Essay:Agnosticism

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Essay.svg This essay is an original work by Lyra Belaqua.
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There are views expressed by a select member(s) of RationalWiki that I would like to address, namely this point that describes all religion as a "disease afflicting [most of] humanity."

This is the definition of a disease:

"a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms"[1]

This is the definition of religion:

"a system of beliefs, including belief in the existence of at least one of the following: a human soul or spirit, a deity or higher being, or self after the death of one’s body"[2]

Why could religion be considered a disease?[edit]

There are a few arguments in favor of this point of view.

Religion weakens the body[edit]

It may be argued that religion as an institution makes the body weaker. I presume that this means weaker of the mind, lessening in objectivity and intelligence.

Religion impairs normal functioning of the body[edit]

Religion makes us less efficient and makes us die earlier. It is an institutionalized influenza.

Why none of this is true[edit]

The above arguments make little sense, and should be reconsidered.

Religion weakens the body[edit]

Religion does not make us less objective.

A human soul or spirit[edit]

It might be considered delusional to believe that a human has more to his/her body than the material elements. Evolution has created us, after all, from nothing but a pool of amino acids (assuming Q didn’t get involved). A belief otherwise, however, has nothing to do with evolution or materialism. After all, life has consciousness as far as we know. Humans are conscious. However, single-celled life forms are not conscious (as far as we are concerned). Humans are therefore somewhat different. In what way, we know not. We simply don’t, and to deny this simple truth is self-deceit.

A deity[edit]

It has been said, "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

Counterexample: I assert that I do not exist, because there is no scientific evidence to suggest so. (Let’s assume that I have no effect on anything except my own thoughts.) However, I know I exist, because I am thinking. "I think, therefore I am."

A less meta-counterexample: I assert that a random person on the internet, let’s say this guy, is a robot imitating a person. The technology exists to create such a machine. There is no evidence to suggest this is true, but will everyone rational dismiss this assertion? Not if they are rational. It is a definite possibility.

The existence (and influence) of a deity is also a definite possibility. Deism holds that there is a God, but whose only purpose is to be a kind of First Catalyst. In this case, a supernatural explanation of a historical event becomes a definite possibility. This is based on the fact (fact) that randomness is an illusion.

Self after the death of one’s body[edit]

This is also problematic. When an organism dies, where do his thoughts go? We do not know. Science has no explanations at all. Philosophy and [experimental] theology must take this up. There’s no evidence for a limited span of consciousness. However, a rational person should take the position that where there is no evidence for any side of this, one should not pass arbitrary judgment.

Religion impairs functioning of the body[edit]

I'll start by saying this: The Borg were/are extremely efficient. The balance must be maintained between maximum efficiency and low efficiency. Humans have always operated at a level of efficiency suitable to their own happiness. Since most people are made happier by being religious, except in a few cases, religion does not impair the "normal" functioning of the body. "Normal" is much less defined in humans as any other organism when it comes to the mind.

Yes, depression occurs, but not at the fault of religious beliefs.

Take away religion, and people will be less happy. Religion does not negatively affect their efficiency, therefore.

Specific religions[edit]

Institutionalized Christianity, however, has several assertions that can be dismissed, only because there is strong scientific evidence against them.

Conclusion[edit]

All things considered, religion could not be considered a disease upon humanity. It does not weaken the mind by encouraging irrational thought, except in a few cases that were unique and specific. It offers enlightenment, and therefore comfort and happiness, except in specific cases. It does not impair a mind or body’s "normal" functioning by making both less efficient.

References[edit]

  1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disease
  2. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/religion