The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby redandy » 09 Jun 2012, 11:04

I listened to the 5/26 episode of Interfaith Voices today and there was actually an atheist arguing that atheists could learn a lot from religions.
http://www.interfaithradio.org/ -- the 2nd most recent, and he's in the latter part, after Madeline Albright finishes.

Also, odd that this thread is mostly arguing against religion while the anti-religion thread is at least half arguing for it.
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Fortigurn » 10 Jun 2012, 23:54

Teddoman wrote:
Fortigurn wrote: In fact I said 'A few key points commonly agreed on, such as that religious groups typically promote risk minimization behaviours to an extent secular counterparts do not'.

This is really getting more complicated than it needs to be. I'm not even disagreeing with you! I just think rewriting the above sentence would make your point comprehensible to the masses. It is, after all, not a proper sentence. Add to that the fact that I haven't read any of these studies and haven't read any of your other religion threads. So what seems obvious to you does not seem obvious to me.


You don't need to have read any of the studies or any of the other religion threads in order to understand that sentence. You just need to read the sentence. The fact that it's missing the word 'are' won't be a problem for a native English speaker. E04teacherlin understood what I was saying, so I don't believe what I wrote was impenetrable.

Lets recap. You said this:

You are making a point that the better social outcomes of religious groups are explained by risk minimization behaviors. I am trying to understand how risk minimization behaviors like not smoking, or abstinence, would result is uniquely better social outcomes for religious groups that could not be obtained by a secular community group that promotes the same risk minimization behaviors without the religious component.


I explained that this claim of yours was wrong. I pointed out that I had not said that 'the better social outcomes of religious groups are explained by risk minimization behaviors'. I had said that the reasons for the social benefits of religious groups were manifold. I then explained what 'manifold' means. I also pointed out that I had said the literature on this is vast. I then explained what 'vast' means. I further pointed out that I had never said that risk minimization behaviours result in uniquely better social outcomes that could not be obtained by a secular community group that promotes the same risk minimization behaviors without the religious component.

So let me rephrase what I said previously.

The social benefits[1] of religion are significantly greater for religious groups than for other social groups. They are due to a wide range of factors.[2] This is discussed in great detail in the relevant literature.[4] Within the literature there is general agreement on a few key reasons why such social benefits accrue to religious groups more than to their secular counterparts. One such reason is that religious groups typically promote risk minimization behaviours[4] to an extent secular counterparts do not.[5] However, the social benefits of religious groups are not due exclusively to risk minization behaviour.

Is this any clearer?
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[1] By 'social benefits' I refer to those I referred to previously, and cited in the footnotes, such as: 'greater self-esteem, better adaptation to bereavement, a lower incidence of depression and anxiety, a lower likelihood of alcohol and drug abuse, and greater life satisfaction and happiness in general'; 'people tend to be healthier, live longer, and have higher levels of subjective well-being'.

[2] I had said this previously using the words 'The reasons for this are manifold'; 'manifold' means 'very many', so I was saying that there are 'very many reasons why the social benefits of doing so are significantly greater for religious groups than for other social groups'. You somehow read this as saying 'There is only one reason why the social benefits of doing so are significantly greater for religious groups than for other social groups, and that reason is risk minimization behaviours'.

[3] I had said this previously using the words 'the literature on the subject is vast'; 'vast' means 'very extensive', so I was saying that this subject has been addressed very extensively in publications.

[4] Behaviour taken by an individual with the aim of reducing the possibility of personal harm.

[5] I had said this previously using the words 'A few key points commonly agreed on, such as that religious groups typically promote risk minimization behaviours to an extent secular counterparts do not'.
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Teddoman » 11 Jun 2012, 04:19

Fortigurn wrote:
Teddoman wrote:
Fortigurn wrote: In fact I said 'A few key points commonly agreed on, such as that religious groups typically promote risk minimization behaviours to an extent secular counterparts do not'.

This is really getting more complicated than it needs to be. I'm not even disagreeing with you! I just think rewriting the above sentence would make your point comprehensible to the masses. It is, after all, not a proper sentence. Add to that the fact that I haven't read any of these studies and haven't read any of your other religion threads. So what seems obvious to you does not seem obvious to me.


You don't need to have read any of the studies or any of the other religion threads in order to understand that sentence. You just need to read the sentence. The fact that it's missing the word 'are' won't be a problem for a native English speaker. E04teacherlin understood what I was saying, so I don't believe what I wrote was impenetrable.

Add an "are" to the sentence, and your point is still poorly made. You haven't defined risk minimization behaviors. And other than risk minimization behaviors, you appear to be relying entirely on a nebulous and vast literature to support a claim when the whole point here is we are debating that very claim and need more specifics than just the nebulous yet vast literature. The fact that adding an "are" did not make your paragraph much more enlightening is one reason it was hard to guess your intentions. So the problem lay more in not giving enough details to your audience, an audience that is not privy to your thoughts and most certainly does not share the same background in reading this literature. This is not a case of poor reading. Hardly a capital offense what you did, easy enough to happen in the ebb and flow of a multi-facteted conversation like this, but yes it could have been written more clearly from the start.

Fortigurn wrote:The social benefits[1] of religion are significantly greater for religious groups than for other social groups. They are due to a wide range of factors. This is discussed in great detail in the relevant literature.[4] Within the literature there is general agreement on a few key reasons why such social benefits accrue to religious groups more than to their secular counterparts. One such reason is that religious groups typically promote risk minimization behaviours[4] to an extent secular counterparts do not. However, the social benefits of religious groups are not due exclusively to risk minization behaviour.
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[1] By 'social benefits' I refer to those I referred to previously, and cited in the footnotes, such as: 'greater self-esteem, better adaptation to bereavement, a lower incidence of depression and anxiety, a lower likelihood of alcohol and drug abuse, and greater life satisfaction and happiness in general'; 'people tend to be healthier, live longer, and have higher levels of subjective well-being'.

[4] Behaviour taken by an individual with the aim of reducing the possibility of personal harm.

I've edited out the snarky passive aggressive dictionary.com links and other unnecessary explanations and reduced your clarification to what is useful. The rewritten version is far more intelligible, though.

So here's where we stand, as far as I can see. You have provided a single plausible explanation for how social outcomes (what you call social benefits) of religious groups are better than secular groups, that explanation being risk minimization behaviors. To which I have said that
Teddoman wrote:I am trying to understand how risk minimization behaviors like not smoking, or abstinence, would result is uniquely better social outcomes for religious groups that could not be obtained by a secular community group that promotes the same risk minimization behaviors without the religious component.

Your only response so far has been to say that there are other plausible explanations, which would seem to concede that risk minimization behaviors are not unique to religious groups.

Your first post in this thread contains a long quotation with various associations between religion and positive outcomes. My question is, what proof (or plausible explanations) do we have that these associations with positive outcomes are unique to religion and are not attainable through secular organizations? So far all I recall is that one short quotation making a comparison to an ill-defined "other social organizations". Most of that long quotation at the top of the thread is making a comparison to completely non-religious people, and what I am suggesting is that is not a proper comparison. The proper comparison would be secular community groups, e.g. Society for Ethical Culture, where belief in a diety is not the central organizing principle of the group but which otherwise replicate religious groups in many ways presumably.
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby zender » 11 Jun 2012, 08:46

What are we on ... page 5? :ponder:

How about, you might get to live again after you die ... maybe even in a better place or under better circumstances?
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Fortigurn » 11 Jun 2012, 11:07

Teddoman wrote:Add an "are" to the sentence, and your point is still poorly made. You haven't defined risk minimization behaviors.


I didn't deem it necessary since you already demonstrated an understanding of the term, and you gave examples.

And other than risk minimization behaviors, you appear to be relying entirely on a nebulous and vast literature to support a claim when the whole point here is we are debating that very claim and need more specifics than just the nebulous yet vast literature.


There is nothing nebulous about the literature. Why do you claim that the literature on this subject is 'nebulous'? Have you read any of the literature on the subject? Have you read any of the footnotes I supplied? Do you understand the basis on which the current scholarly consensus has been reached? What are you talking about?

The fact that adding an "are" did not make your paragraph much more enlightening is one reason it was hard to guess your intentions. So the problem lay more in not giving enough details to your audience, an audience that is not privy to your thoughts and most certainly does not share the same background in reading this literature. This is not a case of poor reading. Hardly a capital offense what you did, easy enough to happen in the ebb and flow of a multi-facteted conversation like this, but yes it could have been written more clearly from the start.


It is certainly a case of poor reading. You are even forgetting what you wrote yourself. You don't need to be privy to my thoughts or share my background in reading this literature, in order to understand what I mean by 'I am not saying that the better social outcomes of religious groups are explained by risk minimization behaviours'.

Tell me seriously, when you read 'I am not saying that the better social outcomes of religious groups are explained by risk minimization behaviours', how did you possibly extract the meaning 'I am saying that the better social outcomes of religious groups are explained by risk minimization behaviours'? That is the complete opposite of what I wrote.

Teddoman wrote:I've edited out the snarky passive aggressive dictionary.com links and other unnecessary explanations and reduced your clarification to what is useful.


There's nothing snarky of passive aggressive about the links and explanations I provided, they're simply necessary. I provided them because you don't understand certain of the English words I've used, and you've demonstrated a lack of understanding of certain terms. I wrote 'manifold' (meaning 'many'), and you thought it meant 'only one'. That shows you didn't know what the word 'manifold' means. I used the term 'risk minimization', and in this last post of yours you were still asking me what it means. There's a serious lack of comprehension on your part which is the key reason why you are misunderstanding an argument which others have had no difficulty grasping.

So here's where we stand, as far as I can see. You have provided a single plausible explanation for how social outcomes (what you call social benefits) of religious groups are better than secular groups, that explanation being risk minimization behaviors.


No. That is the opposite of what I have said. When you can quote accurately what I actually said, please let me know.

Your only response so far has been to say that there are other plausible explanations, which would seem to concede that risk minimization behaviors are not unique to religious groups.


I did not concede anything; I never claimed risk minimization is the 'single plausible explanation' for why specific social benefits of religious groups are better than those of their counterparts. Furthermore, I never claimed that such risk minimization behaviours are unique to religious groups; I said they weren't.

Your first post in this thread contains a long quotation with various associations between religion and positive outcomes. My question is, what proof (or plausible explanations) do we have that these associations with positive outcomes are unique to religion and are not attainable through secular organizations?


You are clearly not reading what I wrote. I never said such associations with positive outcomes are unique to religion and not attainable through secular organizations. I told you this before.
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Teddoman » 11 Jun 2012, 11:25

Fortigurn wrote:There is nothing nebulous about the literature. Why do you claim that the literature on this subject is 'nebulous'? Have you read any of the literature on the subject? Have you read any of the footnotes I supplied? Do you understand the basis on which the current scholarly consensus has been reached? What are you talking about?

You followed your own statement with my answer to your statement.
Teddoman wrote:So the problem lay more in not giving enough details to your audience, an audience that is not privy to your thoughts and most certainly does not share the same background in reading this literature.

It is getting a bit tiresome hearing you go on and on about the vast literature. You can either talk specifics or get off the pot. No I haven't read the literature. This is not a pissing contest over who has read what. Yes I read your footnotes. If your sole argument is that you have read the literature, then you have no actual point to make. The only point I have seen is your paragraph and footnote at the beginning of this thread and it answers none of the subtleties I have raised.

Fortigurn wrote:
Teddoman wrote:So here's where we stand, as far as I can see. You have provided a single plausible explanation for how social outcomes (what you call social benefits) of religious groups are better than secular groups, that explanation being risk minimization behaviors.


No. That is the opposite of what I have said. When you can quote accurately what I actually said, please let me know.

What you think you have said and what you have actually done are different here.

You have not provided ANY specific mechanisms to explain the above EXCEPT for risk minimization behaviors. Not that I can recall. NOTHING in the footnote you quoted does this except for a single nebulous reference in footnote number 7 to "other social organizations" or something like that.

Fortigurn wrote:
Teddoman wrote:Your only response so far has been to say that there are other plausible explanations, which would seem to concede that risk minimization behaviors are not unique to religious groups.


I did not concede anything; I never claimed risk minimization is the 'single plausible explanation' for why specific social benefits of religious groups are better than those of their counterparts. Furthermore, I never claimed that such risk minimization behaviours are unique to religious groups; I said they weren't.

You misunderstand my point. You are correct you have claimed there are many other explanations as a large generalization. You have not actually named ANY of them, other than risk minimization behaviors.

Fortigurn wrote:
Teddoman wrote:Your first post in this thread contains a long quotation with various associations between religion and positive outcomes. My question is, what proof (or plausible explanations) do we have that these associations with positive outcomes are unique to religion and are not attainable through secular organizations?


You are clearly not reading what I wrote. I never said such associations with positive outcomes are unique to religion and not attainable through secular organizations. I told you this before.

[edit] Your position has been that religious organizations achieve these outcomes better than secular ones, e.g.
Fortigurn wrote:However, the social benefits of doing so are significantly greater for religious groups than for other social groups.
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby E04teacherlin » 13 Jun 2012, 01:02

If there was a pissing contest and we were trying to determine which beer led to the most piss wouldn't it be better if you actually drank beer. You've said that you haven't drank the beer but you've read the labels. Maybe it is time to leave the labels and drink the beer. Then we can have a true pissing contest. Until then, what is the point in being annoyed at the person drinking the beer trying to have a piss and you being annoyed because the beer label doesn't clearly state "this cerveja is certain to win you any pissing contest?"
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Fortigurn » 19 Jun 2012, 11:41

Teddoman wrote:
Fortigurn wrote:There is nothing nebulous about the literature. Why do you claim that the literature on this subject is 'nebulous'? Have you read any of the literature on the subject? Have you read any of the footnotes I supplied? Do you understand the basis on which the current scholarly consensus has been reached? What are you talking about?

You followed your own statement with my answer to your statement.


Relevance?

It is getting a bit tiresome hearing you go on and on about the vast literature. You can either talk specifics or get off the pot. No I haven't read the literature. This is not a pissing contest over who has read what. Yes I read your footnotes. If your sole argument is that you have read the literature, then you have no actual point to make. The only point I have seen is your paragraph and footnote at the beginning of this thread and it answers none of the subtleties I have raised.


I have refrained from discussing the specifics in detail because (wait for it), the reasons for this are manifold, and the literature on the subject is vast. Simply put, I do not have the time or inclination to provide you with a comprehensive literature review. I certainly do not have the time to educate you to the point at which you are capable of continuing the discussion at an informed level, and unless you have a few days to spare then neither do you.

However, your claim that I have not mentioned any specifics is simply untrue; I have. Furthermore, the footnotes I provided actually list several examples of precisely the kind of specifics you are requesting. It is clear you have not read the footnotes.

What you think you have said and what you have actually done are different here.


What I have said is a matter of public record. You claimed I have 'provided a single plausible explanation for how social outcomes (what you call social benefits) of religious groups are better than secular groups, that explanation being risk minimization behaviors'. As I have pointed out, I said no such thing; I said the complete opposite. In addition, I referred explicitly to some specific reasons for the benefits of religion being greater than those of other social groups, in this post:

The fact is that religious groups tend to promote closer, deeper, longer, and more robust social ties than other social organizations. This is hardly surprising given the typical concerns and aims of religious groups and those who join them. People don't join chess clubs for spiritual and emotional fulfillment. Religion is a better social adhesive than other social bonding motives.


This is in addition to the specifics referred to in my footnotes.

You have not provided ANY specific mechanisms to explain the above EXCEPT for risk minimization behaviors. Not that I can recall. NOTHING in the footnote you quoted does this except for a single nebulous reference in footnote number 7 to "other social organizations" or something like that.


Incorrect. The footnotes in my previous post describe several specific mechanisms: stronger ties among family members (footnotes 6 and 10); larger social networks and development of social capital (footnotes 9 and 10); raising children in an environment of trust (footnote 10); broad base of social ties (footnotes 10 and 11); risk avoidance behaviour (footnote 12). Here's a list of quotations taken directly from the footnotes I provided in my previous post.

* 'family religious involvement promotes stronger ties among family members and has a positive impact on mothers’ and children’s reports of the quality of their relationship'; footnote [6]

* 'Ellison and George (1994) find that people who frequently attend religious services not only have larger social networks, but also hold more positive perceptions of the quality of their social relationships.'; footnote [9]

* 'religion can play a pivotal role in the socialization of youth by contributing to the development of social capital'; footnote [10]

* 'Religious congregations often sponsor family activities, stimulating the cultivation of closer parent–child relations; they also bring children together with grandparents and other supportive adults (parents of peers, Sunday-school teachers) in an environment of trust'; footnote [10]

* 'This broad base of social ties can be a rich source of positive role models, confidants, useful information, and reinforcement of values that promote educational achievement'; footnote [10]

* 'the social ties provided by religious institutions are of special value to the elderly'; footnote [11]

* 'Most faiths have teachings that encourage healthy behaviors and discourage conduct that is self-destructive'; footnote [12]

* 'religious involvement is generally associated with health-promoting behaviors... such behaviors explain in part the connection between religion and longevity'; footnote [12]

You are correct you have claimed there are many other explanations as a large generalization. You have not actually named ANY of them, other than risk minimization behaviors.


Incorrect; see my footnotes.

[edit] Your position has been that religious organizations achieve these outcomes better than secular ones, e.g.
Fortigurn wrote:However, the social benefits of doing so are significantly greater for religious groups than for other social groups.


Correct. This is completely different to saying these associations with positive outcomes are unique to religion and not attainable through secular organizations. I have never said these associations with positive outcomes are unique to religion and not attainable through secular organizations.
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Teddoman » 20 Jun 2012, 00:21

I give up. Everything you and I have said has been said multiple times ad naseum. We disagree on what's been said here. The thread speaks for itself. I don't think we're going anywhere at this point with this.
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Re: The 'Benefits of Religion' Thread

Postby Fortigurn » 20 Jun 2012, 08:24

Teddoman wrote:I give up. Everything you and I have said has been said multiple times ad naseum. We disagree on what's been said here. The thread speaks for itself. I don't think we're going anywhere at this point with this.


You can't disagree on what has been said here, there's a public record of the text staring at you. All you can do is acknowledge you didn't read properly what I wrote.
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