The God Delusion - Chapter 10

Debate specific books

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
otseng
Savant
Posts: 18572
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:16 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA
Has thanked: 146 times
Been thanked: 212 times
Contact:

The God Delusion - Chapter 10

Post #1

Post by otseng »

Dawkins states on page 353, "majority of atheists I know disguise their atheism behind a pious facade. They do not believe in anything supernatural themselves, but retain a vague soft spot for irrational beliefs."

From your experience, would you agree with this statement?

McCulloch's question:
Even with all of its flaws, does religion serve a useful and needed purpose in society?

User avatar
QED
Prodigy
Posts: 3798
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2005 5:34 am
Location: UK

Post #11

Post by QED »

As much as I hate playing the Nazi card - Hitler's Reichsbahn and Reichsautobahnen got public transport sorted a treat. As for speculation, saying that "If religion does not provide any useful contribution, then no such organizations would exist." hardly makes sense. Religions as well as Reichs are collectives of people. Under any banner people will do what people find they need to do to live comfortably. This naturally extends to philanthropic projects as we are capable of imagining how events would unfold if such works were not realised. This ability to "think things through" has actually equipped mankind with the ability to bypass natural selection if we so choose.

User avatar
otseng
Savant
Posts: 18572
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:16 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA
Has thanked: 146 times
Been thanked: 212 times
Contact:

Post #12

Post by otseng »

QED wrote:As for speculation, saying that "If religion does not provide any useful contribution, then no such organizations would exist." hardly makes sense.
I think you underestimate the power of religion and its role in helping others.

First, Christianity provides needed contributions to society because the Bible teaches followers to help others. This is taught throughout the Bible.

For example:

Mat 25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me.

Churches fosters the environment to do good to others. Preachers tell the congregations to help and reach out to others, sometimes on a weekly basis. Prayer groups take place often to pray for those in need. Money is able to be quickly and efficiently raised in order to help others. A missionary mindset is prevalent in many churches and many go out of their comfort zone to reach out to others. Church buildings are able to be used as a facility to host a large number of people. Large churches have the economy of scale to do things more effectively. Churches often also pool their resources together to do larger projects.

So, with all of these things, Christianity is well positioned to be able to help others.
Under any banner people will do what people find they need to do to live comfortably
I know of no other banner that provides all of the above things that I mentioned.

User avatar
McCulloch
Site Supporter
Posts: 24068
Joined: Mon May 02, 2005 9:10 pm
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #13

Post by McCulloch »

otseng wrote:If religion does not provide any useful contribution, then no such organizations would exist.
This is pure speculation. Is there any evidence that organizations that serve humanity in these useful ways would not have existed but for the influence of religion?
otseng wrote:First, Christianity provides needed contributions to society because the Bible teaches followers to help others. This is taught throughout the Bible.
Few deny that the Christian Bible teaches that the followers should help others. It clearly does. Perhaps it is that teaching which draws in people who are committed to helping others.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

User avatar
otseng
Savant
Posts: 18572
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:16 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA
Has thanked: 146 times
Been thanked: 212 times
Contact:

Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #14

Post by otseng »

McCulloch wrote:
otseng wrote:If religion does not provide any useful contribution, then no such organizations would exist.
This is pure speculation. Is there any evidence that organizations that serve humanity in these useful ways would not have existed but for the influence of religion?
Certainly non-religious philanthropic organizations exist. But, a lot of religious philanthropic organizations exist. This shows that religion does play a part in helping others. If religion does not play any part in helping others, then all philanthropic organizations would be non-religious.

User avatar
achilles12604
Site Supporter
Posts: 3697
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 3:37 am
Location: Colorado

Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #15

Post by achilles12604 »

McCulloch wrote:
otseng wrote:If religion does not provide any useful contribution, then no such organizations would exist.
This is pure speculation. Is there any evidence that organizations that serve humanity in these useful ways would not have existed but for the influence of religion?
It has been pointed out by non-theists on this forum many times that Religion in general is a very effective tool for controlling the masses. With this in mind, compare the impact and numbers of people, driven solely by their belief that God is telling them to do certain things via their religion, to what people would voluntarily do without any provocation at all.

This is speculation, however my observations of humanity in general is that we are lazy, selfish and always looking to make OUR existence better and easier. In general people feel some minor obligation to help someone in need, but this desire to help is countered by a much stronger desire not stay their personal course and not inconvenience themselves.

I provide for evidence the many people on the streets carrying signs. A good number of these people have signs reading "will work for food" and "need work" and other such phrases. However, I very rarely see these people offered work by the passing cars. In general they are given a couple bucks and then the car leaves.

Why? - Because in my opinion, to take the time to acquire work for the man (using man just for simplicity sake), then actually get him to go to the work you set up (because MOST of the people holding those signs have no intention of working but want to appear as though they are trying to work but just need a little help) is far more work and time than the average person is willing to commit to these people. Human nature is to want to help, but to want our lives to remain in order more. Thus we compromise. We give what we can without exerting ourselves any more then is the bear minimum to satisfy our conscious.

The organizations that Otseng pointed out break this trend. These people really put forth effort into situations where almost everyone else simply threw in a couple bucks and called it good. They sacrificed of themselves and their time. This is what makes them unique.

Now considering that human nature is to want to help, but to fail most of the time due to selfish nature, and that the organizations which really do break this tendency and give deeply of themselves are Christian (in general), I'd say that Otseng has a very valid point that religion can be used to control the masses into doing great and wonderful things which otherwise would go directly against their nature.
It is a first class human tragedy that people of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace, show little of that belief in actual practice.

User avatar
Confused
Site Supporter
Posts: 7308
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:55 am
Location: Alaska

Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #16

Post by Confused »

achilles12604 wrote: Now considering that human nature is to want to help, but to fail most of the time due to selfish nature, and that the organizations which really do break this tendency and give deeply of themselves are Christian (in general), I'd say that Otseng has a very valid point that religion can be used to control the masses into doing great and wonderful things which otherwise would go directly against their nature.
Not trying to ignore the rest of you post, but rather address it in pieces with what I felt was the most interesting first. If you agree that religion can control the masses into doing great and wonderful things which otherwise would go directly against their nature, could we not say the reverse is true? Is not self preservation and procreation 2 of the fundamental drives in life? The suicide bombers not only cast away self preservation, but procreation as well. All for the control of their religion. They are not seen as religious nuts. In their culture, by their religion, they are seen as martyrs who will ascend directly to heaven for their sacrifice in their "war" on the evil infidels.

I have to err on the side of caution and say that anything that can cause greater harm than good isn't a positive result. Despite whether atrocities were done by atheists or by theists, the fact remains, they were done as a result of religious dogma. Religious control. Hitler saw the Jews as subversives, undesirables, as unworthy as a person in a vegetative state that contributes nothing to society by drains societies resources. He saw them as "Christ-killers". His "ethnic cleansing" is no different than Rwanda, China, Holy Wars, Iraq, etc... It is all done either in favor or against religious dogma. Why. Why have it at all if it does more harm than good. Tell me, how many homeless will sleep in the streets tonight with no food to fill their stomachs? Yet how many tax dollars will be wasted by tax breaks to religious organizations, by grants to religious institutions to carry out their "abstinence" program that has never really been that effective to begin with? Could these tax dollars not be more beneficially spent on better education, assistance to the middle and lower classes that fall through the cracks leading to the homelessness etc..?
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

User avatar
Confused
Site Supporter
Posts: 7308
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:55 am
Location: Alaska

Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #17

Post by Confused »

achilles12604 wrote: It has been pointed out by non-theists on this forum many times that Religion in general is a very effective tool for controlling the masses. With this in mind, compare the impact and numbers of people, driven solely by their belief that God is telling them to do certain things via their religion, to what people would voluntarily do without any provocation at all.
Ok, waiting for you to provide statistics on the motivations and impacts of peoples actions in a comparison between those religiously motivated by those secular motivations or by those who just did it out of kindness (humanity)
achilles12604 wrote: This is speculation, however my observations of humanity in general is that we are lazy, selfish and always looking to make OUR existence better and easier. In general people feel some minor obligation to help someone in need, but this desire to help is countered by a much stronger desire not stay their personal course and not inconvenience themselves.

I provide for evidence the many people on the streets carrying signs. A good number of these people have signs reading "will work for food" and "need work" and other such phrases. However, I very rarely see these people offered work by the passing cars. In general they are given a couple bucks and then the car leaves.

Why? - Because in my opinion, to take the time to acquire work for the man (using man just for simplicity sake), then actually get him to go to the work you set up (because MOST of the people holding those signs have no intention of working but want to appear as though they are trying to work but just need a little help) is far more work and time than the average person is willing to commit to these people. Human nature is to want to help, but to want our lives to remain in order more. Thus we compromise. We give what we can without exerting ourselves any more then is the bear minimum to satisfy our conscious.
I think I have to disagree with your initial statement, rendering the remainder moot. I think people are generally good people who would rather help than hinder. I also think that humanity can find enough good in itself that it need not require any external motivation to sustain it. I don't dispute that there are exceptions. I don't even dispute that the exceptions are not in vast quantities, but I would consider your task hard pressed for you to provide validation that the majority of people are as you claim them to be.

I think it is sad that anyone can see these as the predominate traits of humanity.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

User avatar
achilles12604
Site Supporter
Posts: 3697
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 3:37 am
Location: Colorado

Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #18

Post by achilles12604 »

Confused wrote:
achilles12604 wrote: Now considering that human nature is to want to help, but to fail most of the time due to selfish nature, and that the organizations which really do break this tendency and give deeply of themselves are Christian (in general), I'd say that Otseng has a very valid point that religion can be used to control the masses into doing great and wonderful things which otherwise would go directly against their nature.
Not trying to ignore the rest of you post, but rather address it in pieces with what I felt was the most interesting first. If you agree that religion can control the masses into doing great and wonderful things which otherwise would go directly against their nature, could we not say the reverse is true? Is not self preservation and procreation 2 of the fundamental drives in life? The suicide bombers not only cast away self preservation, but procreation as well. All for the control of their religion. They are not seen as religious nuts. In their culture, by their religion, they are seen as martyrs who will ascend directly to heaven for their sacrifice in their "war" on the evil infidels.

I have to err on the side of caution and say that anything that can cause greater harm than good isn't a positive result. Despite whether atrocities were done by atheists or by theists, the fact remains, they were done as a result of religious dogma. Religious control. Hitler saw the Jews as subversives, undesirables, as unworthy as a person in a vegetative state that contributes nothing to society by drains societies resources. He saw them as "Christ-killers". His "ethnic cleansing" is no different than Rwanda, China, Holy Wars, Iraq, etc... It is all done either in favor or against religious dogma. Why. Why have it at all if it does more harm than good. Tell me, how many homeless will sleep in the streets tonight with no food to fill their stomachs? Yet how many tax dollars will be wasted by tax breaks to religious organizations, by grants to religious institutions to carry out their "abstinence" program that has never really been that effective to begin with? Could these tax dollars not be more beneficially spent on better education, assistance to the middle and lower classes that fall through the cracks leading to the homelessness etc..?
It seems to me you are saying here that if something has the potential of doing evil, we should avoid it.


Are you really sure you want to go there?




Gunpowder
Medicine
Technology
Pro-creation




Pretty much everything has the potential to result in harm when used inappropriately. So why should we control and avoid religion as Dawkins suggests while ignoring all the secular things which have the potential to do harm?
It is a first class human tragedy that people of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace, show little of that belief in actual practice.

User avatar
achilles12604
Site Supporter
Posts: 3697
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 3:37 am
Location: Colorado

Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #19

Post by achilles12604 »

Confused wrote:
achilles12604 wrote: It has been pointed out by non-theists on this forum many times that Religion in general is a very effective tool for controlling the masses. With this in mind, compare the impact and numbers of people, driven solely by their belief that God is telling them to do certain things via their religion, to what people would voluntarily do without any provocation at all.
Ok, waiting for you to provide statistics on the motivations and impacts of peoples actions in a comparison between those religiously motivated by those secular motivations or by those who just did it out of kindness (humanity)
Well Otseng provided quite a list of religious organizations. I know from debating this before that the list he provided only scratched the surface of those in existence.

Perhaps you would be kind enough to provide us a list of purely secularly founded organizations assisting mankind? I know there are some out there. According to Dawkins, if religion has either no or a negative impact, then proportionally the non-theist organizations should number the same, or more.
achilles12604 wrote: This is speculation, however my observations of humanity in general is that we are lazy, selfish and always looking to make OUR existence better and easier. In general people feel some minor obligation to help someone in need, but this desire to help is countered by a much stronger desire not stay their personal course and not inconvenience themselves.

I provide for evidence the many people on the streets carrying signs. A good number of these people have signs reading "will work for food" and "need work" and other such phrases. However, I very rarely see these people offered work by the passing cars. In general they are given a couple bucks and then the car leaves.

Why? - Because in my opinion, to take the time to acquire work for the man (using man just for simplicity sake), then actually get him to go to the work you set up (because MOST of the people holding those signs have no intention of working but want to appear as though they are trying to work but just need a little help) is far more work and time than the average person is willing to commit to these people. Human nature is to want to help, but to want our lives to remain in order more. Thus we compromise. We give what we can without exerting ourselves any more then is the bear minimum to satisfy our conscious.
I think I have to disagree with your initial statement, rendering the remainder moot. I think people are generally good people who would rather help than hinder. I also think that humanity can find enough good in itself that it need not require any external motivation to sustain it. I don't dispute that there are exceptions. I don't even dispute that the exceptions are not in vast quantities, but I would consider your task hard pressed for you to provide validation that the majority of people are as you claim them to be.

I think it is sad that anyone can see these as the predominate traits of humanity.
Well I guess that we are forced to agree to disagree then because just as my opinions are based on my experiences, so yours are based on yours. My experiences have led me to believe that in general people are selfish and lazy. They care about themselves and what they want first and no one else really matters until their needs are fulfilled.

Ironically, there might not be anything abnormal about this behavior. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs doesn't even allow for FAMILY until the third level. Others are even further up the scale.

Is it so unlikely that my observations of a selfish society are correct? Obviously I'm not the first to make this observation.
It is a first class human tragedy that people of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus, whom they describe as the Prince of Peace, show little of that belief in actual practice.

User avatar
Confused
Site Supporter
Posts: 7308
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:55 am
Location: Alaska

Re: religious philanthropic organizations

Post #20

Post by Confused »

achilles12604 wrote:
Confused wrote:
achilles12604 wrote: Now considering that human nature is to want to help, but to fail most of the time due to selfish nature, and that the organizations which really do break this tendency and give deeply of themselves are Christian (in general), I'd say that Otseng has a very valid point that religion can be used to control the masses into doing great and wonderful things which otherwise would go directly against their nature.
Not trying to ignore the rest of you post, but rather address it in pieces with what I felt was the most interesting first. If you agree that religion can control the masses into doing great and wonderful things which otherwise would go directly against their nature, could we not say the reverse is true? Is not self preservation and procreation 2 of the fundamental drives in life? The suicide bombers not only cast away self preservation, but procreation as well. All for the control of their religion. They are not seen as religious nuts. In their culture, by their religion, they are seen as martyrs who will ascend directly to heaven for their sacrifice in their "war" on the evil infidels.

I have to err on the side of caution and say that anything that can cause greater harm than good isn't a positive result. Despite whether atrocities were done by atheists or by theists, the fact remains, they were done as a result of religious dogma. Religious control. Hitler saw the Jews as subversives, undesirables, as unworthy as a person in a vegetative state that contributes nothing to society by drains societies resources. He saw them as "Christ-killers". His "ethnic cleansing" is no different than Rwanda, China, Holy Wars, Iraq, etc... It is all done either in favor or against religious dogma. Why. Why have it at all if it does more harm than good. Tell me, how many homeless will sleep in the streets tonight with no food to fill their stomachs? Yet how many tax dollars will be wasted by tax breaks to religious organizations, by grants to religious institutions to carry out their "abstinence" program that has never really been that effective to begin with? Could these tax dollars not be more beneficially spent on better education, assistance to the middle and lower classes that fall through the cracks leading to the homelessness etc..?
It seems to me you are saying here that if something has the potential of doing evil, we should avoid it.


Are you really sure you want to go there?




Gunpowder
Medicine
Technology
Pro-creation




Pretty much everything has the potential to result in harm when used inappropriately. So why should we control and avoid religion as Dawkins suggests while ignoring all the secular things which have the potential to do harm?
Recall, I work in medicine. The benefits must outweigh the risks. Does religion? IMHO it does not. Despite which side is doing the harm, it is still all done under the guise of religious motivation.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

Locked