I don't understand the faith people put in religious texts

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The Great Hippo
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:11 pm UTC

Yeah, my 'know thy enemy' rhetoric is probably because I realize I'm speaking to a pro-science audience who's going to be antagonistic to religion, so I instinctively frame my language in a way they might prefer ("If you really want to convince the religious..."). I beg pardon again; my goal isn't to eliminate or diminish religion. I'm likely secretly hoping that in attempting to better understand religious values (so they may better DESTROY THEM!), people will realize that there's often no need to eliminate them from our lives. At the very least, debates between science and religion would be a lot more pleasant to listen to if the participants were capable of speaking the same language.

I'm very happy with a 'live-and-let-live' approach too; if anything, I find religion fascinating and compelling--even as I reject the possibility of God.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:31 pm UTC

In that case, total agreement. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE YOU WILL BE ASSSIMILATED.. I am definitely not a sockpuppet.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby induction » Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:30 pm UTC

Hippo wrote:I am satisfied with "I love my partner"; applying intellectual rigor to this statement would bring me no value. It would not increase my love for my partner, it would not increase my enjoyment of that love, and it would add nothing to our relationship. "I love my partner" is enough.


Brutz wrote:I realize I sound naive and childish, but I honestly beli... uh think that if people dealt with everything in their experience, not just love and religion, the way a scientist would deal with lab results, all of humanity's problems would be gone quickly.


curtis95112 wrote:Please explain to me how the proper application of scientific analysis can detract.
You are already subjecting your emotions to empirical analysis. Don't tell me you do nothing but feel sad in a state of sorrow, people often try to cope. They try to think about other things, do some activities, talk to people. Why? Because they know from experience, their's or not, that it helps.


c_programmer wrote:I find scientific thought to be superior, period. We're probably going to have to agree to disagree.


curtis95112 wrote:Scientific thought is inherently superior in the way truth is inherently superior to falsehood.

The crux of your argument seems to be that people don't always want to be right, and that's why people put faith in religious texts. I can't agree with this...


I think Hippo has the right approach here. Since most of the objections seem not to address the actual content of that approach, I'm going to try to restate his position in a way that makes it a little clearer and avoids side-arguments. (Hippo, please correct me if I interpreted your argument wrong.)

Empiricism is the best way to determine the truth of an empirical claim (duh). It is extremely useful for making intelligent decisions based on predicted results. I don't think Hippo or anyone else here disputes that. Here's the problem (in bold print only because I think this is the crux): Evaluating truth and making decision trees is not the entire content of human activity. We humans do all kinds of things that do not have ascertaining truth as our goal. I submit (without statistical support, sorry) that a lot of the folks who hang out here (including me) have higher 'doing empiricism' rates than the local/national/global average, but I doubt that there is a single person on these fora that operate only in empirical mode.

Hippo used the example of love. This led to a large digression that had little to do with his point. ('Love', like pretty much every other word in any natural language, has a multitude of definitions that are extremely context-dependent, each with subtle shades that shift around from moment-to-moment in an argument without our noticing it. This means that we can argue about it forever and never come to an agreement, a fact which has kept philosophers in business for a very long time.) The point is this: When we are loving someone, we are not doing empiricism. Analyzing the chemical changes in the brain that occur when we love someone, does not feel like love, and in fact tells us nothing about that feeling. The feeling is valuable (to me at least) without my attempting to prove its existence to anyone or make decisions based on it, even if I also do those things. This is why Hippo has refused the repeated demand to define it. Others want to prove it is possible to subject his love claim to empirical investigation and statistical decision-making techniques. Hippo agrees, but doesn't give a shit what you conclude about his experience. It is possible (and very rewarding) to simply experience something. This doesn't detract from the use of empiricism for other purposes, even love-related. But feeling love is rewarding all by itself.

Music is another example with less definitional baggage. I sit down and listen to Glenn Gould play Bach and I enjoy it. It is possible to empirically analyze why I like it and why I prefer Gould's interpretation to other pianists, and to predict other players, composers, and recordings that I may also like. But that's not what I'm doing when I immerse myself in the listening experience, nor why I find it rewarding. The experience is valuable for the way it makes me feel.

Believe it or not, this is all directly connected to the original topic:
alfa wrote: I don't understand why people believe, to the degree they will quote word for word, various religious texts, which are often hundreds, if not thousands of years old and have been translated and printed a number of times since their initial creation ... saying that the Bible is word for word correct to the smallest detail just seems to jump out to me as a foolish thing to do.


Religion provides people with a narrative framework (what Joseph Campbell calls a mythology) in which to live their lives. The direct emotional experience of living in the same framework as the people in the Bible (or whatever) provides people with a rewarding emotional experience. I personally prefer to live within the scientific mythology, partly because of its utility, but also because I find it beautiful. So even that decision is at least partly motivated by my emotional experience. The word mythology offends a lot of people, but does not in this context imply falsehood. A mythology is simply a narrative structure. For it to provide a rewarding context to live in, it does not have to be true. It takes a certain level of intellectual sophistication to accept a mythology as your own without requiring it to be literally true, so many people balk at any suggestion that it isn't literally true because they have 'decided' to accept that mythology over all others, so their worldview is threatened. (I have met people who don't believe in the literal truth of the scriptures, but accept the mythology anyway because it provides them with the narrative that is most meaningful for them, but I agree that they are the exception.) As for the 'true believers', it was much easier to accept a mythology before scientific findings called certain elements of it into question and non-local communication became commonplace enough for these findings were accessible to everyone, so the conflict didn't really come up that often. When science came along and contradicted religious 'facts', people felt their worldview threatened, so they dug into their positions out of defensiveness. That was very possibly a bad strategy IMHO, since it simply escalated the perceived conflict between science and religion, but it was reasonable considering the difficulty and subtlety required to accept a mythology as valuable even if it isn't true.

Consider wave/particle duality or Newtonian vs. quantum physics and relativity, for example. Scientists can accept fictions as useful even when they are demonstrably false, but it takes a non-trivial amount of training and subtlety. The fact that relativity and quantum theory seem to be incompatible demonstrates a flaw in our understanding, but we don't throw them out. We keep searching for an improvement because scientists want to clarify the rules of the universe, but not everyone considers this to be the purpose of life. Many religious people simply want to quickly understand the 'right way to live' and then continually try to apply it. The easiest way to do this is to read and analyze what they consider to be the foundational documents of their belief system, sometimes until the have the whole thing memorized. They are not looking for mistakes as they are operating under the assumption that this text is fundamental, and they are deeply uncomfortable with the idea that there may be a flaw in their system.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby c_programmer » Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:59 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:How is this any different from "I find the Bible to be superior, period. We're probably going to have to agree to disagree"?

Since we have both heard and understood the others' argument yet disagree on a basis of rejecting their premise I would say they are exactly the same. Since I find my premise for scientific thought correct I simply find you to be incorrect, much as I assume you think of me.

edit: upon reading the posts after the one I replied to there is one point I want to discuss
The Great Hippo wrote:But science is something we constructed to interpret sensory input. Religion is something else we constructed to interpret sensory input. One of these things is not 'superior' to the other; science is better at specific tasks than religion, but that's all.

Not all constructions are equal. Science is reproducible, we bet our lives on it without even thinking about it (cars, planes, going into a tall building, ect). Religious ideas were not made with that in mind, they were made to describe things to a majorly unthinking audience. In general religious thought is not a way of thinking, it is a set of notions (be it the hundreds within Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, ect.) opposed to being a way to generate a set of notions.

From an interpersonal standpoint religion can be very helpful. Having grown up Christian I knew a large number of people who had turned away from addictions with alcohol, sex, drugs ect. for Christ. I doubt scientific thought would have been able to get them off. Nonetheless, a useful misconception is still a misconception and incorrect.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:38 pm UTC

@induction: The only thing I would add is that applying empirical thought to things like your enjoyment of music and love doesn't necessarily reduce or otherwise fail to impact their value; I'm sure there are people out there who enjoy these things more when they treat them scientifically. But not everyone enjoys the same things, so saying something like "I get nothing out of applying scientific rigor to my enjoyment of music" is a totally fair thing to say.

Otherwise, I agree (I think!) with what you said and think it's a fair summary of what I'm trying to get at.
c_programmer wrote:Since we have both heard and understood the others' argument yet disagree on a basis of rejecting their premise I would say they are exactly the same. Since I find my premise for scientific thought correct I simply find you to be incorrect, much as I assume you think of me.
I don't understand your argument; as far as I can see, you're not offering one.

My argument is that there's no basis to assume the superiority of a scientific paradigm, because 'superior' is a nebulous value judgment; you can say scientific paradigms do certain things better, but you can't just say that they're better, period. Your response--and I beg your pardon if I'm misrepresenting you, but I don't see much more to it--is that scientific paradigms are better, because you say so and we'll just have to agree to disagree.

What am I missing here?
c_programmer wrote:Not all constructions are equal. Science is reproducible, we bet our lives on it without even thinking about it (cars, planes, going into a tall building, ect). Religious ideas were not made with that in mind, they were made to describe things to a majorly unthinking audience. In general religious thought is not a way of thinking, it is a set of notions (be it the hundreds within Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, ect.) opposed to being a way to generate a set of notions.

From an interpersonal standpoint religion can be very helpful. Having grown up Christian I knew a large number of people who had turned away from addictions with alcohol, sex, drugs ect. for Christ. I doubt scientific thought would have been able to get them off. Nonetheless, a useful misconception is still a misconception and incorrect.
Science was not formed with building cars in mind. Technology isn't the goal of science; it's a benefit of science. We've been inventing shit for over thousands of years without a formalized system of research and reproducible experimentation. All science does is make inventing things a hell of a lot easier.

Not all constructions are equal, certainly--but a scale that only goes in two directions ("Better" <--> "Worse") is a shitty scale. You just admitted that religion has helped people get off drugs when science wouldn't be able to do anything; well, maybe emphasizing religion would be the better approach in some of those situations. A scale that simply puts 'science' above 'religion' can't acknowledge that, because it lacks nuance.

I just want you to understand that your passion for science does not make science better than everything else. 'Better' without some sort of additional qualifier is a useless value judgment. It's like saying "pancakes are better than sausages". Better in what way?

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby lucrezaborgia » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:07 pm UTC

c_programmer wrote:Not all constructions are equal. Science is reproducible, we bet our lives on it without even thinking about it (cars, planes, going into a tall building, ect). Religious ideas were not made with that in mind, they were made to describe things to a majorly unthinking audience. In general religious thought is not a way of thinking, it is a set of notions (be it the hundreds within Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, ect.) opposed to being a way to generate a set of notions.

From an interpersonal standpoint religion can be very helpful. Having grown up Christian I knew a large number of people who had turned away from addictions with alcohol, sex, drugs ect. for Christ. I doubt scientific thought would have been able to get them off. Nonetheless, a useful misconception is still a misconception and incorrect.


What about religions outside of the Western experience? I've found a lot of useful stuff in Buddhism and some of it has even been incorporated into scientific therapies for certain mental disorders.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:16 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:@induction: The only thing I would add is that applying empirical thought to things like your enjoyment of music and love doesn't necessarily reduce or otherwise fail to impact their value; I'm sure there are people out there who enjoy these things more when they treat them scientifically. But not everyone enjoys the same things, so saying something like "I get nothing out of applying scientific rigor to my enjoyment of music" is a totally fair thing to say.

Otherwise, I agree (I think!) with what you said and think it's a fair summary of what I'm trying to get at.
c_programmer wrote:Since we have both heard and understood the others' argument yet disagree on a basis of rejecting their premise I would say they are exactly the same. Since I find my premise for scientific thought correct I simply find you to be incorrect, much as I assume you think of me.
I don't understand your argument; as far as I can see, you're not offering one.

My argument is that there's no basis to assume the superiority of a scientific paradigm, because 'superior' is a nebulous value judgment; you can say scientific paradigms do certain things better, but you can't just say that they're better, period. Your response--and I beg your pardon if I'm misrepresenting you, but I don't see much more to it--is that scientific paradigms are better, because you say so and we'll just have to agree to disagree.

What am I missing here?
c_programmer wrote:Not all constructions are equal. Science is reproducible, we bet our lives on it without even thinking about it (cars, planes, going into a tall building, ect). Religious ideas were not made with that in mind, they were made to describe things to a majorly unthinking audience. In general religious thought is not a way of thinking, it is a set of notions (be it the hundreds within Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, ect.) opposed to being a way to generate a set of notions.

From an interpersonal standpoint religion can be very helpful. Having grown up Christian I knew a large number of people who had turned away from addictions with alcohol, sex, drugs ect. for Christ. I doubt scientific thought would have been able to get them off. Nonetheless, a useful misconception is still a misconception and incorrect.
Science was not formed with building cars in mind. Technology isn't the goal of science; it's a benefit of science. We've been inventing shit for over thousands of years without a formalized system of research and reproducible experimentation. All science does is make inventing things a hell of a lot easier.

Not all constructions are equal, certainly--but a scale that only goes in two directions ("Better" <--> "Worse") is a shitty scale. You just admitted that religion has helped people get off drugs when science wouldn't be able to do anything; well, maybe emphasizing religion would be the better approach in some of those situations. A scale that simply puts 'science' above 'religion' can't acknowledge that, because it lacks nuance.

I just want you to understand that your passion for science does not make science better than everything else. 'Better' without some sort of additional qualifier is a useless value judgment. It's like saying "pancakes are better than sausages". Better in what way?

i think the underlying thread to this response is that science makes everything more efficient.

which i think is completely how science should/could be applied to religion(s)/faith.

science is much better at reducing the clutter from our methods, and reducing the processes we participate in down to the most important and most effective bits.

so if the BEST parts of religion (community, charity, trying not to be dickheads all the time) were to be identified, we should be able to replicate/enhance those while being able to extract and remove the stuff that gets in the way of those best parts (being dickheads to people that don't practice your religion, being dickheads to people who "your deity hath decreed that thou shouldst beith a dickhead unto", etc..)

isn't added clarity and reduced clutter usually a good thing?

lucrezaborgia wrote:
c_programmer wrote:Not all constructions are equal. Science is reproducible, we bet our lives on it without even thinking about it (cars, planes, going into a tall building, ect). Religious ideas were not made with that in mind, they were made to describe things to a majorly unthinking audience. In general religious thought is not a way of thinking, it is a set of notions (be it the hundreds within Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, ect.) opposed to being a way to generate a set of notions.

From an interpersonal standpoint religion can be very helpful. Having grown up Christian I knew a large number of people who had turned away from addictions with alcohol, sex, drugs ect. for Christ. I doubt scientific thought would have been able to get them off. Nonetheless, a useful misconception is still a misconception and incorrect.


What about religions outside of the Western experience? I've found a lot of useful stuff in Buddhism and some of it has even been incorporated into scientific therapies for certain mental disorders.
i doubt those items of buddhism that were incorporated into those therapies didn't require the whole sale adoption of buddhism. i would imagine the person developing the therapies for those disorders looked at the underlying functions of the things they were incorporating (relaxation techniques, different ways of looking at problems, whatever) and acted accordingly, as opposed to looking at buddhism and saying "well a bunch of buddhists seem to be happy....let's buddha this shit up" (sorry not sure how to elaborate on that correctly)
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby yurell » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:17 pm UTC

c_programmer wrote:From an interpersonal standpoint religion can be very helpful. Having grown up Christian I knew a large number of people who had turned away from addictions with alcohol, sex, drugs ect. for Christ. I doubt scientific thought would have been able to get them off. Nonetheless, a useful misconception is still a misconception and incorrect.


I was under the impression that the likelihood of a religious person to get off and stay off drugs & alcohol was the same as a non-religious person? It's always sad for me when I see people perform these incredible feats of willpower, and then give someone else the credit. Annoys me about as much as dedicated surgeons spending all their skill and training for hours to save someone's life, and then a sky fairy of some description getting the credit.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:23 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:i think the underlying thread to this response is that science makes everything more efficient.

which i think is completely how science should/could be applied to religion(s)/faith.

science is much better at reducing the clutter from our methods, and reducing the processes we participate in down to the most important and most effective bits.

so if the BEST parts of religion (community, charity, trying not to be dickheads all the time) were to be identified, we should be able to replicate/enhance those while being able to extract and remove the stuff that gets in the way of those best parts (being dickheads to people that don't practice your religion, being dickheads to people who "your deity hath decreed that thou shouldst beith a dickhead unto", etc..)

isn't added clarity and reduced clutter usually a good thing?
What if one of the best parts of religion for me is the joy in believing that Jesus Christ is the son of God? Can I use science to address or improve that?

The drug thing was probably a bad tangent for me to address; it implies that the purpose behind religion is to make society better. This, in turn, implies that science is the same way--and that if the two got into a footrace to see who could make society best, science would win.

But making society better was never the purpose of either of these things. They are, again, systems by which we interpret sensory input--frameworks with which we can understand the universe. That's their purpose, that's what they're designed to do.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby c_programmer » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:43 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote: don't understand your argument; as far as I can see, you're not offering one.

My premise is that our senses are sufficient to see the universe as it actually is. While we can only see the photons that reach our eyes and hear the waves that get to our ears we can observe consistencies to the point where we can with certainty say that this is the way the universe is. I reject the premise that religion is an equally valid method to interpret these senses.

To better define religious thought I see it as taking the Bible, Quran or any other religious document and simply putting faith in it opposed to second guessing it and seeing if it fits in with other observations.


The Great Hippo wrote:Science was not formed with building cars in mind. Technology isn't the goal of science; it's a benefit of science.

Science was not formed with anything in mind, all it does is do it's best to find the way things actually are (and it does a damn good job).

The Great Hippo wrote:We've been inventing shit for over thousands of years without a formalized system of research and reproducible experimentation. All science does is make inventing things a hell of a lot easier.

While less formal, scientific thought has been responsible for most inventions no matter where in time. Boat building for instance evolved over thousands of years and reproduced experiences (them seeing why ships sank) functioned as experiments. It was a less evolved method of the same thing.

The Great Hippo wrote:Not all constructions are equal, certainly--but a scale that only goes in two directions ("Better" <--> "Worse") is a shitty scale. You just admitted that religion has helped people get off drugs when science wouldn't be able to do anything; well, maybe emphasizing religion would be the better approach in some of those situations. A scale that simply puts 'science' above 'religion' can't acknowledge that, because it lacks nuance.
I just want you to understand that your passion for science does not make science better than everything else. 'Better' without some sort of additional qualifier is a useless value judgment. It's like saying "pancakes are better than sausages". Better in what way?

The ability of religion to solve certain things does not make it a better, or even a nearly equal line of thought. The same could be said for people who whiteness something traumatic and develop their own little world to cope with it, while it may help them deal with what happened it is not a good way to think. I think we can all agree that dissociation and repression (see Vaillant's categorization of defence mechanisms) are not good ways to reconcile the things we see.

Perhaps I am looking at this wrong. So far I have been judging the two on a scale of determining what the universe actually is, what is actually there. If put on a model where you are coping with something difficult, let’s say the death of one’s child, science is rather depressing while Christianity makes it a lot easier. This doesn’t make the religious assumptions true, but it does make it a better way of dealing with it. Despite being a better way to cope with that I still consider it an inferior way of thought because it is a delusion. As someone said earlier in the thread, fact is inherently superior to falsehood.
Last edited by c_programmer on Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:22 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby lucrezaborgia » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:55 pm UTC

c_programmer wrote:This doesn’t make the religious assumptions true, but it does make it a better way of dealing with it. Despite being a better way to cope with that I still consider it an inferior way of thought because it is a delusion. As someone said earlier in the thread, fact is inherently superior to falsehood.


Not everything in our lives is simply fact.

My favorite color is blue but I can't explain why.

I love my husband in leather chaps but I can't explain why.

There are lots of things that seem to make sense from a purely scientific perspective that we would look upon with horror. What's not scientific about euthanizing unproductive members of society?

edited to add:

Just because people have faith does not mean that they are necessarily delusional.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Falling » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:16 pm UTC

lucrezaborgia wrote:
c_programmer wrote:Not all constructions are equal. Science is reproducible, we bet our lives on it without even thinking about it (cars, planes, going into a tall building, ect). Religious ideas were not made with that in mind, they were made to describe things to a majorly unthinking audience. In general religious thought is not a way of thinking, it is a set of notions (be it the hundreds within Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, ect.) opposed to being a way to generate a set of notions.

From an interpersonal standpoint religion can be very helpful. Having grown up Christian I knew a large number of people who had turned away from addictions with alcohol, sex, drugs ect. for Christ. I doubt scientific thought would have been able to get them off. Nonetheless, a useful misconception is still a misconception and incorrect.


What about religions outside of the Western experience? I've found a lot of useful stuff in Buddhism and some of it has even been incorporated into scientific therapies for certain mental disorders.


It's not terribly important to the current conversation, but I feel compelled to point out that Buddhism is not at all a religion in the typical sense. There have been several groups over the years that have adopted it and mixed in their local mythologies.

Buddhism was created as a philosophy with a focus on mental health and personal growth, so it's no surprise that we see at least some usefulness in that area.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby c_programmer » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:11 am UTC

lucrezaborgia wrote:Not everything in our lives is simply fact.

My favorite color is blue but I can't explain why.

I love my husband in leather chaps but I can't explain why.

While it likely boils down to subconscious reasons it is still comes down to fact why you like those.

lucrezaborgia wrote:There are lots of things that seem to make sense from a purely scientific perspective that we would look upon with horror. What's not scientific about euthanizing unproductive members of society?

Who said science requires this? While at is most basic level may seem productive, systems like that have been tried and they do not work. Anthropology and Sociology are valid scientific fields.

lucrezaborgia wrote:Just because people have faith does not mean that they are necessarily delusional.

That was an extremely poor choice of words on my part.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby curtis95112 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:47 am UTC

@The Great Hippo
No. Religion and science are not a valid framework to understand the world in. At best, religion is a framework that gives you the illusion of understanding the world. I realize I'm treading on some fundamental differences in opinion here, but I don't see a single thing religion does better than science when it comes to understanding the world.
When it comes to answering the OP's question, I don't think we're making much progress though.
You claim that people believe because they want to believe, facts be damned. I'm claiming that people want to be right, and believe because they think their beliefs accurately describe whatever world they think they live in. (I'm phrasing it this way because there are some major disagreements on the nature of this world.)
How would we go about distinguishing between these options? Or is it just semantics?



@DSenette
You're right in that we could scientifically take only the good parts of religion and enhance them. We call it psychology and sociology.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:27 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
DSenette wrote:i think the underlying thread to this response is that science makes everything more efficient.

which i think is completely how science should/could be applied to religion(s)/faith.

science is much better at reducing the clutter from our methods, and reducing the processes we participate in down to the most important and most effective bits.

so if the BEST parts of religion (community, charity, trying not to be dickheads all the time) were to be identified, we should be able to replicate/enhance those while being able to extract and remove the stuff that gets in the way of those best parts (being dickheads to people that don't practice your religion, being dickheads to people who "your deity hath decreed that thou shouldst beith a dickhead unto", etc..)

isn't added clarity and reduced clutter usually a good thing?
What if one of the best parts of religion for me is the joy in believing that Jesus Christ is the son of God? Can I use science to address or improve that?

The drug thing was probably a bad tangent for me to address; it implies that the purpose behind religion is to make society better. This, in turn, implies that science is the same way--and that if the two got into a footrace to see who could make society best, science would win.

But making society better was never the purpose of either of these things. They are, again, systems by which we interpret sensory input--frameworks with which we can understand the universe. That's their purpose, that's what they're designed to do.

buh? what's the point of interpreting sensory input? it's to make your experience of the input "better". you don't need a better understanding of the universe to function. at all. the ONLY thing that understanding reality better gives you is a BETTER society.

if there was no "benefit" then we wouldn't be doing it. that's how humans roll.

making society better is the ENTIRE reason behind religion, which is why religion (pretty much all of them. especially the ancient ones) came with so many rules that apply to society.

the problem is that as a society, we now have the ability to actually observer reality with science instead of with a stupid look on our face. so we've got science. which isn't anything other than observation in the proper light. i think you're talking about science the institution, with the rules and the peer reviews. science the process is just a way of observing reality in such a way as to reduce bias and assumptions.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby liveboy21 » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:11 am UTC

I think that one giant reason as to why people put faith in religious texts despite parts of it being provably wrong is that many people don't know how to tell if a person is not telling the truth. This is made even harder when the people telling the falsehood also sincerely believe in it.

Science says that if you want to check if something is true, then you should perform experiments or look at the experiments that have been performed. Then you will get a better understanding of whether the initial statement is true.

However, for many people (myself included at times), what is true is based on who said it. So you get situations where you believe the person because you already trust that person. People like your boss, a priest, a commercial on television, your mother and so on... Instead of looking at the fact, you naturally end up looking at the person presenting that fact. In the case of an issue with conflicting opinions, it then just becomes a matter of who got to you first.

In the same way for religion, I think that people believe the religious texts not because of what they say but because a trusted figure introduced them to the religious text. That's why people can believe without fully reading the bible. (I was raised catholic, so the propoganda of the bible is the religious text that I have experienced first hand). It's also why you can find the story of a city's population attempting to rape angels and eventually raping the daughter of a man who willing gave up his daughter to protect the angels in a book in the children's section of a bookstore called 'Bible stories for children' and yet no one bats an eyelid.

The best anology I can recall was something I read on the internet though I'm not sure who the original source is. Basically, it's like the licence agreement on a software. You are presented with it and told to read it but what you really do is to scroll down and click 'I agree'. You do this partially because you assume that companies won't use the agreement to take advantage of you (which is false of course) and partially because the company is trusted by many people (so it must be true?) Oh, microsoft word wants me to agree to this thing? Sure, I agree.

And that is why people put faith in religious texts.

The arguements about whether it's based on truth and whether it's possible to have a god that can see everything, is invisible, can read minds and can silently manipulate the world are secondary arguements. Those who believe have faith in their religious text and they will defend it. They trusted the men who gave them the texts and they also trust the texts that they were given. Also, I think that this is why 'priests have been molesting children' has been more effective in pushing people away from the catholic church than 'you need to think in a scientific manner'.

Btw, if the idea of people trusting people instead of facts doesn't seem logical to you, you're probably right. There is logic behind our actions but we don't always work on logic. If you want to know if this is hard-wired into us or taught to us from birth, I will have to say that I do not know. Hopefully someone who has done some research on this can shed some light here.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby curtis95112 » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:21 am UTC

It's not logical, but it is rational. We don't have the time to verify every single thing, so we trust the experts on most things. While this usually works out okay, it goes horribly wrong if you trust the wrong people.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:33 pm UTC

that whole "you believe what people who you trust say" thing is actually the primary function of "science" to begin with.

the absolute basis of science, the root of it, is skepticism. you should be healthily skeptical of EVERYTHING! that doesn't mean doubt everything every one says all the time forever and ever until they prove to you 100% that they are right or telling the truth.

it means to not take anything as fact without some valid kind of evidence. you should never take anything on face value just because someone of authority or power or that you even trust says it. you should always question it.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby induction » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:15 pm UTC

@DSenette: Of course you are right about this, but most people aren't scientists. Where I went to school (lo these many years ago), 'critical thinking' meant repeating what your teacher said. The kind of skepticism that's required of scientists would get you sent to the principle's office or reassigned to special ed for 'behavioral problems'. True skepticism is hard to control, and I suspect that the main lesson that many schoolteachers want to teach is how to obey. But I'm not bitter or anything.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:06 pm UTC

Real skeptics are skeptical of skepticism.
DSenette wrote:buh? what's the point of interpreting sensory input? it's to make your experience of the input "better". you don't need a better understanding of the universe to function. at all. the ONLY thing that understanding reality better gives you is a BETTER society.
Understanding reality better doesn't necessarily give you a better society. It's within reason to imagine an Ice-Nine situation; a piece of scientific understanding that is so disastrously dangerous that its mere discovery puts all human life at risk. In such a case, we would be considerably better off living in ignorance.

Anyway, we don't seek to improve our understanding of reality (religiously or scientifically) for the benefit of society; we do it for the benefit of ourselves. All actions humans take are ultimately to their individual benefit--even self-sacrificing altruism satisfies some basic emotional needs. The benefits to society science and religion have are merely happy accidents. The first people to tell stories about why the stars were in the sky weren't doing it to make society a better place; they were doing it because telling stories satisfies a need.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Feb 01, 2012 6:34 pm UTC

induction wrote:@DSenette: Of course you are right about this, but most people aren't scientists. Where I went to school (lo these many years ago), 'critical thinking' meant repeating what your teacher said. The kind of skepticism that's required of scientists would get you sent to the principle's office or reassigned to special ed for 'behavioral problems'. True skepticism is hard to control, and I suspect that the main lesson that many schoolteachers want to teach is how to obey. But I'm not bitter or anything.


I think that problem is mostly a result of really shitty schools, teachers, and curricula.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:31 pm UTC

induction wrote:@DSenette: Of course you are right about this, but most people aren't scientists. Where I went to school (lo these many years ago), 'critical thinking' meant repeating what your teacher said. The kind of skepticism that's required of scientists would get you sent to the principle's office or reassigned to special ed for 'behavioral problems'. True skepticism is hard to control, and I suspect that the main lesson that many schoolteachers want to teach is how to obey. But I'm not bitter or anything.

that's not critical thinking's fault

The Great Hippo wrote:Real skeptics are skeptical of skepticism.
DSenette wrote:buh? what's the point of interpreting sensory input? it's to make your experience of the input "better". you don't need a better understanding of the universe to function. at all. the ONLY thing that understanding reality better gives you is a BETTER society.
Understanding reality better doesn't necessarily give you a better society. It's within reason to imagine an Ice-Nine situation; a piece of scientific understanding that is so disastrously dangerous that its mere discovery puts all human life at risk. In such a case, we would be considerably better off living in ignorance.

Anyway, we don't seek to improve our understanding of reality (religiously or scientifically) for the benefit of society; we do it for the benefit of ourselves. All actions humans take are ultimately to their individual benefit--even self-sacrificing altruism satisfies some basic emotional needs. The benefits to society science and religion have are merely happy accidents. The first people to tell stories about why the stars were in the sky weren't doing it to make society a better place; they were doing it because telling stories satisfies a need.
right, and how does a social mammal increase it's "quality of life"? by increasing the "quality of life" of society.

eeeeerrrrrthing we do is for maximizing our own "quality of life", including maximizing the "quality of life" for all of society (because getting a BUNCH of people to sign on to a good thing is a lot more efficient then trying to do it on your own)
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby induction » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:00 pm UTC

@DSenette: I'm not defending non-critical thinking. I'm operating under the assumption that the name of this thread is still somehow related to what we're talking about.

edit: I think the fundamental disconnect in this thread is that some of us are interpreting 'I don't understand why people do X' as 'I would really like to understand why people do X,' while others are interpreting it as 'People shouldn't do X.' I have no more interest in evangelizing science and converting (deconverting?) religious people than in endorsing their worldviews, so I'll just butt out. Sorry for the interruption.
Last edited by induction on Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:44 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:30 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:right, and how does a social mammal increase it's "quality of life"? by increasing the "quality of life" of society.

eeeeerrrrrthing we do is for maximizing our own "quality of life", including maximizing the "quality of life" for all of society (because getting a BUNCH of people to sign on to a good thing is a lot more efficient then trying to do it on your own)
Including when I just picked my nose just now? Which seems more reasonable: That I picked my nose just now to satisfy a need, or that I picked my nose for the betterment of society--or even to improve the quality of my life?

When someone uses dangerous, addictive drugs, are they doing it to improve their quality of life? To improve the quality of society? Or to satisfy an urge, a need, an emotional thirst?

Some of your generalizations strike me as strange; keep in mind, I'm not talking about conscious decisions--I'm talking about the often-unseen forces that shape and drive human desire. First and foremost, we do the things we do--believe the things we believe--to satisfy some personal want or need.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:47 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
DSenette wrote:right, and how does a social mammal increase it's "quality of life"? by increasing the "quality of life" of society.

eeeeerrrrrthing we do is for maximizing our own "quality of life", including maximizing the "quality of life" for all of society (because getting a BUNCH of people to sign on to a good thing is a lot more efficient then trying to do it on your own)
Including when I just picked my nose just now? Which seems more reasonable: That I picked my nose just now to satisfy a need, or that I picked my nose for the betterment of society--or even to improve the quality of my life?

When someone uses dangerous, addictive drugs, are they doing it to improve their quality of life? To improve the quality of society? Or to satisfy an urge, a need, an emotional thirst?

Some of your generalizations strike me as strange; keep in mind, I'm not talking about conscious decisions--I'm talking about the often-unseen forces that shape and drive human desire. First and foremost, we do the things we do--believe the things we believe--to satisfy some personal want or need.

satisfying an urge or a need is including in "quality of life".

my first sentence in your quote was a misspeak on my part. not all things we do to increase our own personal quality of life involve also improving society's quality of life. so picking a booger doesn't have to impact society.

creating a social construct such as religion, IS about increasing society's quality of life. otherwise, it wouldn't require a social construct. you wouldn't need 7 million other people to agree with you if it was just about making YOUR life better directly. you'd just believe what you're going to believe and fuck everyone else.

but, life is totally hard, especially when you're trying to build an agrarian economy on your own, so it helps if you have some other folks to help you out on your farm. now, it's pretty easy to make your kids help you out on the farm and get stuff did. now if you need a bigger farm you need more help so you can either have more kids, or convince someone else to help you out. and that's where coming up with a society comes in at which point "what's best for you" also has to include "what's best for society" for society as a whole to work out.

some individuals can still go for the "what's best for me no matter what" and that's fine, but everyone can't do that otherwise the society falls apart.

and that's where RELIGION and religious texts come in. they are all TOTALLY for society, not the individual. otherwise you'd just rely on personal faith. i don't think i've ever written a book of rules down for just MY benefit.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:51 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Including when I just picked my nose just now? Which seems more reasonable: That I picked my nose just now to satisfy a need, or that I picked my nose for the betterment of society--or even to improve the quality of my life?
Well...yes. You improved your quality of life by picking your nose. Do you not feel better after having done so?

When someone uses dangerous, addictive drugs, are they doing it to improve their quality of life? To improve the quality of society? Or to satisfy an urge, a need, an emotional thirst?
To improve their quality of life by satisfying the urge...this isn't a hard concept to grasp. You answer the question yourself.

Some of your generalizations strike me as strange; keep in mind, I'm not talking about conscious decisions--I'm talking about the often-unseen forces that shape and drive human desire. First and foremost, we do the things we do--believe the things we believe--to satisfy some personal want or need.

Sure, and like pretty much every discussion on religion we always end up here...critical thinking. Critical thinking is specific in its requirement of applying reason to ones own behavior and beliefs. Of course it is helpful to have more than passing familiarity with formal psychology so you are not just taking shots at the dark hoping to understand yourself, but critical thinking is none the less to goal of process. A goal which assists us in satisfying our wants and needs in healthy and hopefully fair ways.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:02 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:creating a social construct such as religion, IS about increasing society's quality of life. otherwise, it wouldn't require a social construct. you wouldn't need 7 million other people to agree with you if it was just about making YOUR life better directly. you'd just believe what you're going to believe and fuck everyone else.
So was Scientology an attempt to increase society's quality of life? Or was it just an attempt to increase L. Ron Hubbard's quality of life? I think you're both oversimplifying and overgeneralizing, here.
DSenette wrote:and that's where RELIGION and religious texts come in. they are all TOTALLY for society, not the individual. otherwise you'd just rely on personal faith. i don't think i've ever written a book of rules down for just MY benefit.
You don't think people write down a book of rules for their own benefit? You can't think of any rulesbooks written just for fun, or because it was interesting, or because someone would get paid money to do it?

Besides, religious scripture aren't just rule-books--they're often a strange shuffle of stories, legal documents, historical records, and random doodlings all jammed together in a pile and perused by people in positions of authority who make determinations concerning canonicity. When you think about it, religious scripture is a lot like the Star Wars series, with the Church (in whatever permutation it currently exerts authority) in a position similar to George Lucas.

Zcorp: I disagree with nothing you said; I also fail to see the relevance.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:14 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
DSenette wrote:creating a social construct such as religion, IS about increasing society's quality of life. otherwise, it wouldn't require a social construct. you wouldn't need 7 million other people to agree with you if it was just about making YOUR life better directly. you'd just believe what you're going to believe and fuck everyone else.
So was Scientology an attempt to increase society's quality of life? Or was it just an attempt to increase L. Ron Hubbard's quality of life? I think you're both oversimplifying and overgeneralizing, here.
DSenette wrote:and that's where RELIGION and religious texts come in. they are all TOTALLY for society, not the individual. otherwise you'd just rely on personal faith. i don't think i've ever written a book of rules down for just MY benefit.
You don't think people write down a book of rules for their own benefit? You can't think of any rulesbooks written just for fun, or because it was interesting, or because someone would get paid money to do it?

Besides, religious scripture aren't just rule-books--they're often a strange shuffle of stories, legal documents, historical records, and random doodlings all jammed together in a pile and perused by people in positions of authority who make determinations concerning canonicity. When you think about it, religious scripture is a lot like the Star Wars series, with the Church (in whatever permutation it currently exerts authority) in a position similar to George Lucas.

Zcorp: I disagree with nothing you said; I also fail to see the relevance.

you're talking about what boils down to a ponzi scheme, which, by it's very nature means that it's being put into action by someone who is wholly unconcerned with anything other than their own interests. which is totally a type of entity that exists inside of a society.

now, the continuation of scientology, as practiced by a lot of people in a way that ISN'T a ponzi scheme is being practiced for the benefit of society, just for the benefit of the society of scientologists, not necessarily "society" as in "all of human life"

just like everything about catholocism is about increasing the "quality of life" of the entire society of catholics, not necessarily for the benefit of the entire society of all humans.

can you show me a rule book that's written down for only one person's benefit? or an example of how that's ever happened. or a rule book that's "just for fun" or just for money? and by rule book, i mean a book of rules that people are expected to follow or they should expect consequences (which is what the rules in religious rulebooks are all about)
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:28 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:So was Scientology an attempt to increase society's quality of life? Or was it just an attempt to increase L. Ron Hubbard's quality of life? I think you're both oversimplifying and overgeneralizing, here.
It is hard, for me, to speak to Hubbard's motives. I don't know enough about about him. But generally social systems, like religion and government, are put in place with the idea of improving quality of life for society. Often societies well-being is not in line with individual well-being. Positive psychology is a perfect example of this. Informal positive psychology is a frequently taught in many religious institutions.

To address to topic more directly. Religious texts and institutions improve individuals quality of life. They do this by providing community, a code of conduct, an authority, an ideology and it provides answers to very low level philosophical inquiry. People put faith in these text because it is part of a culture, a culture they value and that improves their life. Often they are ignorant of other options, generally through no fault of their own. So people often put faith in religious texts because the relate to a culture that improves their well-being and nothing else is being given or shown to them as a real alternative. They however, not do it as well as educational institutions and secular social institutions could. Although, quality educational and secular social institutions have not yet established themselves or have not made themselves accessible. While this is in part due to the entrenchment and conflict with the religious institutions it is also because no one is spending the resources to create them in the private sector.

You don't think people write down a book of rules for their own benefit? You can't think of any rulesbooks written just for fun, or because it was interesting, or because someone would get paid money to do it?....Zcorp: I disagree with nothing you said; I also fail to see the relevance.
I'm confused as to if you don't understand what DSenette is trying to say or if you are just nitpicking. With the sentence above, do you understand the point he is trying to make relating to individual and societal well-being? Or maybe I don't understand the point you are trying to make.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:33 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:you're talking about what boils down to a ponzi scheme, which, by it's very nature means that it's being put into action by someone who is wholly unconcerned with anything other than their own interests. which is totally a type of entity that exists inside of a society.

now, the continuation of scientology, as practiced by a lot of people in a way that ISN'T a ponzi scheme is being practiced for the benefit of society, just for the benefit of the society of scientologists, not necessarily "society" as in "all of human life"
Isn't it possible to simultaneously be a Ponzi scheme and a religion? Don't some organized religions actually have a very similar structure?

Also, there's evidence that the upper echelons of Scientology are actively just bleeding the lower echelons dry--i.e., they're acting in a way that doesn't benefit Scientologists. Do those upper echelons still qualify as following a religion? What if they really believe in all the Scientology stuff, but they're also conning the hell out of their followers at the same time? Does it still qualify? Does the same apply to the American Evangelicals who fleece their followers, but are also themselves believers? They're certainly not increasing the quality of life of anyone but themselves. How does that impact your model?
DSenette wrote:can you show me a rule book that's written down for only one person's benefit? or an example of how that's ever happened. or a rule book that's "just for fun" or just for money? and by rule book, i mean a book of rules that people are expected to follow or they should expect consequences (which is what the rules in religious rulebooks are all about)
You can find several rule-books at your local gaming store; some games include consequences for 'breaking the rules', or 'cheating' (usually it's exclusion from the game, or some sort of penalty). Others leave the consequences for breaking the rules up to the players, and even allows the players to change the rules as they see fit.
Zcorp wrote:It is hard, for me, to speak to Hubbard's motives. I don't know enough about about him. But generally social systems, like religion and government, are put in place with the idea of improving quality of life for society. Often societies well-being is not in line with individual well-being. Positive psychology is a perfect example of this. Informal positive psychology is a frequently taught in many religious institutions.

To address to topic more directly. Religious texts and institutions improve individuals quality of life. They do this by providing community, a code of conduct, an authority, an ideology and it provides answers to very low level philosophical inquiry. People put faith in these text because it is part of a culture, a culture they value and that improves their life. Often they are ignorant of other options, generally through no fault of their own. So people often put faith in religious texts because the relate to a culture that improves their well-being and nothing else is being given or shown to them as a real alternative. They however, not do it as well as educational institutions and secular social institutions could. Although, quality educational and secular social institutions have not yet established themselves or have not made themselves accessible. While this is in part due to the entrenchment and conflict with the religious institutions it is also because no one is spending the resources to create them in the private sector.

...

I'm confused as to if you don't understand what DSenette is trying to say or if you are just nitpicking. With the sentence above, do you know understand the point he is trying to make relating to individual and societal well-being? Or maybe I don't understand the point you are trying to make.
DSenette is claiming that the purpose of religion is to improve society's quality of life. I'm stating that's a vast oversimplification; that religion can be to the betterment of society, that some religions might have been created to make society a better place, but making the definition of religion dependent on this is arbitrary and not useful. I'm genuinely surprised you don't agree.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zcorp » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:45 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:DSenette is claiming that the purpose of religion is to improve society's quality of life. I'm stating that's a vast oversimplification; that religion can be to the betterment of society, that some religions might have been created to make society a better place, but making the definition of religion dependent on this is arbitrary and not useful. I'm genuinely surprised you don't agree.
Oh, I do agree. I missed where he claimed that. It is an oversimplification. Belief systems are also not dependent upon that purpose that to be religions. That said, it is one effect - speaking of purpose is still difficult - of most religions and all major ones that I can think of...so still a bit nit picky. Is your goal just to get him to understand that he is making a simplification?


not to say that details and addressing his rhetorical style are insignificant

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:56 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:Oh, I do agree. I missed where he claimed that. It is an oversimplification. Belief systems are also not dependent upon that purpose that to be religions. That said, it is one effect - speaking of purpose is still difficult - of most religions and all major ones that I can think of...so still a bit nit picky. Is your goal just to get him to understand that he is making a simplification?
Yes, and I think it's a critical one--if you assume the purpose of religion is to better society, you exclude a lot of important nuance. If you assume religion necessarily has any purpose, you exclude a lot of nuance.

One of the reasons I started posting in this thread was in the interests of trying to get people of a certain mindset on the same page as the religious; in discussions like these, so few are capable of speaking the same language. Part of the reason is probably because of the assumptions we make walking in.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby curtis95112 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:43 am UTC

Yes, except that a lot of what you're saying can be summed up with "Because they felt like it". While that's (tautologically) true, it doesn't tell us anything useful.
We want to know why they felt like believing. I'm saying that most believers believe because they feel it is objectively true. You seem to disagree.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby induction » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:04 am UTC

I think you could also argue that "believers believe because they feel it is objectively true" is also a tautology. :)

I personally think think that it's more common for people to decide what to believe first and look for evidence afterwards than the other way around. (Not that I endorse this practice, although I do sometimes catch myself doing it.) So in my mind your question amounts to asking for the psychological motivations for the belief, since the alleged 'evidence' is usually a red herring. I think that's what Hippo's been doing.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:43 am UTC

curtis95112 wrote:We want to know why they felt like believing. I'm saying that most believers believe because they feel it is objectively true. You seem to disagree.
I'm not sure I disagree with that statement. I can read it several ways, all depending on how I parse 'objectively true'.

Anyway, I've been trying to explain to you and others why people believe the things they do for... I don't know, four pages, now? The answer is a lot more complicated than 'because they fail at scientific thought', or 'because they're bad at intellectual rigor', or 'because they're not thinking about this rationally'. I've been trying to express this to you and others by encouraging you to think about the reason you yourselves embrace intellectual rigor and scientific thought--and give examples where you and others might not have applied intellectual rigor and scientific thought in your own lives, so you might better understand how someone who believes in God might go on believing in God in the face of an astounding lack of evidence.

I think it's incredibly important to hammer in the fact that when you talk to theists, you're probably not even speaking the same language. Nothing is quite as annoying to me than watching a theist trying to use religious values to attack humanism--or an atheist trying to use humanistic values to attack faith. It's like watching two Chinese people debate over UK sheep taxes, except one of them is speaking in Ugandan and other in sign language.

Real debates like these shouldn't be about the stuff that comes after values; they should be about the values themselves. That's where the real meat of the disagreement is--if change is going to happen, that's precisely where it needs to start. Everything else is just nonsense.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Lucrece » Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:18 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Yeah, my 'know thy enemy' rhetoric is probably because I realize I'm speaking to a pro-science audience who's going to be antagonistic to religion, so I instinctively frame my language in a way they might prefer ("If you really want to convince the religious..."). I beg pardon again; my goal isn't to eliminate or diminish religion. I'm likely secretly hoping that in attempting to better understand religious values (so they may better DESTROY THEM!), people will realize that there's often no need to eliminate them from our lives. At the very least, debates between science and religion would be a lot more pleasant to listen to if the participants were capable of speaking the same language.

I'm very happy with a 'live-and-let-live' approach too; if anything, I find religion fascinating and compelling--even as I reject the possibility of God.


The problem is that the case where religious feeling tends to allow for "live and let live" has historically been marginal; because as a social species we are not content with keeping religion individual, but also wanting to share and organize with others. That's how hierarchy comes into the picture and forcing people to do something because unfathomably -powerful-greater-being-who-wil-damn-you-to-unspeakably-awful-fate is much easier than motivating them on equal standing.

With science, we develop a universal language by which we can defend ourselves fairly against consensus. Religion is problematic because each religious person speaks a different language. A Buddhist cannot speak in the same language to a Jehova's Witness. They will ultimately force consensus through suppressive means.
Belial wrote:That's charming, Nancy, but all I hear when you talk is a bunch of yippy dog sounds.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zamfir » Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:17 am UTC

This thread (and similar ones) seems fair evidence that science can arouse the same desire.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:28 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
DSenette wrote:you're talking about what boils down to a ponzi scheme, which, by it's very nature means that it's being put into action by someone who is wholly unconcerned with anything other than their own interests. which is totally a type of entity that exists inside of a society.

now, the continuation of scientology, as practiced by a lot of people in a way that ISN'T a ponzi scheme is being practiced for the benefit of society, just for the benefit of the society of scientologists, not necessarily "society" as in "all of human life"

Also, there's evidence that the upper echelons of Scientology are actively just bleeding the lower echelons dry--i.e., they're acting in a way that doesn't benefit Scientologists. Do those upper echelons still qualify as following a religion? What if they really believe in all the Scientology stuff, but they're also conning the hell out of their followers at the same time? Does it still qualify? Does the same apply to the American Evangelicals who fleece their followers, but are also themselves believers? They're certainly not increasing the quality of life of anyone but themselves. How does that impact your model?[
Isn't it possible to simultaneously be a Ponzi scheme and a religion? Don't some organized religions actually have a very similar structure?

not for the same individual. if you're the person who is treating it like a ponzi scheme, then i find it hard to think that you'd also be following the dogma whole heartedly as an actual adherant would. especially since for you to KNOW it's a ponzi scheme, you'd have to also know that the entire thing is a lie for the purpose of making you filthy fucking rich (for various definitions of rich).

so yes, it can be a ponzi scheme and a religion, but no one person could actually treat it as both.

this applies to every type of religion not just scientology. i can assure you that the megachurch pastors that are raking in ass loads of personal profits off of their congregations are not practicing the same religion as their followers. they may claim to believe some of the same base concepts, but if you were to actually expose what they are doing to their followers you would find that they're not practicing the same things.

and again, in any model, there are actors who don't follow the rules. which, i said quite a few posts ago. however, they tend to be the exception not the rule. so even if they manipulate the system to their own gains, that doesn't change the system that they're manipulating or it's function.

The Great Hippo wrote:
DSenette wrote:can you show me a rule book that's written down for only one person's benefit? or an example of how that's ever happened. or a rule book that's "just for fun" or just for money? and by rule book, i mean a book of rules that people are expected to follow or they should expect consequences (which is what the rules in religious rulebooks are all about)
You can find several rule-books at your local gaming store; some games include consequences for 'breaking the rules', or 'cheating' (usually it's exclusion from the game, or some sort of penalty). Others leave the consequences for breaking the rules up to the players, and even allows the players to change the rules as they see fit.
right, and all of those rules/rule books are for the expressed benefit of the society that they govern, namely the people who are playing that game. they increase the "quality of life" of the society of "game players" by allowing them to play the same game at the same time without having to rehash how to do that every single time they want to play the game.


The Great Hippo wrote:
Zcorp wrote:It is hard, for me, to speak to Hubbard's motives. I don't know enough about about him. But generally social systems, like religion and government, are put in place with the idea of improving quality of life for society. Often societies well-being is not in line with individual well-being. Positive psychology is a perfect example of this. Informal positive psychology is a frequently taught in many religious institutions.

To address to topic more directly. Religious texts and institutions improve individuals quality of life. They do this by providing community, a code of conduct, an authority, an ideology and it provides answers to very low level philosophical inquiry. People put faith in these text because it is part of a culture, a culture they value and that improves their life. Often they are ignorant of other options, generally through no fault of their own. So people often put faith in religious texts because the relate to a culture that improves their well-being and nothing else is being given or shown to them as a real alternative. They however, not do it as well as educational institutions and secular social institutions could. Although, quality educational and secular social institutions have not yet established themselves or have not made themselves accessible. While this is in part due to the entrenchment and conflict with the religious institutions it is also because no one is spending the resources to create them in the private sector.

...

I'm confused as to if you don't understand what DSenette is trying to say or if you are just nitpicking. With the sentence above, do you know understand the point he is trying to make relating to individual and societal well-being? Or maybe I don't understand the point you are trying to make.
DSenette is claiming that the purpose of religion is to improve society's quality of life. I'm stating that's a vast oversimplification; that religion can be to the betterment of society, that some religions might have been created to make society a better place, but making the definition of religion dependent on this is arbitrary and not useful. I'm genuinely surprised you don't agree.

of course it's simplification, this is the interwebs! it takes a while to type out every word in the english language.

what are the purposes of religion then? how do they not relate back to increasing quality of life?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Zamfir » Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:27 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:not for the same individual. if you're the person who is treating it like a ponzi scheme, then i find it hard to think that you'd also be following the dogma whole heartedly as an actual adherant would. especially since for you to KNOW it's a ponzi scheme, you'd have to also know that the entire thing is a lie for the purpose of making you filthy fucking rich (for various definitions of rich).

so yes, it can be a ponzi scheme and a religion, but no one person could actually treat it as both.

Seriously, why not? Empirically, people are excellent at collecting wealth and power while also honestly believing in their cause. The Catholic church is the prime example of a religious organization that collects dues from around the world. The Vatican is still filled with die-hard believers who dedicated their lives to religion, and who are not exactly living a life of blow and hookers.

At other points in history the Vatican was filled with blow and hookers, and quite some of the cardinals of those days must have been in it for the money only. Then again, it's also possible to be in it for the gold, the hookers, and the religion, and all of them serious. You just might feel more guilt, or you tell yourself that the hookers are a reward for being a such a good leader of the church.
Last edited by Zamfir on Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:35 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby DSenette » Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:34 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
DSenette wrote:not for the same individual. if you're the person who is treating it like a ponzi scheme, then i find it hard to think that you'd also be following the dogma whole heartedly as an actual adherant would. especially since for you to KNOW it's a ponzi scheme, you'd have to also know that the entire thing is a lie for the purpose of making you filthy fucking rich (for various definitions of rich).

so yes, it can be a ponzi scheme and a religion, but no one person could actually treat it as both.

Seriously, why not? Empirically, people are excellent at collecting wealth and power while also honestly believing in their cause. The Catholic church is the prime example of a religious organization that collects dues from around the world. The Vatican is still filled with die-hard believers who dedicated their lives to religion, and who are not exactly living a life of blow and hookers.

At other points in history the Vatican was filled with blow and hookers, and quite some of the cardinals of those days must have been in it for the money only. Then again, it's also possible to be in it for the gold, the hookers, and the religion, and all of them serious.

but they're not collecting the money as a ponzi scheme and they're not actively and knowingly participating in a ponzi scheme.

if you legitimately don't know that what you're doing is a ponzi scheme you can't be actually accused of leading a ponzi scheme.

besides that, collection of wealth and running a scam are two completely different things. the catholic church (as in, the church) isn't collecting wealth specifically to collect wealth, they do have a purpose for collecting the money and it's typically either for improving "the church" or improving the congregations of the church or for actually improving the lives of members of society as a whole (that one doesn't always happen they way they claim it will).

all of which is ENTIRELY different from tricking people into giving you money under false pretenses.
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