What if religion never existed?

Hot topics in delusion and rationalization.
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Nigel
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What if religion never existed?

Post by Nigel »

I know a lot (if not most) people here are atheists (I'm agnostic, to be honest). But I've wondered: What would the world be like if there had never been any religion from the beginning? If the Bible had never been written, and there was no Buddhism, no Christianity, no Judaism, no Islam, no religion at all, anywhere in the world, and never existed to begin with. What do you think people would be like today?
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Re: What if religion never existed?

Post by CHARLEY_BIGTIME »

Nigel wrote:I know a lot (if not most) people here are atheists (I'm agnostic, to be honest). But I've wondered: What would the world be like if there had never been any religion from the beginning? If the Bible had never been written, and there was no Buddhism, no Christianity, no Judaism, no Islam, no religion at all, anywhere in the world, and never existed to begin with. What do you think people would be like today?
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Stimpson J. Cat
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Post by Stimpson J. Cat »

Nigel,
I know a lot (if not most) people here are atheists (I'm agnostic, to be honest). But I've wondered: What would the world be like if there had never been any religion from the beginning? If the Bible had never been written, and there was no Buddhism, no Christianity, no Judaism, no Islam, no religion at all, anywhere in the world, and never existed to begin with. What do you think people would be like today?
Seems like a rather meaningless question to me. It is a part of human nature for us to invent religions and superstitions. You are essentially asking "What would people be like today, if people were different?".


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Re: What if religion never existed?

Post by CHARLEY_BIGTIME »

Nigel wrote:I know a lot (if not most) people here are atheists (I'm agnostic, to be honest). But I've wondered: What would the world be like if there had never been any religion from the beginning? If the Bible had never been written, and there was no Buddhism, no Christianity, no Judaism, no Islam, no religion at all, anywhere in the world, and never existed to begin with. What do you think people would be like today?
To be honest, people would find something else to believe in.
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Cool Hand
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Post by Cool Hand »

Yeah, man invented the wheel, God, civilization, music, and Doritos.

I could do without God.

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Nigel
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Post by Nigel »

That's essentially my answer as well, meaningless or no. I wanted to get others thoughts, but I think we're hardwired to believe, so God would have to be invented if he doesn't exist.

Thanks for confirming my suspicions, or at least agreeing with me.
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roger
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Post by roger »

I don't know. I find I can't predict what my life will be like if I buy that cheeseburger I want; I doubt my ability to predict the world if human nature was turned upside down.

That may be expressed in a silly way, but it's a serious point. I'm absolutely boggled by how people argue with conviction about politics, etc.
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Post by Nigel »

roger wrote:I don't know. I find I can't predict what my life will be like if I buy that cheeseburger I want; I doubt my ability to predict the world if human nature was turned upside down.

That may be expressed in a silly way, but it's a serious point. I'm absolutely boggled by how people argue with conviction about politics, etc.
You can guess what your life would be like after buying the cheeseburger. You've presumably done so before, so you can go from past experience.

My question had more to do with if cheeseburgers never existed. Of course, you wouldn't know about them, like you wouldn't know about religion if it didn't exist.

I suspect we would have ended up more along the lines of Vulcans. Either that, or we'd inevitably had invented religion, and so no change from where we are now.
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Azraphael
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Post by Azraphael »

Looking at this a different way, I don't think humans could have eveolved into what we are without religion, in a sense. I think most people in here would agree that we can define religion as organized superstition. Superstition, I think, predates scientific investigation. Before our ancestors understood fire, they feared it and thought it was somehow supernatural.

I think it follows that deductive reasoning, scientific investigation, etc. all stem from a need to explain something. The same is true for superstition, in that superstitions are attempts to rationalize that which you don't understand.

So: our ancestors have an inborn need to explain something. The first explainations are superstitions. Later, some superstitions are replaced by quantifyable facts. Through this neverending process of rediscovery, the human race has evolved into what we are today.

To remove superstition, one must remove the cause for it: the need to explain something that isn't understood. If human beings didn't need to explain anything, then we would never advance and never learn.

In short, as much as they are completely different disciplines, I think that science and religion are two sides of the same coin. They are both attempts to explain that which we don't understand. You can't remove only one side of the coin, and if you take this particular coin away, we're no different than the simplest of animals.

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Post by iain »

How annoying - Azraphael said what I was going to say, but better. :x
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joyrex
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Post by joyrex »

Agnosticism:

The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist.

Sounds to me almost like theism :P

What good is a belief like that? Why not just not believe?
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Post by Nigel »

That's not really a different way than I said, Azraphael, just more elaborate. :D
I said I believed we're hardwired to have religion. I purposely didn't go into a great amount of detail in my previous posts, because I don't want to put words into anyone's mouths. I'm more interested in hearing what people have to say, with minimal input from me.

I appreciate the responses, however.
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Post by Skeeve »

joyrex wrote:Agnosticism:

The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist.

Sounds to me almost like theism :P

What good is a belief like that? Why not just not believe?
I guess that's a fair thing to say, but I think there is a big difference between not believing, and believing there are none.
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Azraphael
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Post by Azraphael »

joyrex wrote:Agnosticism:

The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist.

Sounds to me almost like theism :P

What good is a belief like that? Why not just not believe?
I disagree with this.

I could be wrong, but as I understand it, agnoticism is the witholding of belief, since there is no evidence currently available one way or the other. I've never understood it to be a firm belief that no evidence can exist.

Realistically, again as I understand it, agnosticism (unlike atheism) is the exact opposite of theism. Theism is the firm belief in a god. Atheism is the firm belief that there is no god. Both are firm beliefs, just in different things. Agnosticism, on the other, doesn't firmly believe one way or the other.

~Azraphael
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Nigel
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Post by Nigel »

Azraphael wrote: Agnosticism, on the other, doesn't firmly believe one way or the other.

~Azraphael
I go along with that. If not a dictionary definition, it's how I interepret it. I neither believe nor disbelieve (though personally, I usually lean toward disbelieving), and I don't think you can prove it either way.
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Post by Some Friggin Guy »

Bear in mind the apathetic agnostics, who hold the idea of "we don't know, and we don't care."
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Post by Kilted_Canuck »

As for what my understanding is, saying I"m Atheist is only saying I don't believe there is no god, i don't believe...thats the key thing in this. Being agnostic is basically just admitting that odds about even to whether a god exists or doesn't, and theism is only the opposite of atheism in that a theist believes in a god, while an atheist doesn't.


That's just my understanding...I call myself an atheist when in fact I'm technically a scientific nontheist (aka skeptic ;) ), but that's just splitting hairs...
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Post by gentlehorse »

Nigel wrote:
Azraphael wrote: Agnosticism, on the other, doesn't firmly believe one way or the other.

~Azraphael
I go along with that. If not a dictionary definition, it's how I interepret it. I neither believe nor disbelieve (though personally, I usually lean toward disbelieving), and I don't think you can prove it either way.
In my mind, agnosticism doesn't have anything to do with belief. It has to do with knowledge. An agnostic doesn't know whether there's a God or not. Atheism and theism/deism have to do with belief. An atheist could be an agnostic, as could a theist or deist. For instance, an atheist might say something along the lines of, "I don't know if God exists (agnosticism), and, as it is irrational to believe in something without knowledge of its existence, I do not believe that God exists (atheism)." A theist or deist might say something like, "I don't know that God exists (agnosticism), but I believe in God (theism/deism) because, rational or not, I go with my intuition."

Most of the folks I've run into who claim to be atheists are actually what I think of as agnostic atheists. Those who claim to know that there is not a God are few and far between and, frankly, give me a case of the willies. So do those who claim to know that there is a God, come to think of it--
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Mark
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Post by Mark »

gentlehorse wrote:
Nigel wrote:
Azraphael wrote: Agnosticism, on the other, doesn't firmly believe one way or the other.

~Azraphael
I go along with that. If not a dictionary definition, it's how I interepret it. I neither believe nor disbelieve (though personally, I usually lean toward disbelieving), and I don't think you can prove it either way.
In my mind, agnosticism doesn't have anything to do with belief. It has to do with knowledge. An agnostic doesn't know whether there's a God or not. Atheism and theism/deism have to do with belief. An atheist could be an agnostic, as could a theist or deist. For instance, an atheist might say something along the lines of, "I don't know if God exists (agnosticism), and, as it is irrational to believe in something without knowledge of its existence, I do not believe that God exists (atheism)." A theist or deist might say something like, "I don't know that God exists (agnosticism), but I believe in God (theism/deism) because, rational or not, I go with my intuition."

Most of the folks I've run into who claim to be atheists are actually what I think of as agnostic atheists. Those who claim to know that there is not a God are few and far between and, frankly, give me a case of the willies. So do those who claim to know that there is a God, come to think of it--
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Post by Skeeve »

Mark wrote:Or, as Spider Robinson observed through Doc Webster, "I can understand why people believe in God. What I can't understand is why they aren't trying to kill the motherfucker!"
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