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Does religion make people better?

Started by wpaolini, 05/06/2011 10:47AM
Posted 05/06/2011 10:47AM | Edited 05/06/2011 11:50AM Opening Post
Questions are:
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 throught 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 conseqence 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 smile
Posted 05/06/2011 12:45PM #1
Richard Dawkins, in his book "The God Delusion", makes a very good, reasoned case (not just a "knee-jerk reaction")that it does not.
Posted 05/06/2011 01:45PM | Edited 05/06/2011 01:49PM #2
William Paolini said:

Questions are:
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 throught 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 conseqence 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 smile

Hi All,
I'll answer the second question first. Yes, being religious should make a person better. However it doesn't work that way. Conventional wisdom says it should, but back to the first question; does it?

We all know of and could list dozens of horrible things great and small done in the name of religion, but those are done by people who either forget the teachings or place themselves above it. Of course it also depends on the religion. I suppose religions like satanic worship teach people that bad is good and so on. Never looked into it much.

However, If a person is serious enough about their beliefs to live according to them, and if those beliefs help that person to make decisions placing the needs of others above their own, and (one more) if they believe that without that system of self control they would have succummed to what they consider temptation, then it has been a tool used in self control or self improvement and has made them better.

That's based on belief not religion. The coloquial term religion is commonly understood to be a group activity, and that's much more chaotic than an internal pursuit of God. However, the lessons learned in such groups can be valuable guides. Whether followed or not is an individual activity.

Thanks,
Steve
8)




Posted 05/07/2011 08:11AM #3
Some yes; some no. Just my personal observation.
Posted 05/07/2011 06:21PM | Edited 05/07/2011 06:26PM #4
William Paolini said:

Questions are:
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 smile

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.
Posted 05/08/2011 06:13AM #5
I think that it is, provided that the tenets of the religion are followed and not corrupted. For example, Islam is a religion of peace (read Malcolm X's autobiography) that has been grossly distorted by 15% of its adherents. Protestantism has been affected by a fringe who practice hatred while preaching love, e.g. burning Qurans. Catholicism has historically been weakened by its own anti-Semitism. There are many more examples from all faiths, with the possible exception of Buddhism.

The core dogmas of all religions have to do with the actions and beliefs necessary to be a successful human being, whether they lead to heaven, nirvana, or just the grave. In that respect, any religion followed faithfully does more good than harm.

If you care to know, I was raised Catholic.