WOULD THE WORLD BE BETTER OR WORSE OFF WITHOUT RELIGION?
It seems that belief in some form of god is at the very root of humanity. Since the earliest recorded days, we've had religion. But what if this was never the case? What if humanity never developed the concept of God? How would things have turned out differently? Do you think we'd be better or worse off?
What state would the world be in today if the human race had never encountered God, either as a religious figure or as a concept?
"What if humanity never developed the concept of God?"
Your question has already made an assumption about reality; it assumes that humanity did, in fact, develop the concept of God, rather than God developing humanity.
If God had chosen not to reveal himself to us (and we never attempted to assign any credit to any divine being), I believe that we'd be an extremely selfish, brutal race of creatures. Rather than having several moral codes to choose from (or fight about), we be guided by the most pragmatic rules of nature. Survive, procreate, and wallow in self-pleasure.
It's hard to really get into this hypothetical, because I don't believe in the existence of "goodness" outside of God.
Too many things to get into here. One is whether religion is the concept of God (Buddhism isn't; Paganism need not be). Another is whether humanity developed the concept of God (debatable). Another is whether it would be possible for there to be no religion (no) or possible for there to be no concept of God (debatable; Aristotle deduced God's existence from philosophical, not revealed, principles, rightly or wrongly).
To me this illustrates the difficulty in talking across belief systems. I notice it more with New Age friends, but it does show up in other places too -- like this one.
It would go to hell in a hand basket. Hmmmm I don't guess it could if there was not a god lol. This is intriguing as I think some people and cultures would do fine. But on the whole I think society would suffer. Or maybe it would be a utopia if finally mankind learned how to treat each other with respect and kindness for the simple fact that they should. But as I don't believe that most would without some idea that their is a "father figure" watching and to whom we are accountable. Whew this is just way to open ended! To try to imagine a group of people with out some form of belief system is un imaginable. Even atheist's have gotten most of their core beliefs from one religion or another, even if they won't admit it. People through out the ages have always developed some form of belief system. I just don't think it is even a possibility for mankind.
First I believe it is impossible to have high intelligence and sentience without religion developing. So first off my theory is that religion and God are neccessary to motivate us now that we are intelligent enough to be curious about our surroundings and unsatisfied with our role in the natural world. Not to tinker around with the question too much but I would fast forward it a bit to ask where would mankind be if religion was phased out.
This question is way too broad to justify it with a short answer. One would need to cover psychology, anthropology, cultures, history, all secular systems, etc. I'd write a book. In short, that undefinable somethingness most peoples define as God has helped civilizations move out of their caves and over mountains, across desserts and oceans. Give a mammal a sense of something larger than their immediate reality and that mammal will try hard to seek it.
I think it is impossible to know what it would be like because the chain of events that would not have occurred is so incredibly lengthy and complex and involves so many actions and ideas. Cannot unravel.
I'd love to cross some desserts right now...just kidding.
The question would be much better stated as Deities and not God. The onset of deities is necessary for humans to explain something we can't prove. Once it was proven that the sun wasn't carried across the sky by a chariot Apollo really didn't have much use so he was phased out. Like someone said earlier, religion gets revamped as things get explained better. I honestly believe that the world would be a much better place sans religion. Not faith, faith is fine. Religion is the thing that gets people.
Back to the question at hand, I don't believe that there could be a world without faith. If someone didn't come up with the idea of the Zodiac to explain constellations people would have spent all day staring into the sky instead of doing something productive. Religion keeps people rotating that cog in that giant wheel of civilization instead of questioning things.
I also don't want to start a new argument but I truly believe that religion actually stifles intelligence and forward thinking. If everyone in the world believed in the bible to it's fullest extent, we would still be scared to make progression in fields of science for fear of "burning in the fiery lake". People would still be looking to modern day shamans to heal their problems instead of getting proper treatment. (To digress, I hate it when people talk bad about Scientologists because they don't seek medical help due to their "outrageous" beliefs. As Christians shouldn't you be doing the same...that is if you truly believe that prayer would heal you or solve your problems, there would be no need for doctors or healthcare)There would be no forward progression because someone said that they read that "God doesn't like it".
It probably can't happen because the human condition is an incredibly mixture of the rational and the irrational. Also, secularism may be strongly dependent on the availability of resources, a problem that we are facing right now given peak oil.
Humanity never has encountered god anyway. I believe that there was once a man perhaps weaker than another that created this concept of a god to get the one up on everyone else. Without the concept of a god I believe that we would have progressed far into the future.
Personally, I think we would be worse off. I am not a strongly religious man myself, but I do value culture. I feel that religion has played such a strong part in developing unique cultures that much of what is beautiful about this world would be lost. I won't go ahead and make the claim that we would all be savages because I believe tha religion has caused more deaths than it has stopped. And it leaves open the question, would we not have developed these religious guidelines, such as "though shalt not kill" without the help of religion?
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