[quote author=“Iisbliss”]Actually I didnt ask you what good religion HAS done for society, since I am willing to grant that at points in human development religion probably was necessary. I dont want to debate all the myriad issues of the past.
I am not asking you how Religion “benefits” society either.
I am asking you to examine the effects of religion on society in the current day and moving forward into the future, and in particular the effects of fundamentalist views, and I am asking you to examine this not just for the USA and christianity, but from a world view.
The claims people make regarding the good religion has done and does are all dependent upon the assumption that religion is the cause rather than a concurrent variable, and that’s highly debatable. The fact that what’s more uniquely associated with religion is generally rather nasty (i.e. we see humanists and freethinkers and secular groups and such doing good, however we don’t typically see lynchings and intense hatred and such independently from a religious framework) suggests religion doesn’t deserve the credit it gets. In fact I’d say when people try and advertise religion in this way it demonstrates another negative effect of religion—it gets credit for the good that we do, while the same mentality shields it from getting any credit at all for the bad.
Indeed. Living in Alabama, I meet my share of Believers. I asked a particularly devout one (who I’ve literally never seen without a Bible in his hand… though he hasn’t read it all yet) to show me where his “faith” really was by answering a hypothetical scenario: If you were mortally wounded or terminally ill, and needed emergency attention to survive, who would you go to—a doctor or a priest?
His answer was something to the effect of: “I think God put the doctor here for me.”
So, by a clever twist of semantics, his god now gets to take credit, when it should be going to science and personal achievement (in the form of thousands of years of accumulated medical knowledge and 8 years of med school, hopefully).
I think it’s that ‘working backwards from a conclusion’ mentality that fuels religious faith. That may be how “More people of faith give to charity” becomes “Having faith makes people more charitable.” Maybe, maybe not—either way, you still have the problem of deciding which faith is the right one—but imagine a similar conclusion drawn from a statistic like “Whites give more in charity than blacks.” Imagine the mentality of that person. Only someone with a bias towards their own kind would draw an immediate cause-effect relationship—“Being white makes you more charitable.” The rest of us would take a more rational approach, and look at other factors.
Oh, and I should also mention, that the “God put the doctor here” guy went on to suggest that God could’ve stopped the tsunami, and maybe if those people over there had just accepted Jesus…. Once you accept the logic that not believing in Jesus is a sin worthy of eternal punishment—and that Jesus is going to come back and personally lead the slaughter of all the unbelievers anyway—this is actually a pretty sensible suggestion.