1 of 3
1
What is religion?
Posted: 29 April 2007 11:44 AM   [ Ignore ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  38
Joined  2007-04-28

Before I join discussions, I like having clear definitions. The best definitions are the ones that require no exceptions. For example, saying that all religions are theistic is a false definition, since Buddhism is non-theistic.

Can you come up with a definition of religion that describes all religions accurately?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4065
Joined  2006-11-28

Clear definitions are nice, but absolutes without exceptions are rare in human affairs, and attempts to create them usually cause more trouble than they’re worht, IMHO. I might loosely say a religion is a system of beliefs in which the supernatural figures prominently and which claims to be both descriptive of reality and proscriptive for how people should behave. I think what distinguishes most of the members of this forum from the religious believer, even though we don’t all call ourselves atheists, is that faith is a poor basis for belief, evidence and the scientific method is better, and the supernatural is unlikley to be real. But any defintion, even so general a one so highly qualified, will likely seem ludicrous to someone, so I can’t wait to see what others here think.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

Ah, come on, A-D.  If we always agreed on all of the terms used, 95% of the debates in ANY field would be unnecessary.  smile

Even when people think they are using the words the same way, or even if they’ve agreed on a definition (which also contains words that have to be defined), people just can’t be that precise.  A good part of any discussion is listening to the other person and gradually understanding his/her thinking.  Then you can begin to reach a consensus even if you both agree that the words you are using mean different things to each of you. 

It’s like some people are life-long Democrats or Republicans, but if you get a group of either of these catagories of people you find that they are far from homogeneous even though they use the same word to describe themselves. 

I suggest that when you participate in discussions here, if you feel uncomfortable at the imprecision, that you define your own meaning for the terms.  Then people can accept or propose modifications for those definitions.

Possibly you could start by offering your own definition of religion and see if it’s generally agreed to, or if people think of the word a bit diffrently.

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 01:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  38
Joined  2007-04-28

Deinitions

Mmm… okay. Then can we say that science has no clear definition? Or that there are exceptions (like astrology and alchemy), the same way there are exceptions to every definition of religion?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4065
Joined  2006-11-28

There’s a whole literature centered on defining the practice of science, which probably means it’s an imprecise concept. There will be features the majority agree on (observation>hypothesis/prediction/observation, etc), and there will be some that are quite contentious (science accesses “real” truth or science is a culturally-embedded process with intrinsic biases derived from the POV of its practitioners). I agree with Occam that in any given conversationwe can try to be clear about what we mean by words like science and religion without having a formal lexicon we have hammered out beforehand. In fact I find some of the most boring discussions here are endless niggling about what words mean (see “Free Will” and it’s many progeny).

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

I assume you were responding more to Mckenzievmd than to my post. 

However, let’s take a pragmatic approach.  Even if the definitions of science and religion may have variations dependent on the people using them, I believe that I could have a discussion of either with Mckenzievmd, Mriana, Doug, and a number of others on this forum without ever feeling that we were talking at cross purposes and that we could reach agreement on the particular points we were covering.

I believe you and I could have an equally valid discussion although it would probably take an extra hour or two for us to go through meta-discussions on definitions and definitions of definitions.

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  38
Joined  2007-04-28

Is there anything more worthwhile than the pursuit of knowle

I have no objections to long discussions over the metapatterns of life. I can think of no more worthwhile a pursuit smile

Let’s not shy away from this issue. Yes, we have a definition of science, but even that has evolved through the years, a product of discussions between great and small minds. I would aks you to lend your great mind to enlighten my small one, in hopes of gaining the knowledge that I lack.

Remember, even Issac Newton practiced alchemy, and Pythagoras numermancy (is that a word?). Our definition has changed since that time. Has science itself changed, or merely our concept of it? Are the two separate?

This definition of science which we use today was not handed down to us by some god. A great conversation, one that started with Thales and continues today, is what created our current definition of science.

So let’s stop shying away from the issue. I will pose the question again: What is religion?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4065
Joined  2006-11-28

I’ve already given my two cents—What do you think it is?

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  38
Joined  2007-04-28

Admission

Well, you see, you have me at a loss. I come to this discussion completely ignorant, and looking for something to cure that state. Good doctor, don’t assume that I mean to berate you. I never intended, nor do I intend, to insult you. But I do believe it is worthwhile to pose the question, in hopes that those who post here will relieve me of my lack of understanding.

Now, won’t you show me the same compassion you show your four-legged patients, and cure me of my ignorance? Please tell me, what is the definition of religion?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 01:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

I agree.  As the vulgar say, s**t or get off the pot.  Stop trying to trap people by asking questions designed to allow attacks.  Give us YOUR views.

Oh, and don’t waste my time by quoting long out of date advertisements or the flaws of six century old scientists.  Next, you’ll be nailing Thomas Jefferson because he had slaves.  Stick to the present if you want a rational discussion.

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  38
Joined  2007-04-28

Defensiveness

Have I attacked, or given any indication that I intend to attack? I apologize if I have given you that impression. That’s not my goal.

That was a different discussion thread Occam. It is unfair of you to criticize me for that outside of that discussion thread.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 01:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

Yes, the kind of questions you’ve been asking, and your reluctance to state your own position, is often a prelude to an attack.  So, maybe you didn’t plan to do so, but the old walks like a duck aphorism has some validity.

Oh, and the cute “your great intellect and my small intellect” phrase is another ploy often used to set people up for an attack.

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  38
Joined  2007-04-28

Cute

You know, I just love when a man thinks I’m cute smile

Still, I really don’t intend to attack, so please back off. I’m really just doing this as an intellectual excercise, nothing more (I promise!)

Incidentally, neither of you has bothered to answer my question. You’ve tried to label it as an attack, you’ve avoided it by saying “there are many definitions, so why bother coming up with another one” and you’ve impugned my good intentions. I suppose all are fair, given that this is the ‘net, and I should count myself lucky that you haven’t launched into a full out flame war yet. Still, I find it sad that you would resort to ad hominem attacks so quickly.

And Occam, please remember that as an administrator, your posts carry the stamp of the CFI with them. Be careful not to embarass CFI by resorting to logical and ethical fallacies such as ad hominem, lest you make it appear that the I in CFI stands for Insult and not Inquiry.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

I believe if you read my post very carefully, I have not once resorted to an ad hominum comment (well, except for “cute”  smile ).  I suggested that your statements caused me to see a similarity between them and techniques used to set up an attack.

Oh, I’m only a moderator, not an administrator, and I warned Doug when he asked me to become a moderator that I am a crotchety old fud, and a wise ass.  But then that balances out rational, pleasant people like Mckenzievmd and Mriana. 

And, no, I’m not going to answer you’re questions because, as a scientist and a non-theist—that is, a person who seems to have some of the characteristics commonly associated with the each of these sets—I don’t see the questions as germane for discussion.

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 02:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  38
Joined  2007-04-28

Non-participation

Fine, then leave these discussions for people who do think they’re important, and don’t sit there and attack people for asking them. That’s no better than Bill O’Reilly attacking us for asking whether or not there is a god.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 April 2007 02:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

My, my.  Saying that I’m no better than Bill O’Reilly woludn’t be an ad hominum attack, would it?  LOL


Occqam

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 3
1