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Re: [Death To Religion] Re: Purpose of religion

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  • Richard Godwin
    This is badly mixed up. There is or should be no questioning of the existence of the experiences as such. The problems come in with interpretations of the
    Message 1 of 32 , Mar 24, 2008
      This is badly mixed up. There is or should be no questioning of the
      existence of the experiences as such. The problems come in with
      interpretations of the experiences. All experiences, emotional or whatever,
      are real experiences of real people, but there is no experience absent
      interpretation. Thus there are only experiences-interpreted. But from that
      initial interpretation, in many cases quite fallacious, cognition proceeds
      as the brain further processes them through stored ideas in memory, mental
      paradigms that influence or control thinking, the sense of logic, and all
      other ramifications of the experiences-interpreted, in order to give them
      "sense," or meaning. The cognitive results are formulated into theories,
      and therein lies the second rub, adding to the initial rub of immediate

      Below please:

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Hannah Miriam" <baruch_emmet@...>
      To: <deathtoreligion@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2008 9:05 PM
      Subject: [Death To Religion] Re: Purpose of religion

      > You say that all three faiths use the same evidence for the existence of
      > the Divine... yet you consider that sharing of basic evidence
      > (communication from those especially sensitive to the Presence of the
      > Divine, the complexity of existence, the shared ability of most people
      > with effort and determination to open themselves to a sense of some sort
      > of Divine Presence) to be false.

      They don't use the same evidence. The religious or spiritual
      experiences-interpreted vary widely, thus leading to cognitive results which
      incorporate many different and conflicting theories of "the Divine" and
      "Divine Presence." This is apparent through the multitude of written
      reports of mystics and others through the ages. Lacking specificity renders
      such interpretations and theories meaningless. With specificity, many
      conflicting theories are formulated, even non-theist, like Buddhism or

      > How about your own thoughts? You can share your thoughts through words
      > after the fact, but you cannot induce telepathic syncopatic experience in
      > someone else. We're supposed to take your word that your thoughts are what
      > your words communicate... if indeed we truly share approximately similar
      > comprehension of what the words mean. Another hallucination.

      But often others do induce such experiences in someone else, like hypnotism
      and meditation training. What is meant by telepathic in this
      statement?--that's a different matter. I don't see how that is
      hallucination. A hallucinatory experience is judgment of one's initial
      interpretation of an experience, in that it reveals no reality. Meaning is
      not what is important here, since that can be agreed to by all parties in
      the discussion; proof is important. We can all agree to what is meant by a
      unicorn, but proof that one exists is the problem. Several of us can
      observe a UFO, have the same meaning as a non-world kind of vehicle, the
      same interpretation with cognitive elements that it's from "outer space
      housing aliens", but proof is the problem.

      > You must not take the word of anyone for their emotional state, that
      > anyone even has an emotional state or a thought process, or that your own
      > conscious state or sensory experience of your environment is anything
      > other than an illusion.

      But we do that all the time as a practical matter. Of course you are right
      in thorough examination. Just like historical methodology, the default
      position at the beginning of investigation is that of the agnostic, and from
      that evidence may be offered, etc.

      > Interesting that you limit what hallucinations you've experienced, that
      > you are willing to accept as part of your reality.

      Primarily determined by one's mental paradigms, or world-view.

      > Because you are so focused on the physical realm, and see energy as a
      > tool to serve matter, rather than the reverse, you will not be able to
      > reconcile the duality of all things, including joy/pain, day/night, etc.

      This is of course the perception of things. What we perceive, in forms,
      relationships of data, or whatever is just that: our perception fitting the
      framework of our thought. Instead of duality, we have degrees of each,
      interwoven processes, like not all joy or pain, but some of each with
      greater in one or the other. Duality is not real except as we interpret
      experiences. Energy and matter are the same, right? Just differences in
      form and substance of how the quanta work.

      > As far as your idea that people are born even a little bit caring, once
      > again, you show your lack of experience in dealing with infants and
      > children. People are born selfish, and must be guided to learn caring... a
      > process started from earliest infancy. Removing religion from the equation
      > will increase the number of people acting selfishly throughout their
      > lives, not decrease it.

      Selfishness is an evolutionary quality, with evolutionary value for
      survival, and of course it is embedded in inherited genetic propensities,
      learned and developed in the environment. It's purpose initially is
      self-protection: like must have attention and food. Religion interacting
      with other means is valuable in rule enforcement to fit genetic moral
      propensities, like sharing: fitting into a social environment. That offers
      no evidence or proof of any ontological reality to any religious theory. So
      babies do have embedded genetic sense of both selfishness and sharing,
      developed into caring as the baby interprets experience: "you are like me;
      I am like you; we both want the same things." Desire for satisfaction in
      what we want interacts dynamically with sharing with the sense of
      cooperation in the group, propensities for all genetically inherited.
      Community is just as important for us as selfishness, and actually is a
      means of acquiring self-satisfaction.

    • bestonnet_00
      ... (although most of the Christians are probably pretty secular) with the ... I never said it did (though in general about half of those who claim to be
      Message 32 of 32 , Mar 29, 2008
        --- In deathtoreligion@yahoogroups.com, Hannah Miriam
        <baruch_emmet@...> wrote:
        > bestonnet wrote: You'll see that they are majority Christian
        (although most of the Christians are probably pretty secular) with the
        > non-religious massively outnumbering the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhist,
        > Jews, etc combined by quite a decent margin.
        > -----
        > "no religion" or "no religious affliation" does not automatically
        > = athiest.

        I never said it did (though in general about half of those who claim
        to be non-religious are in fact atheists and the other half have some
        vague belief in a higher power).

        > It means they aren't affiliated with a religion, not that they
        > have no belief in G-d. I know many people who do believe in G-d, but
        > do not consider themselves part of a religion.

        Such people do exist in great number and are pretty much harmless.
        Whether their kids will also believe in a god is another matter.

        > Your census information does not list "athiest" or "agnostic,"
        > only that they do not identify or affiliate with a particular faith.

        Very few people will actually answer atheist or agnostic when given an
        open ended question about their religion (if I were just asked what
        religion I was I'd just say that I don't have one (atheism isn't a
        religion anyway)) so statistics which do mention them separately
        probably are undercounting.

        To get an accurate answer you'd need to add another question asking
        people whether they believe in a god or higher power (I suspect the
        results from that would be rather laughable when we find out how many
        Christian atheists are out there).

        > That accounts for 1/4 of the population for each country (about).
        > What percent of that 1/4 actually would self-identify as athiest or
        > agnostic?

        Very few if you ask them an open ended question about religion (or a
        multiple choice question that includes a no religion answer and a box
        for writing in what isn't on the list), if you include atheism as an
        option on a survey you'll get a higher number, directly ask if they
        believe in a god or higher power and you'll find that about half of
        them will say no.

        > I quote from the UK information regarding "no religion," they
        > included those who DID include a religion not officially recognized
        > by the government...

        How many religions aren't recognised by the UK government? Probably
        pretty much no real religions that anyone in the UK follows.

        That probably only applies to parody religions.

        > "About sixteen per cent of the UK population stated that they had no
        > religion. This category included agnostics, atheists, heathens and
        > those who wrote Jedi Knight."
        > "heathens and those who wrote Jedi Knight" ... hmmm.....

        Yes, there was a big e-mail campaign in the UK, Australia and New
        Zealand to write Jedi Knight on the census under the claim that it
        would cause the government to recognise Jedi as a religion if enough
        people put it down. Most of the people who did that probably were
        non-religious and just having a joke at government expense.

        See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedi_census_phenomenon

        > bestonnet wrote: I wasn't even trying to show causality (though I
        > did mention what I thought the causality was), merely that a
        > religious society is not necessarily healthier than a non-religious
        > one.
        > -----
        > Are you determining this by religion (adherence to a social code
        > driven by a group consensus of how to relate to G-d), or by faith
        > (actual direct interaction with the Divine, not just lip-service for
        > social belonging)?

        How am I meant to know who is a True Scotsman?

        > bestonnet wrote: There are a lot of religious scientists but if
        > you look at the elites of the scientific community there are very
        > few who aren't atheists.
        > -----
        > Amazing... most of what I've seen is the other way around.

        Well it depends on who you consider to be the elites, NAS members are
        a pretty good sample of elite scientists and they do tend to be atheistic.


        Even among the less elite scientists belief in a god is less
        widespread than the general population.
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