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Scintific (?) Definition of Religion
Posted: 10 October 2009 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Hi Gary, you might be right, I’m not that studied when it comes to religions outside the main ones known today. I did like the phrase though when I first read it. Rudolf Bultmann uses it when he compares the Israelite religion to the Greeks in his study of early Christianity.
Now that Asanta brought back the meaning of the thread though I see what you’re after. Sorry, didn’t get it. - I think your definition is fine but it does not allow for the possibility of (a) religion to be true. I suppose you intended that, but that would mean case closed.

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“In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides.” (Heinrich Heine)

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Posted: 12 October 2009 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I just want to offer some affirmation, since I am quite pleased by garythehuman and PLaClair’s views on what religion, and humanist religion, is.  I like to call myself a “religious humanist,” being impressed by the articles in the periodical of the same name, though the term is rare enough that I always have to explain it, and people get the gist more quickly if I just say “secular humanist.”  I might start capitalizing it, too, PLaClair grin.

garythehuman - 02 October 2009 12:19 PM

Under my definition humanism would be a religion where atheism is not.

Aha.  Well said.  Atheism is a doctrine, a component of a metanarrative.  Religion goes much deeper than doctrines or metanarratives.

One thing I have observed about my fellow humanists is that they seem to have no understanding that the activity by the religious right in the US draws its support from people who are reacting to what the Marxists call alienation. What Buster Keaton was addressing this in “Rage Against the Machine,”  To many Humanists simply reject these people as superstitious no nothings with no thought or analysis given to why they are reacting to society the way they are

Amen!  When I sit down with fellow humanists, there’s often a disconnect.  My experience growing up in religion—er, rather, theism—was very positive.  I just decided it was wrong, and a bit shallow.  Many of my comrades, however, are quite bitter about “religion,” and draw shallow caricatures of it which, while probably accurate in many scenarios, do not at all apply to what I experienced.  Religion is a human thing—and as such comes with human flaws, but also human excellence.

I do not think that my fellow Humanists have given much the extreme individualism that they seem to be supporting to the point where we are required to discuss the excesses of libertarianism in Free Inquiry (see editiorial by Kurtz in the current Free Inquiry.)

That’s a very interesting point—I’d never given much thought to the correlation between Humanism and disestablishmentarianism, leastwise not in so many words.  I’ll have to mull on that for a while.

The fundamentalists are looking for answers to this “family value” problem and if they find a workable answer before we do they are going to win the long term battle for how our society defines itself.

I like that example—religion as a personal/family-level social philosophy.  I only hope my form of Humanism becomes developed enough by the time I have children to play the same positive role my parents’ religion did for me.  A set of vague affirmations of “love” and “tolerance” are a step removed from practical religion and the pursuit of excellence: the sort of aphorisms and proverbs that Christ, Krishna, and the Buddha could repeat again and again so that they became a formative factor in their follower’s attitude and behavior.  I’m a Humanist because I’m skeptical and like to establish things before I tout them—which means I’m slow to construct a list of proverbs I’m willing to commit to.

Anyway, thanks guys.  My sister recently commented that she felt like the Freethinker Society at University of Northern Iowa was really a “religion haters” society (and their recent stunts involving literal soap boxes and belligerent anti-God speeches sure reinforce the image).  It makes me feel more at home with the CFI, which I sometimes fear falls to the same negative attitudes, when I see people express a deeper appreciation for what religion is and means.

As a member at my local UU congregation likes to say: “I’m a born-again, militant, evangelical agnostic.”

Siggy

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” —Attributed to Philo of Alexandria

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Posted: 13 October 2009 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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MIke D

I think your definition is fine but it does not allow for the possibility of (a) religion to be true

I think that depends on what you mean by true.  IMO. a religion can be hlepful or harmful or both dependeing on its what actions it takes in the context that it exists in.  The particular theology means little in the real world.

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Gary the Human

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

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Posted: 13 October 2009 06:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Siggy:

My sister recently commented that she felt like the Freethinker Society at University of Northern Iowa was really a “religion haters” society (and their recent stunts involving literal soap boxes and belligerent anti-God speeches sure reinforce the image).  It makes me feel more at home with the CFI, which I sometimes fear falls to the same negative attitudes, when I see people express a deeper appreciation for what religion is and means

.

These negative attitudes are a major weakness of the overall Humanist movement.  As aways it is much easier to make fun of and tear down other peoples beliefs than it is to compete with them in building a worldview and a culture that meets and helps solves the problems of human existence.

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

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Posted: 17 October 2009 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Hello Gary,

By “true” I mean, using the best definition I ever heard: “that which corresponds to reality as perceived by God”. Of course this is a Christian or theistic description but without the “by God” part you’d have to ask, as perceived by who? Interesting question but I’m not a philosopher so this is a little too far up there for me. The description is, at least to me, the best I’ve come across so far. - But you are right, truth or correct theology does mean little in the real world. To some extend I think it might also be because certain definitions or theological “truths” are very far removed from reality and maybe even not true at all because of this. That’s why I personally like to read theologians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth who lived in and through terrible times and thereby kind of strip their thinking of everything unneccessary.

Regarding the comment from Siggy, I’ve also come to this website because I want to learn something from “free thinking” people. Free thinking as in actual free thinking, meaning open to all considerations not as in “free thinking” as another definition of religionless thinking. I am, for example, interested in the question whether God exists or not and I am neither particularly interested in finding “proof” that he, she or it does, nor that he, she or it doesn’t. I would be fine with either conclusion. Either conclusion will, however, affect every part of my life. - I do believe in God, in the Christian God, but when I consider opposing views I am not doing so wanting to hear them to leave religion behind, neither am I trying to see their faulty logic and engage in apologetics. I think fundamentalist Christians or theists, unless humbly convinced and acting thus of course, I mean the loud ones, are just as hampered in their inquiry as convinced naturalists are. Nobody is without bias of course but it is good to know one’s bias when evaluating things.

Hey, have a good weekend!

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“In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides.” (Heinrich Heine)

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Posted: 17 October 2009 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Hi Garythehuman, man did you pick a tough topic. I did a little research and found a few definitions, some of which contradict each other. Anyway, I hope you can use this some how; maybe to develop a universal definition. Good Luck.

Hubert schoemaker defines religion
The essence of religion is absolute dependence

Rudolph Otto’s
Religion grows out of the experience of the holy. Religion proper starts only when feelings prompted by the predisposition for religious experience are no longer projected on to things out there in the natural world, but are accounted for in terms of gods. From then on the progress of religion is a matter of the gradual refinement of people’s understanding of their experience of the divine, till the culmination in Christianity.

Alford Whitehead
Religion is what a person does with his solitariness.

And for the opposite view

Neil Durkheim
Religion is a collective social reality. (Religion is the life of the group.)

Immanuel Kant

The recognition of all our duties a divine command.

John Dewey

Religion is any activity that is motivated by an ideal, against obstacles because of the idea’s value.

Paul Tillich

Religion is being grasped by an ultimate concern that gives meaning to a life.

For the negative view

Sigmund Freud

Religion is an expression of underlying psychological neuroses and distress. At various points in his writings, he suggested that religion was an attempt to control the Oedipal complex, a means of giving structure to social groups, wish fulfillment, an infantile delusion, and an attempt to control the outside world.

Karl Marx

“Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature. The opium of the people”
(Religion is just an addictive agent to keep people in line.)

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Posted: 17 October 2009 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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mgreer

Hi Garythehuman, man did you pick a tough topic. I did a little research and found a few definitions, some of which contradict each other. Anyway, I hope you can use this some how; maybe to develop a universal definition. Good Luck

Thanks I had some of those, but most I did not.

BTW: Neil Durkheim: unless you know of another Durkeim I believe this is Emile.  What I am studing is religion’s role in society and what uses it can severe for both indiviuals and groups within that society.

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Posted: 17 October 2009 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Hi garythehuman, I missed posted my reply earlier and I’m kind of glad I did, because it seemed to come off hostile. However, this was not my intent. I am interested in this topic and was just trying to find out the direction you were taking with it. If it seemed hostile. It was because of a lack on my part to convey my question properly and not any emotional reaction. I am sorry and hope to find out more about this topic
Thx mgreer

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Posted: 18 October 2009 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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mgreer:\


If it seemed hostile. It was because of a lack on my part to convey my question properly and not any emotional reaction. I am sorry and hope to find out more about this topic.


No problem, I didn’t pick up any hostility.  I do find the the study of religion as a social artifact, for lack of a better word, intreserting.

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Posted: 23 October 2009 06:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Hmm, either I’m not understanding the question, or I am approaching it from a different angle. My contribution would be the four functions of myth as defined by Joseph Campbell in the “Power of Myth” series

1.  Opening the world to the dimension of mystery
2.  Cosmological. Seeing the mystery as manifest through all things. You are always addressing the mystery.
3.  Sociological. Validating and maintaining society (this is currently dominating).
    a.  Ethical laws
    b.  Behavior and values
4.  Pedagogical. How to live as a human life under any circumstances

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Posted: 24 October 2009 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Lausten

Hmm, either I’m not understanding the question, or I am approaching it from a different angle. My contribution would be the four functions of myth as defined by Joseph Campbell in the “Power of Myth” series

1.  Opening the world to the dimension of mystery
2.  Cosmological. Seeing the mystery as manifest through all things. You are always addressing the mystery.
3.  Sociological. Validating and maintaining society (this is currently dominating).
    a.  Ethical laws
    b.  Behavior and values
4.  Pedagogical. How to live as a human life under any circumstances

Campbell is still on my ‘To read” list.

Basically No. 3 plus some of No. 4 is what I am studying.

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