Is Religion Outdated in the 21st Century?

30

Lawrence Krauss on a panel today in Davos discussing the below

While religions are the oldest institutions in the world, they are the slowest to respond to modern issues such as drugs, homosexuality and changing family relationships. As we move into the second decade of the 21st century, it is important to re-examine the place religion holds in the world today.

Dimensions to be addressed:

  • Are we becoming a multi-faith society or one where many have no faith at all?
  • How are religious institutions helping instil tolerance and values in society?
  • How can we reconcile the trends in society’s evolution with religious beliefs?
  • How can we foster freedom of speech and at the same time religious freedom?

Written By: World Economic Forum – Davos
continue to source article at openforumdavos.ch

30 COMMENTS

  1. Religions were useful to give a tribe a sense of identity, to keep it’s members from eating (then) dangerous shellfish, and to ensure that the men were raising heirs that were biologically theirs.

    The promise of eternal bliss, the threat of eternal pain were the incentive to follow the creeds, and the wish for power the motivation for men to ‘manage’ the religion for the rest of the folk.

    I’d say we passed the necessity for religion the moment we invented modern medicine, democracy and women’s rights.

  2. As someone who has never been religious or a believer in a god/gods (thanks Mum & Dad!). It’s always intrigued me how people believe in strange things like gods and demons, angels and devils. When I started researching religions (Christianity for starters) a couple of years ago after never having had any sort of interest, I just couldn’t believe that so many presumably intelligent humans would accept such nonsense into their lives.

    Religion was outdated before it began in my book. A heap of superstitious nonsense.

  3. The Rabbi needs to do some serious research. Has he read the Pentateuch (Old Testament)? In terms of blood, gore, destruction of human life, rape, pillage, incest, sacrifice, nothing compares, even the Crusades, witch burning, Catholic Inquisitions, can’t compare with what Yahweh achieved . What a disgusting god to worship!

    Reject circumcision (read mutilation) of babies both male and female), reject religious nonsense, halal, kosher, all idiotic practices and religions MAY be on the road to humanism.

  4. The atheist view is so succinct, so accurate, so real. Anything else is nonsense. Nature is supreme and the absolute truth.

    The belief in invisible deities/demons/angels is akin to a childish belief in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and I’m amazed that so many adults carry those childhood beliefs through to adulthood. How many adults would admit to a belief in the Easter Bunny, but have no embarassment in an admission to a belief in an invisible god invented by Bronze Age donkey nomads with no education 2500 years ago?

    Makes no sense to me whatsoever.

  5. Yes, Carol, Catholicism has been making mistakes for 1700 years at an incredible human cost. It’s about time they closed up shop and gave it away as one huge mistake. Cash in their fortunes and donate it all to the needy, turn their places of worship into homes for the homeless and admit they they conducted THE biggest scam ever in the history of humankind.

    A total scourge for humanity is preaching that ALL humans are sinners, scum, filthy rags and can only be “saved” by subscribing to their nonsense. and believing in their triple-headed zombie god and if you don’t then you’ll spend eternity writhing in a burning lake.

    WTF?

  6. If I was THE creator god, then I would have created all humans to be born atheists (huh? We are aren’t we?) Then I would have said to each and every one of them, when they can understand:

    “Hey, here I am, I’m your creator, aren’t you happy?”. I’ll be with you throughout your life to assist and guide you in all your trials and tribulations. Nothing you ever do will offend me, because, after all, I created you and I am responsible for all the mistakes that you may make. I will love you unconditionally. Tell all the religious leaders to get lost, they are hangers-on, pariahs without the courage of their convictions.”

    Reality strikes and the Abrahamic god declares: ” I will kill you for the tiniest aberration. If you work on the Sabbath, even collect firewood or serve burgers in MacDonalds or babies’ diapers in Walmart, light the sacrificial BBQ the wrong way, look at another woman, don’t grovel before me, kill another human (apart from in a religious war defending Christianity or killing a witch or a homosexual or someone of another religion), I will totally destroy you and all of your descendants for 7 generations.

    If you pass my big test then you can spend eternity in my heaven grovelling before me, singing those silly songs and massaging my aging, wrinkly, floppy penis.”

  7. Are we becoming a multi-faith society or one where many have no faith at all?

    Can’t it be both? What a badly worded question. Not only are all the other questions badly worded; they’re all badly worded in the same way. Specifically, they say “how” rather than “how if at all”, thereby assuming the following things without first proving them: that religious institutions help instill tolerance and values in society,
    that we can reconcile the trends in society’s evolution with religious beliefs, and that we can foster freedom of speech and at the same time religious freedom. These are pretty big assumptions when your main debate topic is whether religion is outdated. Every question might as well have been, “oh, religion is awesome enough to keep, but why in particular is it?”

    Religious institutions don’t help instill tolerance or values, because at best they reluctantly agree to go along with them, often subsequently whitewashing history to act like they were always in favour of those things. Which is hard to swallow because, if it were true, those things would have been around when they were at their most powerful, which historically they weren’t. But the same is true more broadly of societal evolution in general’s reconciliation with religious beliefs in general. Take science, for example. We evolved; there was no Adam and Eve, and the biblical story about the self-sacrifice of Jesus therefore makes no sense.

    When answering the last question, ask yourself what “religious freedom” is, because neither freedom of religion nor freedom from religion is at odds with freedom of speech. On the contrary; they’re specific ways that freedom can be wielded. What, then, is “religious freedom”? Based on the alleged examples of its violation in nations with free speech, only one suggestion I’ve ever heard is plausible: “religious freedom” is a freedom to take away other people’s freedoms on religious grounds, either in those believers’ contexts or even more broadly. When for example Catholics won’t allow same-sex couples to adopt children from their orphanages, at least at that orphanage such legal freedoms aren’t being honoured. When the Catholic church tries to criminalise abortion in a nation (sometimes it succeeds) or, worse still, when Islamists try to get criticism of religion banned worldwide through the UN, the effect (if they succeed; the last group hasn’t yet) would be to curb others’ freedoms. The real question should be how can anyone defend this nonsense?

  8. Religion was a valuable tool at giving a very small group of people or only one person the appearance of knowledge in areas that were in question. It was and has always been a simple fraud to gain power that only gullible, authoritarian following dingbats accept without question.

  9. Shoeb Kagda is the worst moderator I have ever seen. I applaud Dr. Krauss’s, patience. I wish Hitchens was there to tear one to the rabbi, the catholic & the monk. I am going to try and edit the videos to have just the questions & Krauss’s segments. Rest of the video is simply unbearable.

  10. In reply to #12 by Jos Gibbons:

    First of all, thank you for summing up what I think most people on this site were thinking when they saw this.

    Are we becoming a multi-faith society or one where many have no faith at all?

    Can’t it be both?

    That’s what I was thinking. We’re multi-faith in the sense that Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus et al. can co-exist in our society, and harassment of anyone on the grounds of their religion is considered taboo. The number of non-faith people, however, is increasing, as many polls tracing this demographic over the last decade or so have proven.

    What a badly worded question.

    Given the rest of your post, I diagnose it as a loaded question.

    Religious institutions don’t help instill tolerance or values, because at best they reluctantly agree to go along with them, often subsequently whitewashing history to act like they were always in favour of those things. Which is hard to swallow because, if it were true, those things would have been around when they were at their most powerful, which historically they weren’t.

    I’m not entirely sure about this. Some subsections of Christianity, like the Quakers, promote such values without contradicting their own faiths, and tolerance is more characteristic of mainstream Christianity in many developed countries like those in Western Europe. The worst that can be said for many of these groups is that their epistemic beliefs are inconsistent with rational inquiry, not that they’re faking tolerance.

    But the same is true more broadly of societal evolution in general’s reconciliation with religious beliefs in general. Take science, for example. We evolved; there was no Adam and Eve, and the biblical story about the self-sacrifice of Jesus therefore makes no sense.

    Well, this is a sound point, but epistemic inconsistency shouldn’t be lumped in with a claim that the religions pretend to practice tolerance, at least in the sense of them not persecuting or discriminating against other religions or belief systems.

    When answering the last question, ask yourself what “religious freedom” is, because neither freedom of religion nor freedom from religion is at odds with freedom of speech. On the contrary; they’re specific ways that freedom can be wielded. What, then, is “religious freedom”?

    I think the ideal most have of religious freedom is that a person is free to identify themselves with any particular sect, to practice (certain) rituals, and to express their own views without experiencing discrimination in return. I agree, though, that in practice the term is invoked in the way you suggest.

    Based on the alleged examples of its violation in nations with free speech, only one suggestion I’ve ever heard is plausible: “religious freedom” is a freedom to take away other people’s freedoms on religious grounds, either in those believers’ contexts or even more broadly. When for example Catholics won’t allow same-sex couples to adopt children from their orphanages, at least at that orphanage such legal freedoms aren’t being honoured. When the Catholic church tries to criminalise abortion in a nation (sometimes it succeeds) or, worse still, when Islamists try to get criticism of religion banned worldwide through the UN, the effect (if they succeed; the last group hasn’t yet) would be to curb others’ freedoms. The real question should be how can anyone defend this nonsense?

    Because they’re afraid of being labelled intolerant or militant if they try otherwise?

  11. Trying to have intelligent discussions with a collection of village idiots is never really going to work. The best one can say of it is that it is better than having to put up with their normal antihuman behaviour. And hopefully people watching this “tales from the asylum” will begin to see the lunacy for what it is. Lunacy will never be out of fashion for lunatics anymore than lying will find disfavour with pseudologues.

    Religions are not outdated, they never served any purpose beyond enabling warring tribes to find common reasons not to annhihilate eachother and had it not been for historic accident we could have had done the same based on the work of the stoics and Epicurus. Instead we settled for a ponzi bullshit scheme dreamed up by a con man from tarsus that has inflicted untold misery on the human race and turned us into a plague on the surface of the planet. Human family own goal! big time! and we are still suffering from the fallout. Nevermind it will all be over soon. Drug resistant superbugs will be kicking the shit out of millions of us in 50 years time, We’ll outbreed our resources thanks to religions who treat women as breeding pods for more lunatics and the hindus and muslims may well decide to incinerate central asia to boot so we can all sail off to wonderland on the back of a fucking giant turtle steered by Mohammed. Get your special incantations ready ye silly b’stards ye’ll have nothing else to offer.

    Lawrence is good but the acerbic wit of Hitchens is sadly missed in these convivial our doG is better than your’s tete a tete’s

  12. In reply to #3 by Lonard:

    Look at Lawrence Krauss’ body language; he’s thinking ‘here we go again’. Another waste of precious air and saliva. All these empty words. Nothing more than vibrating air.

    Let’s face it…If it wasn’t for Krauss, none of us would waste our precious time and energy watching this video.

  13. In reply to #5 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

    I’d say we passed the necessity for religion the moment we invented modern medicine, democracy and women’s rights.

    However, in the modern times we seem to have replaced religious worship of invisible gods with the infantile worship of democracy. Look at the “coronation” of Obama who is forever preaching to more and more followers that his form of democratic socialism is worthy of adulation. Here too, we have abundent evidence that a government that pretends to be Santa Claus (or Robin Hood) cannot produce prosperity.

    Yet this new religion is growing everywhere one looks. Honestly, I don’t know which is worse.

  14. Infantile worship of democracy?

    Nope. Of all the alternatives available from authoritarian regimes to anarcho-syndicalist communes, democracies have provided us with the optimal environment for balancing personal liberty with public good. Unless another system provides us with a better way of doing this we will stick with democracies.

    I do accept these ceremonies are waste of public funds and should be criticized.

    Obama, a socialist? I would like him to be. But he definitely hasn’t got the backbone for it. Ralph Nader, now that’s a guy with a backbone.

    In reply to #21 by rocket888:

    In reply to #5 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

    I’d say we passed the necessity for religion the moment we invented modern medicine, democracy and women’s rights.

    However, in the modern times we seem to have replaced religious worship of invisible gods with the infantile worship of democracy. Look at the “coronation” of Obama who is forever preaching to more and more followers that his form of democratic socialism is worthy of adulation. Here too, we have abundent evidence that a government that pretends to be Santa Claus (or Robin Hood) cannot produce prosperity.

    Yet this new religion is growing everywhere one looks. Honestly, I don’t know which is worse.

  15. I’m always flabbergasted when the argument of ‘atheist states killed millions of people’ comes up. That’s mostly about the Soviet Union and China. Do they expect that people who were for centuries drenched in religious claptrap would become atheist overnight simply because a political gang declared it so, as by miracle. Real atheism can only emerge after profound rationalism and thought.
    What do we see in Russia now? After the so called atheism of the communists, Putin and his clique embraces again a very narrow-minded form of religion to accommodate his dictatorial urging.

  16. “Here too, we have abundent evidence that a government that pretends to be Santa Claus (or Robin Hood) cannot produce prosperity.

    Yet this new religion is growing everywhere one looks. Honestly, I don’t know which is worse.”

    If progressivism is a religion, then is conservatism not also religion as well? Is it possible to hold political or economic views (opinions) without being deemed religious?

    I would argue that the problems are not government being Santa Claus. Yes, redistribution of wealth (and power) has occurred in significant ways over the last few decades in Western nations, but the redistribution has been into the hands of a select few individuals. In that respect, I concur that in a nation with such profound levels of wealth inequality will not see economic prosperity. The current “abundant” evidence shows that the most prosperous nations are Switzerland and Scandinavian (as evidenced by per capita income/GDP), Santa Claus/Robin Hood type governments and all. Growth in GDP has been slow in the US for decades now if one removes the amount supplied by debt, and in particular, household debt, which had reached staggering levels of 300% GDP by 2008-9, and fallen little since.

    Trillions of dollars were pumped into the economy producing net gains for upper income groups but nobody else. “The rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer.” Conservatives say fiscal responsibility requires we must cut social security, speaking of unsustainability and unfunded liabilities. Yet SS by law does not contribute to our debt as it bars funding benefits out of any revenues and assets other than those belonging to the SS trust fund, which is projected to be fully solvent until 2033, then a shortfall representing 1.5% GDP (75 year projection…….. and any 75 yr economic projection can truly fall into the ‘leap of faith’ category, recall that ‘nobody could’ve known’ the GFC was coming two years out). Conservative religion prohibits mention of unsustainability and (the truly) unfunded liabilities in relation to the $1 trillion plus on defense/national security spent each year, or 6.7% GDP.

  17. Did really the religion help the science in the past centuries (as Krauss accepted)? Or, it was the natural human inquisitiveness, which overpowered the religion in the past, and continues to do so. The religion itself is anti-science. Evidence based reasoning is the most powerful weapon against any delusional thinking.

    Hmm. Why did Krauss accept this? Or, maybe I am misunderstanding this?

    Am I missing anything?

  18. In reply to #27 , I think Krauss was referring to the fact that some discoveries were made under the auspices of the church ( Mendel made his discoveries in genetics while an Augustinian friar), before they realised that the content of these , undermined the validity of their dogma. The church now likes to take credit for enabling these discoveries to take place.

    As always, there is a tendency to rewrite church history when it suits their purpose.

  19. In reply to #28 by Nitya:

    In reply to #27 , I think Krauss was referring to the fact that some discoveries were made under the auspices of the church ( Mendel made his discoveries in genetics while an Augustinian friar), before they realised that the content of these , undermined the validity of their dogma. The church now likes to take credit for enabling these discoveries to take place.

    As always, there is a tendency to rewrite church history when it suits their purpose.

    Yes. I am aware of the actual facts. But, the way Krauss put it did not suggest this on the surface. Obviously, he knows well the reality. What I am trying to point out is that he should have phrased it more clearly. My concern is not fellow atheists/rationalists on this site, but the audience at the event and their interpretation of what they heard.

    I am his big fan by the way. I think he is a superb scientist.

  20. Listening to the whole ‘debate’ was like sitting in the dentist’s chair waiting for him to hit a nerve.Full marks to Krause for trying to keep to the brief.The rest of it makes me realise again,not that i needed any reminder,why i am an atheist.There was obviously no substance to any of the contributions other than those from Krause.it was the usual fuckin nonsense which goes unchallenged by each of the religions represented.Al this interfaith tosh avoids the obvious elephant in the room, i.e. they all disagree with each other.They only agree that they believe in something supernatural.I could claim to be a worshipper(what a ridiculous and dangerous word that is) of Puff the Magic Dragon and claim my place on that panel.Whoever the chairman was he was absolutely clueless on how to chair a debate.So a complete waste of some one and a half hours of my life.Back to the wine!

Leave a Reply