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Is there any role of Religion in Society?

By religion I mean an institution that teaches moral standards to people and curtain practices to keep those standards alive in the minds of the people.

Like teaching math, but with more repetition so you will never forget it. (And yes you did forget math)

There are many religions with different teachings and beliefs. I would argue that defining religion based on its content is impossible, at least more than I already had.

So when I say religion don't think of a bunch of people who are opposite to whatever you believe in because that's not what I'm talking about.

If a government can be good or bad maybe a church or religion can be good or bad as well.

Share your thoughts!

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Religion is a way - not the only one and not the best - of keeping people honest and peaceful. This was a widespread belief during the Enlightenment: some people are of sufficient ethical and intellectual development to do the right thing for the right reasons, but the lower orders need the threat of damnation to stay in line. George Washington is one who believed this. It doesn't speak well of religion.

In order to discover rights, people first had to discover the inherent worth and merit of the individual, regardless of status or or membership in some collective. Christianity is how they did it (again, not the only way or the best, but, as a matter of historical fact, the means they used). Religions have also given us some wonderful art and architecture. It's like bloodletting. We know better today, but once it was the best people could to.

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Is there any role of ...

... an institution that teaches moral standards to people and curtain practices to keep those standards alive in the minds of the people.

For an adult audience, you seem to be speaking of the role of intellectuals: from those who comment on events and help people integrate them into their other knowledge, to historians and philosophers. For a younger audience, the role is filled by parents, and later by high-school teachers, college professors and authors (like Rand ;) )

So, yes, there's a role for intellectuals.

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By religion I mean an institution that teaches moral standards to people and curtain practices to keep those standards alive in the minds of the people.

Your definition of religion doesn’t work. There are plenty of “institutions” that teach moral principles that aren’t based in religion; regular secular schools do this, also things like Kiwanis, Montessori, even Karate lessons and the Suzuki method.

I think that at the root of your question is the issue of whether morality needs to be taught. Taught, as opposed to what? Learned by experiment? Parents can’t let their children learn that they need to look both ways before crossing the street by experiment. We all have a lot of learning we have to do as we go from being helpless newborns to self-sufficient producers, and a most of it will be taught. The evidence is that for most of history this teaching has been tied up with religion, but not always, and not today. At least, not for most people in the US.

I find Joseph Campbell’s breakout of the functions of myth helpful for understanding religion and its historical cultural role.

Joseph Campbell, a leading scholar in the fields of mythology and comparative religion, explains that myth has four basic functions: metaphysical/mystical, cosmological, sociological, and pedagogical. Its metaphysical function is to awaken us to the mystery and wonder of creation, to open our minds and our senses to an awareness of the mystical "ground of being," the source of all phenomena. Its cosmological function is to describe the "shape" of the cosmos, the universe, our total world, so that the cosmos and all contained within it become vivid and alive for us, infused with meaning and significance; every corner, every rock, hill, stone, and flower has its place and its meaning in the cosmological scheme which the myth provides. Its sociological function is to pass down "the law," the moral and ethical codes for people of that culture to follow, and which help define that culture and its prevailing social structure. Its pedagogical function is to lead us through particular rites of passage that define the various significant stages of our lives-from dependency to maturity to old age, and finally, to our deaths, the final passage. The rites of passage bring us into harmony with the "ground of being" (a term often used by Joseph Campbell to refer to an unnamed, unspecified universal mystical power) and allow us to make the journey from one stage to another with a sense of comfort and purpose.

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For an adult audience, you seem to be speaking of the role of intellectuals: from those who comment on events and help people integrate them into their other knowledge, to historians and philosophers. For a younger audience, the role is filled by parents, and later by high-school teachers, college professors and authors (like Rand ;) )

So, yes, there's a role for intellectuals.

No I am more thinking of a franchise like McDonald or Christianity :)

A franchise institution if you will with one center, but many schools in many cities.

I am guessing karate schools would be a good example, but not intellectuals.

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Aren't religious institutions one of the most viable and streamlined way to promote private charity? Most likely, people who praise altruistic ideals will always be around, but at a certain point it would be nice if they didn't have the power to initiate force through tax to implement their ideals.

Being involved with a church, which usually is the front runner for charity, is a very nice alternative isn't it?

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People need to start thinking for themselves. As children, they can not really do this, so it is up to parents and educators to be role models for children and show them values. Churches however grown men and women like children and lecture them like children when they do things that are bad. What is worse is that a church pretends to be helpful to people by offering advice. Unlike something more stricts, faith in jesus, confession, or another get out of jail free card makes it so where someone becaomes dependnet on the pastor or priests approval for the alleviation of their guilt instead of a) doing something about or B) seeking proffessional help.

Religion did serve a purpose once as pointed out above, it was pragmatice, but that is never an excuse not to change.

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I gu

I'd rather support secular charities.

Sure, but many religious individuals would likely prefer to go through their church. Honestly though, it seems to me that most churches are practically secular anyway. They seem to function mostly as a social club and charity sponsor. And don't forget Bingo.

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I don't see a need to send children to church to learn morality. Besides, to say that the lessons are problematic is an understatement!

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. " Cover your ears, children, that's just wrong!

Also, you have to find a church that doesn't try to teach them that the Earth is 10,000 years old or that Adam and Eve named the dinosaurs....

Bingo... okay. The art is nice. I love the Sistine Chapel and the cathedrals! Those are great.

Edited by RhondaW
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Please don't make this a Christianity VS Secularism debate and hate fest.

I defined my terms very clearly so that none could do that.

Maybe Christians use churches for charity because Christianity is an altruistic philosophy and not just because it is a religion.

What's wrong with adults bringing children to churches to learn morality? Is morality not important? Are parents the best moral teachers ever (even when they work)?

What's the difference between learning math and learning morality that causes this divide?

Is morality and math both based on objective reality? Isn't it the content what really matters and not necessarily how it is being thought?

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Why would it be the same?

I could say the same for math and school... What's the difference?

The Jesuits have a saying that runs, roughly: give us the child and we’ll deliver you the man. Do you want Jesuits molding your child’s character? I’ll grant that in the case of Voltaire it worked out well, he rejected the indoctrination and as an adult had a good grounding in what he didn’t believe. It’s kind of like Ayn Rand being educated by Communists. But as a parent, you probably shouldn’t count on your child turning out to be so tough.

Do you need an explanation of what’s wrong with religious morality, from the Objectivist perspective? How much background do you have?

BTW I don’t know what you mean about “math and school”.

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Your basically making religion synonymous with philosophy. In which case the answer is trivial. Some philosophies are bad (most) and some aren't. ("institutions" are merely a collection of individuals)

So basically there's absolutely no reason why religions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism survived for so long and can survive even today.

So we shouldn't teach people our beliefs using religion because we may be wrong?

We might be wrong about science as well you know...

Do you need an explanation of what’s wrong with religious morality, from the Objectivist perspective? How much background do you have?

Doesn't matter how much background I have on religions or how much I hate them.

My interest in religions is not what they teach, but how, and is there anything beneficial in the how to us.

I plead again as I did before please do not turn this topic into a hate fest against religions.

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I think I have a good grasp on the concept.

Are you suggesting there is something in objectivism that makes any kind of organized religion by definition a bad idea?

I mean I would argue that superstition is as necessary for religion as is fiat currency for free markets.

If religious people can believe in superstition they can believe in anything...

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No I am more thinking of a franchise like McDonald or Christianity :)

A franchise institution if you will with one center, but many schools in many cities.

I am guessing karate schools would be a good example, but not intellectuals.

Institutions can be useful. There are non-religious institutions that have full-time employees promoting their ideology. Many of these institutions also hold lectures... something like a religious sermon.

So, what else would a secular philosophical organization do, which churches do today? Weekly meetings are a possibility, but how many would attend if there was no injunction to do so? (BTW: Hinduism does not have any such weekly or even monthly meetings, yet it survived for thousands of years. Not sure if the Buddhists have anything like that either, but I don;t think they do.)

The one thing that churches, mosques and synagogues provide is a social gathering. They have breakfasts and sales and picnics, but even more important is that one has a place where people will often say "hello" to each other, then perhaps chat with each other, then perhaps find out about each other's friends and family, and so on and so forth. (Sometimes a church will also have a day-care because parents feel comfortable leaving their kids with an institution they consider reliable.)

An organization whose primary focus is a secular philosophy could also create a venue for social interaction. I think there's value in this if the philosophy is not very wide-spread. Even on philosophy forums, much of the value comes from the social-interaction and social-introductions.

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I mean I would argue that superstition is as necessary for religion as is fiat currency for free markets.

You’ve totally lost me. Are you actually saying fiat currency is necessary for free markets, or are you joking? Or is this your way of saying religion doesn’t necessarily entail superstition? I haven’t looked at any of your other threads, but I’m starting to smell troll.

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So basically there's absolutely no reason why religions like Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism survived for so long and can survive even today.

So we shouldn't teach people our beliefs using religion because we may be wrong?

We might be wrong about science as well you know...

WTF??? I have no idea how you arrived at the above statements in regard to what I said......

Religions are made up of bad philosophical premises and methods. One shouldnt use either if life is their persuit! Bad idea indeed. By the way can one love life and not hate religion?

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Sure if you're religion says so.

You said I essentially turned religion into pure philosophy.

That can't be true otherwise it wouldn't have been so successful.

Are you responding in the first sentence to my last question?

What is it about "pure philosophy" that you think makes it not able to endure in civilization? What facts give rise to your strange response?

Edited by Plasmatic
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Is there any role of Religion in Society?By religion I mean an institution that teaches moral standards to people and curtain practices to keep those standards alive in the minds of the people.

Like teaching math, but with more repetition so you will never forget it. (And yes you did forget math)

You do not identify what is at the root of the moral standard you are embracing here.

Teaching math by repetition is a recipe for forgetting it. Memorization is not a method for imparting understanding and comprehension.

There are many religions with different teachings and beliefs. I would argue that defining religion based on its content is impossible, at least more than I already had.

So when I say religion don't think of a bunch of people who are opposite to whatever you believe in because that's not what I'm talking about.

If a government can be good or bad maybe a church or religion can be good or bad as well.

Share your thoughts!

John Ridpath identifies religion as a set of mystical views about the supernatural origins of, workings of, and purposes of reality, and what that implies about the living of human life.

He spends several hours developing what observations led to this conclusion in his presentation "Religion Vs. Man".

For either a government or any other institution to be evaluated as good or evil, you must use either an explicit or implicit standard to make that determination.

I don't see a need to send children to church to learn morality. Besides, to say that the lessons are problematic is an understatement!

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. " Cover your ears, children, that's just wrong!

Also, you have to find a church that doesn't try to teach them that the Earth is 10,000 years old or that Adam and Eve named the dinosaurs....

Please don't make this a Christianity VS Secularism debate and hate fest.

I defined my terms very clearly so that none could do that.

I'm not sure if your comments were in reference to RhondaW specifically or not, but you appear to have brushed off an excellent concretization of a tenet of morality that many biblical institutions adhere to.

Far from a debate and hate fest, the replies so far are simply based on a recognition that ideas have consequences,

Maybe Christians use churches for charity because Christianity is an altruistic philosophy and not just because it is a religion.

Christianity's moral code is based on altruism. It would be merely one aspect of its philosophy.

What's wrong with adults bringing children to churches to learn morality? Is morality not important? Are parents the best moral teachers ever (even when they work)?

What's the difference between learning math and learning morality that causes this divide?

Is morality and math both based on objective reality? Isn't it the content what really matters and not necessarily how it is being thought?

It is precisely because morality is important that it should be based on objective reality. Even the methods of how it is to be taught and thought about are important. You claim to have defined your terms very clearly, but I am still having difficulty ascertaining what you consider morality to be.

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