Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I recently had the opportunity to see the documentary "Religulous," hosted and for the most part produced by the comedian Bill Maher. Bill was born to a Jewish mother, but was brought up in the teachings a Christian faith. During this time, many doubts were brought into Bill's mind about the benefit/ cost aspect of Religions as well as the validity and the absudity of their teachings. My question has to deal with the first inquiry Bill has. Does relgion cause more good than bad? He cites in the movie that Religion has been the motivating factor in much violence over human history. He further postulates that for there to be peace in the future that the Word's population must evolve or progress past these structured beliefs. After watching this movie I was still on the fence. Does Religion cause more harm than good? and For there to be peace in the world do humans need to move past the archaic religious traditions of their ancestors?


ejmcneeley said...

While I watch Bill Maher when I can on HBO and I find I agree with him more than disagree, I feel like he is quite biased towards religion and would have little to say of religions as a whole in a positive light (and he possibly is right). It is a good question to ask but a difficult one. I think taking into account what we talked about in class weeks ago about the different issues religions address and how each one goes about the issues in a different way is something to keep in mind. I am hesitant to say "yes, religions have done more harm than good" or the opposite. I want to say that people have caused more harm than good while under the influence of religion rather than 'religion' itself causing the harm or good. It is something like the debate on whether or not it is guns or people that kill people. I heard that Ozzy Osbourne said if it is people that kill people, why do we give soldiers guns when they are sent off to war? Guns play apart in killing. Religion plays a part in both harm and good. Mother Theresa and MLK Jr. were both religious people who did great things. But the religion they followed has, at times, done great harm. So I guess I think that people play a greater part in doing harm in the discussion on whether or not religion has done more harm than good.

Blake said...

I think you have hit it right on the nail, it is not religion that has done more harm than good in the world, its how the adherents of a specific religion use it to affect the world.

Manifestations of Bad or Good, coming from a religion into the world, are in actuality a reflection of choices made by the individuals “of power” associated with a particular religion.

I would contend, in answer to the original question, “Does religion do more harm than good?” in short, historically speaking, yes.

However, I think the root of religion (at least ideally), is spirituality. Since we are asking these questions about religion, why not ask them about religion's roots--spirituality (does it do more harm than good?).

The answer, at least in my mind, is that spirituality does more good than harm. So trying to fulfill the spiritual side of life is worth keeping around (because it is not exclusive). However, in answer to Andrew's second closing question, I would say No, we should not leave religion behind (because it has been effective as a propagator of spiritual ideas—along with some other unwanted additions by power hungry folk); rather, we should reform religion so that it is more in tune with its roots (and more in tune with our needs as humans to fill that “spiritual gap”).

But the real question that I think we should as is "Can religion do more good than harm?"

If your answer is yes, then how does one go about making it a reality (from the inside of a religion or the outside)?