Something which has been bugging me…

 
beachland
 
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beachland
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30 September 2010 20:56
 

Hi guys,
I’ve just finished watching Sam Harris’  End of Faith - Religion, Terror and Future of Reason (2005) video talk where he discusses his book. In the talk he makes the point that when a religious fundamentalist is confronted with a reasonable argument against a certain point, or that even before a person engages in conversation with such a person, that that person is often labeled as some sort of antichrist.

I’m guessing here that this would be as a result of the fact that such a person is forced to confront an inherent inconsistency within the particular doctrine to which he/she adheres and that the person who has brought this forward to attention is some embodiment of temptation or evil or whatever you want to call it.

Suppose now for a moment that such a person was to be swayed, and his paradigms shifted away from blind faith. Suppose now that this was to happen to all fundamentalists; that there was some mass realisation that it’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’ - that they all gave in to ‘temptation’.

My question then, is whether or not mankind could cope with such a void, this realisation that we don’t really know; that this would be too much for society to handle and that a societal collapse would ensue, making religious doctrine something of a self fulfilling prophecy. Obviously not all adherents to a faith are going to change their minds over night - this is kind of restating the question of ‘without a God, what would prevent you from murdering somebody?’ albeit on a larger scale.
So, how then do we know that a world without religion is in fact a more peaceful one? Do we know this empirically from the more peaceful countries with larger ‘atheist’ populations? How do we know that this will work en masse, or are we just saying ‘well, it can’t get any worse….’?

Hope I posted this in the right forum, thanks smile

 
Dennis Campbell
 
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Dennis Campbell
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30 September 2010 21:06
 

Do we know this empirically from the more peaceful countries with larger ‘atheist’ populations?

Scandinavian countries.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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30 September 2010 22:48
 

When/where has god prevented the murdering of people?

 
 
isocratic infidel
 
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isocratic infidel
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01 October 2010 00:55
 

orryMr: My question then, is whether or not mankind could cope with such a void

Considering that religion has been the coping mechanism to avoid the thought of ‘the ultimate void’, death, I don’t think humankind would be worse off if it found more rational means to cope with the unknown and the pain and loss that death has on the living.

... this would be too much for society to handle and that a societal collapse would ensue, making religious doctrine something of a self fulfilling prophecy.

If the world’s peoples and cultures do give up their superstitions it will be gradual, through education and communication, so no, I don’t think a societal collapse would ensue. But we do have to worry a wee bit about the religiostupified doing things to fulfill their violent prophecies.

CHeeRs! Luck to us all!

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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01 October 2010 02:15
 

The default for Theism and Atheism is Humanism. Religion out of the way is one less reason for atrocity in the name of it, otherwise, your guess is as good as mine. I’d give better odds to Humanism ... although nothing seems to have worked on total ignorance, fear, greed and insanity in all of human history ... not to say that it’s not possible to live differently. I tell you, the PBS program I linked on the Entertainment Thread, Worlds in Collision, if you haven’t seen it, is very enlightening. It makes me think that if it were to elicit a common “subjective”, even “indescribable” experience of awareness, understanding and truth about human behavior/nature/history and its concomitant folding in of religion that I’m sure it will for most Atheists (probably not a new awakening else you wouldn’t be an Atheist), then this could very well serve to be an example of atheist spiritualism [Look Ma, no woo!] that is sometimes passionately and contentiously bantered around on another thread. Now the reason I mention this is because of the constant accusations by theists that we are incapable of the full range of human experience ... which they are incorrect but for one ... their brand of delusion.

 
 
eudemonia
 
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eudemonia
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02 October 2010 12:17
 

Read ‘Good Without God’ by Harvard Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein.

All answers to your inquiries are represented there.

 
 
Gila Guerilla
 
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Gila Guerilla
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06 October 2010 19:38
 

I don’t have any internal / personal difficulty accepting that I / we do not know the answers to some important questions. I also know that science has helped humankind along a road from pre-scientific knowledge, to a more certain natural knowledge. I consider that this is an improvement. So I can project that some answers will be discovered, perhaps long after I am dead. I cannot know that further answers will come, but it is compatible with the past that they quite probably will.

This demonstrates to me that it is possible to accept a lack of knowing, without the vacuum causing me or society to “implode” or “explode”. But this may be a possibility which will not be realised in all people. On the other hand, perhaps it is generally true that the capacity to accept that we don’t know the answers to all of the big questions, requires a state of mind that can peaceably handle the vacuum it entails. I don’t know whether all people are like this, but I do know that I can abide not knowing, that I am satisfied that humanity is on a journey of discovery - uncovering truths - and that it is unfinished and will continue after I die.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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06 October 2010 23:41
 
Dennis Campbell - 30 September 2010 07:06 PM

Do we know this empirically from the more peaceful countries with larger ‘atheist’ populations?

Scandinavian countries.

There are many reasons for the “peaceful” nature of Scandanavian countries.  Not everyone in those countries is atheistic - in fact, many are not. There are social, economic, historical and cultural reasons for their attitudes. But it didn’t happen over night. Gradually, they became less religious.  All the religious ones migrated to Minnesota.

 
Dennis Campbell
 
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Dennis Campbell
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07 October 2010 00:06
 

That’s why Wisconsin is preferable.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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09 October 2010 09:34
 

We have no way of knowing what would happen if a massive wave of secular conversion occurred spontaneously. This is an event utterly without precedent.

What we DO know is what will and does happen with the proliferation of mutually exclusive supernatural dogmas.

I’ll take the former. No hesitation.

 
eudemonia
 
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eudemonia
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09 October 2010 13:17
 

Or as Sam Harris once stated a few years ago-

‘There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable’

I think that is the funtamental point in all of this.

 
 
beachland
 
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beachland
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10 October 2010 08:39
 
eudemonia - 09 October 2010 11:17 AM

Or as Sam Harris once stated a few years ago-

‘There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable’

I think that is the funtamental point in all of this.

Yeah, but that’s assuming everyone has the capacity and will to think reasonably. What I’m imagining is an a-religious society in which there are people who can’t cope and need to look for something to give them comfort. This might lead them to view something with religious awe. We don’t really know what would happen, I mean for all we know religious tendencies are probably part of human nature. What I can’t put to rest is the idea that every society has had some belief system, and most of them aren’t even that well thought out. I guess it could just be a society going through puberty though. It could just be that I’m talking absolute crap.