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Reason to hold onto Religion

 
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 01:27 pm
Just a quick thought... but I thought it may be of some interest...

Why people hold onto religion, even if they actually encounter something which strongly debunks all or part of their system, or simply entertain the thought that what they adhere might be at least partially false...

My personal experience as an Evangelical Christian: Fear. Fear that to 'think outside the box' would be either sinful, or (a bit later on) pull my 'foundation out from under me. There is security within a well knit system of beliefs. I will say that I am happy that I took the dive... but there is a part of me that misses the 'certainty' I used to possess.... I took the red pill, and the rabbit hole has no bottom in sight....
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Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 05:17 pm
@Phredderikk,
Why do people hold onto fundamentalism? Fear, social pressure, conditioning, ect.

But the question itself, I think, is poorly phrased. "Why do people hold onto religion?" as if religion was not natural to humans. As if we were clinging to some relic of the past that could just as easily be let go of.

Religion/spirituality is a natural aspect of human thought and experience. We have always had religion/spirituality and always will, even as the language changes. And the language will change, as the language has done in all times. Religion/spiritual evolves to meet the ever changing human circumstances, but the essential need for religion/spirituality in human life is a constant.
Phredderikk
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 08:46 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;80254 wrote:
Why do people hold onto fundamentalism? Fear, social pressure, conditioning, ect.

But the question itself, I think, is poorly phrased. "Why do people hold onto religion?" as if religion was not natural to humans. As if we were clinging to some relic of the past that could just as easily be let go of.

Religion/spirituality is a natural aspect of human thought and experience. We have always had religion/spirituality and always will, even as the language changes. And the language will change, as the language has done in all times. Religion/spiritual evolves to meet the ever changing human circumstances, but the essential need for religion/spirituality in human life is a constant.


Thanks for the insight... very true... I suppose the it is more of a question of holding onto, as you well stated, 'fundamentalism' (not necessarily current Christian) while the changing circumstances in society at large are moving beyond... kinda like holding on to a geocentric view of the cosmos even though the evidence against it is enormous...
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prothero
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 08:54 pm
@Phredderikk,
Religion is a constant feature of human culture and human societies. Religions change as our understanding of the world changes. Religion IMV stems from the existential challenge of being a self reflective creature seeking meaning and value in a hostile universe and looking forward to inevitable demise. Freud" God is not your parent and the world is not a nursery".

The supernatural god of classical western theism (omnipotence, omniscience) and the claims of biblical literalists do not seem compatible with the dominant worldviews of the modern age. On the other hand, the more modest claims of pantheism or panentheism; of a god who works through natural process and human history, the view of the bible and other sacred scripture as addressing the timeless problems and concerns of human existence: do not seem incompatible with taking a scientific approach to the material aspects of our reality and a spiritual approach to the realm of subjective experience, mental perception, aesthetics and values.

I think the atheistic materialistic mechanistic deterministic view of the universe is in fundamental error. Science is a marvelous tool for understanding, predicting and manipulating the material aspects of "reality". The problem is that life (experience) as we know it is not confined to material (objective) reality. Scientism: the notion that only science can determine what is "true" and what is "real" essentially eliminates aesthetic and ethical concerns (subjective truth) from the realm of truth and reality.. It is precisely these aesthetic and ethical concerns which constitute "value" as humans perceive it. Science thus gives us only a partial and incomplete picture of reality as we experience and perceive it. The assertion that science will eventually explain everything including mind and perceptive awareness is a philosophical speculation and metaphysical assumption of the highest order (perhaps even exceeding the claims of some religions).

Now science has not shown that "free will" is an illusion, that your mind lacks any degree of agency over your body: that the universe is accidental or purposeless, that morals and values are entirely arbitrary or relative, or that mind is just a rare emergent property of complex arrangements of matter. In fact, modern science, if anything, brings into question the notion that the universe in all aspects behaves like a deterministic machine. Although one may embrace materialistic notions in theory or discussion; we all explicitly reject them in the process of living and evaluating our experience. We all behave as if we have free will, agency, moral responsibility, the future is open, there are other minds, there is an external reality, and there is ultimate meaning and purpose to life. Why one would willingly (even eagerly) embrace a metaphysical theory which one then explicitly rejects in living puzzles me?

There is a great deal missing from the scientific explanation of human experience. In my view there is no satisfactory scientific or rational explanation of music, art, literature, poetry, love, or any other human experience in the realm of aesthetics and values. In those realms religion of one kind or another rules. Humans find meaning and purpose (value) in precisely those areas of experience (aesthetics and ethics) that science fails to address.


In the end, however, it is shared values, not shared metaphysics, which determine who your allies in the world are.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 10:11 pm
@prothero,
We must also remember that fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon. Fundamentalist seem to present their perspective as classical, as traditional, but this is not the case.
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hammersklavier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 06:57 pm
@Phredderikk,
But remember, also, DT, that the intolerance inherent in the fundamentalist viewpoint is a very ancient Christian phenomenon; it's what allowed the Christian orthodoxy to develop--they were too intolerant of variant well-thought-out opinions.

Most of the world has had a great deal of religious tolerance throughout human history; the main exceptions are 1) medieval Europe, under the purview of an all-powerful church, 2) Evangelism in the United States (whose claims of religious exclusivism are nettlesome, to say the least, and derived from the medieval orthodoxy), and 3) (parts of the) modern day Middle East, although the roots of fundamentalism and intolerance in Islam are extremely puzzling to me, as I did not grow up with a Muslim background. Remember, the various pagan sects of the Roman Empire were extremely tolerant of one another, as in Hinduism & Buddhism & Sikhism & Jainism & Islam etc. in India and Confucianism & Taoism & Buddhism & Shintoism in the Far East.

Perhaps the question we should really be asking is, 'What is the roots of fundamentalist intolerance? How did it come about?'
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 07:39 pm
@hammersklavier,
hammersklavier;80437 wrote:
But remember, also, DT, that the intolerance inherent in the fundamentalist viewpoint is a very ancient Christian phenomenon; it's what allowed the Christian orthodoxy to develop--they were too intolerant of variant well-thought-out opinions.


Ah, this is quite true. But I think we should add some context: the ancient intolerance of Christianity was not something that permeated Christian society - the intolerance appeared at the top of Church hierarchy once positions, such as the Bishopric of Alexandria, acquired power and wealth. Arius, for example, could tolerate different opinions, but Athanasius could not suffer that man's disagreement and willingness to only debate and discuss.

hammersklavier;80437 wrote:
and 3) (parts of the) modern day Middle East, although the roots of fundamentalism and intolerance in Islam are extremely puzzling to me, as I did not grow up with a Muslim background.


Each nation has it's peculiar history that gives rise to Islamic fundamentalism, which, as you suggest, appears as a wildly strange phenomenon if one is even vaguely familiar with Muslim history prior to the modern age. But, we can generalize by saying that Islamic fundamentalism is mostly the result of colonialism and western influence - in Egypt, after independence, governments tried to bring the country into the industrial age and in step with western secular political philosophy, but the attempted changes were made in radical, sweeping alterations of society which caused that natural backlash. The stories of these countries follow that same basic pattern, and from these nations come the most noted Muslim leaders who, in turn, influence Muslims worldwide. In Iraq, for example, colonialism suppressed Muslim education - the result was that the only scholars were extremely radical, and that radical community allowed fundamentalism to spring up.

hammersklavier;80437 wrote:
Perhaps the question we should really be asking is, 'What is the roots of fundamentalist intolerance? How did it come about?'


As I said, each country will have a unique history. But there is a pattern to be seen in all fundamentalist developments the world over: radical social change and aggressive handling of that change by some of the people who promote said change.

In the US, for example, with the advent of Higher Criticism many of the proponents of that study were rather nasty toward the larger Christian population. This engendered distrust of the movement as a whole. With evolution, some proponents ridiculed Christianity as outdated and an unintelligent faith, which furthered the divide. With the fundamentalist resurgence of the 1960's, many counter-culture elements were disrespectful of traditional elements in aggressive and spiteful ways. It is one thing to be radical, but quite another to be spiteful and cruel.

Essentially, I think, fundamentalism is the result of social change being led in part by people who are disrespectful of tradition. If we want healthy social change, without the disabling backlash of people who are ridiculed and backed into a corner, the elements of change need to be respectful of tradition.

But even when people are respectful, a backlash will occur. We see this today in the US with the Obama administration - people, out of anger and frustration rather than evidence or good sense, claim that Obama has not evinced that he is truly a US citizen. So there will always be a backlash when we have change, but when we are respectful, as Mr. Obama tends to be, that backlash will be less significant and have a shorter life span.
0 Replies
 
Smiley451
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 09:06 pm
@hammersklavier,
hammersklavier;80437 wrote:
But remember, also, DT, that the intolerance inherent in the fundamentalist viewpoint is a very ancient Christian phenomenon; it's what allowed the Christian orthodoxy to develop--they were too intolerant of variant well-thought-out opinions.

Perhaps the question we should really be asking is, 'What is the roots of fundamentalist intolerance? How did it come about?'

Well, I think I may have an acceptable answer to that.
Originally, Christianity was quite peaceful and a very powerful movement. It started in the Roman Empire, and the Roman emperors very rarely supported it (the only one I can think of is Constantine, but I'm sure there were a few others). The first-generation Christians were subject to extreme punishments and horrible tortures. However, in spite of this, the Christian religion flourished, especially in Asia Minor (which is remarkable, because that was a very pagan area before Christianity).
However, once the Roman Empire fell is when Christianity began to truly bloom. Obviously whenever a strong and powerful entity is destroyed, a time of chaos ensues. The government and policing that Rome provided was gone, and so things became more violent.
Here, I think, is the important time.
Christianity was held back by Rome. Once Rome fell, Christianity was allowed to grow. Upon the fall of Rome, the lands became more lawless and violent. So Christianity "grew up" in a violent time.

Obviously that's not the only thing that made Christianity so barbaric, but I think that it's something to take note of.
0 Replies
 
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 09:54 pm
@Phredderikk,
Phredderikk;80217 wrote:
Just a quick thought... but I thought it may be of some interest...

Why people hold onto religion, even if they actually encounter something which strongly debunks all or part of their system, or simply entertain the thought that what they adhere might be at least partially false...

My personal experience as an Evangelical Christian: Fear. Fear that to 'think outside the box' would be either sinful, or (a bit later on) pull my 'foundation out from under me. There is security within a well knit system of beliefs. I will say that I am happy that I took the dive... but there is a part of me that misses the 'certainty' I used to possess.... I took the red pill, and the rabbit hole has no bottom in sight....


Hi,

I suspect that the spiritual aspect of religion is but one reason people attend a church. In talking to friends, there may be other reasons ranging from friendships, social affairs, respect for family traditions, and even economic reasons.

Religion is a group of people, who come together for a wide variety of religions, and I guess when the reason no longer exists, whatever reason that might be, they leave.

Rich
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 11:21 pm
@richrf,
Smiley - Constantine converted the empire to Christianity, and Rome remained a Christian state until its fall. When Rome was sacked in 451 (that date need double checking), many pagans blamed the conversion to Christianity and the ban on worshiping the old Gods.

The Church, the Bishop of Rome's (the Pope) authority, official canon, the Nicean Creed - all of this occurred while Rome was a Christian state. Christianity was in full bloom long before Rome fell. Christianity was not held back by Rome, not after Christianity became the state religion - it was the Roman state that made Christianity such a powerful political force.
Smiley451
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 01:28 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;80471 wrote:
Smiley - Constantine converted the empire to Christianity, and Rome remained a Christian state until its fall. When Rome was sacked in 451 (that date need double checking), many pagans blamed the conversion to Christianity and the ban on worshiping the old Gods.

The Church, the Bishop of Rome's (the Pope) authority, official canon, the Nicean Creed - all of this occurred while Rome was a Christian state. Christianity was in full bloom long before Rome fell. Christianity was not held back by Rome, not after Christianity became the state religion - it was the Roman state that made Christianity such a powerful political force.


A word to the wise is infuriating...
:bigsmile:
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 01:35 am
@Smiley451,
A bit of wisdom (heheh) from that post-modern freak Thompson.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jul, 2009 02:50 am
@Phredderikk,
also consider that 'religion' is not a monolithic block of homogenous substance. Really it has been used to cover all kinds of things from the most grotesque ancient blood sacrifice rituals up to the most subtle refinements of human sensibility. A lot gets swept into the term and then people make these blanket statements 'religion is this' or 'religion says that'. Say what?

I personally recognise a distinction between 'inner practise' and 'institutionalised religion'. This is the difference between 'religion' and 'spirituality'. 'Religion' in this case is adherence to a institutionally-defined set of beliefs (and usually liturgy, behaviours, etc.) - evangelicalism is often like this. Whereas spirituality is the 'individual search for meaning' which may lead towards or away from the former.

In my case, the individual search for meaning has given me a lot more tolerance and acceptance of institutional religion, because I am more sympathetic to their understanding (even if I don't share it).

In any case, you can have a relationship with Diety, however you understand it, without any mediation by the Church, if you wish.
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