Total Posts:61|Showing Posts:1-30|Last Page
Jump to topic:

What is Religion?

SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 7:26:32 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
You don't need to read the OP to answer the question, but it provides some useful context.

I'm totally ripping this off from what I learned so far in my REL 100 course, but it's an interesting conversation that doesn't necessarily have a correct answer, and with all the arguments about which religion is right or wrong here, I figured it might do some good for everyone to explore this question.

I don't really frequent religious forums any more, but I used to as a kid. As terrible of an idea as it was, I still remember a few things clearly. One interesting observation I made even back then was that people don't even agree on what religion is. Some called atheism a religion, while most atheists themselves claimed that they didn't believe in nothing, but rather, had no belief in anything. Atheists tend to claim religion is defined by "belief in the sacred", while theists tend to claim it is defined by a more broad idea of general belief. Is it mere stupidity on the part of one of the groups? To find the answer, we have to define religion.

We tend to define religion based on a series of traits that we assume religions exhibit. This is known as a cluster definition. A common view in the United States would define religion as having all or most of these traits:
1.Belief in the sacred
2.A distinction between the sacred and mundane
3.Rituals
4.Moral codes
5.Prayer
6.A world view
7.A community of believers
Atheism ranges from exhibiting none of them, to 3+4+6+7, depending on whether it's part of an organized movement (New Atheism) or not (plain ol' gnostic and agnostic theism). There's a problem, though. Certain schools of Theravada Buddhism only exhibit 3, 4, (arguably) 6, and 7 as well. Mahayana Buddhism only adds 1 and 5 to that list. Shinto doesn't have an inherent moral code, nor a concrete world view (other than that the gods are all around us as physical objects). Such a definition throws us into a roadblock, because the above are traits that are mostly exclusive to the Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, and while there IS a lot of overlap, none of the traits except for a community of believers and rituals is shared. Secularization throws out the ritual aspect. We can't just call a religion something that has a community of believers, so we need another way.

Let's examine the word "religion" itself. It comes from the Latin root "religio", which is of obscure origins, but of which two major words can be formed:
1.Religare--To bind back, reconnect
2.Relegare--To recollect, read again
Right away, we can perceive some interesting facts. Religion serves specific functions, either to connect people socially (religare), or to provide some sort of knowledge (relegare). From this fact, we derive the functional approach to defining religion--that is, defining religion on the basis of what religions do. For example, we can safely say that religion fosters community, and is psychologically fulfilling in some way. That's great; we've got a few details, and if you use this definition, New Athiests could be considered religious--but this definition is still incredibly vague, and we can't get much more specific without alienating some religion or another. In fact, we're already too specific, as saying that religion fosters community ignores spiritualists that don't subscribe to a particular doctrine, but have their own private beliefs about how the world works. If those spiritualists aren't religious, this implies that religion cannot be defined simply on the basis of "belief in the sacred".

On the other hand, saying that certain parameters exclude things that are religions first requires knowing exactly what religion is. All the previous attempts to define the word here have ended in a giant circular argument. To make matters worse, members of each religion claim that theirs aren't really religions in the "traditional" sense. Type in "X is not a religion" on Google, replacing "X" with whatever religion comes to your mind, and that will become evident. I tried Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shinto; it worked for each of them. The reason for that isn't necessarily exceptionalism on the part of each religion so much as it is the reluctance to reduce complex manifestations of religions down to simplistic parts, which is, IMO, reasonable. Members of each religion make the argument that their religion is really "a way of life". That would be a fantastic definition... except that everyone has a way of life based on beliefs, atheists included.

If you're one of the 3 people who ends up reading through this whole thing, feel free to point out any flaws with the above trains of thought. I'm no philosopher, and I'm bound to have spouted out nonsense at least once in there.

Tl;dr I haven't got a clue what the definition might be.
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
annanicole
Posts: 19,787
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 7:59:31 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 7:26:32 AM, SolonKR wrote:
You don't need to read the OP to answer the question, but it provides some useful context.

I read it, but I'll simply say that re-legion, or religion, is the re-attaching, the re-connecting, the re-binding of man back to God. It presumes that at some point there was a detachment or disconnect between man and his Creator.
Madcornishbiker: "No, I don't need a dictionary, I know how scripture uses words and that is all I need to now."
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 9:39:19 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
From Etymonline [http://www.etymonline.com...]:

religion (n.)
c. 1200, "state of life bound by monastic vows," also "conduct indicating a belief in a divine power," from Anglo-French religiun (11c.), Old French religion "piety, devotion; religious community," and directly from Latin religionem (nominative religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods; conscientiousness, sense of right, moral obligation; fear of the gods; divine service, religious observance; a religion, a faith, a mode of worship, cult; sanctity, holiness," in Late Latin "monastic life" (5c.).

According to Cicero derived from relegere "go through again" (in reading or in thought), from re- "again" (see re-) + legere "read" (see lecture (n.)). However, popular etymology among the later ancients (Servius, Lactantius, Augustine) and the interpretation of many modern writers connects it with religare "to bind fast" (see rely), via notion of "place an obligation on," or "bond between humans and gods." In that case, the re- would be intensive. Another possible origin is religiens "careful," opposite of negligens. In English, meaning "particular system of faith" is recorded from c. 1300; sense of "recognition of and allegiance in manner of life (perceived as justly due) to a higher, unseen power or powers" is from 1530s.

That's close to our Original Post's description. However, I think etymology can only take us so far -- after which we need to adopt a pragmatic view.

Although I'm an atheist, my chief concern is not to 'legitimise' atheism as irreligious (I don't think atheism needs a special definition to do that), but to capture common categories where similar things work in similar ways: religion then, is what religion does.

In that respect, I normally view religion as a structured cultural system including magical beliefs, a sense of the sacred, the profane and the taboo, and (usually) a sense of metaphysical moral order -- all of which bestow a sense of common identity on the believer and fellow adherents.

This doesn't quite capture some things that identify as religions (like sacred personal faiths), and identifies as religions faiths some people say aren't (but I generally don't believe them), but for me the main thing is that it picks up all the major world religions, recognises nontheological religions like Buddhism and some indigenous faiths, is fairly easy to recognise objectively, and is reasonably close to the various etymologies.

The other important thing it does is exclude passionate sectarian tribal categories like sports, ethnic supremacism, and fan clubs -- which, although they often have a sense of the sacred, and sacred obligations, tend not to formalise magical thought. It also excludes personal doting, as parents do with infants, and lovers may do.

So my description may not be precise enough for sociology or other human sciences, and there may be other workable definitions based on perfectly legitimate criteria, but that's how I think of it.

Just one idea. I hope it may be useful.
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 2:36:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 7:59:31 AM, annanicole wrote:
I read it, but I'll simply say that re-legion, or religion, is the re-attaching, the re-connecting, the re-binding of man back to God. It presumes that at some point there was a detachment or disconnect between man and his Creator.

That's an interesting perspective. Could you elaborate a bit more? The definition you posit falls prey to an assumption of monotheism (many religions are polytheistic, and some, like most schools of Buddhism, don't have gods), and it can't be used as the definition for that reason, but I'd like to know what you mean by a disconnect between man and the sacred.
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 2:41:10 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 8:06:58 AM, uncung wrote:
All religions believe in life after death.

I wish it were that simple. It's not, though; Taoists don't believe in an afterlife, for instance (http://personaltao.com...).
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 2:53:37 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 9:39:19 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
That's close to our Original Post's description. However, I think etymology can only take us so far -- after which we need to adopt a pragmatic view.

I agree with that statement.

Although I'm an atheist, my chief concern is not to 'legitimise' atheism as irreligious (I don't think atheism needs a special definition to do that), but to capture common categories where similar things work in similar ways: religion then, is what religion does.

So, in essence, the functional approach.

In that respect, I normally view religion as a structured cultural system including magical beliefs, a sense of the sacred, the profane and the taboo, and (usually) a sense of metaphysical moral order -- all of which bestow a sense of common identity on the believer and fellow adherents.

I would argue that the problem with this is that all of the things listed are "usually" and not always. Shinto doesn't have a set moral code, and what constitutes "magical" or "sacred" depends a lot on who you ask. I'd agree that it could be defined as a structured cultural system, but the problem with that is that laws in societies also create structured cultural systems.

So my description may not be precise enough for sociology or other human sciences, and there may be other workable definitions based on perfectly legitimate criteria, but that's how I think of it.

That's an important distinction to make. Generalizations do work for general descriptions of religion; I agree. However, there has to be SOME way that we can actually define the term *scratches head*

Just one idea. I hope it may be useful.

Thanks for the contribution!
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
annanicole
Posts: 19,787
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 3:13:09 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 2:36:48 PM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/1/2015 7:59:31 AM, annanicole wrote:
I read it, but I'll simply say that re-legion, or religion, is the re-attaching, the re-connecting, the re-binding of man back to God. It presumes that at some point there was a detachment or disconnect between man and his Creator.

That's an interesting perspective. Could you elaborate a bit more? The definition you posit falls prey to an assumption of monotheism (many religions are polytheistic, and some, like most schools of Buddhism, don't have gods), and it can't be used as the definition for that reason, but I'd like to know what you mean by a disconnect between man and the sacred.

I mean that there is inherent in the word the idea that at some point man was connected, bound, attached, in legion with, in accord with ... God.
Madcornishbiker: "No, I don't need a dictionary, I know how scripture uses words and that is all I need to now."
bulproof
Posts: 25,274
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 3:30:55 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 8:06:58 AM, uncung wrote:
All religions believe in life after death.
And here in lies the truth.
Without the "promise" of an afterlife religion has not the slightest meaning.
The fear of death creates god/s and religions.
Get over it, we die.
Religion is just mind control. George Carlin
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 7:07:13 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 3:30:55 PM, bulproof wrote:
At 10/1/2015 8:06:58 AM, uncung wrote:
All religions believe in life after death.
And here in lies the truth.
Without the "promise" of an afterlife religion has not the slightest meaning.
The fear of death creates god/s and religions.
Get over it, we die.

Taoism would like to have a word with you.
Even if Taoism didn't exist, I don't quite think that "belief in life after death" is adequate for defining religion. If I'm a spiritualist, I don't go to church, I don't do any sort of worship or introspection, and I don't subscribe to the doctrine of anyone else, but I do believe that there is something that happens to humans after they die, that there must be some further plane of existence, does that inherently make me religious? Something must be said for the importance of community in religion.

I also strongly disagree with the idea that fear of death creates religion. Several major religions don't care about the afterlife. The most major one that comes to mind is Confucianism; Confucius stressed that any sort of afterlife was beyond human comprehension, and we should thus concentrate on living our earthly lives well according to his doctrines and not worry about it.

Thanks for the input!
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 7:14:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 3:13:09 PM, annanicole wrote:
I mean that there is inherent in the word the idea that at some point man was connected, bound, attached, in legion with, in accord with ... God.

I understood that. I was asking if you could elaborate on how this separation between man and the sacred occurs, in your view, and why it's significant to the definition of the word. Certainly, understanding the distinction between the sacred and mundane is critical to understanding religion, and I assume you're coming from a theist's perspective on this, which is just as critical for comparative practices as an atheist/agnostic's (my) perspective.
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
annanicole
Posts: 19,787
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 7:20:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 7:14:18 PM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/1/2015 3:13:09 PM, annanicole wrote:
I mean that there is inherent in the word the idea that at some point man was connected, bound, attached, in legion with, in accord with ... God.

I understood that. I was asking if you could elaborate on how this separation between man and the sacred occurs, in your view, and why it's significant to the definition of the word.

That's just it: the manner of said separation is not implied in the definition. "Re-ligion" (or re-legion, if you will) is similar to the word "reconnect." Neither the exact manner and characteristics of the original connection nor the manner of severing is implied.

Although it has nothing to do with the definition of the word, Christianity teaches that the first pair, Adam and Eve, were in legion with God. They walked with God and talked with God. The disconnect was caused by man's action, sin. Religion is the reconnection of the two.
Madcornishbiker: "No, I don't need a dictionary, I know how scripture uses words and that is all I need to now."
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 7:56:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 7:20:42 PM, annanicole wrote:
That's just it: the manner of said separation is not implied in the definition. "Re-ligion" (or re-legion, if you will) is similar to the word "reconnect." Neither the exact manner and characteristics of the original connection nor the manner of severing is implied.

Although it has nothing to do with the definition of the word, Christianity teaches that the first pair, Adam and Eve, were in legion with God. They walked with God and talked with God. The disconnect was caused by man's action, sin. Religion is the reconnection of the two.

So, in other words, you would argue that the very definition of religion changes based on which religion a person is or isn't a part of? I think there might be some merit to that; it would certainly explain the apparent circular reasoning of how religions are defined (the definition of religion is based on the traits of known religions, and because it has that definition, those religions are called religions).

In terms of defining religion as a distinction between man and the sacred, though, I'd have to disagree. While all religions have certain things they value (as well as all people), they don't necessarily assign a status of divine sacredness to anything (eg Theravada Buddhism; they value the texts of the Pali Canon, certainly, but there's a difference between valuing+following, and calling divine). Secular sacredness (or value) has to be distinguished between religious sacredness.
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 8:06:15 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 2:53:37 PM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/1/2015 9:39:19 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
I normally view religion as a structured cultural system including magical beliefs, a sense of the sacred, the profane and the taboo, and (usually) a sense of metaphysical moral order -- all of which bestow a sense of common identity on the believer and fellow adherents.

Shinto doesn't have a set moral code,
Some religions don't, but as a single example, Shinto does have a moral and ethical code strongly influenced by confucianism. Shinto has shame-based ethics, and there are acts of purification in Shinto to atone wrongs -- which picks up on notions of the magical and sacred (see below.)

what constitutes "magical" or "sacred" depends a lot on who you ask.
Magical thinking has an objective definition in psychology. Essentially it's the conviction of causality without empirical evidence for it. So that picks up ideas like spirits, luck, karma, and divine rewards and punishments.

The sacred refers to veneration, typically through obligatory or expected activities. I view both as mandatory in religion: magical thinking without a notion of veneration gives you astrology (say), while veneration without magical thinking gives you civic commemoration ceremonies.

I'd agree that it could be defined as a structured cultural system
Not by itself: you need the veneration and magical thinking. Else you get custom, law, philosophy.

Generalizations do work for general descriptions of religion; I agree. However, there has to be SOME way that we can actually define the term *scratches head*
The challenge with religion is that it's easy to co-opt the secular into the sacred, while sacred activities can also produce secular products that you want or need anyway. So people can religify almost anything, and can produce almost anything as a product of religious activity.

Or put another way, if you don't call it sacred, it's just art, craft and philosophy. But if you start to codify it, attach magical consequence to it, and put obligations on people around it, it becomes religious.

Or from my atheistic perspective: religious thought claims all the benefits of human activity, while owning none of problems. :D
annanicole
Posts: 19,787
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/1/2015 8:07:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 7:56:52 PM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/1/2015 7:20:42 PM, annanicole wrote:
That's just it: the manner of said separation is not implied in the definition. "Re-ligion" (or re-legion, if you will) is similar to the word "reconnect." Neither the exact manner and characteristics of the original connection nor the manner of severing is implied.

Although it has nothing to do with the definition of the word, Christianity teaches that the first pair, Adam and Eve, were in legion with God. They walked with God and talked with God. The disconnect was caused by man's action, sin. Religion is the reconnection of the two.

So, in other words, you would argue that the very definition of religion changes based on which religion a person is or isn't a part of?

No, but I'd say the definition of any word changes over time to reflect common usage and oftentimes it winds up far removed from its word derivation and original meaning.

For instance, say I decide to start worshiping cats. I do not believe they are sacred, they are God or a god or gods, or divine. I just decide to worship them for the hell of it. I build buildings, issue texts containing guidelines for cat worship, take up money, etc. People follow along, and soon there are millions of cat worshipers. Certainly someone, somewhere will erroneously refer to that as a religion. It can't be, however, because I was never severed or disconnected from cats, nor am I seeking a reconnection with them - unless someone wants to change the definition and make it quite a bit broader.
Madcornishbiker: "No, I don't need a dictionary, I know how scripture uses words and that is all I need to now."
uncung
Posts: 3,455
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 3:06:06 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 3:30:55 PM, bulproof wrote:
At 10/1/2015 8:06:58 AM, uncung wrote:
All religions believe in life after death.
And here in lies the truth.
Without the "promise" of an afterlife religion has not the slightest meaning.
The fear of death creates god/s and religions.
Get over it, we die.

Because after life does real. That's why.
uncung
Posts: 3,455
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 3:07:49 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 7:07:13 PM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/1/2015 3:30:55 PM, bulproof wrote:
At 10/1/2015 8:06:58 AM, uncung wrote:
All religions believe in life after death.
And here in lies the truth.
Without the "promise" of an afterlife religion has not the slightest meaning.
The fear of death creates god/s and religions.
Get over it, we die.

Taoism would like to have a word with you.
Even if Taoism didn't exist, I don't quite think that "belief in life after death" is adequate for defining religion. If I'm a spiritualist, I don't go to church, I don't do any sort of worship or introspection, and I don't subscribe to the doctrine of anyone else, but I do believe that there is something that happens to humans after they die, that there must be some further plane of existence, does that inherently make me religious? Something must be said for the importance of community in religion.

I also strongly disagree with the idea that fear of death creates religion. Several major religions don't care about the afterlife. The most major one that comes to mind is Confucianism; Confucius stressed that any sort of afterlife was beyond human comprehension, and we should thus concentrate on living our earthly lives well according to his doctrines and not worry about it.

Thanks for the input!

and the question is, is your belief true? are you in the true standpoint?
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 7:26:53 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 8:06:15 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 10/1/2015 2:53:37 PM, SolonKR wrote:
Shinto doesn't have a set moral code,
Some religions don't, but as a single example, Shinto does have a moral and ethical code strongly influenced by confucianism. Shinto has shame-based ethics, and there are acts of purification in Shinto to atone wrongs -- which picks up on notions of the magical and sacred (see below.)

I don't know whether I'd classify it as a code inherent to Shinto itself, but that's a different issue as the result of Confucianism, Shinto, and Buddhism all blending together in Japan. I guess it really doesn't matter, except for that I disagree with the idea that religion has to have a magical moral order, and you agreed with that yourself.

what constitutes "magical" or "sacred" depends a lot on who you ask.
Magical thinking has an objective definition in psychology. Essentially it's the conviction of causality without empirical evidence for it. So that picks up ideas like spirits, luck, karma, and divine rewards and punishments.

That's a solid definition.

The sacred refers to veneration, typically through obligatory or expected activities. I view both as mandatory in religion: magical thinking without a notion of veneration gives you astrology (say), while veneration without magical thinking gives you civic commemoration ceremonies.

This runs into trouble with Theravada Buddhism and some other religions. There's veneration of the Buddha without magical thinking. I found an interesting anecdote on this subject: http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org... I suppose you could argue that "enlightenment" is magical, but I think it'd be a tough argument to make.

I'd agree that it could be defined as a structured cultural system
Not by itself: you need the veneration and magical thinking. Else you get custom, law, philosophy.

Certainly it needs more; I was more stating that that would be a solid piece of a definition, as community is something that strikes me as critical for religion.

Generalizations do work for general descriptions of religion; I agree. However, there has to be SOME way that we can actually define the term *scratches head*
The challenge with religion is that it's easy to co-opt the secular into the sacred, while sacred activities can also produce secular products that you want or need anyway. So people can religify almost anything, and can produce almost anything as a product of religious activity.

One of many challenges, I'd say.

Or put another way, if you don't call it sacred, it's just art, craft and philosophy. But if you start to codify it, attach magical consequence to it, and put obligations on people around it, it becomes religious.

Hmm...

Or from my atheistic perspective: religious thought claims all the benefits of human activity, while owning none of problems. :D

Heh, now that I would emphatically disagree with. All the major schools of Buddhism acknowledge the Four Noble Truths, which are all about suffering and how to deal with suffering; I'd call that owning the problems. Christians believe that man is inherently morally defunct, and seek to rectify this inferiority through Christ; I'd call that owning the problems. I might be misunderstanding what you mean, though.
What do you mean by claiming the benefits?

Also, this has probably been the best and most thorough response in here so far, so thanks for that.
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 7:33:05 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/1/2015 8:07:12 PM, annanicole wrote:
At 10/1/2015 7:56:52 PM, SolonKR wrote:
So, in other words, you would argue that the very definition of religion changes based on which religion a person is or isn't a part of?

No, but I'd say the definition of any word changes over time to reflect common usage and oftentimes it winds up far removed from its word derivation and original meaning.

This is true. Why, then, do you support an interpretation based on old words?

For instance, say I decide to start worshiping cats. I do not believe they are sacred, they are God or a god or gods, or divine. I just decide to worship them for the hell of it. I build buildings, issue texts containing guidelines for cat worship, take up money, etc. People follow along, and soon there are millions of cat worshipers. Certainly someone, somewhere will erroneously refer to that as a religion. It can't be, however, because I was never severed or disconnected from cats, nor am I seeking a reconnection with them - unless someone wants to change the definition and make it quite a bit broader.

You COULD make an argument that it is in fact a religion, though. I think that the aspect of "reconnection" is more in reference to society than it is to a connection between man and the divine. Not all religions believe that man is intrinsically fallen and needs a reconnection. Confucianism, for one, doesn't mention a break like that at all, I'm fairly sure. This reverence for cats could perhaps be a religion because it draws people together through orthopraxy. I don't know that believing in the divinity of the cats is necessarily a requirement.
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 7:36:04 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/2/2015 3:07:49 AM, uncung wrote:
and the question is, is your belief true? are you in the true standpoint?

Truth has never been a requisite for religion. Plus, once revolutionary monotheism rose up, the gods couldn't be translated easily between cultures, and it has been the case since that moment that not everyone can be correct in their beliefs. I'm not quite sure what the relevance of these questions are; could you please elaborate?
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
annanicole
Posts: 19,787
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 7:43:38 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/2/2015 7:33:05 AM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/1/2015 8:07:12 PM, annanicole wrote:
At 10/1/2015 7:56:52 PM, SolonKR wrote:
So, in other words, you would argue that the very definition of religion changes based on which religion a person is or isn't a part of?

No, but I'd say the definition of any word changes over time to reflect common usage and oftentimes it winds up far removed from its word derivation and original meaning.

This is true. Why, then, do you support an interpretation based on old words?

Because that's what the word originally meant, in my opinion.

For instance, say I decide to start worshiping cats. I do not believe they are sacred, they are God or a god or gods, or divine. I just decide to worship them for the hell of it. I build buildings, issue texts containing guidelines for cat worship, take up money, etc. People follow along, and soon there are millions of cat worshipers. Certainly someone, somewhere will erroneously refer to that as a religion. It can't be, however, because I was never severed or disconnected from cats, nor am I seeking a reconnection with them - unless someone wants to change the definition and make it quite a bit broader.

You COULD make an argument that it is in fact a religion, though. I think that the aspect of "reconnection" is more in reference to society than it is to a connection between man and the divine. Not all religions believe that man is intrinsically fallen and needs a reconnection. Confucianism, for one, doesn't mention a break like that at all, I'm fairly sure.

... and I would call Confucianism a "program of self improvement". Ditto for Buddism, based upon what little I know of it. As far as I know, neither is trying to rebind or reconnect with God or a god or gods.
Madcornishbiker: "No, I don't need a dictionary, I know how scripture uses words and that is all I need to now."
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 7:47:25 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/2/2015 7:26:53 AM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/1/2015 8:06:15 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
The sacred refers to veneration, typically through obligatory or expected activities. I view both as mandatory in religion: magical thinking without a notion of veneration gives you astrology (say), while veneration without magical thinking gives you civic commemoration ceremonies.

This runs into trouble with Theravada Buddhism and some other religions.
There are philosophical (i.e. nonmagical, nonsacred) versions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism but there are religious (i.e. magical, sacred) versions too.

The philosophical versions may engage in the same meditations and rituals, but there's no expectation of magical effect, nor is there magical attribution of physical effect, nor any claim of metaphysical, intellectual or moral authority. This influences narrative and practice in subtle ways, so you have to dig pretty hard to work out what's what.

This is what I meant earlier, Solon: religion can co-opt almost anything, but it can produce almost anything secular as a side-effect too.

However, I believe that most Buddhism entails some magical thinking, and worldwide, Buddhism has a strong notion of the sacred. For one thing, if you start revering doctrine instead of testing and contesting it, that tends to drift into magical thinking pretty quickly.

Or from my atheistic perspective: religious thought claims all the benefits of human activity, while owning none of problems. :D

Heh, now that I would emphatically disagree with. All the major schools of Buddhism acknowledge the Four Noble Truths, which are all about suffering and how to deal with suffering;
I was aware of Buddhism when I wrote that, Solon, since it's an outlier in some ways. But I think my position holds: consider how Buddhist doctrine co-opts all suffering into a single narrative, then professes to own the sole solution.

I'm not saying that the ideals are flawed or ineffective; only that if there were no reverence of the putative solution, there'd be no reason not to contest the ideas, and search for other, better answers. And as I mentioned above, reverence for dogma without studying causes and correlations is only a hair short of magical thinking.

I should emphasise: I'm not saying that magical thinking is inherently bad or damaging. I freely acknowledge that at times it can be palliative, creative or inspirational. My sole caveat here is that if it becomes sytematic and entrenched then it can conceal its own flaws.

And functionally, that's perhaps a key difference between a philosophy and a religion. In principle at least, a philosophy isn't afraid to admit error and ignorance, abandon unworkable ideas and move on, while a religion often gets sentimental, attached to doctrine, and looks for ways to preserve and perpetuate its ideas -- even if they're not working as well as they might.

(I'm aware that some secular ideologies do this too. I've met Marxists who are zealous enough to look religious. :D)

Also, this has probably been the best and most thorough response in here so far, so thanks for that.

Back at you, Solon! It's a good and thoughtful question, and while neither of us expects definitive answers, I'm still enjoying this chat very much. :)
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 7:48:48 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/2/2015 7:43:38 AM, annanicole wrote:
At 10/2/2015 7:33:05 AM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/1/2015 8:07:12 PM, annanicole wrote:
At 10/1/2015 7:56:52 PM, SolonKR wrote:
So, in other words, you would argue that the very definition of religion changes based on which religion a person is or isn't a part of?

No, but I'd say the definition of any word changes over time to reflect common usage and oftentimes it winds up far removed from its word derivation and original meaning.

This is true. Why, then, do you support an interpretation based on old words?

Because that's what the word originally meant, in my opinion.

But if it changes, wouldn't that render that definition irrelevant?

... and I would call Confucianism a "program of self improvement". Ditto for Buddism, based upon what little I know of it. As far as I know, neither is trying to rebind or reconnect with God or a god or gods.

And that brings us back to a problem I mentioned in the OP. Trying to define religion through comparison is inherently circular, because we're trying to derive the definition from what we consider to be religions, without knowing what the word really means. Perhaps, then, it really IS sufficient to exclude some belief systems that have been called religions until recently, and just boil the definition down to "belief in the sacred".
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
SolonKR
Posts: 4,041
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 8:16:36 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/2/2015 7:47:25 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 10/2/2015 7:26:53 AM, SolonKR wrote:
There are philosophical (i.e. nonmagical, nonsacred) versions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism but there are religious (i.e. magical, sacred) versions too.

The philosophical versions may engage in the same meditations and rituals, but there's no expectation of magical effect, nor is there magical attribution of physical effect, nor any claim of metaphysical, intellectual or moral authority. This influences narrative and practice in subtle ways, so you have to dig pretty hard to work out what's what.

This is what I meant earlier, Solon: religion can co-opt almost anything, but it can produce almost anything secular as a side-effect too.

Ah. I see what you mean. By this point, my opinion is that certain things that get defined as religions have to be un-defined, because the comparative basis seems inherently circular. I was trying to use it specifically because that's the approach taken in my college class, but I've hit a brick wall with it. Perhaps I'll have more to say on the subject after a few more weeks in class; after all, we've just recently gotten to the point where we're actually analyzing how to use what we've learned about various religions and their origins to practice comparative studies.

However, I believe that most Buddhism entails some magical thinking, and worldwide, Buddhism has a strong notion of the sacred. For one thing, if you start revering doctrine instead of testing and contesting it, that tends to drift into magical thinking pretty quickly.

Yeah, Mahayana is way more popular than Theravada. I wouldn't call blind reverence of doctrine magical, though; I'd have to call American exceptionalism magical, lol.

Or from my atheistic perspective: religious thought claims all the benefits of human activity, while owning none of problems. :D

Heh, now that I would emphatically disagree with. All the major schools of Buddhism acknowledge the Four Noble Truths, which are all about suffering and how to deal with suffering;
I was aware of Buddhism when I wrote that, Solon, since it's an outlier in some ways. But I think my position holds: consider how Buddhist doctrine co-opts all suffering into a single narrative, then professes to own the sole solution.

Just because it professes an orthodoxic solution doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't "own" the problem. There have been just kings throughout history; they rule on an arbitrary foundation, and they benefited immensely from human activity, but they also left mankind better than they found it. On the flip side, there have been many more cruel, despotic rulers. I think religion operates in a similar way (though I'm prone to drawing false comparisons); they can still accomplish much for society despite arbitrary dogma.

I'm not saying that the ideals are flawed or ineffective; only that if there were no reverence of the putative solution, there'd be no reason not to contest the ideas, and search for other, better answers. And as I mentioned above, reverence for dogma without studying causes and correlations is only a hair short of magical thinking.

The problem is that reverence for dogma seeps into the secular level all the time. Nationalism would be the prime example in my mind.

I should emphasise: I'm not saying that magical thinking is inherently bad or damaging. I freely acknowledge that at times it can be palliative, creative or inspirational. My sole caveat here is that if it becomes sytematic and entrenched then it can conceal its own flaws.
And functionally, that's perhaps a key difference between a philosophy and a religion. In principle at least, a philosophy isn't afraid to admit error and ignorance, abandon unworkable ideas and move on, while a religion often gets sentimental, attached to doctrine, and looks for ways to preserve and perpetuate its ideas -- even if they're not working as well as they might.

Well... yes and no. Certainly, religions do get very attached to their doctrines, but that doesn't mean they aren't open to reinterpretation of them. There's been a rising movement by Christians and others that makes a Biblical case that homosexual intercourse isn't a sin. Hindus in India have tried to separate the caste system from their religion. Sure, there's backlash, but there has historically been tons of backlash against philosophies as well. Socrates' execution for his philosophical teachings comes to mind, and communism/Marxism (which you mention).

(I'm aware that some secular ideologies do this too. I've met Marxists who are zealous enough to look religious. :D)
SO to Bailey, the love of my life <3
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 10:00:51 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/2/2015 8:16:36 AM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/2/2015 7:47:25 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 10/2/2015 7:26:53 AM, SolonKR wrote:
There are philosophical (i.e. nonmagical, nonsacred) versions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism but there are religious (i.e. magical, sacred) versions too.

The philosophical versions may engage in the same meditations and rituals, but there's no expectation of magical effect, nor is there magical attribution of physical effect, nor any claim of metaphysical, intellectual or moral authority. This influences narrative and practice in subtle ways, so you have to dig pretty hard to work out what's what.

This is what I meant earlier, Solon: religion can co-opt almost anything, but it can produce almost anything secular as a side-effect too.

Ah. I see what you mean. By this point, my opinion is that certain things that get defined as religions have to be un-defined, because the comparative basis seems inherently circular.
I don't think it is; just fuzzy.

Let me pick something equally fuzzy for comparison. Have you ever thought about the difference between vowels and consonants in language? In English, some letters: cdgkpt for example, are very 'consonanty'. Others: aeiou, are very 'vowelly'. But what about the 'y' in 'hymn' or the terminal 'w' in 'how'?

Sometimes we have to acknowledge that classifications are fuzzy, but that things classify as one thing rather than another because in context, they act more like one thing than another, even if they don't always act that way. But classifications remain useful, if imperfect, if they reduce the error in decision making more than any coherent alternative.

However, I believe that most Buddhism entails some magical thinking, and worldwide, Buddhism has a strong notion of the sacred. For one thing, if you start revering doctrine instead of testing and contesting it, that tends to drift into magical thinking pretty quickly.

Yeah, Mahayana is way more popular than Theravada. I wouldn't call blind reverence of doctrine magical, though; I'd have to call American exceptionalism magical, lol.

Yes, it is, and it's tied to the peculiarly American attitude to Protestantism too. The US is perhaps the last Protestant nation on earth with a significant population who thinks sola scriptura not only works, but remains a viable template for all human knowledge. :D

Anyway, US Christianity has definitely embraced exceptionalism, and the magical thinking of US Protestantism in particular, has inflated it.

Or from my atheistic perspective: religious thought claims all the benefits of human activity, while owning none of problems. :D

Heh, now that I would emphatically disagree with. All the major schools of Buddhism acknowledge the Four Noble Truths, which are all about suffering and how to deal with suffering;
I was aware of Buddhism when I wrote that, Solon, since it's an outlier in some ways. But I think my position holds: consider how Buddhist doctrine co-opts all suffering into a single narrative, then professes to own the sole solution.
Just because it professes an orthodoxic solution doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't "own" the problem.
No?

Let me ask you some hard, if digressive questions then. :D

How might Buddhism contribute to increasing the over-all suffering of humanity rather than diminishing it? What dogma or policies (if any) does Buddhism have to detect that risk early, and prevent it from occurring? Who is responsible for administering and maintaining this thought, and to whom are they accountable for doing so?

I recognise that like all ancient world thought, Buddhism is not just a single dogma or interpretation. Feel free to think that through, and if the topic interests you, we could start another thread.

I'm not saying that the ideals are flawed or ineffective; only that if there were no reverence of the putative solution, there'd be no reason not to contest the ideas, and search for other, better answers. And as I mentioned above, reverence for dogma without studying causes and correlations is only a hair short of magical thinking.

The problem is that reverence for dogma seeps into the secular level all the time. Nationalism would be the prime example in my mind.

I strongly agree, Solon. There's a close tie between religious zeal and nationalism in general. I think that connection contributes strongly toward the adoption of religions as state faiths, and the role of religion in establishing cultural identity across virtually all cultures. Again, if that interests you, we might explore it in another thread.

I should emphasise: I'm not saying that magical thinking is inherently bad or damaging. I freely acknowledge that at times it can be palliative, creative or inspirational. My sole caveat here is that if it becomes sytematic and entrenched then it can conceal its own flaws.
And functionally, that's perhaps a key difference between a philosophy and a religion. In principle at least, a philosophy isn't afraid to admit error and ignorance, abandon unworkable ideas and move on, while a religion often gets sentimental, attached to doctrine, and looks for ways to preserve and perpetuate its ideas -- even if they're not working as well as they might.
Well... yes and no. Certainly, religions do get very attached to their doctrines, but that doesn't mean they aren't open to reinterpretation of them.

Is reinterpretation the same as abandoning doctrines for better though? Again, speaking from outside any faith, if you think magically then reinterpretation is justified because religion is inspired by absolute revelation, so it cannot be false -- only its interpretation can be wrong. However if you don't think magically about it, then reinterpretation is indistinguishable from intellectual dishonesty: a failure to admit ignorance and error limiting the methods by which seminal ideas were produced, and the scope and robustness of the ideas themselves.

And there's a conflict of interest in doing it regardless: are you aiming at the best, most accountable form of effective insight, or merely maintaining authority?

You mentioned exceptionalism earlier... there's a close tie here, isn't there?
uncung
Posts: 3,455
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 2:46:34 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/2/2015 7:36:04 AM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/2/2015 3:07:49 AM, uncung wrote:
and the question is, is your belief true? are you in the true standpoint?

Truth has never been a requisite for religion. Plus, once revolutionary monotheism rose up, the gods couldn't be translated easily between cultures, and it has been the case since that moment that not everyone can be correct in their beliefs. I'm not quite sure what the relevance of these questions are; could you please elaborate?

true religion brings the truth. very simple.
bulproof
Posts: 25,274
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 3:00:17 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/2/2015 2:46:34 PM, uncung wrote:
At 10/2/2015 7:36:04 AM, SolonKR wrote:
At 10/2/2015 3:07:49 AM, uncung wrote:
and the question is, is your belief true? are you in the true standpoint?

Truth has never been a requisite for religion. Plus, once revolutionary monotheism rose up, the gods couldn't be translated easily between cultures, and it has been the case since that moment that not everyone can be correct in their beliefs. I'm not quite sure what the relevance of these questions are; could you please elaborate?

true religion brings the truth. very simple.

The truth is that you die and no-one has ever produced evidence that there is anything after that for you.
Oh life goes on, just not yours.
Religion is just mind control. George Carlin
uncung
Posts: 3,455
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 3:08:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
true religion brings the truth. very simple.

The truth is that you die and no-one has ever produced evidence that there is anything after that for you.
Oh life goes on, just not yours.

Our souls go on, in another place. we are consisted of raw body and soul. when we die, our soul still alive while the raw body decomposed. in hereafter God will remake the new body for our souls.
bulproof
Posts: 25,274
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 3:15:37 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/2/2015 3:08:44 PM, uncung wrote:
true religion brings the truth. very simple.

The truth is that you die and no-one has ever produced evidence that there is anything after that for you.
Oh life goes on, just not yours.

Our souls go on, in another place. we are consisted of raw body and soul. when we die, our soul still alive while the raw body decomposed. in hereafter God will remake the new body for our souls.

That is so innocent that you believe that, it is just like believing in fairies.
But you may have noticed that there is ABSOLUTELY no evidence to support your childish wishful thinking.
Religion is just mind control. George Carlin
uncung
Posts: 3,455
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
10/2/2015 3:20:20 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Our souls go on, in another place. we are consisted of raw body and soul. when we die, our soul still alive while the raw body decomposed. in hereafter God will remake the new body for our souls.

That is so innocent that you believe that, it is just like believing in fairies.
But you may have noticed that there is ABSOLUTELY no evidence to support your childish wishful thinking.

It makes sense. religion provides the detail information about that.