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Atheists: Do you see anything good in religion?

#1OrnitierIXPosted 7/15/2011 10:39:45 AM
That title is much less inflammatory than it may appear.

What I mean is:

Do you find any worthwhile ideas in the religions of the world, but simply don't accept the supernatural stuff?

For instance, I find a lot of the things Christ said (or is reported to have said) quite agreeable, I just don't buy the whole divinity thing.
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#2kozlo100Posted 7/15/2011 11:11:16 AM
Oh sure. There are positive aspects and good ideas to be found in nearly every religion. I'm not sure I've come across one yet that has nothing good about it.

I also find many rituals and traditions to be personally beneficial, and I get a fair bit of benefit out of practicing them from time to time, regardless of whether or not I believe their spiritual components to be true.
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The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication. -- Philip K. Dick
#3fudrickPosted 7/15/2011 11:12:40 AM
I see good values taught by religion in some cases, but I do not see anything good in following any religion. There is no reason that one can't simply follow those good values without believing the obnoxious claims most religions make.
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#4TheWetRatPosted 7/15/2011 11:13:19 AM
Do you find any worthwhile ideas in the religions of the world, but simply don't accept the supernatural stuff?

Ah, but if you take out the supernatural stuff, it ceases to be religion, now doesn't it? At least, this is the case in Western religious thought. The nontheistic religions of the East are a little bit different.

Now, the thing about "worthwhile ideas of religion, minus the supernatural" is that without the supernatural, they are simply ideas, and ideas by themselves are secular and have no basis in being tied to supernatural causes. For example, you said that you're a big fan of Jesus's teachings. Well, the majority, if not all, of Jesus's teachings had been thought of hundreds of years prior by the Ancient Greeks. Jesus's teachings of morality were by no means revolutionary or unthought of, and no Judeo-Christian thought was needed in inventing them.

So, basically, I think it's inaccurate to attribute Jesus's overwhelmingly good and positive ideas to religion. It's completely possible to agree with such ideals without being religious. Equally wonderful ideas have come out of secular thought and philosophy and more than a few bad ideas have come out of 100% religious thought (ex. homosexuals should all be killed, women are unequal to men, etc.)

My point is that you're trying to separate the supernatural part of religion from its morally applicable teachings. I'm not sure that such a thing is possible, because as soon as you remove the supernatural side of religion from the practical side, you're left with secular ideas that require no religious belief whatsoever. Such ideas, by their very nature, cannot be attributed to religion, because no religion is necessary to come up with them, agree with them, or practice them. Whether these ideas came out of religious thought is irrelevant, in my opinion, since they could have (and often do) just as easily come out of secular thought concurrently.

The only exclusively religious patterns of behavior that exist are rituals, and I'm indifferent toward most of those.
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#5Hustle KongPosted 7/15/2011 11:28:59 AM
Pretty much what kozlo said.
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#6kozlo100Posted 7/15/2011 11:39:59 AM(edited)
I bet we have even practiced some of the same rituals, HK. The ones I get the most out of these days are in the vein of ancestor veneration.

Most recently I attended a wedding which involved releasing sky lanterns as a way to involve ancestors in the ceremony and celebration. I was deeply moved by the event.
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The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication. -- Philip K. Dick
#7_Near_Posted 7/15/2011 12:13:02 PM
Yes. The values of Taoism guide my life in many ways.
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The Tao's net covers the whole universe. And though its meshes are wide, it doesn't let a thing slip through.
#8Hustle KongPosted 7/15/2011 12:43:45 PM
My getting in touch with that stuff is still in its infancy, so I don't have much ritualistic experience. It might behoove me to try to partake in some of our large Hmong population's celebrations, as I know much of it has to do with ancestor veneration.
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Shooting Game never die.
It prays that the clover of luck be always in your mind.
#9squareandrarePosted 7/15/2011 12:51:10 PM
It's an excellent comfort blanket for people that emotionally need to feel special.

The problem is that adults are supposed to understand that when it's time to make serious decisions, you need to go by facts and evidence.

Meanwhile, we have governors sponsoring days of prayer for rain...
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#10OzymandiasIVPosted 7/15/2011 1:21:56 PM
I do think that good comes out of religion. However...

I also think that good can happen without religion.
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