Perhaps a small culture could be successful and healthy without religion. I don't know, but I can envision that. I don't see how a large culture could. China is a massive culture without a religion. (Although it has vestiges of old religion and lots of superstition still.) And it is very corrupt, cutthroat, and dog-eat-dog. America is much the same way, but it has only corrupt religion and of course liberalism, which has replaced good religion.
And perhaps religion does not have to be society's glue, but it's clear, at least, that there must be something that keeps everyone together, keeps people trustworthy of each other, and keeps them tightly knit. Religion has traditionally been the answer. I don't know what religion's equal could be though.
Say, for example, that it was a small community of atheists, but atheists who see the value in religion because it can bring about morality. These atheists won't literally believe the supernatural stories from ancient religions. They'll just follow the morality. I think this is possible. They just have to be intelligent and moral.
And that's why it would have to be small. It would be an intentional community of intelligent and moral men. It couldn't work for a large society because every society has many people of average and below average intelligence and has moral people and immoral people. Dealing with those types, belief in a literal supernatural power is probably necessary to keep them acting morally even if not agreeing with morality or understanding why morality is needed.
The Mormons in Salt Lake city and a few other religious groups in America suggest that it is possible for a sub-culture to exist within a broader one. And I don't see any reason why an isolated one can't work as long as it can take care of itself. So if I had my preference I would choose the smaller, isolated sub-culture.
The supernatural stories aren't the core of most religions. They are the core of Christianity and possible Islam, but not of Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.
The core components of religion are sacred texts, rituals, and regular meetings (going to church). Which of these do you think your small community of atheists can do without? The purpose of the sacred texts is to provide a shared narrative and shared explanation of values to the group. The purpose of rituals is to provide moral training exercises and to increase unity through shared experiences. The purpose of regular meetings is for members of the religion to connect to each other.
The main problem with isolated groups is that members can't get regular jobs.
If they are both moral and intelligent men, then in theory I would think they could do without all three things. But it's just a hypothetical. I don't know if anyone has actually done it before. Do you think secular or at least not overtly religious documents - like the U.S. Constitution or Declaration of Independence - could take the place of religious texts as a medium for explaining and endorsing shared values? Could a town hall meeting take the place of church?
If the community is small enough, I don't see why it couldn't work. It's always first and foremost a matter of starting a community because we've never gotten to that part. I think we could make the rest work.
As far as not having jobs, I imagine the members would have to multiple things in order to survive: making money online and doing things in the community that need doing like growing food, etc.
Your argument reminds me of an argument for Marxism. Marxism could theoretically work, if only one had the right people.
For any statement/proposition about society X, how should we determine the validity of X? We cannot prove X deductively as in math. We cannot perform controlled experiments to test X as in science. We can present arguments as we have been doing here, but in the end such arguments are nothing more than an appeal to emotion and have little to say about the validity of X. The only truly useful means we have to determine the validity of X is to see if it held true in history. If we have no data from history relevant to X, then we really can't say much about it. But if X is predictive, then in this case we can reliably say that X is invalid for the simple reason that unfounded predictions are generally wrong. And this is the core argument I have against your hypothetical small community. You are predicting that if a small group of a certain kind of people organize a certain type of community, it will work. And I say that this is an unfounded prediction and therefore is almost certainly wrong. For more on this line of reasoning, read Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder.
Do you think secular or at least not overtly religious documents - like the U.S. Constitution or Declaration of Independence - could take the place of religious texts as a medium for explaining and endorsing shared values?
Do you mean like The Analects by Confucius? This obviously has worked in the past for China but it has a problem. The problem is that stupid people need the supernatural, so a great variety of supernatural/superstitious beliefs arose in Confucian societies. And this harms the unity of the group. A religion that provides supernatural beliefs for those who want it is better at keeping unity. But if you are interested in this approach, I think you should research Confucianism and try to figure out why it isn't more successful today. It seems to lack something that Western religions have that make them viable in the modern world.
My personal attitude toward religion is simply to pick what has worked historically. This is much simpler than trying to construct something new.
I think what's most important now is to take action, but at the same time I don't see it happening anytime soon. There will either be a small community that we start, or nothing, I think. So the action is more important because we never come up with the perfect solution as to what works. And if we're looking for something that has worked throughout history, what is the definition of "what has worked"? Christianity became liberal. Islam hasn't, or at least not entirely like Christianity. I don't know about religion/philosophies like Buddhism. But I also can't think of any Buddhist countries that I find appealing either. Judaism...there are always small sects I guess. China's Confucianism is a disaster now, and has resulted in a materialistic and perpetually stressed out society that can never sate its desire for status and "security."
Finding a third world girl and becoming part of her family would likely be the best bet at community. I don't think we're going to successful because none of us can ever perfect the idea. Or discover the absolute best things that works. And I think it will forever elude us. At best all we'll get to achieve is a tiny sub-culture or enclave. But if we never get to that point, getting the perfect religion won't matter.
But I would still trust any of us in forming the community. If I, for example, did start a small community that failed because I didn't utilize the correct religious principles, it would still better at the least as a learning opportunity. Doing nothing is worse.
Of course I am not talking about perfection. I am asking what has any hope at all of working. There are so few of us in CoAlpha that I don't see how we could start a community on our own. The best bet is to find an existing community that isn't perfect but is still better than mainstream society, and join that and try to improve it. And all such communities that I can think of a religious. I consider Christianity and Islam bad candidates for much the same reason that you originally criticized religion, because these religions demand faith over reason. Judaism and Paganism are more promising.
I am trying to take action. My focus is Scripturism. And in this forum I would like to encourage others to take action. In particular, to research religions, join one, and try to improve it.
In our country,it doesn't matter if you have religion or not .I am one of them,so I always ask myself what's the meaning of life?My friend told me the purpose of human life is having a hope.But I just want to know where does hopes come from?If we are in trouble or we want some good lucky turns to ourselves ,we normally go to the temple.I had a 3 years experiences went to the temple to pray everything goes well and pray my family's members are healthy. Do you think that's a shame story?I think the meaning of life is not only have a hope to support you when you felt alone,but also should be get some positive power from somewhere.So I think no matter what kind of religion you choose as long as you can get energy from it ,then that is a good thing.