Imagine you are building a new world from scratch and there is no such thing as religion yet. This world is much like earth and is populated by humans, plants and animals. What would an ideal new world look like in terms of religion?

Part 1: What should it look like?

Would it be better to have a single religion for all, to prevent the horror of religious wars and terrorist acts by extremists that have plagued human kind,forceful conversion etc (but risk losing diversity and freedom of choice as to what to believe, because no one is even aware there can be an alternative religion) What would this religion look like? Perhaps we should have no religion at all (not synonymous with no hope at all, but where would morality come from? What incentive would there for people to be moral?). Or would the current poly-religious world be actually the ideal situation? (but extremism and religious wars/persecution arising from religious differences and the struggle to gain more adherents might arise)

Part 2: How can your answer to part 1 be implemented, realistically?


closed as primarily opinion-based by bowlturner, Jimmy360, Frostfyre, Vincent, Aify Jun 4 '15 at 23:14

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Oh, boy. Here we go. "Ideal society"? Religion in such a society? Let the games begin. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Jun 4 '15 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ Let the 76th annual Hunger Games commence. $\endgroup$ – Jimmy360 Jun 4 '15 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ This question is way too subjective : what is the ideal? You should define what you consider to be ideal. I have an idea of what you mean but everyone can have different ideals. If you seek a more peaceful world, religion is only one part of the problem. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Jun 4 '15 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ Part 1: freedom to have any religion or no religion. Part 2: No "ideal" system of belief can be specified in advance and be expected to stay unchanged. All history shows that humans generate an extremely wide variety of belief systems, even in the face of laws forbidding this. $\endgroup$ – Lostinfrance Jun 6 '15 at 7:07

No religion.

Any belief system which can not provide valid evidence for its claims, but wishes to enforce the conclusions of those claims on to others, is not a system for harmony. Every religion has a schism at some point because the beliefs are not based on evidence or reasoning. If the system values faith over evidence, there is no mechanism for rational discourse and unsolvable disagreements will occur.

People naturally prefer evidence over faith; it's why faith is hard. So make it easy, base the system on evidence, not faith.

Try secular humanism. This is not a religion, but a philosophy. It provides a guide for morality based on reason and science. It's a great way to do things as it allows for growth as humanity grows. It also doesn't provide any incentive for flying into buildings, which is always a plus for a belief system.

Can you imagine if we left our government or judicial system up to the will of a religion? It used to be the case, it was called the dark ages. Rationality is what lifts humanity away from being animals (figuratively speaking). We should be applying it as often as possible.

As for implementation, we're getting there already. For instance, America is becoming more atheistic/agnostic every year. Most of these people, like most other Americans, don't get their morals from a book, but from the zeitgeist (been a while since we had a public stoning). This is a step towards secular humanism.

  • $\begingroup$ I expect downvotes because people are very sensitive about their beliefs. If you're downvoting for any reason, hurt feelings or rational disagreement, please let me know why. Oh, there's one right while I'm writing this, nice. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 4 '15 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ Thing is people do tend to gravitate towards none evidence based faith systems, not all, but enough that any society will eventually develop some kind of religious beliefs. That because there always something that is unexplainable or unknown. How differing beliefs are handled is the key to a strong and healthy society. $\endgroup$ – MrDracoSpirit Jun 4 '15 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ @MrDracoSpirit They don't though, atheism is on a significant rise. We live in a time where science can explain more of the world than ever before. People gravitate towards safety, not a lack of evidence. People naturally prefer evidence over faith; it's why faith is hard. Faith based systems used to feel safer because they "had all the answers", but it's becoming more apparent to people that is simply not the case, so they abandon those systems. In a culture that values evidence over faith, such crutches are unlikely to form. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 4 '15 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ Atheism is on the rise, but there will always some kind of faith based thinking going of in enough people heads for it to be a significant... even if it is poorly defined. Even a society built heavily on Atheist and rationalist lines will have to deal with members who believe strongly in something quiet irrational... even if something as silly as 'The Great Founders Will' meaning this must wear black on Tuesdays. $\endgroup$ – MrDracoSpirit Jun 4 '15 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ @MrDracoSpirit Sure, some irrationality/faith will exist, but it won't be valued or encouraged by society like it is today. I agree that it will likely be very benign things like traditions (wearing black on a certain day). The important thing is that people recognize that what they're doing only applies to themselves and no one else. The same view people have with many traditions today, "You don't have turkey on Thanksgiving? That's not how we do it, but no big deal." $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 4 '15 at 23:23

A classic sign of a healthy society is religious tolerance. If you to show a society is rather close to a true utopia, then a excellent way to show it is with religious diversity instead. It fine to have one region that is clearly bigger than the others. But little cults and smaller religions being present can help show that ugly things like witch hunts don't happen in it, since people feel safe to practice a different faith from the majority in the open.

Incidentally having one religion doesn't stop religious based conflict happening. Merely its just lead to internal conflict within the religion instead of external conflict.

A good example of that kind of conflict would be the Reformation in Europe. Very messy internal conflict within Christianity.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you saying that the current system is the best option with multiple opposing religions? $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 4 '15 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ It how a government deals with all the different religions within it society that matters. Controlling what people truly believe in is all but imposable, but resolving different points of view in a peaceful manner is, as well as getting people with differing views to buy into a singular government isn't. $\endgroup$ – MrDracoSpirit Jun 4 '15 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ That sounds the same as our current system. The US government doesn't officially endorse any single religion, so that all are treated equally. If people are encouraged to believe their faith can be universally true, what happens when that faith includes the conviction that non-believers should be killed? $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 4 '15 at 23:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Samuel, what happens is that the faith is permitted but the killing of non-believers isn't. We know this system can be implemented realistically (c.f. Part 2 of Zi Xin Lee's question), because this is what happens in real life countries with freedom of speech and religion, and by and large it works. Not perfectly but better than rival systems.The freedom of speech allows other people to try and persuade the intolerant ones to have a better attitude. Religious tolerance also allows people within the intolerant religions to see that other beliefs are possible. $\endgroup$ – Lostinfrance Jun 6 '15 at 7:21

Nation-State Religious Monarchy

In an ideal religious society, there is only one religion, the religion is the government, and the leader of the church is a legitimate prophet, seer, and revelator sustained unanimously by the population who also serves as the monarch.

For the purposes of this question, we're going to assume that this religion is indisputably, and undeniably true, as well as uncorrupt, moral and just, and that all the leadership positions in this church are unpaid and carry with them no secular status. The leaders are called to serve in their capacities (even if they feel they aren't up to the task) work harder and provide more service for the people than anyone else, they have a genuine love for their fellow citizens, and serve them in their capacity within the church out of love and devotion in addition to supporting themselves and their families secularly. Leadership positions are also regularly rotated, except for the leader and his councillors, who serve for the remainder of their lives.

To eliminate all corruption, there is no monetary system, everything goes to the church (all crops and resources) and it is the church that fairly distributes these resources to the populace.

This is a society where knowledge and understanding, and the pursuit of happiness are valued more than anything else, and everyone has a desire to improve their self worth and strive for perfection in righteousness, as well as uplift everyone they know. It is a humble, selfless, classless society, where no one is the underdog, everyone is treated as an equal, and all the dirty jobs are preformed by volunteers (the leaders volunteer more than anyone else). Sin and hypocrisy are abhorred above all else, but crime is dealt with lovingly through counseling, therapy and public service.

In order for this system to work, the church must be true and kept pure. As soon as the doctrines of men are mingled in, or corrupt men try to usurp unrighteous dominion in their leadership capacities, or dissenters try to rise against the system they must be struck down swiftly and effectively (publicly chastised, and excommunicated if necessary). Heresy is a serious crime, but is dealt with by educating the masses and calling the heretic to repentance.

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    $\begingroup$ Given all the assumed values and ideals, why is religion required at all? If one imposed the same assumptions on a secular society, wouldn't the outcome be identical? $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 4 '15 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ That's not the question, but if you wish to discuss it you're welcome to open a chat about it. $\endgroup$ – ShemSeger Jun 4 '15 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, "no religion at all" is part of the question. I'm just curious why it's required in your answer. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 4 '15 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Samuel Guess I skimmed past that part. The issue with no religion is the lack of moral incentive. We exist in a world where all our morals have been built off of a religious foundation. Civilizations that have no structured religious history still tend to live in a survival of the fittest society. From what I know, there has never been a civilization that has emerged without religion. $\endgroup$ – ShemSeger Jun 5 '15 at 1:04
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    $\begingroup$ Religion claims ownership of morality, which is not the same as creating it. Morals don't come from religions, they're evolved. Morals evolve with the times, to serve the fittest society, as you so eloquently put it. If we hadn't started with "don't kill your neighbor" way before we even had language, then we wouldn't have made it to developing language. Religion is certainly not a source of moral incentive. I highly doubt the only reason people don't run around killing and raping is solely based on not getting punished by a supernatural being after they die. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Jun 5 '15 at 1:17