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Dagna
Tuesday, November 18th, 2008, 08:03 PM
Does Religion Make You Nice?


Does atheism make you mean?


Many Americans doubt the morality of atheists. According to a 2007 Gallup poll (http://www.gallup.com/poll/26611/Some-Americans-Reluctant-Vote-Mormon-72YearOld-Presidential-Candidates.aspx), a majority of Americans say that they would not vote for an otherwise qualified atheist as president, meaning a nonbeliever would have a harder time getting elected than a Muslim, a homosexual, or a Jew. Many would go further and agree with conservative commentator Laura Schlessinger that morality requires a belief in God—otherwise, all we have is our selfish desires. In The Ten Commandments (http://www.amazon.com/Ten-Commandments-Significance-Gods-Everyday/dp/0060929960/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1225481129&sr=1-1), she approvingly quotes Dostoyevsky: "Where there is no God, all is permitted." The opposing view, held by a small minority of secularists, such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, is that belief in God makes us worse. As Hitchens puts it (http://www.amazon.com/God-Not-Great-Religion-Everything/dp/0446579807/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1225483037&sr=8-1), "Religion poisons everything."

Arguments about the merits of religions are often battled out with reference to history, by comparing the sins of theists and atheists. (I see your Crusades and raise you Stalin!) But a more promising approach is to look at empirical research that directly addresses the effects of religion on how people behave.
In a review published in Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/322/5898/58) last month, psychologists Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff discuss several experiments that lean pro-Schlessinger. In one of their own studies, they primed half the participants with a spirituality-themed word jumble (including the words divine and God) and gave the other half the same task with nonspiritual words. Then, they gave all the participants $10 each and told them that they could either keep it or share their cash reward with another (anonymous) subject. Ultimately, the spiritual-jumble group parted with more than twice as much money as the control. Norenzayan and Shariff suggest that this lopsided outcome is the result of an evolutionary imperative to care about one's reputation. If you think about God, you believe someone is watching. This argument is bolstered by other research that they review showing that people are more generous and less likely to cheat when others are around. More surprisingly, people also behave better when exposed to posters with eyes on them.....

http://www.slate.com/id/2203614/pagenum/all

Hanna
Tuesday, November 18th, 2008, 08:16 PM
Well it goes way back to Adam and Eve.:)

Imperator X
Tuesday, November 18th, 2008, 10:31 PM
I would be more willing to vote for an atheist simply because he would not allow religion to interfere with his policy. Just look at what happens when hee-haw Jesus jumping intolerant know-nothing neocons push "faith-based initiatives", meanwhile, many prisons get skiddish about allowing meditation as part of rehabilitation... When you mix religion and politics you are courting Taliban-esque government.

Millions of dollars and missionaries are flooded into India every year, where poor people are coerced to convert through dishonest methods, because Christians and other Abrahamites think it's their duty to save souls.

Holding to dogmas, and strict laws based on un-natural asceticism does not make you nice.

Jonathan Eells
Wednesday, November 19th, 2008, 12:02 AM
Here's a little blurb I often read, from an atheist no less. It's a perfect normative description of why somebody might believe in a religion, and the perfect circumstances of doing so, and the ultimate meaning of that religion in a social context. Wow, yeah, all of that in one paragraph. Enjoy.

from Sidney Hook, in Quest for Being, 1961, p. 100:

"So long as religion is freed from authoritarian institutional forms, and conceived in personal terms, so long as overbeliefs are a source of innocent joy, a way of overcoming cosmic loneliness, a discipline of living with pain and evil, otherwise unendurable and irremediable, so long as what functions as a vital illusion or poetic myth is not represented as public truth to whose existence the once-born are blind, so long as religion does not paralyze the desire and the will to struggle against unnecessary cruelties of experience, it seems to me to fall in an area of choice in which rational criticism may be suspended. In this sense, a man's personal religion justifies itself to him in the way his love does. Why should he want to make a public cult of it? And why should we want him to prove that the object of his love is the most lovely creature in the world? Nonetheless it still remains true that as a set of cognitive beliefs, religious doctrines constitute a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability."

Hauke Haien
Wednesday, November 19th, 2008, 02:45 AM
Religion does not make people "nice", it makes them adhere to a set of norms the religion delineates or, at least, increases the social pressure to conform or pretend to conform to them.


Quest for Being[/U], 1961, p. 100"]In this sense, a man's personal religion justifies itself to him in the way his love does. Why should he want to make a public cult of it?
Because it strengthens the group consciousness of the tribe. Whether it is chanting and singing in a football stadium or chanting and singing at a cult site, it makes people feel the community around them and sychronises them as parts of a functional unit, which should be the tribe.

Jonathan Eells
Wednesday, November 19th, 2008, 03:57 AM
I agree with your last point. I'd like to live in a place where we can sing the folk anthems at a good footie match. But Hook is specifically thinking about state-sponsored religions, such as the former Catholic church, which was in fact state-sponsoring, wasn't it?

Still. I'm all dreamy thinking about actually living in a world where my community is really mine.

Hauke Haien
Wednesday, November 19th, 2008, 04:37 AM
see also: Is Religion Strictly a Personal Matter? Should It Be? (http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=101591)

exit
Wednesday, November 19th, 2008, 03:38 PM
Does Religion Make You Nice?

One might ask: Does state worship make you nice?


Does atheism make you mean?

Or: Does modern education/science give one the illusion of intelligence?


The aim of religion is not "to make man nice"; it does ask of one to love man as such, but not insofar as he is bad. According to a hadith, "the most excellent faith is to love him who loves God, to hate him who hates God." This is to say, since God is Truth, to hate error and love truth, for sin is not just immorality but also all falsehoods.

Deary
Saturday, November 22nd, 2008, 03:45 PM
I've had people come up to me numerous times just to tell me what a nice Christian girl I am, ask me numerous times if I attend the local Christian college, deliberately avoid doing anything "sinful" in my presence because they assumed me to be very Christian, and I've also had people not even think about giving me some sort of church pamplet (yet give them to the person next to me) because just by looking at me they already gathered that I had found God. I'm not offended by it because I know they mean well, but it is a little funny since I'm an atheist and that being kind and well-mannered is automatically associated with religious behavior.

I'm not a big fan of Richard Dawkins because of some of his political views, but here's what he has to say on the matter of religion and morality:


IF THERE IS NO GOD, WHY BE GOOD?

Posed like that, the question sounds positively ignoble. When a religious person puts it to me in this way (and many of them do), my immediate temptation is to issue the following challenge: 'Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment? That's not morality, that's just sucking up, apple-polishing, looking over your shoulder at the great surveillance camera in the sky, or the still small wiretap inside your head, monitoring your every move, even your every base thought.' As Einstein said, 'If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.' Michael Shermer, in The Science of Good and Evil, calls it a debate stopper. If you agree that, in the absense of God, you would 'commit robbery, rape, and murder', you reveal yourself as an immoral person, 'and we would be well advised to steer a wide course around you'. If, on the other hand, you admit that you would continue to be a good person even when not under divine surveillance, you have fatally undermined your claim thar God is necessary for us to be good. I suspect that quite a lot of religious people do think religion is what motivates them to be good, especially if they belong to one of those faiths that systematically exploits personal guilt.
It seems to me that to require quite a low self-regard to think that, should belief in God suddenly vanish from the world, we would all become callous and selfish hedonists, with no kindness, no charity, no generosity, nothing that would deserve the name of goodness.
-The God Delusion

Patrioten
Saturday, November 22nd, 2008, 04:07 PM
Being good and being law-abiding are two different things, in the sense that a good person and a law-abiding person are two different things. You can obey the law and still be an asshole. Is it a coincidence that Ned Flanders in the Simpsons is portrayed as the nicest neighbor you can imagine? Christians today are stereotyped as being nicer, more polite, friendlier, more generous and more helpful than the average person, and to a large extent this is probably true. I do think that being religious makes you see the world and your fellow man in a less cynical way, you could call it a form of naivity, following the golden rule, Do onto others as you would have them do onto you, believing that all people are basically good, turning the other cheek when people wrong you etc.

With that said I don't think that this outlook on life is very helpful or useful in our modern society of today, overly nice and uncynical people become victims of those who don't play by their imaginary rules. But in a better society perhaps...

Arundel
Sunday, November 23rd, 2008, 03:11 AM
I would be more willing to vote for an atheist simply because he would not allow religion to interfere with his policy. Just look at what happens when hee-haw Jesus jumping intolerant know-nothing neocons push "faith-based initiatives", meanwhile, many prisons get skiddish about allowing meditation as part of rehabilitation... When you mix religion and politics you are courting Taliban-esque government.

Millions of dollars and missionaries are flooded into India every year, where poor people are coerced to convert through dishonest methods, because Christians and other Abrahamites think it's their duty to save souls.

Holding to dogmas, and strict laws based on un-natural asceticism does not make you nice.

I agree with your article. I am a historian and am familiar with all the horrible things done in the past, in the name of religion. I am an American and our history books, I now know, do not tell us a lot of the truth about our history. My ancestors came here in the 1600's from England. Already the church was running everything, no matter how cruel it was. For instance, as a small example, they were cutting off the ears of the Quakers when they arrived. My ancestor, Samuel Gorton, made the long trip back to England, to get a decree from the Earl of Warwick, to make them stop.
While he was gone the church (I guess it was the Church of England) hired ruffians and Indians to go to Gorton's home and destroy everything, including his home. At the time his wife, who was a very refined lady, was pregant, and she was run out into the surrounding woods, but survived. My ancestor Elder John Crandall, who was much loved by his friends, at the request of an ailing friend went to his house to help him observe the sabbath, with bible readings. The church arrested him, and imprisoned him for some time, and he was an old man at the time. There was a great 'hue and cry' from the people, and they released him.
Samuel Gorton founded Warwick, Rhode Island, and John Crandall founded Westerly, Rhode Island. They were fine men.
Samuel Gorton is my favorite ancestor, when I found out about him I thought that is why I am like I am. I never fear standing up to anyone when they are doing wrong, while others just sit and do nothing.
Any attempt that is made to mix religion with schooling, politics, government, etc. is a very dangerous thing. During our recent election one political party kept trying to bring religion into their speeches, that should never be allowed. I cannot believe that some one has put the term (under God) in our Pledge of Allegiance. I did not learn it that way, someone revised it.
Mary Jo

That is a very good theory/opinion. It pretty well describes religion. I think beause human beings knew they had very little control of their lives, they became superstitous, and religion evolved out of that. I hear it said time and time again, that someone is going to pray for the well being of their loved one. Who do they think they are? Even if there was a God, why would he want to take time out to help their loved one, when deaths and atrocities are being committed around the world all the time.
This idea seems to be a very arrogant one to me. Also religion is such a magical comfort to grieving people. I went to one funeral in which the preacher said the woman was going to be walking on streets of gold and rubies. How could he expect anyone to believe that.
When my much loved son and only child was dying, neither he or myself prayed. We knew there was nothing anyone could do for him, and we would never be together again, except in my memories. It would have been easier if I had thought he was going to heaven, but he and I knew better.

Hauke Haien
Sunday, November 23rd, 2008, 03:15 AM
but it is a little funny since I'm an atheist and that being kind and well-mannered is automatically associated with religious behavior
Christian religion historically played an integral part in society, even before the state as such grew to become the powerful Leviathan we know today. Entities like Kurköln, Kurmainz and the Papal States existed for a millenium. Being (openly) atheist therefore was tantamount to being anti-social and I believe many newly "awakened" atheists are influenced by this kind of thinking and feel the need to be crude, vulgar and trashy in order to prove that they are no longer Christian. I don't think there is anything wrong with being "holy" in a superficial sense as long as your core beliefs are not Christian universalist and I make an effort myself to give the impression of being "Christian", although I am anything but.

Oski
Sunday, November 23rd, 2008, 05:43 AM
My wife's aunt and uncle go with different religions almost every decade. Right now they are "mormon".

They are vile and revolting people and are very disrespectful.

Alice
Sunday, November 23rd, 2008, 07:47 AM
Concerning religion, one of the biggest mistakes people can make is to reduce Christianity to being nice. Niceness is not a virtue. The are four cardinal virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice. There are also three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity. Niceness might be equated with being kind, and kindness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as mentioned by St. Paul.

I feel that niceness seeks to avoid pain and discomfort at any cost, but kindness is different. Kindness would not seek to cause pain for it's own sake, but it doesn't avoid pain at all costs. Sometimes, it is absolutely necessary to be cruel to be kind. Society accomodates a lot of evil and error nowadays, and I'm afraid that having a loving attitude is synonymous with keeping quiet when these factors (and there are many) are named. Niceness, in my opinion, can take the guise of being overly politically correct and being preoccupied with losing favour in the eyes of secular society.

Anfang
Sunday, November 23rd, 2008, 07:59 AM
Yes religion makes you nice. Nice and stupid.

And no, Heathenism is not a 'religion"














---------------------------------------------
I am a Heathen through and through

Oski
Sunday, November 23rd, 2008, 10:23 AM
Concerning religion, one of the biggest mistakes people can make is to reduce Christianity to being nice. Niceness is not a virtue. The are four cardinal virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice. There are also three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity. Niceness might be equated with being kind, and kindness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as mentioned by St. Paul.

I feel that niceness seeks to avoid pain and discomfort at any cost, but kindness is different. Kindness would not seek to cause pain for it's own sake, but it doesn't avoid pain at all costs. Sometimes, it is absolutely necessary to be cruel to be kind. Society accomodates a lot of evil and error nowadays, and I'm afraid that having a loving attitude is synonymous with keeping quiet when these factors (and there are many) are named. Niceness, in my opinion, can take the guise of being overly politically correct and being preoccupied with losing favour in the eyes of secular society.

Do all these "virtues" stem from Jesus or some recycled heathen ideas? From what I've read germanic peoples are known to be cold and even fierce and jews are always suppose to be nice and calm down people that are mad at them.

IDK who needs to be nice all the time? Why does it matter?

The white catholics I've met seem to be the most normal people I've met when it comes to "religious people". I still don't get or like the worship of the pope or all the latino peoples etc etc.

Gimme racist irish and german catholics any day and we'll down a few shots.

Arundel
Thursday, December 11th, 2008, 02:53 AM
My wife's aunt and uncle go with different religions almost every decade. Right now they are "mormon".

They are vile and revolting people and are very disrespectful.
I totally agree about people who pretend to be religious, certainly does not make them nice people. As a child and young person I attended church regularly, but it wasn't long until I observed in my young mind that many of the 'devoted' church goers were not really very nice people. Even at that young age I was very logical minded, and I just couldn't believe the bible stories. I certainly never could buy the story that the first woman was made from Adam's rib. What a lot of mularkey.
I came to the conclusion that most people go to achieve social status in the community.