Belief Beat

Belief Beat

The World: Better Off With or Without Religion?

Here’s another religion/journalism event worth checking out, on Nov. 15, live in New York or via webcast:

Does religion breed intolerance and violence?  Or has it primarily been a source for good, imbuing followers with purpose and encouraging moral behavior? Two atheists and two believers will wrestle over the controversial motion, “The World Would Be Better Off Without Religion,” in an Oxford-style live debate at NYU’s Skirball Center. Philosopher and Professor A.C. Grayling will team up with Matthew Chapman, the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, to argue for the motion and against religion. Rabbi David Wolpe (named #1 Pulpit Rabbi in America by Newsweek) and King’s College President Dinesh D’Souza (author of “What’s So Great About Christianity?”) will fight against the motion. 


(I took this photo at a punny gas station in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood a few months ago.)

Moderated by ABC News Nightline’s John Donvan, Intelligence Squared U.S.’s fall season, presented in partnership with Slate, will air on WNET and more than 220 NPR stations nationwide. Audience members will vote to decide the winning team of this significant debate. Tickets: $40 ($12 for students w/ID) To purchase, visit

WHAT: Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates: “The World Would Be Better Off Without Religion”
WHEN: Tuesday, November 15 / Reception 5:45-6:30 / Debate 6:45-8:30 PM
WHERE: NYU’s Skirball Center / 566 Laguardia Place, New York, NY 10012


P.S. Remember to save another date — Dec. 14, 6-8 p.m., RNA/RCC networking event at The Huffington Post in downtown NYC.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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swami avdoot

posted November 10, 2011 at 10:32 am

The Bhagavad Gita or actual word of God states in chapter 18, ‘Give up all religion and surrender unto Me (Krishna).’ So, this statement concludes that all these materialistic religions which are really not in line with actual dharma (for one they mostly all eat animal flesh and two, they mostly all believe God is power without form–impersonal). Thus it is a priority to find out who it is we are trying or hoping to try to love.
Also, another authoritative scripture (in fact the most authoritative of all) the Srimad Bhagavatam in the first canto , first chapter, second verse, says , ‘dharmo projita kataiva tra’, that is we should reject all materialistic religions (which would take alot of typing, so I won’t bother).
Therefore to come to the absolute standard we should focus on the real definition of dharma or rather love of God, prema by following the master teacher of love of God, Rupa Goswami who in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindu says that real love of God has no material motivation for material benefits or liberation from illusion and suffering, but rather love for the sake of continued,uninterrupted service to the lotus feet of Him, who one this very night danced with His lovely maidens (gopis)in the land of Vrindavan.

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posted November 13, 2011 at 12:21 am

I think we’d be better off without religion. While there are some religious groups that don’t harm their members, most do. They force them to believe baseless claims, thus making them more liable to believe other baseless claims rather than examining the evidence.

Some say religion brings people to do good things. That may occasionally be true but in many cases the people were good and would have done good things anyway. And religion divides us so people often end up doing bad things to those in other religions.

I see no overall positive value to religion.

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posted November 14, 2011 at 6:38 pm

75% of the people polled at the link agree with nnmns.

I however, disagree. Would the world be better off without religion? That depends on which one(s) you’re talking about…

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