Author Topic: Any relevance for religion?  (Read 15733 times)

Disco Pickle

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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #60 on: March 14, 2012, 05:37:34 pm »
A (younger) friend of mine and I have had this exact discussion.  He takes Kai's position a step further and says that humans have NEVER needed religion and that the planet and human society would be a better place if we had never created religions.  That they certainly are not relevant now that we have SCIENCE! and are even more destructive in the light of the advancement of scientific knowledge.  He, like LMNO mentioned of Kai, seemed to really want it to be true that humans don't NEED religion.  He also argued that the societies that have existed and do now exist would have still been created, but would have flourished in the absence of religion and that it's religion that helps keep them stagnant.

I disagreed with nearly every one of his points, and with good reason.  I did not put it as well as has been said in this thread.  Glad I dropped in for lunch.
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Nephew Twiddleton

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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #61 on: March 14, 2012, 06:01:48 pm »
Kingyak- yeah i suppose it does.

Daddy why do we have this particular custom?
Because of this particular mythological precedent.

Pickle-History would look a lot different if there were no religion (and wed just find some other bollocks reason to kill each other and behave irrationally) but because religion is influenced by and influences the culture its associated with none of those cultures would look the same either. Can you picture rome without mars? Sumer without inanna? Egypt without ra? If im interpreting your friends position correctly hes missing that particular bit.
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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #62 on: March 14, 2012, 06:16:54 pm »
Kingyak- yeah i suppose it does.

Daddy why do we have this particular custom?
Because of this particular mythological precedent.

Pickle-History would look a lot different if there were no religion (and wed just find some other bollocks reason to kill each other and behave irrationally) but because religion is influenced by and influences the culture its associated with none of those cultures would look the same either. Can you picture rome without mars? Sumer without inanna? Egypt without ra? If im interpreting your friends position correctly hes missing that particular bit.

Yeah, he was missing a LOT of it.  I face palmed a lot in that conversation.  We can get into some heated discussions because he gets worked up and loud when he's close to being forced to accept that something he thinks he knows is not true or that one of his beliefs need adjusting, but he has strong potential to be a really, really great biped so I try not to push his buttons so hard he gets angry. 

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"sometimes someone confesses a sin in order to take credit for it." -- John Von Neumann

Nephew Twiddleton

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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #63 on: March 14, 2012, 06:27:02 pm »
Ive also heard hypotheses that christianity and islam were major factors in how modern science and mathematics developed. Partially as a result of curiosity about how gods creation worked (understand nature and you understand god somewhat) and that islamic prohibition of depicting living things lead to advances in geometry. How integral religion itself was is debatable but its an interesting thought to consider. Anyway its fun to play the what if game but until we have definitive proof of the many worlds hypothesis its just as productive of debating the existence of god and debating the existence of which gods.
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Kai

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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #64 on: March 15, 2012, 08:04:36 pm »
Which was my original question: Is religion necessary for human well being?

I agree with pretty much everything Howl has said so far, so I won't get redundant.  But in response to the above, I can say a few things:

1- It sounds like you really want the answer to be "no".

2- I'm not sure we've really nailed down what is specifically meant by "religion" (*I put on my robe and semantic hat*).

3- It would appear that humans need something that is at the very least functionally similar to a religion.  So if you remove supernatural deity worship, most humans would gravitate towards a social structure that behaved in a similar fashion.

1- I really want fresh insight on the question. If I seem contrary then you are mistaking my prodding.

2-No we haven't. Do you want to?

3- "humans need something...functionally similar to a religion" and "most humans would gravitate towards [etc.]" do not seem to be equivalent. What is it that those humans which do not seem to need or gravitate towards that social structure lack or have?
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Kai

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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #65 on: March 15, 2012, 08:10:35 pm »
According to Joseph Campbell myths are most importantly models/guidelines/training for the life that the individual will experience. We are all the Fool when we start on our own Hero's journey.

We see that sort of mythology in modern storytelling. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Inuyasha, Heroes, the majority of comic book stories... all telling the same ancient myths with modern trappings. Maybe those will eventually fill some of the gaps that mythology used to fill.

How does religion function?

- It provides rules and structure so that people within the group can interact socially with a minumum of conflict.
- It provides an answer (however inaccurate it may be) to the question of Weird Shit That Happens.

I think (but can be convinced otherwise) that all other common (negative) features of a religion are not necessary, and relate more to power politics than anything else.

 8)

1. Rules and guidelines can be self-derived. This is of course difficult. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why "humans need religion"?

2. What happens when those answers are replaced by those which can be shown to match reality, and do not stem from any religion?
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Nephew Twiddleton

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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #66 on: March 15, 2012, 11:42:33 pm »
I could be mistaken but i think i read somewhere that theres some evidence to indicate that religosity is a genetic predisposition. The god gene i think it was called. Could be just that some humans (like myself) need some sort of religion or spiritual system whereas others (like yourself) dont. Maybe asking if humans need religion is a little too general?
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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #67 on: March 16, 2012, 02:39:41 am »
I could be mistaken but i think i read somewhere that theres some evidence to indicate that religosity is a genetic predisposition. The god gene i think it was called. Could be just that some humans (like myself) need some sort of religion or spiritual system whereas others (like yourself) dont. Maybe asking if humans need religion is a little too general?

The suggestion put forward in The God Gene, as I read it, is that "spirituality" [as defined and measured by the researcher] is correlated with a particular gene variation.
 
Quote
Extract from Nature vs. nurture "Gay"gene pioneer tackles God Philadephia Gay News, Oct. 1-7, 2004

" [. . .]  the "god gene" really is a single gene, VMAT2. It makes a protein that transports monoamines, a chemical in the brain. A single variation in the gene affects people's consciousness or the way they perceive the world, and [Dean] Hamer has linked that to spirituality.
 
"All of the spiritual people, all of the great spiritual experiences involved seeing reality in a fundamentally different way," he said. "For a lot of people that is tantamount to nuttiness, or schizophrenia, or something like that, but it's a very intimate part of spirituality.
 
With Paul "on the road to Tarsus" obviously, that was a very dramatic instance of that. Or when Mohammed went flying around in his dreams. But I think that it plays a role in people's everyday life too. Just sitting at the beach, looking at the waves, people can have spiritual experiences and it's because all of a sudden you just see the world in a little bit different light. I think that's pretty cool.
 
"Everything is not as it normally appears."
 
"Spirituality is measured by something called the self-transcendence aspect of personality," a category created by psychologists "that looks at things like, to what degree do people identify with the whole world around them, compared to just themselves," he continued. "And to what degree do people feel that everything in the universe is connected by some sort of spiritual force."
 
When Hamer compared people's behavioral and personality surveys with their DNA, a variation of the VMAT2 gene popped out as having a strong correlation.
 
"It's interesting, not because it is the gene that makes people believers or not, but because just finding that one gene, we think, tells us something about the whole brain biochemistry of spirituality; he said.
 
He says that VMAT2 is but one of what may well be hundreds of genes that play a role in spirituality.
 
Hamer carefully distinguishes between religion and the biological aspect of spirituality.
 
"Religion is a cultural phenomena where the rules are made up by man or come down from God, depending on your point of view, but they are things that you learn, things that can be changed culturally.

 
"The interesting thing about cultural stuff is that it is not necessarily stuff that is good for people; its just good for the culture or the organization that creates it. Which gets into the people who profit from it, who are priests and bureaucrats." http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/Bailey/Dean%20Hamer/Hamer%20PGN%20Article/Hamer%20PGN%20Article.html
emphasis mine

It is an interesting piece of research but scarcely qualifies VMAT2 as a "god gene". More interestingly from my personal point of view as an atheist [ yeah, I know, I'm an atheist so sue me  :wink:] I would suggest that Hamer's findings are equally supportive of my atheism, (which I would describe as highly spiritual) than of religiosity which, while it may be spiritual for some people is not invariably so. Hamer's findings may be right, but spirituality is not actually the sole property of the religious. However, going back to Kai's OP, the discussion he seems to looking for is not about social hierarchies or spirituality or mythology but specifically about religion and although people are hedging around and are asking for a tighter definition I think that in many ways that is just avoiding the issue.

So my answer Kai is that No, religion is not necessary nor has it ever been. Religion is a learned behaviour and, as writers in this thread have indicated multiple times, could easily be subsumed into other social forms.

Is it relevant in  an age where science has superseded  its power to explain the universe?  Personally I really doubt it though, as one of Dok Howl's comments upthread suggested, if it were to miraculously disappear overnight there would probably be quite a few unhappy campers who would feel a deep lack in their lives if religion wasn't around.

Would Discordianism fit into that necessity or lack of and why? For me definitely yes. I first heard about  research into a "god gene" back in the late 90's, long before Hamer's paper was published, so there were no real specifics known about what the work was focussed on. The idea of a "god gene" was intriguing though and I was already familiar with Hamer's work on the so-called "gay" gene. This came at a point for me when my ideas on personal, atheistic, spirituality were changing and coalescing around what I'd read about Discordianism. The model of irreligion I eventually adopted for myself came out thinking about how a god gene might actually operate.  It seemed obvious to me as an atheist with a very well defined spiritual life that if there were such a thing that it would be more a spirituality gene than a god gene. A spirituality gene might help to explain many puzzling things about our complex relationships with ourselves, each other and the universe, whereas a "god-gene" while being a killer title for a provocative, [and still controversial] book really begs more questions than it could answer. Round about the same time I was looking at Discordianism as a "religion" and decided it was like a Polo mint, sweet and mouthwatering but there was a decided hole in the middle where spirituality would fit in a traditional religion. Of course I soon decided it wasn't like that at all but it gave me the idea of trying to find a way of thinking about Discordian "irreligion" as a physical process entity, as though there really was a god gene. So for the last many years I have taken the view that religion is a physical property of the body, which is common to everybody, and which has receptors in the brain and therefore requires that something fit on those receptors. I don't have anything better to lock onto those receptors so Discordianism will just damn well have to do. Surprisingly I have found that this ridiculous idea actually works for me, it provides a satisfying explanation of my current 'spiritual' situation.



tl;dr jeez but that old biddy is a fruit loop

also @Twid, I always get the impression that Kai is one of the most spiritual people on the forum [Kai, correct me if I've misread that] so I don't think that the religio-spiritual / or not dichotomy applies here.


edit to extend the emphasis
« Last Edit: March 16, 2012, 11:22:11 am by MMIX »
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Nephew Twiddleton

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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #68 on: March 16, 2012, 02:56:10 am »
Its hard for me as a theist to separate religion from spirituality. It is totally possible to be a spiritual atheist or a nonspiritual theist but i just happen to be a spiritual theist. Its hard to divorce them (interestingly i consider deities and afterlife concepts to be unrelated. They overlap in most religions but my gods dont offer me anything after death but i reckon ill be born again regardless of their committee). My actual beliefs and theology shift depending on mood. I joke that im an atheist on wednesday an irish polytheist otherwise and a catholic when someone died. I consider discordia like buddhism. It can be your primary "faith" or it can be an adjunct philosophy. For me its an adjunct but i always describe my religion as discordian rather than pagan these days.
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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #69 on: March 16, 2012, 03:02:19 am »
If you pressed me hard enough id probably answer that my religion is being an irishman and a guitarist who believes in reincarnation. The deities i worship specifically (lugh, brid, an dagda mor and occasionally manannan mac lir) reflect that and im ok with them turning out to be metaphors or allegory. Its what they mean to me in everyday life rather than what they actually are that matters (which is why im ok with mocking other pagans who take it too seriously).
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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #70 on: March 16, 2012, 03:13:08 am »
Hmmmm, ya got me there Twid, I don't think I could actually worship a metaphor. Also - I always thought that being an Irishman was a profession, but I stand corrected :wink:
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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #71 on: March 16, 2012, 03:24:08 am »
As long as i get my afterlife i cant give a shit if my gods are real or not ;)
as far as the irish thing i admit i take it to the wall despite my american accent. Its what i am. My father is from a very irish part of ireland. He never taught me what being irish meant other than he was vaguely republican (irish sense of the word). I had to learn it on my own. Get my own irish passport. Figure out why hed get pissed off at some faux pas. I consider myself irish before i would say im bostonian or a new englander or american. With this lack of direction it would have (and almost was) been conducive to ill thought republicanism. I joke about being antibrit sometimes as a result.
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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #72 on: March 16, 2012, 03:45:25 am »
Believe it or not im actually a irish republican culturally catholic *unionist*. I made brief reference to my reasons why last year but if you want me to reiterate i am happy to elsewhere "so's not to shpag up dis tread, like."
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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #73 on: March 16, 2012, 09:25:04 pm »
Religion is not the same thing as spirituality or even faith.  Religion is formula, codex, dogma, ritual, symbolism, hierarchy, confession, piety, charity, fellowship and all the other regulated, delegated drivel designed my creative humans.  Even Discordianism has its precepts, although the refreshing difference is that no one cares when chaos reigns.   :horrormirth:
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Re: Any relevance for religion?
« Reply #74 on: March 17, 2012, 12:08:53 pm »
I think religion, organized religion fills in a couple areas... SOME of those areas could be filled by scientific/ethical solutions not rooted in religion. However, there are aspects to religion which cannot be replaced by 'the facts'. Metaphor, illustration, parable, stories designed to pull specific triggers inside the psychology of the individual are important considerations. While we can speak to observed phenomena in science, we do so in a precise, factual way. Religion, on the other hand, is a mystical, metaphoric sort of thing.

Bliss, for example, the state of mind many religious people experience when they are in the center of the moment, when the music and singing or the rhetoric from the pulpit is particularly enchanting is not something 'most' people would derive from a scientist speaking on a similar topic. The theater, the ritual, the feeling of belonging to a group that has 'special' knowledge. All of these things are satisfied through religion.

For individuals that have had the necessary life experiences, education and mindset to revel in science, a scientific lecture can engage the 'bliss'. For the average Joe that didn't excel in science, doesn't know a hypothesis from a theory and can't even begin to grasp the mathematics involved in describing even basic physics (let alone quantum physics)... the words are uninspiring. Humans, ultimately want to feel good. They want to feel knowledgeable, they want to feel like they are connected to something larger than themselves. Religion fulfills that need, science doesn't (for most people).

It's one of the things I came to appreciate when I was reading Antero, Hine, etc. Their systems of 'magic' (their word not mine), are designed to give the participant access to 'bliss' without the necessity of a dogmatic belief system. If science and ritual found a common ground, perhaps 'religion' wouldn't be necessary. However, most scientificly inclined individuals eschew ritual, myth and 'bliss', in favor of directness, proof and clarity.
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