Religions, what are they?

My belief on religion, is that religions are old theories about reality which changed over time, but remained popular enough, or malignant enough, to exist down to the modern age. Creationism seems to make sense to allot of people. In the passed, almost everybody was a creationist. New theories emerged with time, as things naturally change, but creationism has always been a popular idea.

Not being an adherent of revealed religions, I still must stand up for Creationism–in its literal sense. I mean, Creation did get created after all–even if the Creator was nothing more than Natural Law.


How did the natural laws get there?

Religions are two things:

  1. theories about how the material was formed
  2. expressions of what people sense exist metaphysically

The first constantly changes over time in rapid rates; so frequently so that we have hundreds to thousands of factions within one given religion, each describing the material manifestation slightly differently.
The second moves a bit slower in it’s alterations; so little so that we still only have about 3 categories of types of religion, crossed by only about 2 focuses:

            Types            1) spiritual goal is external                   2) spiritual goal is internal
common external 
metaphysical sentient 
source providing 
spiritual sensation
common internal 
source providing 
spiritual sensation
common terrestrial 
source providing 
spiritual sensation

Personally, I am more interested in the second reason why Religions exist and not the first.
The first is simply naturally expected and predictable over time.
The second is pretty damn unique and quite interesting.

I was actually very surprised when I read Stumps’ answer. I didn’t expect anyone here at ILP to hold a similar view on this question as I did. Cudos Stumps!

Roy A. Clouser spends a great deal of time finding a precise and accurate definition of “religion” in his book: “The Myth of Religious Neutrality: A Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories.”

Clouser admits at the outset that it is notoriously hard to define the term religion. (Contrary to what many people in forums or chatrooms would claim…the word is not easy to define. You can’t just run to Websters for this one any more than you can go look up the word “knowledge” to solve the past 3000 years of debate over epistemology.)

So, Clouser begins by asking what would distinguish between a religious belief, and a non-religious belief.

This is a very helpful distinction as it turns out. Clouser walks us through the chain of reasoning, discussing pros and cons, objections and solutions, until he arrives at this definition:

“A religious belief is a belief in something as divine per se no matter how that is further described, where “divine per se” means having unconditionally non-dependent reality.”

In this case…everyone is inherently religious, since it is necessary for all of us to have some belief in a non-dependent reality. This is why I could say: “The Atheist has a head full of hair” in my post: “Is Bald a Hair Color Afterall?”

Although there are exceptions, I think religions provide a fantasy world (delusions), in which people can feel certain and thus being mentally more stable.
People with the problem of mental stability, people who need imaginary emotional/mental support are caged/jailed within the limited perspectives of their religion. And in exchange of narrowed view and impaired thinking ability, they get the feeling that they are sure of “god” and other things including all sort of things about themselves.

I think it has served and still serving humanity so that it keeps superficial appearance of stability,in a way. Without this kind of artificial mental jailing system, some people would become clinically insane because of the degree of uncertainty they have to face.

But religions isn’t needed and not helpful for people who would like to have broader range of perspectives and better ability to think rationally.
In other words, religion is for people who would like to remain mentally limited/handicapped.
Nothing wrong with it, as it’s just a matter of each person’s preference.
Some prefer wider view while others prefer narrowed view and imaginary certainty within it.

Also, things like common sense and idealism are similar to religion, in this sense.
They provide “eye cover” to people who wants to live with virtual world created by narrowed vision.

One would have to first prove that what a religious follower is sensing is imagined.

We have not even properly identified all of the emotions experienced in all spiritual states; therefore, the possible definitive testing of whether or not religious beliefs are imaginary or not exclusively is not possible yet.

Furthermore, you are actually flawed on the limited to broad range of thinking.
What occurs is that people that tend to have slightly higher IQ ranges on average tend to embrace thought standards which are counter-cultural to the standard.
Our current batch is Atheistic concepts in some form.
Another previous batch was vegetarianism.

And once we dominate the culture with Atheism, as such is inevitable at some point over time, then the slightly higher IQ ranges will push for some form of religion (not theism perhaps) or another simply because it is counter-cultural.

And at the point where that happens, the common mean will suggest to us that those following Atheistic concepts will have slightly lower IQ ranges while those following religious concepts will have slightly higher IQ ranges.

This is just how it seems to work in regards to “smart” people and culture.

It has little to do with what people want in regards to broad or limited scope, but instead everything to do with general standard of a culture and counter-cultural push in that same culture.
Already, the atheist culture has been seen questioning the intelligence level of it’s up and coming demographics in quandary.
This is why; each generation will be a little less “smart” than the last as it become a little less taboo.

So far, I haven’t met any religious follower who could prove what they are claiming in rational/logical manner, although they are usually so sure of what they claim.
And they are usually believing what is written in books. And these books are generally written in not very logical manner, but with exceptionally high degree of pretended certainty.
Since gods and angels (and demons etc) are not observable to common physical sense nor recordable by camera, etc, I think we can consider these existence as imaginary or the product of delusion.
I mean, these people are claiming the existence and interaction with highly uncommon type of creatures and entities with absolute type certainty but without prove/logic. What’s the problem in seeing this as “imaginary”?

I have experienced many different states of awareness, both accidentally and intentionally.
I can shift into certain states of awareness at will and with relative ease, in which perception may change in different ways.
And some of these states may correspond to what religious people have described.
But I don’t even call them “spiritual state”. I mean, they are just the product of changes in how we get/process information and more or less “mechanical” in nature. It’s just a matter of changes in the focuses (an/or density and shape, distribution) of awareness.
I can understand that people with limited experiences and with strong religious conditioning would mistake certain state as “beatitude”, “blissful”, “darkness of soul”, and so on, among others. But they can be understood in rather different manner without any religious context/connotation.
And these perceptions/experiences can be classified as imaginary, too, after all.

Here, you are presenting much broader issue in a very narrow//shallow perspective of trend swing caused by the tendency to seek counter-cultural move by HighIQ people.

First, I don’t see any logical supportive information for you claim of the tendency of HighIQ people, even though you talk as if it’s a sure thing.
Then, you are mistaking what I talked as the issue of IQ.
I don’t think it requires much IQ to understand I didn’t talk about IQ in my post.
And you claimed I was flawed based on your pretty much baseless (so far) and not very logical claim of cultural swing hypothesis.

You may want to reread my post and rethink, if you are interested in understanding.
(Also, I edited a bit and corrected typos and a few places).

I was mainly talking about the available range of perspective.
Also, illogical but extremely high degree of certainty religious people try to show is another thing.

Maybe you can understand reading your post. I mean, in the last part I quoted, your perspective is very limited yet you presented it with a lot of certainty (without supporting info).
This type of behavior is what I was talking about in my post, as what religions do to people.

Now, I’ll repeat that I wasn’t talking about IQ.
I don’t think higher IQ is co-related with better thinking ability.
I once did IQ test at school, and I did fairly well, I guess, as I answered about 2 or 3 times more questions compared to my friends.
But I didn’t ‘think’ to answer. Actually, I wasn’t very good at slow logical thinking process at the time because I used to rely on much faster and intuitive way of instantly obtaining answer.
I was usually at the top of class and school in many exams, without studying (nor thinking much).
I started to learn logical thinking, later when got into 7th and 8th grade.

And, I don’t think the liberty or freedom of perspective is directly related to IQ, either, although it might help.
Moreover, I’m not so interested in IQ, to begin with. I don’t think we humans are very intelligent, at all, for the matter. :slight_smile:

I wrote this in the “Why are Christians so Evasive” thread, and I think it’s applicable here:

I won’t jump to assuming people are limited in some fashion, but I agree with you.
In fact, a large portion of my current study relies on this fact to be true for the following concepts of the thought to be worked out (basically suggests a form of intuitive sensory impulse is a form of sensory which is allegorically translated into religious or spiritual constructs for tangible control of the sensory input reaction; no firm conclusion on this, just working theory)

Are you asking for a citation of the study?
It’s a pretty interesting read overall.

No, sorry, I was making a lateral comparison of how the IQ concept study shows a correlation and so it’s entirely possible and within range of plausibility that “narrow and broad” perspectives are more a social reaction, of each persons, to their surrounding than exactly something related directly to being caused by their religious or non-religious raising/training.

The only real cross-over here is that it seems to be that, on average by a small difference, higher IQ range individuals tend to latch onto ideas which challenge their accustomed status quo, so the odd-duck out is typically going to see things in broader scopes because they are challenging the thought and examining it critically.
This isn’t directly caused by their IQ perhaps, but the study just seems to find this behavior linked to the same person, for whatever motive that does cause the act.

Right, this, I think, wraps back around mostly to the first bit I quoted about “feeling” something is right.
Meaning, that it is something which one thinks of, or hears, and no intuitive sense in the person screams out against it, or is uncomfortable with it, or rejects it.
It seems naturally accurate and in line with how they “sense” reality; how reality “feels” intuitively.

The logic probably won’t follow…rarely does.
It’s like working out the logic of why you sense someone is bad or good in one’s “gut” (bad and good is meant personally subjective in this use, not universal in implication).

There is a logical reason, but chances are going to be heavy that most of the population will lack the rather complex and ever-changing data that can describe critically and analytically why they feel one way or the other about some given metaphysical construct.

This is what I’m currently focusing on, as I said above; the (for lack of a better term) intuitive sensory construct involved that seems to be compelling people based on what they, “feel”, rather than what they may think.
It’s not uncommon for giant holes in logic to be addressed by (at least western) religious parties as requiring trust that a given metaphysically known, yet humanly unknown, logic does exist and that it is simply just beyond their scope at this point.

This seems to be the standard (at least western) method of reconciling spiritual (the experience of; not exactly religion per say) conflicts between the cognitive reason and intuitive emotion (specifically that intuitive sense compelling the given spiritual/religious perspective agreement).

If it’s not logical, you don’t need to pretend to be logical.
But many religious people try very hard to pretend to be logical.
I’d say that theologies (of most religions) are heck of (failing) efforts to be logical.

I like religious people who know and admit that it’s not logical from the beginning to the end.
They often know what they are dealing with and they are more honest to their logical understanding and non-logical understanding.
Usually, they are the people who have better religious experiences and understandings that they don’t need to pretend to be logical to be in peace with what they live.
I think their logical capacity is also better than those who pretend to be logical (and fail).

I was saying you are converting the issue in the way that fits your interest and sticking to the perspective.
So, it’s creating narrowed view on the matter.

Then I was pointing that you are showing high degree of certainty without making logically well supported presentation.

Now, as far as citation goes, unless you can understand and explain the reliability of the cited information, I’m not interested.
As I said later, I wasn’t talking in IQ based perspective here. It’s you brought it up and you can do whatever is necessary or appropriate (for support your claim/theory, etc) if you want.

Oh, I see. So, you claimed that “Furthermore, you are actually flawed on the limited to broad range of thinking.” just because there was small cross over.
I think your thinking/reasoning/memory is flawed, if this is the case.

From my experiences, intuitive understandings can be understood and expressed by multitude of logical cut-out (a.k.a perspectives).
If you can’t, I tend to think that the intuitive understanding is of highly doubtful quality and/or the logical ability of the person isn’t well developed.
But it may take long time and lots of effort to obtain satisfactory (to oneself, and then to others) logical explanation of given understanding.

It’s actually pretty simple.
Certain type of understanding, such as the one I call “insight” is like climbing a mountain, in person.
It offers 360 degree view from the top.
But logical perspective is about one particular view (just like taking a photo) and can’t describe the full experience.
However, when we get used to, we can choose certain view to express major features, some points of interests, ans so on, and put them into logical expression.
Also, if requested by others, we can take certain specific perspective to describe and explain what others were interested.

And without enough ability to express one’s experience (whether physical or not), one may feel frustration of our logical mind. It desires to have logical views.
Most probably, this explains one aspect of failed logical effort most religious people show.
But I tend to think that most religious people don’t have good quality experience to begin with, and then abuse logical mind for telling themselves and calming themselves that they are right, good, moral, and so on.

Unfortunately, it’s not likely for them to learn how to think logically and get enough logical satisfaction because they abuse and mix up illogical material with (fake) logic.
It means we will continue to hear loads of absurd logic from many religious people for long time to come.

That’s usually my angle isn’t it?
I mean, I’m usually caught saying, “Hold on…why try to be objectively right with this stuff? Can’t you just be subjectively accepting instead?”

However, though it’s not really a counter to anything; I do believe the belief’s are individually logical in that they do follow a causal logic of intuitive emotional compelling which when examined is naturally understandable.
But, like I said, it’s not the same as saying the belief itself is logically outlined…I’m actually wary of any belief proposed to be capable of iron clad logic.
Those that do…in my opinion, spend too much time building cases like lawyer firms instead of practicing their faith.

That’s my perspective only, however.

Although I wouldn’t claim to be categorically religious over spiritual, I would say you should probably like me well enough then. :wink:

Ah…I see, true.
It does doesn’t it?
Hmm, good point.
Sweet irony, lol.

I think it was flawed, yeah, in hind-sight, as I was working on the correlated concept of generally ranged of intelligence ratios of the brain’s capacity (meaning raw horsepower of acumen…not whether a person is smart or stupid, but how quickly their brain associates information with wide ranges of subject material…which high acumen is commonly found in high IQ, but again…low IQ doesn’t mean dumb…it means lower acumen which just means slower to assess; but not exactly less intelligently) to the capacity of grasping more and less possible relationships of associations to the subject material within a given time-frame of attention.

But since life isn’t exactly so short…the point does become rather flawed overall when we look at life perspective broadness; very true.

More or less…I think this is dead on.
I don’t tend to think of people this way when talking to them, probably because I am an idealist so I prefer to offer the multitudes of chances for people to not cross into illogical formats that seem blatantly screwball reaches, but this is how I think of people as a general perspective religiously when I think of it removed and in consideration, reflecting on how everything fits together.

I think the only thing I have continued to be hung up on is the terminology in which you use, but if I side-step the suggestive connotations of the terms, I would say for the most part…you are very much dead on as far as I have experienced people and religion.
I suppose the only true difference is that I stand holding a spiritual take on life while viewing the above and you appear not to.

I see religion as a tool-set, to be manipulated for purposes of use with an aim of one of two things:

  1. understanding one’s relationship between oneself and what one feels is beyond their self (outside of your body and mind) emotionally.
  2. understanding one’s relationship between oneself and what one feels is within one’s self (inside of your body and mind) emotionally.

In both; I only see things as emotional…not logical.
It makes sense to me why religion is dripping with allegory from this perspective, as it is facsimiles of other things which lack tangible names, but when attributed to an allegorical view evoke what is desired within one’s self.

Others would argue against this, however, and suggest I am devaluing the underlying truth of a (their) given religion in suggesting this perspective.
To each their own I suppose.

For those that do not interpret the world in emotional facsimile…religion must seem absolutely insane, and it probably doesn’t help that most people practicing religion take their emotional facsimiles as literal matter.

I think many (if not most) beliefs held by us are illogical.
At least beliefs of mine and others I examined were very often baseless (logically speaking).
We do believe very easily just because someone told us, it was written somewhere, and so on.
Also, we may have beliefs coming from expectation/hope.

Well, you may find some of my views as highly spiritual. :smiley:
Some of my friends think I’m “spiritual”, “mystic”, and so on because I’m a bit sensitive in certain things just like some of them, and I’m too familiar with different state of awareness, which is too often associated with spirituality and religion.
But I don’t usually use the term “spiritual” nor do I make the distinction of “spiritual vs non-spiritual”, either.

To me, awareness is the basic material, and the focus of the awareness is pretty logical matter, so to say (in the sense of what I call “perspective logic” and not in the sense of formal logic, propositional logic, etc).
Also, emotion is very logical in its structure and functioning, to me.
It doesn’t appear to be so to many because the data (mostly beliefs and impressions) emotion uses is flawed and confused, most of the case, and thus it often yields mixed up results.

By improving our logical mind, we can reduce the confusion of the data used by emotion, it can produce very rapid and practical result for complex evaluation.
It’s pretty useful.

Probably, it’s a badly transmitted fax of poorly conceived flawed image. :slight_smile:

Anyway, everyone does whatever s/he wants. :slight_smile:
Religious people like to stick to their religion and the sticking nature limit them in their perspective and thinking ability, (although there are always exceptions).
And that is convenient for the people selling the religion, too, I guess.

I theorize (steering clear of believing; meaning, I often wonder) if whether the end result is nothing more than a two-fold desire: happiness without fear (to include an equal share with “dread”).

Seems to me, an awful lot of what seems to be spiritual pursuits, indeed life pursuits in general for many, can be dwindled down to satisfying the interests of this attainment.

From this perspective, it’s interesting to consider how many religions belittle the “worldly” (in all religious formats such is presented) to a point of negligence; as if it is simply of no concern what-so-ever.
I sometimes wonder if the un-thought idea here is a motive by which to push down the value of needing happiness without fear in regards to the “worldly” so much so one can imagine that they are beyond need of concern from either…liberation from the interests, so to speak.
And yet I further wonder…how often does that not just leave empty lives?
Is the monastic simply escaping in relative form to the narcotically addicted?

Labels are only worth whatever they are to the person using them when it comes to things like religion and spirituality.
I use the term, and apply it to myself, in regards to what I consider spirituality; an existential experience of emotional sensory resting on intuition recessed in the dormant mode network and implicit memory in which the cognitive active facilities of the mind pass through and associate with in regular cycles of neurological passing and understand these constructs only in the slightest grasp of conscious comprehension by active association.

This is why I think allegorical constructs and meditative structures are useful; they facilitate a visual and sensory based internal associative mapping, or guidance, system for which allows the cognitive active facilities to understand it’s own dormant mode network and implicit memory (making up 60 to 80% of the brain’s energy) data, which in turn allows a person to understand more about the relationships between themselves and themselves, and themselves and things beyond themselves, and themselves and things beyond their imagining; things difficult to comprehend (expanse of time; death; humanity; existence, philosophically as a sense, and similar abstractions).
The more understood, in recognized emotional stance at the least, a person achieves in quantity and diversity of these relationships among themselves, the more these people seem to be at rest; happy, and simply not in fear at all. To the extreme people where we find perspectives of simply what is is just as it is and nothing more to them. Consumed in the experience, even a simple day, and yet it is enjoyably nothing more than what it is; even if dire.

Most of these people also tend to be very old, even by today’s standards, probably having experienced enough in life to eventually arrive at such an emotional state internally naturally.

But this is what I consider spiritual.
This is an example of what I mean by labels are only useful with such to the individual, and if not, then worth less.

I fully agree; mindfulness is definitely something we have desperately lost track of the importance of.
Meditation (reflection; not Buddhism or Zen) is a continually lost framework of study it seems…hopefully I am wrong.

I would agree that we have many, many constructs that have really failed the translation over time.
They were probably very acute at their time, but unfortunately; we seem to think time stands still in regards to religion and spirituality; that once it was written, no more could be said.
Man today is not the same exact man of the old.
In some ways yes; in others, no…the needs psychologically and sociologically are different.
Therefore, the emotional functions are different as the imagination can conceive of more abstract focuses than possibly previously present.

It seems to me, we simply need newer religions that are modeled specifically as philosophical progressive frameworks non-pretentiously presenting functional frameworks of perspectives that accomplish a given existential experience in life if adopted by given psychologies, and allowing for different psychologies to party with different frameworks; in a sense, modular.

As I have continued to hold the idea of:
The irony of bliss, heaven, and attainment is that they are all equated to the joy of simplicity found in a toddler child, cat, or dog without regarding that none of these beings are capable of appreciating their perceived bliss or attainment themselves, and naturally therefore, neither would the recipient of such a bliss, heaven, or attainment.

This said, however, the sad part isn’t this…this is fine; Forest Gump is a model of the Zen arts and attaining perfect self realization without pretension…yay St. Gump!..the problem is with the complex social nature of man in fear of loss of what man has little of in their perceived hands that grants them happiness without fear; don’t threaten the validity of it…man gets quick to snarl it would seem.
Don’t take his heaven away, or even suggest it may not be there in form.

So the sad part is…fear, in short.
Though it’s more just unfortunate on the count of incapability of living alongside one’s fears acceptingly; as it would be ridiculously idealistic and unrealistic to expect a perspective to be valid in considering fear as an un-needed sensation existentially in a life worth experiencing.

Evolutionary psychology suggests that religious belief is instinctual for humans, as a byproduct of tending to suspect “something is behind” mysterious occurences, which was a useful trait to us in the stone age. So what we have is a population that is naturally inclined towards believing in gods because they give definite answers to mysterious occurences. One may say, then, that religious people are in a way more in touch with their instincts than atheists. Of course, this doesn’t go for all atheists, since many of them break free from this instinct only to multiply their tendency to be led by others(ie. blindly believing the word of famous atheist ‘prophets’ like Hitchens and Dawkins).

Essentially, I believe this is what religion is at its core. Instinct. Then humans, being self-serving(themselves and their ‘group’ - a group growing smaller every day in industrial society), will exploit this instinct in others, which is why you have all these people claiming it’s nothing but deceit. I believe they are wrong; the will to believe - instinct - must be in place before a con can occur.

Life and death are mysterious events. We wonder how life came to be, and we wonder what happens when we die. We are afraid of dying in part because it’s unknown to us. Since humans, by instinct, tend to suspect something of being behind mysterious events rather than nothing, it makes sense to fill this empty space with someone like God. After all, if something or someone really is behind these things, what else than a god could it be? It is useful to us not to assume that it happened all on its own, because believing so in the stone age would result in not checking out the noise you heard, risking death.

Ironically, religion is in fact perfectly rational from our brains perspective. It is perfectly reasonable to believe something that is false if it helps you survive and reproduce. Our brain thinks atheists will be removed by natural selection. The only problem is that the world has changed drastically the past 10,000 years, and evolution is unable to keep up. It may very well be that what was once a useful trait is now neutral or even a handicap, just like we eat candy and fats because it was useful to us for the extra calories in the stone age. Our brain cannot comprehend supermarkets.