Author Topic: Is it really considered "harsh" to say that a religion "is not true"?  (Read 734 times)

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Online John Albert

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Re: Is it really considered "harsh" to say that a religion "is not true"?
« Reply #45 on: December 29, 2019, 08:30:04 PM »
I would refer you to your profile pic.

My profile pic is intended as sarcasm, as it was originally depicted in the context of the TV show. The the joke is that claiming honest belief can be employed as an 'out,' to maintain plausible deniability when caught in a lie.


Some religious leaders genuinely believe what they are preaching and think its for the benefit of the congregation.

I don't doubt that is true. In my view it may make those individuals less evil, but doesn't make religion itself any less of an evil.

And many religious leaders disbelieve some or all of what they preach, but still rationalize away their guilt by telling themselves the lies are beneficial to the congregation. I'd consider that rationalization arrogant and dishonest, even if it is self-deluded.


Some of them may even be preaching non harmful and positive things.

Are non-harmful lies devoid of evil?


I think all religion is ultimately harmful but not necessarily evil.

I guess it partially depends on how much intent is required for something to be considered 'evil.'

Online Harry Black

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Re: Is it really considered "harsh" to say that a religion "is not true"?
« Reply #46 on: December 29, 2019, 08:59:49 PM »
My point was that if they believe it, they are not being malicious, and they are not preaching active harm, they are just misguided.

I dont really buy into the concept of evil but I know what you mean by it and yeah, I think some non harmful lies can be devoid of evil.

I certainly am anti theist and against all organised religions in all forms, I just happen to think that not all believers are evil and that a believer does not become evil just because they decide (based on how they believe the universe works) to become a preacher.

I think we are really just splitting hairs though on a topic we mostly agree on.

Online John Albert

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Re: Is it really considered "harsh" to say that a religion "is not true"?
« Reply #47 on: December 29, 2019, 09:50:07 PM »
By "evil" I mean deliberate and harmful to the well being of people and other living things.

I certainly don't think all believers are evil, or all preachers are evil, though some certainly are.  But I do think that most, if not all religions are evil.

Again, it comes down to an indictment of the ideology and not a condemnation of all followers.

Offline Eternally Learning

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Re: Is it really considered "harsh" to say that a religion "is not true"?
« Reply #48 on: December 30, 2019, 08:39:07 AM »
Is lying evil? Is swindling evil?

I lie at times, and it's possible I've done something someone would consider a swindle, but I don't know anyone who'd call me evil.

Is that all that religions do?

What difference does it make? Is stealing and murdering all that the Mafia does?

Religions promote fanciful lies as fact, and take people's money on false pretenses. That is enough to qualify them as 'evil' as far as I'm concerned.

I disagree with the notions that non-truths and lies are equivalent.  Crime organizations, to my knowledge, don't ever really believe that they are operating within the law whereas it's debatable if each religious institution and/or the individuals that make it up believe what they sell.  There is a LOT of delusion present within religion, and at all levels.

Are secular institutions free of those acts?

Are you asking me to prove a negative?

Perhaps you can show me a religion that is not guilty of lying and swindling.

The question was rhetorical.  The point was that all human institutions are imperfect and do a mixture of good and bad.  More to the point, my whole reason for joining this thread was to respond to Daniel stating they'd want all clergy of all religions imprisoned solely on the basis of them being clergy.  I wasn't really concerned about the finer points of self-delusion and subjective good vs evil.

Religion is by definition dishonest, since it tells people they must believe in crap that anybody with two brain cells to rub together can see is crap. (Which is why I said earlier that Unitarian Universalism is not a religion: It does not tell anybody what to believe.)

Somebody I knew led a small group prayer before starting a long trip by canoe, asking Jesus to keep the group safe. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa children are dying of malaria. World-wide children are dying of measles, thanks to people like Jenny McCarthy. There are floods and famines and hurricanes. If there's a God, and he doesn't care enough to keep all those kids safe, you think he's going to care about a dozen canoe hobbyists going out on the ocean???

Now, if someone started a religion that said "God hates us all and there's not a goddamned thing we can do about it," I could offer no argument against it. But the religions that say that God loves us are patent, obvious, stinking, bullshit! The charlatans will say, "But God CAN'T stop any of that because we have free will. But if you give money to my ministry then God will make sure none of that shit happens to you."

Liars, thieves, charlatans, and sociopaths. That's what priests, preachers, rabbis, mullahs, lamas, and all the rest of them are. Believe whatever you like. But as soon as you don the robes of clerical office and start telling people that the magic man in the sky is actually real and he wants you to do thus-and-such, then you are a menace to society and more damaging than any garden-variety murderer who ever walked the streets of a city looking for people to kill.

This is as close to an atheist dogma as I've ever seen.  You leave no room for the nuance and complexity that defines human existence.  You say religion is defined as dishonest, but you are the one creating that definition.  Unless you can show me some ability or willingness on your part to be flexible and recognize nuance on this topic, I'm just gonna say I'm done talking with you about it for the same reason I don't discuss politics with my co-workers who idolize Trump; their worldview is far too removed from my own to find any common ground to have a reasonable debate on the topic.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2019, 08:43:23 AM by Eternally Learning »

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Is it really considered "harsh" to say that a religion "is not true"?
« Reply #49 on: December 30, 2019, 08:59:32 AM »
The great majority of people who believe in religion are not evil. The great majority of all people, whether religious or not, are just living their lives and trying to get by. Some people, both religious and not, actively try to help out other people and/or do some good in the world.

It is religion itself that is evil. The beliefs that make up religion cause enormous harm. If you truly believe that a person is going to Hell because he does not believe in your religion, you are far more likely to try to convince or force him to change his beliefs, and to do harm to him in this effort. If you truly believe that burning people alive will save their souls from Hell, you can end up a real monster. And there are lesser harms done by religion. Pounding into little children, who are vulnerable, that they must not question the authority of the priest or rabbi or preacher or mullah, is likely to carry over into adult life where they do not question people who speak in an authoritative voice. When you tell children that masturbation or feeling attracted to someone of the same gender will get them sent to Hell you can do irreparable damage.

Religion is evil because it causes otherwise good or indifferent people to harm others in large and small ways and makes the world a far more unpleasant place than it needs to be.
Daniel
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-- Greta Thunberg

Offline Eternally Learning

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Re: Is it really considered "harsh" to say that a religion "is not true"?
« Reply #50 on: December 30, 2019, 09:47:44 AM »
There are truly horrible religious beliefs and practices, but there are also some truly good ones.  On the whole, I support systems of thought and worldviews that are non-dogmatic and open to change based on reason and evidence and most religions don't meet that bar.  Barring some exceptions where institutions have a clear history of making immoral choices (*cough* Catholic Church *cough*) I would not classify groups who may honestly hold the views they do as "evil" but rather out-dated, short-sighted, closed-minded, obsolete, etc.  More than agreeing with my sense of pedantry though, I think not taking an overly black and white stance on every religion ever is the correct choice from a utilitarian POV as well.  Religion isn't going to just magically disappear any time soon; it's going to take a long time for it to work its way out of our species (assuming it ever fully does) and a bit of mutual respect will be 100% essential.  You and I might differentiate between judging a system and it's followers as bad/harmful but the people who follow that system almost certainly will not.

Offline Awatsjr

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Re: Is it really considered "harsh" to say that a religion "is not true"?
« Reply #51 on: December 30, 2019, 02:32:01 PM »
As a Catholic priest once told me - I you want to become an atheist, go to seminary. Spoke volumes.
The only people that tell me about life after death have never been dead ... not even once.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Is it really considered "harsh" to say that a religion "is not true"?
« Reply #52 on: December 30, 2019, 04:24:49 PM »
There are truly horrible religious beliefs and practices, but there are also some truly good ones.  On the whole, I support systems of thought and worldviews that are non-dogmatic and open to change based on reason and evidence and most religions don't meet that bar.  Barring some exceptions where institutions have a clear history of making immoral choices (*cough* Catholic Church *cough*) I would not classify groups who may honestly hold the views they do as "evil" but rather out-dated, short-sighted, closed-minded, obsolete, etc.  More than agreeing with my sense of pedantry though, I think not taking an overly black and white stance on every religion ever is the correct choice from a utilitarian POV as well.  Religion isn't going to just magically disappear any time soon; it's going to take a long time for it to work its way out of our species (assuming it ever fully does) and a bit of mutual respect will be 100% essential.  You and I might differentiate between judging a system and it's followers as bad/harmful but the people who follow that system almost certainly will not.

When modern industrial civilization collapses because we did nothing to address climate change, religion will have played a large part in our lack of action, as so many of our national politicians believe we don't need to do anything because God will keep us safe, or worse, because the collapse will hasten the return of Christ.

I'm sure the men who treated women as property "honestly" held the opinion that this was how God wants it. I'm sure the bishops who protect rapist priests "honestly" hold the opinion that they need to protect the church for the benefit of God. I'm sure that the Irish Catholics who killed Protestants, and the Irish Protestants who killed Catholics, and the Muslims who kill Jews and the Jews who kill Muslims and the Americans who burned whole villages of men, women, and children with napalm all believed "honestly" that God wanted them to. And when preachers drill into little kids over and over again that they must not think critically, I'm sure they believe "honestly" that this is for the kids' benefit and is what God wants them to do.

Plenty of people have done good things in spite of believing in religion, but religion has brought nothing but war and hate and suffering to the world.
Daniel
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