reply to post by Xtrozero
Originally posted by Xtrozero
I'm sorry I'm not a good little student like you are, but I just do not see where you are going with your post in terms of the topic at
It's simple, really. Religion is a human universal. Everybody, or nearly everybody, has a religious impulse – possibly the right word is instinct.
All traditional societies were and are united by some common faith, and one of the problems of more advanced societies is that they must peaceably
accommodate members of different religions, often within the framework of an existing majority faith that may be an important bulwark of the state,
and hence of social order. It is not a new problem; ancient Rome had it in buckets. Religion exists everywhere we look among humanity, even among
atheists like me. We would not be having this conversation if it didn't.
As a phenomenon, then, religion is too vast, too complex and above all too intimately entangled with other aspects of the human condition for us to be
able to make any value judgements about it at all. It is Protean, many-visaged, its character changing with its aspect and the psychology of whichever
believer you happen to be observing at any given moment. When a mother with a cancer-stricken child finds hope and strength in her petition to St.
Jude Thaddeus, patron saint of hopeless causes, how can we say religion is evil? When a widow throws herself upon her husband's funeral pyre as a
sacrifice to the gods, how can we say religion is good? When a shaman cures a case of possession with his singing and dancing and his rattle, how can
we say religion is valueless? When a Portuguese conquista
razes a thousand-year-old temple, murdering the Brahmins and defacing the idols with
excrement, how shall we praise its value?
Of course religion is a cause of war and death. Whether it is the primary cause is debatable; no-one has really been keeping score. But religion is
also the cause of much comfort, healing and joy. Religion is an instrument of social coercion, but it is also a vehicle for personal solace and, for a
select few, of liberation. To judge it is futile; it is far beyond judgement.
Your point, if I have understood you right, is that religion is of value primarily because it teaches people morals. I believe this is the least of
all reasons to value religion, since the morals it teaches are so contextual, self-contradictory and ambiguous. Like humanity itself, religion is both
good and evil – and many, many other things besides. Pacem