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Passions in Poetry

'Religion fulfils a number of important functions in todays society' Does it?

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anya
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since 07-27-2002
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london england


0 posted 09-15-2002 02:57 PM       View Profile for anya   Email anya   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for anya

'Religion fulfils a number of important functions in todays society', does it? I am divided on the matter, does it just divide society or is it needed to give moral guidence to the populace and fill the spiritual void.
I had a list of titles to choose from for my philosophy coursework,this was one of them, although I didn't choose this one it got me to thinking.
Anyway what do you guys think???
Opeth
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since 12-13-2001
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1 posted 09-15-2002 04:30 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

I think those who partake in "religion", which I will define for this statement as American citizens who go to church and participate in social gatherings sponsered by the church is beneficial to the neighborhoods and localities of the church area.

However, I do not think it is for everyone. I separate the social aspect of "going to church" with the "absolute truth" believed by those going to church that a God, a Christian God, Muslim God, etc...does indeed exist.

Many people feel a need to belong, going to church fulfills that need.

On a world level, between nations, religion has been the cause of countless of deaths.

[This message has been edited by Opeth (09-15-2002 04:35 PM).]

Trevor
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2 posted 09-15-2002 04:48 PM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

Hello,

"Religion fulfils a number of important functions in todays society', does it? I am divided on the matter, does it just divide society or is it needed to give moral guidence to the populace and fill the spiritual void."

As much as I am a harsh critic of organized religions, (I'm not against all the people involved but rather the organization itself), I do believe that it does provide a number of positive functions in society while at the same time, often adding to, but not solely creating a rift in societies.

Functions of religions vary from religion to religion. Sometimes the act as charities, counsellors, educators, etc. Would that void be filled if there were no religions is hard to say because as far as I know, every culture practises religions. I guess though for atheists and agnostics, there is a showing that without an organized religion, there are still the same things provided, minus the spiritual guidance....and colourful books and cheerful sing alongs

I don't believe that religions always cause the division of societies but rather its often the narrow minded, fanatical practitioners of such. I've met some bizarre fanatics over the course of my life but I've also met some devout believers who are not only willing to hear alternate views but give them full respect as well. So it is quite possible that religion does not divide, but the parishoners do. In my opinion, there is room for all.

I think the true, original intention of religions were to rule a society, much like a political system but with a god being the head of state. So that in itself is also a somewhat positive function, or can be, even though the heirarchy may be corrupt or maelevolant (sp?).

Basically what I'm thinking is that a religion can help fullfil voids in society, but if religions were not, then perhaps there would be another thing in place to do so because need dictates this. But currently needs dictate that we have religions.

Also I don't believe that sole blame should be laid upon religions for creating divisions. I think some religious organizations manipulate the followers, often with the help of state, to further there own causes, for example: building a larger following for monetary and power gains....And use the weak to do so.

But I also feel that occasionally, where fanaticism is concerened, there are weak minded individuals who leave no room for other beliefs thereby causing chasms between people of different religions.

I guess like all inventions, religions have their positive and negative aspects.

I dunno, this is just my initial thought on things. What do you think?...I mean you did start the thread but you haven't stated your opinion.

Thanks for the interesting topic,

Trevor
anya
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since 07-27-2002
Posts 397
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3 posted 09-15-2002 05:35 PM       View Profile for anya   Email anya   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for anya

My opinion, well have been having a further think and have come to the conclusion that overall religion does fulfil a number of important functions.

As I think you said you said before there are numerous charities and organisations based in religion that do no end of good work, so that is important function number one.

Also religion offers comfort to many people, even in todays ever more secular society, it can offer tradition and a sense of community. it can help people through difficult ethical and moral decisions in their lives, offers them a source of guidence, which can I suppose be a good thing.

Also I do genuinly believe that alot of people who are the 'religious fanatics' have a tendancy towards fanatism, some trait in their personality, and that if they were not fanatical about religion then it would be something else, a political party perhaps?

I had a friend once who always used to argue that if all religions were removed then people would stop 'tribalising' themselves and start looking for the goodness in humanity itself, rather than in a higher figure or God. I just don't really buy this, I think that it is human nature to put ourselves into groups somehow, if it is not religion it will be something else

so in conclusion I would ahve to come down on the side that religion does fulfil important functions. My arguments are not philiosophically up to much but am tired so I have an excuse, kind of

anyway, there is my take on it

anya
hush
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4 posted 09-16-2002 12:36 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

'As I think you said you said before there are numerous charities and organisations based in religion that do no end of good work,'

Does it matter where the work is coming from? I mean, philosophically?

I personally dont believe in selflessness... but pretty much every religion I've crossed praises it. Now... that doesn't mean I don't believe in helping others- I just believe that there is self-interest in doing so... anf furthermore, that self-interest is a healthy, dare I say even vital component of all positive human actions.

So, Christian woman gives a homeless man five bucks based on the virtue of self-sacrifice; I do so based on the good feeling I derive for myself from helping another person. Does it matter who's right? Either way someone is being helped.

'I had a friend once who always used to argue that if all religions were removed then people would stop 'tribalising' themselves and start looking for the goodness in humanity itself,'

Another interesting point- what is goodness? Does looking for goodness mean looking for the same qualities religion promotes, just not looking for them in religion? Or does it mean looking for what you consider good- y'know, the whole what's right for one person isn't for another thing?

Looking for the goodness in humanity itself implies a universal right and wrong. Who defines that, if not religions? Will there be a worldwide good declared by the U.N. or something?

I'm not a big proponent of religion, however, I do feel that the existence of different religions offers us different outlets for expressing and actingupon what we believe to be right in a community setting. A religion is a voluntary community where like-minded people can celebrate their common values of goodness, without necessitating that an entire society conform to those values.

THE ONLY WAR THAT MATTERS IS THE WAR AGAINST THE IMAGINATION
ALL OTHER WARS ARE SUBSUMED IN IT

-Diane Di Prima

Toerag
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5 posted 09-16-2002 08:16 AM       View Profile for Toerag   Email Toerag   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toerag

I guess maybe I've experienced too much to not believe in the Almighty God...way too much. I've seen too much, everytime my heartbeats I know something other than a life form progression happened....it's simple to believe for me? It wasn't always, but experience in life/death situations will change the way you feel, think and live.
Stephanos
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6 posted 09-17-2002 04:24 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hush,

I know we've been here before   but...

when you say...

"So, Christian woman gives a homeless man five bucks based on the virtue of self-sacrifice; I do so based on the good feeling I derive for myself from helping another person. Does it matter who's right? Either way someone is being helped."


I wonder to myself, what would ever cause you to value the "good feeling" of helping another, over the good feeling of a full belly say if it was your last 5 bucks, and it came down to you having a meal or them having a meal?


And from the standpoint of making self-interest the highest consideration, in what sense are the pleasures of giving more desireable than the pleasures of self-indulgence and being stingy, and why?


What happens when morality imposes a much more unpleasant option as the "right" thing to do?  What keeps you from shirking moral responsiblity on the basis that the easier way is easiest, especially if it is all about yourself?  This to me is the dividing line where truly charitable people will part drastically from mere humanistic philanthropists.  When it gets hot, that philisophy provides too easy an out.  If you say that the unpleasant grumblings of conscience will be enough of a reason to avoid shirking a duty, I still would ask why the conscience should impose such a thing, and why should we believe it, especially if, as you suggest, there is no true moral hierarchy of what is the better choice?  The only hierarchy is what yields the most pleasure.  Epicureanism is what you describe, and Epicureans haven't been known for their sterling moralities.  Conscience I have noted is not easily ignored and seared, but once it is, it gets easier and easier.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (09-17-2002 04:30 PM).]

Interloper
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7 posted 09-17-2002 05:22 PM       View Profile for Interloper   Email Interloper   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Interloper

Toe said what I'd say (perish the thought)

First you better define "religion" if you wnat to write a paper for school.  It would also help for our discussion, here.

You are throwing a very wide loop right now
Toerag
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Ala bam a


8 posted 09-17-2002 05:52 PM       View Profile for Toerag   Email Toerag   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toerag

Interloper....I know you had a typo there....right?...You meant "cherish" the thought?....LOL
Ron
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9 posted 09-17-2002 06:32 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Stephen said:
quote:
When it gets hot, that philosophy provides too easy an out.

"God helps those who help themselves" is one of the most quoted verses not in the Bible, Stephen. If someone wants an out, they seem to find it regardless of their beliefs. And when push comes to shove, not many will let their children go hungry so that others might eat. Because "charity begins at home" is another of those most quoted verses.

Does religion divide society or does it provide valuable functions?

My answer becomes a little more obvious if we change the question a bit. Does the color of a man's skin divide society or does it provide a valuable function? My answer is, it doesn't matter. The color of a man's skin and belief in God are seemingly inherent facets of our humanity, and to change either would change the nature of who or what we are. "Things" don't divide society so much as does intolerance to our differences. Unless you can envision an homogeneous world of identical clones, we need to change not religion, nor skin color, nor languages and culture, but rather the nature of our intolerance.
Stephanos
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10 posted 09-17-2002 08:29 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Ron,

Of course I recognize the responsibility of taking care of our own first, and then going from there.  What I don't recognize is a philosophy which hangs the "shoulds" and "should nots" of morality on a self gratification principle.  If that's the case then "self sacrifice" is merely a religious euphemism for self seeking.


I also recognize that regardless of philosophy and belief, it is action that counts.  And of course there are many who may hold right beliefs and yet who do not live them in a practical and real sense demonstrated by action.  I think James called that being "hearers of the word and not doers".  So you say there is hypocrisy.  I agree.  We all have to examine ourselves on these points.  Does that mean that no philosophies are more valid than others?  Right thinking leads to right action.  I am merely saying that any philosophy which places self as the ultimate concern, ends up making it easier for the forces which cause us to fail morally.  That's why Jesus often taught about "taking up your cross" and "denying self".  (Christianity is not alone either in connecting self denial with morality)   That is not to say that the same forces are not at work in us regardless of what we believe, it's just that some beliefs make it a whole lot easier to fail.  If you don't believe that, what basis have you for your Christian beliefs?


Stephen.


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (09-17-2002 08:36 PM).]

Ron
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11 posted 09-17-2002 09:09 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

You need to start a new topic, Stephen, rather than take this one off its course. As you compose it, you might ask yourself a question. Why did God create man?
hush
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12 posted 09-18-2002 01:06 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Stephen... here we go again...

'I wonder to myself, what would ever cause you to value the "good feeling" of helping another, over the good feeling of a full belly say if it was your last 5 bucks, and it came down to you having a meal or them having a meal?'

What causes me to value the good feeling of giving over the good feeling of eating? Two things. First of all, I have seen human suffering. I don't like to see it, so if I can help another out, I will. Secondly- It's not my last five bucks. I have more in the bank. Seriously, though, if I was down to five bucks, I'd probably give the bum a dollar instead of five. you can get a loaf of bread for a dollar... and I still fill my belly comfortably.

The difference between self-interest and selflessness is that the selfless person would starve himself in order to feed another. When you think of all the starving people in the world... doesn't make much sense to deny yourself all comfort in order to add little comfort to thw life of another, especially since if you're giving up your last five bucks... who's gonna feed you? Not I...

'And from the standpoint of making self-interest the highest consideration, in what sense are the pleasures of giving more desireable than the pleasures of self-indulgence and being stingy, and why?'

I hold generosity highly among my list of values, believe it or not. However, I don't call it selflessness, which I find a rather ugly concept. Rather, I acknowledge that giving to others fulfills a moral guideline I set for myself, thus bringing me pleasure; at the same time, it'll fill that guy's stomach. Mutual trade to mutual benefit.

'What happens when morality imposes a much more unpleasant option as the "right" thing to do?'

I weigh my options. If I will derive enough personal pleasure and fulfillment out of the action to make the unpleasantness of doing so worth my while, I do it. If not, I don't. Pretty simple.

'What keeps you from shirking moral responsiblity on the basis that the easier way is easiest, especially if it is all about yourself?'

I am tempted to question 'moral responsibility'- to whom? To a homeless guy I don't know? I didn't make him homeless... and I certainly didn't give him any mental/substance abuse problems he may have that keep him on the street...

Now... I'm partially playing devil's advocate here... in a purely theoretical sense, I don't feel the responsibility is mine... however... tie emotions in, maybe put my father's face and this man's body... and yeah, I feel like I'm doing something wrong if I don't help... even if I didn't cause the mess... because even though I didn't cause it, not helping just propogates the problem... on the other hand... I'm not sure that a five dollar handout which may just be spent on drugs or booze is really the right remedy for the situation, either...

'If you say that the unpleasant grumblings of conscience will be enough of a reason to avoid shirking a duty, I still would ask why the conscience should impose such a thing,'

That's not what I'm saying at all! I'm looking at the half-full glass... not the guilty conscience, but the realized moral... it's not a matter of avoiding feeling bad, but rather, one of feeling good... and if giving makes me feel good, I should do it... likewise, if walking on and getting that BigMac makes me feel good... I should do that. One should choose the greater of two goods... not the lesser of two evils.

'and why should we believe it, especially if, as you suggest, there is no true moral hierarchy of what is the better choice? The only hierarchy is what yields the most pleasure. '

The moral hierarchy here is personal pleasure, (that's the point) so long as it doesn't interfere with pre-existing laws. And so far as I know, there are no laws that require me to give my money away.

Let me pose this question- shouldn't the aim be to refocus the way people derive pleasure, rather than try to guilt them into doing something because the needy need it? Get people to view helping in this glass-half-full light, and it might just turn a chore into something pleasureable, and thus eagerly fulfilled.

---

'If that's the case then "self sacrifice" is merely a religious euphemism for self seeking.'

I don't speak form a platform of religion. I am not religious. It's apples and oranges- religion lauds self-sacrifice, while I don't... it's kind of hard to communicate when we speak two different languages here.

I didn't respond directly to everyhting you said, so if there's a point you feel I fail to address, please bring it to my attention. I'm too tired right now.

THE ONLY WAR THAT MATTERS IS THE WAR AGAINST THE IMAGINATION
ALL OTHER WARS ARE SUBSUMED IN IT

-Diane Di Prima

Stephanos
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13 posted 09-18-2002 02:04 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hush

you wrote...

"Let me pose this question- shouldn't the aim be to refocus the way people derive pleasure, rather than try to guilt them into doing something because the needy need it?


Let me ask this question first...  Doesn't your question reveal that you hold a value judgement that is not totally based on pleasure?  Did you notice that there is a presupposition smuggled into your question ... namely that people should refocus the way they derive pleasure?  But why should they?  If one claims to get more pleasure out of being spiteful than out of being kind... and the non-verbal claim can also be the fact that they have chosen to be spiteful...  then on what grounds can you suggest a superior way?  Pleasure being quite subjective in nature, would reduce your statement to "It is my preference to be more kind and giving".  

Now consider this ... by reducing the question to one of simple preference, you seem to present the choice, for example, of breaking someone's jaw or giving them a sandwich to eat, as on the same level as the choice between a ham or bologna sandwich for lunch.  The pleasure principle necessarily excludes moral considerations.


To illustrate, let's say in pretense that I am a rapist and I enjoy it.  I am confident I won't get caught.  I like to live life on the run from city to city anyway.  Why should I choose not to rape, in light of your philosophy, seeing the pleasure principle is high and I feel no need to switch methods?


And by the way, my answer to your above stated question is "Yes".

Stephen.


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (09-18-2002 02:14 AM).]

Ron
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14 posted 09-18-2002 02:10 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

It is a little impolite to completely hijack someone else's topic, guys.
Stephanos
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15 posted 09-18-2002 02:18 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

But Ron... I get more pleasure out of doing it this way! ... who are you to tell me it is impolite?  

Just kidding I know that you are the moderator and you are right.  I posted a new topic based on this same idea that Hush and I are discussing, and so if she will we can move it over there.


Sorry 'bout that!


Stephen.
 
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