The Couch

Rant on Religion

Comments on Rant on Religion

Nihil Loc
Senior Member
Avatar

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Oct 16, 2005

Total Topics: 56
Total Comments: 864
#51 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 10/30/09 - 3:02 PM:

Some ideas about religion:

Unwavering commitment to dogma, doctrine, belief echoes a moral lesson from the archaic past. If personal survival depends upon an inherited system of culture, as it may definitely have in a small primitive interdependent community, then it isn't all that difficult to see why blind attachment to rites, communal law and ideology has such a profound affect on the psyche. Change can be, as it was, strictly DANGEROUS!

Mircea Eliade conceived the Gods of myth as archetypal models which sustain the working order of a community, who actually determine what is "real". Myth and religion is the organizing program which helps the ship to function on the ocean of the unknown, so to speak. The social construct and learned patterns of culture becomes the "real," whether for those in the in group or the out group. Even today, to diverge from a traditional or local pattern, whether it be from the expectation of men marrying women, wearing odd clothes, et cetera, elicits belief based discrimination.



Monk2400
Senior Member
Avatar

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Apr 19, 2005

Total Topics: 116
Total Comments: 1518
#52 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 10/30/09 - 5:11 PM:

Some more thouhts...

Zum wrote:

I think that insight, properly understood, is more than a fitting together of puzzle pieces.


What more is there, realistically?

Insight is a synthesis of information. It illuminates connexions that are already there. It is an analytical process.


Zum wrote:

There is a problem with the part about facts and their necessity in religion, and with the use of the term "facts": above, in my earlier post, I refrained from calling them "facts" because I did not want to sound pejorative or satirical. There is no hard evidence for many of the claims of the various religions, though they are compelling stories. Many articles of religious belief are--except to believers--incredible, absurd when placed within the realm of expectation based on empirical observation.


Religion, because it is often encoded in poetry, is a difficult problem for interpretation. Not the least because while it sometimes reveals things that might be facts, it is usually concerned with making proscriptions and prescriptions about how human beings should live. And these are sometimes voiced as commands.

'Thou shall not steal' contains no implicit answer to the question 'why not?' other than an appeal to authority. It assumes the validity of the authority at the outset, and thus the fact of the authority's existence.

Moses parting the Red Sea sounds incredible, if taken literally. But based on an analysis of the text it is debatable what sea was being refered to originally, and what the manner of 'parting' was. So does the narrative describe a historical event? It's difficult to tell.

Other narratives do have a historical foundation. But history itself is nothing more than a cleverly fabricated narrative, no matter who is writing it. We might be able to confirm or deny the Exodus, for example (I believe the consensus is that there is no evidence for it in Egyptian history), but since we really and truly don't know the origin of the narrative, we are only using our best guess at where to look. We may look at hieroglyphs, but is that really the right place to search? It's hard to say definitively.

Plato recounts the story of Atlantis as a historical narrative, based on older stories whose ultimate origins are unknown or forgotten. Does it refer to a factual occurence? It's certainly not implausible, and given what we know about how civilizations rise and fall, and the frequency of catatrophic earth changes, it's likely historical. But how to provide supporting evidence?

The question is, what 'evidence' would suffice to support these claims, these versions of history?

The tomb of Jesus would be great, but there were Jesuses a' plenty in those days, and the likelyhood of finding the 'real' site with, say, some of Jesus's dried blood on a stone, is remote as can be. But so too is any 'evidence' of 99.9% of the world's past population. We know that some people were around, doing stuff, but who were they in particular? Well, we make up stories about them and call it a day.

Historians are always saying 'this evidence suggests...' There is little, if any, truth in History.

So for a more basic fact, like the claim that God created all life in stages, how do we go about seeing whether it holds or doesn't?

A literaly read of a narrative may not be the answer. But insofar as ancient texts present for us a pattern to recognize, the picture can become clearer. Current opinion states that life did in fact arise in stages. The world was made, it was filled with water, it produced dry land, the water-bourne organisms developed and flourished, land born organisms developed and flourished, and, as a johnny-come-lately, humankind developed and multiplied. Genesis doesn't leave much out.

I mean, is it a fact that one day the Buddha sat down and radiated a brilliant light from his forehead? If so, what kind of fact is it? Would a scientist have been able to measure that light? Or is it merely a metaphorical light?

Part of the problem, when looking at ancient religions, is viewing them from our modern context and trying to understand them based on the knowledge paradigms that are presently common to us.

The idea of an advanced race of beings, who some call 'aliens' but need not be extra terrestrial, seems incredible to the average person who has no experience dealing with the unusual or rare. But there is plenty of hard evidence to support that not only do people experience these beings, but there are real, physical phenomena that could be observed and measured (and probably have been).

I don't know if science will eventually vindicate religion, but what we actually know about anything wouldn't fill a tea cup. All it takes is a small, small shift in the way we understand matter and energy and consciousness to go from saying 'that's absurd' to saying 'that's entirely possible'.




Zum wrote:

I am setting that alongside the statement--sorry, can't give credits here, I'll look his name up presently--"I believe because it is absurd." "It" refers to a religion. The thought: everything is absurd, being is arbitrary and absurd, what are we all doing here? Death is beyond absurd. To explain such absurdity; expect something which, to our absurd minds, seems absurd.


Religion, in this sense, is a tool of enlightenment.

In Buddhism this is expressed wonderfully by the Diamond Sutra, which uses a dialectic approach to liberate the mind from resting in one or another polarity. The absurdity of the impossible becomes a base existential facticity that we cannot digest or spit out. It can only be resolved by a transcendence of, well, insight--discovering a epistemological position wherein oppositions are no longer opposed.

I think the only time religion sets out to genuinely deceive people is when its creation is a political act. This we might suspect of Catholicism and Islam. Buddhism, it seems clear, is based on one person's insight, but an insight so profound that it passes beyond subjectivity and reaches, as it were, the archetypal level, the objective level.

And, since many religions are fundamentally practical, not theoretical, you are invited to go see for yourself. The truth of any teaching should be accessible through that teaching's practices. For a tradition like Buddhism that means that if you practice, you will see what the Buddha saw. For something like Christianity, that places the 'proof' in the afterlife, this path of practice revealing truth is problematic.

8)
Monk2400
Senior Member
Avatar

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Apr 19, 2005

Total Topics: 116
Total Comments: 1518
#53 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 10/30/09 - 5:31 PM:

Midnight_Monk wrote:

The only sure path is to find your own path. Its lunacy to place faith in human writ. Or is it??? Is this irrationality, or is it just practical provision? We rely on instruction manuals to tell us how to bake, to build. Can we rely on these ancient texts to tell us how to engage the divine?


I was thinking on this the other day in relation to Genesis. Now in Genesis the first humans are created without an innate sense of values. They are then told not to eat of the tree of kowledge, which will give them awareness of good and evil. Of course they do, and subsequently attain awareness of good and evil. And, we can assume, that all subsequent generations of humans are possess'd of this awareness.

So, if we all have the capacity to identify good and evil, why is God constantly telling us what to do?

It stands to reason that we don't need to refer to a set of rules to know and identify what is good and what is evil. We have the same abilities as the gods do in this respect--namely, we are axiological agents, a source of value in the world (which is value-neutral in itself).

This suggests that laws are not necessarily tied to values, and that the principle rule of law is 'observe and obey'. God doesn't create a law because it is good, he does so to force human beings to behave a certain way. Laws are about controlling human behaviour. And, by following them on appeal to authority, we are abdicating our natural right to determine value ourselves.

In reality, we don't need to refer to ancient texts or to scholars to tell us how to live or what is 'good'. All they can do is tell us what is 'lawful' which is not the same thing at all. Law and good are not equivalent, and it makes you wonder what beings instituted the 'law' in the first place. Breeders, perhaps?

8)

Zum
Senior Member

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 21, 2009

Total Topics: 23
Total Comments: 420
Zum
#54 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 10/30/09 - 6:06 PM:

I would not be so ready to make light of the labors of those in the field of history who have struggled over the centuries to separate real past events from gossip and tall tales...smiling face The difference between objective truth and falsity remains, although it is often difficult to establish what's true.

I can take little exception to your last three paragraphs. Certainly, in some cases, for some people, the process you describe can take place.

I think that a temptation to say anything, do anything inevitably arises when a religious body feels a threat from within or without.

Definitely the appealing aspect of religion is in its practices; and it is indeed possible to do Buddhism without much, or any, doctrinal interference.

About Christianity--one of the Saint Theresas--I think it was the one who lived past age 24--said, "All the way to heaven is heaven."

Nihil Loc--the post of the Eliade material is interesting and topically pertinent.
Nihil Loc
Senior Member
Avatar

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Oct 16, 2005

Total Topics: 56
Total Comments: 864
#55 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 10/31/09 - 1:40 PM:

Monk wrote:
I was thinking on this the other day in relation to Genesis. Now in Genesis the first humans are created without an innate sense of values. They are then told not to eat of the tree of kowledge, which will give them awareness of good and evil. Of course they do, and subsequently attain awareness of good and evil. And, we can assume, that all subsequent generations of humans are possess'd of this awareness.

So, if we all have the capacity to identify good and evil, why is God constantly telling us what to do?


Well we supposedly have the ability to choose between good and evil. The latter must be desirable.

A psychoanalytic approach treats the story of Genesis and the fall as a reflection of the first prohibition of the infant by the mother (the beginning of the awareness of separation). This is where a new orientation toward material ("mater"-ial) world takes place. The mother is likened to the supporting world of the infant through which all infantile whim is fulfilled. Perhaps the suffering or prohibition corresponds with the archetypal beginnings of discrimination (duality of good and evil). The process is inevitable part of everyone's life on many levels.
Zum
Senior Member

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 21, 2009

Total Topics: 23
Total Comments: 420
Zum
#56 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 10/31/09 - 3:40 PM:

Hey, Monk, I just read that, according to the poet Muriel Rukeyser, the universe is composed of stories, not atoms... laughing If she is right, and if all stories are involved in the composition, all stories are true--the way stories are true.
Zum
Senior Member

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 21, 2009

Total Topics: 23
Total Comments: 420
Zum
#57 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 10/31/09 - 8:12 PM:

But what stories have is called "verisimilitude." One could go on with this and maybe construct something for the genre philosophical sci fi.wink

I'm not making light of the previous discussion. Anything substantial can withstand the test of amusement. And speaking of stories, a novel came out a few years ago called The Story of Pi, very atypical. Perhaps you have heard of it: it is the one about the boy who, because of a sea disaster, finds himself in a life skiff with a hyena and a tiger. Before that happens, though, the boy goes, successively, to a Buddhist monk, a Christian priest, and (I think) a representative of the Muslim faith. He takes instruction from all three; he learns how to do all the recommended practices, and thereafter sits, attends Mass, and prays six times daily. Ah, but one day, going to market with his parents, doesn't he encounter the monk coming from one direction, the priest approaching from another, and the representative of the Muslim faith closing in from yet another. Each of the three, in the presence of the boy's stunned parents, congratulates him on his conversion. Then they begin hacking away at each other. When the religious men and the parents press the boy for an explanation of his redundant professions of faith, he says, "I just want to love God."

It's not intuitively obvious (to me) what all this has to do with the life skiff and the beasts, but I have heard plausible explanations from family members: The tiger and the hyena represent political factions and the orientations they require. Pi names and figures out a technique for managing the tiger: you might almost say, he cuts a deal with it. It remains, however, a tiger. There is no negotiating with the hyena.

Maybe Pi needed a superfluity of grace in order to deal with them.
Thinker13
Senior Member
Avatar

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Apr 27, 2009

Total Topics: 357
Total Comments: 3379
#58 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/01/09 - 2:30 AM:

Zum wrote:
Hey, Monk, I just read that, according to the poet Muriel Rukeyser, the universe is composed of stories, not atoms... laughing If she is right, and if all stories are involved in the composition, all stories are true--the way stories are true.



Universe is your own projection.laughing
Zum
Senior Member

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 21, 2009

Total Topics: 23
Total Comments: 420
Zum
#59 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/01/09 - 10:42 PM:

What is this serendipitous link between Forum and the street? In San Rafael, I saw this bumper sticker: GOD IS TOO BIG FOR ONE RELIGION.
smokinpristiformis
child of the stars
Avatar

Usergroup: Moderators
Joined: Apr 20, 2005
Location: Belgium

Total Topics: 74
Total Comments: 1247
#60 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/02/09 - 3:09 AM:

Zum wrote:
Hey, Monk, I just read that, according to the poet Muriel Rukeyser, the universe is composed of stories, not atoms... laughing If she is right, and if all stories are involved in the composition, all stories are true--the way stories are true.



Vivat et floreat Discworld ! smiling face
Zum
Senior Member

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 21, 2009

Total Topics: 23
Total Comments: 420
Zum
#61 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/02/09 - 9:55 AM:

A Facebook friend posted material about extreme unction, the Catholic ritual for the dying, which involves the use of oil (unction) on the body of the moribund. He included the passage from Madame Bouvy in which Emma receives the sacrament. One thing that must surely occur in such cases is the improvement of the priest, who, with each application of the oil, wills a blessing--wills health for the dying person's spirit, wills reconciliation, wills peace.

Zum
Senior Member

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 21, 2009

Total Topics: 23
Total Comments: 420
Zum
#62 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/04/09 - 6:33 PM:

I think that a lot of people begin to practice religion because, though it does not offer the weight that one could wish--not offering certainty--it seems to them heavier than anything else. When I use the term "weight," I'm referring in my mind to Milan Kundera's title "The Unbearable Lightness of Being." I think the phrase alludes to a condition that occurs in these stages: first stage: everything loses meaning. Say, a huge power takes over your country. Say, your only child flunks out of school and begins systemically destroying his life. Second stage: unwilling to pay the dues of suffering, you escape into lalaland, a world with zero grav. There are many ways to do that.

Now a whole culture can become lightweight. When it is like that, some of the acultured find that they are not suited to life as a bubble; they want ballast. They see that religion describes, symbolizes, tries in every way to evoke a realm of seriousness and consequence.

One who undertakes religion in this spirit should--in my view--avoid pretending that the religion has more in the way of certainty--that weighty quality--than it has.

A religion can possess the energy of high aspirations. People will sometimes bring to a church all their best stuff--their love and fidelity, their lust for meaning, their longing for coherence. But the religion still rests on this planet and in this reality.

A friend once told me, "I took my children into a bar, and I saw the weight of what matters to me."

One of you artists should draw it! Andrea and David, six and four years old, fully present with that mild, three hundred sixty degree awareness that little kids can have, standing on a floor so paper flimsy it hardly supports them. The walls keep fading and tentatively re-emerging. In the rear, ghosts mutter. You don't know what they're saying and you really don't care

I am not making the claim that religion is a product only of persons. I'm just examining a particular aspect of it.
Zum
Senior Member

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 21, 2009

Total Topics: 23
Total Comments: 420
Zum
#63 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/06/09 - 3:21 AM:

BUT I do think that persons' intentions, affects and aspirations may have more power than we think. What if THEY are the "church invisible"? If an individual spends his time trying to become solid, transparent (no opposition intended), passionate, harmless and faithful, are he and those he helps directly the only ones who benefit?
Zum
Senior Member

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 21, 2009

Total Topics: 23
Total Comments: 420
Zum
#64 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/06/09 - 3:36 AM:

On Monk's Post #53, back up there: It seems that the Ten Commandments, whether or not obedience to them would make the individual a good person, would, if followed, help create a functional community. Nobody would slander anybody. Everybody would have roughly the same ideas about God. Nobody would covet anybody else's stuff. Everybody would honor parents. Nobody would commit murder. Nobody would mess with anybody else's spouse. There are some others.

The society would not produce good soap operas, but one would have neighbors one could trust.
Monk2400
Senior Member
Avatar

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Apr 19, 2005

Total Topics: 116
Total Comments: 1518
#65 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/06/09 - 12:38 PM:

Zum wrote:
On Monk's Post #53, back up there: It seems that the Ten Commandments, whether or not obedience to them would make the individual a good person, would, if followed, help create a functional community. Nobody would slander anybody. Everybody would have roughly the same ideas about God. Nobody would covet anybody else's stuff. Everybody would honor parents. Nobody would commit murder. Nobody would mess with anybody else's spouse. There are some others.

The society would not produce good soap operas, but one would have neighbors one could trust.


Well, the rules are ambiguous, as the subsequent development of that religion shows. Nor were they sufficient, as the lists of further laws shows. Nor are they self-justifying, since they are presented as commands only without corresponding 'goods' qualifying them. The whole basis of the 10 commandments is that they ARE COMMANDMENTS. God, or some being speaking on his behest, is simply telling us what to do based on his idea of what kind of society he wants to create. IOW, its another measure of control. Islam is even worse. We are told to be obedient like dogs or suffer the whip of the master.

Compare these to the Buddhist 8-fold path, which recommends being 'right' and doing 'right' rather than forbidding doing certain things, which are thence seen as 'wrong'.

They say the golden rule is supposed to encapsulate the 10 commandments. Which makes some sense. People need a fundamental moral value. 'First, do no harm.'

8)
Zum
Senior Member

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 21, 2009

Total Topics: 23
Total Comments: 420
Zum
#66 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/06/09 - 10:23 PM:

Yes.
Thinker13
Senior Member
Avatar

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Apr 27, 2009

Total Topics: 357
Total Comments: 3379
#67 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/07/09 - 9:50 AM:

Zum wrote:
One of you artists should draw it! Andrea and David, six and four years old, fully present with that mild, three hundred sixty degree awareness that little kids can have, standing on a floor so paper flimsy it hardly supports them. The walls keep fading and tentatively re-emerging. In the rear, ghosts mutter. You don't know what they're saying and you really don't care



Nice imagery, Zum.



Thank you.
Zum
Senior Member

Usergroup: Members
Joined: Jan 21, 2009

Total Topics: 23
Total Comments: 420
Zum
#68 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 11/11/09 - 1:58 AM:

Thanks, Thinker.smiling face
Search thread for
Download thread as
  • 0/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5



Sorry, you don't have permission . Log in, or register if you haven't yet.



Acknowledgements:

Couch logo design by Midnight_Monk. The photo hanging above the couch was taken by Paul.

Powered by WSN Forum. Free smileys here.
Special thanks to Maria Cristina, Jesse , Echolist Directory, The Star Online,
Hosting Free Webs, and dmoz.org for referring visitors to this site!

Copyright notice:

Except where noted otherwise, copyright belongs to respective authors
for artwork, photography and text posted in this forum.