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Religion: Reason or Excuse?

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If we look back at the beginnings of religion, as we all (should) know, it was a device set up for the authorities to subdue and control the masses.

For example, the first Christian Church as we know it, was established early in the fourth century. The Bible is littered with politically convenient edicts designed to govern the people (For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. Romans 13:4). Hence, governments took free rein in fleecing the naive, gullible, uneducated and profoundly superstitious masses of their earnings (This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Romans 13:6)

So, here we see the word of God being used as an excuse to rob the poor rather than the reason.

Now, moving forward to the present we can experience the self-realisation of religion being elevated to an entirely different level in terms of impacting upon (Nothing like a few corny, bureaucratic, au courant cliches, is there?) the common folk who are really using religion as an excuse rather than a reason for their belief. Could it be that they don't necessarily believe in God but use their faith as an excuse to validate their fears and prejudices?

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  • BarnardotBarnardot 63 Pts   -  
    There is no reason for religion and that’s why they always make excuses for it. @Swolliw
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 4244 Pts   -   edited January 9
    That is factually not true. Some religions (such as Islam), indeed, were set up by warlords seeking to control the masses - but other religions had much humbler origins. Christianity initially was a small sect of philosophers who preached compassion and humbleness; their philosophy can be traced back to the Greek stoicism, although it had essential differences as well, such as vilification of material wealth (stoics only vilified addiction to wealth, not wealth itself). It was later, when their movement gained traction, that the emperors of Rome took notice of it, eventually making it into the state religion, from where it all went downhill.

    What makes most (all?) religions so easy to use to control the masses with is their focus on abstract virtues versus individual well-being. Most ideologies have this focus, but not all: for example, it is almost impossible to build a totalitarian state around the ideas of stoicism, or objectivism, or epicureanism: these ideologies, with all of their shortcomings, put the individual well-being first, before any other considerations - and how are you going to control the masses by telling them that their self-interest trumps any collectivistic notions?

    Religions, on the other hand, almost always promote obedience before some abstract central idea, sacrifice of the individual well-being to it. Even such religions as Buddhism, while not featuring any central authorities, still urge their followers to make a lot of sacrifices for the sake of some vision of abstract good. Even worse with Christianity or Islam that are all about suffering greatly in order to venerate "god". These religions are set up perfectly well for someone to come over, proclaim themselves a messenger of said "god" - and to take over the society that is prone to this kind of ideas.

    Socialism, nationalism, racial exceptionalism - they all have this same feature: the prescription demanding self-sacrifice for the sake of some central entity, be it the "worker class", the "nation" or the "race". They are a bit weaker than religion, as they are not as easy to justify as to just say, "worship god or burn in hell" - but, on the other hand, they also do not require one to hold any supernatural beliefs and can be pseudo-rationalized without invoking outrageous fantasy concepts. That is why they are harder to establish, but, once established, they are also very hard to uproot: with "god", people eventually start asking questions, demanding evidence - but with these more materialistic ideologies, everything can be made to seem fairly logical, and such questions are much less likely to arise.

    Look at the Islamic world: wars, revolutions, uprisings - they happen everywhere all the time, short of a couple of states (such as Saudi Arabia) with very ruthless governments that squash any semblance of opposition before it has a chance to show itself. It is not easy to keep a stable system when this system's legitimacy is conditioned upon people's belief in "Allah", belief that has about as much ground in reality as belief in Santa. So people never really fully buy the idea, and constantly rise up and demand a better one.
    Does not happen as often in places like China or Cuba, the fallaciousness of ideologies in which is quite a bit harder to prove. There, it appears, something drastic has to happen, such as a complete economical collapse, in order for the system to crumble.
  • piloteerpiloteer 1484 Pts   -  

    Ya sorry, but MayCaesar makes a valid point. Not all religions are created to control the masses, and Christianity itself was not either. Nothing about Taoism, Confucianism, or Sikhism is for the purpose of controlling the masses. There are Christian culture advocates who readily admit to not believing in God but still believe that western nations should adhere to Christian doctrine, but their policy proposals are easily discredited.   
  • SwolliwSwolliw 1328 Pts   -  
    @piloteer @MayCaesar
    Ya sorry, but MayCaesar makes a valid point.

    I'm not sorry because you are completely wrong. He does not make a valid point at all. He re-edited a fact to justify his own bias with an irrelevant point....."Christianity initially"

    My argument centered on not Christianity but the Christian Church which was founded in the fourth century as I quite correctly stated and gave two examples of my argument in the form of quotes from the Bible. The Christian Religion has an abysmally dreadful record of treating common people as scum for the benefit of their own ambitions and obscene wealth. For example, Henry VIII would brutally enforce the laws of religion upon his people in the form of torture and barbaric killings, he claimed to be pushing such a self-centered, evil agenda as being bestowed by God to govern in such a way. He even went so far as to disassociate the crown from the Catholic Church and formed the Anglican Church for the sole benefit of fixing his marital problems.

    For Chrissake how much more Christian Church history do I have to go through? Shall we talk about the Borgias, or the Spanish Inquisitions? What the Christian Church has done and continues to do so makes Islam look very mundane and amateurish by comparison. At least Islam has the dignity to stick to its roots, unlike the Christian Church which will vacillate and change at any opportunity to maintain its stranglehold and as usual attribute such cruelness and oppression with the usual excuse..."It is written". Sure, written alright, and translated for their own nefarious benefits.

  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 4244 Pts   -  

    I am sorry, but your opening statement was:
    Swolliw said:

    If we look back at the beginnings of religion, as we all (should) know, it was a device set up for the authorities to subdue and control the masses.
    The argument involving the Christian Church directly was an illustration of the initial claim. It is the initial claim that I am challenging, not your version of the story of the Christian Church in particular (which I largely agree with).

    Also, what bias was I trying to justify, and how did you figure out that I was?
  • SwolliwSwolliw 1328 Pts   -  
    It is the initial claim that I am challenging
    That's right, and you are completely wrong as I correctly pointed and fully backed up.

    not your version of the story of the Christian Church in particular (which I largely agree with).
    It's not "my" version, it is factual and which you then backflipped and agreed upon. Are you Arthur or Martha?

    Also, what bias was I trying to justify, and how did you figure out that I was? 

    "That is factually not true. Some religions (such as Islam), indeed, were set up by warlords seeking to control the masses - but other religions had much humbler origins. 
    Christianity initially was a small sect of philosophers"

    That's how I figured it was difficult and it took all day but gee, I don't know, there is more than just a hint of bias going on there towards Christianity...the most oppressive, violent, manipulative, malevolent institution ever devised and what "humble origins" it may allegedly have makes diddly squat to the fact of what Christianity and the Christian Church have been and still are.

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