I am glad to have it though. I have contact with a whole different world than my NYC tech job and have a different relationship to my city than I would otherwise. The EMTs (and trainees) are younger, different racial and socio-economic backgrounds. Not uncommon for me to be on a shift with a crew chief who is 20 years younger and different race and or gender. And it be a person I trust and respect.
As for the work itself - it can be harrowing and you second guess almost everything and try to figure it out better. While trying to help the patient(s) you have to manage radio contact while filling out a chart which you are constantly reminded would be the basis for legal discovery if needed. Our Corps does about 6k calls a year out of one location with 3 ambulances. And you get all the variety you expect in a city.
I question it sometimes. This volunteering eats into my work life and family life. Occasionally dream about it or think about it. To the point of the post - it does connect me to community in a different and meaningful way. There are other ways to achieve the same thing probably - just adding my experience.
My dad has been a volunteer sherif for decades (because of his background he does a lot of the local hostage negotiation) and I know how much he got out of that.
Expense was ~1300USD plus book for a 6 month course (Tues, Thurs, Sat). My volunteer corps offers vouchers which reduces the overall cost to $200 but I would have had to wait another cycle (and also probably take it from a 19 year old who would need it more). So I paid for it. The course is worth it for the practical skills alone. After you take 50 blood pressures - it starts to click, etc.
Also the practical days in the hospital trailing ER nurses or respiratory specialists are great.
lmk if you need more info
I live in a place where it's very hard to find like-minded people in real life. That plus health issues and social anxiety resulted in me being quite alone for awhile. I'm very introverted so I wasn't unhappy, but still thought that it would be nice to have a group of good buddies to hang out with.
Then I have learned that you can play DnD over discord/roll20, and my god this is so great! A lot of incredibly smart and amazing people, welcoming and friendly community, so much fun! I highly recommend it to everyone!
Do you have any resources to get started?
You can find people to play with on /r/lfg subreddit. If you're not ready to commit to a long-term campaign, I recommend looking for one-shots(one-time games lasting 3-5 hours). Try things out, play a couple of games, get to know a few people.
Also, there are a lot of discord servers where people hang out and play together:
They often have channels where they announce games, free for anyone to join. My favorite server is:
There are a lot of games in there, and people are very friendly and willing to help. Just come over, ask questions. Don't be afraid to just join one of the games and start playing - nobody expects you to know all the rules when you get started, DM and other players will help you out, you will learn as you go.
Quality of games can sometimes be uneven(depending on DM/player skills). I was lucky that my first few games turned out to be amazing, but occassionaly it can get a bit slow/boring. If that happens - don't give up, just give it another shot, it's worth it. Gradually you'll meet and get to know people you like playing with.
Quick tutorial on playing games on that server:
You can also find a group to start a campaign with right away. Post on /r/lfg and say you're looking for a DM and players, or find a post made by a DM and apply as a player. The biggest challenge here is scheduling - people live in different timezones, and sometimes groups fall apart because people have trouble making it on time. Your group needs to decide on a specific time you can play every week, and stick to it. Some people have trouble with this, but it's easier than it seems, if the first time doesn't work out - just try again. I was lucky to find 3 amazing groups with awesome players right away.
I moved from Boston to Portland a few years ago and didn't know anyone. I tried everything from Meetups (solid if you're looking for friends of the opposite sex and people your age -- especially if you're a millennial / gen X), volunteering (great for meeting a wide variety of people but can be difficult to come across the same people over and over unless you share a common bond, like work) and sports (best for last minute get together, but sometimes to schedule can be too rigid if you don't dedicate yourself).
They all have their benefits, and you'll never enjoy every type of person you meet in a certain community. The key above all is getting together with people you like on a semi-regular basis. Even twice a month on a long enough timescale is enough to establish a strong tie.
It was a great community for me, and you see the same people every week for years.
(territory zero chomage/joblesness long duration)
(Obviously, you'll eventual graduate)
However, I don't quite see how the volunteering is connected to your startup.
> how negative the comments are on this one
Do you mean negative comments about the article (and its advocacy of volunteering), or negative reactions to the first comment here on HN, which brought church into the discussion?
EDIT to add: hm, further down there are some quite negative comments (some rather silly), maybe you meant those.
I don’t want to downplay depression or imply it’s a cure for that, but certainly my own struggles with same have been lessened when I was an active volunteer.
You don’t have to be a “better person” to volunteer; volunteering helps you become a better person.
This place is really great in that you don't need a specific time investment: just sign up for a 3 hours shift when you feel like it. If you really like it, you can invest yourself more. Or just go there whenever you feel like it to talk to friendly people, without to have to find friends in advance (I wouldn't go in most pubs alone: most are designed so that you come with your friends and stay with them without talking to other group of people).
This has been my particular story, but I'd advise anyone with too much free time and not enough people to spend it with to volunteer to something, anything, that match with your values. It really is life-changing.
Just don't go too deep too fast: you can definitely burn out with volunteer work as well. That's one thing several persons at my non-profit specifically warned me against, in non-equivocal words, as it happened to others before.
Having worked in restaurant environments before, I can definitely attest that serving and making drinks alongside your coworkers is an excellent way to spawn a really legitimate friendship.
I guess step 1 is founding a local, non-profit bar/pub/coffeeshop then :-)
But as I noted, any non-profit that align with your values is good.
One thing I love about going to Asia is the vibrant night time activities that of course includes bars but also night markets and late shopping that is as much for families as it is for bar goers.
Now compared to my own city and country (The Netherlands), people look at me weirdly if I go for a run at 12pm at night. Even though I just got home and this is the only time I have.
I find it surprising that hardly anyone here mentions music or the arts. Shopping isn't the only nighttime social activity. Go to the theatre, play an instrument, learn to dance.
What an amazing story he has -- decorated WW2 veteran (he had so many stories to tell about the war), worked in construction for 40+ years, now has an extended family (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren) that is 100+ strong.
At some point, hospice said that he was doing better so they were cancelling their support. I still wanting to see him so I kept going. He wasn't expected that though, and the next week when I showed up he was so appreciative he was in tears.
You never know how your presence can affect someone.
The patient I was working with had a stroke. He was paralyzed, completely bedridden, and unable to speak. Despite his ailments, he was able to hear & see properly and thus able to understand me. I would read him books and magazines. Deep down I knew he understood & enjoyed it but the lack of feedback of any kind was frustrating despite knowing his situation was far worse.
After months of volunteering, the following day I go in and his bed is empty. As I left, my soul felt emptier than that bed. Is this what my future could entail? Those types of thoughts ate away at me. It was bad enough for me to consider them but far worse to view my own thoughts void of morality and so focused on my self.
I wish I could tell myself I'm in a better position today. For today at least, I'll try.
It is difficult knowing folks as they die. Really difficult, and your aftereffects are quite normal.
If it keeps eating away at you, there is help available - from people trained to help people through this exact situation. Please consider getting help if it seems too much at any time.
If you'd like to talk more privately, please reach out (my email is in profile).
I've been trying to come up with a way to extend the range even further so he can visit his old friends with it. It won't be quick but time is not his problem.
this feels like a theory in search of facts. are your friends hanging out with you simply because of your economic value to them? or weirder, hanging out with you because of your economic value to your employer?
there might be a correlation between someone's "economic value" being zero, and them being lonely, but there are a lot of ways that can happen, and direct causation probably isn't one of them.
From a community's point of view, volunteers directly benefit the community by planting trees or running soup kitchens. They also strengthen the social network of the community. Finally they improve the health outcomes of the volunteer, reducing the healthcare burden on the community! The only downside I can think of is the potential loss of legitimate work for the unemployed.
My old role in science outreach involved a lot of help from local Rotary Clubs. They were mostly older people. They were enthusiastic, effective, happy, and full of the kind of amazing stories and wisdom you can only get from living a long and interesting life. I came out of that job convinced that volunteering is effective.
I volunteered with something my workplace set up once. It was ok, but they never even booked a second session. We were tutoring underprivileged kids, so it's a little depressing knowing we're just someone else who didn't really support them.
Amen to that! One of the greatest challenges facing volunteer organisations these days is the supreme difficulty of getting people (especially millenials) to commit to regular and extended involvement. I'm in the national leadership of my organisation, and I hear the same stories from virtually all our groups, as well as from other organisations.
Of course, there needs to be space for people to just try themselves out at first (we certainly have that). But at some point, you've got to be willing to commit...
I didn’t much like some aspects of it, but it’s definitely a useful approach for some. I regret I don’t remember the name of the organization.
And work is less and less a good place for that, because of policies, specialisation, compartimenting, but also because of lack of meaning
Meaning is a very important component for a group, and religions sell plenty of it, which make them strong people binders.
A lot of other factors like common values, language, symbolism and stories reinforce this effect, but you can find that elsewhere, although it is very natural for spiritual groups to include all of it.
The problem with modern substitutes seems to be that they are extremely narrow and probably very temporal (Keto diet fanatics, cross-fit buffs, even gay bars seem to be past their glory days). Much of the unity of the church body comes from a connection to ancestors and a sense that one is, cultural differences aside, a part of the same thing.
I agree with this. Church communities also tend to be geographically local, which can be important.
As an Atheist, I have no desire to encourage people back to religion, but I do think society needs a replacement for the community created by religious groups.
I see a reinforcement of a group identity that can follow to new churches, often simply requiring attendance... opportunities to practice values through volunteering... the holy leaders' quasi-authoritative councilor/networking facilitator/self-improvement/social policing role... and more...
Hut how would we fulfill religion's roles without the leaps of faith and dogma that defines religion?
Religious families are big on family and I this day and age, they're smaller than ever. Gone are the days, in my case, of communing for a large family dinner almost every week. I barely even see my parents.
All of which to say I think our social needs were met in large part by family, and Church was a convenient vehicle to bring it together. There's no substitute for family. However, between a plethora of possible social obligations given our leisure time, I think loneliness can be abated.
In my experience churches and families are not independent things. Basically every healthy church spends a significant amount of time encouraging healthy families in both direct and indirect ways.
And most healthy churches aren't all that convenient. There are too many people involved for church to be convenient.
I'd say they're totally independent even if you perceive they may benefit families; lots of institutions can.
This kind of thing is actually more common in more conservative churches in my experience. More progressive groups don't focus on evangelism/conversion as much.
Religion is just an excuse, anything you can extract moral from is ripe from being abused as a justification for the worst human behavior.
We used communism and eugenism for the same purpose. We had a book, we had a leader, and we had a genocide.
There are plenty of toxic communities. Belonging to them may salve loneliness without being healthy. If for example the community is built around resentment, revenge, purity, a charismatic leader, etc., fellowship may still provide a strong attraction ... that is best fulfilled elsewhere.
If nothing else, better to get a dog than a cult.
The way to drive toxic communities back to the fringes of society is to build and support healthy ones.
Also useful gardening advice.
Plenty of people prefer to be victims in group than alone though. We are weird creatures.
It's not precise science, it's subjective, and sometimes hard to identify.
Same with abusing relationships.
I don't think I'm a moral relativist, but this is a non-sequitur. It's possible for morality to be relative, but still have guiding principals.
>we're only a decade or two into mainstream moral relativism.
No, people have always found a way to justify what want to be right regardless of the underlying ideology. We've just become more explicit about it in some cases. People's beliefs about what is right tend to be very convenient for them regardless of what they claim their beliefs to be.
I think it's the equivalent of a 'code smell' if you find yourself going through life without being challenged about what you think is right and wrong. I think it usually means you have come up with a convenient set of rules that allows you to ignore nuance and details so that you don't have to constantly struggle with what's good and bad.
Of course, I'm speculating too.
This is probably true in cases. But I suspect that widespread cultural alignment to a general perspective/worldview must have an overall mass effect.
At an individual level, I agree. But I stipulated "at a cultural level", by which I mean something like "if the culture is morally relativistic, I don't think you'll see a critical mass of principled individuals that would prop up a principled culture". I don't think moral relativism is compatible with a principled culture, at least not given the parameters of human psychology.
> No, people have always found a way to justify what want to be right regardless of the underlying ideology.
To be clear, I didn't claim moral absolutism generally or religion in particular is a panacea against this sort of self-dishonesty, but I think you see less of it and instances are less pronounced if only because that individual will lose credibility with his peers. In a morally relativistic culture, the offender only needs to argue "that's your morality, not mine" or "that's your truth, not mine", which is roughly what we see today.
> We've just become more explicit about it in some cases. People's beliefs about what is right tend to be very convenient for them regardless of what they claim their beliefs to be.
I think there's always a temptation to convince oneself that what they want is moral, but I think that temptation is inhibited because he knows his community won't let him get away with it (his reputation would be damaged if he advocated for a few overtly immoral things or many subtly immoral things, consistently). Further, with religions in particular, there is often a text that lays out the morality and there is only so much word lawyering someone can do without overtly running afoul of it. It further constrains the impulse. And with religions like Christianity in particular, a central activity is reflecting on one's selfishness and working against it (the concept of "dying to oneself").
Like I said before, it's not a panacea (there are many religious people and indeed Christians who subvert it), but I think it is a bulwark that we tear down at our own peril.
As much as you defend organized religion, it seems to evolve into bigotry quite often, if not always.
But in the end, we are so dependent on the idea of a God, that we will end making an actual one.
Long live our robot overlords.
In a morally relativistic society, credibility is distributed along tribal lines because there are no higher principles. Everyone is motivated to look out for oneself and the best avenue for that is a tribal alliance (as you point out "you treat nice people nicely and bad people badly", however, "nice" and "bad" devolve almost immediately into proxies for "benefits me" or "does not benefit me"). Things that would otherwise be absolutely wrong (like sexual assault or political violence) now vary morally depending on what is convenient to our tribe in the moment. Science can be swiftly rejected as racist or sexist (or whatever sin our tribe is immediately obsessed with) if it supports an inconvenient finding, but it will be back in favor next week when it produces convenient results.
In a morally absolute society, universal principles resist these selfish, tribalistic tendencies (although not completely or perfectly in all places at all times--remember we're describing a bulwark and not a panacea). We agree that sexual assault and political violence are very bad and we condemn people even in our own tribe who commit such acts. Empiricism is also venerated above personal or tribal convenience (although sophisticated empirical findings may take time to trickle down the chain of trust to the layperson).
Anyway, there are lots of holes to punch here since the topic is highly subjective and I didn't draw all of the connecting details (due to time constraints), but that's the general model.
There is widespread disagreement about the use of force, who should care for the sick and poor and when, and so many other things.
So maybe I don't understand what you mean by a morally absolute society.
I don't understand your point of "that's your truth, you can't impose that on me." That's literally how most of us have to get along. If we were unable to accept moral differences in other people, we would be completely unable to function as a society. I don't believe there has ever been two people who have completely agreed on what's moral or not.
Is it wrong to be gay as a christian? You're going to find hundreds of different christian opinions on this, with their own scripture to back it up.
Are you saved by words or actions? Again, you're going to find many many different answers, all with their own scripture and reasoning.
You claim that christianity is about reflecting on one's selfishness and working against it, but can you say that about the prosperity gospel? Trump is about as self-centered as a person can get, but he's held up as a saint by millions of christians in this country.
But perhaps you just mean within a single church community, and not christianity at large? I was a PK, though, so I know how church politics can go and the infighting and selfishness that can be exhibited within the community.
Basically the most we can hope for when it comes to morality is some general agreement about right and wrong, and that agreement is always shifting. There has never been a community or religion in the history of the world that hasn't exhibited this.
The thing that is probably most valid and damaging to my model is the bit about evangelicals accepting Trump. I genuinely don’t know about this, but I’m inclined to say that it’s due to the absorbtion of post-Truth mindset from the broader culture. I don’t think you would see anything like it 15 or 20 years ago.
FWIW, I’m sorry we’re being downvoted. I think we’re having quite an interesting conversation. :)
15 or 20 years ago, the same type of thing was happening, just on a smaller scale. Good examples are some of the Televangelists like Peter Popoff.
Perhaps the thing we're disagreeing about is the extent that a "principled culture" protects against this kind of self-indulgence. Based on my personal experiences with the church, I've found the moral framework that it provides does not usually play an active role in the behavior of it's members, and is more often wielded as a tool of judgement against others than as a tool of self-reflection and self-improvement. But I can also recognize that my experiences with the church are not necessarily typical.
I'm not sure that there is a utility to moral authoritarianism beyond the ability to quell disagreements. History has shown that "god says" is an extremely powerful motivating force.
Especially since Christianity tends to downplay ritual and effort-based holiness, comparatively speaking. You don't achieve level 100 in Christian by donating, passing theology tests, travelling, conquering, converting people, or being sin free. Of course actual Christian practice will be all over the place. None of it is explicitly mandatory. Morality is fairly explicit, but actual enforcement of morality isn't the job of Christians outside of particular scenarios.
I wasn't trying to say that it's unhelpful, just make the point that it's not uniform. If someone says "we should follow christian values" the necessary followup question is "which christian values?"
"""And one of them, a lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."""
Most people have a hard enough time with those. But, you might say, what about the details? What about white lies and second donuts? That was also covered by Jesus:
"""Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others."""
The details might seem inconsistent and controversial, but the basic morality isn't all that convoluted or up for discussion. People just don't like thinking about how everyone is bad at the fundamental stuff.
Anyway, Christian philosophy is pretty coherent even if the people aren't. And it's not clear that your expectations of consistency are required for there to be social benefits to Christian belief in particular or religious belief more generally.
You're right about my expectation of consistency for there to be social benefit. I just have an expectation of consistency from those claiming to have a monopoly on fundamental truth in the universe. My expectation has nothing to do with social good in that case.
About The Greatest Commandment and the Golden Rule? As directly quoted from Jesus? If so, this definition of "Christian" is far too encompassing to be useful in this discussion.
> But yeah sure, clearly you're the one person in the world who has it right!
What I'm quoting is even less controversial than the Nicene Creed, which is unanimous among major Christian denominations. They can't even agree on what day of the week is the sabbath and what day of the year is Easter, but they all agree on The Nicene Creed. And they absolutely agree on The Greatest Commandment.
There is not as much controversy about the basics as you seem to think there is.
1800 years later: humans finally develop the germ theory of disease and can stop dying of easily preventable illnesses
This sounds like a rather Protestant-centric viewpoint.
Non-protestants are still rather light on compulsory behavior on the whole. Compare to orthodox branches of other major religions. No particular rules on clothing, cleanliness, charity, gender separation, pilgrimages, prayer times, need to attain spiritual states, etc. No karma to optimize. No hidden knowledge to uncover.
Some churches eat a bit of cracker and juice/wine on a regular basis. Some get a person wet as a one time initiation ceremony. That's pretty light ritual on the whole.
And while various High Mass clothes and rituals are certainly there, there's no particular requirement of parishioners to give one, attend any particular mass, or even attend a minimum number of them.
> No karma to optimize
but I actually had the more karmic things in mind, i.e the importance of Works vs importance of Faith, which certainly does vary between different Christian sects.
> No hidden knowledge to uncover.
There are gnostic types of things. If perhaps less so today than in the Renaissance. But it's not as if it's absent.
So I still think this is a rather Protestant perspective.
Edit to say: Also, in fact even or perhaps even especially, Protestants were engaged in gnosticism/Christian mysticism in the Renaissance period.
You've confused absence of moral relativism with religion; the former does not require the latter, and most non-religious people are not moral relativists, at least in the sense of the strong meta-ethical relativism which would justify the claim above.
And as a reminder, this is all speculation and I completely understand that you may not agree (I may not agree by the end of this thread!).
First you're going to have to explain how religious populations avoid those.
Hint: they don't.
Anyway, they do; that they do so imperfectly is not a counterargument, since (as I've mentioned several times), religion serves as a bulwark in this regard, not a panacea.
Religion doesn't have a monopoly on those ideals. They are not even solely human ideals. Many mammals display them in certain scenarios.
> (at a cultural level, anyway).
Many of the least religious countries are the best places to live, and the most religious, the worst. I went to Norway (the least religious country in western Europe), and they often don't check tickets on the train or at the entrances of places. When you ask someone why not, because people could lie, you get an answer like.. "because one wouldn't do that" (ie cheat the system). I got so used to it that I would lose my train tickets in my bag because I didn't need them. The only place I needed them was getting off the train at the airport because there was a machine that checked it.
> because as soon as you decide morality is relative then everyone is free to choose the morality that is most convenient for them/their tribe.
Religions do this. There are many sects with different rules. People pick and choose what rules to obey all the time.
Not being religious doesn't make one a moral relativist. Ethics and morality can be reasoned about.
> I think this explains much of our political divide and the "post-Truth" era generally
The post-truth era in the West is clearly a product of the religious right: https://youtu.be/xnhJWusyj4I
Or, you know, a million years of evolution baking the instinct into our primate brains
There is one matrilineal society with a culture that some anthropologists describe in terms you describe -- the Mosou people. However, more recent anthropological data indicates that this too is not the whole truth. While the Mosou are undoubtedly matrilineal, they typically know who the father is and children with involved fathers (rather than just involved uncles) do better. Moreover, Mosou society is not spontaneous. It developed as the result of a lower class being subjugated by a very patrilineal upper class nobility. The lower class was socially engineered to be compliant, while the upper class taxed them. The upper class was eventually disbanded by communist china, and the Mosou are now mistakenly used as an example of a stable matriarchal society. Nevertheless, even this fails to stand to scrutiny as exposure to the patrilineal mainstream Chinese society means most men just leave for greener pastures in mainstream Chinese society. Were it not for gawking tourists to prop up their economy, it's unlikely they'd be around still.
The smallish nuclear family is a very modern invention. Going to high school (and the natural consequence of parents not educating their own children) is even more recent.
Which really means: Encouraging families that don't work to stay together, no matter how much it hurts the people involved.
Helping people to resolve conflicts so they want to stay together is a completely different thing than just encouraging people to stay together.
Apart from the chicken-and-egg problems, probably the bigger problem with that is that naturally the populations you are comparing are extremely biased. So, even if it is not an artifact of social policies that children in two-parent households do better than children of single parents, there is no reason to think that the number of parents is actually the determining factor.
It might just as well be that people who are bad at maintaining relationships are also bad at raising children, so forcing two of them to raise a child together will not give you any of the benefits that you get from people who are good at maintaining relationships raising a child, and you will instead just draw down the average outcomes of two-parent households.
> I'm sure there's all sorts of chicken-and-egg problems in the data
Pretty much that.
If society disadvantages people who build support structures that do not fit a very strict set of requirements, then you can't really draw any useful conclusions about whether those support structures are good based on observing that society, because it is very likely that negative effects you see are simply effects of the discriminatory policies, and thus are useless for justifying the discrimination.
> Trying to get the parents to want to stay together is a worthy effort, but when you've decided to make children I socially expect you to put their needs first
But trying to get people to stay together who don't want to is very unlikely to be putting the child's needs first. If you can make people want to stay together (and not due to outside pressure/threats), that might well be worth it, but if you can't, you probably will be hurting the child if you try to force them, in particular if they get to resent the child because it's what is keeping them in a relationship they don't want to be in.
You can not force people to like other people, and forcing people to be with people they dislike is a recipe for disaster. It's really as simple as that.
> I don't think it's unreasonable to encourage people to stay in an unhappy marriage rather than leaving their kids with a broken home, assuming the current home wouldn't be worse for the kids than the broken one.
How is an unhappy marriage not a broken home? Either the parents will be displaying their dislike for each other, or they have to constantly live a lie, constantly be dishonest to their child about their emotional state ... neither sounds like a nurturing environment for a child.
I said people should not stay together if they can't work out their differences, you say they should not stay together if they have unworkable differences ... which seems to be the same idea?
But then, the overall impression is not like you are intending to agree with me.
I am confused.
That is why people say 'family is the building block of civilization'.
Seriously though, I'm sure we can attribute our urge to procreate to 4,500,000,000 years of evolution, not to churches.
I suggest you read up on Unitarian Universalist and Sunday Assembly churches, which you may not have heard of, but they exist all over the world, and echo exactly what you're saying.
This is so contrary to a century of results from social research from multiple disciplines from all over the world it would be hard to know where to start to counter it. Community is fundamental to humanity, the nuclear 'family' a local and occasionally useful innovation.
Please do try. I don't think what you are saying is true at all and it certainly isn't any thing like a universally accepted scientific truth.
And if they do find someone, won't the loneliness be cured already without having kids?
I strongly suspect that being lonely in a marriage is worse than being lonely and single.
Try a gym that doesn't even have a treadmill.
I like that observation! Also the point that leaders matter a lot - or rather the community culture they manage to create (or not).
The point is not to find a sure receipe for a community generation machine, but what are importants ingredients to have more chance of one.
Years later, not much has changed. The anger has faded, particularly as I watch some of those old churches dying (although not without some degree of satisfaction, I'll admit).
BUT, I do agree that it's widely under-appreciated just how sophisticated a social technology the congregation is. And there's not, as far as I've found, a viable secular alternative. Take away shared conviction about the transcendent and you seem to lose some kind of binding agent, like baking without gluten.
I'm female. I do not believe in god. I'm bisexual.
I am exactly the sort of person left out of worship unless I pretend I'm someone I am not and don't reveal my true self. I'm a fraud if I want to fit in - these groups rarely simply accept me going there for the social aspect.
I did spend several years in an ELCA church pastored and co-pastored by a woman and by a gay man, who made a point every week of welcoming non-believers to the service. It nuanced my worldview a little bit. They were lovely people, but the congregation was definitely fighting upstream in wider Christian culture.
In my mind, the main secular benefit of church (for people who were not excluded) was access to ready-made community, reinforced by a regular meeting space and rituals (like singing) that help people bond and process major life transitions. I've been on the outside for about five years and haven't really found anything that fills that space, although I'm always interested to hear what others have found.
One thing I miss the most after realizing I didn't believe in God and after I stopped going to church (= being part of the community) is that I had a lot harder time to find a group that I truly belonged to.
It's not as much that you have to like each and every person in the group, is more about knowing that you're there for each other and share a bigger, common understanding of life.
I guess that volunteering kind of has the same advantages, since people volunteering have a bigger goal (= serving others) and accept that they need to be together in this with other volunteers.
I started riding bikes about 11 years ago and volunteering about 10. I've met a LOT of people, made some good friends, and after accomplishing some goals felt a nice sense of achievement that work stuff just doesn't quite get me. Pretty sure I'm a better person than I was 10 years ago, and the social and community aspects of volunteering stuff are almost guaranteed to be a big part of that.
(Note: Long-time lead-type IT person here who volunteers as a board member, trail builder, and map maker for a local mountain biking group. What I do at work is helpful for the volunteer stuff, but as it's not related it's something neat that I look forward to; not just more work.)
I'm not saying there are not busy people who volunteer or go to church, but I think there's a "have time and patience" factor associated with it.
The average Churchgoer works full time and has a family. They don't have time for Church, they make time for it. It's all about priorities.
"Married people are happier than single people. Frequent church attenders are happier than people who rarely (or never) attend. "Liberation" from religion and marriage has made millions miserable. Sexual revolutionaries have some explaining to do."
And the quoted article which it is in reference to:
There was also research done to try and show that the “gender pay gap” will continue to rise due to an increase proportion of single/unwed mothers. Turns out when you have a support system consisting of a spouse and their families, you are able to also have more economic mobility as well. I couldn’t imagine my wife climbing the ladder at her Finance job without me to help take half the parental responsibilities, and a very supportive grandma and grandpa.
Turns out maybe marriage wasn’t a tool of the patriarchy after all.
That is not entirely true for everyone. In particular, happiness after divorce differ between genders. People still marry and can marry. What changed is that women have more choice unlike in the past and once married, people can divorce.
Some of people (both men and women) who are single are that for a reason - meaning them being married would mean the partner would suffer a lot more.
I'm sure it IS much more pleasant to imagine the magic sky fairy will take care of all the world's problems.
The alternative of course is nihilism in the face of the inevitable heat death of the universe. My magical sky fairy seems pretty good right now.`
That's a ridiculous false dichotomy. I reject the wishful fantasy of religion and of the supernatural, but I am perfectly happy with meaning in other things.
If this religion was meant to be wishful, I think they could've done a better job. It seems much more wishful to say "nothing matters in the end so I can do whatever I want", don't you think?
I do find it humorous (in a pathetic way) that scientific atheists have wound up at this place.
OTOH, if the essential characteristic of God is that His will is equivalent to moral correctness, then a simulation creator doesn't necessarily fit the bill.
But then, if this creator of the simulator is there, can he (or whatever pronoun you wish) use something like a debugger to change things within the simulation? Behold, miracles now fit into the atheist view. Could this creator of the simulator send messages into the simulation? Now you've got at least the possibility of moral law given by the creator.
It's really mind-boggling to me that atheists are going down this path.
Okay, then define simulation in a falsifiable way, and we'll talk. The truth of the matter is, no one has defined this in a falsifiable way, so your statement is like saying 'religion is not buck-passing if you define God in a falsifiable way'. Without this falsifiable way you claim, it requires a belief in the transcendent.
The universe itself? It would be extremely weird, but modern physics is extremely weird.
It so obviously isn't it's painful to imagine this is a widespread belief. Marriage exists to reign in men, monogamous marriage doubly so.
Progressives have no idea what they are toying with, they are literally children playing house with grenates.
1.) Gives people an excuse to dress nicely in public (good for self-esteem if you're into that sort of thing)
2.) Free meals (often delicious and home-cooked), potentially before and after
3.) Singing music together is fun and it doesn't matter if you're bad at it
4.) The preacher will tell the congregation if someone is sick or had a bad thing happen, and then some of the other people will typically express their care to the person and maybe visit them and bring them food.
5.) The preacher typically will tell at least one corny joke or do some weird dramatic thing to get your attention and make a point. It's like weird theater at some places.
And of course, organizing volunteer things is pretty solid too.
On the less positive side, some people like to use church to show-off and find things to gossip about. So while that behavior may make some feel less lonely, probably causes others to be repulsed away.
I literally see more conflict with science in people's daily lives, such as the grocery store.
edit: I go to one, despite it.
Because the Vatican has not persecuted people for their scientific views for a long time, but I agree with you that it's not that complicated to find examples of religious people being anti-scientific. The question is : how many are there, and how representative are they.
Anyway, what I'm mainly referring to is evolution and the age of the Earth and the universe. Around 40% of people in the US are Young-Earth Creationists.
This anti-evolution christian rock song was popular (among religious kids) in my high school.
That being said, there are a lot of folks who are bad at metaphysics involved in the discussion that tend to drown out the more coherent takes on the subject.
But this is a broad and diverse area of discussion. It's not fair to say "The Church" is anti-science with respect to a metaphysical subject.
Which Church, and by which (heirarchical/formal vs. popular) view of the position of the Church in question?
I have a group of friends that get together every week for what we call "Mountainbeering" where we drink beer and go over planned hiking/climbing objectives. There's been talk of doing some trail work and other volunteering. It feels a little "churchy" except instead of a church it's at a brewery or someone's house.
The Wikipedia article  managed to intrigued me. I lean agnostic, but I always try to keep an open mind in my pursuit for truth. Do you have any suggestions for someone that might be interested in checking em out? I'm located in the bay area.
My views on organized religion aren't generally great. Throughout history, religion has played a large role but it wasn't always very positive, see: crusades. The coverup of pedophiles by the Christian church is also absolutely sickening. It sounds like UU's are more loosely organized, which I'd expect would help prevent them from becoming too abusive or corrupt.
I think you mean the Catholic church? There is no single Christian church. Not to say that didn't/doesn't happen in other denominations, but it seems to mostly be a Catholic problem. I've heard about it happening with the Mormons too, now that I think about it.
Sorry for the small novel :) I haven't really written about this stuff at length on the internet before so it's all just kinda coming out.
> What is it like
The services (sunday morning, an hour long) which are generally made up of a sermon, some singing, and some community meeting. These range from academic to somewhat spiritual (with no expectations) and usually have a theme or lesson.
The community functions much like you would think a religious community would: they support each other, they volunteer for events, they show up at potlucks and other social events. I've enjoyed getting to know people outside of my age range (from young kids to very old folks), which just doesn't happen at my tech job.
> How did you become involved
My partner started attending and dragged me kicking and screaming to the first few services :) Not really, but I definitely was looking for reasons to not go. But it turns out they were really friendly and (as I mentioned) there was no pressure to have any specific spiritual belief. Once I realized that it was a great group to explore my own thoughts on religion and a group of people to belong to who would care for me if I was in trouble (because I would do the same for them), I started enjoying going.
> What kind of events do they organize
Beyond Sunday services, the congregations I've been a part of have had young adult (18-35) groups that meet regularly, groups for young families, groups for seniors, etc. At a previous congregation I took a fascinating class led by the minister that focused on being able to better define my own belief system about the world.
> How do they practice their religion
Generally the "religion" is the idea that all humans and the earth are worthy of our love and attention. So we do things like organize activism, take care of each other, clean up our environment, etc. And also recognize that all of us are growing and learning in our own ways, so some of the practice is also discovering our own beliefs.
UU is covenantal. That means that we have an agreement with the other members of our congregation to treat each other well, and people who break that covenant are held accountable by the other members of the community. Here's an example from the Berkeley church (which I have not attended, but I like it).
UU is not creedal. The ministers don't tell you what to believe. They are there to help you on your way to finding your own creedo - your own system of belief about the world.
> What are your biggest criticisms or complaints
Some congregations can be very "hippy", which I don't mind but I know it's a turn-off for some people. Fortunately they're generally super respectful of other belief systems.
One thing that I liked at the beginning was the fact that UU isn't evangelical. People are supposed to find UU on their own and join if it's something that interests them. But now I think this makes UUs timid to bring it up, and I really do think that it would be great to tell more people about it. There's a big difference between being pushy and just talking religion - and I think we need more of the latter.
Also the credentialing process for ministers is very long and we have a lot of student loans now (but most people won't have that problem!)
> It sounds like UU's are more loosely organized
UU churches are democratic, and every church sends delegates to a big gathering once a year to vote on things. This means that there's no top-down hierarchy, no pope to tell everyone how to run things. It's also slower and not perfect, but generally I think people like it. There's a president of the religion, but they're mostly just to organize and run things, not set beliefs.
Every organization of a certain size has its bad actors, and UU is no exception. But the few cases I've heard about have been handled well and the public informed.
Certainly if the crusades started up again, I'd be on the streets protesting against them with my UU friends!
Hopefully that helps. I've been meaning to write a blog post or something about this in a better form than an HN comment, maybe this is a good starting point for that.
And of course the cults of personality that sprang up around Stalin in the Soviet Union (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalin%27s_cult_of_personality), around Mao in Communist China, and in various Communist client states around their own local tinpot Stalin would probably qualify as well.
This is the problem with killing God: it's really hard to find a healthy candidate to replace him with.
Personally I prefer to live without such influences in my life in so far as that is possible but I fully respect others' rights to do as they please.
But a healthy society can be had outside of religion.
I don't like power structures but some are necessary. Take the police for example, a world where the police are not needed would be a better world. Police are a nasty coercive force. And yet they are completely essential.
Religion is interesting because it is obviously not essential in the way that a police force is. However, it isn't yet obvious that it can be done without - a religion's adherents are often people who want some sort of power structure telling them what they should do to be a good person. What it means to be a good person isn't obvious, and in practice is very complex. Sometimes a good person needs to do horrible things - we should be terrified of taking that sort of decision on personally. Sometimes bad people want to do good and would appreciate being told how.
* Political structures aren't strong enough to organise society on their own. They only communicate the beliefs of the current ruling class.
* We can do without a lot of religious dogma, which is clearly wrong (eg, anything talking about purging heretics). We need some sort of shared story for what is going on that looks a lot like a religion.
One of my favorite pieces:
There are countries where the majority is not religious and they function just fine.
And the United States as well.
Churches are full of fallible people to be sure, but in most of them, these fallible people are encouraging one another to live out what they profess to believe.
"Hey, my name's Bill, I live with my wife and two kids over by Grand & Manchester, near the post office... I'm looking to start a local club for people that believe human beings are more than just biological automata and that all souls will ultimately be reconciled to God at the end of time. I go to a lot of local meetups connected to my hobbies, but every time I bring up the Universal Reconciliation thing people start to get uncomfortable or bored, so I was hoping to find some people I could talk about this with..."
But then you've basically started a church, so...
Here's an article about their decision-making process: http://quaker.org/legacy/tqe/2005/TQE118-EN-Democracy.html
Yes, to the point where there's vocabulary to describe those types of organization, e.g.:
Of course, the scalability of these systems are unknown.
Top 10 most religious countries are: Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Burundi, Djibouti, Mauritania, Somalia, Afghanistan
So looking at this -at least by itself- is far from certain that religion plays a large role in maintaining a healthy society; you may be thinking of a specific subset of religions/denominations or perhaps using a different 'measure' for the impact of religion.
If that's the case, it could take more than a couple decades for drastic change in beliefs to transform a country.
I do wish I had social circles outside of work and old highschool friends. I think for some folks church does that, and that’s great. It’s certainly not for me, though.
Sometimes you chat more sometimes less and you don’t know too much about their life outside the gym, but they’re your peeps.
I think one of the advantages of the US is that for me as a foreigner the patriotism here also feels like a religion which gives the country cohesion.
UUs have seven principles (https://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/principles) but none of them require any sort of supernatural belief. Coming from an anti-theist background they were all already things I agreed with. Some people say that you can believe in anything and be a UU, which isn't quite true - any belief system that sees others as "less than", for example, would be incompatible.
As for who does the talking, most congregations have a trained minister (like my partner) who leads most services. They talk on a variety of topics, but mostly about community, justice, activism, and lessons from other religions.
Hope this helps!
My impression was always that UUs were a sort of offshoot of Protestantism; I think "Unitarian" refers to their non-belief in a trinity of beings that are a core doctrine of most modern Christian denominations - is that right? Would you say that UUs have entirely abandoned their Christian / Protestant heritage other than the form of the service?
They're usually in their own groups also they try different pubs every time so not really regulars (except for bigger club type places)
Local pub seems to be more the older people
You stated something impertinent, explained nothing, and somehow got a slew of upvotes. I don't even know where I am right now.
You didn't see a connection between people suffering from a lack of meaning and purpose and the decline of an institution that basically specializes in that? Note that no one (here) is saying "church provides the correct meaning/purpose" or even "church provides a good meaning or purpose." Just that churches are out there specifically and directly trying to provide meaning and purpose.
Another angle is that churches often engage in volunteer work. Much more so than your average softball team or book club. If the secret sauce of preventing loneliness is the purpose/meaning/"je n'ais se quoi" of volunteering specifically - churches are/were major players in that space. Even if that connection was coincidental there's a possible link between the decline of church engagement and the rise of loneliness.
Anyway, I'm not the OP. Maybe they thought they were typing in another window and it ended up here, but these are some the connections I was thinking about / reasons I upvoted.
There's nothing concrete there. The fact that an institution that specializes in giving life meaning and purpose is seeing a steady decline in membership could be interpreted as that institution actually having a poor capacity to provide those things. The only connection is the one you made up.
It's unfortunate IMO that there is no non religious equivalent.
For the other part of your question...i’ll proxy spinning a globe and poking it with this: Wikipedia tells me that Elopteryx was discovered in Romania near Transylvania.
I can't find any churches with websites in Transylvania proper, so I looked for ones in Transylvania County, North Carolina.
Looks like the Brevard Community Church is one of the larger ones. They handily have a website, and their events calendar is here: https://brevardcommunity.org/events/
Take a look at it. There's something going on almost every night of the month.
Now imagine yourself a 78 year old widow that lives alone in town with kids grown and moved out of state. You could endlessly surf the internet looking for opportunities to volunteer at random organizations and events that happen throughout the year, or you could just align yourself with this one organization and get a flower for mother's day every year, a young mother or two to mentor and a steady stream of vetted and coordinated opportunities for you to engage with the community and others.
If he or she had left it at the church having the capacity to alleviate loneliness, I could go along with that. "Church maintains a healthy society" is a big assertion that is more multifaceted and complex than "church volunteer therefore good", not only within the topic of church but the topic of loneliness as well. Also without even beginning to define what constitutes "a healthy society". Furthermore the assertion is deeply lacking in historical context; what is the historical prevalence of loneliness? How long have we even been paying attention to the topic of loneliness as a public health concern to even keep track of this?
The article makes a very straightforward point: if you're lonely, volunteering could probably make you feel less lonely. But jumping from that to "therefore church is unequivocally and obviously a net positive on the fabric of society (than some people say)" is making all sorts of implications and doing absolutely no work to piece that thesis together.
It's a tenuous assertion, on multiple levels.
>"therefore church is unequivocally and obviously a net positive on the fabric of society (than some people say)"
If it’s me, how do you get to your statement from
>I have a feeling that church plays a larger role in maintaining a healthy society than it is given credit in some circles.
Hopefully some researchers are looking at this.
Some places manage to have community without religion, and that, I think, is what one ought to aspire to.
(Edit -> Some places)
The media certainly distorts the truth, but the idea that somehow only some very small religious fringe groups are responsible for all the terrible political decisions that have been and are being made exclusively on the basis of religious ideas is just absurd.
If someone wished to paint with an equally broad brush, they could say "atheists persecute homosexuals", citing the behavior of Russia and China. And that would be true, in the same useless sense the above argument against religion is true.
Which is relevant how?
> and Russia
... because of religion?
> And they are supported by many churches.
Which is great. But also a very recent development. Before that, they were mostly a driving force behind the persecution.
> Linking religion to that is another distortion of the truth.
So, you are claiming that religions did not contribute significantly to the persecution of homosexuals in many parts of the world, neither in the recent past, nor right now, and that the resistance against equal rights for homosexuals is not significantly coming from religions?
Except nobody is doing that.
First of all, a generalized statement does not necessarily mean that it applies to all individuals that are part of the group. The majority of religious groups on the planet are in favour of discrimination against homosexuals, and that position can be found in a significant part of all major religions. Also, almost all opposition to equal rights for homosexuals comes from religious groups and individuals. And it's also not just a coincidence, but rather explicitly justified with religous traditions and scripture, so the connection between persecution of homosexuals and religion is made very explicitly by those religious people themselves. And even those religious groups that support homosexuals now were to a large degree participating in the persecution just a few decades, many less than a decade, ago, so it is still often very justified to judge them for the damage they have done before they changed their mind.
None of those apply to atheists, let alone atheism. There is no connection between not believing in a god and wanting to discriminate against homosexuals. Atheists generally don't have any particular tendency to discriminate against homosexuals, and where atheists do discriminate against homosexuals, more often than not you can find religious influence on their culture as the cause behind that.
Also, I have no clue why you are constantly using Russia, a majority religious country, as an example of atheists doing things. And while it is difficult to know exactly how many Russians belong to which religion, it is just obvious that the opposition to equal rights for homosexuals in Russia is primarily the work of religious people on religious grounds, so it is just weird that you are using them as an example of supposedly atheists persecuting homosexuals.
If you are religious and do not and have never discriminated against homosexuals for their homosexuality, that's great, and I welcome your contribution to making the world a better place. But that does not mean that the generalized statement I made was unjustified, you personally simply weren't meant by it. However, it would still be appropriate to judge you for continuing to use the epistemology that those other people used and still use to convince themselves that persecuting homosexuals is the right thing to do, when that should be a clear demonstration that it is not reliable and is prone to lead to terrible outcomes.
The majority of the people on the planet are, sadly. Religion isn't a useful distinction.
> Also, almost all opposition to equal rights for homosexuals comes from religious groups and individuals.
That belief is one of the distortions of the truth I was talking about and why Russia and China are relevant to the discussion.
> Also, I have no clue why you are constantly using Russia, a majority religious country, as an example of atheists doing things.
The Soviets were militant atheists and oppressed homosexuals. It's not clear what Putin's religious beliefs are, but he didn't start the oppression anyway.
> If you are religious...
For the record, while my beliefs should not be relevant to the discussion, since you brought them up, I'm an atheist.
But sometimes I'm able to defend beliefs I don't agree with.
Do you see any major errors in that article? And if not, can you honestly say that you see no significant connection between religion and the oppression of homosexuals in Russia, neither historically nor today?
> But sometimes I'm able to defend beliefs I don't agree with.
So, you don't agree that religion is the primary factor behind oppression of homosexuals in Russia? Why are you defending the position, then, and so badly at that?
> Government attempts at preventing homosexual practices began in the 18th century, with Tsar Peter the Great banning homosexual relations in the armed forces in 1716 as a part of his attempt to modernise the country.
"as a part of his attempt to modernise", not for religious reasons. The article repeats the same point later: "The prohibition on sodomy was part of a larger reform movement designed to modernize Russia"
> [Under the atheist communists] gay people were still persecuted and sacked from their jobs for being 'homosexuals'. In 1933, the Soviet government under the leadership of Joseph Stalin recriminalised homosexual activity with punishments of up to five years' hard labour. A 1934 article in the new Criminal Code outlawed 'homosexuality'. Following Stalin's death, there was a liberalisation of attitudes toward sexual issues in the Soviet Union, but homosexual acts remained illegal.
...and that was under an atheist regime.
I sure do.
> "as a part of his attempt to modernise", not for religious reasons. The article repeats the same point later: "The prohibition on sodomy was part of a larger reform movement designed to modernize Russia"
And where did the idea that that should be a part of "modernization" come from?
> ...and that was under an atheist regime.
And how did Stalin get the idea?
Clearly you think that the only reason anyone, even a militant atheist, is ever against homosexuality is because they are religious or got the idea from religion.
As that's a belief not based on reason or facts, I won't try to argue you out of it. Been nice talking to you.
No, I was simply asking you for justification for your position.
Because, you know, there is not exactly an obvious connection from "let's modernize this country" to "let's oppress homosexuals". Or from "I want to have someone to blame and a method to be able to discredit and punish who I consider my enemy" to "let's persecute homosexuals". That is just a complete non-sequitur, in either case--unless there is some pre-existing reason why you would connect the two. A reason why less homosexuality would be considered "more modern", or a reason why the general public would be expected to agree that homosexuals are a group of people that deserved punishment. I would be interested in what you think those reasons were.
I can't explain why the article says that. I didn't write it, or even cite it. It's your source.
I'm just pointing out what the article says.
And that is in fact another (even better) example of selective coverage. That cover up by the CC has received vastly more coverage than churches doing good things.
How do you manage to wrangle "Hollywood" and "Washington" out of that?
My point pertinent to this discussion was that community is important, and thus it's a problem if community is based on wrong or unethical ideas. It puts you in a terrible quandary (consider also Nazi Germany, the Sowjet Union under Stalin, etc.).
I am an atheist who believes that Christianity is an important tradition to keep. Just like Judaism, I wish there was reformed Christianity that allows atheists to participate in their religion without belief in God.
Church played a very dominant role in Protestant communities, together with the other pillars of the family and the school. I think that the cross-over period to more secular belief systems indeed does lose a lot of the community aspect of the church.
It is also not clear at all how to fill the void... Sports? Hobbies? Nature? Guns n' Roses concerts?
The problem with the church as the main provider of community (and values) is (at least) twofold:
1. It tends to impose some bad values with the good values (not to mention bad epistemology and ontology), and,
2. when people notice that and leave church, they a) also lose their community (which can be devastating), and b) sometimes throw out the good values with the bad.
2. You can be a member of several overlapping organizations, but only one church, normally. So, the problem of losing a community is exacerbated with church.
It sounds like your mind is inhabited by a caricature of religion, rather than a realistic conception of the thing. For instance, our neighborhood church uses their facilities to provide (secular) services to the local community. They also organize a monthly service day where community members (not just their congregation) provide help to people in need. Many other churches do similar things. And there is a reason why so many hospitals in the U.S. have religious names: they were started by churches.
If you want to hold religion to account for the bad that they contribute, you also have to give them credit for the good. And I think once you start doing that, you'll find that it's all pretty much a wash.
Commit mass genocide? That's ok look at these shiny new automobiles.
The continued rape of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of children? That's ok, we taught them math.
You probably blame women for getting raped (What was she wearing? Why was she out alone at night?) instead of blaming men for raping.
Until all of these institutions are brought down and eradicated the "damaging good" will continue.
And religions are not the only human affinity groups responsible for other atrocities. Ethnicities have lead to genocide on several occasions. And so have political ideologies.
I'm not religious, I'm not a fan of organized religion as a thing, at least in the modern era--'toasterlovin makes good points about the historical and even current positives of such organizations, I'm not convinced they balance out to a net positive today but I'm much more willing to consider the notion historically. But there are nastier partners on the dance card right now and this kinda minimizes that.
Huh, my intuition is the opposite: now that organized religions have been defanged and stripped of most of their political power they are probably more of a net positive force today than they ever were in the past.
1. Many of these share significant characteristics with religion (epistemic closure, or a stunning disregard for the truth; Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny touches on that).
2. For some reason religion still enjoys much more respect and reverence than these other organisations (among non-members).
You tell me.
So why single out religion as a specific problem? Especially when the overwhelming majority of people in the world clearly find a lot of meaning in religion.
See you around.
So, aside from a few outliers, I have always been under the impression that most people attending church get far more enjoyment from the social aspects than the religious ones.
You were clearly not a Pentacostal then.
...and for those who are no believers, perhaps becoming a Pastafarian is a good alternative option : https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pastafarians
This isn’t a good reason to permit superstition to remain at the center of community life. We can find something better.
edit: And I realize your point, which is one I do agree with, is that the benefits of community are not a reason to be religious and is distinct from that. But your choice of words is indeed reminiscent of many things I've heard from people in somewhat mainstream political discussions about how freedom of religion essentially needs to just go away. And as someone who has campaigned and voted for the very things many people are against on religious grounds precisely because I think anything that doesn't hurt somebody should be legal, I can't stand to see it backfiring equally on my self as it does upon religious bigots.
Get rid of those aspects, and religion really will disappear.
Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion
(my favorite philosopher)
'Passing on "knowledge"' in a religious setting means indoctrinating children from a very young age, very literally since they become sentient beings. You say something to the effect of "here is a set of things that are true: I'm daddy, she's mommy, the sky is blue, and Jesus is god." You present your faith as a dogmatic view that will become entrenched and an integral part of his/her identity. As something that is above questioning. I find this deeply wrong from an ethical point of view, but also very harmful from a practical point of view, as you're teaching them some very twisted things (obey without question or you will be punished; accept things from figures of authority without evidence; etc.).
That is a wild mischaracterization of religion. If you read sources like Thomas Aquinas or Catherine of Siena or Thomas More or Cardinal Newman (I can go on), you are not exposed to this kind of childish religious experience you are criticizing. All these people questioned and did not accept authority without evidence.
I fail to see how telling your children what you believe is any different from your indoctrination. For example, you say 'I am mommy', 'I am daddy', as if that's not equally societally constructed. Now, I personally believe such things are from a transcendent creator. However, ignoring that, it is unclear why you think those statements are any more 'true' than mine. Not all societies have this, so I'm not sure where you get the idea that this is also not a form of cultural indoctrination.
Now, of course an easy retort is that such things, while perhaps constructed, are still true, since a child is obviously brought up in a certain culture. However, most parents lessons to children go well beyond 'I am mommy'. Most parents give their children an entire worldview, which contains certain beliefs, etc, that cannot be justified on their own.
One will then claim that well perhaps that is true, but the goal is to teach questioning. And while that is perhaps true, I do not see in my own generation and younger, a generation of questioners, so I'm unconvinced that such things are automatic the moment one gives up religion. But I'm convinceable, so please..
I can't think of anything worse for society.
Isn't that a false dichotomy?
That is an incredibly false dichotomy, and one at odds with the existence of many fine Catholics (my religion, and the only one I can really speak on) who questioned / refused to bow down to bad authority.
I feel a more nuanced approach to religion would do everyone justice.
But if I understand it correctly, it's the old accusation that religious people effectively "brainwash" their kids when raising them to their beliefs. The problem with that is, that it is impossible to raise a kid without some kind of worldview - for the simple reason that it is humanly impossible not to have a worldview.
As long as you teach your kids to think, and allow them to make their own choices once they are old enough, I don't see how you can be accused of "pushing your own agenda". At least not in a way beyond what all other parents (atheists and agnostics included) also do.
I'm not a believer myself, but having worked with those people over many years I can tell you that's a pretty shallow view. The people I worked with where all honest, hardworking individuals who really tried to live their values.
Much easier to call out a group that is "good" that they are "bad", when in fact the "bad-ness" gets spread equally around people whether or not they are in this "good" community.
If they can't even manage to better people as part of their church than the average person is then what good is it other than creating cliques and an 'us versus them' mentality?
I say this to protect churches and other good communities.
but the churches we are talking about are religious organisations that claim a monopoly on morality.
The whole (claimed) point of their existence is to preach, convert and forge people into better, more virtuous versions of themselves.
If it is failing even in that one simple premise, then what good is it?
So, to that end, let's ask ourselves - why don't we find churches interesting? Are they boring, are they full of ceremony? What's the point, we might ask? Do we have other "better" things to do?
Do we not trust they are authority on morals, or do we not care about becoming more virtuous?
I don't think the poster is trying to behave in a bigoted way, but that could be a very reasonable interpretation.