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  1. #1
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    Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    I'd like to debate not only the validity of the following statements, but also how significant the differences are in some of these areas between non-religious and religious lifestyles, particularly between the non-religious and those who are ardent churchgoers (isn't it fascinating that the more devoutly religious a demographic group is, the better marks they get in all of these areas?). The following discussion refers to religious practice in the western world, primarily the U.S.

    Using the premise that the cohesiveness of families, along with a moral system of government, together constitute an essential element in the well-being of a civilization and how it functions,

    and given that an overreliance on the physical/material aspects of living – most notably in the areas of sexual promiscuity, substance abuse (including alcohol abuse), obesity, valuing careers or wealth over relationships, the constant pursuit of thrills and entertainment, cosmetic surgery, et al – has often been known to be the source of emptiness and heartache in individuals and in their families,

    and given that a religious lifestyle typically promotes an emphasis on spiritual matters over physical/material matters,

    and given that the non-religious lifestyle has a much greater tendency than the religious lifestyle of promoting an emphasis on physical/material matters (even dismissing the idea of spirituality),

    and given that religious people are less likely than non-religious people to be in broken homes,

    and given that religious people are less likely to be in poverty than non-religious people,

    and given that religious people are less likely to be involved in violent crime than non-religious people,

    and given that religion is a highly organized and structured moral system to publicly endorse positive behavior,

    I submit that–

    The religious lifestyle, in general:
    • Contributes more to society than the non-religious lifestyle.
    • Is more beneficial overall to society.
    • Keeps a nation thriving, also enabling it to aid other nations more easily.
    • Promotes a more stable family structure.
    • Promotes better emotional health.
    • Promotes better physical health.
    • Promotes greater happiness and fulfillment.
    • Promotes more industry and a better economy.
    • Promotes a higher level of morality, and thus adherence to laws.
    • Promotes a greater sense of respect, tolerance, community and service.
    • Is a greater deterrent to social problems.
    • Is a more practical approach to living.


    Heritage.org states there is ample evidence of the following:
    • The strength of the family unit is intertwined with the practice of religion. Churchgoers are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single, and more likely to manifest high levels of satisfaction in marriage.
    • Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness.
    • The regular practice of religion helps poor persons move out of poverty. Regular church attendance, for example, is particularly instrumental in helping young people to escape the poverty of inner-city life.
    • Religious belief and practice contribute substantially to the formation of personal moral criteria and sound moral judgment.
    • Regular religious practice generally inoculates individuals against a host of social problems, including suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, crime, and divorce.
    • The regular practice of religion also encourages such beneficial effects on mental health as less depression (a modern epidemic), more self-esteem, and greater family and marital happiness.
    • In repairing damage caused by alcoholism, drug addiction, and marital breakdown, religious belief and practice are a major source of strength and recovery.
    • Regular practice of religion is good for personal physical health: It increases longevity, improves one's chances of recovery from illness, and lessens the incidence of many killer diseases.
    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Religion/BG1064.cfm#9

    Note that I'm not trying to paint a stark dichotomy between the two. I'm not suggesting that the majority of non-religious people fit that category, or that all religious people are exempt from many of these problems. In fact, arguments against my point are likely to simplify the issue in this manner. "There are alcoholics on both sides," etc. It only takes a small percentage to muddy up the waters, however there is a significant difference in the influences of the lowest common denominator between the two groups. And while there are many upstanding non-religious people, their influence is somewhat limited in their community or government organizations, which are typically less personal and require less devotion on the part of the individual, not to mention they are less apt to involve the entire family. They may have good intentions, but they have nowhere near the potential positive influence that a religion has.

    And this is all aside from the hope and potential saving powers that are what constitute the greatest message of religion, which is for another discussion. But on a purely practical level alone, the religious lifestyle has the most to offer the individual and a society.

  2. #2
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    I don't think any of those benefits will be disputed, nor can they. The argument atheists here will probably use is "we should believe in things because they are true, not because they bring benefits".
    Trendem

  3. #3
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles


    The religious lifestyle, in general:
    • Contributes more to society than the non-religious lifestyle.
    • Is more beneficial overall to society.
    • Keeps a nation thriving, also enabling it to aid other nations more easily.
    • Promotes a more stable family structure.
    • Promotes better emotional health.
    • Promotes better physical health.
    • Promotes greater happiness and fulfillment.
    • Promotes more industry and a better economy.
    • Promotes a higher level of morality, and thus adherence to laws.
    • Promotes a greater sense of respect, tolerance, community and service.
    • Is a greater deterrent to social problems.
    • Is a more practical approach to living.
    These are all generalities. Be careful in lumping all good things with religious belief - that could be considered a falacy.

    on a purely practical level alone, the religious lifestyle has the most to offer the individual and a society.
    The most to offer- sure. Is it possible to lead a religious lifestyle without being religious? It sure is.
    While laughing at others stupidity, you may want to contemplate your own comedic talents. (link)
    Disclaimer: This information is being provided for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only.

  4. #4
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by SnoopCitySid
    These are all generalities. Be careful in lumping all good things with religious belief - that could be considered a falacy.
    Note that he said "In general. . ."

    The most to offer- sure. Is it possible to lead a religious lifestyle without being religious? It sure is.
    How is it possible to lead a religious lifestyle without being religious? That makes no sense.

  5. #5
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by KB
    How is it possible to lead a religious lifestyle without being religious? That makes no sense.
    The lifestyle promoted by religious groups can be emulated by people who do not necessarily believe in the dogma of said religion, and instead embrace its social teachings. It's the difference between being a Buddhist and following the Buddhist philosophy.

    Definatly those teachings are good for society. But what's your point? People should follow religious teachings for the Greater Good of society? Many would argue that religion was formed by the human subconcious for the very reason of spreading ideals that promote a successful society.

    Now, as a controversial point to continue the discussion: Brainwashing a populace would also ensure every single one of those religious 'positive points.'

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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex
    The lifestyle promoted by religious groups can be emulated by people who do not necessarily believe in the dogma of said religion, and instead embrace its social teachings. It's the difference between being a Buddhist and following the Buddhist philosophy.

    Definatly those teachings are good for society. But what's your point? People should follow religious teachings for the Greater Good of society? Many would argue that religion was formed by the human subconcious for the very reason of spreading ideals that promote a successful society.

    Now, as a controversial point to continue the discussion: Brainwashing a populace would also ensure every single one of those religious 'positive points.'
    Your first point is good. Your second point is good. Can you give any examples of your third point? Have any societies ever brainwashed their citizens to meet positive standards?
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    This might be all well and good if it were true. The fact is that Europe is a prime example of "nations" that have less than 50% of church attendance, and even less percentage of actual believers and Europeans are thriving. The Heritage Foundation is a "Conservative" organization lobbying the government with its agenda to promote its conservativeism.

    Some polls have stated that in the US about 40% of people attend church once a week, however the validity of these polls have been in question. The actual attendance, when the noses have been counted is more like 20%, if this is true, I think your premise fails. http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_rate.htm

    Firmness and reliability of poll data:
    Truthfulness: Poll data on religious behavior and practice are notoriously unreliable. Individuals often describe their own behavior inaccurately; they answer questions according to what they think they should be doing. For example: 17% of American adults say that they tithe (give 10 to 13% of their income to their church). Only 3% really do. 16
    Many polls indicate that the percentage of adults who regularly attend a religious service is about 40% in the U.S., 20% in Canada, and perhaps 10% or less in Europe. But when noses are actually counted, the true figures are about half the stated figures (about 20% in the U.S. and 10% in Canada.) The 50% figure also appears to apply in the UK. Author Monica Furlong commented: "...people questioned about how much they go to church, give figures which, if true, would add up to twice those given by the churches." 40

    Selection of respondents: Reliability of public opinion data is also affected by the way in which the respondents are selected. The Barna Research Group, Gallup Organization, USA Today, CNN and similar polls typically interview over 1000 randomly selected adults for each survey.
    Many polls appear on the Internet and are answered to by self-selected individuals. 18 Unfortunately, people who answer polls on the Internet may well well hold opinions that are different from Internet users generally. Internet users come form a variety of cultures, may cover a wide age range, and probably differ from the average American adult in other ways. More details.
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_prac.htm

    It seems that being religious also makes more liars. Not to mention makes you more arrogant and "self rightious". It's also true that just because one follows its religion faithfully, its morality is still only subjective. i.e. you may find that my smoking and drinking and gambling to be offensive or immoral, but I digress, who the hell do you think you are? You have to remember that some don't believe in your god and therefore your hell and we don't feel we'll be subjected to them in the end. I say that we should be following Europes example. You can focus on the well being of society just fine without religion.


    Opposing theory to the creation of the "known universe". Read it carefully, it's not a difficult read on physics and quantum mechanics.

  8. #8
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    I'm not going to try to dispute your statements, I rather agree with them. Religion is a civilizing force; many historians will tell you that it was the Church that kept Europe civilized during the dark ages.

    I would consider the types of people referred to by your statements. There are two types of people in any belief: those who actively chose that belief, and have considered it carefully, and those who simply believe it for no particular reason. For example, there are theists like Apok and KB and XM. You have all spent a great deal of time considering your position, and have come to the conclusion that the position you hold is the most reasonable. Many theists, however, believe in god because that's what they learned. I once spent a few years living the depths of a major city. I saw a murder committed, in cold blood, by a man with a cross around his neck. There were a great number of criminals there, and most of them believed in god. Thus, there are theists, and there are real theists. Similarly, there are atheists like me, NE, Fysh, etc., and there are atheists like the people who are just too lazy to go to church. Atheists and real atheists.

    I think that if you could compare the real atheists to the real theists, you'd find almost equal proportions of liars, broken homes, etc.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by PV
    Your first point is good. Your second point is good. Can you give any examples of your third point? Have any societies ever brainwashed their citizens to meet positive standards?
    Okay, admittedly that point resides in the realm of speculation. But my point was just that merely because the lifestyle is benefitial for society doesn't necessarily make it benefitial for the individual.
    Plus, I was really tired when I wrote that.

  10. #10
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    I've always believed that religion has been a necessary part of a united society. It functions as so many things, but mostly it allows a common trend of lifestyles due to the social unit following the same divine mandate. It gives people something to agree upon.

    Of course, I believe that in the modern world, the sudden increase in multi-ethnic and generally diverse cultures in many parts of the world forces everyone to lose this age-old uniformity and have to deal with cultures, lifestyles, and religions not their own.

    In my opinion, the combination of science having answered some (but not [yet?] all) of the questions religion has once tried to answer, combined with the effective "shoving many religions down every man's throat," society is dealing with a lack of commonality between many of its citizens.

    My own personal belief is that this can be proven by looking at demographics of religion. The less religiously diverse a specific society is, the less skepticism or conflict of ideals there is... within that society.

    In the long run, I think it'll lead to a slow dying-off of most religions. I'm sure a few new ones will pop up and become popular in the next few centuries. The lifestyles of the religious are being reduced not to a common nation, but a common county, maybe a common neighborhood. In some places, just one family surrounded by other lifestyles not their own.
    Fortunately, the darkest of darkness is not as terrible as we fear.
    Unfortunately, the lightest of light, all things good, are not so wonderful as we hope for them to be.
    What, then, is left, but various shades of grey neutrality? Where are the heroes and villains? All I see are people.

  11. #11
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex
    Okay, admittedly that point resides in the realm of speculation. But my point was just that merely because the lifestyle is benefitial for society doesn't necessarily make it benefitial for the individual.
    Plus, I was really tired when I wrote that.
    OK. Your third point, once clarified, is also good. Thanks.
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyshhed
    I've always believed that religion has been a necessary part of a united society. It functions as so many things, but mostly it allows a common trend of lifestyles due to the social unit following the same divine mandate. It gives people something to agree upon.
    Most cultures left to their own devices will develop common trends. This can be witnessed from the Bushmen of Africa to the Chinese. A very broad definition of religion is required to support your claim, however, the concept is reasonable if not accurate. Why is a religious commonality superior to any other commonalities? This is missing from your argument.

    Of course, I believe that in the modern world, the sudden increase in multi-ethnic and generally diverse cultures in many parts of the world forces everyone to lose this age-old uniformity and have to deal with cultures, lifestyles, and religions not their own.
    So, instead of actually giving people something to agree upon, now you are painting religion as a force for conformity. The results of these are the same, yet they are very different.

    In my opinion, the combination of science having answered some (but not [yet?] all) of the questions religion has once tried to answer, combined with the effective "shoving many religions down every man's throat," society is dealing with a lack of commonality between many of its citizens.
    This is to be expected. As diversity increases wouldn't exposure to new ideas work in opposition to conformity?

    My own personal belief is that this can be proven by looking at demographics of religion. The less religiously diverse a specific society is, the less skepticism or conflict of ideals there is... within that society.
    This is logical. Yet, what does it prove? How does this say anything more than diversity is bad because there are differences of opinion? I have always believed diversity is good and that multiple opinions are more helpful than just one.


    In the long run, I think it'll lead to a slow dying-off of most religions. I'm sure a few new ones will pop up and become popular in the next few centuries. The lifestyles of the religious are being reduced not to a common nation, but a common county, maybe a common neighborhood. In some places, just one family surrounded by other lifestyles not their own.
    Very interesting. Quite a turnabout from the opening where religions were "necessary" to now where they will die out. I think I would like to hear your ideas on whether religion makes people think alike by putting them in a more spiritual and cooperative place or if it is because these people condition one another to respond in certain manners that make them similar.
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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by PerVirtuous
    Why is a religious commonality superior to any other commonalities? This is missing from your argument.
    If I had to guess, I would suppose because it serves as a template for answering unknowns. If people like what they hear, they can tell their friends. It may not be the most powerful commonality (I would guess language there, or race) but it seems to be a very powerful one nonetheless.


    So, instead of actually giving people something to agree upon, now you are painting religion as a force for conformity. The results of these are the same, yet they are very different.
    Conformity is a choice, but how free you are in this choice is always in question, don't you agree?



    This is to be expected. As diversity increases wouldn't exposure to new ideas work in opposition to conformity?
    The more diversity to disrupt commonality, the less stable the interactions will be. It's tough to work with someone who you cannot relate to, or cannot communicate with.



    This is logical. Yet, what does it prove? How does this say anything more than diversity is bad because there are differences of opinion? I have always believed diversity is good and that multiple opinions are more helpful than just one.
    Too much diversity could be bad I suppose, like in the response above. However, diversity forces change toward commonality. Eventually things will be OK, once they settle down. They always seem to. That is, until a new change comes around.




    Very interesting. Quite a turnabout from the opening where religions were "necessary" to now where they will die out. I think I would like to hear your ideas on whether religion makes people think alike by putting them in a more spiritual and cooperative place or if it is because these people condition one another to respond in certain manners that make them similar.
    I think religion was originally necessary, when commonality was necessary (to forge a nation or a class of people). I also think the growing trend in atheism proves that religious commonality is becoming less necessary to maintain the things it was used to create. Is it possible to be spiritual but not religious? Is it possible to be cooperable with differences? These are the questions society is unraveling the answers to as we speak, and will be doing so for a while I guess.
    Fortunately, the darkest of darkness is not as terrible as we fear.
    Unfortunately, the lightest of light, all things good, are not so wonderful as we hope for them to be.
    What, then, is left, but various shades of grey neutrality? Where are the heroes and villains? All I see are people.

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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex
    The lifestyle promoted by religious groups can be emulated by people who do not necessarily believe in the dogma of said religion, and instead embrace its social teachings. It's the difference between being a Buddhist and following the Buddhist philosophy.
    Following the Buddhist philosophy is being a Buddhist. If one is being kind to another, but not for the reasons Christ commanded it, then he is not living a religious lifestyle, but a lifestyle that shares a similarity with a religion's lifestyle.

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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    No, they're acting like a Buddhist. Just like being nice for reasons other than JC's means the person is acting like a Christian should. Neither situation necessarilly means the person believes in the validity of the source of the teachings, just the validity of the teachings themselves.

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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex
    No, they're acting like a Buddhist. Just like being nice for reasons other than JC's means the person is acting like a Christian should. Neither situation necessarilly means the person believes in the validity of the source of the teachings, just the validity of the teachings themselves.
    No, first you said "following the Buddhist philosophy," not "acting like a Buddhist." If someone acts like a Buddhist, but not for the reasons Buddha set forth, they are not following the Buddhist philosophy. Similarly, if someone is being kind, but not for the reasons Christ set forth, they are not following the Christian philosophy, but merely acting in a way that is coincidentally similar. For instance, one could be acting nice to a person in order to get ahead in business, or in order to seduce a girl, or whatever reason besides Christ's, which is simply because they are human and they deserve it. That would be "acting like a Christian" from the appearance, but not from the intention, and thus not "following the Christian lifestyle." I maintain that it is absurd by the very definition of it for a non-religious person to follow a "religious lifestyle."
    Last edited by KevinBrowning; July 24th, 2005 at 03:17 PM.

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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Do you really want to get into another semantics debate?

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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex
    The lifestyle promoted by religious groups can be emulated by people who do not necessarily believe in the dogma of said religion, and instead embrace its social teachings.
    Telex, that's a nice theoretical approach, but the problem is it doesn't usually work out that way in practice. You can decide to be an island unto yourself and not affect others with the same lifelong goals -- let everybody do their own 'thing' -- but unless you engage with others on a highly spiritual level, there's not typically an interchange that goes to our deepest emotions. It instead becomes a superficial substitute, maybe a social club for adults. There's nothing wrong with social clubs per se, but they can't be for people what religion is. And religion also ideally involves the entire family -- all age levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex
    Definatly those teachings are good for society. But what's your point? People should follow religious teachings for the Greater Good of society? Many would argue that religion was formed by the human subconcious for the very reason of spreading ideals that promote a successful society.
    My point is that the proof is in the pudding. How do you reconcile the winning social formula of religion? Not simply social in terms of friendly, but social in terms of creating a functional society. Just a coincidence that it happens to work so well and seems to attract more of the best behaving individuals?

    The bottom line is that if religion contributes so much to a free society's well-being, it should be encouraged more, and many of the other destructive lifestyles should be discouraged -- and not merely tolerated.

    No matter how hard mankind tries to reinvent morality, it can't do so effectively on a wide scale apart from religion. It invariably becomes a synthetic form instead. If it's curious that we can't improve on it, then it's reasonable to hypothesize that it came from a higher source. And not only is the secular world not improving upon it, it's making it worse. The secular world feels threatened by religion, and is in constant battle with it, trying to tear it down. All in the name of ridding ourselves of restrictions.

    The difference, without religion, stems from the basic idea that indulging in immediate pleasures -- as is the conventional progressive wisdom -- will bring you fulfillment. However, the two are diametrically opposed. Using the food analogy to convey the idea of illicit sex or drugs, no matter how much we like sugar and can't seem to resist the temptation, we rationalize that it's what we need now, and everything else will fall into place however it may later. ("Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." -- a common theme in society) But a constant sugary diet is extremely unhealthy.

    Unless you can show a viable alternative to the moral direction that religion gives -- for which secular society has very little -- then the religious lifestyle is to be encouraged, celebrated, venerated -- given its due respect. But we have atheists strangely trying to tear down religious practice. This is antithetical to the well-being of our society.

    So what addictive behaviors are good for us and lead to lasting happiness, things we can look back on later in life with a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment? Pornography? Why not -- after all, the secular world says if it feels good, do it. Getting a buzz every day? The artificial feeling of being high? One night stands?

    Quite a contrast with religious ideals, focusing on the family with two parents for the children if at all possible -- parents that are with the children to raise them and give them a firm emotional foundation. Broken homes are devastating to children. Single-parent families leave a void in the child's life. It happens, yes, but it has grown increasingly more prevalent over the last 30-40 years, and that is a recipe for a dysfunctional society.

    So, what alternative would you propose in the absence of religion? Just tell everyone to be nice to each other? (and hold on to all your vices in the meantime)

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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by Xanadu
    Telex, that's a nice theoretical approach, but the problem is it doesn't usually work out that way in practice. You can decide to be an island unto yourself and not affect others with the same lifelong goals -- let everybody do their own 'thing' -- but unless you engage with others on a highly spiritual level, there's not typically an interchange that goes to our deepest emotions. It instead becomes a superficial substitute, maybe a social club for adults. There's nothing wrong with social clubs per se, but they can't be for people what religion is. And religion also ideally involves the entire family -- all age levels.
    Why must people interact with others on this alegedly "highly spiritual level?" And I'm not advocating people going to church even when they don't believe in it. I'm saying that it is quite possible to follow the 10 Commandments and Jesus's teachings without believing in the literal translation of the Bible. It can be viewed as a guide on how to live life instead of some kind of infallable Holy Tome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xanadu Moo
    My point is that the proof is in the pudding. How do you reconcile the winning social formula of religion?
    Evolution. At some point, some of our ancestors got the "religion gene." Their societies became more successful/orderly/etc, allowing them to thrive and reproduce, not to mention explain where that crazing lightning was coming from and why they were on earth in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xanadu Moo
    The bottom line is that if religion contributes so much to a free society's well-being, it should be encouraged more, and many of the other destructive lifestyles should be discouraged -- and not merely tolerated.
    Well...does it really? More Americans claim to believe in God than any other Western country, but our crime rate is higher. Religion permeates everything in the Middle East, but surely that is not a society we want to emulate. Or is your real claim that Judeo-Christian religion is what should be promoted?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xan
    Unless you can show a viable alternative to the moral direction that religion gives -- for which secular society has very little -- then the religious lifestyle is to be encouraged, celebrated, venerated -- given its due respect. But we have atheists strangely trying to tear down religious practice. This is antithetical to the well-being of our society.
    I don't know any Atheists who are trying to destroy religion. Most of them want fairness and rationality, not necessarily some kind of state-sponsored Atheism.

    Reading the rest of your post, it sounds like you don't want an emphasis on religion, you want an emphasis on Christianity. Is this true?

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    Re: Non-religious vs. Religious Lifestyles

    Quote Originally Posted by Xanadu Moo
    (replies to telex clipped)........

    The bottom line is that if religion contributes so much to a free society's well-being, it should be encouraged more, and many of the other destructive lifestyles should be discouraged -- and not merely tolerated.
    Who's religion should society be following? Majority Rule? Screw the rest? Religions ideologies are bigotted and should not be allowed to rule a societies morals. They can be a part of it, but certainly not the law of the land.

    No matter how hard mankind tries to reinvent morality, it can't do so effectively on a wide scale apart from religion.
    Secular morals can't be spread as easily as religions because we don't have a church to attend to help "spread the word".
    It invariably becomes a synthetic form instead. If it's curious that we can't improve on it, then it's reasonable to hypothesize that it came from a higher source.
    No it's not, not in the least. It's reasonable to guess that the current religions morals happened to be the ones that seem to work. But as the times change, the church needs to change as well, something they don't seem to be all that willing to do.
    And not only is the secular world not improving upon it, it's making it worse. The secular world feels threatened by religion, and is in constant battle with it, trying to tear it down. All in the name of ridding ourselves of restrictions.
    Cite examples of this please....The only thing I see the secular world tearing down is bigotry, sure hope you don't have a problem with that. No one is stoping you from practicing your religion the way you see fit, unless you try to impose your religion on the government, then it becomes an issue.

    The difference, without religion, stems from the basic idea that indulging in immediate pleasures -- as is the conventional progressive wisdom -- will bring you fulfillment. However, the two are diametrically opposed. Using the food analogy to convey the idea of illicit sex or drugs, no matter how much we like sugar and can't seem to resist the temptation, we rationalize that it's what we need now, and everything else will fall into place however it may later. ("Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." -- a common theme in society) But a constant sugary diet is extremely unhealthy.
    If I'm not hurting you or your family, what do you care? If I want to have a smoke, a drink, and a big fat cheese burger, and I die tomorrow, I will have died happy, what is it to you? Eat healthy, quit smoking, exercise, die anyway. The world has progressively been living an unhealthy lifestyle for years, yet for some reason, the population keeps growing.... Hmmmm, Sounds like the secular life style promotes the judaeo/christian theme of "be fruitful and multiply".

    Unless you can show a viable alternative to the moral direction that religion gives -- for which secular society has very little -- then the religious lifestyle is to be encouraged, celebrated, venerated -- given its due respect. But we have atheists strangely trying to tear down religious practice. This is antithetical to the well-being of our society.
    I don't know what seculars you've been talking too but most I know are very productive, moral people. Here's an alternative moral direction for you that I think most seculars follow and they don't even know it. Its called Objective Morality. Of course this won't fair well with the "holier than thou" types.

    So what addictive behaviors are good for us and lead to lasting happiness, things we can look back on later in life with a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment? Pornography? Why not -- after all, the secular world says if it feels good, do it. Getting a buzz every day? The artificial feeling of being high? One night stands?
    All practiced by fun loving religious types around the world.... infact with 80% of the country being religious, I doubt the 20% non-religious is contributing the majority of the hundreds of billions of dollars to the porn industry. 20% of the nation doesn't have that kind of money, collectively.

    Quite a contrast with religious ideals, focusing on the family with two parents for the children if at all possible -- parents that are with the children to raise them and give them a firm emotional foundation. Broken homes are devastating to children. Single-parent families leave a void in the child's life. It happens, yes, but it has grown increasingly more prevalent over the last 30-40 years, and that is a recipe for a dysfunctional society.
    OMG are you really this "holier than thou"? Sure broken homes are devistating, to everyone involved, but this has nothing to do with morality. Broken homes happen not only because of bad morals, some people just don't get along. Single parent homes do not leave a void as you seem to think, and often gives children 2 sets of parents, you are painting an ugly picture based on the propoganda from that web site. You know, the one that can't stand gays?

    So, what alternative would you propose in the absence of religion? Just tell everyone to be nice to each other? (and hold on to all your vices in the meantime)
    It's working for me, and my vices are not vices to me. I consider a vice to be when someone tries to tell me how I should be according to their personal views. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a beer and a smoke, its 95 degrees here....phew!


    Opposing theory to the creation of the "known universe". Read it carefully, it's not a difficult read on physics and quantum mechanics.

 

 
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