity will just grow out of it. Having said that, I doubt it will happen any time soon. Although there are many factors involved, two are crucial: as long as poverty remains widespread and high quality education remains scarce, religion will have a place.

Peace
But you say that as an athiest. If you ask a Muslim, Christian, or any person of religion, they will tell you that they don't just believe 'on a hunch' like many people assume they do, they believe there is absolute proof, we are completely sure of all that we believe in. At least, this is what a Muslim should be like, it may be different for people of other faiths. So although you regard most of our belief as resting on purely 'faith', that is merely your opinion, we believe otherwise.

I don't believe it's religion that hinders us, on the contrary, it provides the ideal system of life. It's our own human nature that causes a perfect world to be an impossibility. Humans can be greedy, lazy, stupid, etc., and most of the time, it's much easier to be those things instead of compassionate, generous, energetic. If Christians were to apply the teachings of Christianity in every aspect of their lives, be 'ideal' Christians, if Muslims were 'ideal' muslims, etc., do you not believe the world would be a better place? No murder, theft, rape, greed, jealousy, hatred, etc. Most world religions embody the 'ideal' characteristics of what it is that makes a perfect human being, it is we who can not fully apply these in our life.

But your last sentence implies that only the poor and undereducated are religious, which is not the case. People from all walks of life embrace all kinds of religion. Countless millionaires, PhD holders, entrepreneurs, celebrities, the working class, etc. believe in a certain religion.

I think religion is, and always has been, an essential part of the human identity. I guess muslims could call it 'fitra', but it can also be understood as something else. People have always believed in some sort of higher power, or deity, if for nothing else than to explain life and natural occurences, and I don't think it will ever stop, as long as humans remain humans. I've heard of some people who think 'as soon as science solves everything and reveals everything, people will stop believing in religion", which frankly, I think is ridiculous. Science can never and will never explain everything.
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czgibson
06-19-2009, 03:19 PM
Greetings,
Originally Posted by crayon
But you say that as an athiest. If you ask a Muslim, Christian, or any person of religion, they will tell you that they don't just believe 'on a hunch' like many people assume they do, they believe there is absolute proof, we are completely sure of all that we believe in. At least, this is what a Muslim should be like, it may be different for people of other faiths. So although you regard most of our belief as resting on purely 'faith', that is merely your opinion, we believe otherwise.
The claim that there is "absolute proof" for any theistic religion is demonstrably untrue. If that were the case, everybody would believe the same religion.

Belief in god rests entirely on faith, just as my belief that there is no god does. Neither of us has proof.

I don't believe it's religion that hinders us, on the contrary, it provides the ideal system of life. It's our own human nature that causes a perfect world to be an impossibility. Humans can be greedy, lazy, stupid, etc., and most of the time, it's much easier to be those things instead of compassionate, generous, energetic. If Christians were to apply the teachings of Christianity in every aspect of their lives, be 'ideal' Christians, if Muslims were 'ideal' muslims, etc., do you not believe the world would be a better place? No murder, theft, rape, greed, jealousy, hatred, etc. Most world religions embody the 'ideal' characteristics of what it is that makes a perfect human being, it is we who can not fully apply these in our life.
I agree with everything here (except the first sentence, of course).

But your last sentence implies that only the poor and undereducated are religious, which is not the case. People from all walks of life embrace all kinds of religion. Countless millionaires, PhD holders, entrepreneurs, celebrities, the working class, etc. believe in a certain religion.
My sentence does not imply that. Read it again.

My point is that poverty and low education levels are correlated with high levels of religious belief. See here:

Education and Religion, Sacerdote and Glaeser, Harvard Institute of Economic Reseach, 2001


Pew Global Attitudes Project, 2007
- this one covers many subjects, but scroll down for a graph on Wealth and Religiosity.

I think religion is, and always has been, an essential part of the human identity. I guess muslims could call it 'fitra', but it can also be understood as something else. People have always believed in some sort of higher power, or deity, if for nothing else than to explain life and natural occurences, and I don't think it will ever stop, as long as humans remain humans.
Humans have also always killed each other. Does that mean it's the right thing to do?

I've heard of some people who think 'as soon as science solves everything and reveals everything, people will stop believing in religion", which frankly, I think is ridiculous. Science can never and will never explain everything.
Yes - that would be a ridiculous argument to make. I don't think I've ever heard anyone seriously put it forward.

Peace
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crayon
06-19-2009, 06:07 PM
Originally Posted by czgibson
Greetings,

The claim that there is "absolute proof" for any theistic religion is demonstrably untrue. If that were the case, everybody would believe the same religion.

Belief in god rests entirely on faith, just as my belief that there is no god does. Neither of us has proof.

I agree with everything here (except the first sentence, of course).

My sentence does not imply that. Read it again.

My point is that poverty and low education levels are correlated with high levels of religious belief. See here:

Education and Religion, Sacerdote and Glaeser, Harvard Institute of Economic Reseach, 2001


Pew Global Attitudes Project, 2007
- this one covers many subjects, but scroll down for a graph on Wealth and Religiosity.

Humans have also always killed each other. Does that mean it's the right thing to do?

Yes - that would be a ridiculous argument to make. I don't think I've ever heard anyone seriously put it forward.

Peace
I think it's the definition of 'proof' and what qualifies as it is what people differ on.

My mistake, I misunderstood your sentence. Interesting links, btw, especially the latter.

Of course it's not right, but whether it's right or not is irrelevant. What I'm saying is people have always believed in 'something else', and will continue to do so, no matter what changes happen in the world. Whether it's right or not doesn't matter.

I've had the pleasure of knowing a few morons, I guess.:p
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czgibson
06-19-2009, 11:45 PM
Greetings,
Originally Posted by crayon
I think it's the definition of 'proof' and what qualifies as it is what people differ on.
You are quite right. People here on the forum regularly use the word 'proof' in a way that no logician would recognise.

My mistake, I misunderstood your sentence. Interesting links, btw, especially the latter.
Respect. :)

Of course it's not right, but whether it's right or not is irrelevant. What I'm saying is people have always believed in 'something else', and will continue to do so, no matter what changes happen in the world. Whether it's right or not doesn't matter.
You appear saying that it doesn't matter whether people are right or wrong about the "something else" that they believe in. Lots of people believe Allah exists: doesn't it matter whether they are right or wrong?

Peace
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Trumble
06-20-2009, 02:14 AM
Originally Posted by czgibson
You are quite right. People here on the forum regularly use the word 'proof' in a way that no logician would recognise.
As recognised by the dictionary, to be fair. Add 'absolute', though and it would tend to suggest a degree of certainty that is totally unjustifiable without a king size dollop of faith. As you say, were that not the case we would all be following the same religion.

Yes - that would be a ridiculous argument to make. I don't think I've ever heard anyone seriously put it forward.
I have - and in a form far from ridiculous, although I don't find it convincing. A surprisingly strong case can be made that the idea we even have beliefs (as well as desires, hopes, wishes, etc, etc) is not only 'just a theory' (which, believe it or not, is actually the majority opinion among both philosophers and scientists these days) but a profoundly mistaken one that would be completely displaced by a completed neuroscience. Should that actually prove to be the case any religion of which I am aware of, including my own, becomes utterly irrelevant if not completely nonsensical.
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justahumane
06-21-2009, 07:17 AM
Originally Posted by crayon
Such as a belief in democracy?

Random question I just thought of. As an atheist, do you believe that the world can be 'saved'? If yes, by what means?
Well I m writing these lines as a self-confessed believer and a non-muslim. World can never be saved if it is destined to end by ALMIGHTY GOD. But the need is that religion or any other ideology should not act as catalyst in this destiny. The need is that fighting in the name of religion or any other thing should not happen at all. LIVE AND LET LIVE should be the ideology, keep religion as a persosnal affair between urself and GOD.

Peace
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crayon
06-21-2009, 09:09 AM
Originally Posted by czgibson
You appear saying that it doesn't matter whether people are right or wrong about the "something else" that they believe in. Lots of people believe Allah exists: doesn't it matter whether they are right or wrong?

Peace
Not really, no. When I first mentioned all this I said that religion/belief/disbelief in a higher power(s) has been a part of the identity of humans ever since we've first existed. As in, the essence of human beings, the things that separate us from other beings. Of course there is no set definition, but I meant things like having morals, knowing right from wrong, compassion, etc. People kill for different reasons, greed, desire for power, revenge, perhaps those also come under things that make us human. There are some negative characteristics that humans posses and there are positive ones, it depends on the specific one. But the mere fact that they exist is not bad or good, it depends on how these characteristics influence our actions.

Bit of rambling, sorry lol.

Originally Posted by justahumane
World can never be saved if it is destined to end by ALMIGHTY GOD.

Peace
I agree, yup. It may be saved temporarily, but it has to end, because eventually this entire life will end.
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czgibson
06-23-2009, 11:14 AM
Greetings,
Originally Posted by crayon
Not really, no. When I first mentioned all this I said that religion/belief/disbelief in a higher power(s) has been a part of the identity of humans ever since we've first existed. As in, the essence of human beings, the things that separate us from other beings. Of course there is no set definition, but I meant things like having morals, knowing right from wrong, compassion, etc. People kill for different reasons, greed, desire for power, revenge, perhaps those also come under things that make us human. There are some negative characteristics that humans posses and there are positive ones, it depends on the specific one. But the mere fact that they exist is not bad or good, it depends on how these characteristics influence our actions.

Bit of rambling, sorry lol.
This is so surprising I almost spilt my coffee.

Focusing on Allah, rather than the other aspects of human nature you mentioned, let me ask you a similar question:

Are you saying that it doesn't matter whether Allah truly exists or not?

Peace
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crayon
06-23-2009, 11:58 AM
Originally Posted by czgibson
Greetings,


This is so surprising I almost spilt my coffee.

Focusing on Allah, rather than the other aspects of human nature you mentioned, let me ask you a similar question:

Are you saying that it doesn't matter whether Allah truly exists or not?

Peace
Lol no, you misunderstood, I should have made myself clearer. When I said "not really, no", that was in response to the first part of your post, where you said "you appear to be saying...".

It absolutely matters whether Allah exists or not, because if (since) he exists, we must try to understand why he created us, and then do our best to live life according to what he has ordered us- it's the least you can do for one who has given you countless blessings, one whom your entire existence depends upon.
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