Vexx, thank you for the kind words. That's one of the highest compliments I've been paid.
I honestly hope that doing my best to be respectful, even-handed, and intellectually honest serves as a sort of apology for those religious folks who aren't. No matter who/what religion is correct, accuracy of religious belief doesn't make people any less, well, people
, after all, and people can be (for lack of a better word) real goobers.
On the debate of the necessity of religion for a moral framework, I say this... Accuracy of religious belief does not make one a better person. It could
serve as a most valuable tool in that pursuit, but Judaism/Christianity draw a clear distinction that religious belief and the condition of the heart are quite separate things (things that can work in tandem, but separate).
In Christianity/Judaism, the moral framework isn't just based on "God's whim", but is a set of "operating recommendations" for the world God created. Based on that, religion isn't necessary for a moral framework; all you'd need are observational skills and critical thinking (which is how half of the moral framework of these religions made it into the religions in the first place).
Originally Posted by Gemstar
I can't think of one good reason why I would want to have a religion ? Can anyone tell me the benefits of having one ? Besides you get to go to heaven.
Well, it could provide a sense of purpose, a moral framework, fill your live with meaning... but if you want all that, you can go join a club. Practically speaking, that's all most religions are. Those are all available without converting and deciding that you want to adopt a set of beliefs wholesale.
If a person has a religion, it should be a natural consequence of their critical thinking to form their beliefs, or some unmistakable revelation that makes it clear.
The mere question of the existence of a creator is good for little more than curiosity.
If there is a creator and/or a spiritual world, though, and we can know at least a little something about it that will actually be relevant to our lives, that would be good to know.
If there is a creator who loves you and wants to have a relationship with you... that would be REALLY good to know.
A religion won't do you much more good than an MMO guild. A knowledge and understanding of the world observable beyond our physical senses (should one believe it exists)... is another thing entirely. What good it would do you depends entirely on what the details of that are.
I guess that's just a fancy way of saying "Each religion has its own answer to that question."
Originally Posted by Ledgem
Note also that the reverse holds true. The Jewish oppression over the Canaanites, the Christian Crusades, and the more recent Islamic Jihadists are all historical examples of where religious groups went as a majority force to oppress and bring violence to others. It has been said that the only religion to not cause war and strife is Buddhism, so I presume that there are other examples that I'm simply not aware of. With the exception of the Jewish acts (and probably only because these happened so long ago that the only historical accounts of it are in the religious texts themselves), the Crusades and the current Jihad are waved away as not being part of the religion itself. That is, the religion does not dictate that these should occur, but the religious organization instruments them. That hand-waving does nothing to alleviate the fact that the devout tend to partake in these activities, believing that they must be right because their organization dictated them to occur. Both the Crusades and the Jihad are today recognized as being relatively atrocious acts. If those with religion on their side can truly distinguish the difference, they wouldn't have participated. In fact, it would have been their duty to speak out against such acts.
I am aware that not everyone who participated in the Crusades were Christian. The Church basically announced an open-game session on the Middle East, and even non-Christians attended. It doesn't change the fact that the Church itself was the driving force behind the Crusades, and that Christians did participate as well.
Wait a tick.
The devout do, indeed, tend to do atrocious things. If it's in opposition to the teaching of their religion, though, how is the religion to blame?
Christians and Jews have religious texts that stress one theme above all the others: That people keep screwing it up! It's a constant cycle: The religious leaders and/or majority of the adherents ignore the teaching of their religion and screw things up beyond belief, and a small minority are left to try to reign them in and fix things.
If the religion itself admonishes its adherents of the preceding generations that ignored the moral teachings of the religion, how is the religion to blame when people again ignore those moral teachings? The religion is not the people, except in cases where the religion specifies a group of people as infallible keepers of the religion. Catholicism is the only example of that that comes to mind at the moment, but the Roman Catholic church has NEVER represented the entirety of Christianity. What we today call Judaism actually even considered the organized clergy and religious teaching/leadership to be different roles.
Atrocities are perpetrated regardless
of religion. It's not that the people tend to do such things because they are devout, but that people tend to find excuses to do what they're after. That they'll be done in the name of religion can't be considered a reflection on the religion unless the religion calls for such atrocities. As I've said before in another thread, the only decent example in Judeo-Christian religious text of a divine mandate for gruesome acts (as opposed to gruesome acts being done along the way) was to a nation of people who'd been following a pillar of fire through the desert for forty years, and done specifically as an act of preservation. To quote myself: "I think that's a good litmus-test for a holy war, and no one has passed it since."
Anything since I would consider to be non-representative of the religions, no matter what the actors in these cases claimed.