Successful society without religion?

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riv6672
Is it possible?
This article i ran across highly doubts it.
The link is below, but, i think this is a good summation of it, overall...



http://itsnobody.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/where-would-modern-society-be-without-religion/

So, what say you, KMCers? Would society (I'M talking world wide, just for clarity.) be about the same without having religion throughout its development?

Arhael
No. Desire to know is what directly caused people to study philosophy and astronomy for hundreds of years.

Frustration of not knowing is what caused religion. Religion does not cause people to study, on opposite it gives answers making research and studies unnecessary.

riv6672
Okay, i'm not agreeing with that line of thought. But its definitely interesting. Thanks for starting things off.

Stoic
It is not possible, because many people need to believe in something greater than themselves to get them through this life. Religion is used to reinforce faith, because faith comes from hearing and reading whatever religion a person deems fit to follow. So to sum this up, you can not have a successful society without faith.

MF DELPH
Interesting.

I wonder what a society which consisted solely of Scientologists and Raelists would look like?

Bentley
Originally posted by Arhael
Frustration of not knowing is what caused religion. Religion does not cause people to study, on opposite it gives answers making research and studies unnecessary.

That's not what happened through all of human history though. And your first statement is downright false, that notion has been attached to religion from anticlerical people, but religion and ignorance don't have that kind of straight forward relationship.

On the topic at hand: I think a society without religion that does well and develops correctly can happen. I just don't think it can be made from humans, since humans will always build some sort of spirituality, as their brains are geared towards belief.

Stoic
Originally posted by Bentley
That's not what happened through all of human history though. And your first statement is downright false, that notion has been attached to religion from anticlerical people, but religion and ignorance don't have that kind of straight forward relationship.

On the topic at hand: I think a society without religion that does well and develops correctly can happen. I just don't think it can be made from humans, since humans will always build some sort of spirituality, as their brains are geared towards belief.

Bentley, je ne comprend pas. If it's not for humans, who would it be for?

dadudemon
Good thread, Riv. thumb up



As you know, I'm a God-believing Mormon who labels himself as an "agnostic-theist." but, I honestly think the world would be a better place if all religion disappeared, now. Unfortunately, I also believe humans are designed to believe in God (or the supernatural), for the most part, so we are stuck with religion. There is an area of study called "Evolution of Religion" and it is pretty solid, imo.

Robtard
Originally posted by MF DELPH
Interesting.

I wonder what a society which consisted solely of Scientologists and Raelists would look like?

Vulcans.

Edit: I read you wrong, thought you meant "scientist and realist". So my answer is now: Hollywood

Shakyamunison
Originally posted by riv6672
Is it possible?
This article i ran across highly doubts it.
The link is below, but, i think this is a good summation of it, overall...

...

So, what say you, KMCers? Would society (I'M talking world wide, just for clarity.) be about the same without having religion throughout its development?

If you could eradicate all religions from the world, it would simply be a matter of time before new religions would emerge from the popular culture. I don't think the two can be separated for very long. Creating religions are what humans do, and have always done.

riv6672
I'm not saying eradication, i'm saying religion not ever existing.

Shakyamunison
Originally posted by riv6672
I'm not saying eradication, i'm saying religion not ever existing.

Do you mean like starting over? Evolving again without religion?

I think we wouldn't have a society without first having religion. The very first cities were based around religion. When you start to have a lot of people living together, you have to have a system of order and laws. It was religion that made society possible by imposing order.

dyajeep
Originally posted by riv6672
So, what say you, KMCers? Would society (I'M talking world wide, just for clarity.) be about the same without having religion throughout its development?

for me, having no religion - or having only one religion - will make a better world... smile

riv6672
Originally posted by Shakyamunison
Do you mean like starting over? Evolving again without religion?

Close enough.

Originally posted by Shakyamunison
I think we wouldn't have a society without first having religion. The very first cities were based around religion. When you start to have a lot of people living together, you have to have a system of order and laws. It was religion that made society possible by imposing order.
So, without religion, you think nothing else could have imposed that order.
Thats pretty much what i was hoping for, opinion wise, thanks.

Bentley

Shakyamunison
Originally posted by riv6672
Close enough.


So, without religion, you think nothing else could have imposed that order.
Thats pretty much what i was hoping for, opinion wise, thanks.

No, ants and bees seem to have figured out a way to have a society without religion (as far as I know). But we are not ants; we are humans. Perhaps religion is a reflection of what we are.

Bentley
Originally posted by riv6672
So, without religion, you think nothing else could have imposed that order.
Thats pretty much what i was hoping for, opinion wise, thanks.

There is always something "sacred" in our relationship with authority, our brains seem to accept laws and traditions as something beyond us, almost supernatural.

This doesn't mean it's actual religion when we talk about having a government, but we would consider such government, in it's value as a moral protector, pretty much as the same as a religion.

Shakyamunison
Originally posted by Bentley
...
This doesn't mean it's actual religion when we talk about having a government, but we would consider such government, in it's value as a moral protector, pretty much as the same as a religion.

In the past, there may not have been a distinction between the two.

riv6672
Ha, separation of church and state.

Bentley
Originally posted by riv6672
Ha, separation of church and state.

I think Derrida writes about how many superstitions were passed from the Church to the government when the original separation came to be. We have an incredible amount of leftovers, I'd argue that the reject of participating into the political life of your country has something to do with fear of becoming a pariah, a modern heretic. Politics -according to the acts of the majority- aren't something all citizens should practice, we need priests.

riv6672
And the church is rife with politics. This is interesting...

dyajeep
Originally posted by Bentley
I think the latter is impossible,

i agree...

riv6672
How so?

Mindship
Religion is not the problem. Ego is, and how it deals with death terror. Quests for power are pursued regardless, so imho, the world would've been more/less the same had religion (or more accurately, religionism) never reared its head.

Shabazz916
society is only successful if there isn't greed and hate...

dyajeep
Originally posted by riv6672
How so?

about the fact that the world will have only one religion... yeah, i believe it's impossible but i have throw it out there just for kicks... i.e. having a perception that all people will unite in one belief but then again, maybe not after all... stick out tongue

Digi
Just an observation: the link in the OP also has a recent blog called "Reasons for viewing atheists as subhuman beings." That's among numerous such gems. Among others, calling Richard Dawkins a Nazi, explaining how evolution supports racism, and, my favorite, "Movement to get society to view atheists as subhuman beings rather than as actual human beings." That one is in addition to the one mentioned earlier.

A sample quote: "Truthfully a dog is much higher form of existence than a low-life atheist is." The OP's inquiry, in and of itself, may be valid, but posting that as a jumping off point isn't exactly leading with your best foot. Do a bit more research first, Riv. I know this isn't you saying these things, but choosing reputable sources is itself an important responsibility.

Digi
Buuuut, if we're to actually tackle this with some rationality - which, sadly, the OP's link does not - we first have to ask ourselves what we know.

We don't have sociological data on the scale necessary to even begin to answer this question definitively. One man's opinion is as good as the next; which is to say, worthless, without supporting data. That includes my own opinion, which I'm going to give below.

But before we get to the more subjective portion, I lied when I said we're totally without data. We lack data for this question on societal scales, but we do have tons of data for individuals. And a decrease in religiosity tends to correlate with increased morality. Bear in mind, this is on an individual level and on average (both are important, it's not a hard rule that applies to everyone). It doesn't condemn all religious adherents, nor praise all those who are non-religious. But on the whole, less religion tends to = more moral.

Sauce: http://www.killermovies.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=479017
...my OP there does a good job summarizing the evidence.

Lest we over-extrapolate, this doesn't necessarily mean that the same would hold true for an entire society. But, if we're forming an informed opinion based on that data, I'd say it's reasonable to think society would be just fine. Lacking other evidence for or against either side, it's the best we have.

In a similarly objective arena, I once got into a debate about charities, and it was presented in an atheist v. christian light. It was unfortunately biased, because they wanted to compare total donations of christian charities to atheist ones. Which, of course, pits about 40% of the world's population against 2-3%. I would have been interested had we been able to reframe it as donations per person, but I don't know if that kind of data exists. If it does, I'd be grateful for it.

And now the subjective portion. You all know I'm an atheist and was formerly a devout Catholic. And one of the more remarkable things about that process was how little changed about my behavior and practical, day-to-day beliefs. And most of the inquiries I receive from believers are about how I find morality. Why am I good? What keeps me from doing evil? Where do I find meaning? That they can't fathom these things outside a religious context is their issue, not mine, but to me it highlights how such misconceptions of non-religiosity fuel a question like this. Human is human is human. Nearly any percentage of religious or non-religious, and I tend to think we'd be about the same. And it's much easier to see that having been on both sides of the fence, per se. As such, any question that poses it as a "better or worse" way, I disagree with the premise entirely. It's, at best, needlessly polarized/dualistic. And, at worst, hate mongering, as the link in the OP leads us toward. Things would be different, but probably not markedly better or worse.

And if we're talking historically, the details of history would look a lot different, but the same basic patterns of human behavior would remain intact, as would the steady march of progress we've seen. That religions existed - and oftentimes ruled - at various points in history is not proof of their necessity, only their persistence.

Now, Riv, go do some better research and find somebody reputable to listen to on this. You're doing none of us a favor by digging up hate blogs in corners of the internet.

Bentley
Originally posted by Digi
But on the whole, less religion tends to = more moral.

Sauce: http://www.killermovies.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=479017
...my OP there does a good job summarizing the evidence.

Actually in the last couples of weeks, while discussing in the Religion forums, I've been tempted to say that in my experience the atheists are more attached to morals than the religious people. I found no fair opportunity to point that out before, but thanks to this post, I can. Also, it's pretty easy to make sense of that.

When you don't believe in anything supernatural the weight of your beliefs is individual, hence you need to get a better grip of your decisions and take them with more care. Responsability of your actions is regarded simply and by definition as the moral thing, we do measure morality as a personal value.

From a slightly more etheral point of view, this can be seen as what jungian psychologists describe as a process of individualization (eh, whatever it's official name it's on english). You are submitted to archtypes, what your society expects from you as defined per your social status. You're rich, you must act like a powerful person, you're a woman, you should be the seductress or the mother, and so on. After being confronted with the traumas we suffer regarding those roles, we actually regain our personal morals and push towards a more "balanced" lifestyle. Archetypes are social constructs, but they are very similar and reflect religious constructs.

And this is partly why I believe discussing about a society with religion is a bit muddy. Society is by itself very belief oriented, the belief doesn't have to be supernatural to be identical to that of religions. We can have the very same kind of social organization that religions have, heavy hierarchies and even superstitious feelings towards our governors and protectors... But then we would not call it religious. It would be so similar that in the end I wonder if it matters.

How important is it for a religion to have an actual supernatural background? Many mythical tales were used to teach morals in religious structures, but were also at tools to teach, a collection of analogies and metaphors. I think our current and past religions are structures that gather other simpler elements that are so engrained in our culture that the question is even hard to understand. Unless of course you narrow down the concept of religion quite a lot (but if you do it too much the answer is also worthless).

red g jacks
Originally posted by Digi
Buuuut, if we're to actually tackle this with some rationality - which, sadly, the OP's link does not - we first have to ask ourselves what we know.

We don't have sociological data on the scale necessary to even begin to answer this question definitively. One man's opinion is as good as the next; which is to say, worthless, without supporting data. That includes my own opinion, which I'm going to give below.

But before we get to the more subjective portion, I lied when I said we're totally without data. We lack data for this question on societal scales, but we do have tons of data for individuals. And a decrease in religiosity tends to correlate with increased morality. Bear in mind, this is on an individual level and on average (both are important, it's not a hard rule that applies to everyone). It doesn't condemn all religious adherents, nor praise all those who are non-religious. But on the whole, less religion tends to = more moral.

Sauce: http://www.killermovies.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=479017
...my OP there does a good job summarizing the evidence.

Lest we over-extrapolate, this doesn't necessarily mean that the same would hold true for an entire society. But, if we're forming an informed opinion based on that data, I'd say it's reasonable to think society would be just fine. Lacking other evidence for or against either side, it's the best we have.

In a similarly objective arena, I once got into a debate about charities, and it was presented in an atheist v. christian light. It was unfortunately biased, because they wanted to compare total donations of christian charities to atheist ones. Which, of course, pits about 40% of the world's population against 2-3%. I would have been interested had we been able to reframe it as donations per person, but I don't know if that kind of data exists. If it does, I'd be grateful for it.

And now the subjective portion. You all know I'm an atheist and was formerly a devout Catholic. And one of the more remarkable things about that process was how little changed about my behavior and practical, day-to-day beliefs. And most of the inquiries I receive from believers are about how I find morality. Why am I good? What keeps me from doing evil? Where do I find meaning? That they can't fathom these things outside a religious context is their issue, not mine, but to me it highlights how such misconceptions of non-religiosity fuel a question like this. Human is human is human. Nearly any percentage of religious or non-religious, and I tend to think we'd be about the same. And it's much easier to see that having been on both sides of the fence, per se. As such, any question that poses it as a "better or worse" way, I disagree with the premise entirely. It's, at best, needlessly polarized/dualistic. And, at worst, hate mongering, as the link in the OP leads us toward. Things would be different, but probably not markedly better or worse.

And if we're talking historically, the details of history would look a lot different, but the same basic patterns of human behavior would remain intact, as would the steady march of progress we've seen. That religions existed - and oftentimes ruled - at various points in history is not proof of their necessity, only their persistence.

Now, Riv, go do some better research and find somebody reputable to listen to on this. You're doing none of us a favor by digging up hate blogs in corners of the internet. ok but here's my problem with your data. you have basically only proven that the kinds of people who don't need religion are better off without it. that's great and all but there are still a lot of simple people that might benefit from religion. i know that sounds a bit arrogant or whatever but it is what it is at the end of the day. some people do use religion as a crutch so showing me a guy who can walk without crutches isn't proving shit to me.

Digi
Originally posted by Bentley
Actually in the last couples of weeks, while discussing in the Religion forums, I've been tempted to say that in my experience the atheists are more attached to morals than the religious people. I found no fair opportunity to point that out before, but thanks to this post, I can. Also, it's pretty easy to make sense of that.

When you don't believe in anything supernatural the weight of your beliefs is individual, hence you need to get a better grip of your decisions and take them with more care. Responsability of your actions is regarded simply and by definition as the moral thing, we do measure morality as a personal value.

From a slightly more etheral point of view, this can be seen as what jungian psychologists describe as a process of individualization (eh, whatever it's official name it's on english). You are submitted to archtypes, what your society expects from you as defined per your social status. You're rich, you must act like a powerful person, you're a woman, you should be the seductress or the mother, and so on. After being confronted with the traumas we suffer regarding those roles, we actually regain our personal morals and push towards a more "balanced" lifestyle. Archetypes are social constructs, but they are very similar and reflect religious constructs.

And this is partly why I believe discussing about a society with religion is a bit muddy. Society is by itself very belief oriented, the belief doesn't have to be supernatural to be identical to that of religions. We can have the very same kind of social organization that religions have, heavy hierarchies and even superstitious feelings towards our governors and protectors... But then we would not call it religious. It would be so similar that in the end I wonder if it matters.

How important is it for a religion to have an actual supernatural background? Many mythical tales were used to teach morals in religious structures, but were also at tools to teach, a collection of analogies and metaphors. I think our current and past religions are structures that gather other simpler elements that are so engrained in our culture that the question is even hard to understand. Unless of course you narrow down the concept of religion quite a lot (but if you do it too much the answer is also worthless).

Some interesting ideas about archetypes there. Any literature you could point me toward on that subject?

Originally posted by red g jacks
ok but here's my problem with your data. you have basically only proven that the kinds of people who don't need religion are better off without it. that's great and all but there are still a lot of simple people that might benefit from religion. i know that sounds a bit arrogant or whatever but it is what it is at the end of the day. some people do use religion as a crutch so showing me a guy who can walk without crutches isn't proving shit to me.

This is...well..ok. First, be careful about throwing the word "prove" around. Because what you're talking about it one interpretation of the data. The only thing it proves is that, on average, those who are less religious tend to be more moral. Nothing else. Anything beyond that is an opinion. You can pose "chicken or the egg?" style questions like you have, and it's a valid line of inquiry, but that's all it is, an inquiry; a hypothesis.

But anyway, sure, some people need religion. Or use it as a crutch. Whatever analogy you want to use. It's absolutely true. But those same people wouldn't dissolve into air without religion. Many would have some type of existential struggle, but they wouldn't shirk off their morality, they wouldn't be unable to function, nor unable to find happiness. Saying they use it as a crutch isn't evidence that society needs religion to function; just that some people need a support system - metaphysical, social, or otherwise - to operate to their fullest. To imagine that religion is the only thing that can do this is plainly false.

red g jacks
i'm not saying society needs religion to function. more like i'm skeptical as to whether it overall effects human behavior in a positive way or a negative way (assuming we can agree on some basic criteria for positive or negative). i hear you about atheists functioning fine. really what prompted me to respond in that way was some of my experiences with people in get clean programs or who get out of prison etc. i've encountered a good number of people who seem like without religion they would've actually been ****ed. of course society will always march on with or without them, though.

Digi
Originally posted by red g jacks
i'm not saying society needs religion to function. more like i'm skeptical as to whether it overall effects human behavior in a positive way or a negative way (assuming we can agree on some basic criteria for positive or negative). i hear you about atheists functioning fine. really what prompted me to respond in that way was some of my experiences with people in get clean programs or who get out of prison etc. i've encountered a good number of people who seem like without religion they would've actually been ****ed. of course society will always march on with or without them, though.

A select percentage, no doubt. I'll happily agree there. But for people like you mention, it's just a coping mechanism. Their mind is capable of finding strength in a coping mechanism, and I'd contend that it wouldn't need to be religion. It just often is, because of the world we live in. Our basic needs for emotional and social support wouldn't disappear, and would simply take different forms.

To throw you a bone, if we were just removing religion from current society, yeah, many would be ****ed. But that's not the thought experiment taking place. I - and the OP - are supposing society has had time to change and adapt since its inception without religion.

But your comment: "more like i'm skeptical as to whether it overall effects human behavior in a positive way or a negative way"
...seems similar to my first post, where I assert that we wouldn't be much better or much worse off. Different, but mainly the same in terms of overall good/bad. The effects of religion are all intrinsic anyway; they're inside as humans, not a divine mover making choices for us. As such, is it any stretch to say we'd be about the same regardless, since it's our internal mechanisms motivating us?

riv6672
Originally posted by dyajeep
about the fact that the world will have only one religion... yeah, i believe it's impossible but i have throw it out there just for kicks... i.e. having a perception that all people will unite in one belief but then again, maybe not after all... stick out tongue
Ah, okay. Gotcha!

red g jacks
Originally posted by Digi
A select percentage, no doubt. I'll happily agree there. But for people like you mention, it's just a coping mechanism. Their mind is capable of finding strength in a coping mechanism, and I'd contend that it wouldn't need to be religion. It just often is, because of the world we live in. Our basic needs for emotional and social support wouldn't disappear, and would simply take different forms.

To throw you a bone, if we were just removing religion from current society, yeah, many would be ****ed. But that's not the thought experiment taking place. I - and the OP - are supposing society has had time to change and adapt since its inception without religion.

But your comment: "more like i'm skeptical as to whether it overall effects human behavior in a positive way or a negative way"
...seems similar to my first post, where I assert that we wouldn't be much better or much worse off. Different, but mainly the same in terms of overall good/bad. The effects of religion are all intrinsic anyway; they're inside as humans, not a divine mover making choices for us. As such, is it any stretch to say we'd be about the same regardless, since it's our internal mechanisms motivating us? yea, fair enough i guess. my stance is basically that it might have a positive effect or a negative effect but i don't think we can really be sure without actually putting it to the test. i've seen religious people cite studies that show religion makes people more likely to donate to charity etc and then i've seen atheists like you cite stuff that shows the opposite. i haven't looked into the stats thoroughly enough to say one way or the other how it would play out, but i tend to think those kinds of stats are somewhat limited in helping to make that prediction.

i know anecdotal evidence proves nothing at all, but for whatever it is worth i have known plenty of people who basically openly admit that they would have less of a conscious about screwing people over if they didn't think they'd be punished for it after death. i guess i feel i really have no choice but to take their word on it. you say they'd find other ways but i feel like you can't possibly know that. maybe you are giving people too much credit.

for instance, i will admit a lot of you have a lot more of a conscious than i do, just from reading your posts. not that i am a pure sociopath or anything like that, but i guess at the end of the day i really don't feel that bad about making selfish decisions at the expense of others. i could pretend to feel bad about it or whatever but i'd honestly be lying if i did. i guess my point is not all people have the same penchant for empathy, and some of us are a lot more pragmatic and less idealistic when concerning morality.

riv6672
i guess my point is not all people have the same penchant for empathy, and some of us are a lot more pragmatic and less idealistic when concerning morality.
Yeah, this is true.
Without religion, or even the idea of religion, ever ever existing, putting a morality cap on certain actions, i wonder how these people would actually behave.
Basically, even if THEY have no issues with certain acts they might still check themselves because they know others do....

Star428
Originally posted by riv6672
Is it possible?
This article i ran across highly doubts it.
The link is below, but, i think this is a good summation of it, overall...



http://itsnobody.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/where-would-modern-society-be-without-religion/

So, what say you, KMCers? Would society (I'M talking world wide, just for clarity.) be about the same without having religion throughout its development?


Really enjoyed reading that blog that you posted a link to and got a good laugh at all the comments that were made in response to the article on that same page even though they were a couple of years old. I agree with most of what that guy was saying but in the comments section I think he went a little too far with his cussing and repeatedly throwing insults at the atheistic commenters who didn't agree with him. Shows a lack of class and I don't see why it was necessary for him to do that in order for him to make his point (which I mostly agreed with).

riv6672
thumb up

Digi
Riv, do you agree with the blog? It's really, really hate-filled.

riv6672
No, i cant see society having evolved without religion.
It implies a lack of...imagination i cant accept as being viable.
Ever see the movie "The invention of Lying"? Society could never have gotten to modern day levels with that premise, entertaining as the concept might be.

Digi
I think I see what you're saying, and it narrows the inquiry down to the point where you basically have to agree with your position.

Because for religion not to have existed, human nature would have to be fundamentally, and wildly, different than it is. Because we know that we have evolutionary traits that predispose us toward belief. It was, at one point, evolutionarily advantageous. So to say modern society could exist without religion is to say human nature had to have been wildly different since our inception as a species.

So sure, on that technicality, I'll agree. But in terms of whether it's still necessary, or is better/worse because of religion, my earlier posts cover my position in full.

riv6672
Oh, i'm denying that at all.
Great reading from your fertile mind as always.

Tell you what though, going by what you just said about what people would have to be like for a religionless society to emerge...i wouldnt eant to see the end result, personslly.

Shakyamunison
Originally posted by Digi
I think I see what you're saying, and it narrows the inquiry down to the point where you basically have to agree with your position.

Because for religion not to have existed, human nature would have to be fundamentally, and wildly, different than it is. Because we know that we have evolutionary traits that predispose us toward belief. It was, at one point, evolutionarily advantageous. So to say modern society could exist without religion is to say human nature had to have been wildly different since our inception as a species.

So sure, on that technicality, I'll agree. But in terms of whether it's still necessary, or is better/worse because of religion, my earlier posts cover my position in full.

thumb up

Unfortunately, human nature will take a very long time to change to the point where religion will not exist. So, for now, we need better religions. wink

riv6672
Originally posted by Digi
I think I see what you're saying, and it narrows the inquiry down to the point where you basically have to agree with your position.

Because for religion not to have existed, human nature would have to be fundamentally, and wildly, different than it is. Because we know that we have evolutionary traits that predispose us toward belief. It was, at one point, evolutionarily advantageous. So to say modern society could exist without religion is to say human nature had to have been wildly different since our inception as a species.

So sure, on that technicality, I'll agree. But in terms of whether it's still necessary, or is better/worse because of religion, my earlier posts cover my position in full.

I enjoyed your thoughts on this, good reading, really.

I just want to say though, any society that could develop without religion isnt a society i'd like to see...

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