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Does Religion Influence Epidemics?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the flying-spaghetti-malaria dept.

Medicine 547

sciencehabit writes "Whether or not they believe in God, evolutionary biologists may need to pay closer mind to religion. That's because religious beliefs can shape key behaviors in ways that evolutionary theory would not predict, particularly when it comes to dealing with disease. According to a new study, some of today's major religions emerged at the same time as widespread infectious diseases, and the two may have helped shape one another. The same dynamics may be reflected today in how people in Malawi deal with the AIDS epidemic."

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Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187430)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Christ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187440)

That explains the retardation I notice following Christianity around.

Not a new concept (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187446)

Rodney Stark got a Pulitzer for this 15 years ago: The Rise of Christianity [wikimedia.org]

Re:Not a new concept (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187556)

Actually, I'm wrong--it was nominated [pbcc.org] for a Pulitzer, but didn't win.

Nope. Try even 35 years ago (1)

tfigment (2425764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187628)

And William H McNeill breached the subject in Plagues and Peoples in 1976 regarding the rise of Christianity with the black death although maybe not a blunt as perhaps latter literature.

Re:Not a new concept (1)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187850)

Excellent book. This is exactly what I came here to mention. This isn't news at all.

Translation: Religion is born .... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187454)

... from FEAR and IGNORANCE.

Re:Translation: Religion is born .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187632)

Mod up.

Humanity needs less religion and more rational thought.

Re:Translation: Religion is born .... (2, Interesting)

tloh (451585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187684)

Humanity needs to replace religion with a civil institution for promoting social cohesion with a basis in rational thought.

FIFY

Re:Translation: Religion is born .... (0)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187688)

Mod up.

Humanity needs less religion and more rational thought.

I wasn't aware the two were mutually exclusive.

Re:Translation: Religion is born .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187816)

Mod up.

Humanity needs less religion and more rational thought.

I wasn't aware the two were mutually exclusive.

Now you're aware. Time to flush baby Jesus down the toilet. You can only keep shit in your house so long before you get sick.

Re:Translation: Religion is born .... (4, Informative)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187824)

They really are. Religion is based on irrational answers to rational problems.

EG:

Where do earthquakes come from?

Religion: GOD!
Science: Tectonic movement

Pretty easy to see how mutually exclusive they are.

Re:Translation: Religion is born .... (-1)

happylight (600739) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188044)

And where does tectonic movement come from?

And where does THAT come from?

Ask these enough times and you'll arrive at God.

Not so mutually exclusive as you think.

Re:Translation: Religion is born .... (4, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188072)

You ask enough, eventually get to "point where we cannot explain".

Some people fill this void with an arbitrary explanation not limited to the involvement of a postulated deity. Some choose to let it inspire them to find out the real answer.

I wonder which one produces more truth and beauty...

Re:Translation: Religion is born .... (2)

tloh (451585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187650)

From the article:

The survey also revealed that the prospect of getting help was enticing. In the past 5 years, about 400 of those responding have shifted religions, many of them moving to Pentecostal or the African Independent Churches, places where the promise of receiving care is greater and the stigma of having AIDS is less, Hughes noted.

The evidence presented suggests that however born, growth/conversion of religion in the study area is at least in part motivated by the incentive of some health care.

Re:Translation: Religion is born .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187796)

A lot of things are born from fear and ignorance.

Maybe instead of trying to kill off religions, we should kill off the fear and ignorance first?

Cure the illness not the symptom.

NOTE: I am a religious person. However, if religion is a result of human failings, I *really* feel we should deal with the underlying problem instead of screaming about what gives people some relief. If people are drinking from a poisonous well that causes unimaginable pain and the only relief that they can get is by bleeding themselves once a week, instead of stopping them from bleeding themselves ritualistically once a week for relief, fix the damned well. If people stop bleeding themselves to get some relief, they might end up doing something *worse* for said relief.

Yes. I'm sure some of you will call religion the well in this example instead of the bleeding. But according to the parent post, fear and ignorance is the disease and religion is a symptom.

And no, living in permanent pain is not an option.

Religion can also be a survival manual (5, Insightful)

drnb (2434720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187806)

Translation: Religion is born from FEAR and IGNORANCE.

Actually the opposite can sometimes be true. Religion can also be a practical survival manual based upon observations. For example I believe if one adheres to the old testament prohibitions against eating certain types of seafood then one will avoid most of the unsafe species in that part of the world. We say don't do something because the surgeon general says so, thousands of years ago they said don't do something because God said so. Maybe its the telephone game: "great healer says" becomes "great shaman says" becomes "God says", all based on a scientific sort of process - at least the observation part, can't say if they also did the experimentation part.

Are you sure you are not operating on fear of a particular 3 or 4 thousand year old book and rejecting everything in it in an irrational and ignorant way? If we were talking about Hawaiian kapu and its instructions on fishing and such would you be more open minded?

Re:Translation: Religion is born .... (1)

GoochOwnsYou (1343661) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188088)

They couldn't understand desiese so they thought it was a curse. Nothing new here, ancient Greeks thought lightening came from Zeus.

I think we've known this... (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187456)

...since about the time we started blaming disease on sin.

Re:I think we've known this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187508)

With fornication being a sin, it fits with aids.

Re:I think we've known this... (3, Insightful)

zoloto (586738) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187640)

I don't understand why people fail to realize this. As an extension, abstinence prevents a world of problems from even happening.

Re:I think we've known this... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187692)

Probably because it's not true. Sure if you completely refrain you're in the clear, but the population would plummet and ultimately being careful is in general sufficient to avoid the problems that have become linked with sex.

Re:I think we've known this... (1)

drnb (2434720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187878)

Why would the population plummet? Fornication refers only to unsanctioned sex, ie sex outside of marriage, not all sex. Married couples have been known to produce a child or two, and for some very religious married couples many more than two children. Its also common when fornicating to try to avoid producing a child.

Re:I think we've known this... (1)

That Guy From Mrktng (2274712) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187704)

I don't understand why people fail to realize this. As an extension, abstinence prevents the world from even happening.

FTFY and I second your opinion, let's all abstain from sex...oh right this is /.

Re:I think we've known this... (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187740)

I don't understand why people fail to realize this. As an extension, abstinence prevents a world of problems from even happening.

Because many people don't like taking responsibility for their actions. For example : abortion. Sure, it's not in the baby's best interest to be born to a 16 year old high school drop out. So, let's kill it.

Re:I think we've known this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187798)

Isn't that the very definition of taking responsibility? You don't like the decision but a plan was created and executed. Irresponsibility would be having the baby with no plan in place to take care of it.

Re:I think we've known this... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187512)

Does Religion Influence Epidemics?

Oh, why the hell not? We've blamed just about every other problem in the world on religion, so sure! Let's lump epidemics in with it!

Next week, we'll blame weather patterns on religion, and tune in Labor Day for our special episode when we blame poor American gas mileage on religion, too!

Re:I think we've known this... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187592)

Well, looking at how the south east of the US are both very religious and constantly hit by tornados, floods and the like...

Re:I think we've known this... (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188024)

Religion is helping them to evolve future generations to be more disaster-tolerant.

Re:I think we've known this... (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188052)

Well, looking at how the south east of the US are both very religious and constantly hit by tornados, floods and the like...

My theory is that it has something to do with the prevalence of Sundrop and/or Cheerwine in those parts.

Re:I think we've known this... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187590)

Epidemics will certainly influence religion :

When an entire town is struck with illness no one can explain , people turn to religion for answers.
Then, it's not to hard to convince people it's a punishment from God.

And offcourse, the actions people take in accordance to there religion, can make it worse : like burying your dead instead of burning them.

Too narrow a cause (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187466)

Its as if saying the last fly that hit my windshield may have contributed to the destruction of my car 3 decades later.

Article is wrong about Christianity (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187506)

Jesus never claimed that healing the sick was a sure way to heaven. That's ridiculous, and against what the rest of the Bible teaches. This person doesn't know what they are talking about.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187612)

"Jesus" never existed. Deal with it.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (1)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187654)

Yes he did.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187844)

Wrong.

There may have once been a man by that name, but his mother was a whore and did not have any magical powers granted to him by an invisible sky daddy. The existence of such a man is irrelevant to the question of whether or not "Jesus" existed (he did not).

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (1)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187868)

I'm pretty sure he did.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188042)

There may have once been a man by that name, but his mother was a whore

You've got the wrong Mary.

Though it's said by some to be a myth invented by a [particularly] misogynist pope.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37188100)

"There may have once been a man by that name,..."

He mows my lawn every Saturday.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187676)

"Jesus" never existed. Deal with it.

Actually, many secular scholars agree that a man named Jesus bar-joseph did indeed exist. I believe you're trying to imply that Jesus wasn't the son of god. Get your argument straight, and maybe you'll stop looking so silly.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187710)

Yes and the cook at the bar my dad goes to from time to time is Jesus as well. It's not really very useful to suggest that somewhere there was a man who had the same name and whose father had the correct name. I'm sure there's any number of individuals running around today for whom this would apply as well.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187768)

Note the presence of the quotes around the name.

Now go shove a bible up your cunt.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187802)

Note the presence of the quotes around the name.

Now go shove a bible up your cunt.

Note the fact that you're posting AC, and thus, by definition, both anonymous and a coward. Big words for someone like that.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187966)

Note the absence of a logical refutation.

I would rather be correct than have a name and be wrong.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (1)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187860)

Care to cite one? And what's the primary source?

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (1)

blue trane (110704) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187810)

http://www.openbible.info/topics/caring_for_the_sick [openbible.info]

James 5:13-15 ESV
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Matthew 25:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Matthew 25:44 ESV
Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ ...

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187964)

The 'he' in the last sentence of the James quote is the one prayed for, not the one doing the praying.

Certainly caring for sick people was encouraged, and your second quote suggests that salvation is a reward for it. But as a whole the New Testament is very clear that men are 'not saved by works alone'. That word 'ensure' might seem like a small detail, but generally speaking it's a big deal to Christians. AC is correct.

Not that I really have a dog in this fight, since I think the Christian idea of salvation is bullshit.

Re:Article is wrong about Christianity (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188066)

Ah yes, praying for someone, all the benefits of claiming to help without any of the actual work.

Anyway, the article ignores the fact that there is a tradition in the judeo-christian faiths of seeing disease as either a punishment from god or something you brought on yourself through sin.

Eg:

"Behold, the Lord will strike your people with a serious affliction -- your children, your wives, and all your possessions; and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day" (2 Chronicles 21:14,15).

"For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due" (Romans 1:26,27)

The latter quote being used even today to justify AIDS as a punishment from god. Now you won't find me arguing that christianity in general, to its credit, hasn't been at least charitable to the sick but by defining disease as something to be borne rather than something to combat it certainly did put a break on progress.

In China (2)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187522)

The AIDS pandemic in China was caused by unsafe blood donation practices.

Specifically, the blood merchants would extract blood from villagers, pool it together in a big tub, extract the plasma, and then reinject it. Part of it was a cost-cutting measure, part of it was due to local religious beliefs.

Re:In China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187582)

Why would anyone do that? The plasma isn't much better than super easy to make saline, and the blood cells are going to be useless once you've mixed all those different blood groups together.

Re:In China (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187722)

For the same reason that somebody would put melamine in milk. They're cheap and incompetent.

Re:In China (3, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187784)

Why would anyone eat powdered tiger cock? Chinese medicine is largely hokum.

Re:In China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187726)

This is why you should eschew religious beliefs and instead follow the example of Chairman Mao!

Also, note that this explanation eschews things like unsafe sex and intravenous drug use as possible problems. Those are decadent Western problems that don't happen in the Middle Kingdom.

In short, [citation needed]

Re:In China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187788)

Part of it was a cost-cutting measure, part of it was due to local religious beliefs.

So you are blaming religion and capitalism on the downfall of humanity.

Maybe if people spent more money buying hand guns and praying to Jesus there would be no more immoral diseases infecting the planet. War and the police state creates jobs, and no socialist can argue otherwise without being dishonest. Religion also creates jobs. Just look at all the millionaire capitalist preachers in the conservative, Right Wing heartland of the United States.

Do you know what spreads AIDS? Sex! If people spent more time reading the bible and less time having sex there wouldn't be an AIDS epidemic.

Re:In China (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187908)

The AIDS pandemic in China was caused by unsafe blood donation practices.

Specifically, the blood merchants would extract blood from villagers, pool it together in a big tub, extract the plasma, and then reinject it. Part of it was a cost-cutting measure, part of it was due to local religious beliefs.

[color=White]www.17mins.com[/color] [color=White]www.stock4wow.com[/color] [color=White]www.mmoogg.com[/color] [color=White]www.wowgoldrock.com[/color] ho ho~

Yesterday... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187540)

There was another article on religion just posted on Slashdot yesterday morning [slashdot.org] .

Re:Yesterday... (1)

lazy genes (741633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187554)

it got 903 comments....i bet this goes 1000

Depends. (-1, Troll)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187542)

Has child molestation reached an "epidemic" level yet?

Re:Depends. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187620)

What does child molestation have to do with religion?
...
never mind.

Chistians Beating Children (1)

BrianMarshall (704425) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187884)

To Chistians who believe in Hell, God has made it clear: if you break the rules you will be tortured for all eternity. Such Christian parents need to ensure their children learn this - obey or suffer horrible pain. Beating their children when they disobey is God's way - God's approach to ethics.

I think this is one of the most evil aspects of Christianity.

Re:Chistians Beating Children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37188040)

Except that's not what Christians believe. Christians believe that everyone will break the rules but those that endeavor to follow God's teachings and accept him as their master will go to heaven, the rest will go to hell.

Is the Catholic church still against condoms? (4, Interesting)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187586)

Yes? Then I'd say they're having an influence.

Re:Is the Catholic church still against condoms? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187708)

Yes?

Not really, no.

Pope Benedict says that condoms can be used to stop the spread of HIV [guardian.co.uk]

In 2006, the Pontifical Council for the Health Care Pastoral, led by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, was asked by Benedict to report on the use of condoms as a way of combating HIV.

"The pope is saying that if you can prevent disease, the use of condoms could be permissible," said John Allen, senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. "But this has been in the mix for a while," he argued. "I think Benedict has been thinking this way since 2006, which is why he asked for the commission to look into it.

"The problem was not Benedict, it was others in the Vatican who argued that if you said using condoms was OK in certain situations, it would send out the message that they were approved. This was a PR problem."

The Catholic Church, Condoms and ‘Lesser Evils’ [nytimes.com]

Speaking to Mr. Seewald, Benedict said the news media had misconstrued his remarks. Condoms are not the sole answer to the AIDS epidemic, he said, but, “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.”

Later, a Vatican spokesman said the pope’s words were meant to apply broadly — beyond gay sex workers. “This is if you’re a man, a woman or a transsexual,” the spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said. “The point is it’s a first step of taking responsibility, of avoiding passing a grave risk onto another.”

Re:Is the Catholic church still against condoms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187712)

The Catholic Church is also still against having sex outside of marriage.
Credit where credit is due.

Re:Is the Catholic church still against condoms? (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187990)

Agreed. And as the other AC said, they're sort of conceding a "lesser of two evils" stance.

Credit given.

However, they're generally pushing abstinence in lieu of safe sex education when possible. On the whole of it, it probably results in less total sex, but more unprotected sex. The original question was whether religion was influencing the course of epidemics, and they pretty clearly are.

Re:Is the Catholic church still against condoms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187944)

Why would you need condoms? If you followed the teaching of the Catholic Church and only had sex with your wife, then a condom isn't necessary, is it? Which makes sense. Kind of basic logic: limit your exposure to STDs by limiting your sexual partners. Oh, but that comes from superstition, so it doesn't count.

Re:Is the Catholic church still against condoms? (2)

tempmpi (233132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188104)

Current empirical evidence looks like "stick to a single partner" is actually a more effective strategy to combat AIDS in Africa than "use condoms":

washington post article [washingtonpost.com]

It kinda makes sense (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187606)

When disaster hits and you have no idea what causes it, you're helpless. And people don't like feeling helpless. So they start praying. Does it help? Most likely not, but hey, at least they're doing something. Whether it helps or not is not really that critical, what matters is that people believe they're somehow reacting to it instead of just sitting there, helplessly, waiting for disaster to strike again.

Thinking about it, it bears a lot of semblance to how we deal with the terror threat...

Re:It kinda makes sense (1)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187842)

Yeah, except with the terror threat we pray to the military-industrial complex and, much to our dismay, our prayers get answered.

Re:It kinda makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37188092)

And, just as God is responsible for all things even the plagues he brings upon us, lo did the military-industrial complex do 9/11.

Of course (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187610)

Are you sick? Come ask your invisible friend in the sky for help! Come share air with dozens of others asking for other things. Too sick to leave home? We'll send a carrier to your home to take your problems back to the church!

I jest, of course, but not by much. Religion relies on community, just as much as an epidemic does. That said, there's also a few interesting correlations between some religious taboos and common disease carriers. It's like whoever designed the religious laws somehow knew about germ theory hundreds of years before anyone else. Either that, or they just noticed that certain things smelled bad, and people who spent time near bad-smelling things got sick.

Re:Of course (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187792)

It's like whoever designed the religious laws somehow knew about germ theory hundreds of years before anyone else. Either that, or they just noticed that certain things smelled bad, and people who spent time near bad-smelling things got sick.

Or we don't know about the religions which lacked arbitrary rules that happened to help protect against the spread of disease because their practitioners all died out. Ideas which survive could be right due to happening to survive, not by design.

Re:Of course (2, Funny)

fuzza (137953) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187900)

It's like whoever designed the religious laws somehow knew about germ theory hundreds of years before anyone else.

Indeed He did.

Re:Of course (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187932)

Epidemics have the side effect that the survivors, on the whole, are more resistant. Populations will soon breed back up to the level they were before, only this time you're starting from tougher stock.

A few iterations of that and you've got a pretty awesome secret weapon to use against brown people (for suitably red values of brown) who are in your way.

Perhaps community makes immunity?

Re:Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37188002)

Every culture had some measure of empirical knowledge about what was safe to eat and what wasn't, basic hygiene practices, etc. It's no surprise that some of this made it into religion from time to time.

Cue the fun.... (3, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187634)

I absolutely love any story that gives self-righteous atheists an excuse to say, for the umpteenth time, that religion is categorically an evil, that organized religion is clinically insane, that religion has caused more suffering in human history than all biological and political causes combined, etc.

Before you get started this time, how about you give it a rest? We understand your opinions, but most of us are agnostic if we even care one way or another; likewise most of us realize that religion inspires good as well as evil, and see no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Most of all it just gets really fucking boring listening to your hate fest.

You hate "religionists" and they hate you. The rest of us would rather you all shut the fuck up.

Re:Cue the fun.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187670)

Some of us don't push it until cornered. Some of us don't poke back until poked. We've seen anti-atheists because they're everywhere and include yourself.

Re:Cue the fun.... (3, Informative)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187968)

Some of us don't push it until cornered. Some of us don't poke back until poked. We've seen anti-atheists because they're everywhere and include yourself.

And you're practically surrounded by the religious right here on Slashdot. How do you ever manage?

Re:Cue the fun.... (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187680)

You hate "religionists" and they hate you. The rest of us would rather you all shut the fuck up.

Can I get an amen from the non-hipster reasonable-atheists in the house? That's right, I'm talking to you, the people who don't go out of their way to be a-holes. Yup, that's right hipsters, everyone hates you and the fact that you hate everything else.

Re:Cue the fun.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187752)

Probably not; "amen" is a religious expression.

Re:Cue the fun.... (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187790)

Probably not; "amen" is a religious expression.

Nice try. It is hebrew that means "So let it be". But thanks for playing, and good luck in 5th grade in the fall.

Re:Cue the fun.... (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187940)

When was the last time someone said amen to you and meant it as just another Hebrew word?

Re:Cue the fun.... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187988)

No way! And I thought it was the name of a god in ancient egypt.

Do you explain the origin of other english words for no apparent reason too?

The Hebrew meaning is irrelevant, you may not have not noticed but the post wasn't in Hebrew. It was in English, and "amen" is an English word.

And of course it has a similar meaning in English, but that doesn't change the fact that it is mostly (by a large margin) used in religious contexts.

Re:Cue the fun.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187736)

They hate me, I hate them.

I believe I'm right, so do they.

I wish they'd quit pushing their beliefs on others. I wish I could too.

But as long as we can win minds by repeating this crap over and over, both sides will keep at it.

Myself included.

I'm sorry that I'm such a bore, but my sense of moral obligation is greater.

Lord forgive me.

Re:Cue the fun.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187834)

You do not care about all the raped children? You do not care about all the people needlessly suffering from AIDS? How can you even be so heartless? And how dare you dismiss all the horrid things religion has done over the centuries as "opinion"?

Look at the world, and see how it is a force for evil. It corrupts people by making it do stupid things following dogma, it shields evil people in its hierarchy, it corrupts morality by redefining it as obedience to the define, it discourages learning by demanding faith, and so on. You say religion inspires good, but it has been shown again and again that religious people, even after you correct for differences in social background (which are often caused by religion in the first place), are more likely to commit crime, and to be repeat offenders. You say hearing these, and many more of religion's evils, bores you, but I say you haven't heard it enough.

As an agnostic, I cannot understand how you can watch the news, with the creationists trying to push their fairy tales upon our youth, with the priesthood banning contraception for their followers in the face of overpopulation and STDs, with the religious wars that are still being fought all over the planet, and so on and so forth, and still continue to be a shill for religion. We have to beat back against religion, and if you aren't part of the solution, you're just in the way.

Re:Cue the fun.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187864)

most of us realize that religion inspires good as well as evil

If it doesn't inspire more good than evil, then once you factor in the intellectual dishonesty of religion, it becomes a net evil. Depending on the good/evil ratio, this may be true even if religion inspires more good than evil.

As for myself, I feel obliged to speak out against religion, since for so much of human history, people were killed for doing so, or at least so oppressed by religion that they wouldn't dare to.

Most agnostics are too chickenshit to stand up for rational thought (and be ostracized by the faithful), but they don't mind reaping the benefits of scientific progress. In case you don't see the contradiction, religious belief is at odds with the law of parsimony, a key principle of the scientific method.

Enjoy your air conditioning, inoculation, and internet while thumbing your nose at the mindset that produced them. It's a very safe position, and taking it risks nothing.

A semirelevant sidestory for your contemplation:
  Women's suffrage in the United States was born partially out of the debate over whether women should be allowed to use anesthesia during childbirth [salon.com] . Most Christian ministers said no, since the book of Genesis is quite clear that childbirth and suffering are entwined by divine mandate [bible.cc] .

The story is repeated again and again throughout the history of organized religion: The shamans overstep their authority, their flock says, in effect, "Hell no, good sir." and the shamans retire to lick their wounds while they spin some way to change their mind without admitting they were wrong. Heck, given 500 years or so, they even admitted that the Sun, and not the Earth, was the center of the solar system. The faithful masses never notice this pattern, because religions discourage the faculties of critical thinking. "I have faith" is just a way of saying, "I won't change my mind, no matter what evidence surfaces."

We're at the point now where Christianity has largely become a toothless tiger, but it is important to never forget how hard it was to pull those teeth, and also to remember that if the priesthood had its way, we would still be exorcising the demons from left-handed people, burning witches (that's everyone who isn't a Christian), and paying a tax for not attending church.

Re:Cue the fun.... (1)

guises (2423402) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187934)

most of us are agnostic

Pff. I don't believe in agnostics.

Re:Cue the fun.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37188000)

Some people who don't collect stamps are assholes about it to the people that do. Most, however, are not. I find it unjustified to judge the entire group of people who don't collect stamps by the few assholes that make a fuss about people that do.

Atheism doesn't mean you actively work against religion. It just means you don't believe in any religion. There will always be a few vocal assholes in every group of people, but it's wrong to stereotype the rest based on them.

I blame the Pope for the spread of AIDS in Afrika (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187636)

http://www.google.com/search?q=pop+aids+afrika
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS#Religion_and_AIDS

I can't decide what is worse... this or the pedophilia in that "religious" organisation...

Re:I blame the Pope for the spread of AIDS in Afri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187960)

The Catholic Church preaches abstinence. Well guess what? If you don't have sex, then it's pretty damn tough to get sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. You can consider the church to be short-sighted in thinking they can control libido, but you cannot blame the church for all those Africans being bored and breeding like rabbits.

No surprise here since religion... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187642)

itself is a disease (of the mind)

Religion and sanitation (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187674)

It is quite clear from some of the rules laid down in religious texts that one of the purposes that religion served in historical times was to educate the population about sanitary practices, such as the relative danger of eating meat from certain animals and seafood as opposed to others. Interestingly, Christianity as practised in the West seems to ignore most of the rules of this category, while Islam inherits most of them from Judaism, giving its own twist on the rituals surrounding them.

You forgot, religion is an epidemic in itself (4, Insightful)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187682)

Still, nice set of arguments you had. ;)

Re:You forgot, religion is an epidemic in itself (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187748)

Not simply because it's common and we don't like it, but because it's actually *structured* as a mental infectious agent, from the concepts of hell and heaven to the parable of the seeds to hebrews 6:6 to faith to everything else. Your mental immune system is reason and a thirst for hard evidence. Don't let a virus disarm it.

Congregation (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187874)

Anything that affects how we interact, especially in large groups, will affect contagion.

What's the central social order of religion?

Congregation.

Re:Congregation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37188032)

What's the central social order of religion?

Do what we say or go to Hell?

Isn't religion an epidemic itself ? (0)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187914)

It's killed more than most illnesses I've heard of. And still does.

Re:Isn't religion an epidemic itself ? (4, Insightful)

bkmoore (1910118) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188080)

It's killed more than most illnesses I've heard of. And still does.

Mao, Hitler and Stalin were atheists. The 30 years war, the Crusades, the Spanish inquisition, Al Queda were religious. Your point is? Most mass murder is because of greed, not religion. Religion is used to justify the greed in some cases. In other cases, politics or biology are used as justification. But greed is at the heart of almost all killing and war. An atheistic world would be neither more peaceful nor less peaceful because even atheists are just as greedy as everyone else.

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