Firstly, I am glad I am back here and I miss all of you. And I want to start a discussion now by asking a simple question. Is there a bright side of religion? Did religion positively influence in a positive way regardless of the negative things?

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"take a few wonderful sounding phrases from Bhuddist texts, convert it into a sort of folk-wisdom, try to practice that (without the supernatural part) and then call themselves Bhuddists...

- it's true, Buddhism can be treated like this, and in this form, it probably doesn't have much effect on people's lives.  It's because what sounds deceptively simple, or like some kind of riddle (i.e. Buddhist sayings), can be gateways to some deep and profound principles.  So if people just scratch the surface, they miss out on the deep profundity. 

But then I find that Buddhists don't know when to stop, they carry on getting more and more technical, and stray into regions where nobody really knows what they're talking about. 

I also find that some of these deep principles remain poorly understood, despite all the literature: I'm thinking of:

1)  "craving is the source of unhappiness" (which I think is about the pressure to thrive ["craving"] which, it is well known, does not always coincide with happiness, in various common ways, if it is not managed correctly)

2)  "everything is emptiness, and if you can't see it, you're deluded"  - which is fine, as long as it's true, but I've yet to have anyone convince me why "dependent origination" (everything depends for its existence on something else; everything arises and passes away) particularly matters for any reason.  This means that nobody I've encountered understands "emptiness" well enough to explain it, which suggests that it's "fanny" or just some kind of red herring.  I think they should stop trying to insist that it explains everything, because nobody can say why, including the Dalai Lama. 

Well said. Religion cripples more than it helps people cope with life.

Yes, there is much that is good. They provide havens for molesters who largely escape criminal prosecution or even public censure. They are filling a real need and meeting the hopes and dreams of molesters who would otherwise have fewer opportunities in many cases. And without the power, respect and trust of the cloth a molester would need to be more creative or daring to find their love interests.

And then there is the improvements in methods of torture. Medieval christian torture was so creative in producing blood curdling and ultra-cruel devices. And heck if we humans could be so creative in the science of torture (oh and the lovely architecture and religiously inspired art) then there was room for further advancements leading to modernity. 

A further factor leading to modernity is war. Religion has played big role in war which in turn has increased the magnitude and power of our weapons which has played its part in population control (although those pesky religions ask their sheep to F like rabbits to make more little no-minds) and also led to technology that is beneficial and helps improve our lives. 

It also provides a sense of meaning and community for the dispossessed and introverted. And perhaps, just maybe, that outlet would not always exist but for religion.

Religion gives people fish which is a good thing. Those without religion learn to fish for themselves, which is a much better thing.......I am now off to analogy school!!

Going to analogy school is like doing long devision with an abacus, they both involve moving beads left and right on a metal wire and they both involve doing stuff about things and such.

Your similes Davis...what are they like!!

Ouch!

Snap, crackle and ........

Religion, when it "saves people", can only save those who can be saved by a pacifier.

A baby IS happy to suck on a pacifier, as, it considers it a nipple, and, a real nipple gives sustenance, while a pacifier gives the illusion of receiving sustenance.

It is, in essence, the placebo effect.

If you are CONVINCED it will help, you basically act as though it DID help....just like a sugar pill or a pacifier, etc.

When one of my kids was a tike, he had bad dreams...and, my wife gave him a trinket she had, and told him it was a magic charm that prevented bad dreams.

Well, it worked, and he slept better...but, lost it, and, she had another charm handy, and gave him that, and, he also slept better.

He lost dozens of them (He looses things all the time, even as a middle aged man now...), but, his mom had an endless supply of the darn things, and, it lasted long enough for him to, one day, say, hmmmm....how come mom has so MANY magic charms?

And, thinking critically, he finally figured out they were not magic charms, just placebos.

He also figured out that HE had simply stopped WORRYING about having bad dreams, because, the charms made him THINK he would not have them...so, he realized that he didn't need to fool himself anymore, as he now KNEW he could sleep w/o bad dreams on his own.

So, basically, the placebo effect works...but, realizing the cure is inside of you the entire time, and you just needed to find it, is more valuable in the long run.

:D

I'm sure the placebo effect comes into it a lot - THINKING that the creator of the universe is looking after you must have a beneficial effect - but I'm not religious, so I don't know what the exact appeal is.  I'm only looking on as an observer. 

But also, some of the benefits are real.  I'm thinking of: 

1)  trying to live your life the right way (assuming a good and healthy model is provided);

2)  working directly with, and directly nurturing, the biological pressure to thrive. 

Religion saved my life.

Talking about as much as you feel comfortable with, can you say how religion saved your life, @Belle? 

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