Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Religion in Modern America

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 05, 2009, 09:54:32 PM
i appreciate that the focus is being moved back to the the original post.  since we're talking about religion in modern America, i think it's illuminating to study the modern American example of religion, especially for the theists who believe that we shouldn't leave god behind, but rearrange some symbols.

for those who argue the value of theistic belief, i'm sure that whatever works for you is just fine, but from what i can gather your beliefs and value system still do not coincide with the majority of the god-fearing species.  in fact, your beliefs as stated are so personal and esoteric that they can't be associated with modern american religion as a whole.  to stay true to the original post, the basis of this discussion would have to be about the everyman's religion, in the mainstream world; the "opiate of the masses."

for those who believe in science: take heed of what Conservationist said, that progress is simply "doing what we want."  it's possible that science has created as many problems for modern americans as religion.  some examples: 1) cheap industrialized food leads to obesity and diabetes, 2) cheap oil leads to inefficient vehicles, 3) prevalence of computers leads to isolation and dependence, 4) longer life spans leads to increased health care costs, which for many equates to loss of coverage.  so of course, science is a tool, it doesn't have all the answers, and sometimes it creates problems when used to solve others.

i still lean to science, if only because it evolves and is tested in theory and application against the demands of reality, as opposed to religion, which is by nature resistant to adaptation and change. 

again, if belief in supernatural stuff works for you, that's great, but let's not forget that in america, kids in public school are taught that creationism is a scientific theory of equal value to evolution, or that people will believe that a political candidate is the Antichrist, or that some support our military backing of Israel in anticipation of the Apocalypse, or that some parents will deny their children necessary medical procedures to stay in line with their religious beliefs.  you can have your symbols and your metaphysics, but this is the american religion i'm familiar with.

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 06, 2009, 02:58:46 PM
to stay true to the original post, the basis of this discussion would have to be about the everyman's religion, in the mainstream world; the "opiate of the masses."

you're right.  one thing I noticed, and I'm pretty sure Nietzsche mentions something along these same lines, is that in the New Testament (which I would consider the everyman religion in today's America), God, THE FATHER, is hardly even there.  It's all about Jesus, the son.  I'm not sure where to go from here, but basically, that always struck me as odd and, personally, unsettling.  I was a huge fan of the Greek myths as a very young kid (and still am), and maybe that's the explanation, but I always associated more strongly with God IN THE SKY.  It kind of degrades God to have to become a human.

let's not forget that in america, kids in public school are taught that creationism is a scientific theory of equal value to evolution, or that people will believe that a political candidate is the Antichrist, or that some support our military backing of Israel in anticipation of the Apocalypse, or that some parents will deny their children necessary medical procedures to stay in line with their religious beliefs.  you can have your symbols and your metaphysics, but this is the american religion i'm familiar with.

Is this REALLY the norm, though?  despite what it might look like from what I said in this thread, I am an anti-christian, I don't believe, literally, in God, I don't believe in Heaven, I don't believe in sin, so I'm not trying to defend Christianity, here, but in Wisconsin/Upper Midwest this just doesn't seem like the norm, to me.  not even close, in fact - we laugh at shit like that.  I'm not denying it's out there, and whether it's the norm or not, it's STILL a problem, I agree with you there, but I don't think this is the religion of the everyman.

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 06, 2009, 05:55:57 PM
Quote from: Jim Necroslaughter
Is this REALLY the norm, though?

That depends a great deal on where you live.  Also, studies do indicate that Americans are very illiterate when it comes to science.  Less than 50% of Americans accept the theory of evolution, and routinely a majority of Americans will fail simple scientific questions like, "True or False?  The Earth revolves around the Sun and takes one year to do so."

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 12:18:23 AM

That depends a great deal on where you live.  Also, studies do indicate that Americans are very illiterate when it comes to science.  Less than 50% of Americans accept the theory of evolution, and routinely a majority of Americans will fail simple scientific questions like, "True or False?  The Earth revolves around the Sun and takes one year to do so."
I live smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, and I've rarely encountered ignorance on that scale.

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 12:39:38 AM
I think the religion vs. science issue began when use of the scientific method started to rebut religious symbols: the age and shape of the earth, the structure of the universe, the existence of a deity, and other information in sacred texts. As the literal presence of these symbols is disproved, people start to question the validity of the concepts they represent. You could never tell a believer this, but I'm sure the pope would admit it if you got him drunk: traditional religious values were not dictated by god, they are realized by religious leaders and then god was created to impose them. Seeing this, during the dark ages, church leaders silenced scientists in order to preserve order amongst the populace.

I must object: first of all, some perspective: what you call the "scientific method" is a materialistic method; the (good, true) ancients never cared for it because they knew that quality is more important than quantity. A people that focus too much on quantity will lose sight of quality. From the viewpoint of quality, man is the vicegerent of God on earth. Man's relative position in space is unimportant compared to that.

From Enlightenment to Post-Modernism, it has been en vogue to think of the ancients as lesser evolved men, basically as children, who allegedly used anthropomorphized imaginary Gods to explain natural phenomena. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and some more or less recent authors have attacked this view: not only clerics, but also independent thinkers such as Julius Evola, who has been mention here already.
While it is hugely popular to think of the middle ages as "dark ages", I always thought metalheads shared a common and healthy suspicion against all too popular concepts. Here too, anti-traditional forces designed a "dark" image of the past to further their own cause.

Next: you say that God were the invention of man, and this is what many here think and why they don't understand why some so fiercely defend the idea that God is in fact more important than man. God has many names, but one could be: Supreme Reality. Reality is more important than man, because it includes him, and many here would probably agree to that. And this is just not a question of individual preference.

Quote
I think we've come full circle back to the OP - without a religious system, most people won't behave just out of the goodness of their hearts. Having strict laws won't work because man's law can be overthrown, in time. Although religions do go out of fashion, too. It seems the collapse of a societies' belief system - values, morals, and the religion that delivers those ideas to the masses, is a sign that that civilization is doomed. Burzum's Balder Dřd is about this very issue:

Ragnarök/Balders Död is just yet another version of the doctrine of Cosmic Cycles. It's so obvious!

Quote
Without irrational, unfounded, metaphysical meaning (Baldr) in my life, I would find myself in a state of permanent existential crisis

You have your notions confused. Metaphysics is not irrational or unfounded. Again, anti-traditional forces have diffused this error. If it were, I (and we all, I assure you) wouldn't debate on this forum...

Quote
addendum: Valuing rationality and truth is irrational and has no logical or scientific basis.

Valuing truth is the sanest and wisest thing a man can do. All relativists refute themselves. Plato recommends us to teach our children: that they value truth above all, because it is the highest good. Vincit Omnia Veritas!

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 01:05:07 AM
Quote from: Dead_Soul
I live smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, and I've rarely encountered ignorance on that scale.

My numbers were actually a bit off.  Here's an article related to the subject.  It's only 20% of Americans who think the sun goes around the earth.  But the numbers on evolution are right.

Quote from: nous
I must object: first of all, some perspective: what you call the "scientific method" is a materialistic method; the (good, true) ancients never cared for it because they knew that quality is more important than quantity. A people that focus too much on quantity will lose sight of quality. From the viewpoint of quality, man is the vicegerent of God on earth. Man's relative position in space is unimportant compared to that.

Could you elaborate more on what you mean by quality over quantity?  What specifically are you referring to, and how are scientific discoveries not quality?  Also, what exactly is "God" and how do you know so much about him?

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 01:20:25 AM
It's curious, our approach to what our new "religion" or philosophy our civilization should adopt. Do you think that the principles and religions symbols other culture's adopted were decided around a conference table? Or did they just evolve over time? There are apparent contradictions in the bible, ironic because it was more likely to have been edited by an institution than the Nordic myths, are there similar issues with other sacred texts?

I'd have to imagine that a cohesive philosophy or values system that is agreed upon would be more effective than one that is pasted together over the centuries, but how do you tell people: "All that stuff you used to believe [both the symbols and the principles] was wrong, believe this instead." Especially if they couldn't understand the justification.

One more thing to think about: Which would be harder, convincing someone that there isn't a god in the clouds watching over them or that a value of theirs (like equality) is false? My intuition tells me the first, since the theist's entire perspective on life would be based on the existence of such a god and the fact that he said to live a certain way. But, in my observation, it's the former. Word's getting out that god (a personified, sits-on-a-throne-in-the-sky God) doesn't exist, but a principle like equality persists. This is strange, because the case against god is a lack of supporting evidence, but the case against equality seems more substantial (it's disprovable).

I must object: first of all, some perspective: what you call the "scientific method" is a materialistic method; the (good, true) ancients never cared for it because they knew that quality is more important than quantity. A people that focus too much on quantity will lose sight of quality. From the viewpoint of quality, man is the vicegerent of God on earth. Man's relative position in space is unimportant compared to that...
...

I appreciate the response, nous, and I'd have to say that I actually agree with you and most points, either you are misinterpreting me or I didn't pay much attention to the details of my writing - terminology and phrasing. The perspective you're offering me is one I already have.

- I called them the "dark ages" because that's what they commonly called, not because I think of them that way.

- The personified Christian God (or whatever religion)  is an invention of man, even if the higher purpose or principles he represents are not, and are not just arbitrary.

- I don't think the ancients were lesser evolved, but I wonder how many were still theistic followers (the less intelligent of the bunch, just like today). The thing about science vs. religion was an attempted explanation of how our society came to be post-modern and valueless. (The church was proven wrong: about existence of god, flatness of the earth -> people don't believe other things the church teaches, things that actually matter: principles and values). This kind of conclusion is like the thinking of a teenager who struggles to help grandpa use a computer, and then assumes he's completely incompetent and doesn't know anything about life.

- I understand some values make more sense than others, but I was trying to argue against a poster who claimed it was possible to live a fulfilling, meaningful life with only science and reason. A third poster mentioned that the satisfaction that people who are supposedly purely rational get from their work depends on valuing the pursuit of scientific facts, and the value of the truth cannot be proven since all value is perceived (I thought this was the cornerstone of nihilism, would I be wrong?). So I agree it's saner to value some things over others, but value cannot be proven with reason alone, even the valuing of reason. See reply #82 where someone caught on to this.

^ So I'd say any form of metaphysical or qualitative analysis would be considered unscientific because they are nonobjective because they reside in the human mind.

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 01:33:10 AM
Also, what exactly is "God" and how do you know so much about him?

The term "God" has been used two different ways here and we haven't always specified which one:
- A personified entity who listens to your prayers and watches you while you masturbate.
- A figurative usage which is an embodiment of the physical laws of nature and/or the higher principles that the person using it believes in. Some examples of higher principles: (loyalty, wisdom, courage, love, discipline, honesty, intelligence, beauty, self-denial, responsibility, health and strength).

^ some of those are more earthly (health and strength), and more directly related to the need to survive, so they're not all Higher Principles, but long-term necessities.

I doubt anyone here is actually a believer in the first kind and when promoting the belief of the first kind, it is only for the masses who can't understand the principles themselves, so we just tell them: "God said so."

Before you get upset that someone insists we believe a lie, consider they aren't talking about you, but the masses of people, who can't comprehend the truth (as discussed in the Schopenhauer link).

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 01:55:22 AM
Quote
A figurative usage which is an embodiment of the physical laws of nature and/or the higher principles that the person using it believes in. Some examples of higher principles: (loyalty, wisdom, courage, love, discipline, honesty, intelligence, beauty, self-denial, responsibility, health and strength).

Why have the lie at all?  Why not just value the higher principles instead of the intermediary lie?

Are you people who need to be lied to?

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 01:57:15 AM
Could you elaborate more on what you mean by quality over quantity?  What specifically are you referring to, and how are scientific discoveries not quality?  Also, what exactly is "God" and how do you know so much about him?

With pleasure. Beings and things are a combination of quality and quantity. Quantity is number, quality is the attributes of beings and things, their essence. Without such attributes they would be indistinguishable from another.

The basic idea behind a qualitative science is that true qualities don't change; they're exempt from becoming, and thus, exempt from discovery (if in this sense it be understood as a discovery of something that hasn't been before). On a per-human basis, as a personal evolution, wisdom can be learned (Plato calls it 'remembered', though), but the eternal quality cannot "come into being"; it is always, even when no one is looking.
It is not easy to even acquire a notion of what God is, because, if it were, you wouldn't be asking, would you? Etymologically, "God" simply means "the invoked" (thing or being). In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, God is "something than which nothing greater can be thought", and yet another notion is "Infinity" or "Universal Possibility".
I don't know much about God, but what helped me immensely was this book, because it helped me understand what Infinity is not, and this may as well be the biggest discovery of my life.

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 02:12:06 AM
Sorry, JewBob, looks like I somehow lost sight of the main point of your question. I should have added that preoccupations concerned with the quantitative "side" of things tend to ignore the qualitative "side" on which a science should ideally be based upon--Aristotle emphasizes that whenever he defines science--and thus fulfill the role of the degenerating and confusory force which rises at the end of a Cosmic Cycle. Every healthy man looking for truth in the fullest sense of the word will look for a constant, even universal truth in his life, not ultimately for something which could be right today and wrong tomorrow.

An analogy I like:
If you see Socrates sitting on a chair right before you, you know that, but if you turn around and leave the room, you cannot be sure whether he is still sitting, and thus your knowledge was a changing one--this is basically modern "science".

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 02:26:16 AM
^ So I'd say any form of metaphysical or qualitative analysis would be considered unscientific because they are nonobjective because they reside in the human mind.

Just a thought; what if the ideas were objective, only that not everyone could understand them? This, for example, is something that Kant missed: reason is only the power of deduction; true knowledge, however, is essentially different from deduction in that it defines what we truly are. We have to be careful here to not call an analysis unscientific just because not everyone can understand it.

And we're talking of ideas that simply "are"; they don't care if there's a human mind which thinks them.

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 02:27:58 AM
Quote
Every healthy man looking for truth in the fullest sense of the word will look for a constant, even universal truth in his life, not ultimately for something which could be right today and wrong tomorrow.

Except that this is the way learning works.  There's a constant revision process as ideas are honed and refined.

Apparently you're looking for the rural certitude of the unchanging lie.

Am I really seeing someone trying to change science into religion?

No amount of convoluted shucking and jiving will obscure the fact that you don't have any proof for your bizarre propositions.

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 02:42:10 AM

Except that this is the way learning works.  There's a constant revision process as ideas are honed and refined.
No amount of convoluted shucking and jiving will obscure the fact that you don't have any proof for your bizarre propositions.

Some believe learning worked like that, but there is opinion, and then there is knowledge. Have you read Plato's Meno? It deals with remembering, anamnesis, and is fun to read.
You will find the proof in yourself, if you look for it, but I can't serve it up to you on a plate. It's your salvation, not mine.

PS. You will also find it in sacred text, but this requires, as I said, your genuine interest.

Re: Religion in Modern America
August 07, 2009, 02:45:04 AM
Quote
A figurative usage which is an embodiment of the physical laws of nature and/or the higher principles that the person using it believes in. Some examples of higher principles: (loyalty, wisdom, courage, love, discipline, honesty, intelligence, beauty, self-denial, responsibility, health and strength).
Why have the lie at all?  Why not just value the higher principles instead of the intermediary lie?

(Of course I don't want to be lied to, and on top of that, I don't think anyone starts believing in a literal god once they've been shown that the concept doesn't make any sense. The OP's question was what to do now that god is dead, implying that we will not be able to return to theistic religions)

The figurative usage is the version that is not a lie. That's something you need to understand. In this thread, when someone says "God", they are not referring to a mythical being, just a metaphor - it's usage is a shorthand for saying the things it represents, so we don't have to list them - the laws being the hand of god and the principles being the godly way. I don't think anyone in this thread is a theist or is advocating theism for anyone else in the thread. But you keep responding to posts as though they are. They are not.

As for the mythology of a religion (What I think you mean when you say "the lie"), refer to the Schopenhauer dialogue on religion posted earlier.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/schopenhauer/arthur/religion/chapter1.html

Quote from: Schopenhauer
You’ve no notion how stupid most people are.

Related thread:
http://www.anus.com/metal/hall/index.php/topic,6690.0.html

Do you think most people have the intelligence and disciple to do things they don't want or avoid doing things they do want, just because it makes sense? I'm not sure they are. Those are the people who need the lie.

The lie doesn't even need to be a god. A few posts up, I noticed that concepts like freedom and equality are kind of like the new gods, and modern people strive to bring those into existence. Maybe a new religion would work like this, just with better (at least workable) concepts.