The Need for Religion

It’s always been a favorite argument with those needing religion, and the absolutes it provides, to insinuate that without religion man would fall into violence and materialism and indiscriminating self-destruction and some form of chaos, even when chaos is the natural progression of things.

Yet, history provides evidence that none of this is obvious or even logical.

Man evolved through centuries without ever having to believe in an eternal afterlife or an eternal damnation to keep him self disciplined to a selfish motive we call a Golden Rule or Karma.

Animals, no less, display this same ‘moral’ behavior daily, without requiring a religion or a belief in a higher consciousness to remain disciplined to it.

What do you think morality is if even animals can display its basic premises?

One of the many tools as a means to survival.
But like anything, it can also cause problems.
You are correct. Religion and the quest for absolutes leads to Nihilism.

One need only look at civilization at it’s most religious and at it’s least to then judge for themselves what good religion is.

I tend to lean towards the idea that self-rectification is also a self-correcting process, meaning that when we are legitimately engaged in an act of self-cultivation we tend to opt for systems that compliment the flaws we have in ourselves.

So, when a theist asks an atheist why they don’t go on killing sprees if there is no god, I am really quite happy that religion exists to keep this psychopath controlled! Obviously he fears he would go around killing people if he didn’t think he was living in a panopticon prison. Whether or not he actually would is irrelevant, since his impulses are controlled.

What if I say that man has already fallen into violence, materialism, and indiscriminating self-destruction, and that the proper claim of a religion is that it offers a way out from such?

Security blanket, theist and atheists use religion and scienctific explanations as security blankets. Humans on the whole need security because we are naked to universe. Which everone secures you best is the one you will cling to.

Ucci, I think we did that falling when the first human clans fought over a cave. And you can’t rightly call it falling if you never got up.

I wouldn’t disagree with you.

Ucc,

Your description of violence, materialism, and indescriminating self-destruction… Seems like a fair description of most of the major religions…

Satyr,

Religion provides the closed system paradigm. Kris calls it the security blanket, but it is the same thing. But further, religion is needed for stronger social organization. Some societies provide this through other forms than monotheism, but the need is still to satisfy social needs.

I’m unsure that religion was ever necessary to define morality, since this would be a social, not individual concern.

Most is fine, I’m only out to defend one, after all.

I shudder when I hear this argument, myself.

It’s an almost direct declaration of intent or an admission of an inner desire kept in check.

It’s funny how the moralists require a threat/reward to remain disciplined to what they believe defines them as superior or special.

Erlir

Religion just adds an extra layer of bullshit, lets call it makeup, in the farce we call civilization.

Civilization: A churning pot of repressed instinct.

It seems to me, wherever the majority of a people are religious, and the religion doesn’t matter, the less educated, and just overly backwards, a people are.

It does more than add a layer of bullshit. It gives rise to absolute certainty, which then gives rise to absolute gullibility, and absolute herd/slave mentality. It stagnates a civilization whenever it touches it. Look at Europe: In ~1600 years nothing came of it, and this was after the Greeks!

See, I don’t see it as funny or tragic or anything like that . . . I just see it as human. Last I checked, anybody claiming to be perfect was lying, so what we are dealing with is degrees of damaged goods. Frankly, I applaud people who have found a system that counters the damaged part of themselves as opposed to finding a system that supports it. I mean, it is all too easy to find an ethical system that supports what you already feel/think and just run with it but I’d argue that a person doing that isn’t actually engaging themselves in ethical thought/cultivation in a sincere way.

For me, the tragedy is when people make a mistake with respect to what is ethical behavior and thus their system further alienates them from their true natures as opposed to helping them bring it to the fore. Granted, that is also one hell of a subjective see-saw, and I can’t be sure that my fat ass isn’t just sitting there screaming “why won’t anybody play with me!”

What does it say about a mind that requires an external source for remaining in control of self?

A tenuous control, at best.

The Abrahamic religions are based on original sin, and create the perspective of man in a struggle with his divided good - evil selves. The dichotomy only relieved by the monotheistic god, of which there are two versions… or is that four versions? Christians got fancy with the trilogy, while Islam stuck with just one, but both cast man as only capable of “sin” without the intervention of their respective God. We’re all little puppets with only two choices: heaven or hell.

Contrast that with the Eastern philosophies that acknowledge our capacities for beneficial - malignant behavior but instead promotes both understanding and being with the flow of nature. The emphasis is not some struggle against ourselves, but in grasping the watercourse way.

One is constant guilt and repression of our sinful selves, while the other is simply resonating that which is. Quite a difference in perspective.

The oriental religions, before they were interpreted by the western ‘freethinking’ school, were embedded in extremely rigid sets of ethics. It was hardly a hedonistic ‘everything goes’ situation.

Zen and Taoism may ultimately be about consciousness into the flux of the moment, but in order to attain that mindstate, extreme dicipline and harsh physical rigour were always demanded.

Perhaps the Abrahaimic religions are just so young that they have yet to establish an ethical dicipline to pave the way for eventual spiritual practice.

Jakob,

Well, first I said nothing about the many religions spawned by what I called philosophies. There is a difference. I’m not sure what you mean by interpretation of some ‘freethinking’ school. I don’t belong to any such school, and I don’t think I’m a “freethinker”, whatever that is. It’s true than I have to read Tao through translations, but I haven’t heard of too many translators called ‘freethinkers’. I don’t recall suggesting that Tao or Buddism is a hedonistic ‘everything goes’ situation. Where did you get that?

Agreed. Disciplined practice is necessary to understand the nature of duality.

Perhaps a very small percentage see the personal spirituality issues and practice the same, but the apriori assumptions made inside those religions create the estrangement of man from the natural world. It seems highly improbable that this will change. These religions look beyond this world to a ‘better place’. They may be in this world, but they are not of it.

Morality, as argued in Plato’s Republic, is a deployment of the weak. To compare this to monotheistic religions, people cannot over-cede God, it is all powerful. So they make contractual agreements with God, only this type of agreement isn’t new. The creation of cities is testament to people’s willingness to survive. In order to achieve this goal, we must give up certain freedoms and must therefore restrict ourselves from behaviors not suitable for the whole city, therefore we have laws, which came before the 10 commandments. These laws are social contracts made by people to one another.
Sorry for this 1st year philosophy, I’m a 2nd year political philosophy major who’s yearning to boast. <<<Contrary to<<< I am not a narcissist.

I exaggerated - I meant your suggestion that Zen and Tao focus on that ‘what is’. I mean they do manipulate ‘what is’ - namely, the individual, in order for him to perceive reality in a certain way.

I don’t agree that they do this more so than Zen or Taoists. These believe in pure action and reard for that. These dicimplines are aslo means to purify life.
When I see a muslim who has just prayed, I see the same calm acceptance of reality over him. I’m not sure about anything here, but I am inclined to think there is not an essential difference. People seek peace of mind, that’s all.

Jakob,

I suppose there is some truth to that, but I suspect that the methodolgies come from a different intent. The manipulation isn’t meant to control, but to strip away the crust of illusion and delusion so that the individual is confronted with self. While I believe that this is possible in religious practice, the overwhelming practice is to ‘give over’ self to an external God. I find little in the Eastern philosophies that encourage the killing of others to obtain an afterlife reward.

I have no doubt that many religious people of any or all faiths seek peace of mind, but religions seem to incite other behaviors not exactly peaceful… :unamused:

Actually many scientists are saying that belife in something greater than us is what gave us the drive over others to survive the ice-age. I think history is a little less known than you think, and that you should not draw assumptions on things you know little about