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Not a world I made, but I can live in it.



  • bisleybisley Posts: 10,815 Senior Member
    Religion provides a structure for self discipline. Where philosophy asks the important questions, religion attempts to answer the most frightening questions, in a hopeful way. Like any institution created by human beings, religion is subject to corruption. Like government, the simplest religions work the best, because complexity attracts opportunists, who can blur the details and link them together in a way that misrepresents the whole. Any idea can become a religion, if a charismatic person begins to substitute belief for the lack of facts. In a world where the things we don't know overwhelm the little bit that we do know, religion can get you through the day. Since there is no way to avoid death, lessening the fear of it allows a person to create and produce, more efficiently. Since so much is unknown, anyway, theorizing about how it all began and how it all ends is not all that illogical. But, when our mind transforms that theory into 'fact,' it becomes religion.

    There is no question that the US had religious roots, and that the self discipline derived from it encouraged the early settlers and organizers to persevere through their daily hardships. Some of it became corrupted by the opportunists, but on the whole, simple folk were fortified by it, and derived much needed courage from the beliefs they held tightly to. There is ample evidence that religion helps to bind families together, and that families protect children better than any outside entity can. Mostly, children outgrow the most outrageous dogma that parents use to control them, and their youth and curiosity encourages general progress and independent thought.

    As for your assertion that religion will make a come-back, I contend that it has never left. Most of the people who have abandoned the religion that they grew up with simply substituted another for it - atheism, for the most part, which branches off into political movements, scientific consensus, philosophical trends, etc. Humans have to believe in something, to be productive, else there is a troubling void in their thoughts, that will be filled with all sorts of involuntary thoughts that aid nothing. Whether or not they believe in a creator is largely irrelevant, once they decide to abandon the religion they were taught, and replace it with one that seems to suit them better. Those who believe that their emotions are always over-ruled by logic are only fooling themselves, just as many devout followers of the known religions often do.
  • bisleybisley Posts: 10,815 Senior Member
    I think religion can give hope to the hopeless or at least help them to endure the feelings of hopelessness. But it also gives hope to the hopeful, because they attribute some of their previous successes to it, and tend to believe that continuing along with the same principles will lead to more success, or at least to whatever they define as happiness.

    Both the optimist and the pessimist are continuously re-evaluating their beliefs, subconsciously, according to whatever their successes and failures have taught them. To a pessimist, his failures always seem much more world-shaking than his successes, whereas an optimist is one who has learned to rationalize his failures, after the fact, and use whatever he has learned, to prepare for future success. Pain tends to be felt more abruptly than joy, which is often only achieved after carefully laid plans have come to fruition. Religion can teach a person to view both pain and pleasure as somewhat more 'ordinary' events, rather than assigning to either the monumental proportions that often divert the course of one's entire life.

    A person's conception of what the truth is, or is not, adjusts itself intermittently, unless he constantly bolsters it, through the 'group therapy' conventions that are found within religions or ideologies, or by otherwise immersing himself in whatever dogma that reassures him that he is right. There is not that much difference between any people who commit to any ideology, because, either way, they make a commitment to believe in something that is not completely true. Human beings choose to believe a particular theory, usually based on which peer group they choose to be identified with. How much a person will allow himself to be swayed, by evidence to the contrary, becomes the more important question, when searching for truth. Break it all down to the basics, and it appears to be an exercise in how much hypocrisy each individual is willing to accept, within the herd he runs with.

    Psychologists use all sorts of conventions to help people resolve the issues that confuse them, and religion employs many of those same conventions, but without the irritation of having to constantly learn newer ones. People 'cure' themselves of all sorts of common maladies, just by setting new patterns for their lives that can eventually displace the habits that were bad for them. Those who deny religion the most heartily are promoting a competing 'belief system' of their own, using scientific consensus to combat religious consensus. Both are pushing unproven theories, for the most part, but the competition would not exist, at all, if each defined its goal. Science attempts to explain the unknown, using theories that extrapolate what is known, whereas religion simply attempts to counter the fear caused by the unknown. One purports to make us think with the logical parts of our brain, while the other uses our emotions to override the fear caused by not understanding what the facts mean. Both science and religion are easily corrupted, by self-interest.

    As one who has remained aloof towards religion for 50 years, I condemn the hypocrites who corrupt the conventions that have served so many, but I commend those who have used their genuine faith to serve and help mankind, whether their passion is directed to religion or science. The arguments made against religion use science to pick it apart, but in doing so, they corrupt the very scientific principles that they claim to adhere to, religiously. In their zealousness, they forget that the degree of success, in science, is validated by the discovery of absolute truths. Yet, they extrapolate tiny bits of evidence into magnificent theories that they eventually come to believe are the equivalent of scientific truth - exactly the same thing that they accuse religion of doing. Honest science requires 'working theories,' but does not memorialize the theories that have not been proven. Doing so corrupts it, and draws opportunists into the field that lack the scientific honesty to discover great truths.

  • zorbazorba Posts: 25,185 Senior Member
    Very eloquently and well put, Bisley.
    My "religion" (for lack of a better term) changes DAILY, adjusting to the ever changing universe, my place in it, and most importantly, my maturity and learning level. Religion and Science are two sides of the same coin - and I mean that in a good way - despite what each of their more fanatical followers would have you believe.
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
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