whywontgodhealamputees.com

Main Discussion Zone => General Religious Discussion => Topic started by: Monolight on February 11, 2013, 08:00:14 AM

Title: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 11, 2013, 08:00:14 AM
Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not? Because there is no alternative to religion, that's why.

You are trying to apply logic (contradictions, etc) to disprove religion, while the main reason people are religious is not for the pure beauty of logic, but rather for emotions and spirituality. Religion appeals to people because it fulfills their many (sometimes primary) needs.

A brief googling for the subject:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080213195752AA4uQ2a
http://www.seattlepi.com/local/opinion/article/Religion-does-fulfill-primary-need-1209724.php
(let me know if you find better elaboration about "how religion fulfills people's needs", I am interested in this subject)

You think people should wake up and stop believing, because religion is irrational and God is scientifically impossible (according to current state of science). That won't happen, because the benefits religion gives people will compensate for any "contradictions". There are answers for all your "contradictions", some are more, some are less logical, but it doesn't matter, either. Believers will choose to believe these answers, rather than your contradictions, because the only thing atheists can do (regarding religion of course) is negate and abolish. You don't really have any alternative, anything to give people instead of religion. Or have you?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Add Homonym on February 11, 2013, 08:21:47 AM
A lot of people are tortured by religion.

I do brainless spins on Yahoo Answers, and answer random questions. Yesterday, I ran into a Muslim gay guy, who had tried to be straight, and had thought about committing suicide, but knew he'd burn in hell eternally for that as well. He claimed his personality was falling apart, because anything he did was sending him to burn.

A lot of people seem so torn up about their religion, that they'd be better off with no hope. There are a few who can hold it together, and not take it seriously. I believe that the bulk of x-Christians on this forum reached a point, where they couldn't take the shit any longer. If Christianity didn't have the hell threats, it would probably fine, as well. I had a lot of difficulty dealing with the threats, until I discovered Eastern Religions, and how a bunch of people believed in reincarnation, karma; and it seemed to make sense. But, most of all, it showed me that another large bunch of people had a legitimate and logical way of looking at the problem, that sounded more correct than the insane people who believed that a man rose from the dead, and if you couldn't believe in him, you go to hell.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 11, 2013, 09:04:21 AM
...while the main reason people are religious is not for the pure beauty of logic, but rather for emotions and spirituality.

Nope.  people are religious because of psychological and societal reasons.  emotions and spirituality are secondary.  For one, pretty much everyone grows up in a culture with some prevalent religion.  They learn it like they learn the local language and accent.  It is a matter of conformity. Later, religion is a belief they wear, a jersey for the team they root for.

It is complicated.  I'd explain it myself, but I don't feel like it.  Here are some links that help explain. Have at it.

http://lesswrong.com/lw/i4/belief_in_belief/
http://lesswrong.com/lw/i6/professing_and_cheering/
http://lesswrong.com/lw/i7/belief_as_attire/
http://lesswrong.com/lw/m9/aschs_conformity_experiment/

Religion appeals to people because it fulfills their many (sometimes primary) needs.

Maybe, but probably not in the way you think.

Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Nick on February 11, 2013, 09:11:12 AM
As long as they keep their "primary" needs away from me and out of gov then fine let them have at it.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 11, 2013, 12:45:41 PM
As long as they keep their "primary" needs away from me and out of gov then fine let them have at it.
People who want to make use of you, your money or your gov to meet their "primary needs" will exploit any available channel: political, religious, ideological (racist, sexist), marketing, laws, parential control, social and work position etc. But to such people, no need to tell them of biblical contradictions or try convince that God is illusionary, because they don't care anyway. They would do it in the name of anything. I wasn't talking about "primary needs" which are against other people. But really, is it the majority of the religious people are like this? I don't think so. Might be, I just didn't experience or heard so.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 11, 2013, 01:15:53 PM
Later, religion is a belief they wear, a jersey for the team they root for.
Some call it tradition. Authority is not far away. Belonging to community. It's very important for many people and religion is a very good way to satisfy these. Take the religion away and what is left? Nationality? - fine, but too big and obligatory. It also has the same flows as religion - can be misused by bad people (racism, wars). Football team? - too aggressive and not for everyone. That's my original question: what alternative is there for religion?

Religion appeals to people because it fulfills their many (sometimes primary) needs.
Maybe, but probably not in the way you think.
I thought the main points from one of the linked site: the need for security, authority, stability, acceptance, purpose, meaning, being good person. Probably even more. Definitely more. Plus the whole spiritual part, which is by definition irreplaceble by anything.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: stuffin on February 11, 2013, 01:29:43 PM
Because there is no alternative to religion, that's why.

Religion appeals to people because it fulfills their many (sometimes primary) needs.

No religion is an aternative to religion. Just as people have LEARNED to have religion, they could LEARN to not have religion.

Religion appeals to people for many reasons.

One reason is most were nurtured (some say indoctrinated) into the religion as a child and no longer are capable of questioning their religion. Others have been so convinced they will burn in hell if they deny god they just blindly agree to follow their religion. While others are playing it safe (Pascal’s wager) just in case. These are just not honest reasons to believe in religion(s) 

Another reason is people like to have answers to things, religion allows for answers to everything. This really appeals to people because they can stop at "because god wants it that way" and they no longer need to look for an answer.

Also, many people who lack appropriate coping skills, people with addictive behaviors come to mind, can be swayed by religion if they just have faith and believe. While this does benefit people,  it is deceiving in that they are tricking people into believing something that isn’t real.

Lunch time over, gotta go back to work.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Graybeard on February 11, 2013, 01:31:38 PM
Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not?
It doesn't. But what such a question does, is to cause religious people to think. Most of them, as you will find if you look through this part of the forum, try and rationalise it - we have had hundreds of possible combination of excuses for God's failure in this respect.

However - and this is the point - one or two will go away and think; they will question the existence of gods.

Whatever it is people say a god can do; whatever attribute they say a god has, that is their ignorance; that is what they do not know. Religion is the worship of ignorance.

Why should someone do this? You need not look far - people want answers, certainty, reasons for things - in religion, they have this "God did it." And, in their ignorance and circular reasoning, this proves the existence of God - Who then looks after them.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 11, 2013, 01:43:40 PM
Some call it tradition. Authority is not far away. Belonging to community.

That's not what I was getting at.  Read the less wrong links. Or don't.  Either way.

It's very important for many people and religion is a very good way to satisfy these.

Any organized group of people satisfies.  To pick a group that uses systematized irrationality and magical thinking simply because, you know, "tradition", is probably not the best way to go for a better society.

what alternative is there for religion?

Take your pick. Or invent something.

I thought the main points from one of the linked site: the need for security, authority, stability, acceptance, purpose, meaning, being good person. Probably even more. Definitely more.

I do not understand what you are saying.  The links I provided support your claim?  Is that what you are saying?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: sun_king on February 11, 2013, 01:46:36 PM
Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not? Because there is no alternative to religion, that's why.

I have a question related to the bold text above.

What alternatives have you considered before you made that evaluation. Was that assertion made after a good analysis of at least a few possible alternatives?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 11, 2013, 04:18:40 PM
I do not understand what you are saying.  The links I provided support your claim?  Is that what you are saying?
Nope, the links in my original post (the first post in this thread)
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 11, 2013, 04:38:18 PM
"Because there is no alternative to religion"
Was that assertion made after a good analysis of at least a few possible alternatives?
Well, no (if you know of some, tell me). But looking at the human history (not only the last 2K) I think religion has its place for a reason. Atheists may say it's bad or illusionary, but it will just be.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: sun_king on February 11, 2013, 05:04:02 PM
"Because there is no alternative to religion"
Was that assertion made after a good analysis of at least a few possible alternatives?
Well, no (if you know of some, tell me). But looking at the human history (not only the last 2K) I think religion has its place for a reason. Atheists may say it's bad or illusionary, but it will just be.

You will need to retract that statement since you just admitted that you are not qualified to make such a statement.

You can look up the word Irreligion when you have time and an open mind to spare.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonreligious
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 11, 2013, 06:25:22 PM
Religions evolved from the human need for answers to unexplained phenomena.  So, it's certainly true that religion fills that need, but it doesn't fill it very well, compared to actually trying to understand the real reasons why things happen.  I'd like to liken it to eating sweets versus eating wholesome food.  Sure, the sweets taste good, but they don't really satisfy appetites that well.  Whereas the wholesome food actually makes us healthy, which ultimately makes us happier because it satisfies us better.

The problem, if you'll excuse me continuing to use the analogy, is that we have entire cultures which are built around the idea that candy (religion) is good and wholesome, while wholesome food (science and knowledge) are bad or at least suspect and shouldn't be trusted.  So what atheism does is challenge that idea, by asking if candy (religion) actually does us any good, and whether it's necessary at all.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: stuffin on February 11, 2013, 07:29:26 PM
"Because there is no alternative to religion"
Was that assertion made after a good analysis of at least a few possible alternatives?
Well, no (if you know of some, tell me) \. But looking at the human history (not only the last 2K) I think religion has its place for a reason. Atheists may say it's bad or illusionary, but it will just be.

I gave you one you ignored it.

Quote
No religion is an aternative to religion. Just as people have LEARNED to have religion, they could LEARN to not have religion.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: JeffPT on February 11, 2013, 11:30:40 PM
That's my original question: what alternative is there for religion?
The question of whether or not God exists is far different from what we can get out of believing it does.  Some of us prefer to live our lives with the truth.  If you're not one of them, then so be it.  Accepting the truth can be hard. What you do with it is up to you. 
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: DumpsterFire on February 12, 2013, 01:51:54 AM
As long as they keep their "primary" needs away from me and out of gov then fine let them have at it.
People who want to make use of you, your money or your gov to meet their "primary needs" will exploit any available channel: political, religious, ideological (racist, sexist), marketing, laws, parential control, social and work position etc. But to such people, no need to tell them of biblical contradictions or try convince that God is illusionary, because they don't care anyway. They would do it in the name of anything. I wasn't talking about "primary needs" which are against other people. But really, is it the majority of the religious people are like this? I don't think so. Might be, I just didn't experience or heard so.

I long ago accepted that most folks who favor religious belief will not be swayed by rational arguments against it, and such is their ignorant prerogative. The problem with religion is not that people believe in god, its that they believe they know exactly what god wants and seek to impose his 'will' upon everyone else:

Its the Mormon church pouring millions of dollars into the fight against same-sex marriage in CA.
Its the RCC fighting condom use as 'immoral' in AIDS stricken parts of Africa.
Its having "In God We Trust" printed on every piece of US currency.
Its having "Under God" included in the Pledge of Allegiance.
In my state (TN), its making it against the law to buy a bottle of liquor on Sundays when its perfectly legal to do so on any other day.

So you see, websites such as WWGHA would probably not exist if people could just keep their religion to themselves.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 12, 2013, 07:48:23 AM
Another reason is people like to have answers to things, religion allows for answers to everything. This really appeals to people because they can stop at "because God wants it that way" and they no longer need to look for an answer.
People say sometimes "because god wants it that way" when they are helpless. This makes it easier to cope with e.g. tragedy. (btw religion does not give the answer as to why God wanted it this way, so it's not a full answer, just somethig to calm the mind). Another point for religion, then. Does atheism offer any kind of such consolation?

One reason is most were nurtured (some say indoctrinated) into the religion as a child and no longer are capable of questioning their religion. Others have been so convinced they will burn in hell if they deny god they just blindly agree to follow their religion. While others are playing it safe (Pascal’s wager) just in case. These are just not honest reasons to believe in religion(s)
Everybody is in a sense indoctrinated to something as a child, because there are hundreds of rules to follow, cultural, religious, social, medical, political. Some rules are never questioned, because they turn out to be useful in life. Some other are completely broken by adult people. I think people are smart enough to figure that they could abandon their religion if they really wanted and still live and not be tortured in today's world (speaking of Christianity, not sure of other cultures). But they are more comfortable to stay, as a choice, not under compulsion. I don't believe someone may "not be capable" of questioning his religion, I'd say he doesn't see any advantage of questioning it.

As for "playing it safe" and being religious "just in case" - that's another way of saying that religion gives people a sense of security and of being a "good man". You may say they are not honest believers, but anyway, the benefit is theirs. This comes at a price of feeling fear of hell if they don't play as "good men". But the tendency in Church today is to change the meaning of hell into something like "no presence of God" etc, so something less painful, so that fear is also weakening.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 12, 2013, 07:54:21 AM
You will need to retract that statement since you just admitted that you are not qualified to make such a statement.
Reasoning in this way, atheists who were never religious also are not qualified to make statements about religion?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 12, 2013, 07:56:18 AM
Some of us prefer to live our lives with the truth.
We don't see the truth, we just interpret things.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 12, 2013, 08:03:36 AM
we have entire cultures which are built around the idea that candy (religion) is good and wholesome, while wholesome food (science and knowledge) are bad or at least suspect and shouldn't be trusted.
That was true in the past. But today many religious people are also scientists, or at least watch Discovery on TV and are not ruling out the coexistance of science and God. There also mention evidences of God in science.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: naemhni on February 12, 2013, 08:11:37 AM
Some of us prefer to live our lives with the truth.
We don't see the truth, we just interpret things.

Is that statement true, or is it just your interpretation?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: DumpsterFire on February 12, 2013, 10:01:01 AM
People say sometimes "because god wants it that way" when they are helpless. This makes it easier to cope with e.g. tragedy. (btw religion does not give the answer as to why God wanted it this way, so it's not a full answer, just somethig to calm the mind). Another point for religion, then. Does atheism offer any kind of such consolation?
You bring up plenty of valid points as to why people cling to religion, but the assessment of its benefits over atheism is highly subjective, at best. What you are saying is that a false sense of security is preferable to none, and while there are a great many people who share this perspective, I (and likely the vast majority in this forum) do not. Check out the following example:

In Jr. High, the prettiest girl in my school once passed me a note which said she was in love with me and wanted to be my girlfriend. As you can imagine, I was thrilled and elated to learn of her feelings for me, as I had an enormous crush on her, as well. It was truly one of the happiest moments of my life. Unfortunately, I was terribly embarrassed and utterly dejected when she angrily informed me after class that the note was actually intended for the football star who sits behind me.

That awesome feeling from the time I read the note to the time I learned of her true intentions? That's religion.
Quote
As for "playing it safe" and being religious "just in case" - that's another way of saying that religion gives people a sense of security and of being a "good man". You may say they are not honest believers, but anyway, the benefit is theirs. This comes at a price of feeling fear of hell if they don't play as "good men". But the tendency in Church today is to change the meaning of hell into something like "no presence of God" etc, so something less painful, so that fear is also weakening.
The fact that different sects and even each individual so readily adds, omits, and interprets things to fit their own feelings is further evidence that religion is a fallacy. If there truly was a god who cared about such things don't you think the message would be clear and succinct instead of being so easily open to wide interpretation?

Nevertheless, your main point seems to be that there's nothing wrong with people turning to religion to make themselves feel better, and I would agree with that statement in general. But, as I commented previously, religious folks are rarely content to limit their beliefs to some good feelings and coping mechanisms, and instead get all kinds of wacky ideas they then seek to impose on public policy. That is the aspect of religion that must be fiercely opposed.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 12, 2013, 10:12:20 AM
That was true in the past. But today many religious people are also scientists, or at least watch Discovery on TV and are not ruling out the coexistance of science and God. There also mention evidences of God in science.
They're in the minority of religious people, because it depends on whether they can make science and their religion coexist inside their heads.  Most religious people can't - they give primacy to their god and anyone who says otherwise must be wrong.  In many cases, anyone who so much as dares to criticize their beliefs is taking their life in their hands.

These aren't just things that happened in the past.  They're things that happen now, today.  People so dead-set on being right no matter whether they actually are that they do horrible things in order to force the issue.  You see, there's a substantial percentage of religious people who's "feel-good" sense of security depends on having as many other people share their belief as possible.  If someone doesn't share it, they must be made to; if someone opposes being made to, then they must be prevented from interfering with efforts to spread the "feel-good".  This ranges anywhere from trying to marginalize them to simply killing them.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 12, 2013, 10:34:25 AM
Nope, the links in my original post (the first post in this thread)

Oh.  Well.  I ignored those.  Yahoo answers is irrelevant.  The other one is an OP-Ed by Kennethe L. Burress, a theologian.  He includes "holiness" as a primary need.  I feel no obligation to accept such silliness as a legitimate argument.

I do not see your links as being particularly supportive.  They seem to be a couple of opinions of random people.  I prefer to have facts from experts.

Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: sun_king on February 12, 2013, 10:58:06 AM
You will need to retract that statement since you just admitted that you are not qualified to make such a statement.
Reasoning in this way, atheists who were never religious also are not qualified to make statements about religion?

Quite the opposite, we can. Because, unlike you, we have studied religion quite a bit. We have considered the pros and cons of religion before making the statements (you can see that in many of the responses you have got so far from the other members). You, on the other hand, had the audacity to make a claim like "there is no alternative to religion" when you have confessed that you have not considered any viable alternatives.

At this point you know you were wrong to make that statement about alternatives to religion, a retraction would have been the decent thing to do. Admitting you may be wrong is a hard thing for you, so you attempted "you are also wrong". Such a mindset will limit your comprehension, making the other guy "more wrong" does not make you right.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: 12 Monkeys on February 12, 2013, 11:09:46 AM
 The statement "you shall have no gods but me" from your god,does this mean there are other gods? or was this just a way for early writers of the Bible to make people switch religions?

 Originally your God was only interested in being a Jewish god,then the clever writers of the NT figured out a way to dupe more people.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 12, 2013, 11:12:37 AM
I agree with screwtape - Burres lists several non-physical needs and puts a religious spin on them, but the fact of the matter is that religion isn't necessary for any of them.  Indeed, it subtly undermines them, by making people feel as if they've been met when they really haven't.  For example, it may well be true that someone who believes in a god may feel safety and security in that belief, but it's a false feeling.  If something bad, even tragic happens, their belief does them no good.  Indeed, they have to rationalize why such a thing could happen to them considering the safety and security they felt just before.

The rest of it is pretty much the same thing - all things that religion seems to fill, but that it in fact does not.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 12, 2013, 11:36:53 AM
You, on the other hand, had the audacity to make a claim like "there is no alternative to religion" when you have confessed that you have not considered any viable alternatives.
In order to consider something, you must know it, discover, be aware of. I just can't find any. Besides, I also asked if someone knows any to kindly tell me, so I could consider them.

So far, the only alternative presented to me was the "no religion" alternative. Well, in a strict sense it is an alternative, but in a common sense it's not. It's as if someone asked "What is the alternative to use a database" and someone else answered him "Don't use a database". And another person answered "Use XML". While both are alternatives in a strict meaning, the first one is somewhat useless, while the second one is definitely worth consideration.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: naemhni on February 12, 2013, 11:57:17 AM
You, on the other hand, had the audacity to make a claim like "there is no alternative to religion" when you have confessed that you have not considered any viable alternatives.
In order to consider something, you must know it, discover, be aware of. I just can't find any. Besides, I also asked if someone knows any to kindly tell me, so I could consider them.

That's certainly fair enough.

When I was nineteen, I was working as a staff member at a private college.  One of the humanities professors there once said that "art[1] can really take the place of religion in your life".  I was too young at the time to understand what he meant... actually, the statement seemed bizarre to me, almost like saying that motorcycles could take the place of artificial sweetener, or something like that.  When I went to college myself a few years later, though (majoring in philosophy, but with lots of other humanities in the mix to make me well-rounded), I came to understand what he meant.
 1. "Art" in the broadest sense of the term, to include not just things like paintings or sculpture, but literature, music, dance, and so on.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 12, 2013, 12:01:35 PM
Trying to compare religion with a database makes no sense, Monolight.  The two aren't the same thing at all, and you really can't make that analogy work in any way, shape, or form.  You see, you're acting like religion is a necessity, when in fact it is only a convenience.  Not even a convenience, actually - simply an assumption of convenience.

And, like it or not, "don't make convenient assumptions" is a perfectly good alternative to making them.  Indeed, it's a far better one, as it doesn't lead people into wasting time and effort on those convenient assumptions that don't lead anywhere.

The problem with your argument here is that you're saying that the religious belief is necessary - not what the belief is about.  It doesn't matter whether the deity they believe in actually exists.  They don't need it to exist in order to fill their needs, they just need to believe in it.  Indeed, it doesn't need to be a deity at all; someone could have an imaginary friend that provided for all of those needs for them, and it would be just as effective as the belief in a deity.  Or they could personify the ideals they want to live by, and use that to provide for all of those needs.  Or they could take someone (or several someones) who actually lived and idealize them in a similar way.

Or they could just say, "these are the ideals I want to live by, and I will use them to help fulfill my non-physical needs".  In a very real sense, this is the most effective solution of all, because you don't have to worry about ideals acting on their own.  You don't have to try to rationalize away bad things that happen despite those ideals, because the ideals can't act on their own.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: sun_king on February 12, 2013, 12:17:50 PM
So far, the only alternative presented to me was the "no religion" alternative. Well, in a strict sense it is an alternative, but in a common sense it's not. It's as if someone asked "What is the alternative to use a database" and someone else answered him "Don't use a database". And another person answered "Use XML". While both are alternatives in a strict meaning, the first one is somewhat useless, while the second one is definitely worth consideration.

Hardcode it, you don't need a database. It will be cumbersome, but it will work, sad that you evaluated it as "useless".

That being said, why is it relevant to our discussion. In your scenario it is evident that the organized body of information[1] is critical to the system. Again and again, you are leaning on the notion that religion is necessary. Are you not reading any of the posts here, there are a lot of people who DON'T need a religion.

We can have an open discussion that can be continued without resorting to sneaky subtleties. I would request that you refrain from imposing that a religion is mandatory.
 1. Database
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 12, 2013, 12:19:25 PM
What you are saying is that a false sense of security is preferable to none,
Yes and that's the main reason why insurance companies grow so well. People need to feel secure. I am not saying though (and religion doesn't teach this) that you can drive and take turns 200km/h and feel safe because your faith will protect you.

That awesome feeling from the time I read the note to the time I learned of her true intentions? That's religion.
When you learned her true intentions, you are only left with disappointment, because you we wrong (mistaken) and rejected. The difference with religion is that it first of all teaches that misfortune or tragedy may happen to you, and when it happens, you religion will give you strength to cope with it. If tragedy happens, many people come out of it even more religious than before. They find strength anyway and whether it comes from God or from other sources ("what doesn't kill me makes me stronger" -Nietzche) is left to decide to their conscience. Many say religion really helps in difficult times.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: sun_king on February 12, 2013, 12:44:25 PM
Yes and that's the main reason why insurance companies grow so well. People need to feel secure. I am not saying though (and religion doesn't teach this) that you can drive and take turns 200km/h and feel safe because your faith will protect you.

Let us talk about taking a turn at 200 km/h. It is done in some forms of automobile racing. The drivers make that turn not on faith, but on awareness of their machines, the environment and a trust in their own skills. This is what the atheist does, we take on life knowing our limitations and our capabilities.

"Just leave me alone, I know what I’m doing" Kimi Raikkonen, Team Lotus, radio message to his engineers on his way to victory in F1 Abu Dhabi, 2012.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 12, 2013, 12:57:45 PM
I also asked if someone knows any to kindly tell me, so I could consider them.

let's try this approach:

explain what you think religion is.  I would say it is a conservative social mechanism that also defines a people's relationship to one or more gods.  Do you argree?  If not, how would you define it?

Then explain what social aspects of it you would like replaced. It might require more than one thing to completely replace religion.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 12, 2013, 01:17:28 PM
Again and again, you are leaning on the notion that religion is necessary. Are you not reading any of the posts here, there are a lot of people who DON'T need a religion.
Religion is not necessary for everyone (I didn't mean that). Some people are fine without any form of religion and that's ok. But statistically and historically and perhaps etnographically speaking, majority of cultures have religion and this coutinues though thousands of years. There is margin for all kind of enforcement, pressure, etc, but anyway what's left is really a phenomenon (the volunteer believers). It's a product of evolution, IMO. That's why I think religion must fill important **primary human needs**, otherwise it would not persist till computer age. I think it will be the same in a hundred years, as long as humanity will exist.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 12, 2013, 01:22:36 PM
The problem with your argument here is that you're saying that the religious belief is necessary - not what the belief is about. It doesn't matter whether the deity they believe in actually exists. They don't need it to exist in order to fill their needs, they just need to believe in it.
But that's a rational assumption, isn't it? and rationally speaking, the only one possible, because **so far** there is no way to scientifically confirm that any kind of deity exists. Knowing it's an atheists forum, it's safer to stay rational. Why you think it's a problem?

P.S. But I often think of Christianity, because I know it better than other.

You see, you're acting like religion is a necessity, when in fact it is only a convenience.

Well, everything that's not necessary to survive can be considered just convenience. In that sense, religion would be a very important one. (and in the post above I explained that religion is not a necessity for everyone IMO)
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 12, 2013, 02:07:08 PM
Monolight, you don't really do yourself or your argument any favors by selectively addressing only a couple sentences of what someone posts and hoping someone doesn't call you out on the rest of it.

It is not rational to assume that religious belief is necessary, let alone that it is the only possible assumption.  Indeed, it is fundamentally irrational to make an assumption like that, especially when you have people pointing out that there are alternatives to it.  I pointed out four alternatives to religious belief that, in my opinion, are much more rational than it.  So the fact that religious belief has persisted for thousands of years only shows that it filled a role in the human psyche, not that it is the only thing that could fill that role.  Much like evolution, the only criteria is that it does so, not that it does so well.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 12, 2013, 03:29:36 PM
That's why I think religion must fill important **primary human needs**, otherwise it would not persist till computer age.

So, how about the supernatural?  Believing supernatural stuff is retarded, yet still with us.  Does that fulfill a **primary human need**?  Or is it just a relic of evolution?

Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 12, 2013, 06:06:25 PM
Monolight, you don't really do yourself or your argument any favors by selectively addressing only a couple sentences of what someone posts and hoping someone doesn't call you out on the rest of it.
Feel free to call me out for anything I omitted which was important and not similar to the sentences that I cited. Plus, I usually omit the part I agree with.

I pointed out four alternatives to religious belief that, in my opinion, are much more rational than it.
Four alternatives?? Reply #number please?

So the fact that religious belief has persisted for thousands of years only shows that it filled a role in the human psyche, not that it is the only thing that could fill that role. Much like evolution, the only criteria is that it does so, not that it does so well.
There may be theories that other things could fill the same role as religion, or even better. But the fact is that religion does it. It reminds me of a sports match where some people are saying that the other team (who lost) played really better and they should win, they would surely win if only they (...put something here...). Maybe we'll see next time? ;)

Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Add Homonym on February 12, 2013, 09:07:56 PM
Religion is not necessary for everyone (I didn't mean that). Some people are fine without any form of religion and that's ok. But statistically and historically and perhaps etnographically speaking, majority of cultures have religion and this coutinues though thousands of years. There is margin for all kind of enforcement, pressure, etc, but anyway what's left is really a phenomenon (the volunteer believers). It's a product of evolution, IMO. That's why I think religion must fill important **primary human needs**, otherwise it would not persist till computer age. I think it will be the same in a hundred years, as long as humanity will exist.

You've changed the goalposts, to "volunteer believers", and undermined your original post.

Volunteers believers are the hippies that have taken DMT, which is a purified form of Ayahuasca, which is used in South American ritual. The people consume it and have big galactic visions. They had the visions themselves, so the drug has told them that spirits really do exist. So, you could say they were volunteer believers, who now have the idea that there is something that transcends consciousness, (a) because they think they experienced it (b) because they need life after death, and some point to live.

However, it's not strictly volunteering, if the drug is just a delusion. It's an ancient religious culture which got thrust upon them. It would be volunteering, if there was any truth to it.

You could argue that some religions do not really fill a need, because they are designed primarily to spread effectively, rather than consider a human's evolutionary need. So, there is a "spread" component, and a "need" component in religion. In the case of Ayahuasca, it's a very powerful cultural method of spreading belief, by demonstration. And, it also seems to fulfil the vague artistic "needs", by giving lots of wonder, and no firm dogma.

In the case of Christianity and Islam: these two dogmatic religions seem to be the least spiritually artistic, and are dependent upon state orthodoxy and threats. (Without state backing, they would degenerate badly, into something a bit more artistic.) The Christian ideal is to be celibate, living in a closet, while flagellating yourself, attempting to avoid burning in hell for eternity. You may stare at stained glass windows, as long as they have pictures of cherubs, and a man dying on a stick. Christianity lacks so much spiritual art, that adherents have no real thought as to what could happen in afterlife. While denying themselves in this life, they have no visions of why they would bother going to the next one. Islam is also very vague about why you would want to hang around with rivers of wine, but it is pretty clear about how we should treat women.

You could say that the point of the atheist argument, is to help people who have had religion thrust upon them, by its unartistic spread and threat component, to create more people who have volunteer beliefs.

===============

Another way of looking at it, is that Christianity and Islam have evolved to build empires. If the empire builds, then it does not care how it treats its people. But, in order to build an empire, it must treat people relatively well. However, the way they are being treated is not necessarily what they need to believe evolutionarily as a person. For example, I have no need to believe that I will burn in hell, if I think about my neighbour's wife. It may keep civilization more on track, if I don't think about my neighbour's wife, but it has nothing to do with my personal needs.

===============

In teaching others to think for themselves, it could well fill an evolutionary need, but may also weaken the civilization, and render it vulnerable to another dominating religious culture. This is the problem with atheism: it may be only transitory, before we move into another religious prison.

Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: 12 Monkeys on February 12, 2013, 09:36:51 PM
monolight,is Christianity the same or near the same as it was even 100 years ago,never mind 2000 years ago? Christianity,like most religions "evolve" or die out.

 Can you think of any reason other than SPAG (self projection as God)that anybody would still be a Christian? A Christians perception of God is exactly as the believer views it,a believers view of God is exactly the same as the his/hers God's views.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 13, 2013, 12:54:36 AM
I've had some people tend to jump only on a few sentences of mine recently rather than taking them in context with the post, so I wanted to make that clear from the outset.  If you were only addressing the parts that you disagreed with, that's fine by me.

Four alternatives?? Reply #number please?
The post which I chided you slightly for only quoting part of it.  But basically, they were imaginary friends, personifications of ideals, idealized historical figures, and simply the ideals themselves.  All four of those are ultimately better than religious beliefs in my view, because you don't have to worry about ancient beliefs that might not even be relevant, or having to cherry-pick ancient writings, or having to deal with doctrinal differences.

Quote from: Monolight
There may be theories that other things could fill the same role as religion, or even better. But the fact is that religion does it. It reminds me of a sports match where some people are saying that the other team (who lost) played really better and they should win, they would surely win if only they (...put something here...). Maybe we'll see next time? ;)
By that argument, we should have continued using oil-burned lamps instead of incandescent electrical bulbs.  I mean, they do the job of putting out light, right?  Or horse-drawn carriages instead of automobiles, since they did the job of getting people from place to place faster than they could walk.  Whether or not the alternatives do the job better doesn't matter; the older technologies worked, after all.

To paraphrase a saying, just because we've done something for a long time doesn't mean we should continue to do it just because it's what we've done all that time.  Do you see the point I'm trying to get across?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: penfold on February 13, 2013, 04:10:13 AM
You think people should wake up and stop believing, because religion is irrational and God is scientifically impossible (according to current state of science). That won't happen, because the benefits religion gives people will compensate for any "contradictions". There are answers for all your "contradictions", some are more, some are less logical, but it doesn't matter, either. Believers will choose to believe these answers, rather than your contradictions, because the only thing atheists can do (regarding religion of course) is negate and abolish. You don't really have any alternative, anything to give people instead of religion. Or have you?

I think there is a certain amount of truth in this; people do find in religion a way to deal with the absurdity of being. To my mind this is fair enough; William James in Varieties of Religious Experiences makes a compelling case that we should not spend too much time looking to the origin of religious experience; but focus instead on the effects. He makes the point that many people (who he designates as 'sick souls') find the complexity and terror of existence too much. In religious belief and practice this 'sickness' can be overcome and we can be recast as 'healthy-minded'. However what is interesting about James is that he is not dogmatic about this. For him the religious sentiment is merely the 'taking seriously' of life, something he allows even a humanist could achieve. Moreover while James himself did believe in a God he admitted that he may be mistaken and that much of religious experience could be caused by the subconscious. This pragmatic approach to religion is one I have a deal of sympathy with. Especially as it allows us to distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' religion by looking at outcomes: so we applaud the alcoholic whose faith allows him to control his addiction, but we do not the homosexual who uses their faith as a route to self-loathing.

Just as I think all theists should read Hume in order to engage with intelligent atheism, I think all atheists should read James in order to engage with intelligent theism.

Having said that I do think there are many alternatives which are non-religious. Apart form the already mentioned humanism there are many other intellectual traditions which attempt to provide the same solace as religion without the metaphysical baggage: existentialism, philosophical Taoism, Epicurianism, Stoicism, Eudaimonic ethics, to name a few. It is fine to claim that these systems of thought are not for you, I have no issue with that, but it is wrong to discount these rich intellectual traditions as 'not alternatives'.

I think James (and from what I understand of you from your posts) is right to be suspicious of the claim that a bare 'scientism' can be truly satisfying. However I think this charge, often made, that science is somehow life-denying is a bit of a straw man. In my limited experience scientists live just as rich lives as everyone else. Even the most die-hard scientist usually has, at minimum, an aesthetic (thus non-scientific) appreciation of her subject - to quote one example; Dawkins' lyrical eulogies to nature so moved Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury that he used them for his Christmas Sermon a few years ago. Moreover while science may understand humans (correctly) as mere organisms, there are few scientists, in my experience who do not attach moral and personal weight to the individuals in their own lives.

There are those who use God to make sense of the world and find ways to be 'healthy-minded'; however there are many others who achieve the same goal walking different, non-religious, paths.

Anyhow thanks for the OP and interesting discussion.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 06:16:48 AM
If you were only addressing the parts that you disagreed with, that's fine by me.
Apart from this, I also cut block of text and leave the essential part (only to make it shorter, not to manipulate the context, you can check original anyways) in citation or omit text to which for some reason I just have no comment completely.

imaginary friends, personifications of ideals, idealized historical figures, and simply the ideals themselves. All four of those are ultimately better than religious beliefs in my view, because you don't have to worry about ancient beliefs that might not even be relevant, or having to cherry-pick ancient writings, or having to deal with doctrinal differences.
The burden of worrying about doctrinal matters etc is not on common believers, it's on the circle of priests and theologians and is part of the service. I think it's an interesting work. Believers on the other hand just benefit and take advantage of the result of such research, which makes the sacred books more understandable.

Quote from: Monolight
There may be theories that other things could fill the same role as religion, or even better. But the fact is that religion does it. It reminds me of a sports match where some people are saying that the other team (who lost) played really better and they should win, they would surely win if only they (...put something here...). Maybe we'll see next time? ;)
By that argument, we should have continued using oil-burned lamps instead of incandescent electrical bulbs.  I mean, they do the job of putting out light, right?  Or horse-drawn carriages instead of automobiles, since they did the job of getting people from place to place faster than they could walk.  Whether or not the alternatives do the job better doesn't matter; the older technologies worked, after all.
Fresh ideas sparkle all the time as competition for religion. There are all sorts of deviated cults, drugs, modern arts, games, shopping malls, stock exchange, computers, forums, modern psychological treatments (some of which might offer imaginary friends). Think of something that in your opinion could fill the same gap in human mind as religion, but better, and tell me, why it doesn't. Is it forbidden or too difficult, or maybe it just won't work on a large scale? Because, besides of being "better", the alternative(s) would also have to be possible to implement in reality.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 06:28:19 AM
monolight,is Christianity the same or near the same as it was even 100 years ago,never mind 2000 years ago? Christianity,like most religions "evolve" or die out.
Yes, it evolves. It doesn't look like it's going to die out. If such thing happens, guess what, some other religion will take its place.

Can you think of any reason other than SPAG (self projection as God)that anybody would still be a Christian? A Christians perception of God is exactly as the believer views it,a believers view of God is exactly the same as the his/hers God's views.
In the first post of this thread I linked an article that in my opinion summarizes why people are religious (I am looking for other materials). Which particular religion a person professes is a matter of tradition, accident or conscious choice (maybe SPAG falls into this last category, as a possibility).
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 07:02:39 AM
You've changed the goalposts, to "volunteer believers", and undermined your original post.
Volunteers believers are the hippies that have taken DMT, which is a purified form of Ayahuasca, which is used in South American ritual. The people consume it and have big galactic visions. They had the visions themselves, so the drug has told them that spirits really do exist. So, you could say they were volunteer believers, who now have the idea that there is something that transcends consciousness, (a) because they think they experienced it (b) because they need life after death, and some point to live.
What?  :o I know at least one exception from this definition. He lives next door, has never taken drugs and is a Christian out of his Free Will (tm)

You could argue that some religions do not really fill a need, because they are designed primarily to spread effectively, rather than consider a human's evolutionary need. So, there is a "spread" component, and a "need" component in religion.
Surely, there is the "spread" component. But the "spread" (or supply) wouldn't develop without the "need" (or demand) part.

The Christian ideal is to be celibate, living in a closet, while flagellating yourself, attempting to avoid burning in hell for eternity.
Isn't the Christial ideal rather a happy family, living in harmony with the local Church teachings?

Christianity lacks so much spiritual art, that adherents have no real thought as to what could happen in afterlife. While denying themselves in this life, they have no visions of why they would bother going to the next one. Islam is also very vague about why you would want to hang around with rivers of wine, but it is pretty clear about how we should treat women.
Plenty of space for individual projection. Everybody is different. But there *is* a lot of religious art, also of paradise, so you have some hints.

You could say that the point of the atheist argument, is to help people who have had religion thrust upon them, by its unartistic spread and threat component, to create more people who have volunteer beliefs.
I don't understand this. What would those beliefs be about?

I have no need to believe that I will burn in hell
How about believing that evil people, who did a lot of harm, will burn in hell? This might appeal to some people.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 13, 2013, 09:05:34 AM
How about believing that evil people, who did a lot of harm, will burn in hell? This might appeal to some people.

what primary need does that fulfill?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: naemhni on February 13, 2013, 09:09:28 AM
monolight,is Christianity the same or near the same as it was even 100 years ago,never mind 2000 years ago? Christianity,like most religions "evolve" or die out.
Yes, it evolves. It doesn't look like it's going to die out. If such thing happens, guess what, some other religion will take its place.

Says who?  Have you not been keeping up with the news?  In the United States, at least, those who say they have no religion are the fastest-growing "religious" category by far, and membership in all other religions is on the decline -- there is no religion that is showing any growth.  The "nones" are up to nineteen percent of the population in the US now, and by some estimates, we will be in the majority in about thirty or forty years.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 13, 2013, 10:04:32 AM
The burden of worrying about doctrinal matters etc is not on common believers, it's on the circle of priests and theologians and is part of the service. I think it's an interesting work. Believers on the other hand just benefit and take advantage of the result of such research, which makes the sacred books more understandable.
This is a fancy way of saying that believers shouldn't worry about theology and should simply let the ones at the top figure everything out for them.  That type of top-down approach seldom works very well, and it never lasts, especially today.

Fresh ideas sparkle all the time as competition for religion. There are all sorts of deviated cults, drugs, modern arts, games, shopping malls, stock exchange, computers, forums, modern psychological treatments (some of which might offer imaginary friends). Think of something that in your opinion could fill the same gap in human mind as religion, but better, and tell me, why it doesn't. Is it forbidden or too difficult, or maybe it just won't work on a large scale? Because, besides of being "better", the alternative(s) would also have to be possible to implement in reality.
You kind of missed the point.  Virtually every single religion out there is hundreds, if not thousands of years old.  Almost all of them are based on truly ancient beliefs that come straight out of the Bronze Age, if not earlier.  The main reason they've lasted so long is because most religions used pretty vicious threats and harsh actions to keep believers in line and to kill or convert unbelievers.  For example, Inquisitions, witch trials, pogroms, religious warfare, persecution of 'heresy', forcible conversions, threats of damnation, and so on.  Note that this is just from Christian religions - I've no doubt that other religions have their own vicious histories.

You know what's happened in cultures where those kinds of actions are no longer tolerated?  Religious tendencies have tended to falter and fade over time, and being non-religious has started to steadily gain ground.  The only reason that it's taken this long is because atheism was suppressed in every culture.  And even today, there are Christians who would just love to see atheists "get theirs".  For example, Thomas Kratman is a Christian here in the USA, and he's written fictional books which tend to deride and excoriate atheism and atheists (not to mention environmentalists, 'socialists', and others who he disagrees with), and he just loves the "no atheists in foxholes" trope.  In one (Watch on the Rhine), these groups were literally eaten by alien invaders which overran most of the Earth before being stopped.  In another (Caliphate), Muslims overran Europe and executed anyone who professed atheism; and in America, a tyrant came to power after a number of cities were destroyed by terrorist nuclear bombings and did much the same thing there (the main story is an all-out war between the American sphere and the Muslim one; naturally the Muslims started backsliding technologically because of their religious beliefs, while American Protestantism continued to develop and grow).

So no, I don't agree that religion is necessary for the human psyche.  Indeed, the simplest way is to understand that religion springs from the human tendency to assume an actor is responsible for some unexplainable thing that happened, and instead of simply accepting the conclusions that ancient peoples came up with trying to figure out what the actual reasons are and why.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 01:21:36 PM
How about believing that evil people, who did a lot of harm, will burn in hell? This might appeal to some people.

what primary need does that fulfill?
Justice. It's maybe secondary, not primary.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: sun_king on February 13, 2013, 01:28:46 PM
Monolight, How about believing that normal people, who did no harm, will burn in hell?[1]

Is there justice in that?
 1. Thats what is in store for atheists according to the Christians. Denounce their lord and face eternal barbecue.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 02:00:04 PM
Says who?  Have you not been keeping up with the news?  In the United States, at least, those who say they have no religion are the fastest-growing "religious" category by far, and membership in all other religions is on the decline -- there is no religion that is showing any growth.
According to the site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States - the "Nones" are indeed the fastest growing group, however, the pace of this growth had its boom between 1990 and 2001 (6%) and has only changed by 1% from 2001 to 2008. Considering we are in computer age now since 90s... And considering a number of scandals afflicting the biggest Catholic church (which coincidentally started showing up in middle 90s).. I think religion keeps strong.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: sun_king on February 13, 2013, 02:08:24 PM
<snip>
I think religion keeps strong.

Come again http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2012/0815/Atheism-on-the-rise-around-the-globe

Only 14 percent of the Chinese say that they are religious. That means almost 1.12 billion people in China dont have a religion, Monolight, thats a big number.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 13, 2013, 02:09:51 PM
Justice. It's maybe secondary, not primary.

setting aside whether eternal torture is actually just, maybe it's not even a need so much as a want?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: naemhni on February 13, 2013, 02:14:29 PM
According to the site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States - the "Nones" are indeed the fastest growing group, however, the pace of this growth had its boom between 1990 and 2001 (6%) and has only changed by 1% from 2001 to 2008.

I don't know where you got those figures from -- they're not in the Wikipedia article you reference -- but they're not correct.  The "Nones" have been growing quickly and steadily for some years.  The only indication of a slowdown in that growth came in 2012, and even at that, the source for that claim is uncertain.

The most recent available poll information, as I said, is that the "Nones" are currently nineteen percent of the population in the United States, and the number is continuing to grow.  (Admittedly, not all of the "Nones" are atheists, but even so.)  And in Europe, the conversion to secularism is mostly over with.

Quote
Considering we are in computer age now since 90s...

Not sure why you think this is relevant?

Quote
And considering a number of scandals afflicting the biggest Catholic church (which coincidentally started showing up in middle 90s).. I think religion keeps strong.

Yes and no.  Ireland, for example, has traditionally been one of the strongest Catholic strongholds for centuries, as you probably know, but that's changing very quickly.  In 2005, 69% of Irish people described themselves as "religious", but in 2012, that number had plummeted to 47%.  That's quite a drop.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 02:20:23 PM
Monolight, How about believing that normal people, who did no harm, will burn in hell?[1]

Is there justice in that?
 1. Thats what is in store for atheists according to the Christians. Denounce their lord and face eternal barbecue.
Depends on the law. And there is also concept of mercy.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 02:40:35 PM
I don't know where you got those figures from
Citation from that page: The U. S. population continues to show signs of becoming less religious, with one out of every seven Americans failing to indicate a religious identity in 2008.
The "Nones" (no stated religious preference, atheist, or agnostic) continue to grow, though at a much slower pace than in the 1990s, from 8.2% in 1990, to 14.1% in 2001, to 15.0% in 2008."

The most recent available poll information, as I said, is that the "Nones" are currently nineteen percent of the population in the United States
I don't know where you got those figures from

Quote
Considering we are in computer age now since 90s...
Not sure why you think this is relevant?
It's the age of internet - easy and almost infinite access to information and intellectual freedom. This could have more negative influence on religion.

In 2005, 69% of Irish people described themselves as "religious", but in 2012, that number had plummeted to 47%.  That's quite a drop.
I don't know where you got those figures from. I found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_Republic_of_Ireland
and it says (Church attendance in the Republic of Ireland) in 2005 34% and in 2009 46%. But anyway, comparing e.g. to 91% in 1973, it's a big drop.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 02:42:20 PM
Justice. It's maybe secondary, not primary.

setting aside whether eternal torture is actually just, maybe it's not even a need so much as a want?
Maybe, but what does it change?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: naemhni on February 13, 2013, 03:00:18 PM
The most recent available poll information, as I said, is that the "Nones" are currently nineteen percent of the population in the United States
I don't know where you got those figures from

It was from a survey conducted last year by the Pew Center.
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-07-19/no-religion-affiliation/56344976/1

Quote
Quote
Considering we are in computer age now since 90s...
Not sure why you think this is relevant?
It's the age of internet - easy and almost infinite access to information and intellectual freedom. This could have more negative influence on religion.

Ah, I see.  Yes, I agree.  Seth talked about it a bit on a recent "Thinking Atheist" podcast.

Quote
In 2005, 69% of Irish people described themselves as "religious", but in 2012, that number had plummeted to 47%.  That's quite a drop.
I don't know where you got those figures from.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/aug/08/end-of-catholic-ireland

Quote
I found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_Republic_of_Ireland
and it says (Church attendance in the Republic of Ireland) in 2005 34% and in 2009 46%. But anyway, comparing e.g. to 91% in 1973, it's a big drop.

Yes, it is.  Personally, I'm glad to see it.  I'm always glad to see a drop in religion, but I'm especially pleased to see it happening in Ireland.  Ireland is perhaps my favorite country in the world (I'm spending two weeks there in September), and I've always considered its strong religious tradition as a stain on an otherwise very beautiful country.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 13, 2013, 03:24:17 PM
Maybe, but what does it change?

Your premise. 
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 03:46:08 PM
It was from a survey conducted last year by the Pew Center.
There is a comment: "Young people are resistant to the authority of institutional religion, older people are turned off by the politicization of religion, and people are simply less into theology than ever before." If it's true, the reason of the growth of nones is partially the result of religion evolving in the wrong direction. It's not sure that those people simply abandoned their belief. If they still believe in God, there may be place in this country for another religion.

And here:
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/1018/breaking31.html

The Iona Institute, which describes itself as a pro-marriage, pro-religion think tank, said the figures on non-religious should be assessed with caution.
“Not belonging to any particular religion is not the same as being irreligious,” spokesman for the organisation David Quinn said.
He pointed to a survey by the prestigious Pew Forum in the US that found that one in five Americans does not belong to a religion but half of this group consider themselves to be either religious or spiritual.
“Ticking the ‘no religion’ box can simply mean a person doesn’t belong to any particular religion, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are purely secular in their thinking, let alone that they are atheists,” Mr Quinn said.

Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: ParkingPlaces on February 13, 2013, 03:54:52 PM
People say sometimes "because god wants it that way" when they are helpless. This makes it easier to cope with e.g. tragedy. (btw religion does not give the answer as to why God wanted it this way, so it's not a full answer, just somethig to calm the mind). Another point for religion, then. Does atheism offer any kind of such consolation?

I have never understood why religious "comfort" is considered so superior. I've been an atheist for a long time, and have yet to encounter any tragedy in my life that I couldn't deal with because I was lacking a god. In fact, I would say that in my anecdotal cases, it was the religious people also affected by the same incident or death that suffered more than me, because many of them had to go through the "why did god let this happen" rituals along with dealing with the problem itself.

As an atheist, things like natural disasters and death happen. We don't like such things any more than the religious, but we don't have to waste time trying to squeeze the thing that just happened into a reality which includes a loving deity. Shit happens, I deal with it. I might ask "why" something happened, technically. (a relatively recent friends death in a car wreck, for instance. I wanted to know what happened. Turned out a drunk t-boned him at an intersection. That's all the "why" I needed), but I don't have to go into any esoteric religious thought process. You know, where I have to put the bad thing in line with my unrealistic religious expectations of reality.

A religious friend of mine who has tried to convert me on several occasions still makes it clear about twice a year that he anguishes over the "fact" that if I don't accept jc as my lord and savior, I will burn in hell for eternity. If he lucks out and I kick the bucket first, he is presumably going to have to deal with that additional bit of imagined horror as well as with my actual death.

How can making everything harder make things easier?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 04:16:03 PM
This is a fancy way of saying that believers shouldn't worry about theology and should simply let the ones at the top figure everything out for them.  That type of top-down approach seldom works very well, and it never lasts, especially today.
It works effectively since (more than) 2K years and lasts until today. Perhaps it will change in the future, because religions evolve.

For example, Inquisitions, witch trials, pogroms, religious warfare, persecution of 'heresy', forcible conversions, threats of damnation, and so on.  Note that this is just from Christian religions - I've no doubt that other religions have their own vicious histories.

You know what's happened in cultures where those kinds of actions are no longer tolerated?  Religious tendencies have tended to falter and fade over time, and being non-religious has started to steadily gain ground.
But those vicious histories were long time ago - a few generations have passed and the main religions have not faded out. Secondly, if you are saying that the main reason for the existance and survival of religion is threat and force - how would you explain the spread of more quiet religions like Buddhism?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 13, 2013, 04:38:08 PM
It works effectively since (more than) 2K years and lasts until today. Perhaps it will change in the future, because religions evolve.
No, it didn't work effectively.  It stifled human progress for most of that time and resulted in a lot of people who simply did as their religious leaders told them, without bothering to think about whether it was right or not.  Indeed, if they started feeling qualms about it, they were able to quiet them because they could pretend it wasn't actually wrong since "God" (meaning their religious leaders) obviously approved, otherwise those same religious leaders wouldn't have told them that it was okay to do it in the first place.

Quote from: Monolight
But those vicious histories were long time ago - a few generations have passed and the main religions have not faded out. Secondly, if you are saying that the main reason for the existance and survival of religion is threat and force - how would you explain the spread of more quiet religions like Buddhism?
That's specious reasoning.  Religions have lasted a long time; they aren't going to fade out in a few years or even a few generations.  Second, you need to do some research.  Buddhism has been involved in its share or violence and oppression through history.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 04:45:03 PM
Maybe, but what does it change?
Your premise.
My premise was that religion fulfills human basic (primary) needs. The fact that it also fulfills something else, doesn't negate the premise.

As a sidenote, maybe the term basic human needs is not 100% precise (although I've seen it used by people on other sites too). But the Maslow's classification is not what I meant. Maybe the better term would be "basic human desires".
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 05:05:37 PM
Quote
This is a fancy way of saying that believers shouldn't worry about theology and should simply let the ones at the top figure everything out for them.  That type of top-down approach seldom works very well, and it never lasts, especially today.
It works effectively since (more than) 2K years and lasts until today. Perhaps it will change in the future, because religions evolve.
No, it didn't work effectively.  It stifled human progress for most of that time and resulted in a lot of people who simply did as their religious leaders told them, without bothering to think about whether it was right or not.  Indeed, if they started feeling qualms about it, they were able to quiet them because they could pretend it wasn't actually wrong since "God" (meaning their religious leaders) obviously approved, otherwise those same religious leaders wouldn't have told them that it was okay to do it in the first place.
By "effectively" I meant effectively for its own survival, because it lasted for long time

Quote from: Monolight
But those vicious histories were long time ago - a few generations have passed and the main religions have not faded out. Secondly, if you are saying that the main reason for the existance and survival of religion is threat and force - how would you explain the spread of more quiet religions like Buddhism?
That's specious reasoning.  Religions have lasted a long time; they aren't going to fade out in a few years or even a few generations.  Second, you need to do some research.  Buddhism has been involved in its share or violence and oppression through history.
First, what's specious about it? You repeated what I was saying.
Second - fine. I just wanted to show that violence was not the main force behind the existance and survival of Buddhism over ages (as could be in case of other religions). They had wars with others, but did not enforce anyone to Buddhism.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 13, 2013, 06:01:29 PM
I have never understood why religious "comfort" is considered so superior. I've been an atheist for a long time, and have yet to encounter any tragedy in my life that I couldn't deal with because I was lacking a god. In fact, I would say that in my anecdotal cases, it was the religious people also affected by the same incident or death that suffered more than me, because many of them had to go through the "why did god let this happen" rituals along with dealing with the problem itself.
Just thinking. Maybe "why did god let this happen" works like mantra. It takes a portion of the raw suffering and replaces it with a question requiring reasoning. I know that atheists could also pose a question "why did this happen" (just omit the god part) but for a religious person this question is more important hence more absorbing (atheist knows that s**t just happens). So, you may have thought that he had additional problem to cope with, while in fact, he was just repeating mantra in his mind and reacting to it.
Or maybe he was just more sensitive, or less psychologically resistant.
You can find plenty of testimonials in the internet how faith helps in bearing with suffering.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 13, 2013, 06:45:48 PM
By "effectively" I meant effectively for its own survival, because it lasted for long time
Effectiveness measures how well something does, not how long it lasts.  And, to put it bluntly, the fact that something lasts a long time does not make it a good thing.

Quote from: Monolight
First, what's specious about it? You repeated what I was saying.
My point was that when something has thousands of years of inertia behind it, it takes longer than a few decades for that inertia to wear itself out.

Quote from: Monolight
Second - fine. I just wanted to show that violence was not the main force behind the existance and survival of Buddhism over ages (as could be in case of other religions). They had wars with others, but did not enforce anyone to Buddhism.
Granted, but Buddhism also doesn't go for eternal damnation or an afterlife, doesn't have a god as its figurehead, doesn't have a devil figure either, and is much more about dealing with the problems that people suffer in life.  It tends to be much more of a philosophical belief with some religious trappings (for example, karma and the cycle of rebirth).  So it's not really a good example of a religion in the sense that you mean it to be.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: ParkingPlaces on February 13, 2013, 06:54:42 PM
You can find plenty of testimonials in the internet how faith helps in bearing with suffering.

Obviously we can't make conclusions based on anecdotal evidence, so all I am giving is my opinion right now. But I have to ask this, based on what you wrote in the above quote: How do we know that it helps? Because they say it does? What are they comparing it too?

To me it is like mommy kissing a little kids "boo boo" to make it feel better. But with baggage.

I like to think that people, unencumbered by religious stuff, could cope even better by eliminating the mythical and replacing it with the practical. Sure it hurts to watch your whole town be inundated by a tsunami, and loose half your friends and family, etc. Bad. But is a christian or other religious person saying "it's god's will" actually going to get through the ordeal better than an atheist who says "Ouch, now lets get this mess cleaned up."

I'm not talking about the time it takes so create rationalizations. I'm talking about the overall usefulness of the process. Again, this is just me, but I don't see the advantage.

"God must have wanted another angel in heaven" does nothing for me. It almost makes the death acceptable, when measures to prevent similar deaths in the future might be possible. Why bother if dead people happen because of a god wanting more angels?

I'm prejudiced here. I like to think that I have a more realistic approach to tragedy. I could be wrong. But I have no way of pretending I'm religious to try other approaches.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: kcrady on February 13, 2013, 08:19:01 PM
Going through the list from the "Seattlepi" piece:

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1) Security and stability. We are speaking not of physical security, but of emotional security at the deepest level. Religious believers testify to an ultimate reality, or supreme being, who bestows this sense of security and stability through the storms of life. Metaphors such as rock and mighty fortress express a sense of fulfillment of this need. [emphasis in red added]

Note that religion does not offer any boost in actual security.  Instead, it offers what amounts to a pacifier or security blanket.  As has already been pointed out, when one's luck runs out and something bad happens, the "sense of security" can turn to thorns, as the person starts having to wonder, "Did I do something to make god/the gods mad at me?"  Believing that whoever's in charge of the Cosmic Events Department likes you may provide one a "sense of security," but unless there actually is someone in charge of a Cosmic Events Dept., and they actually like you, the "sense of security" is false.  As it is written in the Litany of Gendlin:

What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn't make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn't make it go away.
And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn't there to be lived.
People can stand what is true,
for they are already enduring it.

Quote
2) Love, acceptance, companionship. This need is partly fulfilled by other people, but friends and lovers can be fickle, spouses unfaithful and loved ones die. We need one who is always there, always faithful. We have what Max Otto (not a believer) called "the hunger for cosmic support." Scripture testifies that "God is love."

As with "security," we are once again not talking about an actual love from an actual being that gets manifested in some way.  Instead, it's a "sense of being loved" that works in about the same way that a pacifier works as a substitute for a nipple.  Humans need love because we're social animals.  Being loved and "belonging" means that our tribe has our back.  A lack of these things means that we're alone against the hyenas and lions, and our chances of survival go way down.  Religion can offer membership in a community that takes the place of our ancestral tribes.  Some religions have evolved the trick of creating a sense of "virtual love" from the deity or deities.  This lets them set a hook into this human need, much like an addictive chemical "fits" into receptors for neurotransmitters, generating an artificially intense "high" in place of the positive feelings normally generated by the brain.

The secular replacement for this is a real human community that really looks out for its members.  The most secular nations (such as Northern Europe and Japan) are the ones that provide comprehensive social support systems, transit systems, and the like, reducing the existential worry of their citizens.  In the U.S., the most religious of the developed nations, opposition to such social support networks correlates strongly with religiosity: religion fears the competition.

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3) Meaning and purpose. This need may be the most basic. It's hell to look at life and perceive it all as meaningless. In part, this need is cognitive and intellectual, for we need to make sense of life. But the need is deeper, more "existential." We may have rational answers to all the questions and problems, and still not be satisfied.


Once again, we're talking about a false "sense" of purpose, rather than an actual purpose.  Unless the religious person is clergy or a missionary or a guru or ascetic, they actually live pretty much the same kind of lives as everyone else.  They go to the same kind of jobs, pay the same kind of bills, do their best to raise their children, etc..  Ask a religious person, "OK, so you've got this purpose for your life that I don't have.  Alright then, what is it?"  They don't have very many options for response here.  They can either say that their "Purpose Driven Life" means that god/the gods has/have "placed" them where they're at, so that their chosen vocation isn't just a job, it's a Divine Purpose!  Unless they can point to some mystical experience where an angel or theophany manifested to them and told them in a big booming voice, "Harold: Behold, your purpose, decreed by Heaven, is to be an insurance agent and raise three children!  Go forth, and fulfill thy purpose!" then they very likely chose their "purpose" in about the same way as the rest of us do.  Religion allows them to paint a sparkly halo around it in their minds.

Another option might be to say that their purpose is to worship their god/s and/or "spread the Message."  Again, unless they're a professional clergy-person/missionary/guru/etc., they're not really fulfilling this "purpose."  Singing hymns and listening to a sermon for an hour or two a week and passing out the occasional tract is hardly "living to worship/spread the Message."  It's more like a hobby--a "sense" of purpose, rather than the real thing.

The secular alternative is to do what the vast majority of religious people do, and choose our own purpose--only, accept the truth that this is in fact what we are doing.  I point, again, to the Litany of Gendlin.

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Yet in the Bible, Job was finally satisfied to know the presence of God, even though his desperate questions were not answered.

The Book of Job is an odd place to go in an attempt to defend the notion of Divine "purpose."  Above, Mr. Burres says, "It's hell to look at life and perceive it all as meaningless."  And yet, what could be more meaningless, pointless, and capricious than what Yahweh does to Job?  Job's family is murdered and the man himself brutally tortured, because Satan made a bet with Yahweh that his favorite little minion would not continue to worship him loyally if he chose to act like the Devil would want him to.  Rather than tell Satan to beat it, "for I am a just and righteous God, far be it from Me to betray the trust of My most loyal servant and violate My Covenant with him!" Yahweh's ego makes him eager to see if he can receive worship from Job even when he doesn't deserve it.  "To win a bet with the Devil" is hardly a grand, lofty Divine Purpose that justifies mass murder and torture.  The Book of Job is not very good at providing a "sense" of Divine protection and purpose.  If anything, the author of Job is deliberately sticking his thumb in the eye of those who taught that Yahweh provides protection and his purposes are wholly righteous and just.  Those people are represented by Job's friends, who get pwned in the end. 

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4) Holiness. Holiness? Yes, in a moral sense we all need to feel that we are doing the right thing. If we don't, we live with guilt. We can either rationalize to try to justify our actions, or we can admit we were wrong and seek forgiveness.


Or we can...oh, I dunno, be moral people, instead of just cloaking ourselves in a "sense" of morality?  And when we do something wrong we can admit we were wrong, do our best to make up for what we've done, and seek forgiveness.

Quote
In a spiritual sense we need reconciliation with the ultimate. Thus novelist Salman Rushdie confessed to having a "God-shaped void" in his life. Though we may try to fill that void with all kinds of things, only one can truly fill it.

And Charlie Manson confessed to being Jesus.  So?  Since Salman Rushdie is most famous for putatively blaspheming his religion and getting the knickers of the "holy" men thereof in a really big knot, he seems like an odd choice of icon here.  Nonetheless, if Salman Rushdie thinks he has a "God-shaped void" in his life, that hardly makes it a universal.  I can see your Salman Rushdie and raise you a Richard Dawkins, a Julia Galef, a Christopher Hitchins, and a Paula Kirby, all without "God-shaped voids"--not to mention myself, and (I'm guessing) just about all the members of this Forum.  Since Mr. Burres has already admitted that religion only offers a "sense" of fulfilling these needs he lists, he can't point to any actual evidence of "God-shaped voids" in people, or demonstrate that only those who worship the properly-shaped god get these "voids" filled properly.

The secular alternative to "reconciliation with the ultimate" is to do our best to develop the most accurate understanding we can of reality as it is, take joy in the merely real (http://lesswrong.com/lw/or/joy_in_the_merely_real/), and act within reality's parameters.  Making things up so that we can have a "sense" of getting our needs and desires met doesn't actually meet our needs and desires.

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5) Joy. Let's make a distinction between joy and happiness: Happiness is the satisfaction we get from achieving a goal, attaining something desired. But happiness is fleeting. Joy is a deeper sense of contentment that endures when the other needs are met. It is "the peace that passes all understanding" because it is completely independent of outward circumstances. We can have joy even in the midst of sorrow.

And this is sourced solely in religion, how?  Since Mr. Burres doesn't even make an argument that religion provides this, much less that only religion can do so, there's nothing for me to respond to here.  The vast majority of religious people go through life just like we do.  They cuss when they hit their hand with a hammer, they have arguments with their spouses and get mad at their kids and whack the dog with a newspaper when it poops on the carpet and...etc.  If religious people glided through life with serene, beatific expressions on their faces come what may, and the rest of us could only watch them enviously wondering what it was that they had and we didn't, Mr. Burres might have a point.  Doesn't work that way though, does it?

Perhaps one could point to practicing contemplatives who meditate or pray for hours a day over a course of years and say that they have this kind of beatific joy.  Since the benefits of meditation are measurable, it follows that those benefits would be most visible in "athletes of meditation" who regularly exercise.  In the same way, a person who spends those same hours practicing with the violin, or ice skating, or dance, or anything else, will develop abilities in those areas that significantly surpass those of "ordinary" individuals who don't, or who develop their abilities in something else.  One thing to notice though, is that the "joy" of the mystics is tradition-invariant.  Zen monks can achieve it as well as or better than Christian monks.  Zen is also notable for not having any doctrine to speak of.  You will find no gods or divine commandments there.

Quote
Why, then, do people sometimes commit violence in the name of religion? People may belong to religious groups for any number of superficial reasons. If their existential needs are not genuinely fulfilled, then insecurity, lack of love, guilt and emotional turmoil may drive them to try to compensate in horrendous ways. It is all too easy to believe they are doing the will of their deity. But don't blame the religion for what some of its adherents do.

Och!  Nae True Scotsman, laddie!  It would actually be nice if violence committed in the name of religion was a man-bites-dog story, something only manifested by the occasional oddball straying from the path of their religion because their needs weren't being "genuinely fulfilled."[1]  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.  His own preferred "holy" book, the Bible, contains entire treatises on the art of genocidal religious warfare (see Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges for examples).  The "New and Improved" Jesus-y version adds the delightful idea of everlasting torture after death for everybody who doesn't get the right answers on the Celestial Quiz.  "Holy" religious violence, said to be perpetrated--at an ultimate level of sadism, and forever--by the Deity Himself.  With that as a holy ideal, religious violence from believers is not at all surprising.
 1. Considering that, over and over again, Mr. Burres has admitted that religion only provides a "sense" of these needs being met, rather than providing any evidence that an actual god/goddess/gods actually steps in to meet them, then its hardly a surprise that people might "try to compensate in horrendous ways."
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: lotanddaughters on February 13, 2013, 11:46:44 PM
Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not? Because there is no alternative to religion, that's why.

You are trying to apply logic (contradictions, etc) to disprove religion, while the main reason people are religious is not for the pure beauty of logic, but rather for emotions and spirituality. Religion appeals to people because it fulfills their many (sometimes primary) needs.

A brief googling for the subject:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080213195752AA4uQ2a
http://www.seattlepi.com/local/opinion/article/Religion-does-fulfill-primary-need-1209724.php
(let me know if you find better elaboration about "how religion fulfills people's needs", I am interested in this subject)

You think people should wake up and stop believing, because religion is irrational and God is scientifically impossible (according to current state of science). That won't happen, because the benefits religion gives people will compensate for any "contradictions". There are answers for all your "contradictions", some are more, some are less logical, but it doesn't matter, either. Believers will choose to believe these answers, rather than your contradictions, because the only thing atheists can do (regarding religion of course) is negate and abolish. You don't really have any alternative, anything to give people instead of religion. Or have you?

For the people who have the potential to accept that there isn't a guarantee of an all-loving god/all-good-in-the-end situation, all of these philosophical angles that are provided on this website help to educate and enlighten these questioning individuals in order to further enhance the remainder of their precious lives and the lives of those that they influence.


For the people who can't handle the truth . . . fuck 'em.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: lotanddaughters on February 14, 2013, 12:12:12 AM
Warning:

Engage this website at your own risk/enlightenment.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 14, 2013, 09:14:13 AM
My premise was that religion fulfills human basic (primary) needs. The fact that it also fulfills something else, doesn't negate the premise.

you've yet to show that it fulfills any primary needs.  and the point being made here is that it may not satify any needs at all.

Maybe the better term would be "basic human desires".

Then that does change your premise. 
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: DumpsterFire on February 14, 2013, 11:12:47 AM
Yes and that's the main reason why insurance companies grow so well. People need to feel secure. I am not saying though (and religion doesn't teach this) that you can drive and take turns 200km/h and feel safe because your faith will protect you.
This is a false analogy, as the sense of security insurance companies (legitimate ones, anyway) provide is not false. If I do take a corner at 200 km/h and slide into a ditch, my insurance company will cover the expense of any resulting damages.

Quote
When you learned her true intentions, you are only left with disappointment, because you we wrong (mistaken) and rejected. The difference with religion is that it first of all teaches that misfortune or tragedy may happen to you, and when it happens, you religion will give you strength to cope with it. If tragedy happens, many people come out of it even more religious than before. They find strength anyway and whether it comes from God or from other sources ("what doesn't kill me makes me stronger" -Nietzche) is left to decide to their conscience. Many say religion really helps in difficult times.
An obvious problem here is that religion is deliberately unfalsifiable, at least for the living. You posit religion as a coping mechanism, and while I do not understand why so many feel it necessary, I don't fault anyone for dealing with tragedy by whatever means they prefer. A caveat would be that said means does no harm to others by its practice, something which cannot be said about religion.

Bottom line: It really sucks that so many folks in this world are oppressed, suppressed, vilified, stigmatized, and/or discriminated against just so other folks can feel a false sense of security.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 14, 2013, 02:14:41 PM
Quote
Quote
1) Security and stability. We are speaking not of physical security, but of emotional security at the deepest level.
Note that religion does not offer any boost in actual security.  Instead, it offers what amounts to a pacifier or security blanket.

Emotional security is as real as physical security, but in the world of emotions (inside brain) instead of physical world.

Quote
As has already been pointed out, when one's luck runs out and something bad happens, the "sense of security" can turn to thorns, as the person starts having to wonder, "Did I do something to make god/the gods mad at me?"

As has already been pointed out, the answer is often "God wanted it this way." Not that "God is mad at you". Religion doesn't say life will be sweet as cherry pie. Part of the role of religion is to prepare people to cope with problems.

Here is an article about emotional security: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_security
Religion is mentioned twice in an example situation of death of a loved person. First of all, hoping that the deceased person has gone to 'better place' is not commented as some sick attitude, but rather as a possible healthy reaction, proving one's emotional security. Second, religious devotion is given as one of possible ways to increase one's emotional security.

Quote
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2) Love, acceptance, companionship.
As with "security," we are once again not talking about an actual love from an actual being that gets manifested in some way.
God's love was manifested in many ways (many are described in the Bible). I am pretty sure all of them have already been ridiculed on this forum thoroughly, so you should have the idea. Religious people believe in those manifestations, this love is true for them and not an artificial "sense" of abstract love. You may think it's funny or absurd, but that's YOUR opinion.

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Some religions have evolved the trick of creating a sense of "virtual love" from the deity or deities.  This lets them set a hook into this human need, much like an addictive chemical "fits" into receptors for neurotransmitters, generating an artificially intense "high" in place of the positive feelings normally generated by the brain.

Whether it's artificially high, depends on the view. Do people ever complain on too much love? Rarely. More love is usually welcome.

"Intense high" versus "normal": in this respect, it's analogical to art, or to knowledge. Is it bad that art makes you feel "high"? Are you against specialized studies, which absorb brain intellectually more than average? Both of these disciplines hook into some desire or need (for beauty, curiosity) and stimulate it. Religion hooks into need for love. Experiencing God's love may sometimes get a bit "high" (exaltation). Agape - "a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other" (by wikipedia). It's wrong with experiencing it?

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The secular replacement for this is a real human community that really looks out for its members.  The most secular nations (such as Northern Europe and Japan) are the ones that provide comprehensive social support systems, transit systems, and the like, reducing the existential worry of their citizens.

Are you saying that religion does not offer "real human community"? Googling for "Christian communities" shows 269,000,000 results, so at least some of them must be real.

About the "secular replacement" for the "unreal christian community", e.g. in Sweden. It's true Sweden is viewed as an example of how well a secular community develops. But note also, that it is a very rich country. It's easier to deal very well when you have a lot of money.

Besides, the "secular communities" seem to be missing spirituality. In “The epidemiology of lost meaning: A study in psychology of religion and existential public health in a Swedish context” by Cecilia A. Melder, you can read about it: (  http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:371919/SUMMARY01  )

Professors Kathryn O´Connell and Suzann Skevington from the WHO Centre
for the Study of Quality of Life at the University of Bath write, “Although
spirituality has been seen as irrelevant, or difficult to measure, a
growing body of peer reviewed articles point to a positive and important
relationship between spiritual beliefs and other domains of quality of life in
health”

Koenig, Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke
University, North Carolina notes the following in an interview for the Journal
of Religion and Health:
We need to design better studies. There is already a lot of evidence accumulating
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

In The Lancet professor Wolfgand Rutz describes the current public health
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“

Professor Jean-
Paul Vader claims that we need to address the spiritual dimension. In his
Editorial in the European Journal of Public Health 2006 Vader writes:
By ignoring the spiritual dimension of health, for whatever reason, we may
be depriving ourselves of the leverage we need to help empower individuals
and populations to achieve improved physical, social, and mental health. Indeed,
unless and until we do seriously address the question— however difficult
and uncomfortable it may be—substantial and sustainable improvements
in physical, social, and mental health, and reductions in the health gradient
within and between societies, may well continue to elude us

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3) Meaning and purpose. This need may be the most basic. It's hell to look at life and perceive it all as meaningless. In part, this need is cognitive and intellectual, for we need to make sense of life. But the need is deeper, more "existential." We may have rational answers to all the questions and problems, and still not be satisfied.
Once again, we're talking about a false "sense" of purpose, rather than an actual purpose.
And again, it's false for you. Someone may live or die for ideas (e.g. patriotism) which are meaningless and false to someone else.

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The secular alternative is to do what the vast majority of religious people do, and choose our own purpose--only, accept the truth that this is in fact what we are doing. 

This is goal (aim), not purpose (although purpose is a synonim of goal in the dictionary). The purpose that the Seattlepi article is talking about is more like "meaning of life" or "cause of life". In this sense, it would be impossible for human to set the cause of life themselves. According to religion, God set the purpose of life. And as the article says, humans need to know this *deeper* purpose. Need answer! And religion explains exactly this.

It's not a one time answer. Some people never feel need to question it. Some people think of it, doubts come, faith drops, they live with doubts or change religion, leave religion, settle life goals, see the meaningless of life, come back to church, stay, repeat. Some become atheist on the way. Religion gives a huge answer. It's old, it may have contradictions, but it resonates with many people's minds.

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4) Holiness. Holiness? Yes, in a moral sense we all need to feel that we are doing the right thing. If we don't, we live with guilt. We can either rationalize to try to justify our actions, or we can admit we were wrong and seek forgiveness.
Or we can...oh, I dunno, be moral people, instead of just cloaking ourselves in a "sense" of morality?  And when we do something wrong we can admit we were wrong, do our best to make up for what we've done, and seek forgiveness.

That's what religion teaches. Plus, it helps recognize what's right and what's wrong. While other systems, like state law, also tell you what's right and what's wrong, religion does it more attractively. But in a sense.. The state of holiness could be perhaps compared to the state of lawfullness.. I am not sure what she meant.

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In a spiritual sense we need reconciliation with the ultimate. Thus novelist Salman Rushdie confessed to having a "God-shaped void" in his life. Though we may try to fill that void with all kinds of things, only one can truly fill it.
The secular alternative to "reconciliation with the ultimate" is to do our best to develop the most accurate understanding we can of reality as it is, take joy in the merely real, and act within reality's parameters.
That's good rational life. Reconciliation with the ultimate is something else. But if you never felt the void she's talking about, it's hard to explain.

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We can have joy even in the midst of sorrow.
And this is sourced solely in religion, how?  Since Mr. Burres doesn't even make an argument that religion provides this, much less that only religion can do so, there's nothing for me to respond to here.
I also think that the joy she is talking about is not unique to religion. Religion can be the source of inner joy, meditation (and maybe some other techniques) also can. But meditation is difficult and is not for everybody. Drugs on the other hand are destructive and short term.

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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.



Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 14, 2013, 02:55:24 PM
This is a false analogy, as the sense of security insurance companies (legitimate ones, anyway) provide is not false. If I do take a corner at 200 km/h and slide into a ditch, my insurance company will cover the expense of any resulting damages.
Even when we narrow the view to only the legitimate ones. This is what I had in mind: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/science/06tier.html?_r=0
We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeks’ instinct for appeasing the gods.
The same study is also described here: http://www.insweb.com/news-features/why-we-buy.html

Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: sun_king on February 14, 2013, 03:07:08 PM
This is a false analogy, as the sense of security insurance companies (legitimate ones, anyway) provide is not false. If I do take a corner at 200 km/h and slide into a ditch, my insurance company will cover the expense of any resulting damages.
Even when we narrow the view to only the legitimate ones. This is what I had in mind: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/science/06tier.html?_r=0
We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeks’ instinct for appeasing the gods.
The same study is also described here: http://www.insweb.com/news-features/why-we-buy.html

Mono, I wouldn't have used this example. I would say the articles conclusions are more of personal opinion. I do not buy insurance to avoid a calamity, I do that to handle the aftermath should there be a calamity.

And you might want to read [wiki]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_Fallacy[/wiki], there may be several of these in your posts.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 14, 2013, 03:20:31 PM
How do we know that it helps? Because they say it does? What are they comparing it too?
I think you say that it's irrational to believe something just because millions say it's true, is that so?

If that's what you say, then think of millions of people voting for politicians during election. How many have thorough knowledge about their candidate? How many believe what they heard on TV (and you know and they know all this information was paid) or from friends? And election is important decision. Are they all completely irrational?

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To me it is like mommy kissing a little kids "boo boo" to make it feel better.
Father, actually.

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"God must have wanted another angel in heaven" does nothing for me.
This means that:
1. your friend is still alive, just somewhere else
2. your friend is safe with God
3. you will see him again
4. it's not your fault what happened
5. don't bother thinking "what if?" - it was God's will

The last one can be a torture for years.
Of course, there may be more.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 14, 2013, 03:32:58 PM
Mono, I wouldn't have used this example. I would say the articles conclusions are more of personal opinion. I do not buy insurance to avoid a calamity, I do that to handle the aftermath should there be a calamity.
Your conclusion is also more of a personal opinion.

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And you might want to read [wiki]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_Fallacy[/wiki], there may be several of these in your posts.
I've read this some time ago: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/. It's a very good page about the same, but apparently I am not smart enough to notice my own fallacies.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: ParkingPlaces on February 14, 2013, 03:51:53 PM
How do we know that it helps? Because they say it does? What are they comparing it too?
I think you say that it's irrational to believe something just because millions say it's true, is that so?

If that's what you say, then think of millions of people voting for politicians during election. How many have thorough knowledge about their candidate? How many believe what they heard on TV (and you know and they know all this information was paid) or from friends? And election is important decision. Are they all completely irrational?

This day and age, we voters probably are irrational. Not completely, but our expectations don't match reality enough to be useful. Sadly, since I don't like shooting people, I can't figure out any way to fix it.

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To me it is like mommy kissing a little kids "boo boo" to make it feel better.
Father, actually.

I didn't raise my kids this way. I treated their injuries with compassion, but I didn't lie to them about the medicinal qualities of affection. I wanted my kids to be able to hack their arms off in a Utah canyon if they had to and walk miles for help, not sit around and wait for daddy to show up and kiss something.

I don't like the coping skills of the religious when they have to interject gods part in the incident/issue/whatever.  If you're already dealing with something that stinks, voluntarily farting adds nothing.

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"God must have wanted another angel in heaven" does nothing for me.
This means that:
1. your friend is still alive, just somewhere else
2. your friend is safe with God
3. you will see him again
4. it's not your fault what happened
5. don't bother thinking "what if?" - it was God's will

The last one can be a torture for years.
Of course, there may be more.

If christianity, as you understand it, is true, you're right, I'm up a particular kind of creek without a paddle.

But dead people are no longer alive. Be they Connecticut school kids or my father or me sometime in the next decade. If life had a way of filling me with fear, I might think otherwise, but I have seen no evidence of such things (popular opinion is not an inherent hallmark indicating truth) and don't expect to encounter any between now and when I kick the bucket. I'm not a sucker for ancient stories, nor recent ones in the case of the hundreds of versions we have gotten of christianity on this site. I've got better things to do that biblically structure my paranoia. I just eliminated the paranoia and it feels much better. And more truthful.

Monolight, you mentioned the lack of "spirituality" in secular life in another post above.

Some people think that means we are missing an essential ingredient. I don't buy it.

As a non-spiritual being who is otherwise human, all I am missing is the "woo", and I don't need "woo". I can't imagine what the addition of spirituality would do to me in any positive sense. I would feel like I was f**king with my own head for the express purpose of impressing others or something. It would do nothing for me, except make me doubt my own sanity.

What would "woo" add to my life? I am happy, friendly, well-adjusted socially, responsible, kind and lots of other pleasant things.  What I lack in perfection I make up for with a sense of humor and overall pleasantness. I cannot imagine what spirituality, religious or otherwise, would add. Or could add.

I can imagine what it would subtract, however. Wondering if my just stubbed toe was a sign from my spiritual guide, whether my dead car battery was a sign from the universe, wondering if the gas I smelled at a Batman movie meant that there was going to be a slaughter 25 years later: that is not an improvement. Paranoia does not suit me.

If someone wants to be spiritual, that's fine. I have no right to stop them. They have no right to force spirituality on me. I would prefer not be be judged as someone who is inferior because I don't prostrate myself to their specific ghost/crystal/god/star/pyramid of choice. Like all other squirrely beliefs, as soon as spirituality in any form becomes a mandate, I have to fight it. And people who think that my lack of spirituality is a negative need to keep their beliefs to themselves, just as the religious should do. Or I will become negative because of spirituality.

Edit: fixed quoting errors. Oops.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 14, 2013, 04:51:02 PM
I think you say that it's irrational to believe something just because millions say it's true, is that so?
Whether or not he says it, I certainly do.  Lots of other people believing something or do something doesn't mean that it's rational, much less sensible.  This is known as the fallacy of the majority.

Quote from: Monolight
If that's what you say, then think of millions of people voting for politicians during election. How many have thorough knowledge about their candidate? How many believe what they heard on TV (and you know and they know all this information was paid) or from friends? And election is important decision. Are they all completely irrational?
So what?  Let's say that every single one of those millions is irrational.  It doesn't affect my own choice for who to vote for.  In fact, this example makes a pretty strong case for pushing to help voters become properly informed about who to vote for.

I think I've come to a realization about the point you're trying to make.  Your argument, at heart, is that religious belief is necessary because if fills needs of the human psyche, and that there are no real alternatives to religious belief to fill those needs.  What this argument boils down to is that we shouldn't seek to change things because the old ways are good enough, and there's no point in discussing alternatives because there are none worth mentioning.  Well, with all due respect, I firmly disagree with that.  If we followed that approach from a technological standpoint, we'd never have progressed beyond basic hunting and gathering.  If we followed it from a cultural standpoint, we'd still be living in tribes, or in dictatorships.

I see no reason that we should have to accept that religion is necessary, simply because it's been around a long time.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: 12 Monkeys on February 14, 2013, 07:38:45 PM
This is a fancy way of saying that believers shouldn't worry about theology and should simply let the ones at the top figure everything out for them.  That type of top-down approach seldom works very well, and it never lasts, especially today.
It works effectively since (more than) 2K years and lasts until today. Perhaps it will change in the future, because religions evolve.

For example, Inquisitions, witch trials, pogroms, religious warfare, persecution of 'heresy', forcible conversions, threats of damnation, and so on.  Note that this is just from Christian religions - I've no doubt that other religions have their own vicious histories.

You know what's happened in cultures where those kinds of actions are no longer tolerated?  Religious tendencies have tended to falter and fade over time, and being non-religious has started to steadily gain ground.
But those vicious histories were long time ago - a few generations have passed and the main religions have not faded out. Secondly, if you are saying that the main reason for the existance and survival of religion is threat and force - how would you explain the spread of more quiet religions like Buddhism?
Why does the word of a god or its followers need evolution? The Bibles rules are now archaic and irrelevant,that is why followers now ignore most of them.....even the commandments of God are now ignored,why is that ? if the word of God is perfect why is it irrelevant in society as we see it compared to 2000,1000 even 100 years ago.

 Without the believer filling in the gaps as they see fit with SPAG there would be no gods......or as we see the militant versions of the Muslim religion we would still be back in the stone age,stoning women to death for what Christians see as normal behaviour(Adultery)
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: 12 Monkeys on February 14, 2013, 07:42:17 PM
Mono, I wouldn't have used this example. I would say the articles conclusions are more of personal opinion. I do not buy insurance to avoid a calamity, I do that to handle the aftermath should there be a calamity.
Your conclusion is also more of a personal opinion.

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And you might want to read [wiki]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_Fallacy[/wiki], there may be several of these in your posts.
I've read this some time ago: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/. It's a very good page about the same, but apparently I am not smart enough to notice my own fallacies.
Do religious people need insurance,or should they just pray? Insurance has nothing to do with a god,it has to do with rational people being prepared in case of a natural disaster
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: sun_king on February 14, 2013, 11:51:24 PM
Mono, I wouldn't have used this example. I would say the articles conclusions are more of personal opinion. I do not buy insurance to avoid a calamity, I do that to handle the aftermath should there be a calamity.
Your conclusion is also more of a personal opinion.

Correction, that is a FACT. I know exactly why I am doing it. Hence the "I".

Your NY Times link has this statement "We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeks’ instinct for appeasing the gods. "

THIS is an example for a personal opinion. The author included me (I am sure I can find several others who buy insurance that has more to do with being prepared)  in his conclusion and went on to make a theory. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasty_generalization, you are welcome.

We are going way off topic, the goalposts have been shifted a bit....

Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: DumpsterFire on February 15, 2013, 12:03:42 AM
Even when we narrow the view to only the legitimate ones. This is what I had in mind: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/science/06tier.html?_r=0
We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeks’ instinct for appeasing the gods.
The same study is also described here: http://www.insweb.com/news-features/why-we-buy.html

The linked article is about how some people buy travel insurance due to the mistaken belief that somehow having such insurance minimizes the chances for a disaster occurring during their trip. The example you gave of making turns at 200 km/h references auto insurance, a completely different situation. Setting aside the fact that auto insurance is required by law most places, I doubt that many people purchase car insurance because they believe it makes accidents less likely to happen. They do it so that the financial burden of any accidents will be assumed by the insurance company. Knowing that even a terrible wreck won't bankrupt you does provide a sense of security, I suppose, but certainly not a false sense.

It is interesting that you use this article to support your argument for religious beliefs when it's primary point seems to be that buying travel insurance in order to prevent accidents is irrational. Why, its almost like you are admitting that religion is nothing but an irrational waste of time, effort, and money. :o
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Aspie on February 15, 2013, 03:18:27 AM
I like how the piece that kcrady covered above conveniently skates over every case of the inverse being true. What about when religion teaches people to despise their own natures such as in the case of self-hating gays? What about people who develop psychological issues and sexual dysfunction from being taught by religion to fear and hate their own sexuality? How about the fact that religion can be incredibly divisive leading people to hate and clash with members of opposing sects/religions, disown family members who deconvert, ostracize outsiders, and oppress vulnerable targets such as the LGBT crowd? What about when a believer's perceived meaning or purpose is at odds with what they really wanted to do with their lives or how they wished to enjoy it becoming a shackle they won't let go of for fear of being shunned or punished? What about believers who go into the faith in pursuit of holiness, but simply become burdened with guilt at the sense that it's forever out of their reach?

Of course when you're working from the entirely circular conclusion that there must be a primary need so many religious people are filling because so many people wouldn't be religious if there weren't a primary need to fill it can be easy to dismiss all the above as outliers who simply lack the spiritual craving and therefore receive no super special True Religionist Only benefits.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 15, 2013, 06:57:31 AM
What about when religion teaches people to despise their own natures such as in the case of self-hating gays?

Many people have natural tendency to hate everything that is different than themselves to some degree, which results in racism, ethnic hatred and all kinds of discrimination, including deviation of sexual orientation. In many religions traditionally homosexualism was considered as condemned.

But based on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_homosexuality#The_Bible_and_homosexuality - this attitude changes today (slowly). Maybe the abundance of gays in current times is a Sign to review the long established interpretation and understanding of the Bible verses about homosexualism. According to this article, there are a few Christian denominations who already did this.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 15, 2013, 08:00:34 AM
It is far, far more likely that the number of gays in modern times is due to the tendency towards openness in Western culture.  When you risk death or at best stigmatization merely by intimating that you might be attracted to the same sex, how likely is it that you'll be willing to act on it, let alone talk about it?

And a Sign predicates something that makes it, and begs several questions.  It gets mangled by Occam's razor, because of the number of assumptions involved.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 15, 2013, 08:25:00 AM
Many people have natural tendency to hate everything that is different than themselves to some degree, which results in ...

And you are saying that is yet another primary need religion satisfies?


homosexualism

It's an -ism now, is it?  are gays homosexualists? 
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: DumpsterFire on February 15, 2013, 09:40:08 AM
It is far, far more likely that the number of gays in modern times is due to the tendency towards openness in Western culture.

Exactly. Its probably safe to assume that the gradual increase in the public's acceptance of gays has plenty to do with the previously mentioned gradual trends away from religion, and this would make perfect sense.

The only real reason gays have been traditionally oppressed is the result of religion telling believers that's the way god wants it. I challenge any believer on this forum to provide a legitimate, secular reason that homosexuality negatively impacts your life. Seriously, can someone please explain exactly how what consenting adults do in private has any effect on you at all?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 15, 2013, 11:52:47 AM
Many people have natural tendency to hate everything that is different than themselves to some degree, which results in ...

And you are saying that is yet another primary need religion satisfies?
That's what you are saying by asking a rethorical question.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 15, 2013, 12:11:21 PM
The only real reason gays have been traditionally oppressed is the result of religion telling believers that's the way god wants it.
I don't know..
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_secular_view_of_homosexuality

"In the United States, secular views run from acceptance to the sort of hatred that's born of fear and ignorance."
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 15, 2013, 12:23:28 PM
Being secular does not make one knowledgeable, you know.  There are plenty of secular people out there who are probably ignorant as all get out.  The difference, though, is that a secular person will not rationalize that hatred and fear of homosexuals as a command from God, as so many religions do, and seek to enforce it on others who don't agree.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 15, 2013, 12:33:24 PM
I think I've come to a realization about the point you're trying to make.  Your argument, at heart, is that religious belief is necessary because if fills needs of the human psyche, and that there are no real alternatives to religious belief to fill those needs. 
Strangely, there is no statement that "religion is necessary" in my original post. I use this term on page 2 only to say that IMO, religion is not necessary for everyone.

Indeed, in the original post I said "there is no alternative to religion". A better depiction of what I meant, with slight shift of the "base needs", is this:

At present, I don't see any viable alternative to religion, practically possible to implement worldwide on a mass scale, that would satisfy some important human spiritual and emotional needs, desires and problems like:
Religion fulfills all these needs to a degree, depending on believer's committment and individual reaction. It also gives inner joy as a bonus for the truly faithful (and more). These needs are *not* necessarily characteristic to each and every person and also the level of intensity of these needs may vary.
Quote

What this argument boils down to is that we shouldn't seek to change things because the old ways are good enough, and there's no point in discussing alternatives because there are none worth mentioning.  Well, with all due respect, I firmly disagree with that.
I disagree, too - let's discuss an alternative. I may be a bit prejudiced or biased, but there is always point in discussing something.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: jaimehlers on February 15, 2013, 01:58:51 PM
Strangely, there is no statement that "religion is necessary" in my original post. I use this term on page 2 only to say that IMO, religion is not necessary for everyone.

Indeed, in the original post I said "there is no alternative to religion".
If there is no alternative to religion (to fill those needs), then it is necessary (to fill those needs).  Imagine if I said that we have no alternative to eating, but eating is not necessary.  I would rightly be chided for not making sense.

Quote from: Monolight
A better depiction of what I meant, with slight shift of the "base needs", is this:

At present, I don't see any viable alternative to religion, practically possible to implement worldwide on a mass scale, that would satisfy some important human spiritual and emotional needs, desires and problems like:
So there could be viable alternatives to religion that you just haven't seen.  For example, secular humanism does a pretty good job of fulfilling those needs you mention.

Quote from: Monolight
knowing the purpose (meaning) of life,
According to secular humanism, people must determine the meaning of life for themselves, not depend on something external to hand it down unto us (whether it's God, religion, government, or whatever).

Quote from: Monolight
reconciling oneself to death and fate,
There is no difference between this and the above.  If we must determine the meaning of life for ourselves, then we will must also reconcile ourselves with the eventuality of death.

Quote from: Monolight
need for emotional security and stability,
There is no inherent reason that people need religion to provide security and stability.  Indeed, the secular humanist approach - that we can provide emotional security and stability to each other - is essentially what religion does, but without the religious aspects.

Quote from: Monolight
need for love, acceptance and emotional support,
As I stated just above, we can provide love, acceptance, and support to each other without depending on something to hand it down to us.

Quote from: Monolight
need for established authority and moral guidance.
Again, I see no reason that we cannot have an established authority and moral guidance without religion.  Indeed, secular humanism gives us both without the negative side effects (such as an established authority which claims its mandate from a god, or moral guidance which depends on that same god).

Quote from: Monolight
Religion fulfills all these needs to a degree, depending on believer's committment and individual reaction. It also gives inner joy as a bonus for the truly faithful (and more). These needs are *not* necessarily characteristic to each and every person and also the level of intensity of these needs may vary.
In other words, it depends on what someone is willing to put into it.  So the fundamental aspect of religion is exactly the same as the fundamental aspect of secular humanism - people determine what they get out of it by what they're willing to put into it, and cooperate in order to provide for those needs.  The rest of it (the belief system, the doctrine and dogma, and the god) are extraneous.

Quote from: Monolight
I disagree, too - let's discuss an alternative. I may be a bit prejudiced or biased, but there is always point in discussing something.
Indeed.  Let's discuss secular humanism as an alternative to religious belief, as I've already started doing here.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: ParkingPlaces on February 16, 2013, 12:45:03 PM

At present, I don't see any viable alternative to religion, practically possible to implement worldwide on a mass scale, that would satisfy some important human spiritual and emotional needs, desires and problems like:
  • knowing the purpose (meaning) of life,
An imaginary issue. We are here to continue the species. Or at least try. Everything else is a bonus, if you aren't starving to death or getting shot or squished by a meteorite.
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  • reconciling oneself to death and fate,
Accepting ones death is all one needs to do. Reconciling and using terms like "fate" just complicate the matter.
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  • need for emotional security and stability,

I get this from friends and family. Which is quite adequate.
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  • need for love, acceptance and emotional support,
This isn't automatic. I have to be a lovable, acceptable, emotionally stable person to have this happen. I couldn't very well expect to get those three things if I were an a**hole who had a god.
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  • need for established authority and moral guidance.
I prefer the authority we choose (government) over that which is chosen for us. And apparently I have had quite adequate moral guidance because I am a socially acceptable, unimprisoned, non-robbing, non-raping man who respects others and treats everyone rather nicely.

Quote
Religion fulfills all these needs to a degree, depending on believer's committment and individual reaction. It also gives inner joy as a bonus for the truly faithful (and more). These needs are *not* necessarily characteristic to each and every person and also the level of intensity of these needs may vary.

Other views of the world also fulfill all these needs to a degree, depending on the persons commitment and individual reaction. Genes are also involved. And circumstances. And cooperation from other humans. Yes, though a false process, religion does at time fulfill some of the listed things. But reality does it better. For me.


[/list]
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: screwtape on February 16, 2013, 10:18:51 PM
the homosexuality discussion was off topic.  It has been split and moved here:
http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,24500.0.html
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Schizoid on February 18, 2013, 12:08:46 AM
The reason that god doesn't heal amputees will always be explained away so things can come out right, nice and tidy.  It's a "heads, god wins", "tails, god wins" situation.  Actually I don't think it occurs to Christians to pray for something that is so completely impossible such as growing a new limb.  Nowadays science and medicine can provide a person with a missing limb an artificial one that works pretty damn well as opposed to not having one at all.  I suppose Christians would give god credit for that in the end.

I work at a homeless shelter that is run by a well known Christian organization (ironic, that) that specializes in that sort of thing.  It occurs to me that we have a couple of guys who work as volunteers in the food pantry who are amputees.  One is about my age since we were in grammar school together in the early 1960s who is missing a lower leg and uses an artificial one to walk.  The other is missing an entire leg and so uses a wheelchair.  I've never heard any suggestion of praying for either of them, nor the fellow with cerebral palsy that uses a motorized chair.  I am sure it will never happen.

I'm betting the answer would be that god has really healed them inasmuch as they are able to get on with their lives, except all of these individuals are on SS disability or SSI.  I have a goddaughter on SSI because of mental illness but she is working and doing well on medications so that probably counts as a healing by god according to Christians.

Interesting how their minds work, or don't.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: 12 Monkeys on February 18, 2013, 12:42:42 AM
 Except for the fact that evolution has allowed other species,like lizards to regrow limbs,religious people somehow dismiss this.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: dloubet on February 19, 2013, 04:03:20 AM
Why won't god heal amputees need not be a logical argument. Depending on how it's presented, it can serve as an appeal to fairness. It can serve as an emotional appeal to fair-play.

Frankly, since theists don't deal with facts and logic very well, I think emotional appeals might be the way to go. It's the language they understand.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on February 19, 2013, 07:29:52 AM
This is a false analogy, as the sense of security insurance companies (legitimate ones, anyway) provide is not false. If I do take a corner at 200 km/h and slide into a ditch, my insurance company will cover the expense of any resulting damages.
Even when we narrow the view to only the legitimate ones. This is what I had in mind: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/science/06tier.html?_r=0
We buy insurance not just for peace of mind or to protect ourselves financially, but because we share the ancient Greeks’ instinct for appeasing the gods.
The same study is also described here: http://www.insweb.com/news-features/why-we-buy.html

Mono, I wouldn't have used this example. I would say the articles conclusions are more of personal opinion. I do not buy insurance to avoid a calamity, I do that to handle the aftermath should there be a calamity.

And you might want to read [wiki]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_Fallacy[/wiki], there may be several of these in your posts.


Insurance industry wouldn't grow so well if they were appealing only to rational behavior and calculations. The article I cited was about people's hopes to avoid misfortune by buying insurance (compared to appeasing the Gods). The hidden message of many insurance ads is directed to this hope or expectation and exploiting it. I googled images for "insurance advertising" and quite easily found many that in my opinion are tricking people to think that buying insurance will help to prevent a misfortune.

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&pws=0&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=rokVrTxQc_j1jM:&imgrefurl=http://adpluscommunications.blogspot.com/2010_09_01_archive.html&docid=YgtAeW7J3lyT5M&imgurl=http://noharmadd.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/aic-boot-ad_on-site1.jpg&w=500&h=645&ei=q1YjUaLEKaeF4ASIkIBA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:10,s:0,i:112&iact=rc&dur=10661&sig=112345435621364324580&page=1&tbnh=174&tbnw=135&start=0&ndsp=19&tx=32&ty=96

This shows a pair of overshoes (belonging to competition) with a label: "[Almost] Waterproof". This is to suggest that their own watershoes will be fully waterproof. Overshoes PREVENT moisturing feet, they do not help anything AFTER you already have somehow moistured the feet.
_____________________________________

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&pws=0&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=oLUhN9ZEj53ZWM:&imgrefurl=http://www.toxel.com/inspiration/2008/12/16/24-unique-and-creative-advertisements/&docid=kg3tSxZ_ItRK7M&imgurl=http://www.toxel.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/candcads13.jpg&w=450&h=636&ei=q1YjUaLEKaeF4ASIkIBA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:11,s:0,i:115&iact=rc&dur=542&sig=112345435621364324580&page=1&tbnh=174&tbnw=124&start=0&ndsp=19&tx=59&ty=91

The image shows a house with roof covered with pillows. The slogan says:
gegen hagel kann man sich nur schwer schützen. Aber leicht absichern. Which Google translates as: You can protect yourself against hail difficult. But hedge slightly.

Covering a house roof with pillows is a symbol of PREVENTING disaster to happen, not of dealing with the RESULTS of a disaster.
_____________________________________

http://www.popgive.com/2008/06/clever-life-insurance-advertising.html
The comment says: The meteorite smashed through the glass roof and hit the pavement. Look carefully at the billboard with the advertising, the rough translation is "Think again about accident insurance"
And if you look closely, the woman on the insurance has wings. It's a symbol of an angel.
I have overall impression that this ad appeals to human wish to PREVENT an accident, not about deal with its results (especially because of the angel)
______________________________________

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&pws=0&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=K2ByOI-y8dgmMM:&imgrefurl=http://insurance-commercials.blogspot.com/2010/03/co-operators-insurance-print-advert.html&docid=ysgrDDMA-4UoQM&imgurl=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_OZw2HyB6Zkw/S7JVW5uxeNI/AAAAAAAAACE/sLNLWjUPzoY/s1600/Aliens-ufo.jpg&w=783&h=1082&ei=q1YjUaLEKaeF4ASIkIBA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:19,s:0,i:139&iact=rc&dur=739&sig=112345435621364324580&page=2&tbnh=166&tbnw=98&start=19&ndsp=25&tx=41&ty=80

Picture shows a house taken by aliens. The slogan: "The insurance you need for the surprises you don't". This makes sense to PREVENT such accident, because after the house is taken, the family won't probably have the chance to claim the insurance, from space.
______________________________________

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&pws=0&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=o2j6NyNHp5PciM:&imgrefurl=http://friis-co.ru/best/advertising-for-insurance/&docid=qxZrZRDQWl2L_M&imgurl=http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs41/i/2009/008/6/e/Insurance_AD_by_DC_Junior.jpg&w=400&h=530&ei=q1YjUaLEKaeF4ASIkIBA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:21,s:0,i:153&iact=rc&dur=654&sig=112345435621364324580&page=2&tbnh=172&tbnw=116&start=19&ndsp=25&tx=76&ty=89

The image shows a man in a boat in the middle of the ocean and a shark passing by. Slogan: "Got insurance?" It only makes sense to assume that insurance will PREVENT him from being eaten by the shark, not that it will help him to deal with the results of being eaten.
_______________________________________

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&pws=0&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=aRLmNz58EUuhEM:&imgrefurl=http://friis-co.ru/best/advertisement-of-insurance-company/&docid=m1-1vjTPfdZm-M&imgurl=http://www.rentguard.co.uk/library/images/media/LHI-ad-baby-Jul07.jpg&w=353&h=500&ei=q1YjUaLEKaeF4ASIkIBA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:42,s:0,i:216&iact=rc&dur=429&sig=112345435621364324580&page=4&tbnh=180&tbnw=134&start=41&ndsp=15&tx=76&ty=76

A child with an oversized sun hat on his head. Slogan: "Be confident. You're covered". A sun hat PREVENTS harm by sun.
_______________________________________
http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&pws=0&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=tvf-hGLmJbkOLM:&imgrefurl=http://ramsaymacfarlane.com/portfolio/kwikfit-insurance-website-design.php&docid=TCb8NIPM_tzMAM&imgurl=http://ramsaymacfarlane.com/portfolio/images/kwikfit-insurance-landingpage.jpg&w=620&h=517&ei=q1YjUaLEKaeF4ASIkIBA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:45,s:0,i:225&iact=rc&dur=3487&sig=112345435621364324580&page=4&tbnh=180&tbnw=218&start=41&ndsp=15&tx=79&ty=96

Image shows a car. Big slogan: "An insurance that protects you from any dents." Smaller slogan: "Especially to your wallet." The big message is clear.
_______________________________________

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&pws=0&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=8Ha1geWXTVvsOM:&imgrefurl=http://1adt.com/from-the-net/creative-allianz-ads/&docid=h2ImlRsLl9csKM&imgurl=http://1adt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Creative-Allianz-Ads-2.jpg&w=990&h=1400&ei=q1YjUaLEKaeF4ASIkIBA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:65,s:0,i:285&iact=rc&dur=6029&sig=112345435621364324580&page=5&tbnh=201&tbnw=169&start=56&ndsp=15&tx=75&ty=97

Image shows a house connected by a rope to a very big anchor embedded in the ground. Slogan: "nicht jede vorbereitung auf einen sturm schutzt wirklich" meaning: "not every preparation for a storm really protects". This simply suggests that you have to pay big money to protect against big storm. It doesn't show any harm, the house is intact.


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For comparison, here are examples of insurance ads talking about dealing with the EFFECTS of an accident:

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&pws=0&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=h5j6su0LBvWX1M:&imgrefurl=http://ashpreetsethi.blogspot.com/2011/05/new-asci-guidelines-likely-for.html&docid=bhTPQVVoOx3OIM&imgurl=http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-6gDdhYE1Dxk/TdUdg-QnekI/AAAAAAAAAA0/E9wFmlk3b10/s1600/ads.jpg&w=1065&h=1478&ei=q1YjUaLEKaeF4ASIkIBA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:15,s:0,i:127&iact=rc&dur=605&sig=112345435621364324580&page=1&tbnh=168&tbnw=108&start=0&ndsp=19&tx=32&ty=53

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&pws=0&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=LmednAC4C-C5oM:&imgrefurl=http://www.adverbox.com/ads/swiss-national-insurance/&docid=wID5jy4XTJZajM&imgurl=http://www.adverbox.com/media/campaigns/2006/08/swissinsurance1.jpg&w=1200&h=825&ei=q1YjUaLEKaeF4ASIkIBA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:16,s:0,i:130&iact=rc&dur=2021&sig=112345435621364324580&page=1&tbnh=186&tbnw=271&start=0&ndsp=19&tx=130&ty=93

http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&pws=0&biw=1280&bih=636&tbm=isch&tbnid=4OlbfLD-fM92pM:&imgrefurl=http://friis-co.ru/best/ads-insurance/&docid=diCnqJAi_Wm9wM&imgurl=http://www.halogendesigns.com/images/lee_insurance_visit_thumb_large.jpg&w=800&h=600&ei=q1YjUaLEKaeF4ASIkIBA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:25,s:0,i:165
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: 12 Monkeys on February 20, 2013, 11:08:58 AM
WTF does this have to do with amputees not being healed?
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Jag on February 20, 2013, 12:05:34 PM
To post #101 - OK, marketing is manipulative. This is not new information. People can extrapolate really incorrect ideas about what is being marketed, as a result of the manipulative nature of marketing. This is ALSO not new information - I could almost argue that it's the POINT of marketing.

What's yours?

Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Tonus on February 28, 2013, 09:04:54 PM
You think people should wake up and stop believing, because religion is irrational and God is scientifically impossible (according to current state of science). That won't happen, because the benefits religion gives people will compensate for any "contradictions". There are answers for all your "contradictions", some are more, some are less logical, but it doesn't matter, either. Believers will choose to believe these answers, rather than your contradictions, because the only thing atheists can do (regarding religion of course) is negate and abolish. You don't really have any alternative, anything to give people instead of religion. Or have you?
Religion is what the slowest gazelle relies on when the lions are out hunting.

I can see where religion provided an evolutionary benefit to communities of humans, by uniting them and justifying a moral double-standard that made it easier to increase their chances of survival.  In that scenario, I see it as a practical extension of racial or nationalist ideology, in that it helps to ease the conscience of those who are tasked with doing things that they consider immoral (particularly if it were done to them).

For example, a chieftain expresses his desire for his community to attack a nearby community.  They are to kill the men and any who are unfit for work, enslave the rest, and take all of the resources that they can transport back.  Appealing to racial or nationalist desires may work, but the most effective way to justify those actions are to have their shaman explain that GOD (or THE GODS) demand such action.  Obedience will be rewarded with rain and protection from illness, but if they refuse to comply they risk the wrath of GOD (or THE GODS).  This provides the necessary moral cover the community needs (sure, it seems awful to murder and enslave people but that’s on GOD/THE GODS, not me!).  Their willingness to slaughter, enslave and pillage in the name of GOD(S) improves their chances of surviving and growing their community.

The shaman and chieftain also experienced an additional benefit from this approach—they earned considerable personal power and the attendant perks (best food at dinnertime, best females for "dessert").  The community made sure that they were well-fed, well-cared for, and well-defended from enemies.  I think that this part of religious development grew and evolved faster than any other, and it has taken surprisingly long for the community to catch on.

In any case, I worry that we may not have an alternative for the niche that religion fills.  At least until we evolve a fair bit more.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: kcrady on March 09, 2013, 12:36:30 AM
Emotional security is as real as physical security, but in the world of emotions (inside brain) instead of physical world.

Sure, it exists as a mental state.  Nobody here is denying that.  However, 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.  But the main thing that's missing here is the involvement of any actual god.

Quote
As has already been pointed out, when one's luck runs out and something bad happens, the "sense of security" can turn to thorns, as the person starts having to wonder, "Did I do something to make god/the gods mad at me?"

As has already been pointed out, the answer is often "God wanted it this way." Not that "God is mad at you". Religion doesn't say life will be sweet as cherry pie. Part of the role of religion is to prepare people to cope with problems.

Sure.  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.  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.

Here is an article about emotional security: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_security
Religion is mentioned twice in an example situation of death of a loved person. First of all, hoping that the deceased person has gone to 'better place' is not commented as some sick attitude, but rather as a possible healthy reaction, proving one's emotional security. Second, religious devotion is given as one of possible ways to increase one's emotional security.

As I said: just like a security blanket or pacifier.  A security blanket can make a child feel safer, so that they want to drag it around with them everywhere they go.  Heck, it might even provide a little warmth in a pinch.  Yet for some reason, nobody's writing op-ed pieces advocating that everybody ought to start packing a security blanket around.

Quote
As with "security," we are once again not talking about an actual love from an actual being that gets manifested in some way.

God's love was manifested in many ways (many are described in the Bible).

And Darth Vader's evil is manifested in Star Wars movies.  You seem to have missed that I was communicating in the present tense.  The very fact that you bring up the Bible is evidence that on some level you're aware that your god is just a character in a book that lives only "inside brain" and not out in Universe, much less in charge of it.  If Stephen Hawking was my roommate, I wouldn't find myself limited to quoting A Brief History of Time when I wanted to talk about things he said or did.  There would be actual effects in my life.  I wouldn't just have a "sense" of having better access to knowledge about physics than most people, I actually would.

I am pretty sure all of them have already been ridiculed on this forum thoroughly, so you should have the idea. Religious people believe in those manifestations, this love is true for them and not an artificial "sense" of abstract love. You may think it's funny or absurd, but that's YOUR opinion.

Hey, it was the article you cited that talked about all of religion's proposed benefits as an artificial "sense" of (security, love, purpose, etc.) rather than the real thing.  Question: do you believe everbody's spiritual/religious/mystical/paranormal experiences and "manifestations" are true?  If a person claims to be a UFO Contactee, has had one or more extremely vivid experiences of being abducted by little gray aliens, and believes that they're channeling messages from Sirius, do you nod your head and think, 'Well, that's cool.  Guess those folks at SETI can close up shop now'?  Or maybe, 'Well, that's cool.  Their beliefs give them a sense of purpose and meaning as a channel of revelation from a superior society, and give them a sense of security'?  What about all those people who believe in religions other than yours?  Are all religions equally true "inside brain" and fie upon external reality?

Whether it's artificially high, depends on the view. Do people ever complain on too much love? Rarely. More love is usually welcome.

"Intense high" versus "normal": in this respect, it's analogical to art, or to knowledge. Is it bad that art makes you feel "high"? Are you against specialized studies, which absorb brain intellectually more than average? Both of these disciplines hook into some desire or need (for beauty, curiosity) and stimulate it.


Nope, nothing at all wrong with art, philosophy, and science.  At least in their case the artist/musician/philosopher/area of scientific study actually exists.  For that matter, there's nothing wrong with enjoying Tolkien, even though Hobbits don't exist.  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.  If there was a powerful group of people who claimed that all humans have a "need" that only playing rummy can meet, and they demanded that America be an officially rummy-playing nation, that "We Play Rummy Here" be printed on all our money, that there should be officially-imposed "rummy in schools" etc., I would oppose them too.  I would also point out that the "needs" that can be met by playing rummy can also be met by playing chess, or Texas hold 'em, or video games (as I have pointed to secular alternatives to religion in my previous post).

Religion hooks into need for love.  Experiencing God's love

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.

may sometimes get a bit "high" (exaltation). Agape - "a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other" (by wikipedia). It's wrong with experiencing it?

There's nothing wrong with having a high, IMO.  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..  You want to experience an amazing high?  Try psilocybin mushrooms sometime.  It'll blow the doors off of anything you've ever experienced in church, I guarantee it.  I think it would be awesome if they could be legalized, and sold to adults in grocery stores like beer and cigarettes.  But, I would be opposed to anyone who wanted to force everyone to consume psilocybin mushrooms, or wanted society to treat non-shroomers as second-class citizens, or tried to convince people that they'd suffer forever if they didn't join the Mushroom Temple.

Are you saying that religion does not offer "real human community"? Googling for "Christian communities" shows 269,000,000 results, so at least some of them must be real.

No.  I'm saying that it's the "real human" part that meets the need for community and mutual support.  Religious doctrines aren't necessary.

About the "secular replacement" for the "unreal christian community", e.g. in Sweden. It's true Sweden is viewed as an example of how well a secular community develops. But note also, that it is a very rich country. It's easier to deal very well when you have a lot of money.

Sure.  It's also easier to build megachurches and cathedrals.  What's your point?

Besides, the "secular communities" seem to be missing spirituality. In “The epidemiology of lost meaning: A study in psychology of religion and existential public health in a Swedish context” by Cecilia A. Melder, you can read about it: (  http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:371919/SUMMARY01  )

OK, I've started in on this, but I don't have time right now to read all of it.  A couple things:

Quote
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.

I've colored the parts of their system that are not exclusive to religion blue.  The others are quite vague.  "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?  "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 from an earned trust ("I have faith in you") to being worthy of trust ("A faithful spouse") to rational confidence ("Airline safety records show that it's safer to fly than to drive; therefore, I have faith that this airplane will carry me safely to my destination") to evidence-free belief in something like "The Blessed Virgin Mary was born without sin (Immaculate Conception) and was assumed bodily into Heaven upon her death; also, she comes back every now and then."  Since it's lumped together with hope and optimism in this case, "faith" could be interpreted either way.

Another quote:

Quote
Through a second model DeMarinis has, inspired by David Wulff’s categories
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-
ceremonies
;

[emphasis added]

A "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.  So far, as I've read to this point, this article still doesn't get you within a light-year of proving that everybody has a Jesus-shaped hole in their hearts, as your citation in the OP tried to claim.     

We need to design better studies. There is already a lot of evidence accumulating
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

Notice 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.  It's not enough to have some study that seems to show benefits to having some kind of vaguely-defined "spirituality" broad enough to include both Carl Sagan and Fred Phelps, Zen Buddhists and Muslim fundamentalists, and then try to go from that to "See?  Everybody ought to believe in the Bible and go to church."  It's muddled thinking, followed by a giant non sequitur.  You're not even in the neighborhood of making your case until you can show that Christian monks "have it" (a nicely-filled God-shaped hole) and Hindu yogis don't. 

In The Lancet professor Wolfgand Rutz describes the current public health
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“

So 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?

And again, it's false for you. Someone may live or die for ideas (e.g. patriotism) which are meaningless and false to someone else.

And this is exactly my point.  If the articles you cited in your OP were correct, there wouldn't be any of this "it's true for me and false for you" stuff.  We would all have Jesus-shaped holes in our hearts, while the people who worshiped [the right version of] Jesus would be discernibly better off than those that didn't.  Other things, like patriotism, wouldn't do the trick.

This is goal (aim), not purpose (although purpose is a synonim of goal in the dictionary). The purpose that the Seattlepi article is talking about is more like "meaning of life" or "cause of life". In this sense, it would be impossible for human to set the cause of life themselves. According to religion, God set the purpose of life.

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.  Then, once Christians are forced to acknowledge that yes, other religions do exist, and it isn't just "Worship Jesus, or the Devil", without losing an ounce of smug, they say, "Oh, well, Christianity isn't a religion (those are man-made and worthless), it's a relationship, so neener neener!"

And as the article says, humans need to know this *deeper* purpose. Need answer! And religion explains exactly this.

And what's this wondrous "deeper purpose" Christianity offers us?  Oh yeah: kiss the ass of a cosmic monarch forever and ever.  Wow.  That's soooo deep, man!

That's what religion teaches.

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.

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The secular alternative to "reconciliation with the ultimate" is to do our best to develop the most accurate understanding we can of reality as it is, take joy in the merely real, and act within reality's parameters.

That's good rational life. Reconciliation with the ultimate is something else. But if you never felt the void she's talking about, it's hard to explain.

Aaaaand, once again, my point exactly.  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.

I also think that the joy she is talking about is not unique to religion. Religion can be the source of inner joy, meditation (and maybe some other techniques) also can. But meditation is difficult and is not for everybody. Drugs on the other hand are destructive and short term.

Depends on which drugs. :)  Shamans have been using psychoactive plants for a looong time, probably going back at least to when the paint on the cave walls at Lascaux was wet.

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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.

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.
Title: Re: Why it doesn't matter to religious people whether God heals amputees or not
Post by: Monolight on March 14, 2013, 09:04:40 AM
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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..

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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?

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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.

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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.
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.
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

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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?" and following

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"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.

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Through a second model DeMarinis has, inspired by David Wulff’s categories
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-
ceremonies;
A "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. 

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.

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We need to design better studies. There is already a lot of evidence accumulating
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
Notice 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. 

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.

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In The Lancet professor Wolfgand Rutz describes the current public health
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“
So 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?

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.