About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Does religion unite or divide us?

Which do you think? Inquiring minds want to know.


Unknown said...

I would say both. On the one hand we humans tend to use religion to unify our own populations into more secure and structured social groupings. But at the same time religion can be utilised to enhance the divisions between different groups of people. In some respect religion is simply an extension of human nature, in that we are naturally inclined to find greater security with those who are most like us, and less in those least like us.

GTChristie said...

Geez, it's a poll: yes or no. I think that's too simplistic a question, especially as posed such that no meaningful conclusions can be drawn from the results. To make it meaningful, it needs an additional question, such as: "Why?" It's almost bad for one's reputation to click one box or the other without an essay attached. LOL.

Robert said...

Religion - it unites us by undermining the old dividing lines. Unfortunately, the primary mechanism for this is by digging newer, even deeper dividing lines.

Stuart Andrew said...

A group that contains everyone is effectively no group at all, while a group that does not contain everyone obviously excludes some people. Thus, anything that unites some of the people will necessarily divide those same people from everyone else.

Jeremiah said...

@Stuart I liked your comment but I have to disagree a little.

Whether a group is divisive or not has a lot to do with where their attention is focused. Inward or outward. For example, I went to the Sakura Con convention this weekend, it is a 'group' but it's focus is entirely inward. They care about their shared hobbies (anime) and are not really concerned at all with other groups. This is kind of the crux of a lot of the atheist/theist conflict. IF religions just focused on themselves (inward) a lot of atheists wouldn't care at all about them, but it is precisely because most religions are very active in attempts to impose on other groups that there is a problem and that is the source of their divisiveness.

So I would say that a lot of the major religious groups today are divisive, not because religion is by nature divisive, but because they choose to be that way.