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Is faith or belief devoid of all value?


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I've been watching Matt Dillahunty on youtube and he made a couple points about the harmfulness of faith. The one I remember is that telling children (or anyone) that their newly departed relative went to heaven and that they will someday see them again is actually harmful to the grieving process. I disagree with that point. I'm about 95% in agreement with Matt's point of view overall  but disagree that faith is always harmful. 


So the bigger question on my mind would be: Is faith completely devoid of value? My momentary faith prior to being a Christian was catalyst for a positive change in my life once. I broke an addiction by prayer. I'm not saying God stepped in and took away that addiction. Maybe he did, maybe he didnt. I am saying I prayed and shortly after , with some additional hard mental work, I succeeded. 


My question is not 'Is supernatural intervention possible?' because all atheists will say no. I'm asking, does faith/belief in the supernatural start the physical brain's wheels spinning to effect a physical change? A useful placebo effect? If so then that may be another value point in favor of faith. And not necessarily Christian faith.


Anyway, I'm bored so there you go. 

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     Beliefs alone are essentially harmless.  But that's a very generic statement.


     A little kid who believes in Santa, and that Santa makes and brings toys, in exchange for a certain behavior is fairly harmless.  These children tend to have someone to enable those beliefs.  Adults who truly believe this could find it harmful.


     A different example may well be something more likely is it harmful to believe that vaccines are bad for you?  I would say that belief alone is not harmful.  But putting that belief into practice could be harmful.


     What I'm getting at is beliefs, ideas that simply sit inside your own head and never go beyond that, are generally harmless.  Once those beliefs start to get put into practice though, well, that could translate into harm depending on those beliefs.




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Belief in a higher power to overcome addiction is helpful for about 5-10% of people.  It is harmful to the remaining 90-95% of us.



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One thought I've heard discussed was imagine if the effort, money, labour and dedication to building churches, cathedrals, temples, and religious statues had instead been focused on more practical endeavours. It doesn't matter which religion, if any, was actually correct, the majority of the world and everyone throughout history must be wrong. So the majority of works are dedicated to non-existent beings, from the giant Buddha statues to the temple of Zeus, imagine those people putting the same decades of work to building housing, hospitals, schools, or infrastructure. Imagine the wealth of the Catholic Church aimed at reducing poverty or preventable diseases. 

So sure, an individuals belief may not be harmful in itself but it does rob society of a resource that could achieve so much more. 

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