70sFan wrote:Religion is very sophisticated topic, but I don't think a world without religion would be better. Personally, I can only speak about Catolicism as I'm from Poland (I know a bit about excint religions, but not much about other that still exist). Recently, we have very tough times for Catolic churches in Poland due to political and social environment we live in now (recent scandal with abortion). I'm clearly against what Catolicism say about these things, but it doesn't mean that I believe the world would be better without it.
I think there is a strong connection between the history of science and the history of european religions. I might be wrong, but I believe that Catolicism created better social environment for exploring and studying the whole world than any other religion. Many people still don't realize that our wester civilisation is built at two things: ancient Greeks thought and Catolic beliefs. Now a lot of people believe that the church slowed down the process of understanding the world but I don't see convincing reasons to believe that. Not to mention that Catolicism provided the purest and most beautiful (at least in my opinion, so if there's anyone with different beliefs don't feel offended) set of moral values - the values we still use as a foundation of our civilization.
Religion always had two purposes - to find a greater truth but also to organize societies. If there's one big problem for religion in recent time, it's with the second one - people don't need religion to organize our lives anymore. Due to globalization and capitalism, people have much wider pool of possibilites now. Catolicism has been doing a poor job at adaptation to these new world. I think it's fair to say that they live in a huge recession for over a hundret of years to this day. Again - this is from my experience, but priests aren't educated enough in most ways to do their job well and religion classes in schools are mostly a joke (I don't know if something like this exist outside of Poland). People don't realize that theology is a real study, people don't find it serious.
I will say one thing though - if the progression of science didn't eliminate religion (and it shouldn't, they act about completely different things),
It is not the progression of science that is elimianting religion, it is the progression of alternative, better written stories that don't ask their audience to trust in sky autocrats for their morality.
Science, rationalism, postmodernism are all bogey men so that religion can distract from its actual competition, a wide diversity of other stories, stories whose tellers generally dont try to make them seem 'sacred' or 'special' by saying they're "true" or "real"
Alot of your post seems to conflate correlation with causation. Monarchies also did wonders for science, would the world we be better if we were all under kings and queens?
If you want to assess the value of somethign, you must assess what it is. (note, i am using a rather specific definiton of religion here, that which relies on a higher power.) Religion promotes deference to higher authority. If the world is better with religion, than surely 'good outcomes' like life expectancy, happiness, ect, ect would occur in places which defer to higher authorties and 'special' singluar stories, aka autocracies. And yet, the less democratic a place is, te more likely the outcomes are to be bad.
Religious commit more crime than the non-religious? Why? Well, again, lets look at what religion is. Religion priviligies certain stories as truth. generally those telling religious stories to their kids do not tell them like they would tell other stories, no they are sacred, special, you must go to events you would not want to otherwise go, do things you would otherwise not want to do. When you treat a story as special, then your interpretation of tha one story will have a disproportiante influence on how you act. And unfortunately, while some people may vehemently aargue otherwise, there are no "wrong interpretations". This is the bread and butter of extremism, usually consensus and a wide variety of interpretations from a wide range of stories puts a check on one 'odd' one. Its better that many people must approve of a nuclear option than one, but when you make one story special, and you spread its specialness to others as something you must respect, now you're playing with fire.
Parents acting in good faith, would not demand anything extra of their children regarding their unicorn tales and would tell them like they would tell any other sort of story, alas, many parents aren't really acting in good faith, the interests of children are secondary to their desire to make their children an extension of themselves. "Teaching them values" is a cover for indoctrination and control.