QUOTE(rusty_trombone @ Aug 22 2007, 03:17 PM) [snapback]354769[/snapback]
Yes, but it is the source of most of the turmoil in the world and the source of the constant revocation of progress for the rest of us. We did not need religion for the recognization of common good and societal goals, these were talked about long before the invention of "modern" religion. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all came up with ways to make society better, and the ideas for democracy and peaceful coexistence were developed by them. I love the idea that religious people hold a monopoly over the idea of "morality." How many relgious people in this country were slave owners? I honestly don't think the world needs relgion to exist, and would probably be a much better place if people did things based in rational decisions rather than their faith. I think the source of most people's faith is rooted in fear and anxiety of an afterlife anyway.
I would be very happy if religion and science could coexist peacefully, but that won't happen when you hve overzealous religious leaders continuing their assault on(at least in America) on the rest of us. I think it's ridiculous that they try and legislate their morals for the rest of us. Scientists don't attack religion, you never see a bunch of scientists protesting the existence of the church or whatever other people believe, but you do see religious leaders actively trying to do annoying things. Teaching religion in science class is one thing, no scientists goes into a church and tells them to teach science there. It's about respecting the boundaries set up in our constitution so we don't fall back into the dark ages, with religion controlling the world, and killing progress for a thousand years.
OK, but if you can't credit religion for it's good, then you can't discredit it with the bad.
For instance, if humans were able to find ways of enlightening society without religion (as you rightly accredited to the Greek philosophers), then equally you must agree that humans would have found ways to create turmoil without it, too. The religious wars that go on would still occur if religion never existed...the fights would just be over something else.
And I disagree that society doesn't need religion. Religion, faith, beliefs and culture are all integral parts of society. You may not need religion and these beliefs, but I would never tell people less well off than myself that there is no need for religion. For many billions of people around the world, their belief and faith is all that holds them and their lifestyles together. Squashing religion would crush whole communities and cultures.
It's OK for a well off, middle class Westerner, with all his science and technology surrounding him, to say there is no need for religion. For him there may well not need be. His moral boundaries are laid out in front of him, and there is no temptation or need for him to betray these principles.
For others, it is a different situation. Take a teenage kid in Rio De Janeiro, for instance. He is broke, hungry and unloved. He needs to steal for food and rob for money. His moral principles are stretched to the limit, and perhaps it is only his belief in God which stops him betraying them...not any laws or democracies. This is a specific example, but could be attributed to billions of people around the world.
My point is that it is human nature to want to be a part of something bigger and to crave understanding of the world around us. If such a huge percentage of the world can only do this via religion, I would say it is a worthy and essential part of society.
Nice to have an adult discussion on an adult topic, for a change, though!!!