the mental state of feeling secure (or feeling anxiety) may not correlate with one's actual level of security or lack thereof. Some people feel absolutely secure in trusting their god to heal their sick child, so no need to trust in the arm of man and call for an ambulance. Sometimes the child will get get better, sometimes they get a prolonged miserable death. In both cases, the parent can wrap themselves in the emotional security blanket of their religion and make themselves feel better.
I don't know why you are drawing this example of parents who don't call for ambulance. It is not what (Christian) religion teaches. Or maybe this example is only to show that the gap between felt security and actual situation can be huge - then ok, it can be huge. Similarly when a person undergoes a medical treatment (and sleeps quietly and feels safe) but it turns out that the diagnosis was incorrect and the treatment was ineffective and he lost valuable time. My example is not representative to the overall situation with medicine (at least for the purpose of this discussion), and your example is also not representative to what religion teaches and what majority of religious people do.
IMO, the sense of security religion is meant to provide is not that nothing bad will happen to you. Rather, it's about the "no matter what happens" thing. So, no matter what happens, God loves you, he will give you spiritual strength to cope with it. It doesn't say that faith will protect you from misfortune. It says that being prudent and complementing it with prayer is best way to avoid misfortune. Not calling for ambulance is an example of imprudence.
More on this page: A reason to believe ( http://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/12/believe.aspx
it shows the results of recent research about benefits of religion from scientific point of view. Towards the end they mention secular community as an alternative to religion, with objection that "such societies will still need many of the components of religion, including a belief that we’re all part of the same moral community and, therefore, should make sacrifices that benefit the greater good."
IMO, this sounds nice but is limited to rich society (welfare state), so currently impractical worldwide. "Making sacrifices that benefit the greater good"
is hard to achieve, communism as example. Plus, it would "still need many components of religion"
, probably including a meaning-making system described further towards the bottom of this reply, based on Swedish VVV test, which for the majority of people includes some "higher power" anyway.
My point was that religion is at best a two-edged sword. It can provide a "sense" of security, and it can also provide a "sense" of anxiety.
Yes, religion may provide sense of anxiety, especially for sinners. It's meant to. But it also provides hints what to do to change it into something positive. If someone believes in what religion says, it's not extremely hard to conform and get rid of the anxiety. If someone doesn't believe - then why would he be anxious about it?
Note also, that in light of the American Psychological Association article linked above about benefits of religion for human psyche, health and social behavior, your efforts on WWGHA to prove to people that God is illusionary look at best like a two-edged sword, too. Which is one point from my OP.
One thing it doesn't do, is bring an actual god or gods/goddesses into people's lives. Not in any way distinguishable from imaginary "inside brain" deities anyway.
You mean that religion cannot bring gods into peoples life because gods don't exist, so we're stuck at this point.
But if we assumed that God does exist, then it may happen in two ways. A person encounters religion and then learns how to find God in his life, asking Holy Spirit for faith. Many succeed, some don't. Or, another way around. First comes the awareness of presence of God (even if the person may not understand it entirely), and then a religion provides meaning to it. Some religions resonate better than others with this personal feeling, so people stick with them.
Question: do you believe everbody's spiritual/religious/mystical/paranormal experiences and "manifestations" are true? If a person claims to be a UFO Contactee,
This question begs for answer "no", even without the examples. So, no.
What about all those people who believe in religions other than yours? Are all religions equally true "inside brain" and fie upon external reality?
No idea. I am intrigued by the fact that there *are* so many religions and *so many* people are religious, rather than which one is more true than the others. I am agnostic to some degree. By saying in OP that there is no alternative to religion, I meant religion in general, as a spiritual experience or societal phenomenon. But Christianity is the only religion I know, besides brief descriptions of others, so my concrete examples are from this religion.
If religious people kept their LARP'ing (Live-Action Role Playing) to themselves, I (and probably most if not all of the atheists here) would have no problem with it. The problem is, religious people, believers in the Abrahamic monotheisms in particular, want to force everybody else to play.
Yes, this is a problem. In a short, my understanding of Christian religion is that believers are responsible for spreading the good news - not by force, physical or psychological, but rather by informing and doing good deeds. There are many Christians who do this, although yes, some denominations understand preaching differently, more actively. But there are also people who exploit religion to support their views or private interests and make others play their game, which is political, economical, psychological or other, underneath. I don't like that, either. In this case religion is just a tool to achieve something non religious, as good as any other tool.
That would require that a "God" actually show up and do some loving. Sorry, but "See this book? It says that God loves people sometimes (when he's not smiting them and condemning them to everlasting torment)" isn't the same thing.
Besides the book, I am sure you must have heard/read also at least some testimonials from people, who describe what God's love means to them (and there are many in the internet, even found on youtube). They describe how they are personally experiencing God's love - and the experiences are rich. For some people God's love is a mystical experience. It's also often perceived and compared to unconditional parent's love - unique and irreplacable by anything else, psilocybin mushrooms included (I think so).
Problems come when you confuse your "high" with external reality, and do things like demand that legislation be based on it, or discriminate against people (e.g. gays, nonbelievers) because your game has a rule that says they're bad, indoctrinate children into your game and do your level best to keep them from getting the opportunity to choose their own game, or decide not to play, tell them they'll be tortured for eternity if they don't play your favorite variant of the Christianity Game, etc..
People discriminate because they are in the majority and feel powerful. If the other side were the majority (gays, nonbelievers), they would discriminate others, too. Games and rules vary but human nature is as it is. But religion, as well as secular humanism can also be used as a tool against discrimination. Have you tried to think of it this way? Several sites in the internet explain, based on the Bible, why we *shouldn't* discriminate against this and that. Thinking globally, discrimination became disadvantageous for the society as a whole. If it's true, religion will evolve, sooner or later (consider inertia), as it evolved in the past.
I'm saying that it's the "real human" part that meets the need for community and mutual support. Religious doctrines aren't necessary.
You may say so, but I can't confirm it. My experience in life so far is generally in favor for strictly Christian communities, or peer groups, as opposed to non-religious or unknown - in terms of acceptance as a person and overall satisfaction, value and quality. It's doubtful that Christians are superior people by nature, or that it was always a coincidence. At some point I started appreciating aspects of this particular religion, together with its doctrines, as something that adds value to the "real human" part of a community.
First of all, Christianity is not "religion." It's a religion. This is one of Christianity's more irritating rhetorical tricks: to just blithely assume that it owns the patent and trademark on something (religion, morality, meaning of life, purpose, etc.) while treating the vast panoply of religions, cultures, philosophies, science, and everything else outside of its own little bubble as unworthy of notice.
That's characteristic of any religion (unless maybe there are syncretic religions, I don't know), including atheism. Oh sorry. it's not a religion..
Sure, religions have their moral teachings. Nobody disputes that. What we dispute is the claim that "religion" (yours, naturally) owns the patent and trademark on morality. There's such a thing as "ethics," an entire branch of human thought that isn't limited to the pronouncements of some bearded desert nomad's claim to be the voice of a king in the sky.
Does 'ethics' have patent on morality?
And I don't recall myself disputing anything resembling patent on morality, or claiming that "my" religion is morally superior to yours. Where?
The "void" you're talking about, and your source in the OP was claiming, is something only Christians ever claim to feel. Only they claim have a Jesus-shaped hole in their hearts, so it's lucky for them that they found Jesus, I guess.
Hmm. Are you sure that only Christians claim to feel the spiritual void? How about Hindu you mentioned earlier? I don't mean Jesus-shaped, but rather God-shaped spiritual void in general. This would be strange if only Christians had it.
The article cited in OP mentions God-shaped void (not Jesus-shaped). So it would mean that only God can fill it, not philosophy or any other earthly value. I found definition of spiritual distress, which may have some description of the void: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_distress
It sounds like illness though and contains only negative aspects, so it is not very precise description what the void could mean.
Once again: exactly my point. Your article was claiming that "religion" owned the patent and trademark on morality, and that violence was caused by people straying from their religion and not getting their Jesus-shaped holes filled properly. My claim was that this was not the case, that religious people are not gliding along on some higher moral plane than the rest of us.
Unfortunately, the worst religious violence is that waged by the religious groups themselves, under the authority of their most respected leaders, backed by the teachings of their religious scriptures and/or doctrines. Yes. So is secular violence.
If this was your point, then ok. I thought that maybe you wanted to say that religion has patent on *immorality* and secular were never as bad with violence as religious. Which I wouldn't agree.
---About the Swedish study
Others have pointed to the importance of developing a trans-cultural instrument,
which could work in different religious cultures and environments.
The instrument focuses on a person’s health and life quality during the a
time period of the last two weeks and measures the spiritual, religious, and
personal beliefs [SRPB] through eight different aspects: spiritual connection,
meaning and purpose in life, experience of awe and wonder, wholeness and
integration, spiritual strength, inner peace, hope and optimism, and faith.
"Spiritual connection"--to what? Are they talking about something like channeling the spirit of an Ascended Master from Atlantis, or does this mean having close-knit relationships with "kindred spirits," i.e. other like-minded people? Could both fall under this category?
Connection to a spiritual being.http://www.who.int/mental_health/media/en/622.pdf
WHOQOL-SRPB page 20: "To what extent does any connection to a spiritual being help you to get through hard times?"
"Spiritual strength:" this could mean anything from the ability to bend spoons with your mind, to having the grit and determination to climb the Matterhorn. (...)
"Faith:" a notoriously malleable word. It can mean everything (...)
These instructions were given to respondents of WHOQOL-SRPB: "While some of these questions will use words such as spirituality please answer them in terms of your own personal belief system, whether it be religious, spiritual or personal."
From this and overall context of this field-test, it wasn't about bending spoons or having faith in airlines safety.
Through a second model DeMarinis has, inspired by David Wulff’s categoriesA "meaning-making system" is not necessarily a religion. As you yourself point out, patriotism can do the trick. In the second emphasized part, they start trying to grapple with the issue of multiple religions.
for psychology of religion, constructed a worldview typology model for
how different approaches to meaning-making systems can be understood,
including both literal and symbolic worldview constructions of systems with
or without a transcendent belief foundation (DeMarinis, 2004, p. 163f). In
the Swedish context she found it necessary to add two additional categories
to the original model. One new category includes a mix of different systems
for meaning making, for example being a Christian and also attending Wicca-
Let's see how Swedish people responded to the VVV test (described also in this study), which explains how they understand meaning-making in their lives:"Concerning the existential dimension, 72% believed that
spirituality was important or very important. There was a great variety concerning
how people were making meaning in their lives. A slight majority,
51% included a higher dimension, 33% excluded it and 11% didn’t know.
When people responded to what they use as a grounding system for their
meaning-making, they combined a lot of different systems. Almost half,
47%, responded that they used a Christian ground but excluding any higher
power, 62% included a higher power using a combination of different systems
to make meaning in their lives. Only 19% reported a single-tradition
way of making meaning: that they had a non-spiritual/non-religious ground
and didn’t count on any higher power; or that they counted on a higher power
and had a spiritual/religious ground.
So, 62% included higher power
in their meaning-making system. That's how they understood meaning-making. There is no explanation what exactly was meant by higher power, but according to the last sentence in above quote, having religious/spiritual ground is correlated with *counting on* higher power. So the higher power is probably a deity or supreme being. Something intelligent.
The result of WHOQOL-SRPB test in Sweden (SRPB = spiritual, religious, and personal beliefs):"when focusing on the health items “How do you feel?” and “How satisfied are you with your health?” the results showed a significant relation to the existential health dimension* (p = .001). The results also showed a significance between the overall ratings of physical, mental, social, and environmental health and the existential health dimension (p = .008)." The respondents’ answers to two of the four original SRPB items in the WHOQOL-100,
the ones that included health, “To what extent do your personal beliefs** give you the strength to face difficulties?” and “To what extent do your personal beliefs** help you to understand difficulties in life?” had in combination a significant correlation to the item “How do you feel?” (p = .008).
* the existential health dimension
is understood as "a person’s ability to create and maintain functional meaning-makings systems". And for definition of meaning-making system vide the VVV test above (it includes "higher power" in 62%).
** questions about personal beliefs "refer to religion, spirituality and any other beliefs you may hold.
- from the test instructions
So, from this I understand that in Sweden there is significant correlation between feeling good and having a valid personal meaning-making system, which for 62% of the population includes higher power (probably deity).
By the way, another interesting thing about Sweden and spirituality from the same article:In many studies, Sweden stands out as a country
with a very high number of members in the Church of Sweden and with
many turning to the church for the baptizing of children, for marriage, and
for funerals. Yet at the same time many of these people do not believe that
the church’s theology can be of use in creating meaning in their lives.
So the society is secular, but at the same time they often participate in religious rituals. Tradition, religious nostalgia or maybe appeasing gods just in case?
And another interesting, about spirituality in our current post-modern times: "One trend is that people tend to be more and more interested in aspects
concerning the spiritual dimension of life, and another trend is that people
tend to be less involved in traditional ways of expressing their religiosity, for
example decreasing participation in local church services (..).
These trends have been observed both in Sweden and internationally"
So even if people turn away from church, it doesn't necessarily mean they don't need religion anymore or that they become atheists.
We need to design better studies. There is already a lot of evidence accumulatingNotice how he admits that the effects he's claiming are so subtle that it's still an open question whether they're there or not. He's right: we need to design better studies.
that religion is somehow related to personal and public health, but
we’re still left with a number of questions about how and why it works (if it
indeed does positively affect health). We need more studies
He also mentions there is a lot of evidence. Not only he, but others in the same article. There is also research that explains directly how religious practices affect health in specific cases, for example:
Research Shows How Religious Beliefs Can Protect Psychological Well-being during Stressful Experiences ( http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/08/religious.aspx
Prayer takes the edge off, a new study suggests ( http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/06/prayer.aspx
But you know what? I agree, we need better studies and more research. Like in other disputable areas of social life.
In The Lancet professor Wolfgand Rutz describes the current public healthSo why is there so much more societal stress and less social cohesion in highly-religious societies (Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Bible Belt of the USA) as measured in indices of social health (crime rates, child mortality, etc.) than in secular societies?
status in Europe in this way, “During this period of European transition,
societal stress and loss of social cohesion and spiritual values directly affect
patterns of morbidity and mortality“
Maybe because secular societies are rich and offer better health support. I found this whole Lancet article here: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(04)16224-7/fulltext
It is about situation in European countries (he explicitly mentions Greenland, Ireland and Eastern Europe) during transition, I think it is not about Sweden particularly.