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What is religion?
Posted: 01 November 2007 01:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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garythehuman - 26 October 2007 05:46 PM

Since most of us in this forum altough not religious ourselves are interested in Religion and how it affects society, I think a discussion of what religion actually is might be interesting.

Religion is a word, dude.  It means what ever the person using the word intends it to mean.  Duh?

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Posted: 01 November 2007 07:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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FredFlash - 01 November 2007 01:57 PM

Religion is a word, dude.  It means what ever the person using the word intends it to mean.  Duh?

I had been trying to decide how young you were.  This completely childish statement puts you at about thirteen.  “duh” certainly fits you.  The major function of words is to communicate, and that requires agreement between the one who uses the words and the one who receives them as to the meaning.  Otherwise there is only gibberish, not intelligible transfer of information.  They cannot “mean whatever the person using it intends it to mean” if one has any hope of communicating with others.

Your incessant use of “dude” and “duh” increases the likelihood of you being a rather immature child.

Occam

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Posted: 02 November 2007 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Fascinating how quick you are to respond with silly posts about your fairytale rules to put everyone in or out of the Baptist faith, but how you haven’t made any comment to my above post to defend yourself.

Occam

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Posted: 07 November 2007 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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FredFlash - 01 November 2007 01:57 PM
garythehuman - 26 October 2007 05:46 PM

Since most of us in this forum altough not religious ourselves are interested in Religion and how it affects society, I think a discussion of what religion actually is might be interesting.

Religion is a word, dude.  It means what ever the person using the word intends it to mean.  Duh?

Yeah, that’s good science. 

Gary

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Posted: 07 November 2007 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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mckenzievmd - 27 October 2007 12:32 AM

HERE is an old thread on the topic. In that one I suggetsed the following, which I still think is a reasonable starting point:

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.

Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you before this.  Life has been a little hectic. I also tend to over schdule myself. Too many intrests.  Plus I had surgery on my knee yesterday (and am still very sore.)

Definitions are necessary or we can’t communicate, they can never be absolute as things are always changing and we are always learning more (hopefully).  I don’t know if the supernatural is an absolute neccesity for religion although most do have supernatural elements.  Keep in mind that to me the most interesting and important thing about religion is its influence on human society and how it enables various groups within society to influence and control their surroundings.


This weeks issue of the Economist (Nov 3rd) has a highly informative special report on Religion and Public Life, about 23 pages, definately worth reading for those who are intertested in this topic.

Gary

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Posted: 07 November 2007 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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PLaClair - 27 October 2007 01:46 PM

For me, religion is the human attempt to bring all things together into a coherent whole. This can be applied on any level: individual, interpersonal and to our understanding of nature, i.e., all things. It can also be applied to any and all of our endeavors throughout all three domains of being, which are thought, emotion and action. To be truly religious, it must encompass all of these, in short it must encompass all.

I consider myself a deeply religious person because I am constantly engaged in the religious pursuit. To make the obvious point explicit, looking at religion this way completely eliminates any conflict between science and religion. It also substantially eliminates the dogmatism that so often characterizes so-called religions (which aren’t really religious if you think about it in terms of this definition), because it focuses on the pursuit with a humility that there are plenty of things we don’t know. In other words, religion is a constant pursuit, not a set of final answers; as with science (the new religion will employ the scientific method), the truths of this kind of religion are all provisional.

The fact that the human religious quest has gone horribly and tragically awry does not diminish the beauty, power and importance of the endeavor. In practical terms for us non-theists, I do not believe we will ever succeed socially and culturally until we come to this understanding of what religion can be, and for some of us, already is.

I don’t understand why this isn’t Humanism 101. It’s very frustrating to me that it isn’t.


For me, religion is the human attempt to bring all things together into a coherent whole. This can be applied on any level: individual, interpersonal and to our understanding of nature.

I don’t disagree with what you are saying, however I think that it may be to limiting in that it does not take into account that religion is not a matter for a single individual.  I is IMO by its very nature a social activity involving groups of people.
One major blindspot that I think secular-humanists have is that they do not recognize the role religious groups have in dealing with alienation, which in my mind is one of the greatest ills that is prevalent in our post enlightenment society.  We have greatly increased individual freedoms in some areas, but there is a cost to this that we do not want to recognize.

Gary

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Posted: 07 November 2007 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Gary,

For me, religion is the human attempt to bring all things together into a coherent whole.

This is so broad as to be applicable to a lot fo things I wouldn’t think of as religion. Obviously, science triues to do this, though more slowly and with a great deal more care and humility than religion. So does philosophy often. Any set of ideas that try to establish the nature of things and the place of human beings in the universe could fit this definition, but I think the differences between religion, science, philosophy, etc are profound and significant.

Clearly, the social function of religion is a huge part of the institution for many people (though don’t forget most religions have a history of hermits and isolated individual contemplation or prayer as well, so they are not necessarily social institutions). We’ve had many discussions here about how secular humanists can create or enjoy the social functions of religion without belief in the supernatural, so I don’t think it’s that we don’t recognize this role for religion, we just don’t see the good as sufficient to justify the harm so we’d like to find other ways to get these benefits.

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Posted: 07 November 2007 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Mriana - 30 October 2007 07:46 PM

Yes, but Gary, there are Church of God and Free Methodists (FM), in my family, who believe so strongly in their beliefs that they’d sooner go into a deep depression to find out a loved one does not believe. They also pound that person with religion too and re-enact the inquisition to make them recant.  They feel it is their duty to make sure people don’t go to hell, esp family.  rolleyes  How do you referee THAT?! It becomes sickening after a while and we just have to avoid them- until someone in the family dies, then they have the minister preach “The Path to Salvation” at the funeral in hopes to “save” everyone present.  rolleyes  They think that sermon is better than the invention of sliced bread.  Now mind you, they don’t understand how I could have no concept of their “salvation” bit.  Truth is, I’m respectful (maybe too respectful) of those in my family in their 60s and older as to not disabuse them of their beliefs, at least avoid doing that if at all possible.  There sometimes comes a point in their bashing that I can’t.

They truly believe there is an afterlife and they get extremely scared, I’d dare say even psychotically scared, of themselves or family not going to heaven.  Don’t get me started on religion being a symptom of mental illness.  I’m telling you, It becomes sickening after a while and we just have to avoid them- until someone in the family dies, then they have the minister preach “The Path to Salvation” at the funeral in hopes to “save” everyone presen(“satan has been unleashed in this world”).  Thing is, suicide is a sin, so they have to indure this life until the “Good Lord calls them Home”.  Which reminds me, they have a hymn called, “This Is Not My Home”.  rolleyes  It’s bizzar.

The way I see it, I’m coming back as roses.  :D My son, a professed Buddhist, rolled his eyes and said, “I don’t think it works like that.”  I said, “It does if you cremate me and put my ashes in a rose garden.”  LOL  Yeah, I sort of tease him about his afterlife beliefs.  I’m so terrible.  wink

BTW, are you doing taxes for free this coming Tax season?  LOL


>>It becomes sickening after a while and we just have to avoid them- until someone in the family dies, then they have the minister preach “The Path to Salvation” at the funeral in hopes to “save” everyone present.


In my experience it happens at funerals, weddings also.  Some people just like to argue if it wasn’t mythology it would be something else.  Got a favorite politician?

>>satan has been unleashed in this world.<<  In many ways Satan has, but not in the way true believers think.  I think many rank & file believers resort to religion is that it gives them an outlet for their fustration in not being in control of thier personal world.  While it may be a cliche to say the world is rapidlly changing, it is a truism A resort to religion is often an answer to this.  After all Christianity itself began as a reaction among the Jews in ancient Palestein to the growth of Greek ideas and customs broght to the area first by the heirs of Alexander and then the Romans.  Wm Jennigs Bryan was not only the attorney for the state in the Scopes trail, but also the Populist party’s Presidential candiate based upon his fightsa on behalf of the family farmer against the railroads.


>>BTW, are you doing taxes for free this coming Tax season<<  I do taxes all year around, actually it is an interesting job, most of the time anyway,  I get to talk to all kinds of people.  But free no even the tax man has bills to pay.  mad I actually used to work in the volunteer program but now we are normally working overtime during the tax season so I am not able to.

>>The way I see it, I’m coming back as roses<<  Roses are to high maintaince for me, let the bugs have them :grin:

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Posted: 07 November 2007 04:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Occam - 31 October 2007 03:19 AM

religious control that helped the revolution occur.

While this was sort of off the subject, I certainly agree that science could be taught far better in schools than it is.  I credit my success in science to two friends and I becoming very interested in chemistry and electronics well before we were exposed to them in school.  We did our own experiments, made a lot of mistakes, but came to think about the real world within the framework of science.  Of course, were I in school today, doing what I did then, I’m sure I’d be locked up as a terrorist.  (Even though they were beautiful fireworks, only guys who deserved it got a drop or two of skunk odor in their lockers, and not too many people got knocked on their rear when they grabbed a door knob that was hooked to a high-voltage, low amperage Ford coil.) 

But that goes for everything we are taught.  There is so much information that they feel must be crammed into us, there are so many kids, and there are so few teachers they can afford with the tight budgets that everyone is stuck with rote and cookie cutter education.  Although I learned the rules of English, I didn’t learn to write well until after my academic education.  I would have found philosophy boring and meaningless had I taken classes as an undergraduate.  When I realized that I needed to express myself more clearly, I went back and learned what English and writing were all about.  When I heard some dumb philosophical arguments I realized I had better get some ammunition, so I started reading, and was astounded.  Then I took courses and had a ball because I had developed the understanding of where it fit in my psychological world.

Occam

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>>that everyone is stuck with rote and cookie cutter education.<<  That is the main problem, it also because we do not expect teachers to have any experience in the world outside the academic bureauarcy.  Among other things.


>>Although I learned the rules of English, I didn’t learn to write well until after my academic education<<  After 12 years of high scholl and two years of college I ended up in the militaru.  There I finaly learned my basic writing skills in a two hour couse in how to fill out police reports. :tongue:

>>so I started reading, and was astounded.  Then I took courses and had a ball because I had developed the understanding of where it fit in my psychological world.<<  I have been a complusive reader since I found comic books in the summer betwwen 3rd & 4th grades.  Unfortunately for my teachers I wasn’t very often interested in what they were doling out as education. :ohoh:

Gary

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Posted: 07 November 2007 04:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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skepticdave - 01 November 2007 01:55 AM

Before there was “religion” there were our ancient ancestors carving the Venus of Willendorf out of rocks over 22,000 years ago and some similar artifacts predate that according to paleontology and they’re all deified females.

No wonder, seeing as how females give birth to humans, our ancient ancient ancestors would’ve deified a female as giving birth to the cosmos…......or existence as it were. Where it went from there is determined by socio-environmental effects of civilization due to the dawn of agriculture and “class struggle’ instead of hunting and gathering in which all in the familial band were equal.

Dominant misogynistic males who suffered from “womb envy” would not be satisfied with only a “female” author of existence so animism and polytheism took root in ancient Mesopotamian- Egyptian beliefs and more and more male “gods” were invented to take credit for “existence” and all causes.

Dave:

If you haven’t already gotten to Barbra Ehrenreich’s “Dancing in the Streets” I think you may find it an interesting read.

>>No wonder, seeing as how females give birth to humans, our ancient ancient ancestors would’ve deified a female as giving birth to the cosmos<<  There may be more to it than this.  (Damit, no lustful grin in our simley faces.)

Gary

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