.. y each specific person’s overall rewards. To truly determine how good religion is we must look at its effects on society as a whole. Religion as it pertains to society has both its good sides and its bad sides. One must look at both sides and see which side should dominate.
Once again we must look at this issue in two parts: Do the boundaries created by such acts hinder society’s movement toward unification? Does religion serve as a “drug” for the people, something to believe in? Can religious preservation hinder the scientific search for truth? As in the individual’s case we examine the effect of boundaries. In an industrialized nation where work is being done to remove these boundaries this can hinder movements dramatically. When so much work is being done to remove ethnic boundaries, these religious boundaries, which are much more clear-cut, can only set back the work of many. The boundaries are then good and bad, to see overall, it must be decided which is more important, the individual or the society as a whole. To see the good side of religion for the society, one must look once again to Karl Marx.
The famous quote, “Religion is opiate for the masses” perhaps sums up the effect of religion on society. Religion provides the masses of people something to believe in, something that they can hold onto in times of despair (Marx and Engels 1-30). It is a benefit that no government can provide. When the economy is failing, when the government is faltering, there is always religion for the masses to turn to (Marx and Engels 1-30). Hence, religion hurts the goals of any nation striving for unification, but it helps the masses of people.
By this we hurt the government’s goals, but we help ourselves. Over the past thousand years religion has hindered and sometimes halted technological advancement. Two common examples include Galileo’s near-death experience in disproving the Catholic church, and the inability of American schools to teach evolution, although it is almost completely proven, simply because it cannot be completely proven. At what point, if one exists, do we say that religion has hindered mankind’s quest for truth to such an extent that followers of religion and science must be completely divided for the betterment of mankind. So while religion may be good for each individual, it can be said that religion hinders the efforts of any organized government and any societies’ quest for truth. This is not to say that science IS the truth, but religion certainly hinders efforts to look for it. Religion was established to explain the things that are not understood.
Back then, it was fire and rain; however not much has changed since then, religion no longer explains the sun and stars, but intends to explain death and the workings of mankind, things that we today, do not understand. This then poses the next obvious question, “What form will religion take if these things are scientifically explained (i.e. love can be attained by eating large amounts of chocolate)? Mankind seeks religion because it nurtures, and helps them comprehend what they otherwise would have never been able to. It allows people their own sense of identity and their role for life. It is a “drug” for people who need to relieve their pain. And it is something that its subscribers can believe in when all else is lost.
This is why religion is so popular. Even with its profound popularity, this institution is helpful to all of its subscribers and to society as a whole. It may hinder them along the way but in the overall picture it is productive, and helps more than it hurts. To say whether religion is good or bad is something that can really only be decided by each individual. This decision lies in how important each person thinks the benefits received are and how important he/she thinks the negatives are. But, in the general scheme of things, religion appears to be something that is good for society, and definitely good for those who choose to believe in it.
Perhaps Benjamin Franklin put it best when he said, “When a religion is good, I conceive it I will support itself, and when it does not do so, and God chooses not to do so, so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one (quoted from Doerr 37).” A brief comment from the author: This enormous gap between the believers and those who refuse to believe grows, and as its gap widens society finds itself with more hatred and resentment than ever before. This gap grows through every book that is written, every study that is conducted, every church that appears on TV. These things and so many others have made it near impossible for people of differing beliefs to coexist. Perhaps mankind’s ultimate battle will be to transcend religious denomination and seek nothing but the truth, wherever it may lie. At any rate, for the time being we are separated along very fine lines. Lines that cannot be crossed.
Lines that divide the Muslims from the Jews, the “right” from the “wrong”. Mankind has not been able to transcend these lines over the last three thousand years so it hardly seems likely now, and not knowing the truth, not much can be said for any religion (or lack thereof). However, today, there appear to be two incontrovertible facts: These differences are irreconcilable The truth will only be know upon death Bibliography : Bibliography Barbour, Freid. “The Caroline Church: the reconstruction of epic religion in three seventeenth-century communities”. Renaissance Quarterly. Autumn 1997: 97.
Blau, Judith R. “The toggle switch of institutions: religion and art in the U.S. in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries”. Social Forces. June 1996: 1159.
Doerr, Edd. “Private: Keep Out”. The Humanist. May-June 1996: 36 Heilke, Thomas. “On being ethical without moral sadism: two readings of Augustine and the beginnings of the Anabaptist revolution”.
Political Theory. August 1996: 493. Jacobson, Jessica. “Religion and ethnicity: dual and alternative sources of identify among young British Pakastanis”. Ethnic and Racial Studies. April 1997: 238.
Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. On religion. Scholars Press. November 1982. Weber, Max. “Economy and Society: Volume 2”.
Gesmmelte Aufsatze zur Religionssoziologie. University of California Press. Edited by Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich. 1968.