Originally Posted by nostrum09
Religion has of course been used in the past, and to lesser extents currently, as a means of controlling the population. But you would have to completely ignore the contributions to society of any religious person to stand by your claim. Going back to my example, would you claim that George Washington was weak?
Heck, even Einstein, while agnostic and believing that God is not a personal God like what many of today's religions profess, hated when people brought up his name in support of atheism. He wrote in a letter to a friend: "You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being."
A man of no less intelligence and capability as Einstein himself still has respect for the fact that man cannot know everything. Are you suggesting that you know everything, or perhaps that Einstein is weak, at least compared to you?
I do not have to ignore the contributions of religious people to stand by my claim. I do not believe Washington was weak. He was a deist.
Originally Posted by nostrum09
Religion is a man made construct, just as morals are. Man believed certain things and used religion as the tool to ensure that society followed along. I'd argue that in civilization's infancy, had it not been for religion we wouldn't be nearly as advanced, since there wouldn't have been anything to hold people together. Without religion to hold people together, how long might it had been before we moved from our initial nomadic ways into organized societies? Remember here too, I'm talking the dawn of man. I would not advocate theocracies, or the use of religion as a means to control, as appropriate for modern society. Religions certainly have made very bad moral calls (as you and others have mentioned, slavery, stoning of individuals, etc.), but over time these have been corrected, again often by religious people who understood that in more advanced societies, these actions were not acceptable.
Your argument regarding religion in man's and civilization's infancy is definitely correct. The idea of deities and then religion came about from evolution. These ideas provided comfort, made people feel safe, and gave them hope. I also agree with the underlined point you're making.
However, these beliefs have outlived their usefulness.
Why we believe in gods (long, but good vid):
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Originally Posted by carve
I have to say though- I'm pretty surprised only 1/3 of respondents identified themselves as religious. I was hoping the discussion would focus more on my first post: agnostic can be theist or atheist. I'd like to see the poll again with the only choices "theist" and "atheist"
I'd prefer to see a revised poll with these options:
- Agnostic Theist
- Agnostic Atheist
- Gnostic Theist
- Gnostic Atheist