OpinionBy creating unnecessary taboos and promoting abstinence, religion is responsible for poor education, misinformation, a rise in teenage pregnancy and spread of disease.
      – Lee J Haywood, 2009-01-05 at 21:46:15   (36 comments)

On 2009-01-05 at 21:50:18, Lee J Haywood wrote...
http://markybaby.com/religion/japanGod.swf
On 2009-01-05 at 21:52:42, Thelevellers wrote...
Yes. And yes again. And love the title of that article! (and the sneezing from new posts!) Not sure I have much to add yet, but will maybe return once I've read that :) (and finished saying hello to my housemate whose finally back after christmas...)
On 2009-01-05 at 21:53:11, Lee J Haywood wrote...
A lot of people point out that correlation isn't the same as causation, but you'd think they'd be more accepting of the idea that religion always lags behind the Zeitgeist of morality that the rest of the world follows.
On 2009-01-06 at 00:25:43, Thelevellers wrote...
Wow, that was a good read :) I agree that causation and correlation aren't the same, but it's a reasonably strong correlation here, and it seems to go 'deep' to, with there being lots more religiuos people than atheists in jail (last I heard...) and the like... Meh, I'm happy to believe it anyway ;)
On 2009-01-06 at 00:34:01, George wrote...
I think that article implies a link that may not be there. Also, Shintoism, while very different to most world religions, is pretty well established in Japan, probably not that far behind Christianity in the US overall. But I think it's a bit like 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins... it's easy to argue against the existence of God if you focus on fundamentalists (fundamentalist Christians the case of that book), who almost everybody would agree are fairly crazy. But the fact that they have some seemingly mad beliefs doesn't imho go very far towards disproving the existence of any God.
On 2009-01-06 at 10:30:41, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@George: This has nothing to do with the existence of any gods. It's about how religion appears to be responsible for moral decay, despite its insistence to be doing the opposite.
On 2009-01-06 at 17:19:44, George wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: I don't agree - surely religion is pretty intimately linked with a belief in the existence or otherwise of God. I would say that low crime etc in Japan compared to the US is more to do with a general cultural difference than with the popularity of different religions. It's not as if Christianity is unknown in Japan- it's a well established religion as are many others. In Tienanmen Square in China a theft is very unlikely to occur. I would say that's less to do with a lack of religion, and more to do with the fact that the perpetrator of the crime is likely to be shot. The situation in Singapore is similar - many traditional religions are very well established there, but violent crime is virtually non existent, since penalties are so draconian. I think the reasons for low crime in Japan are similar - policing is keen and strong, and the general culture is far more geared towards co-operation and tolerance than in the US. I don't think that's because of a lack of religious beliefs.
On 2009-01-06 at 17:31:24, Lee J Haywood wrote...
As I've pointed out previously (<http://discussionator.com/?id=89>), not everyone who is involved in religious tradition necessary believes in a god and not everyone who has a personal god bothers with religious communities. I don't accept that just because someone grows up in a predominately religious community that they will definitely believe in the god of that religion, no matter what they may say publicly. But religion is about control and conformity, and makes a point about sticking with existing dogma even when the rest of the world thinks that they're crazy. Things like promoting abstinence have nothing to do with belief in a god, but with the narrow-minded mentality that they know what is best and are totally unwilling to take account of any evidence to the contrary.
On 2009-01-06 at 17:35:50, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Of course, you're also correct that whilst religion and social order/disorder are intimately connected it is to such a great complexity that it's almost impossible to tease apart cause and effect. Whilst there are many things which are clearly the fault of the religious mentality and rooted in conservatism, the idea that you can point at an entire nation and claim a correlation is somewhat dubious - but that's the article I linked, not the topic I posted, which weren't intended to be treated as the same thing.
On 2009-01-06 at 18:04:32, George wrote...
I agree with your opinion in many ways, such as that the banning of contraception (especially the use of condoms) is a ridiculous position to take in this day an age. But I think the Catholic Church is gradually waking up regarding that...
On 2009-01-06 at 18:07:47, George wrote...
...but while I definitely agree with 'not everyone who is involved in religious tradition necessary believes in a god and not everyone who has a personal god bothers with religious communities', I don't agree with 'Things like promoting abstinence have nothing to do with belief in a god...', because I think a reason for many people believing in abstinence is down to their faith that ancient scriptures promoting abstinence are the word of the God that they believe in. But back to your opinion as posted, I agree with it a lot more than I agree with the linked article. But to play the devils advocate (or I suppose religion's advocate, not that I'm religious) I would also say that religion has been responsible for a great deal of good in the world, when you look at the many incredible charitable efforts done under the wing of religious groups, or inspired by ideas from religions. Also, many shared religious ideas such as 'do to others as you would have them do to you' surely do more good than harm.
On 2009-01-06 at 18:15:43, Lee J Haywood wrote...
That's a horrible suggestion, that religion is somehow necessary for charity and compassion. Whilst religion may have some benefit in backwards societies, it's also abused by those it puts into a position of authority. The idea that people can only be moral or charitable thanks to religion is the sort of position that religious people assume must be the case. It's simply not true. Religion happens to be a fairly effective way of spreading good philosophical ideas (<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative>) but it's disturbing that some people are only good to others because they're afraid that they'll be judged by a god if they don't. Basically they're admitting that the day they stop believing in a god they'll happily go around doing terrible things. Indeed, that's the very accusation that theists make about atheists, even though it's patently absurd.
On 2009-01-06 at 18:33:41, George wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: I'm not for a moment suggesting that religion is in any way necessary for charity or compassion, any more than I'd suggest that there's any reason to believe that atheists might go around happily doing terrible things. Both statements would clearly be ridiculous. I was just trying to balance the valid points in your argument with an argument that religions have done the world a lot of good as well as a fair amount of harm. Evidence for beliefs and religions go back pretty much as far as material remains of human activity exist, but I think that people are generally inclined to do things which are advantageous to themselves and those around them whether they choose to do that within or without a religious context. I think a lot of the terrible things that have been done in the name of religion have been the result of people basically hijacking religious ideals and trying to cynically mould followers towards a selfish benefit.
On 2009-01-06 at 22:00:45, BorgClown wrote...
Interesting read. I've always thought that religion and its moral extremes are also the cause of mental disorders and, indirectly, crime. It's funny that Japanese people are not that religious, even if many of them are very superstitious and spiritual. I suppose superstition paranoia is kinder than the religious one.
On 2009-01-07 at 11:28:58, Lee J Haywood wrote...
In some sense the 'balance' of good and bad that religion is responsible for depends on the scale. On the larger scale, religion is responsible for a huge amount of violence and oppression, yet there are indeed plenty of fairly decent individuals who would point to their religion as a positive influence. However, I continue to argue that religion's ability to do good is largely incidental - there's no reason to think that they couldn't have been good people without their religion, provided that they have strong support from their community. Having said all that, I live in a time and place where society is built upon all that came before it - particularly with respect to the legal system (which is more fairer than historic forms of 'justice') and its acknowledgement of basic rights. There are still places where religion can have some positive effects, but by and large its reliance on faith as detriment to progress has to be acknowledged and its time has come to be eliminated.
On 2009-01-07 at 14:48:55, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Slightly off-topic... http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2008/dec/11/religion-advertising-atheism-bus
On 2009-01-07 at 17:42:52, BorgClown wrote...
@Lee J Haywood: Things like that one give me hope for the future. Little by little I see religion losing its stranglehold in younger generations. I only wish for them not to give in to religion in times of need.
On 2009-01-08 at 13:24:20, Thelevellers wrote...
Agreed, Borgclown :) It makes me sad that my (religious AND superstitious Steiner loving 'alternative medicine practicing) mum has so much influence over my little sister.. :s She's 11 and still believes in Santa, faeries and God. I'm not even convinced I've had a chance to tell her I'm an Atheist really yet, as my mum's steinerisms say she's too young to consider such things. ARGH!
On 2009-01-08 at 14:46:14, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Children are usually smart enough to ask (all by themselves) the simple question, if a god made everything then who made the god? It shouldn't be hard for you to prompt your sister to ask and answer more questions like this without having to actually attack the religion directly. Why believe in one god in preference to another? Teach her to question everything, instead of accepting what she's told, and so on.
On 2009-01-08 at 15:50:40, Thelevellers wrote...
I would if I lived with them! It's hard to bother bringing that kinda stuff up when I only see her irregularly and for short times... Especially as my mum's usually around and it pretty thick skulled when it comes to discussions on the subject... "Don't be so closed minded, if you open your mind you'll understand". *shudders* Reminds me of Tim Minchin's song 'If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out (Take My Wife)' :)
On 2009-01-08 at 15:55:46, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I see. Presumably your biggest problem is that it's not possible to argue against your mother, not least because she simply won't change anyway. There's no reason why you cannot have philosophical discussions with your sister, even if you avoid direct references to spirituality and religion. But it sounds like she's already on a path to being more of a spiritual person than not. At least some spirituality may help her to cope with stress later in life, if she can at least avoid becoming overly religious.
On 2009-01-08 at 18:30:11, BorgClown wrote...
I've made the decision to talk frankly with my nephews about my atheism. Formerly I didn't do it because I didn't want to challenge the parent's right to brainwash their childs. In the end, I decided that it's better to give the kids different points of view and let them decide, otherwise, their education would be unfair. Surprisingly, my parents, sisters and brothers-in-law agreed.
On 2009-01-08 at 18:37:43, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Right, it doesn't even have to be about preventing religious indoctrination but just about making it less effective. I know in the US that it's tough to go against a religious community even if you become an atheist, however - they simply won't understand what you're saying.
On 2009-01-08 at 18:55:56, BorgClown wrote...
They don't understand because they ceased to think critically about religion. My goal is to get my nephews to think and question (others or themselves) until they are satisfied.
On 2009-01-13 at 17:46:10, DigitalBoss wrote...
You do not have to participate if you wish not.
On 2009-01-13 at 17:52:26, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Participate in religion? We're all affected by religion, or at least religious mentality, whether we like it or not. Our leaders tend to be religious, and their decision making is affected by it. And the promotion of the idea that faith is sensible leads to an implicit acceptance of fundamentalist thinking.
On 2009-02-04 at 09:46:35, Lee J Haywood wrote...
http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/02/state_by_state_data_on_religio.php
On 2009-02-04 at 19:31:42, Thelevellers wrote...
Oh FSM, that's terrifying data... *shudders* reminds me why I don't wanna live in the USA... :-/
On 2009-02-04 at 19:41:30, Baslisks wrote...
@Thelevellers: really not all that bad, especially if you like causing mayhem!!!!
On 2009-02-05 at 19:08:20, Thelevellers wrote...
Lol, fair point, but after seeing the Top Gear episode where they team drive through a southern state (I forget which one) with various slogans written on the side designed to annoy the locals, and they actually almost get beaten up, I'm not convinced! :P
On 2009-02-06 at 00:08:17, Baslisks wrote...
Drive through any town making fun of the local football team and you'd get the same thing in your land.
On 2009-02-06 at 19:15:12, Thelevellers wrote...
Not quite, but nearly... Town size teams don't often get violent supporters! In fact some are lucky to get any supporters ;-) Go for a premier league team on match night, or in a pub and you might have trouble, and that would be any where in the country, not just the teams home town... But my issue is more with the fact that it's Atheism and intelligent politics that seem to get pissed on in America, as opposed to general violence... We're more tolerant of smart people over here ;-) (disclaimer: I'm deliberately over generalising a little here, I know it;s not all bad over there, but it's enough bad to put me off anything more than a visit...)
On 2009-02-06 at 19:23:14, Baslisks wrote...
Its only the south really and the deep south at that. Go to some of the larger towns with some decent museums and you get some better free thinkers. I'm a huge atheist going to a jesuit school(Only for their engineering school, which is former Macdonald Douglas, aka now boeing) and I don't get bothered all that much. Though in honesty I am a lot scarier to pick on than most people.
On 2009-02-07 at 19:21:58, Thelevellers wrote...
Lol, if you walk around in that balaclava I understand completely ;) Like I say, I'm up for a visit, but living in country where you have to be religious to be president (in effect) I don't think I could handle... I was gonna make a comment about the democrats being too right wing for me, and they are a 'left wing' party, but then I remembered that I'm stuck with new labour... As the mighty Reef said/sang: "I've been looking for a haven, from this self consumer nation, our material endevour, I think I preferred old labour, YEAH!' *airs guitars to the awesome music in his head*
On 2009-02-07 at 20:28:01, Baslisks wrote...
Meh, at least we have a president now who doesn't think atheists need to be kicked out of the country. I just try and change things here making things better. You know?
On 2009-02-08 at 20:30:10, Thelevellers wrote...
Yeah, I hear ya... I have to say, Obama makes me a happy little bunny... And having TV recently while I'm at a friends house (actually, my ex's parents, but meh) I am loving The Daily Show too :)