3 of 12
3
What is Religion?/the dynamic of religion : This is not about the definition of religion but the entity itself
Posted: 06 October 2012 12:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  28
Joined  2012-10-03
Write4U - 05 October 2012 11:42 PM

arv13,
OK here goes: Religion is an explanatorily intelligible account of the cosmos
and
Thus intelligibility presupposes an agent who not only intends (i.e. hopes, desires, wills, etc) but is also able to express them (in objects, events and actions).

So the gist is that god has hopes, desires, wills, etc and the universe is proof of that? Sounds like an intellectual account of irreducible complexity to me. And not to be ignored, all these qualities of hope and desire are human qualities. Thus we end up with a human interpretation of something we do not understand and therefore we just compare it to human experience.

I am not persuaded.


no no. This theory is not trying to “prove” religion at all. It just describes what religion is to those who believe. balu makes it very clear: Such an account, when it is forthcoming; of such sets of actions, if
they are possible; of such a being, if it exists; these, together, will give
us an explanatory intelligible account of that being and its actions

He says “if such a being exists, if such sets of actions are possible” etc he is just theorizing what religion is. not trying to say religion is “true”.


About intelligiblility:

When used as a characteristic (or a property) of a *belief*, ‘intelligibility’ talks about the *meaning* of that belief. When we say a belief (or a sentence, a set of sentences, a set of propositions, a story, a description, a theory, etc.) is intelligible we mean that it is `understandable’. Of a set of sentences that conveys nonsense (i.e. does not make sense), we say that it is unintelligible. So, in this sense, any story or explanation is always
intelligible if it conveys meaning.

What makes some thing (an entity, an action, or an event) *intelligible*? (This is how we have to pose the question, if we need to understand what Religion is and what it does.) As a first approximation, some thing (an event, an action, or an entity), is intelligible if, and only if, it expresses the *intentions of an agent* (and not otherwise). That is to say, if some purpose or the other is exemplified in an event (like opening a door), an action
(like eating), or an object (like a cheque) then such events, actions and entities are intelligible. Thus intelligibility presupposes an agent who not only intends (i.e. hopes, desires, wills, etc) but is also able to express them (in objects, events and actions).

This is what he means by intelligibility. An explanatorily intelligible account fuses causes and intentions (CAUSES = INTENTIONS) or you can even think of it as (ACTING = INTENDING) as explained in my earlier post. anyways, as I said, there is much more to the theory, i will elaborate in my next post….

[ Edited: 06 October 2012 12:31 AM by arv13 ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 October 2012 12:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6173
Joined  2009-02-26
arv13 - 06 October 2012 12:17 AM
Write4U - 05 October 2012 11:42 PM

arv13,
OK here goes: Religion is an explanatorily intelligible account of the cosmos
and
Thus intelligibility presupposes an agent who not only intends (i.e. hopes, desires, wills, etc) but is also able to express them (in objects, events and actions).

So the gist is that god has hopes, desires, wills, etc and the universe is proof of that? Sounds like an intellectual account of irreducible complexity to me. And not to be ignored, all these qualities of hope and desire are human qualities. Thus we end up with a human interpretation of something we do not understand and therefore we just compare it to human experience.

I am not persuaded.


no no. This theory is not trying to “prove” religion at all. It just describes what religion is to those who believe. balu makes it very clear: Such an account, when it is forthcoming; of such sets of actions, if they are possible; of such a being, if it exists; these, together, will give us an explanatory intelligible account of that being and its actions

He says “if such a being exists, if such sets of actions are possible” etc he is just theorizing what religion is. not trying to say religion is “true”.

How then can he come to any “explanatory intelligible account of that being and its actions”? I wish we could come to an intelligible account of humans and their actions.

I understand religion and what it has done to human societies. The entire concept of a god with hominid qualities is intelligible even to the alpha chimpanzee who shakes a stick at that unseen enemy in the sky that causes thunder, lightning and throws water at him during a monsoon. The entire idea of an intentional god has been false from the beginning.

This theory is a theory of “ifs” and a conclusion that indicates a “possibility”. That’s woo. The whole point is that if god does not exist (which is more than likely) the entire argument is moot and we are just left with social ethics based on prevailing beliefs which differ from region to region. Does he address the beliefs of Pagans and Sun worshippers (and Atheists) in this theory?

[ Edited: 06 October 2012 12:58 AM by Write4U ]
 Signature 

Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
W4U

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 October 2012 01:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  28
Joined  2012-10-03
Write4U - 06 October 2012 12:30 AM
arv13 - 06 October 2012 12:17 AM
Write4U - 05 October 2012 11:42 PM

arv13,
OK here goes: Religion is an explanatorily intelligible account of the cosmos
and
Thus intelligibility presupposes an agent who not only intends (i.e. hopes, desires, wills, etc) but is also able to express them (in objects, events and actions).

So the gist is that god has hopes, desires, wills, etc and the universe is proof of that? Sounds like an intellectual account of irreducible complexity to me. And not to be ignored, all these qualities of hope and desire are human qualities. Thus we end up with a human interpretation of something we do not understand and therefore we just compare it to human experience.

I am not persuaded.


no no. This theory is not trying to “prove” religion at all. It just describes what religion is to those who believe. balu makes it very clear: Such an account, when it is forthcoming; of such sets of actions, if they are possible; of such a being, if it exists; these, together, will give us an explanatory intelligible account of that being and its actions

He says “if such a being exists, if such sets of actions are possible” etc he is just theorizing what religion is. not trying to say religion is “true”.

I understand religion and what it has done to human societies. The entire concept of a god with hominid qualities is intelligible even to the alpha chimpanzee who shakes a stick at that unseen enemy in the sky that causes thunder, lightning and throws water at him during a monsoon.

This theory is a theory of “ifs” and a conclusion that indicates a “possibility”. That’s woo. The whole point is that if god does not exist (which is more than likely) the entire argument is moot and we are just left with social ethics based on prevailing beliefs which differ from region to region. Does he address the beliefs of Pagans and Sun worshippers (and Atheists) in this theory?

I think there is a misunderstanding here. The author is doing a scientific study of religion and answer the question ‘What is religion?’ scientifically. It is irrelevant to this theory whether God exists or not. He does address the so called pagan “religions”. I just put up a part of his theory. I still need to elaborate. I will do so tommorow.

[ Edited: 06 October 2012 01:51 AM by arv13 ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 October 2012 02:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6173
Joined  2009-02-26

Perhaps we are looking at this from different perspectives.

IMO, religion is the practice of a belief system which by definition invokes a metaphysical intelligent and intelligible observer and participant. I believe it is very much relevant to the scientific study of religion.
Religion in one form or another has been around since the emergence of hominids. This indicates the ability to process information in an abstract way as distinguished from (genetic) autoreflexes, a rudimentary form of relational awareness. Thus when something unintelligible came along, it was categorized as a miracle caused by a god.

But if you are asking about the science (psychology) of belief systems in general, I have no clue.

[ Edited: 06 October 2012 03:00 AM by Write4U ]
 Signature 

Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
W4U

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 October 2012 06:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15435
Joined  2006-02-14
arv13 - 05 October 2012 06:27 PM

Greek philosophers did not talk about freedom of the will. the concept of “Will” was absent from Greek thought and St. Augustine was the first to develop it. Aristotle, for instance, had the notion of practical cognition and not ‘will’. “Akrasia” can only be loosely translated as “weakness of the will” simply because we do not quite know how to translate it otherwise.  Till 300 B.C.E. this notion was `absent’ in what we call the western culture today. Neither the Greek thinkers (like Plato or Aristotle), nor the Roman jurists (who wrote their law digests) had such a notion or such a picture of human beings.

Sorry, once again this is not correct. Epicurus discussed freedom of the will in his concept of the “swerve” back in the 3rd c. BCE. See e.g. HERE.

arv13 - 05 October 2012 06:27 PM

Indian philosophy definitely does not have a concept of ‘will’ or free will.

Once again, incorrect. One of the absolutely fundamental mental factors in Buddhist thought is ‘cetana’ or volition (another word for ‘will’). See e.g., HERE.  Additionally, the word ‘sankhara’ can be translated as ‘volitional formation’. The Buddhist system of ethics is constructed around the notion that all ethical acts begin with the will rather than the action.

As regards the issue of “free” will vs. fatalism, several Buddhist sutras involve discussions with fatalists such as Makkhali Gosala. They were well aware of the possibility of fatalism and rejected it.

I am sorry to say, but this person whom you are reading appears to be doing a kind of dogmatic pseudo-history.

arv13 - 05 October 2012 06:27 PM

Why call those practices as worship? As I mentioned before, these practices get classified as religious practices and worship because they are viewed and experienced within a theological framework.

We call them worship because they involve adoration, reverence and honor through rites and rituals. That is what the word “worship” means. Additionally they are all directed towards supernatural beings.

If you are going to change the meaning of the term “worship” along with the term “religion”, then really this just becomes a kind of tiresome game.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 October 2012 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6173
Joined  2009-02-26

Perhaps we should look at the notion of “being thankful to be alive” a subjective emotion which everyone experiences at one time or another. That is actually a misplaced gratitude. We are giving thanks to an accident or an inevitability, abstractions, which cannot appreciate our personal feelings.
Thus our rituals are meaningless to the universe, but establishes a self-reinforcing common bond (identity) among people.

 Signature 

Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
W4U

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 October 2012 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5551
Joined  2010-06-16

arv, many years ago I enjoyed reading and analyzing some brilliant religious philosophers such as Thomas Acquinas and Berkeley, whose logic was beautiful and compelling albeit based on cleverly hidden fallacious premises.  However, I suggest you take a few elementary courses in logic and critical thinking, because this author is quite sloppy and makes dumb claims without anything to back them up.

Occam

 Signature 

Succinctness, clarity’s core.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 October 2012 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1778
Joined  2007-10-22

Arv:

One of the things which is accepted as a given and not challenged is the assumption that religion is found in all cultures ie a universal human thing.
In India there are certain behaviours and practices like going to temple, doing puja etc When Europeans came to India , they classified these behaviours as religious behaviours or practices

Why?

1. They used a certain framework to classify these behaviours as religious.

2. This framework, consciously or unconsciously, was derived from Christian theology

3. This framework stated that all peoples must have religion, because biblical theology states that God gave religion to all of humanity, however this religion has been corrupted by the devil and his minions into many false religions.

4. So when they encountered Indians, Chinese, Native American Aborginals etc they assumed that these people MUST have religion.  In other words, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The current social sciences STILL continue to operate within this theological framework. What has happened is certain theological ideas have become ‘secularized’ and become part of our common sense as ‘neutral’ concepts. But in reality, there is nothing neutral about these concepts (concepts like human rights, freedom of choice etc). They are still rooted in Christian theology, but have been ‘dressed up’ in a secular garb.

In general, my readings have led me to the same conclusions.  Much depends upon how religion is defined.  Some of the first Jesuits dealing with some of the South American tribes also didn’t recognize these natives as having a religion.  (Sorry I lost my reference on this when my computer crashed a couple of years ago smirk .) 

When I was taking Sociology and Religious courses back in the mid-60s these were generally called primitive religions.  However, IMO what we Westerners consider modern religion today always has a political/bureaucratic structure involved; even in the so-called independent churches.  This type of structure. I think may have originated, at least partially, with the Zarathustraians in ancient Persia.  However this thinking is based on second hand references in readings on religion not on any studies of Zarathustraism; if you have any references in this area please forward them.

In India there are certain behaviours and practices like going to temple, doing puja etc When Europeans came to India , they classified these behaviours as religious behaviours or practices

Keep in mind that in early middle-eastern civilization there was much contact between Northern India and Persia therefore it is only to be expected that there was cultural/religious influences going both ways.

But his theory is that these entities like ‘hinduism’ and ‘Jainism’ are not religions at all, but merely western theoretical constructions created by early indologists, anthropologists to describe what they encountered in India

That will make for some interesting reading.

Arv, I am going to stop for now or I will end up writing a thesis.  oh oh  Welcome again; please keep posting, I have been looking for someone to discuss these issues with for some time.  I even went to an academic conference held by CFI a few years ago that was supposed to be discussing the scientific investigation of religion, but basically all they discussed was whether Jesus ever actually physically existed.  I am not a academic, but have been doing serious reading in this area for over twenty years. I may not respond daily as I am dealing with a family crisis but I will watch for your posts.

Thanks

 Signature 

Gary the Human

All the Gods and all religions are created by humans, to meet human needs and accomplish human ends.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 October 2012 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6173
Joined  2009-02-26

Arv,
In India there are certain behaviours and practices like going to temple, doing puja etc When Europeans came to India , they classified these behaviours as religious behaviours or practices

Just a question in general,

If going to a temple is not a religious practice by definition, then what should it be called?  Active practice of a spiritual philosophy?

Below is a quote which seems to sum up the concept of the definition of religion.

Religion is all about the belief in life and its purpose whilst recognizing one’s origin and the end of time. It is a cultural system associated with various symbols relating to human spiritual realm. There are several religions spread across the entire world, which include and not limited to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Shinto, Buddhism, Sikhism Bahai and Jainism among the many other smaller religions.
Religion Definition cannot be complete without including the various symbols associated with each individual religion. Religions are enshrined in traditions and narratives which are intended to bring out the true meaning of life, its origin and the world around them. Religion is a way of life and enables ones morality, ethics adherence to religious laws. It is a whole scope explaining the individual lifestyle and the human nature.

 Signature 

Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
W4U

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 October 2012 10:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  28
Joined  2012-10-03

To Occam,

I would suggest trying to understand his theory before saying it’s dumb.

I realize it is also my fault. I just crammed lot of ideas into my posts, without tackling it one step at a time. I should have introduced it differently.

The research is not about about ‘religion’ per say, but about culture as a whole and cultural differences, specifically focusing on cultural differences between Asia (particularly India) and the West .

It partly came about because of the inadequacy of the social sciences. At a more general level, the human sciences reflect the western cultural experience as though it were the universal human experience. Both theories about the West and those about other cultures are expressions of how the West experiences itself and India. The human sciences make all cultures into variations on one model, namely, the basic structure of western culture itself. From this perspective, all cultures are have a religion, worldview or belief system; all cultures have ethical norms or rules.  their society is founded in a framework of laws; their psychologies are driven by beliefs, desires, purposes, etc.

He decided to study the culture from which these social sciences emerged: the ‘western’ (European) culture. Today, it is recognized by most intellectuals that Christianity has influenced Western culture. The standard textbook story talks about the ‘dark ages’ of Europe when the Church and Christian religion dominated European society, and then came the enlightenment or ‘Age of Reason’, where science and intellectual thought started to gain dominance, and European culture broke free of the dogma of religion, and scientific progress, rational thought, liberal democracy took precedence, including secularism (separation of church and state).

But when you actually examine and research the so called ‘enlightenment’ period you notice something extraordinary: the enlightenment thinkers just took over from where the protestant reformation left off and just ‘secularized’ certain protestant ideas as if they were something neutral and free from religion. The thinkers from this period fought Christianity, attacked its doctrines –though not openly – and made fun of its beliefs. They were fighting religion, but only to free it from recognisably Christian clothes. The victory thereafter was the victory of religion in another set of clothes. (Human Rights, ‘free will’, good and evil)

The social sciences (anthropology, psychology, cultural studies etc) developed within this theological framework (which was in the background, not overt). This theological framework states that God implanted a sense of divinity in all human beings.  When western travelers first encountered other cultures in Asia and Africa, they assumed they would find religion there. Whatever practices, traditions and entities they encountered there, they ‘saw’ it as religion, worship, gods etc. and this continues to this day.


So, the book I mentioned is studying religion from this point of view: Religion as something that shaped and structured a culture (in this case, the West (Europe)) and how they went about in the world. It attempts to study other cultures scientifically. It is not a philosophy book, the author is not a religious apologetic, it is not at all concerned with whether or not religion is ‘true’. It only cares about religion in the sense of it’s effects on a culture, and how we understand other cultures.

The only agenda of the book is to try to promote a scientific understanding of both Asian and Western culture

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2012 04:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
arv13 - 08 October 2012 10:26 PM

From this perspective, all cultures are have a religion, worldview or belief system; all cultures have ethical norms or rules.

But all cultures (except for some of today’s European countries perhaps) do have a religion and moral rules. Even though they may (and indeed do) differ from a society to a society, they are a universal, found across all groups of our species.

Some peoples don’t believe in one god and others may not believe in an afterlife, but religion is a universal. The fact that every society has some kind of ethical norm goes without saying.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2012 11:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  28
Joined  2012-10-03

Hi doug

Epicurius’ libera voluntas is not free will but ‘free action’. Free action in the epicurean context: His swerves explain the fact that people have characteristics and responses capable of change. We act ‘freely’ because we have characteristics that are flexible and spontaneous.

 Epicurus’ Libera voluntas is completely different from the modern western notion of ‘free will’ which came from St. Augustine. In fact, the phrase “libera voluntas” was hardly used before augustine, and he used it in a completely different way than the epicureans; he distorted and transformed  the meaning of the word.

 One more thing to remember: While it is true that Christianity itself was influenced by greek philosophical thought, greek philosophy got absorbed into and interpreted within a Christian framework.

In buddhist traditions, Cetana could not mean will because none of the asian traditions conceptualized humans as intentional agents

[ Edited: 10 October 2012 08:12 AM by arv13 ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2012 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6173
Joined  2009-02-26

But is this phenomenon peculiar to Christianity?  Seems to me that all societies are affected by the same affliction. All societies are based on tradition.
Westerners look at the East through Western eyes. Easterners look at the West through Eastern eyes. And so it is with local practises which are based on on religions.

The problem lies in the illusion that My religion is the one and only true religion or tradition and all others have it wrong, as you observed with your example of “Whatever practices, traditions and entities they encountered there, they ‘saw’ it as religion, worship, gods etc.”

It is true that the definition of Religion has expanded to include almost any fervent adherence to a belief system or behavior pattern. What I do not understand is the emphasis on Abrahamic religions. As I stated before (seriously), a belief in an “unseen force” has been part of hominid evolution since the “observation” of unintelligible natural phenomena perhaps as far back as 10 million years ago.

The rest is a matter of sophistication in the interpretation of “unseen forces” within the local environmental settings.  Forest dwellers have “tree gods”, desert dwellers have “desert gods”, ocean shore dwellers have “sea gods”. Each demands their own type of ritual worship in the hierarchy of divine beings and social practises to please these beings.

It is no wonder that every society has vestiges of these ancient practises. All humans are products of their environment and teachings by their elders.

 Signature 

Art is the creation of that which evokes an emotional response, leading to thoughts of the noblest kind.
W4U

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 October 2012 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  28
Joined  2012-10-03

Here is an analogy of looking at the claim of Europeans ‘creating’ these religions in India and Asia. Despite its limitations, drawing an analogy could make it more perspicuous. Imagine an extra-terrestrial coming to earth and noticing the following phenomena: grass is green, milk turns sour, birds fly, and some flowers put out a fragrant smell. He is convinced that these phenomena are related to each other and sees hikap in them. The presence of hikap not only explains but it is also how they are related to each other. To those who doubt the existence of hikap, he draws their attention to its visible manifestation: the tigers eating the gazelle, dogs chasing the cats, and the massive size of the elephants.

Each is a fact, as everyone can see it. However, neither severally nor individually do they tell us anything about hikap. When more like him come to earth and reiterate the presence of hikap, other conditions permitting, hikap not only becomes a synonym for these phenomena but also turns out to be their explanation. Thereafter, to ask what hikap is, or how it explains, is an expression of one’s idiocy: does not everyone see hikap, this self-explanatory thing? In this analogy, the extraterrestrial visitor has ‘constructed’ the hikap. To him, it is an experiential entity. He talks, as his fellow-beings do, about this experiential entity in a systematic way.

Replace ‘hikap’ with ‘hinduism’ (or ‘buddhism’) and replace the extraterrestrial with the European. This is what the Europeans did. ‘Hinduism’ as a unit was created by people from religious cultures to describe what they confronted in India.

They thought that because we do pooja to cows that we worship cows.
They thought that because we do pooja to Shiva, Ganesha, etc. That we ‘believe in’ the ‘truth’ of those stories.
They thought that because brahmins perform certain rituals that they are ‘priests’. etc.
The reality however is quite different…
‘Believing in’ something is not even part of our experiential world.
People don’t think about those stories as being The Truth, they are stories. And in these stories you find alot of similarities with daily life. They are just part of our culture.
There is no ‘holy book’. There is no ‘worship’. There is no ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’. we don’t have ‘gods’.

There is no unity in the Indian culture that is ‘Hinduism’. There are no native religions in India

This would entail suggesting the Europeans created ‘Hinduism’ and the other ‘religions of India’ as their experiential entities. This was not how Indians experienced their own culture. “Believing in” an invisible agent, unseen force etc is part of the Western cultural experience.  In fact, Indian culture doesn’t have this notion of “believing in” something. It is utterly alien.

I focused specifically on India, but this has been done to numerous cultures. Chinese, Japanese, the aborginals.

[ Edited: 10 October 2012 10:16 AM by arv13 ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 October 2012 11:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

What a load of rubbish, arv13. Your pseudo-anthropological nonsense is beginning to sound more and more like trolling. Or maybe you are an Indian and fighting for some kind of a “cause.” Either way, your posts are utterly unreadable.

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 12
3