William Paolini said:
1. Does being religious or following a religion make one a better person?
2. Should being religious or following a religion make one a better person?Of course to answer the context of the question the baseline standard is acts and actions by people that are not in the name of religion. So should not be hard to be better given how entirely awful and destructive people are for the host of non-religious reasons that have spawned wars and conflicts and genocides through the ages that have been done in the name of country, power, wealth, position, money, and control.
So is it a reasonable expectation for a social consequence of religion to make the people live together more harmoniously, or is it just defining a set of conducts and morals and laws that would be broken with or without the framework in place?
Some people I've run across seem to think that religious should be better than the norm for a population or culture. I'm not so sure this is a reasonable expectation.
btw - not a hypothetical question as this question was asked recently, during a real-life conversation. Not gonna tell you what their motivation was for asking, nor their opinion, not just yet anyway
Bill, I read this many times. It could be taken several ways. I am not sure what yo;u mean.
I am going to answer to what I think you are asking. I think you are asking that if a person is a religious person, will they be a better person. "Better person" you did not define. As many of you know I ma an AA. This does not mean I do not value the teachings of Christ. I think his teaching are some of the best guidelines for humans ever recorded.
IIRC his first and foremost commandment was to love your neighbor as you would Christ himself. Since I think this is what you mean by being a better person I will answer it in this format.
I have known many people(like all of us have). Those who say they are religious and those who say they are not. Although religious people say they will hold to the commandments and the virtues, they do not always succeed. Some sincerely try and fail. Others are outright hypocrites. So, to "BE" religious without being a hypocrite, you must put a sincere effort into following Christ's teachings. I believe that if you do this, then you are absolutely a better person.
Here is where I part a little in beliefs from others. I myself have sincerely searched and journeyed(I am always on the search for the truth) through my life looking for the truth, I do not believe in a god as taught by any human facility.
I still follow Christ's teachings. They make sense. I know many people who are just like me. So, you do not have to be religious to be a good or a "better person".
Anyone who dedicates himself to the love, charity, compassion, and respect of his fellow man, and also holds integrity foremost in his heart, is a BETTER person. Likewise, those that do not, no matter what they say, are not.
MY $0.02 worth.