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[Serious] What does religion have to offer?
#1
What does religion have to offer?
Time and time again we have had conversations with religious whack-jobs who come on this forum with some tired, washed up platitudes and tell us, "Checkmate, Atheists! Bet you can't explain this one!" I would say about 99% of the time we easily dismantle their silly arguments; whether or not they choose to admit, or whether they realize, their logic is faulty is another story entirely. But, for the most part, I can safely say that no theist here on this forum has ever thrown a curve ball at me that I either didn't see coming or haven't seen before. The most of you could probably say the same for themselves.

That being said, religion does seem to offer something to billions of people around the world. I have argued, and still believe, that whatever religion offers to people, other systems in life could offer the same, if not better. Through logical thinking and rational discourse, I've come to appreciate my place in this universe as entirely insignificant. While I may have found meaning in my life and people that I care about, our existence here basically means nothing. And that is, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful things about our time here. It's as if we're a little flower that's sprouted up in an empty garden.

I am hoping here to start a list of what it is that religion provides for people. We can, as atheists, at least speculate about what it is that people draw from being believers, people of faith.

I think that that faith and belief provides:

Comfort in death
A sense of belonging
A sense of purpose
A community
A conduit for shared experiences, of which the psychological benefits are great
A sense of understanding the history of the world, even if that history is completely or mostly inaccurate
A feeling of having someone there when one is completely lonely or hopeless
People also seem to get some benefit from prayer

If anyone thinks this list needs added to or subtracted from, please reply.
If you're frightened of dying, and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth.
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#2
RE: What does religion have to offer?
It is simply a false perception, a comforting lie, a placebo.

It is simply a comic book reflection of our evolutionary grouping, our desire to survive.
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#3
RE: What does religion have to offer?
(July 16, 2019 at 5:10 pm)Brian37 Wrote: It is simply a false perception, a comforting lie, a placebo.

It is simply a comic book reflection of our evolutionary grouping, our desire to survive.

And I think you've provided a good, cover-all descriptor for what religion is for people. I am more so looking for specific desires and needs that religion fills for people, i.e. the desire/need to be protected or feel safe. Surely if we can identify specific things that religion does for people we can think of other ways people can fulfill these same needs or satisfy these same desires without having to devote their lives to Bronze Age mythologies.
If you're frightened of dying, and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth.
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#4
RE: What does religion have to offer?
I think that a lot of it is community. It's a feeling of belonging even if it's only surface deep. Those things and the ritual. I think people find the routine/ritual comforting.

We can pick it apart all we want but there is also the need to be able to make the claim of having a certain faith even if they really don't.

When someone asks "What church do you attend?" it's uncomfortable in a lot of places not to have an answer.
 “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” ~Albert Einstein                                                 
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#5
RE: What does religion have to offer?
An easy get out from uncomfortable thoughts.

Something to hide behind.

An excuse to look down upon others.

Something to do on a Sunday.

It's better than being an outcast.
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#6
RE: What does religion have to offer?
(July 16, 2019 at 5:26 pm)Cod Wrote: An easy get out from uncomfortable thoughts.

Something to hide behind.

An excuse to look down upon others.

Something to do on a Sunday.

It's better than being an outcast.

Not just Sunday, there are other religions in the world. Jews and Buddhists and Hindus group and go to holy places too.
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#7
RE: What does religion have to offer?
(July 16, 2019 at 5:29 pm)Brian37 Wrote:
(July 16, 2019 at 5:26 pm)Cod Wrote: An easy get out from uncomfortable thoughts.

Something to hide behind.

An excuse to look down upon others.

Something to do on a Sunday.

It's better than being an outcast.

Not just Sunday, there are other religions in the world. Jews and Buddhists and Hindus group and go to holy places too.

Yeah thanks.
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#8
RE: What does religion have to offer?
An undeserved tax write- off.
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#9
RE: What does religion have to offer?
(July 16, 2019 at 5:10 pm)Brian37 Wrote: It is simply a false perception, a comforting lie, a placebo.

It is simply a comic book reflection of our evolutionary grouping, our desire to survive.

That's what it is, certainly.  And you touched tangentially on what it provides - comfort.  Is a comforting lie any less comforting because it isn't true?

There's a terrific story by Twain called 'Was It Heaven?  Or Hell?' in which two elderly, devout sisters go against their faith to tell a series of lies to their niece and great-niece so neither will know the other one is dying.  These lies serve no other purpose but to comfort two terminally ill people.  Religion is much the same - false, but comforting.  And I'd be the last person to deny anyone comfort.

Boru
‘Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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#10
RE: What does religion have to offer?
(July 16, 2019 at 5:29 pm)Cod Wrote:
(July 16, 2019 at 5:29 pm)Brian37 Wrote: Not just Sunday, there are other religions in the world. Jews and Buddhists and Hindus group and go to holy places too.

Yeah thanks.

A few books if you have not read them you might want to.

1. God Is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens
2. The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
3. The End Of Faith, Sam Harris (Although his Buddhism fetish gives me a lip twitch)
4. Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali
5. The New Atheism, Victor Stenger
6. God The Failed Hypothesis, Victor Stenger 
7. Jefferson, Author Of America, Christopher Hitchens
8. Letter To A Christian Nation, Sam Harris

I am sure others here can add to that list. 

I think it is always important to remember no matter what religion you debate, or what reasons others give for following them, ultimately you are still talking about a social species, and our human history collectively has proven many times, that a group might be successful for a long time, but base that success on completely false claims. The ancient Egyptians were successful for over 3,000 years but that success did not may Ra, or Osiris, Isis or Horus real beings.
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