A Defense of Religion

Discussion in 'Religion, Beliefs and Spirituality' started by Postal Blowfish, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. #1 Postal Blowfish, Sep 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2010
    In the beginning, let us suppose there was god and then came the universal atom. There was an explosion and a lot of coming together, solar furnaces lighting and burning out over ages until primates on a verdant rock in the backwoods of the universe discovered the existence of the divine. In the ages that followed this discovery, the discovery of god drove the innovation of the written language as its primary purpose. Many of the most cynical people I've spoken to credit religion with terrorism and atrocity, but it is my position that religion is not to blame for those things.

    Consider for a moment the psychological concept of conditioning, which is concerned with concepts like stimulus-response and reinforcement. If we now consider the characteristics of evil, we can reason something interesting about the human condition. It would be easy to take what is not mine, but usually wrong. Yet I am rewarded, and someone else is punished. If I give to someone in charity, I make a sacrifice and someone else gains. It's as if I have reversed the behavior of stealing and punished myself. Is it not true, then, that psychology would on brief examination conclude that human beings are conditioned toward the easier, more rewarding behavior? It is only in being punished for having done no wrong that we begin to understand the merits of good deeds, otherwise humanity appears to be conditioned toward evil.

    A society where selfishness is embraced would be a society in which every member of is free to thin the herd. I consider such a situation unsustainable. It is reasonable to me that religion exists partly to educate the people on the merit of good deeds. Rules were needed and an authority was needed to enforce them. Who made that determination: god or man? We know from scripture that man wrote it down and that most of the logic that suggests it was divinely inspired is circular in nature. If society is changed from selfishness toward good deeds, a new problem emerges: it becomes larger and larger. This appears to be another purpose for religion: establish lasting control over the populace and create a source of authority. This raises a big question: was it god's idea, or was god an invention of ancient society?

    There are plenty of people who claim to be spiritual but not religious. This implies that they are aware of something supernatural, but not because of religious teaching. I'm sure many of the people who make this claim don't understand the implication, but I refuse to believe they all have the same failing. The idea of god is an easy one to dismiss as a delusion of some kind, but the existence of all those people and so many different religions complicates things. Do they sense something I can't? I spent the last few months engaging such people in discussion, trying to locate the origin of their spirituality. I'm disappointed to say that most of them offered fallacies or bravado in response. My questions appear to be received as a threat and it's hard to conclude that would be the case in persons who are committed to their beliefs. There has been a common thread to those beliefs, however: the answer is "unknowable."

    This poses a problem. It starts as a semantic problem: how can something that is clearly already known by someone be unknowable? It appears to be an idea designed to excuse the believer from the duty of asking questions. Can there be something "real" that can never be "known?" Accepted definitions of "real" call for verifiable existence, which suggests that the answer can only be that there can be nothing real that can never be known. I would propose to them that they have experienced something internally that may or may not be some kind of a delusion and that whatever it is, it must be a knowable thing if it is in fact real. More simply: if we grant that it is not a delusion, we must concede the idea that it can never be known by anyone. Therefore, I must continue attempting to discern the true nature of the spiritual. The truth continues to be that spirituality arose in many places at different times and that religion is not necessary for an understanding of it.

    Today, religion ultimately exists as something of a crutch in most cases. It does not encourage us to ask questions, but instead insists the answers are written down for all to see. Most of the original scripture designed for ancient cultures is now irrelevant, but it remains in the scripture regardless of that. In the modern age, religion is sometimes used to manipulate voters into supporting oppressive social policy and other times used to radicalize the angry and aggrieved into violent instruments of hateful destruction. Of course, that is unfortunately not news; it has happened before. Is religion the root cause of that destruction? When the terrorist blows himself up in the name of his god and murders innocents, it is most likely because he is angry about some wrong and committed to retribution. In his case, religion was not the cause. When the evangelist appears at funerals to protest the (irrelevant, at that point) sexuality of the dead, it is plausible that he considers his protest essential to the morality of society. In his case, the scripture may be responsible, but it is more likely how he chooses to interpret the scripture that is the problem.

    Unless we are gods ourselves, there is nothing divine about those problems. Certainly nothing directly attributable to religion. Is religion accountable? Perhaps, to the extent that it still exists to be used for manipulation. If there is a god, I don't know anything true about it. I wouldn't even know if he is responsible for creation. The nature of god could be completely unlike the typical description of a divine immortal being. For all I know, god is the spark of life itself. The catalyst, and nothing more. I don't know if such a god stays with us after we are given life. Maybe it does. Maybe it is at the core of all life that continues to exist. The answer - if there is one - continues to be more unbelievable than anything my imagination can conceive.

    I seek criticism. Philosophers: tear it apart.

    although there are several much longer posts about, since it was asked for, here is your summary...

    * Religion is blamed for evils in society.
    * It apparently exists to counterbalance evils and as an instrument of social control.
    * If there is god, it must have preceded religion.
    * I recommend you read the paragraph about the "unknowable." Starting with the sentence before "This poses a problem." In short, the conclusion: if we grant the supposed "unknowable" is a true experience, we must also grant that it is knowable to someone, somewhere, eventually.
    * Moderation exists and is the norm in religion, but...
    * Religion is often used as a tool to control people and convince them to do bad things.
    * We should not blame religion for how it is used, we should blame the people who are using it.
  2. how could you describe god. there have been gods for everything. why cant god just be subconscious love, that bit of charisma within us that is our moral compass for good and bad choices.

    basically im saying early humans didnt get the concept of modern science. there is really no use for religion these days, it all pure evil imo and should be eradicated
  3. Is love an objective emotion?
  4. yes, i think love is objective. the objective would be world peace..
  5. :laughing:

    I meant the opposite of subjective. Is love to you, what it is to everyone else? Do you believe in romantic love, the whole I'll find my soul mate and live happily ever after, because I don't believe in that type of love. I do however believe in certain compassion for humans that arises out of social animals that wish to succeed. Caring for each other means one thing, more of us. ;) I think it would make sense that evolution should favor compassion.

  6. I would have to argue that the discovery of god did not lead towards a written language. Human brains are image-producing organs, which a written language helps us describe. Without written language, all we can do is draw more pictures to express an image. This however, leaves us with a huge problem.

    Charity is the willingness to give for others benefits. They do not use force to obtain something. You have not reversed anything in this situation. Yes you make a sacrifice, but you feel honor and pride for giving to charity. Whereas if one steals, it is assumed that he or she will feel guilt or regret if caught. (oops, I see you addressed this in a few sentences haha) Humanity, imo, is conditioned towards whatever benefits themselves and their love ones the most. “Good or evil”, as long as it benefits oneself, drives human choices. Not everyone is like this though, we do see people doing deeds for the benefits of mankind.

    Am I understanding this correctly, a society consisted of full selfishness is true liberty? If so, yes, I completely agree. We must think on how society comes to be. It is built upon the household, the relationships of the family. As more and more come together, we see civilization form. When we have more and more households together, we will see conflict, so we must create rules in which to follow so this society does not collapse. (This is why politics is a natural) Hence, we have moral codes to live by, and we can see early forms of this. How do we truly enforce these moral? With a diety who is all knowing, all good, all powerful, who would never make mistakes. This God emphasizes these morals; who then is to question these laws? I mean, an all just God reinforces their purpose.

    Explain an unknown with a known; but how does one explain a known with an unknown? These things spiritual people claim to be “real” are products of imagination. It is fantasy created in the mind by the brain. They accept these new beliefs, then look to try and look for any evidence to confirm, and ignore anything contradictory. This fantasy is reinforced by the influence of others. I have stated it before, and will do so again. Nothing can escape natural explanations. If we grant that it is not a delusion, then anyone could explain this. Yet it is an unknowable, “words can not describe.” It is an escape by exclusion.

    Oh no! This person feels that I do not have the capacity or ability to experience spiritualness. Well, I in turn, feel that they may not be skeptical enough, perhaps even slightly gullible, influenced by others, and probably even taken by a sham. :rolleyes:

    People feel comfort in religion because religion has an answer for every single question. (i.e. What is my purpose?, What happens after we die? Where is the justice in crime?) Religion exists because it gives complete ideologies, a system of living, and claim to answer all the questions. I mean why not believe in something that has all the answers!

    However, they are wishful answers, with the sole purpose of making one feel better. A religion that provides NO answers, has no followers.
  7. #7 Postal Blowfish, Sep 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2010
    You might be right, but most of what you quoted was primarily written to setup the scene. In the western world, those who were literate were always priests and monks. Not even the noble class had that ability until the renaissance.

    Again, you are responding to suppositions intended to draw the coming point in a simple and sensible way. I did not intend to create a monologue about the nature of evil, but rather to explain the point that it makes psychological sense that our species (perhaps any sentient species) would be conditioned toward the rewards and thus selfishness and evil. I even alluded to that with one of the final points, in that once evil has been done to a person and they were punished for no wrongdoing, they understand the merits of a good deed. Such a person may give to charity in the understanding that there are more people out there less prepared to handle the wrongdoing than they were. As for the guilt or regret, if we imagine there was a time before society imposed commonsense laws, that society must not have had the reinforcements that cause guilt or regret. Once the commonsense laws were in place, then those feelings would be meaningful but I doubt it before then.

    Anarchy, as I imagine it. Everything else you said in this paragraph seems to be, if not things I already said, certainly elaborations on the ideas I expressed regarding the probable starting conditions for religion in society.

    I try not to jump so quickly to conclusions. I feel compelled to grant people their premise, if only so that I can explore it with them. However, what you have stated as your view of the fact is certainly always in question. Is it really a fantasy? Could it be real? I seem to lean toward saying it cannot be real, since real involves verifiable existence. The problem to me is that I do not know everything there is to know, and it is difficult to accept that a thing can never be verified. On the other hand, if I propose to them that the "unknowable" is actually eventually knowable (perhaps not in my lifetime) and they resist such a notion, I will have to conclude that what they believe is not real.

    It is there for those who do not have the drive, and may even have a fear of asking questions they may never know the answers to. Or, perhaps it is a fear of the unanswerable. They cannot accept the idea of a question that has no answer.

    In any case, religion appears to be the opposite of philosophy. I don't know what to say on spirituality and god, but in the case of religion, that seems to be true.

    Thanks for your analysis.
  8. And do you think there was a purpose to this? :rolleyes:

    That society was most likely small tribes, where survival instincts come into play. Survive or be killed would lead to commonsense laws.

    This does not answer your question per sa, but I believe they are relative to this thread.

  9. Eyes rolling around! Can I kick them into the goal? :) Yes of course I think there was a purpose to that, but you suggested I was wrong about it. I think the reason it was so is that religion was the primary use for writing and that probably all through the middle ages they actually kept people away from it who were not priests so that there would be no alternate interpretation. Considering the amount of damage that interpretations have done over history, that might have been the proper course of action although it can't be seen in the present context as the right thing to do.

    It seems we understand each other.

    Interesting reading, thank you.

  10. True. The less and less people that can read, the more and more power is given to the ones who can :D
  11. You guys are frauds none of you have ever smoked weed before I mean no one smokes weed and adheres to structure like you guys do. You're PHONY! A BIG FAT PHONY!
  12. What the hell has gotten into you?

    Don't just come in here and call me a phony. Tell me why.
  13. Everyone that hangs in this forum is a $3 bill. :p I don't know about you guys but I'm baked a shit right now... :smoking:
  14. Just so it's clear: I want to be challenged.

    I'd rather it not just be to tell me how wrong I am without telling me the reasons why. There must be something wrong with my reasoning, and I'm seeking to improve it.
  15. Is there a TL;DR version? lolol.
  16. I revised it for you so that the OP now has a tl;dr. olololol
  17. I actually read the whole thing, but when I first looked at it I was like "Hmmmm is there a TLDR? Nope, damn." then I began to read haha. I actually agree with pretty much everything you said. One question. How long did it take you to think/write this all down?
  18. It appears that I have made an assumption: I have been assuming that those who claim the answer is unknowable know something more than that. Simply: You say it is unknowable, I have been assuming you profess to know what "it" is.

    This will cause me a problem that will probably send me seeking you for the answer, but if you are reading this now, please answer this question:

    Do you know the nature of what is unknowable, or do you simply accept it as a fact that some things are simply not possible to have knowledge of?
  19. #19 Postal Blowfish, Oct 1, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2010
    I began with the simply inquiry: what is religion for? Why does it exist, and how does it affect my life? I created a thread to that affect and the responses taught me a lot, much of which went into the writing of this thread. Lately, there have been threads in at least two of the subforums I visit (including this one) that target a specific religion (Islam) with what looks to me like unjustified hatred due to the actions of the people who were claiming to be of that religion. That helped me phrase the question: is it religion that is evil, or is it us?

    It is some of us. Some people who still think in ways compatible to the thousands of years old archaic scripture that still exists in accepted scripture. Most people disregard it, but no one makes an attempt to revise it even despite all the problems it is causing. I am actually starting to change my mind on the culpability of tradition. Perhaps it is tradition that is the true problem.

    Anyway, to answer your question :)smoking:) I have been considering the topic since the thread I mentioned. It seems like months, but it was probably barely more than one month, if even that.
  20. #20 Good Afternoon, Oct 1, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2010
    There has to be an answer to everything to some degree, but I think that we as humans cant even comprehend certain things in life. Is there a god? Maybe. Will we ever truly know? No. Its an unknowable part of life that we simply have to live with yet we can always speculate, in the end it doesn't really matter. Is this the answer you were looking for or did I misinterpret the question? These are just my thoughts of course. Kinda feels good to talk and think about topics such as these.

    Edit: Forgot to add that I believe religion was created by man so that we have something to look forward to when we die, the "afterlife". People love to believe in religion so that they dont think life is a just a big waste of time.

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