On balance, religion is more harmful to society than it is beneficial.
Irrespective of whether religion is *true* is it more beneficial or more harmful to contemporary society?
Side Score: 35
Side Score: 12
This is so true. I have to note that the holocost was because of an ideology, I don't think it was entirely because of religion.
Religion is a belief, a product of our imagination. Imagination is part of the human mind and that is what is dangerous. Imagination is the cause of irrational fears. Irrational fears are the cause of many of the wars of the past and today.
Religion or any sort "belief" is inevitable because it is part of us. So, discussing whether it is harmful or beneficial will not bring us far because religion is nothing but a product. It is not a root.
All monotheistic religions end up clashing and contradicting over the smallest things, even today, and conflict from a heated argument to a breakout of a sudden war happens. I don't know about you, but it's not even a question. Religion is just a coverup for insecure people who are afraid of bad outcomes. It discriminates and rips up just about anything that goes against it. There is nothing good about religion. Stay at home instead of wasting boring time at whatever religious institution you go to.
P.S. - Notice how I was being equal and not just talking about Christians.
Absolutely more harmful. Religion came into existence because of "men" in the Stone Age who were desperate for a way to control people once their physical and mental strength deteriorated. Without the establishment of religion and a priest class to enforce the dogma, these "men" would move down in the social heirarchy. Religion has always been predatory and evil, and its perceptions on morality are far too often not in synch with many basic tenets of human ethics.
Religion is nothing but an argument on who's God came first to this earth. Religion is something that should be eradicated in order to create a more harmonious society. Granted that religion has many values that one can learn such as compassion, care and filial piety. However, it should not be used to create fights and sometimes even wars over which religion reigns supreme.
By having religion, it separates the society into different classes, and that has been proven to be detrimental to the society at large. Look at the multiple religious wars that have been fought. These are all products of people thinking that their religion are more superior than the other, therefore leading to these wars.
All religions, my own included, have some measure of deleterious effects on society. However, overall, religions make more positive contributions to society by way of reducing mental health care (i.e. multiple studies point to the positive impact of religion on mental health), reduced suicide, and alleviate the pressure on government funded social service providers.
I agree that there are a mix of pros and cons to religion, yet I wonder still if the positive contributions you mention can even begin to outweigh the harms. For every person whose mental health has improved because they found solace in their faith, I would wager that there is at least another person who has experienced difficulty with mental illness because of religion. Throughout the history of religion, people have been persecuted for being who they are (e.g. gay, the wrong denomination, women, etc.). I know people who say their lives were saved by religion but I also know of people who killed themselves because of what religion did to them emotionally.
As a social charity, however, I think you do raise a valid point insofar as private charities have been demonstrated to augment the government. However, a lot of money donated to religious institutions has been shown in studies to not reach the intended recipients. I wonder also if a society without religion would not restructure itself with more secular non-profits and charities in addition to those that already exist. Charity is not, after all, a uniquely religious practice.
A predictably Christian centric view from Srom which blissfully ignores the reality that non-Christian civilizations predating and concurrently existing with Christian ones developed many of the same benefits. Ignoring that little logical flaw, I contend that you cannot prove in any way that any of these things would not have developed absent Christianity or religion. I argue that many of them would likely have come sooner since more often than not religion has served as an impediment to progress (particularly scientific, but also social and political). Further, many of the benefits you list are corrections to problems that were created by Christianity or religion more generally to begin with and arguably would not have existed absent the same. Additionally, just because something occurred in a predominantly Christian or religious country does not make it a Christian creation. Correlation does not equal causation.
Because I am bored and need some amusement, let me address your particular points:
Hospitals: The existence of hospitals predates Christianity (please see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/
Universities: Higher education also predates Christianity, and some of the most renowned institutions for learning similarly predate Christianity (think back to the Greeks and Romans, Socrates and Plato, etc.). Furthermore, higher secular education does exist, indicating that universities are not a uniquely religious development. Many times throughout history, science and learning have been held back by religion instead of advanced (think Galileo for instance).
Literacy and Education for the Masses: This is not a consequence of religion at all, and indeed Christianity persisted for much of its history in preventing the masses from even reading the Bible. Public education and literacy emerged due to social revolutions in philosophical thought, not in theological revolutions. Religion has also impeded the education and literacy of women around the world and across faiths, and it was only because of social movements that this has begun to change.
Capitalism & Free Enterprise: Assuming that these are good to begin with they are a consequence of economic and technological revolution, not a religious one. The Industrial Era which eventually led to these practices was a product of scientific discovery, not religious discovery.
Representative Government & Separation of Political Powers: A product of philosophical and political revolution, not of religious revolution.
Civil Liberties: You must be shitting me. The most consistent opponent to civil liberties in history has been the religious right. In U.S. history religion has been the major opponent to obtaining equal rights for women, ending slavery and combating racism, giving equal rights to homosexuals, and so forth. The Bible condones slavery, makes women inferior, and condemns people because of who they love.
Abolition of Slavery: Slavery was justified using religion, and in the U.S. that religion was Christianity. Abolition was a consequence of a social and political movement, and as usual religion was slow on the uptake.
Modern Science: Shitting me again I see. Religion has been the largest impediment to scientific development in the history of humanity.
Discovery of America & Columbus: The systematic decimation of ancient cultures in the name of religion! The "discovery" of a land people had already discovered and inhabited!
Elevation of Women: See above, religion and Christianity have held back women's right. Social revolutions moved them forward, and in the U.S. this was galvanized by the war not the church.
Benevolence, Charity, Good Samaritan: Because only Christians are good people and you need religion to be nice... bullshit. And let's just disregard the hatred and violence spewed and justified by religion.
Elevation of Common Man: Because you could not be more vague?
Condemnation of Adultery, Homosexuality, and other Sexual Perversions: You see, this was my point with civil rights. Also, adultery still exists regardless of Christianity. Adultery is also higher amongst heterosexuals.
High Regard of Human Life: Ah, yes, that explains the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the Conquests. It also explains the proclivity for condemning people to hell for all eternity simply because they have not heard of Christianity. Also, clearly only Christians care about human life (more bullshit).
The Civilizing of Barbarian/Primate Cultures: Really? What the fuck is wrong with you? Get your head in the 21st century mate. We call this destroying other cultures for no reason other than your personal beliefs. Loss of diversity and entire civilizations is not a pro for religion.
Codifying & Writing of Many World Languages: An academic endeavor of linguists, and again something that likely would have occurred even without religion. Besides, given your view that most of those languages belong to barbarians and primitives I am surprised you think that that has any value at all. Make up your mind you dumb fuck.
Art & Music: Many of the most creative people past and present were and are atheists or agnostics. The Church was where the money was at, so the art may have had a religious bent but art is its own sphere and has its own evolutions independent of religion. Creativity is not a uniquely Christian attribute. Without religion creativity would still exist.
Lives Saved by the Gospel: Sure, some people have found greater peace in their beliefs but at least as many have been damaged by the Gospel. Shall we start with all of the LGBTQ youth who are ostracised from their own families? For every person I know who has found themselves in faith I know another who nearly killed themselves because of religion.
Eternal Salvation of Countless Souls: For starters, not a social benefit. Secondly, fucking prove it. Thirdly, let us ignore the eternal damnation of those who have never even had the opportunity to embrace Christianity.
-Hospitals,which essentially began during the Middle Ages
You're trying to argue that without Christianity society would see no benefit in having organizations that treat sick and injured people? I'm surprised you can make that claim with a straight face.
-Universities,which began during the Middle Ages.In addition, most of the worlds greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes.
Hardly fair. Universities might have emerged in the Middle Ages (almost exclusively in Europe, so of course most of them were Christian) but centers of academic learning predate the Christian religion significantly. So you have a weak claim on the word "university," but no Christian claim to education.
-Literacy and education for the masses
Only if you accept their message. Look at Africa.
-Capitalism and free enterprise.
-Representative government,particulary as it been seen in the American experiment
Are you listing things that exist in Christian countries or are you listing things Christianity is directly responsible for?
-The seperation of political powers
I wasn't aware the Bible had anything to say about checks and balances and the two party system.
I can't think of many liberties granted by the Church, but I can think of a whole lot it took away (and more it's still trying to take away).
-The abolition of slavery,both in antiquity and in more modern times
Most of the abolitionists were Christians, yes; most of the pro-slavery advocates/slaveowners were also Christian. Both cited the Bible, so we have to look at Christian scripture to see if Christianity really supports the abolition of slavery. Turns out no. The Bible calls for, condones, and institutionalized slavery. So if Christians we're abolitionists, it wasn't because of their faith. It's actually against their faith.
Like how the Catholic Church just recently got around to admitting maybe Galileo was right, after all? Come on, bro. You'd be blind not to see that the Church has been doing it's best to roll boulders of scripture into the path of scientific progress pretty much since day one. Without the Religion vs Science standstill we would be much, much farther ahead by now, scientifically speaking.
-The discovery of the new world by Columbus
He didn't discover it. And he was a Christian, but I have no doubt the continents of North and South America would be been discovered by Europeans regardless of the faith of the sea captain who first set foot there.
-The elevation of a women
Again, contrary to scripture. The Bible degrades and dehumanizes women. Any elevation of women by Christians is not in accordance with their faith, so you can't point to Christianity as the reason.
Historically Christianity has also done a lot to oppress women. So if Christianity is elevating women, all I can say is it's about damn time you started making amends for your mistakes.
-Benevolence and charity;the good Samaritan ethic.
Hahahahaha dude really I don't know how you're able to say some of this shit. You think the world was completely devoid of charity and benevolence pre-Christianity and that without your religion the world wouldn't understand or apply those two concepts? I thought Christianity condemned this kind of self-righteous arrogance you're displaying right now.
-The elevation of a common man
Just so long as he's not elevated quite as high as clergy, amiright?
-The condemnation of adultery,homosexuality,and other sexual perversions.This has helped to preserve the human race,and it has spared many from heartache
Christians are no less likely to engage in any of these activities, so at most you're just making a bunch of hypocritical noise about these issues. And on balance, I refuse, flat out refuse to believe that the preservation of the human race requires clergy to go inquiring and judging what goes on behind closed doors, in the privacy of peoples homes.
-The civilizing of many barbarian and primate cultures.
I'll give you that one. But I'll also add Christianity did a lot to make cultures that could have been civilized more barbaric and primitive.
-The codifying and setting to writing of many of the worlds languages.
Like when the Church burned the first man to translate the Bible to English alive at the stake?
-Greater development of art and music. The inspiration for the greatest works of art.
I'll give you that one, too; god can be an inspiration. So can love, other people, and the sun. But it's a poor poet who must fall silent when he realizes the sun is just a ball of burning gas. So I don't really know where you're getting this idea that the world would be absent this art absent Christianity. If an artist needs their faith to be an artist, I think they're a poor artist.
-The countless lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society because of the gospel
And countless more torn apart by this wretched religion. But I can't deny that Christianity helps some people get their shit together. For some people, it's yoga or making model airplanes. Whatever floats your boat. But absent Christianity people would find other ways to get on top of their shit; it's not like Christianity is the only way; it's just the way that you've found works best for you.
-The eternal salvation of countless souls
This one relies on your superstition being true in order to be relevant. But if it is true, you can't disregard the eternal damnation and torture of countless good souls because of Christianity.
-High regard of human life
Like when god commanded his people to kill anyone who wanted to spend time working to build a fire for his family instead of worshiping god?
-The discovery of the new world by Columbus
Newsflash Columbus didn't discover the new world.
-The elevation of a women
Ah yes women where so elevated in Europe in he middle ages.
-The civilizing of many barbarian and primate cultures.
Yeah because the bible is so civil compared to the Romans.