Monday, September 03, 2007

Religion and Public Opinion

An article on the Times website reports on a YouGov poll that finds that:

NEARLY half the British think that religion is harmful, according to a poll
carried out by YouGov. Yet more than half also believe in God “or

Is this a contradiction? These two halves are unlikely to be precisely exclusive - so a number of people clearly take the view that there is a God (or 'something') - but that the human response to this (if that is what we cal religion) is harmful... I guess it brings us to the question: can we have 'God without religion'? (and would we want it...)


  1. This text goes a long way toward explaining why people won't stop taking the view that there is a God (or 'something'):
    Religion is only one of the human responses to this, and perhaps the worst. Science is another. It all depends on what we mean by the G word. Einstein believed in the God of Spinoza. The more we dissociate "God" from "religion", the more we will admit some God and repudiate religion. At least that's what I think!
    Here is another useful link:

  2. Anonymous4:29 pm

    Religion and belief in god (faith) do not have to go together. They are not mutually inclusive.

    Asking whether you can have god without religion is like asking if you can enjoy a nice steak without serving it on a gold plate. In other words, would the steak taste worse or be less of a "steak" if it were served on paper and eaten with one's fingers?

    It's also essential to know what people mean when they use the word religion. Are we talking solely about "organized religion" in the form of churches and formal sects or denominations?

    Or is religion simply the habitualized ritual that people create in their everyday lives?

  3. davbid6:38 am

    To believe in a god is one thing, but to claim to know how (s)he/it wants us to behave or how (s)he/it wants us to worship, etc. is something quite different. As god is unknowable how can we (or how could 'they' have), in good faith, create(d) dogma?
    I think in modern times many people unfortunately feel compelled by family and tradition to believe in god, but 'modern enlightenment' has created a shift in the way people believe: to appease grandma, many still believe in god but 'in their own way' or 'their own god', i.e. they believe in a non-Christian or non-denominational god. Today's hip 'enlightened' cosmopolitan adult feels that reason precludes a belief in religious dogma yet it still allows for a not-quite-agnostic belief in 'some entity'.

  4. Magdalene10:10 am

    God without religion is the ONLY feasible concept...religions as institutions are no more than a form of power to subdue the masses with weapons of guilt and shame... personal belief, spirituality and way of life is the only way that anyone can progress... of course this is all just my humble point of view..

    Constantine with his Nicean council in the 3rd century invented christianity with all its rules and regulations, leaving very little of the original spirituality and truth of Jesus's teachings, and those before him... since then it has had no other purpose than to squash people...

    All religions from paganism to hinduism to islam are prisons of rules and regulations holding people at bay through fear of doing something 'wrong'...

    Divine Intelligence without religion? absolutely!!!

  5. Many people believe that eating a lot of sweets is harmful according to a poll carried out by YouTwit. Yet some of them eat a lot of sweets. Is this a contradiction? Is it possible that people are not entirely rational? Shock, horror!

  6. Wouldn't a separation of God and religion just be deism? I.e.: there is a 'god' or force of some sort that started the whole process and possibly has some current unknown role in the universe but is not an interventionist (unlike the theistic belief that a god has played an active role in human life and scripture has been produced as a result, etc.)

    Deism, or any other idea of 'God without religion' is the only approach to the concept that I can adopt; I feel it is arrogant of an atheist to say that there is certainly no God, foolish of a theist to claim that there is a God and their idea of worship is the only correct choice, and apathetic for agnostics to shrug and go "who cares?" (I kid on that last point, but hopefully you get the idea).

    As mentioned before, organised religion tends to be nothing but a manipulative tool to control and subdue people (Marx's observations are of course apparent, as well as Nietzsche's comments on the Roman adoption of Christianity to keep the slaves from uprising) and thus personal spirituality (with, I might add, a degree of society-imposed morality for the sake of peace) is the only feasible way forward.

  7. Is deism really any different to any other religious belief, really/ I am not so sure. Where is the explnation for a creator, an explanation anymore convincing then any other relgious explanation?

    And do athesits claim there certainly is not G/gods? again, I am not so sure

  8. Perhaps we should abandon all superstition that fills us with prejudice and misplaced expectation, and instead devote our attentions to the far mose wonderous and exciting possibilities that we just 'are'? We should embrace our universal insignificance, our tiny place in the cosmos and look with wonder at how the world has evolved and produced such a wonderul range of animal and plant species, such amazing natual (there is that word again) landmarks and think of that sparkle in the eye every child has when they first look up at the heavens and see the majesty. why do we need to invent stories about why it is all here, why there is something rather than nothing? why can't we just accept we are here, do our utmost to find out as much as we can about the world and universe we live in, and have enough faith in ourselves to be good and moral people without the need to be bribed with a cosmic heaven or hell, with the horrid thought of coming back as a slug or any other story one wishes to recite. I just am, my family and friends just are, I have a purpose - and right now it is to go and make my daughtewrs lunch!