Saturday, July 22, 2017

Musings on Religion

I think scripture of any religion is written by old men. I think it's written by old men mainly for old men. It's what old men need to hear as they pass through their years of certain uncertainty.

I think scripture, written by old men for old men, is in many faiths treated as Holy, inerrant, because it has such a demonstrated success in creating and sustaining ordered belief when it can be inculcated in youth. Get there first. Get there before the young can be exposed to critical thinking and secular philosophy.

It's all a struggle of belief. Philosophy is belief. Religion, economics, political ideologies - they're all belief constructs and nothing more. Beliefs can be tossed, turned, stretched and compressed, they're incredibly resilient. But, once embraced and adopted, if nurtured skilfully they can become as hard and certain as concrete.

I think religions "troll" for young people they can lure for they will be what sustains that faith in the years and decades to come. That's why you want to fill them to overflowing with belief before their minds are exposed to other thinking. By the time you're an old man, you'll be grateful you did. No better way to go out than with the firm belief that you're a winner.


Dana said...

I've said much the same thing except I use the word "faith" rather than "belief".

Toby said...

There is an element of religious susceptibility in all humans. It is probably due to the open book we are born with. Many individuals experience some event that seems so extraordinary that it makes a stunning and lasting impression. So far, so good. The problem comes when some fool decides that it is his or her duty to help everyone else share what can only be a one time personal experience. The original impulse crashes into an idealist who has spent too much time under the desert sun and some form of Stygian fantasy emerges, usually accompanied by riddles and hopelessly confused documents and symbols. That's where the fanaticism sets in. Sharing quickly becomes force and oppression. Ultimately, religion is for slaves. You have noticed, of course, that almost all organized religion sides with political power structures.

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm reluctant to use "faith" in lieu of "belief" Dana because the F-word is used to connote some divine quality to belief.

Dana said...

That's why I use it.

"Religious belief may seem to be a unique psychological experience, but a growing body of research shows that thinking about religion is no different from thinking about secular things­—at least from the standpoint of the brain. In the first imaging study to compare religious and nonreligious thoughts, evaluating the truth of either type of statement was found to involve the same regions of the brain."

The Mound of Sound said...

Interesting thoughts, Toby, thank you. It's curious how religious fundamentalism has infiltrated the political apparatus in so many countries. Andrew Bacevich chronicles how the US military transitioned from an Episcopalian to evangelical fundamentalism to forge America's new militarism. We've seen how fundamentalism - Islamic, Christian, Judaic, Hindu even Buddhist - connects with state violence.

Lorne said...

I think you have identified the main aspect of religion that most people only seem to acknowledge in a passing way, if at all, namely that religions, by their very nature, are human institutions that attempt to address the ineffable, often through metaphor that seems doomed to be perverted into requiring belief as literal truth. At this point in my life, I do believe, after considerable reading, that there is some ultimate transcendent truth, but for me, the most honest approach is to admit that it is unknowable. I only regard religions as very inadequate and very flawed attempts to understand and interpret that unknowable reality.

Dana said...

There's also an element of simple conceit involved.

How else could a being as wondrous as I have come into being??

The Mound of Sound said...

I'm agnostic, Lorne, but that's mainly based on my conviction that the human species lacks the intellect to perceive much less interpret some higher power. It seems a matter of mathematical certainty that there is or has been intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and improbable that ours would be the most intelligent of the lot. What would it take for us to proclaim some advanced life form as divine?

This fanciful notion of humans made in the image of God strikes me as a device to make God in the image of ourselves which furnishes a delightful narrative for the afterlife. Presumably a God would exemplify perfection. I'm pretty sure I don't come close to fitting that bill.

Toby said...

Ultimately, organized religion depends on some sort of Utopian vision; what a wonderful world this would be if only every believed as I do. Unfortunately, there are those who refuse to do so and I have to convert them by any means possible with whatever force necessary, however nasty. Like all Utopias, the vision soon disintegrates into man made hell.

Agnosticism is probably a better place than Atheism. I imagine the Atheist on a hilltop raging at the heavens and hollering, "You do not exist!" The Agnostic, on the other hand, sees no evidence of divine intervention and pretty much ignores the subject.

Prayer is a word that means begging. Janis Joplin nailed it with, "Oh lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz."

Anonymous said...

When I read articles like this I have doubts about our future.
Both the article and comments are scary.

Religion and politics are joining together all too often.