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What is Religion?/the dynamic of religion : This is not about the definition of religion but the entity itself
Posted: 16 October 2012 10:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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Write4U - 16 October 2012 05:38 AM

IMO, this book would not be scientific except perhaps in the fields of psychology and social sciences.

Thevillageatheist - 16 October 2012 08:50 AM

... and maybe his book does belong more in the social sciences

Sorry, but this is nonsense. A book cannot be scientific in one science and not in the other. Is a book about evolution non-scientific in physics? Or is the book about evolution about biology instead of physics? Of course the latter! The book very clearly is a book about cultural anthropology, or better, about its methodological problems to find a neutral standpoint from which other cultures can be described.

Write4U - 16 October 2012 05:38 AM

But none of it has anything to do with the existence of an intelligent prime mover, least of all a prime mover which is selective in who shall live or die. Evolution does a marvellous job, without a helping hand from a farmer in the sky.

Yes, you are completely right: but the book, and arv13 are not saying such a thing at all, so I have no idea why you need to say this here.

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Posted: 17 October 2012 12:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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I must admit I have not read the book, but so far what I have gathered from what has been presented is a statistical (demographical) study of causes for different metaphysical belief systems. Of course this is a scientific endeavor, but can it be used in the applied sciences? Does it yield an actionable conclusion?
I was not implying that the research was not scientifically conducted. And I am sure that whatever discipline it belongs to is scientific. But I cannot place this in any other category than the science of sociology, which of course would also affect the science of psychology, etc. 

My question is why do different cultures have different beliefs at all?  Why is a tree a tree to one and a god to another? Perhaps theism is a fertile ground for research into “worship and ritual” which falls in the category of phychiatric science.

Can you offer an alternative?

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Posted: 17 October 2012 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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Religion may not be a universal trait among human cultures, but a predisposition for the development of religious thinking, I believe, does exist within our species. If it were somehow possible to isolate a small population of humans who had no previous exposure to any religion, and that population were able to thrive and reproduce over many generations, I think that some sort of religion, or religions would emerge.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 17 October 2012 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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TimB - 17 October 2012 09:57 AM

Religion may not be a universal trait among human cultures, but a predisposition for the development of religious thinking, I believe, does exist within our species.

Of course. But it may be a little too difficult for a cultural anthropologist to figure that one out.

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Posted: 17 October 2012 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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TimB - 17 October 2012 09:57 AM

Religion may not be a universal trait among human cultures, but a predisposition for the development of religious thinking, I believe, does exist within our species.

Ah. And what is the difference between religion and religious thinking? Do you mean religion as an organised social structure? What structure? Hierarchical, like catholicism? And can religious thinking be separated from daily (practical) thinking? Are you sure a Hindu would even understand what you are talking about? And if not, why? And then, as far as I understood, you are in the topic of ‘The heathen in his blindness’.

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Posted: 18 October 2012 06:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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Is it any wonder that western religion spread around the world and most other religions were isolated from the rest of the world? The spread of religion in the early days was mostly a one way street and where a native religion conflicted with western religion (christianity) it was suppressed and replaced by the occupiers.


If you’re alluding to the age of exploration ca. 16th Century, the Asian powers had already become increasingly isolationist. China had culturally (the wall had already been built by then) walled herself off branding all outliers as barbarians and restricting contact. Likewise Japan after first contact with the Portuguese who muddled with their belief in the emperor’s divinity, and they expelled all foreigners and shut down all ports but one. So, as the Western powers were swaning around the world looking for gold, slaves and markets the east was sitting tight.

 

Cap’t Ajck

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Posted: 18 October 2012 08:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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GdB - 17 October 2012 10:31 PM
TimB - 17 October 2012 09:57 AM

Religion may not be a universal trait among human cultures, but a predisposition for the development of religious thinking, I believe, does exist within our species.

Ah. And what is the difference between religion and religious thinking? Do you mean religion as an organised social structure? What structure? Hierarchical, like catholicism? And can religious thinking be separated from daily (practical) thinking? Are you sure a Hindu would even understand what you are talking about? And if not, why? And then, as far as I understood, you are in the topic of ‘The heathen in his blindness’.

Religious thinking, in liew of an existing religion, could lead to the development of an organized religion.  The form that developed would depend on the circumstances in whic it arose.

And there is the problem of our very language being inculcated with religious references.  So the part of our thinikng that is language also could influence a tendency to think religiously. I wonder whether there exists any language that is not fraught with religious references,

[ Edited: 18 October 2012 11:39 AM by TimB ]
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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 18 October 2012 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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Yeah, but religious references are not religion. Right, GdB?

Religious rituals are not religion, religious art is not religion, religious writings are not religion, priests and shamans are not religion, religious offerings and sacrifices are not religion, temples are not religion, the Mayan creation myth of the Popol Vuh is not religion, the Inca creation myth of Con Tiqui Viracocha is not religion,...what were the Europeans thinking?

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Posted: 18 October 2012 11:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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George - 18 October 2012 09:38 AM

Yeah, but religious references are not religion. Right, GdB?

TimB used the word religion in an unclear way, that’s all. I wanted to know what he means.

And ask the other way round:
- is shaking hands religion?
- is saying ‘bless you’ when somebody sneezes religion?
- is burying the dead religion?
- is passing a Stupa always at the left side religion?
- is saying ‘Enjoy’ before dinner religion?

All are examples of irrational actions. People do them because they learned to do them. Not doing them can offend people. Can you imagine that a lot of what a Hindu does is of the same category? And then is that religion?

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Posted: 19 October 2012 02:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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IMO, it is not the common personal rituals which develop as a sign of friendship and comradery that define a religion. It is the belief in a god or a deity that defines religion, especially when this god or deity is identified as a motivated intelligent entity (even in the abstract).

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Posted: 19 October 2012 03:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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Write4U - 19 October 2012 02:35 AM

IMO, it is not the common personal rituals which develop as a sign of friendship and comradery that define a religion. It is the belief in a god or a deity that defines religion, especially when this god or deity is identified as a motivated intelligent entity (even in the abstract).

Then I would suggest you should have a closer look on what Hindus believe and do. And btw, Jainism, and some forms of Buddhism do not know of a creator god, so these are not religions?

I am not an expert in this area, but I’ve picked up enough to know that the understanding of other religions that are quite different from the big Abrahamic religions is not easy, and we take a risk of putting our prejudices in our descriptions of other religions and/or cultures in which they exist.

[ Edited: 19 October 2012 03:45 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 19 October 2012 04:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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No, GdB. Shaking hands is not a religion just like kicking a rock in front of me while I walk to a train station is not soccer.

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Posted: 19 October 2012 05:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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George - 19 October 2012 04:27 AM

No, GdB. Shaking hands is not a religion

I did no say that. I tried to point out that there is a vague border between irrational habits that are just what they are and ‘religious’ actions, and that this border may not be the same in other cultures. But I think you are not really interested in this idea, you have decided already from the beginning of this thread that everything is nonsense, didn’t you? I assume that you think that the study of any cultural phenomenon is useless, unless it is based on genetics and Darwinism.

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Posted: 19 October 2012 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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GdB - 19 October 2012 03:42 AM
Write4U - 19 October 2012 02:35 AM

IMO, it is not the common personal rituals which develop as a sign of friendship and comradery that define a religion. It is the belief in a god or a deity that defines religion, especially when this god or deity is identified as a motivated intelligent entity (even in the abstract).

Then I would suggest you should have a closer look on what Hindus believe and do. And btw, Jainism, and some forms of Buddhism do not know of a creator god, so these are not religions?

I am not an expert in this area, but I’ve picked up enough to know that the understanding of other religions that are quite different from the big Abrahamic religions is not easy, and we take a risk of putting our prejudices in our descriptions of other religions and/or cultures in which they exist.

Wow, what an interesting history,
but this seems to confirm that while there are many different religions and philosophies in India, fndamentally these might still be classified as religions, albeit non dogmatic and very diverse in detail. So perhaps Hinduism is catch all phrase similar to Western religions.

wiki,

Hinduism is an ancient religion (although Hinduism is diverse, with monotheism, henotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, atheism, agnosticism, and gnosticism being represented

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_India#Rise_of_Shramana_Religions

Nevertheless, I see in the Hindu religions a more positive emphasis on self development that obeisance to a higher intelligent being. Undoubtedly this allowed the Indian government to install secular law respectful of minority religions within the greater scope of the Vedantic population.

The Upanishads form the core of Indian philosophy. They are an amazing collection of writings from original oral transmissions, which have been aptly described by Shri Aurobindo as “the supreme work of the Indian mind”. It is here that we find all the fundamental teachings that are central to Hinduism — the concepts of ‘karma’ (action), ‘samsara’ (reincarnation), ‘moksha’ (nirvana), the ‘atman’ (soul), and the ‘Brahman’ (Absolute Almighty). They also set forth the prime Vedic doctrines of self-realization, yoga and meditation. The Upanishads are summits of thought on mankind and the universe, designed to push human ideas to their very limit and beyond. They give us both spiritual vision and philosophical argument, and it is by a strictly personal effort that one can reach the truth.

http://hinduism.about.com/od/scripturesepics/a/upanishads.htm

[ Edited: 19 October 2012 05:18 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 19 October 2012 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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GdB - 19 October 2012 05:02 AM
George - 19 October 2012 04:27 AM

No, GdB. Shaking hands is not a religion

I did no say that. I tried to point out that there is a vague border between irrational habits that are just what they are and ‘religious’ actions, and that this border may not be the same in other cultures. But I think you are not really interested in this idea, you have decided already from the beginning of this thread that everything is nonsense, didn’t you? I assume that you think that the study of any cultural phenomenon is useless, unless it is based on genetics and Darwinism.

No, this conversation is actually very interesting. I had no idea that the Mayas sacrificing virgins was the same thing as us shaking hands.

And yes, my opinion of cultural anthropology is pretty much the same as what I think of most of philosophy: make stuff up, then spend all your energy and skills at justifying your creativity. Cultural anthropology is not science.

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