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Is religious belief bad for you?
#1

Is religious belief bad for you?
I know that there are a lot of bad things that happen, ostensibly because of religion, but I'd like to focus on something completely apart from that. While religious practice leads to some very bad things for a subset of religious believers (e.g. pedophile priests, people dying from lack of medical care), on the whole, having religious beliefs and practicing religion doesn't at first blush seem particularly harmful or dysfunctional for the average believer. It may have some indirect costs, but so do things like alcohol consumption, playing video games, and spending $6 for a latte. On the whole, it's not clear that religious belief and practice, even if something of a cost to the average believer, doesn't distinguish itself categorically from other stupid things we humans do. Is my first glance opinion correct, or is there some reason that religion is bad for the believer in terms of their own self-interest such that, if they had a more dispassionate view of themselves, they might consider it a significant negative influence in their life?

For the average believer, is religion, religious beliefs, and a religious practices a seriously bad thing?

And a follow-up question: Are there good things about religious practice which might justify the cost, if serious, for the average believer?

And the bonus round: Should religion be eliminated for the good of believers even if they aren't interested in its elimination themselves? Should state authority be used toward that end?
[Image: giant%20meteor%202020.jpg]
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#2

Is religious belief bad for you?
Like everything else, the key is the extremists.

Drinking isn't harmful unless you are falling down drunk every day.  Then your liver explodes.

Religion isn't harmful unless you are a true believer wrapping yourself in TNT for allah or spreading a virus because you think fucking jesus will save you.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#3

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 03:14 PM)Dānu Wrote: For the average believer, is religion, religious beliefs, and a religious practices a seriously bad thing?  

Yes, for the simple reason that preferring the comfort of the fantasy over the harshness of reality is not indicative of mental stability.
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#4

Is religious belief bad for you?
I think 'good' people and religion go together very well.  It's a nice belief system that helps keep them positive.

I don't think it matters too much for everyone else.
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#5

Is religious belief bad for you?
My opinions:

(04-16-2020, 03:14 PM)Dānu Wrote: For the average believer, is religion, religious beliefs, and a religious practices a seriously bad thing?  

No, because, in general, average believers don't take religion as seriously as we atheists do.

(04-16-2020, 03:14 PM)Dānu Wrote: And a follow-up question:  Are there good things about religious practice which might justify the cost, if serious, for the average believer?

No.  Like many human activities, religion is a social activity, a diversion, and an entertainment.  There are better ways to do all three.

(04-16-2020, 03:14 PM)Dānu Wrote: And the bonus round:  Should religion be eliminated for the good of believers even if they aren't interested in its elimination themselves?  Should state authority be used toward that end?

No, since the backlash would be worse than the problems it solved.
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#6

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 03:14 PM)Dānu Wrote: For the average believer, is religion, religious beliefs, and a religious practices a seriously bad thing?  

In my admittedly anecdotal experience, no, it isn't, insofar as they may pay lip-service to their faith, but when push comes to shove they still go out and work as opposed to praying for divine relief, seek medical attention instead of praying for divine cures, and so on. Additionally, as a recovering alcoholic, I've seen others beat their addiction by relying on their faith. (One could argue that they're trading one addiction for another, but religious faith doesn't cause cirrhosis or meth-induced mental issues).

(04-16-2020, 03:14 PM)Dānu Wrote: And a follow-up question:  Are there good things about religious practice which might justify the cost, if serious, for the average believer?

Aside from the recovery aspect noted above, it may also tamp down on personal anxiety, seems to me. And if a believer's faith drives them to charity or volunteerism they wouldn't otherwise perform, sure, it can be a benefit.

(04-16-2020, 03:14 PM)Dānu Wrote: And the bonus round:  Should religion be eliminated for the good of believers even if they aren't interested in its elimination themselves?  Should state authority be used toward that end?

Not at all, in my view. The freedom of conscience is a primary right, and abrogating it is a hallmark of authoritarianism. Once you allow a government to dictate how you may (or refuse to) worship, you've opened up Pandora's box. Thoughtcrime of any sort should be fought.

So long as the religious are private in the practice of their faith -- meaning they don't push it into the sphere of public governance -- I'm fine with it. The only issue I have is with religions which try to impose their faith-requirements into public law. I'm a live-and-let-live guy, otherwise.

(04-16-2020, 03:31 PM)jerryg Wrote: I don't think it matters too much for everyone else.

... unless and until they try to impose their religious strictures upon non-believers.
Freedom isn't free.
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#7

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 03:14 PM)Dānu Wrote: For the average believer, is religion, religious beliefs, and a religious practices a seriously bad thing? 

I think from an evolutionary perspective, the long history of religions and their survival as a human practice demonstrate they must have been helpful. I don't think the situation has changed. 

Particularly, it seems to me religious traditions and beliefs reinforce procreation, if that's true, it would be a very strong case in favor of the usefulness of religions.

Quote:Using data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), we show that women who report that religion is “very important” in their everyday life have both higher fertility and higher intended fertility than those saying religion is “somewhat important” or “not important.”
Religiosity and Fertility in the United States: The Role of Fertility Intentions

Or this one: God's little rabbits: Religious people out-reproduce secular ones by a landslide:
Quote:In fact, Blume’s research also shows quite vividly that secular, nonreligious people are being dramatically out-reproduced by religious people of any faith. Across a broad swath of demographic data relating to religiosity, the godly are gaining traction in offspring produced. For example, there’s a global-level positive correlation between frequency of parental worship attendance and number of offspring. Those who "never" attend religious services bear, on a worldwide average, 1.67 children per lifetime; "once per month," and the average goes up to 2.01 children; "more than once a week," 2.5 children. Those numbers add up—and quickly. Some of the strongest data from Blume’s analyses, however, come from a Swiss Statistic Office poll conducted in the year 2000. These data are especially valuable because nearly the entire Swiss population answered this questionnaire—6,972,244 individuals, amounting to 95.67% of the population—which included a question about religious denomination. "The results are highly significant," writes Blume:

… women among all denominational categories give birth to far more children than the non-affiliated. And this remains true even among those (Jewish and Christian) communities who combine nearly double as much births with higher percentages of academics and higher income classes as their non-affiliated Swiss contemporaries.

In my understanding, religious beliefs and practices also reinforce integrity, unity, and sympathy in the religious populations. All are very important factors in individual and social development.
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#8

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 05:29 PM)Hussein Wrote: Particularly, it seems to me religious traditions and beliefs reinforce procreation, if that's true, it would be a very strong case in favor of the usefulness of religions.

Not in these days of over-population it isn't.  Climate change is as much a population problem as an affluence or a technology problem.
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#9

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 05:48 PM)Alan V Wrote: Not in these days of over-population it isn't.  Climate change is as much a population problem as an affluence or a technology problem.

The median age in Germany for example, is 45.9 and it's getting older, don't you think it can be alarming?

I think the root problem is our consumerist culture, not the population. The planet can support a much larger adapted population, and I think we will inevitably adapt to prevent dramatic consequences of climate change, we won't have any other choices.
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#10

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 05:48 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(04-16-2020, 05:29 PM)Hussein Wrote: Particularly, it seems to me religious traditions and beliefs reinforce procreation, if that's true, it would be a very strong case in favor of the usefulness of religions.

Not in these days of over-population it isn't.  Climate change is as much a population problem as an affluence or a technology problem.

Indeed. Over-population is at the root of climate-change, pollution, and resource depletion. I think it also contributes to international violence, in the sense that growing populations have to divide static resources.
Freedom isn't free.
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#11

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 03:14 PM)Dānu Wrote: 1)For the average believer, is religion, religious beliefs, and a religious practices a seriously bad thing?  

2)And a follow-up question:  Are there good things about religious practice which might justify the cost, if serious, for the average believer?

3)And the bonus round:  Should religion be eliminated for the good of believers even if they aren't interested in its elimination themselves?  Should state authority be used toward that end?

Some of my responses would change depending on the religion, say islam vs spiritualism of indigenous people.

1)Not seriously bad for themselves. But even the average believer negatively impacts the non believer.

2)Yes, there are probably personal good things that justify the belief. If not, then why believe?

3)Religion would not need to be eliminated if the religious could keep it to themselves and not impact others. The problem is that they can't. So it would be best for all if religion would just fade away and become a matter for history text.
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#12

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 06:08 PM)Hussein Wrote:
(04-16-2020, 05:48 PM)Alan V Wrote: Not in these days of over-population it isn't.  Climate change is as much a population problem as an affluence or a technology problem.

The median age in Germany for example, is 45.9 and it's getting older, don't you think it can be alarming?

I think the root problem is our consumerist culture, not the population. The planet can support a much larger adapted population, and I think we will inevitably adapt to prevent dramatic consequences of climate change, we won't have any other choices.

I=PAT
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#13

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 03:49 PM)Alan V Wrote: Like many human activities, religion is a social activity, a diversion, and an entertainment.  There are better ways to do all three.  

Yup.  That's what religion is all about.  It's a social club with rituals.
                                                         T4618
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#14

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 06:08 PM)Hussein Wrote:
(04-16-2020, 05:48 PM)Alan V Wrote: Not in these days of over-population it isn't.  Climate change is as much a population problem as an affluence or a technology problem.

The median age in Germany for example, is 45.9 and it's getting older, don't you think it can be alarming?

I think the root problem is our consumerist culture, not the population. The planet can support a much larger adapted population, and I think we will inevitably adapt to prevent dramatic consequences of climate change, we won't have any other choices.

The carrying capacity for humans on planet Earth is about 100 million over the long term. We don't need the devout making more people for us.
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#15

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 07:57 PM)Paleophyte Wrote: The carrying capacity for humans on planet Earth is about 100 million over the long term. We don't need the devout making more people for us.

I did some research after reading @Alan V remarks and it seems to me now, the position that procreation is not desirable for human species in this time period might be the case. However, I think the sustainability and efficiency of an old population is also a serious issue that must be considered. For example: Japan’s Population Problem Is Straining Its Economy. The World Is Watching for a Solution

BTW, do you have any references for that number? this article, says 10 billion.
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#16

Is religious belief bad for you?
I think Christianity is quite harmful, since it's based on the premise that people at their core are offensive to god.  Not everyone internalizes this message, but many do.  

Some people just "feel" there's a god and want to explore the concept.  Since I've never felt that, even when I was a Bible believer, I don't intend to invalidate their emotions.  Also religion can be useful for people who feel the need for a strong set of dos and don'ts, people who don't trust themselves.  I've heard quite a few Christians express the thought that without religion, they would go out and rape and murder, etc.  If these people are representing themselves accurately, I'd rather they be Christians than not.   

Religions can be considered socially useful when they are pervasive enough in a culture that people agree to regulate their behavior and customs according to their religious understanding.  This minimizes conflict, helps determine resource allocations, etc.  However, this utility largely protects the status quo and benefits the powerful at the expense of everyone else.  Since religions aren't true, it would be great if humans would reassess what behaviors and customs are equitable, conflict-reducing, etc.   

I don't ever want to take away someone's religion.  It's pointless, just makes the religion more precious to its adherents.  However, the religious need to keep their godly chocolate out of my secular peanut butter.     Laws that apply to all should not use god-said-it as a rationale.
god, ugh
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#17

Is religious belief bad for you?
All I can say is that I think it's bad for me on account of me facepalming myself unconscious at the rhetoric coming from the pulpit but as I shared elsewhere it seems to do my mother a world of good and I've noticed a distinct difference in her since covid shut the churches down and not for the better but hers is a fairly benign liberal Anglican church with a formal and sometimes quite beautiful liturgy and not one of those poisonous fundie evangelical ones.
Justaminute   The whole point of having cake is to eat it! 
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#18

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 03:49 PM)Alan V Wrote: No, because, in general, average believers don't take religion as seriously as we atheists do.  


[/quote]


I object to the "we" in atheists. I'm not taking atheism seriously. It doesn't make or break me. In fact I'm looking at atheists taking atheism seriously the same way I look at religious extremists.
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#19

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 07:57 PM)Paleophyte Wrote: The carrying capacity for humans on planet Earth is about 100 million over the long term. We don't need the devout making more people for us.

Source?
Freedom isn't free.
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#20

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 08:33 PM)julep Wrote: Since religions aren't true, it would be great if humans would reassess what behaviors and customs are equitable, conflict-reducing, etc.

Even better would be getting people to understand that there are secular justifications for good behavior that avoid sectarian strife. They exist. But the extremists, I think, feel the need to justify their behavior on a religious basis precisely because it helps to proselytize.

Rather than that, a secular reasoning would undercut their use of religion to expand their own powers. Because most of the time when I see religious fanatics arguing their cases, I see folks trying to justify their worldly grabs for power on otherworldly claims that aren't amenable to reason or logic.
Freedom isn't free.
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#21

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 09:25 PM)abaris Wrote: In fact I'm looking at atheists taking atheism seriously the same way I look at religious extremists.

Living in a country where religionistas continually attempt to exert and expand their influence, I can understand and sometimes empathize or support efforts to counteract that expansion.

My atheism is meaningless until I've got some jockhole telling me I've got to jump through this or that hoop. It's serious business when the faithful try to incorporate their beliefs into law.
Freedom isn't free.
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#22

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 09:25 PM)abaris Wrote:
(04-16-2020, 03:49 PM)Alan V Wrote: No, because, in general, average believers don't take religion as seriously as we atheists do.  

I object to the "we" in atheists. I'm not taking atheism seriously. It doesn't make or break me. In fact I'm looking at atheists taking atheism seriously the same way I look at religious extremists.

I meant to convey that atheists take religion more seriously than ordinary believers do.  Generally, we consider it intellectually dishonest to go along with ideas which make so little sense.
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#23

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 08:13 PM)Hussein Wrote:
(04-16-2020, 07:57 PM)Paleophyte Wrote: The carrying capacity for humans on planet Earth is about 100 million over the long term. We don't need the devout making more people for us.

I did some research after reading @Alan V remarks and it seems to me now, the position that procreation is not desirable for human species in this time period might be the case. However, I think the sustainability and efficiency of an old population is also a serious issue that must be considered. For example: Japan’s Population Problem Is Straining Its Economy. The World Is Watching for a Solution

BTW, do you have any references for that number? this article, says 10 billion.

Estimates vary, depending on the factors considered.

Quote:Wikipedia on optimum population

Various end-targets are often balanced together in estimating the optimum human population, and different emphasis on different end-targets cause variability among estimates.
The optimal world population has been estimated by a team co-authored by Paul R. Ehrlich. End-targets in this estimation included:
* Decent wealth and resources to everyone
* Basic human rights to everyone
* Preservation of cultural diversity
* Allowance of intellectual, artistic, and technological creativity
* Preservation of biodiversity
Based on this, the estimation of optimum population was to be roughly around 1.5 billion to 2 billion people.

Wikipedia on the Earth's carrying capacity

Several estimates of the carrying capacity have been made with a wide range of population numbers. A 2001 UN report said that two-thirds of the estimates fall in the range of 4 billion to 16 billion with unspecified standard errors, with a median of about 10 billion. More recent estimates are much lower, particularly if non-renewable resource depletion and increased consumption are considered. Changes in habitat quality or human behavior at any time might increase or reduce carrying capacity. Research conducted by the Australian National University and Stockholm Resilience Centre mentioned that there is a risk for the planet to cross the planetary thresholds and reach “Hothouse Earth” conditions. In this case, the Earth would see its carrying capacity severely reduced.
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#24

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 10:05 PM)Alan V Wrote:
(04-16-2020, 08:13 PM)Hussein Wrote:
(04-16-2020, 07:57 PM)Paleophyte Wrote: The carrying capacity for humans on planet Earth is about 100 million over the long term. We don't need the devout making more people for us.

I did some research after reading @Alan V remarks and it seems to me now, the position that procreation is not desirable for human species in this time period might be the case. However, I think the sustainability and efficiency of an old population is also a serious issue that must be considered. For example: Japan’s Population Problem Is Straining Its Economy. The World Is Watching for a Solution

BTW, do you have any references for that number? this article, says 10 billion.

Estimates vary, depending on the factors considered.

Quote:Wikipedia on optimum population

Various end-targets are often balanced together in estimating the optimum human population, and different emphasis on different end-targets cause variability among estimates.
The optimal world population has been estimated by a team co-authored by Paul R. Ehrlich. End-targets in this estimation included:
   * Decent wealth and resources to everyone
   * Basic human rights to everyone
   * Preservation of cultural diversity
   * Allowance of intellectual, artistic, and technological creativity
   * Preservation of biodiversity
Based on this, the estimation of optimum population was to be roughly around 1.5 billion to 2 billion people.

Wikipedia on the Earth's carrying capacity

Several estimates of the carrying capacity have been made with a wide range of population numbers. A 2001 UN report said that two-thirds of the estimates fall in the range of 4 billion to 16 billion with unspecified standard errors, with a median of about 10 billion. More recent estimates are much lower, particularly if non-renewable resource depletion and increased consumption are considered. Changes in habitat quality or human behavior at any time might increase or reduce carrying capacity. Research conducted by the Australian National University and Stockholm Resilience Centre mentioned that there is a risk for the planet to cross the planetary thresholds and reach “Hothouse Earth” conditions. In this case, the Earth would see its carrying capacity severely reduced.

Alan beat me to it. Over the short term we can probably fit 10 Billion or so on the planet. Here's what it looks like at the moment:

[Image: land_mammals.png]

So you can do that over the short term, but over the long term that clearly won't be sustainable. That isn't what a healthy equilibrium looks like. Our carrying capacity over the long term is much lower.
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#25

Is religious belief bad for you?
(04-16-2020, 10:34 PM)Paleophyte Wrote: So you can do that over the short term, but over the long term that clearly won't be sustainable. That isn't what a healthy equilibrium looks like. Our carrying capacity over the long term is much lower.

Man proposes; nature disposes.
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