Originally posted by darvlay
If there was no such thing as salvation, and religion was used strictly as a moral, spiritual or even cultural "guide", would humans and races co-exist more peacefully?
If no religion was right or wrong as a means of salvation and it was merely a personal choice, would there be so much acrimony?
I think the Santa Claus aspect of religion is pretty essential to its success
as a moral guide. I mean the 'he sees when you are sleeping, he knows
if you're awake' aspect of things. The success of the human race depends
on most people doing reasonable good most of the time. However,
larger propinquity group size means slightly deviant behavior can transpire
with little notice and reprecussion. The idea that 'God is watching' and
will punish you mitigates against that.
So, I think the salvation aspect of religion cannot be separated from it
without making it essentially impotent; if God isn't watching, then what
reason to I have to consider avoiding sin?
Yes, I know it isn't reasonable
to do so, but how many times have
you known people to behave unreasonably? I know dozens of people
who will lie to your face, but if you ask them to put their hand on a Bible
and say it, won't lie. I know people who drop the F-bomb in every other
sentence in a conversation, but won't say 'poop' in a church building.
Consider this story, which is 100% true: I know a guy who was being
assualted by a bunch of urban youth. One of them pulled out a gun
and was going to shoot him (having robbed him of the 20 or so dollars
he had on him). Another one said, 'Don't shoot him here, we're in front
of a church,' and the group started to drag him away. He moaned, 'Jesus
help me,' and they all ran away without shooting him.
With attitudes like this, I think the 'Santa Claus' God model does in fact
play a mitigating role in making some
people act more peacefully,
at least in the West. Certainly, the idea of religion inclines other people
towards severe violence.
Just adding my two cents.