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Why we need religion

Superlative

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By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist | April 18, 2007

"I WOULD ban religion completely," British pop-music star Elton John said in a much-noted interview last November. "It turns people into hateful lemmings, and it's not really compassionate."

It isn't exactly news that many people find religion odious, but what is being called the New Atheism has lately become a booming industry. A profusion of books, articles, and lectures extols secularism and derides faith in God as pernicious and absurd. Such antipathy to religion was once relegated to the edges of polite society. Today it shows up front and center.
A California congressman is cheered for announcing that he is an atheist.

A New York Times Magazine cover story -- "Why Do We Believe?" -- considers "evolutionary adaptation" and "neurological accident" as explanations for religious belief, but not the possibility that God may actually exist. A forthcoming book by Christopher Hitchens, a noted journalist, is titled "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything."
Yet you rarely have to look far to be reminded of the indispensability of God and religion .

On the front page of Sunday's Boston Globe, a photo shows the Rev. Wayne Daly walking with two Boston police officers through Grove Hall in Roxbury. "Targeting areas racked by deadly violence," the caption explains, "members of the Black Ministerial Alliance began an effort yesterday to pair with police as intermediaries."

Some 50 priests and ministers will fan out across the city's most dangerous precincts, knocking on doors and introducing residents to the police officers patrolling their neighborhoods. The goal is to break through the intimidation or distrust that often keeps residents from speaking up about criminal activity. "Underpinning the alliance's strategy," a news story notes, "is the idea that residents in these neighborhoods . . . may be more willing to talk to law enforcement officials in the future if ministers have paved the way."
No doubt Hitchens and Sir Elton would find this unfathomable. If religion transforms decent people into "hateful lemmings," why turn for help to the local clergy? If religion "poisons everything," who in his right mind would trust men for whom religious witness is a way of life?

Of course, most of us have no trouble understanding why the pastors are regarded as honest brokers, or why officials hope their involvement will make the city safer. But here's a better question: What prompts these ministers to stick their necks out? Why do they want to be allies of the police in neighborhoods where gangs are ruthless toward "snitches" and other good citizens? For that matter, why do they go into urban ministry in the first place? Surely there are easier, safer, or more lucrative ways to make a living.

There are. But the ministers are driven by a Judeo-Christian moral calculus in which goodness and devotion to others are worth more than an easy, safe, or lucrative career. Judeo-Christian morality demands decency and loving-kindness of its followers -- not as a matter of reason or opinion or "evolutionary adaptation," but of God's will. And from that moral impulse comes the selflessness and strength to rise above oneself.

"I see that moral impulse at work every day," Christian leader Charles Colson has written, "when 50,000 volunteers in Prison Fellowship . . . go into horrid holes, loving the most unlovable people in the world. You don't do that out of any kind of human instinct -- it is contrary to selfish human nature."

Can ardent secularists, firm in their belief that there is no God to whom we must answer and no morality except that which human beings devise, be good and loving people? Sure they can. And yet when acts of charity and goodness are most needed, it isn't generally groups of New Atheists who are seen answering the call. Who is more likely to care for paupers dying in the streets of Calcutta? Secular humanist associations? Or Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, who take God's word -- "Therefore love the stranger" -- as a binding obligation? When Boston's police need moral and trustworthy intermediaries, do they find them in an organization that campaigns against religion? Or in the Black Ministerial Alliance?
The world Elton John dreams of -- a world in which religion is banned -- is one we have already glimpsed. Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot showed us what lies at the end of that road. Of course there are exceptions to every rule; of course not everyone who believes in God is good; of course dreadful things have been done in the name of all religions. But a world without God would be an evil place indeed.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ed...07/04/18/why_we_need_religion/?p1=MEWell_Pos5
 

Jennifer.Bush

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Some 50 priests and ministers will fan out across the city's most dangerous precincts, knocking on doors and introducing residents to the police officers patrolling their neighborhoods. The goal is to break through the intimidation or distrust that often keeps residents from speaking up about criminal activity.
:rolleyes: of course those who commit crimes are going to distrust cops!

i think if you read the old testment you really get a sense of how evil "god" is
 

acludem

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As a practicing Buddhist, a religious person, I obviously wouldn't ban religion. Of course, as a Buddhist, I don't believe in "God". I think frequently people assume that "religion" automatically means belief in some higher being or beings. My religion is about oneself attaining a higher state of being. I think Buddhism is very different from the rest of world religion, though. Ever heard of Buddhist extremists committing violence? I don't recall any Buddhist "crusades" or "wars" either.

acludem
 

Avatar4321

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As a practicing Buddhist, a religious person, I obviously wouldn't ban religion. Of course, as a Buddhist, I don't believe in "God". I think frequently people assume that "religion" automatically means belief in some higher being or beings. My religion is about oneself attaining a higher state of being. I think Buddhism is very different from the rest of world religion, though. Ever heard of Buddhist extremists committing violence? I don't recall any Buddhist "crusades" or "wars" either.

acludem

You aren't familiar with Japanese strains of Buddhism which can be very violent. Buddhism was a religion of warriors there.

btw good to see you again.

And finally, Elton John is a moron.
 

Diuretic

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You aren't familiar with Japanese strains of Buddhism which can be very violent. Buddhism was a religion of warriors there.

btw good to see you again.

And finally, Elton John is a moron.

Not Buddhism, more likely bushido which isn't a religion but a philosophy. Buddhism and violence don't play well together.
 

Bullypulpit

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As a species, we need religion like a fish needs a bicycle.
 

akiboy

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Well...We do need religion. Firstly let me tell you...I am an Hindu and we folks are supposed to be very touchy about religion and stuff..We are somewhat like the Greeks. We have a number of gods such as Lord Shiva(the Destroyer) and Lord Brahma(The Creator). I dont got to the temple very often. my mom forces me to come and visit the temples when I go to India. I dont pray that often. But believe me I always find solace when I pray. When I am sick or if I get panicky I juts say a prayer and I feel calm. Again I repeat I am not religious. My mom is...Without fail she prays everyday and I'll probably be reading Harry Potter. So I think its more of a "belief" then the actual drama of praying and worshipping. I think I speak for everyone when I say that there's someone up there be it Christ , Buddha , Shiva or Allah.
 
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We don't need organized religion. However, everyone has something/someone that they believe in...
 

Hamiltonian

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Does this mean that it's not possible for an atheist to commit moral acts?
 

Hamiltonian

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Then why do we need religion for morality. Sure there have been some atheists who have committed bad deeds, but there have also seemed to be many religious people who committed atrocious acts as well. I find the article highly questionable if they are insinuating that the world Hitler wanted we free of religion. He was a deeply religious man, and especially exploited Teutonic mythology.
 

RetiredGySgt

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We don't need organized religion. However, everyone has something/someone that they believe in...

I can agree that most "religious" problems come from "Organized" religion.
 

Diuretic

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Then why do we need religion for morality. Sure there have been some atheists who have committed bad deeds, but there have also seemed to be many religious people who committed atrocious acts as well. I find the article highly questionable if they are insinuating that the world Hitler wanted we free of religion. He was a deeply religious man, and especially exploited Teutonic mythology.

We don't need religion for morality.
 

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We don't need religion for morality.

Of course we don't. But if we don't use religion, then there exists no absolute morality. So instead of us coming together and saying "hey, it would really make sense if we don't kill one another," we have to say Moses got it from God.
 

Diuretic

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Of course we don't. But if we don't use religion, then there exists no absolute morality. So instead of us coming together and saying "hey, it would really make sense if we don't kill one another," we have to say Moses got it from God.

I think humans have always used a godhead as an authority figure, if only by reference. "I was having a chat with god and he told me I was boss of you lot". The divine right of kings.
 

liberalogic

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The divine right of kings.

That system worked well :rolleyes:

But then again, George Bush thinks he was divinely appointed so I guess we've come full circle.
 

Diuretic

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That system worked well :rolleyes:

But then again, George Bush thinks he was divinely appointed so I guess we've come full circle.

Exactly, nothing like getting out that old ju-ju :rofl:
 

Bullypulpit

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As a practicing Buddhist, a religious person, I obviously wouldn't ban religion. Of course, as a Buddhist, I don't believe in "God". I think frequently people assume that "religion" automatically means belief in some higher being or beings. My religion is about oneself attaining a higher state of being. I think Buddhism is very different from the rest of world religion, though. Ever heard of Buddhist extremists committing violence? I don't recall any Buddhist "crusades" or "wars" either.

acludem

Unfortunately there have been some recent incidents in Cambodia, Korea and Kashmir where Buddhist monks have engaged in street brawls with monks from other Buddhist sects or religious sects. They, like more than a few self-professed Christians, have forgotten the message.
 

Bullypulpit

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Then why do we need religion for morality. Sure there have been some atheists who have committed bad deeds, but there have also seemed to be many religious people who committed atrocious acts as well. I find the article highly questionable if they are insinuating that the world Hitler wanted we free of religion. He was a deeply religious man, and especially exploited Teutonic mythology.

We don't. Morality is not dependent upon religion.
 

Diuretic

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Unfortunately there have been some recent incidents in Cambodia, Korea and Kashmir where Buddhist monks have engaged in street brawls with monks from other Buddhist sects or religious sects. They, like more than a few self-professed Christians, have forgotten the message.

Not forgetting the push in Thailand to have Buddhism declared as the state religion. It's getting political.

Under a certain Bodhi tree in northern India there is a great disturbance.
 

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