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Do We Need Another So-Called Holy War? Religion vs. Science

Balatarin

According to the teachings of Islam, God has sent us 124,000 prophets so far and none of them claimed to be a scientist.  Some of them, like Muhammad, were even utterly illiterate. He, Moses, or Jesus did not tell any believer who complained about a disease to seek medical treatment or go to see a doctor. Believers simply relied on the power of prayer and healing by faith. There are plenty of Hadiths in Islam recommending that followers seek faith-based healing. Even today, poll after poll shows that many people believe that faith and prayers help patients to recover from their illnesses, despite the fact that there has not been any convincing evidence proving their effectiveness. On the contrary, there are many documented cases of children suffering serious harm, even death, because of their parent’s refusal to seek medical treatment for them and chose instead to solely rely on prayer for healing. I am suspect of the accuracy of these polls because I think most people do not reveal their true opinion when it comes to religious beliefs. I think this is especially true in Islamic countries where there is such a heavy stigma attached to being labeled as a non-believer. Consequently, in these societies, believing or pretending to believe is hence a lifesaving necessity that bestows social and personal benefits, often at no cost. However, the cost of not believing is quite high.

 

Not one of the religious holy books, Quran included, claims to be a book of science or has made any significant predictions. Nonetheless, believers insist that every story and every claim within these books are timeless and scientifically cogent, and their validity is either already established or will soon be established by science.  The virtual world is inundated with video clips of these so-called Islamic religious experts and others making outrageous claims and trying to concoct proof that religious beliefs and rituals are indeed consistent with modern science. One of the most absurd claims of them all can be found here.

 

In the clip, an Islamic government spokeswoman claims that the more science advances, the more it discovers the logic behind religious practices. She uses science to justify these practices, implying that science is finally catching up to and onto what the religion of Islam has known for centuries. Examples given are praying five times a day as Muslims do meets our daily physical exercise requirement and repeatedly reciting particular pious Islamic phrases in Arabic  cures many diseases. Thankfully, this video clip is in Farsi so only a limited audience in this country will be exposed to this nonsense.

 

Religious spin doctors like this spokeswoman try to convince the rest of us that such claims are indeed logical and compatible with modern science. What baffles me is that some of the people doing this kind of spinning have earned terminal degrees from reputable universities. It is one thing for an illiterate person living in a rural area of a Timbuktu to believe, for example, that alcohol is unclean (najes), but it is quite mind boggling when an educated person, such as a medical doctor who should use alcohol every day to sanitize everything in his or her office, believes this is true.

 

Frankly, science and religion need not be compatible because they work in two unrelated domains and rely on divergent methodologies to prove their points. Indeed, they are not, in some cases, irreconcilable. Science relies on empirical means such as observations, commonsense, statistics, and laboratory experiments, whereas the religious domain is evocative. Religion relies on emotions, mysteries, superstitions, miracles, prophecies, revelations, Hadiths, resurrection, the supernatural, and a second coming, among other things. In addition, science is dynamic and its claims may be changed or modified depending on the realities being studied. Religions, on the other hand, are rigid because their claims are ingrained in archaic texts that are considered to be the words of God and one should not dare to change, challenge, or refute them. Although science is comparatively young, it has already solved many mysteries once believed to be the work of almighty God, or it has shed some instructive light on many still unresolved issues.

 

However, the fact that science is limited in scope and has not been able to unlock all the mysteries out there does not mean that religion or a supernatural system has a better explanation for them or can provide better insight into what may remain beyond the purview of science. Claims to the contrary have been made for many centuries; however, to this day, none of them have been scientifically validated.

 

Historically, we can find some distinctive eras in our history that have been known for collaboration between science and religion, mainly because the scientific discoveries sometimes were not in conflict with religious beliefs and thus they were not resisted or detested by religious scholars. Also, in the past, there was no separation between church and state as it exists now. However, scientific theories such as evolution and natural selection that directly challenge the foundations of some religions have been resolutely resisted by theologians or right-wing politicians, especially here in the U.S. Consequently, they have tried to keep these Darwinian theories out of school curricula, often successfully.

 

There is no question about the contributions religion has made to science historically, but attributing scientific advances to religion, as some Islamic scholars do, is unfair and utterly counterproductive. Scientific discoveries would have been made with or without the sanction of religion. Scientists do not undertake research projects because they feel obligated or motivated by their religious convictions, but because they are human beings who wish to contribute to their field of study. Religion may have served as the source of inspiration for the scientists and artists who have created celebrated works of art, or have created magnificent religious structures. However, these accomplishments are testaments to human ingenuity and not the marvels of God as some religious people tell us. God has nothing to do with buildings or works of art. Quite the reverse, one can argue that religion has often been an obstacle to intellectual progress by its opposition to scientific discoveries, its persecution of scientists, and the wars and crusades it instigated in the past and continues to instigate in the present.

 

Strangely, anytime religious supporters hit the epistemological hurdle, they do not give up or do not respond peacefully. As has been done in numerous cases, they offer vague arguments. For example, when the theory of evolution discredited religion’s version of the origin of life on earth, they claimed that even though Darwin might be right, the evolution of life was guided by God and, and hence they made up the creation by design argument. Often, when it comes to reacting to scientific discoveries that threaten long-held beliefs, religion’s defense mechanisms, especially in Muslim societies, have consisted of either resorting to medieval texts or Hadiths to repute them, or resorting to force, violence, and intimidation to suppress them.

 

The ruling Mullahs in Islamic countries like Iran must be thinking that that such reactions will draw more and more people toward Islam and strengthen their position and power. However, observations and reliable information show that more and more people are becoming disenchanted and some even disgusted by these reactions and are instead deserting religion because of them. Theocratic countries like Iran can control the bodies but not the minds of its people. Many Iranians have turned into staunch religious critics and/or have abandoned Islam altogether following the establishment of religious autocracy in Iran and witnessing what is being done in the name of religion in Middle East in general and in Iraq in particular. These naive Mullahs and Sheikhs have done more damage to Islam than atheists.

 

It is, no doubt, your prerogative to believe in what you want to believe; however, accepting something in faith simply indicates that whatever you believe cannot be accepted on its own worth, or through scientific investigation and critical thinking. It would be farcical to assume that if science cannot as yet explain something, that there is a supernatural explanation for it. Well, this may not be the case.

 

Just as there is no reason to accept scientific phenomenon based on mere faith, there is also no reason to believe that religious stories are scientific fact. We should not emasculate proven scientific theories simply because they are at odds with religious theology, nor should we aggrandize religious establishments simply because they have power, the financial backing of some organizations, or have a large adherent base.

 

Just as we espouse the separation of church and state, we should also espouse the separation of science and religion so we can acknowledge their different spheres of influence and better delineate these.

Balatarin

varjavand @varjavand

Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

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HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Reza jan thank you for this contribution.
Indeed, religious thought never needs any epistemology, neither do overwhelming majority of "believers" ever have a clue or need to actually know what epistemology means, they simply believe.
As far as Islam's claims of "uniqueness" is concerned suffice it to keep in mind that the name of the Muslim god Allah is derived from an ancient idol named Al Lah, who used to be placed right next to another idol called Al Lat. Somehow Al Lah was chosen over Al Lat & synthesized into Allah. Over night an idol becomes an "omnipresent god" and if anyone even mentions this travesty, they're "infidels," "heathens,"....
On going crisis from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria,...all point out to the fact that religion; specifically Islam, has become the optimal tool for dividing up societies & getting people stuck in quagmires of religious strife & civil wars for generations.
Time to make a clear break with superstitious, ignorant practices and rely on critical and independent thinking.

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

Dear Hoshang,
Thanks for your supporting comment. You refer to a good point, in a very informative book, Dr Robert Wright explains how and why “God” is the product of human imagination. And, how the characteristics of God have changed in human history depending on what people want to see in their God!
The Evolution of God by Dr. Robert Wright
http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=robert+wright+evolution+of+god&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=22854072361&hvpos=1t2&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=10286895314170428868&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_93cwh36oix_b

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Reza jan thanx for introducing the book from Wright, I'll be ordering it from our library.
It seems we also need to have a book about how Science has almost replaced God!
As I'm sure you're also familiar with the controversy surrounding the field of Genetic engineering & human cloning. As we all know human cloning has become one of the most pressing & important ethical and moral issues facing us now. For many people the awesome powers of genetic engineering & human cloning is a bit too Godly & needs to be clearly restrained & limited. But not only these fields are not being restrained & limited, but they're expanding & growing due to all the monies involved & spectacular financial potentials in them.
Deconstructing God & religion seems so facile when compared to a deconstruction of science in all its complexities & ramifications.

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

I found this post on کانون آگنوستیک ها و آتئیست های ایران Iranian Atheists & Agnostics
very interesting observation that support the underlying theme of this article and the hypocritical nature of the people who try to defend an ideology that is severely flawed.
در کشور دینی و سرشار از آیین‌های مذهبی، عرفان‌های نوظهور و قدیمی؛ آیت‌الله مهدوی کنی رئیس مجلس خبرگان به شدت بیمار می‌شود و به کما می‌رود. در این گیر و دار نه کسی از فقها و متولیان دینی برای سلامتی ایشان فتوای دعا و نذر و نیاز می‌دهد، نه کسی به جایی متوسل و دخیل می‌شود و نه بازکردن چاکرا و بستن حلقه کیهانی مطرح می‌شود. هیچ کس ایشان را به دهها مکانی که با قطعیت ادعا می کنند لاعلاج ترین بیماریها را شفا می دهد نمی برد همراهان و نزدیکانش او را به جایی می‌برند که جوابش را پس داده است؛ علم پزشکی!

آیت‌الله مهدوی کنی به همت علم زنده است، به همت ترکیب زیبا و لذت‌بخش از علوم مختلف با مرگی دست و پنجه نرم می‌کند که آیت‌الله و شاطر نانوا نمی‌شناسد. او به کمک دستان توانمند تکنولوژی به صورت آنلاین برای دیگران قابل مشاهده و رصد است. مخلوطی از انواع علوم به او فرصت داده تا مرگ را عقب براند.

علم نجیب است، مدعی نیست و هیچگاه منتی بر کسی نمی‌گذارد، اما نکته‌ای باقی‌ست که اگر فردا ایشان به زندگی بازگردد از «دعای خیر مردم و مراجع» بوده و اگر چهره در نقاب خاک کشد «پس از سالها جهد و تلاش شتابان به دیار حق شتافته». علمی که همواره همه ما را با آغوش باز پذیرفته و به همه ما فرصتی دوباره داده همیشه گمنام است.

نویسنده: مجید

ramin5

ramin

Baha'i Faith teaches that religion should be in accord with science and logic:

"Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world. ....... In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him." - Baha'u'llah.

Also,

"How can a man believe to be a fact that which science has proved to be impossible? If he believes in spite of his reason, it is rather ignorant superstition than faith. The true principles of all religions are in conformity with the teachings of science.
The Unity of God is logical, and this idea is not antagonistic to the conclusions arrived at by scientific study.
All religions teach that we must do good, that we must be generous, sincere, truthful, law-abiding, and faithful; all this is reasonable, and logically the only way in which humanity can progress.
All religious laws conform to reason, and are suited to the people for whom they are framed, and for the age in which they are to be obeyed." - Abdul-Baha.

P.Galenous

P_J. An Iranian!

Why don't you spare us from your religious propaganda crap...grow up and stop insulting others intelligence. You people are as credible as are the Akhoonds, if not less! And tell us why your faked, British inspired and manufactured religion uses Quran as the "holly" book with awkwardly emasculating some of its verses/sentences?!

ramin5

ramin

P-J, your brilliant eloquence and sharp logic has left me speechless!

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

All due respect for your claim to scientific reasoning how do you explain this "Allah" suffix in Baha'u'llah?
Since we all know Al Lah was originally name of an ancient Arabian idol that Mohammad transformed from Al Lah into Allah. Wouldn't your use of this terminology be just another continuity in tradition of irrationality & superstitious rather than a break from it?
Modern science has proven the universe to be about 14 trillion years old, ruled by Anthropic principals & laws. What does any of this has to do with an imaginary supreme being that no one has able to prove its existence?

ramin5

ramin

My response to Reza's article was meant to point out that at least one religion, the Baha'i Faith, has very specific teachings regarding science and its relationship with religion. As far as I know, the creator of the universe and the motivating force behind its order in Arabic and in Quran is called Allah. Your description of the origin of this name is very interesting and I believe you that it might be true. The idea of a Creator isn't a simple concept. We have as much ability of understanding it as a table has of understanding the carpenter that manufactured it. All major religions have thought that human beings have a spiritual characteristic that is not limited by time and space and is somehow connected to the creative force of all existence which has been called God, Allah, Ahora, Yahveh, etc. The name is neither important nor that informative.

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Ramin jan GR in his comment above poses an interesting question; namely if every religions' claim to truth & ethics is valid then why all these divisions & deadly conflicts amongst religions or even within the sects & branches of the same religion?
You analogy between tables & human beings is incredibly inadequate. The most pressing issue for ethics in 21st century is the question of human cloning & the distinct possibility the humans could produce fully functioning human clones before the end of the century (if we still have a planet earth that has overcome the global environmental crisis).
The power science has unleashed on our civilization is a bit contradictory, we could use it to enhance our lives or to destroy it.
In either case the ultimate decision, responsibility & consequences are all up to us & left for us. There's no omnipresent being deciding any of this.

ramin5

ramin

My understanding of the causes of conflict and strife between various religions is:
Religion, like many other things, has been used for political, economic and personal gains. Mostly by their leaders (clergy) and political leaders. It has also been a source of unity, progressiveness and advancement of various societies at different times.
Religion addresses the people of a particular time and place. The population that Abraham or Moses addressed were quite different than those who were addressed by Jesus and Mohamed, as they were from today. Each population has had different needs and was approached in a different context.
Addressing today's problems with teachings from 2000 years ago wont solve them and in fact can aggravate them.

If a religion is judged by looking at its teachings directly rather than through the actions and claims of its followers one would find a more charitable view of them.

My table analogy may be was a poor one - the point I was trying to make is that by definition humans can not understand the nature of the Creator. There is much in science that we all believe in but don't really understand its true nature, for example the concepts of mass, or gravity and the question of what was there before the Big Bang. We have theories based on some physical and mathematical evidence. But no fair scientist would claim that they have a complete understanding.

Religion states that humanity will reach its potential and achieve happiness when it develops spiritual capacities as well as biological and intellectual ones. Some of those capacities I quoted from Abdul-Baha earlier, generosity, sincerity, trustworthiness, love for our fellow human beings, other creatures and environment, humility, etc.

Liberated

Liberated

Off course,

The problem is not the religion itself!!!????
Lets quote bahaollah or other religious charlatans. Wakeup buddy Santa Clause doesn't exist. It has been shown by rational science that every assumption the religious charlatans of the past have made is nonsense. So Santa, Imam Zaman, Bahaollah, Jesus are not coming the world is not ending unless some delusional religious idiot destroys it all. Science is our only salvation that will help us deal with changing environment, disease, population growth, poverty and on and on...

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Religion in all its manifestations is created because of humans alienation from nature. As long as we have alienation we'll also have religion.

This appeal to irrationalism & depicting humans as incapable of greater understanding of our origins & where we come from is simply unacceptable. We live through a process called evolution, and because of if it human beings in 21 century live in substantially different circumstances that they used to live (it's not all good or all bad, as usual it's a mixed bag, and above all a testimony to the evolutionary process of life).

As that German writer reminded us: "The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo."

P.Galenous

P_J. An Iranian!

Correction: I think you meant 14 billion rather than 14 trillion years as the age of Universe!

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Correct you are. The actual number is 13,798,000,000 billion years, with an error margin of 0.037.
And that's the beauty of science; how you could practically quantify every thing and discuss matters based on empirical evidence and rational thought. Not some ancient idol turned into a "omnipresent being" used as a license to raise hell on earth.

P.Galenous

P_J. An Iranian!

And don't forget that most scientists have no political agenda and are truth seekers first and foremost. They also readily admit mistakes, if they make them, opposite to the intransigence displayed by the religions and the religious communities world over.

BTW, Bible states that universe was created 6000 years ago...when there are sequoia/redwood trees that are much older than that, but do you think they heed or at least correct themselves...not what so ever, since they are dealing with the "word" of God! Ideas that are and have been discredited and asinine, especially when it is happening in 21st century!

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Most scientists don't have any agenda other than pursuit of science itself, but big science which is sponsored by big business & closely allied with big government always has a number of agendas.
The problem with having a theocracy in power for 35 years is that all levels of discussion are incredibly lowered and compromised.
Of course in the context of struggles against a theocracy we will obviously side with science and the emphasis science has on empirical evidence & rational methodology.
Yet in the context of todays global corporate structures science in many instances itself has become a new type of religion, an instrument of corporate hegemony & domination.
Last but definitely not least the ultimate religion in todays world is Capitalism, which Walter Benjamin had referred to in "Capitalism as Religion."

P.Galenous

P_J. An Iranian!

Well said! Problem is that, these folks bear as much zealotry as do the Basidgies if not more and no matter how wrong they are proven to be, neither logic nor reason ever enter their worlds or minds...alas the failed propaganda machine continue to turn.

FiroozR.Oskooi

Firooz R. Oskooi Retired Ophthalmologist, Baha'i, live in beautiful Southern California. Active tennis player, hiker, biker, and love Persian classic music, poetry, and philosophy.

Here we go again. Dr. Varjavand intentionally takes on old religions and compare them with current science, then talks abour unfairness! Why not find out like a true researcher what the latest religion - The Baha'i Faith - has to say. Your prejudice is worse than the prejudice of the ignorant believers, because you consider yourself a scientist!?

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

I believe your criticism is unwarranted because I haven’t made any reference to Bahaism, not even implicitly for I am not familiar with its teaching. My reference to “religion” is either generic or mostly Abrahamic religions that I am familiar with.
The central theme of the argument is that religion and science are incompatible and any attempt by religious experts to prove otherwise will be a disservice to religion.

G.Rahmanian

G. Rahmanian


Ramin quoted:

"All religions teach that we must do good, that we must be generous, sincere, truthful, law-abiding, and faithful; all this is reasonable, and logically the only way in which humanity can progress.
All religious laws conform to reason, and are suited to the people for whom they are framed, and for the age in which they are to be obeyed." - Abdul-Baha.

In the quote above I find the "law-abiding" principle as contradictory to the practice and promotion of the Baha'i faith in places such Iran where its believers are persecuted, raped and killed by the murderous authorities. According to the barbaric "laws" of the Islamic Republic of Iran adherents of the Baha'i faith are apostates and deserve severe punishment. With that in mind, is it not "logical" to say by practicing and promoting their faith the Baha'is are in fact breaking the law?

Also, if all religions say the same thing, then why convert to the Baha'i faith? Why endanger the safety of those believers who are encouraged by their elders to try and convert others to their faith?

ramin5

ramin

Interesting question. I am an Iranian Baha'i. I haven't seen Baha'is "promoting" their Faith. In fact, proselytizing is against the Baha'i teachings. We have a spiritual responsibility to live our lives according to the principles of our Faith. We are also obligated to teach our Faith to whomever is interested and wants to learn about it. I can see how these two, living the Baha'i life and being eager to let anyone who is interested know about Baha'u'llah (i.e. teaching it) can be seen as "promoting". The theocratic rulers of Iran most certainly seem to be challenged by these. In Iran Baha'is have obeyed the government regulations as far as their administrative activities were concerned. Baha'i administration has been disbanded. However, we are not willing to compromise on our spiritual duties and our basic human rights such as educating our children. I hope this is helpful.

JahanshahRashidian3

Jahanshah Rashidian

Placebo effects, is the puzzle. This is the mysterious response to any faith-based recovery with no clinical explanation but merely psychologically effects which can act on a the recovery of patient averagely 25%. It affects more than 25% in a shamanic healing, simply because of stronger belief. for that, you should not be Muslim or even religious at all, it is enough to believe in it, so a neutral substances like saccharin or a pray would act like medicatation.

G.Rahmanian

G. Rahmanian


"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo." Karl Marx

Ashianeh

Ashianeh Raise your words, not your voice It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. Rumi

No one buys anymore what these ignorant Mullahs try to inject into people's minds. TV programs such as the one in this blog have become comedy shows, which are watched to be entertained rather than informed.

BehrouzBahmani

Behrouz Bahmani We're just trying to [change] the system / But it's hard from a distance / So it's time for a new better way

The claim of Namaz being equated to Yoga is more telling than you'd think. Mohammad was a traveller and likely he went East and saw the Yogis and took the Namaz exercises from Yoga. Unfortunately this makes Namaz less legit, and Yoga more original.

The real answer is that if you are a reasonable person, you probably should believe in God. Until someone explains how the Big Bang occurred and what was there before, God and the "Let there be light (Big Bang)" is the reasonable explanation for the origin of the Universe. Until someone offers proof otherwise. Which so far they haven't.

I'm not saying there is or isn't a God, I'm hedging by saying maybe.

But better people than us, actual professional philosophers who thought about this full time, as their day-job, a long time ago, that modern Islamic scholars and Mollahs always want to marginalize by ignoring, have already debated all of this for decades. And the results were already in on this entire issue in the 18th century when Pascal lost his argument for religion to Voltaire.


Pascal's famous wager was that if you were a reasonable person, you had to be to believe in religion who argued that if god exists, and you did not believe in him, you would not get into heaven and that could cost you everything. But even if God did not exist it was the better bet to believe in God than to not believe in god. Just in case he did. If he didn't, you lived a good and just life and it costs you nothing.

Voltaire argued how can you know which religion is the one true religion that God really wants us to practice? Therefore the safest bet of all was to believe in God, but not to practice ANY specific religion.

This was argued in the 1700s. it is a done argument. The modernist Islamics arguing now is yet another in a long line of many insults to civilization, and the philosophical accomplishments of mankind. Although I am sure a lot of Arabs and assorted new-literate moslems think this is a new topic, it isn't. It is an old discussion, had by far better people than exist now, and the discussion is moot.

As Voltaire said,

"(the theist) believes that religion consists neither in the opinions of an unintelligible metaphysics, nor in vain apparatus, but in worship and in justice. To do good, that is his prayer; to be submitted to God, that is his doctrine. The Mohammedan calls to him 'Beware if you do not make your pilgrimage to Mecca!' 'Woe on you, says a recoller to him, if you do not make a journey to Notre-Dame de Lorette!' He laughs at Lorette and at Mecca, but he helps the poor and defends the oppressed."

This is the standard as set in the 18th century. Why are we having the same discussion now? Because the sales department of Religion Inc. has to sell to survive.

Religion is exactly like Coca Cola. It certainly tastes great when you are thirsty. But a simple glass of free water from any faucet is statistically much better for you.

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

Pascal wager is based on a wrong assumption that if there is no God, you are not going to lose anything, not true, being pious in modern world is quite costly, materially and otherwise. Findings of many researches support the proposition that the degree to which people practice a religion varies indirectly with their level of income. In advanced nations, like the U.S., the percentage of people believing in core ideas of religion like belief in God is high. Believing in God has no cost, but instead has a lot of benefits. However, when it comes to fulfilling the stringent requirements of belief, the percentage of followers shrinks to about 50% as the monetary and the opportunity costs rise. Such analyses suggest that there is a high cost attached to devoutness.

It is, however, the threat of excruciating punishment in this world and especially in the next the draws people to religion. Overcome by fear of punishment and enticed by heavenly amenities in the next world, individuals have been manipulated by the promise of eternal salvation.
Religious aggravators, such as Mullahs, have told them that only they know what it takes to attain heavenly bliss. For some, the expectation of egotistical rewards for piety has changed Islam into a self-serving belief system and self-interest has become the central impetus behind religiosity. Such a blinkered way of thinking has, indeed, undermined the power of the moral imagination and the worldview of ordinary Muslims. Consequently, Muslims have been typically transformed into a group of people (Umma) who are obsessed with their “specialness” and engrossed in zero-sum-

BehrouzBahmani

Behrouz Bahmani We're just trying to [change] the system / But it's hard from a distance / So it's time for a new better way

That's not the cost being debated in the wager. The wager is whether or not there is a god. The cost is your soul or whether there is an ultimate reward by god for believing in him, not the cost of joining any religion. The Pascal wager is not about religion.

Of course you are absolutely right about the inherent costs financial and otherwise of being part of ANY religion. And Pascal was trying to mathematically argue in favor of his religion, Christianity, as a result of proving his wager theory.

But Voltaire was a Deist. Or someone who believes only in God but does not believe in any of the religions. Or Theists. I like Voltaire's argument.

If there is a God, I think he would be more grateful that we believed in him alone, rather than if we followed one of his religions.

Maybe religion is a way for God to test our belief. With anyone who follows a religion not getting the greater point and therefore failing the test.

Because if every religion claims to be the one true one, then at some point, everyone who believes in one religion over another, is going to hell for not believing in the other.

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

Even if you happen to find the only right religion, how can you be sure that you fulfill its requirements correctly? Based on my calculation, even though I am not a statistician, given the number of religion existed today the probability of finding the right one is infinitesimal and the chance of going to heaven is 0.000000000000124. Sorry couldn’t be more encouraging!

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

They say human mind is pattern-seeking and agent-assigning. We instinctually invoke God or a supernatural source to explain the events we don’t understand. There are lots of miraculous events/coincidences we see happening may be every day. They are inevitable outcomes of large number and extensive amount of time. The more frequently you repeat something through time, the closer it gets to the expected value. It is like a lottery that the chance of winning may be 1 in millions, however, somebody is going to win.

I think such coincidences can be explained by science.
For example, the fact that probability off life originating on earth by chance, evolution, and natural selection is small does not preclude it from happening just as the low probability of winning a lotto does not prevent somebody to win. There is a life, in its current form, on earth because of certain fine- tuning/parameters that just happen to exist on earth and perhaps in no other planet. Undoubtedly, there was no life on earth without these conditions or the form of life would if some of these preconditions did not exist.

HoshangTarehgol5

Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Sustaining myths & necessary illusions are also contributing factors to maintenance of religious subjectivity & irrationality.
Many evolutionary biologists have pointed out if earth had not been hit by that gigantic asteroid 65 million years ago, which resulted in extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, evolution of mammals might have never occurred, since they would've been nothing but dino-hors d'oeuvres'!
A religious mind by definition is simplistic, binary & absolutist. There's no room for relativity, approximation or critical investigation in religious mode of thought. It's "faith" based. You just "believe!"

varjavand

varjavand Reza Varjavand (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is associate professor of economics and finance at the Graham School of management, Saint Xavier University, of Chicago.

very good point, for life to commence and sustain on earth certain conditions must exist including the one you described in your comment, they just happen to exist on earth by chance not by design as religious people believe.