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LINK Would the World Be Better Off Without Religion? A Skeptic’s Guide to the Debate - CSI

From the conclusion - - -

"The widely advanced hypothesis that the world would be “better”—more humane—without religion is entirely reasonable, and it should continue to be debated by thoughtful scholars. Contrary to the forceful assertions of some prominent atheist authors (e.g., Dawkins 2006; Dennett 2006), however, the data consistently point to a negative association between religiosity and criminal behavior and a positive association between religiosity and prosocial behavior. Both relations are modest in magnitude and ambiguous with respect to causation. At the same time, they cannot be ignored by partisans on either side of the discussion.

"Our bottom-line conclusion is straightforward: any individuals who attach an extremely high level of probability to the answer to the question we have posed are placing opinions over evidence. Blanket assertions by advocates of either position can most charitably be described as scientifically premature. As in all scientific debates, humility in the face of equivocal data should be the watchword."

Matias 8 Aug 17

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Oh Maudie we wouldn't have this site if there were no religion & I would miss you all so!


The biggest example of there being no religion is shown in former Communist countries. Russia and China banned religion for many years but people still secretly practised their


Honestly, if it wasn't religion, it would be something else. Race, political affiliation, cultural identity, nationalism. We are a tribal creature, religion is just one way to draw tribal lines.


"Religion?" Not the same for everyone.

I prefer a world without anyone thinking there is an invisible all-powerful critter.

"Fellowship, community, consolation?" We all need these. We are herd animals.

There are many groups that provide such without the acknowledgeable of a supreme being.


I found it interesting that the article started out by quoting Dinesh D'Souza in claiming that truly secular societies are best represented by Russia and China. Yet no mention is made of Northern Europe in general or Scandanavia in particular where religiosity is on the wane, yet society continues to flourish without it?

The article misses two key points in my mind. The first is religiosity as a way of learning about our world. By that I mean, reliance on "faith" and being told what is what. I am an advocate for evidence based learning. I give kudos to the article for at least trying to do so as part of a discussion. But seems to take some of the published results that support its findings a bit less critically than I might.

As an example, the article mentions: In a study of high-school students, Furrow and colleagues (2004) similarly found a strong association between religiosity and prosocial interests, including empathy and a sense of responsibility toward others. My first thought is are high-school students really the right cohort to ask this question?

That said, as has been pointed out in other replies - religion can have a social function. But that brings up the second point missing from the article- when talking about "is society better without religion" one needs to address what might replace religion? The answer isn't likely one thing. Methods of learning might be replaced by more education in science and the scientific method. The social function might be replaced by a strong social state (ala Scandanavia).

But in the end - while I don't think everything will be perfect without religion, removing it will be a good step in the right direction to a more enlightened, highly functioning society / civilization.


In the beginning was the word, and the word was made into flesh and so many tried to speak it.


This is a very complicated argument, one that, if things were changed, the shock wave would be sent back to the very fabric of humanity's origins. Humans are biological creatures, with many flaws and dents in both our minds and bodies. We could not understand the world around us, so we made up stories and eventually began to worship those stories as sacred texts. The Vedic Script, the foundation of Hinduism, is a perfect example of this.

We would live in a world where we would not have the creativity or flexibility in abstract thought that we have today. The very fabric of history itself would be ripped apart and put together again, in a vastly different way. We would not live in the world we live in today.

I believe that it is best to leave the past where it belongs; the past, and look towards the future, to help humanity evolve with the fast pace of both technology and the planet itself. We should not rely on some sacred deity to tell us what to do. Civilization is not a child anymore. It should not act like one.


True. But the best way to get there is a just economy which is conducive to peace of mind and rational thinking as opposed to economic instability which leads to mental irrationality. Criticizing religion without looking at the social economic base of its abuses is useless. And, referring to Dawkins here, it's merely showing off one's supposed mental superiority. Dawkins lives in an imperialist country whose wealth allows him to be rational. He ignores the crimes of his country against other nations which turn to irrational religion as a refuge.


Human beings are herd animals and need something or someone to follow. Religion fills that need. You have to realize how uninformed and uneducated the majority of the population is. Realistically if we were to remove religion and the sheeple had nothing to follow, something far worse would step in and fill the void. Hitler was a genius in this respect, as was Jim Jones and David Koresh to a lesser degree. If our civilization would have shunned religion thousands of years ago it may have worked, but now its too far gone.

Even if you're right that people need "something" to follow, it doesn't automatically follow that the "something" need involve superstitious beliefs.

@thinkr It all boils down to our own mortality. While you and I know once you are dead, that's it, the long dirt nap, but most don't want to accept that and yearn to think there is more. They won't get that by following anything but fictitious dreams.

@16classic well, this is a more specific claim.

If I understand you, you're saying that most current and future people need their afterlife beliefs, so basically religion will never go away. I'm skeptical of that claim, and hopeful but not convinced that it's wrong.

Even if that's the case, that doesn't mean we have to be fatalistic about it. If you think shedding religion helps individuals on balance, you can still take some action to try to reduce its presence.


With so many wars based on religion coupled with the fact that the basis for religion is a fallacy I think one would have to lean towards a better world without religion. The Golden Rule can be followed by non-religious people so you have the "social" way to live. To believe that some people do not break the law solely because of some religious teaching I think is a stretch. That same person without religion could still choose to be law abiding. I would love to see a world without religion--let's try it! 🙂

lerlo Level 8 Aug 17, 2018

The few criminals or trouble-makers that I know are not church people. I think that churches serve a definite purpose for the populace. Not everyone has it in them to break away from their childhood religious training. They are following the paths that work for them, and they are worthy of full respect IMO.

A blanket condemnation of all religion seems irrational to me. The fact that many churches present silly, false teachings does not invalidate the human religious impulse, nor do such teachings have any bearing on the deeper questions of reality, such as whether or not there is a higher intelligence.

Moving beyond church dogma should not be the end of religious sentiment—rather it can be the beginning of a joyous life of wonderment, of probing questions, of awareness, appreciation and gratitude.


It is possible that total system religious ideologies helped human beings to gain the courage to venture forward. Even if that were true, it is past time for human beings to find th strength and courage to become moral existentialists and move forward based on current scientifically-based conceptions of reality, recognizing that such conceptions are constantly changing with advances in knowledge. Religion today is a straitjacket, a false restriction on our conception of reality and a hindrance to progress.


Religion will never disappear completely even though there will be some that wish it. At best it will be replaced. Religion is tribalism at it's core and if you take that back further it is the pride, the flock, the troop, the herd, the school, or the shrewdness.


I am not sure there can be a world without religion. I feel worship of the flag is a type of religion. Any dogma can be worshipped, including atheism. Society creates taboos. People congregate around taboos. Ideals. I don’t know. I am having trouble picturing a world without religion from the start. Do I believe it would be better off. Doing away with nationalism would be a start. Nationalism is a religion. I feel a little scattered. I will read and consider other people’s posts. Basically, I believe religions that believe in the afterlife. They worship death. I think atheists worship life. I do, anyways. The world is a much more beautiful place now that I can enjoy its diversity. Religion limited me to restrictive viewpoints.

Omots Level 7 Aug 17, 2018
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