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Member since: Wed Jan 28, 2015, 04:59 AM
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Are Republicans sure to lose in 2016?

There are not many Democratic candidates, and none seems to carry an unsurmountable bagage.

Not so for Republicans. The choice seems to be between:
- Bush IIIrd, and I think the dynastic effect would be a bit to rich in a modern democracy, or
- one of the other candidates using too extreme religiousness (some Ted Cruz quotes already are weird)

Any views of the inherent dynastic/extreme religiosity GOP weakness?

Did religion ever bring anything to mankind?

I can think of only one tangible positive input of religion, which I will present at the end (C).

But first, I would like to debunk the false claims (A) and the real ills (B) of religion:

(A) False claims:

1- No theoretical benefit: religion did not bring morality to mankind
Morality is the rules and opinions of the overwhelming majority.
If murder was condoned, life would be made worse (some psychopaths might disagree)
If theft was OK, the society's global efficiency would decrease (thieves and traders disagree)
All these basic rules exist in all societies, even in those which did not invent gods.

2- No social benefit: no link between religiosity and good behavior can be found
Studies have been made to try to correlate religious belief and levels of crime (murder, theft, rape) or abuse (drugs, alcohol). Not one of them found a positive correlation between belief and lower crime or abuse (there is even a slight correlation the wrong way)

3- Any supernatural claim of religion is either unproven or debunked
As scientific and communications means progress, claims of miracles recess. The last religious leader with lots of followers who claimed to perform miracles was Sathya Sai Baba. He always refused to perform his 'miracles' in front of a group of experts (scientists+trained magicians). But he did get caught on tape in what does look like cheap magic tricks.
As for other simpler benefits, like that of prayer, there has been only one large scientific quantitative study. Again, no or slightly negative benefit between prayer and one desired outcome.

4- the error riddled 'holy' books never created any good
Since the holy books are full of scientific mistakes and immoral decrees, they can not be moral compasses. The moral compass is brought by the reader to find passages which are fit for consumption.

5- the good done by believers is independent of religion
Religions claimed to be the channels of goodness, so people wanting to do good were enticed to do good in the name of those ideologies. But, as Doctors without Borders or other secular NGOs demonstrate, churches or NGOs are just conduits helping individuals channel their inner goodness.

(B) Tangible negative outcomes brought about by religion

Endless list. Some tokens: conversions by the sword (Frankish Empire, South America for Christianity, most of today's muslim world for Islam), Christian burning of witches, death for multiple imaginary offenses in Islam, imaginary title deed on some Mediterranean land in Judaism, ditto in Hinduism, etc. (not mentioning Celtic/Mayan/Moloch human sacrifices).
And in general modern terms, mutual exclusion rules: only Jesus/Allah/whatever saves.

(C) there is one benefit of religions: that of an appeasing placebo.

In Antiquity, religions pinned events on imaginary beings (from Thor to Allah), and this helped quell the fears of the population. It had an evolutionary benefit in that it helped societies relieve their angst. Earthquakes would go away after the sacrifice of this goat or that baby. A positive outcome, except for the goat/baby/female virgin/whatever. But one can't make religious omelettes without breaking one or two mammals.
In modern times, it is true that invoking the image of paradise will lessen the grief of a mother who just lost a young child. A real, tangible psychological benefit whose only fault is that it is grounded in a probably imaginary promise.

By all means, I do not have an axe to grind against religions. It's just that I do not see any real demonstrable benefits in today's world while I do see some real life problems caused by religion (People against stem cell research or gay marriages in the US. Charlie Hebdo, ISIS, Boko Haram, al Shebab, Saudi Arabia and the Talibans also come to mind)

Now, if you can come forward with demonstrable, tangible benefits of religion, I am quite willing to listen.
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