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The Positives and Negatives of Religion

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In the present world, religion is playing a substantial role, in the way it can give structure and guide society to the way it can cause havoc and wreck it. From terrorists using religion to justify their wrongdoings to Jehovah’s Witnesses refusing blood transfusions for their children unable to choose their religion. It all really calls into question whether religion is a causing a positive impact on today’s society or in fact promoting hate and intolerance. Religion seems to have formed since before you could call it that, guiding people through everyday life and establishing a sense of morality within them. Perhaps our modern laws are somewhat based on the teachings of religion yet do we really need all that religion has created in society today, do we really need more justifications of prejudice and bigotry?

Religion can easily be viewed as one of the most alienating component of humanity yet at the same time unifying, whilst uniting the people of its community it is also isolating them from others. Religious beliefs are by their very nature exclusionary. While several religions may preach tolerance, few practice it. The majority are accepting of other people, as long as those other people are willing to convert. If they’re not, oh well, they’re going to hell. Throughout most of history, numerous wars and conflicts have been a direct result of two religion clashing. The Crusades, 9/11, the Holocaust, millennia of wars in the middle east, and conflict nearly everywhere where two religions encounter.

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One of the key issues with any religion is that it regards any other as false, whilst believing what they are doing is truly ethical and refuse any scientific evidence that blatantly proves them wrong. Empathy is deeply embedded in the very centre of religion, yet that empathy is only aimed towards the people of their religion and beliefs hence causing a strong divide in society.. Whilst empathy is generally perceived to be a good thing, a strong stubborn sense of morality can be dangerous at its most extreme, researchers have said “terrorists within their bubble, believe it’s a highly moral thing they’re doing, they believe they’re protecting something sacred” said Mr Jack. Jared Friedman, a PhD student who co-authored the research, added: “It suggests that religious individuals may cling to certain beliefs, especially those which seem at odds with analytic reasoning, because those beliefs resonate with their moral sentiments”. At the other extreme, despite showing strong critical thinking, atheists “lack the insight to see anything positive about religion,” said Mr Jack. “They can only see that it contradicts their scientific, analytical thinking” They said the religious extremists mind appears to be completely dominated by empathy, whereas the atheist’s is ruled by analytical thinking, lacking the basic sense of compassion and empathy.

We are now living in a time where science has overtaken the benefits religion once possessed. Religion once had a purpose in explaining where the universe came from and how humans came to be. Religion in a way was a first attempt at figuring out the world around us. We did not understand why and how people got sick, so we clung onto religion and blamed it on the devil. Today we now know that it is germs that cause disease. We didn’t understand why earthquakes happened, so we settled on the idea that it was because of an angry God. Today we now know that earthquakes are caused by shifts in the tectonic plates under the earth’s crust. Science has since replaced the idea of a creator with the big bang, and the Adam and Eve story with evolution

In the past, there was little scientific advancement and resources were limited. So naturally, people felt lost and afraid in this big scary world and they turned to God and religion to explain all this. It created a sense of security and peace in the minds of people. Now that we know why things happen. If we don’t understand something and just dismiss it as “God’s miracles”, we will not discover the truth. It is an impediment to progress and advancement

On the other hand, religion is a firm foundation for morals and beliefs; it helps shape us as people and determine what is right and what is wrong. Religion heavily contributes to shaping an individual’s character and therefore it moulds social life. It enforces uniformity of behaviour and it strengthens social unity thereby acts as an instrument in creating a stable social order Religion has an immense role of a teacher in everyday, it teaches people to be kind, show empathy towards others or to respect your elders, religious instructions and beliefs remain today as the lifeblood of societies moral ethics. Religion helps us answers questions such as, what is the meaning of life? It provides relief to many people, acting as a guiding light to get through everyday life. Some of the world’s greatest acts of forgiveness have been inspired by a moral ethic and faith in how crucial forgiveness is in establishing a peaceful society. For example, Martin Luther King frequently used religion to preach a profound message of peace and forgiveness.

With a clear understanding of all the positives and negatives of religion it is quite easy to understand why religion stands out throughout history as an undeniable power. Religion has an immense influence in society yet has the power to become something completely destructive making it such a strong force.

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