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#1 sierraleone

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 09:31 PM

I think there used to be a better forum for this, but I guess OT will have to do :)

So, today I was contemplating a statement I often hear about religion. "It gives me comfort".

If I am having a conversation about religion, and that is said, I do let such conversations slide after that. What is there more to say? Well, today I'll start off with that it makes no sense to me. Maybe it doesn't have to, but I like to try to make sense of things.

One reason it makes no sense to me is that religion does the opposite of comforting me. How so? Well, religion itself does not make sense to me. The texts are often contradictory. And most importantly, I feel there are often dogma, or interpretations of text, that are potentially unfriendly for certain populations, and I am not sure why any god worth my time would do that. So some interpretations of religion are actually discomforting to my own strong ideals, which could be said to be part of my own spirituality.

It is not my intention to be judgemental or caustic, so I am sorry if I come across that way at any point, it is simply an exploration of human spiritual expression. If you find me off-base, discuss! :) I tried to discuss this with a family member today and he said that it is a deeply personal topic and people don't like to discuss it. If one is not experienced in the matters of religion or spirituality how are they supposed to understand others, or grow in those areas personally, without the occasional open, meaningful and respectful conversation? Perhaps he felt put under the microscope. In additional to the religious and the non-religious it would be really interesting to see what adult converts think.

So I set myself along to the path to try to think why religion gives some comfort. Yes, I really had to think about it because religion, and potential comfort stemming from it, makes no sense to me. So, my theories?

Familiarity, nostalgia and/or teaching (and the meaning one imbues all of that with)

Familiar things are often comfortable, even when they are not positive (FYI - that is not a comment on religion). So when familiar things are positive or neutral it is more easy to attach significance or meaning to them. And I don't mean that judgementally, I am not discounting people's experience as meaningless.


There is a crisis ("Fourth World conditions") on an Indian/First Nation's Reserve (Attawapiskat - Northern Ontario) made very public last year.  Many people on-line responded with shock, horror, disgust, anger and/or racism to the story. This weekend I was reading a website where a person responded to these comments, advising that people shouldn't automatically make judgements that there is Reservation mismanagement, explaining how it normally works, and how this crisis came about.

Anyways, there were many comments of people thanking this person for sharing and then interesting discussions about other issues surrounding the First Nations. I never got thru it all, but what I did read resonated with me. Some of the discussion was around First Nations poverty issues, and leaving the Reservations/Reservation systems to try to deal with the poverty issues. The replies spoke eloquently to such issues, which basically boiled down to familiarity and the meaning it holds for them. The meaning they attach to the land (and not just First Nations, a transplanted Newfie spoke poignantly about missing Newfoundland), the comfort and meaning they attach to being around people with similar histories, and the ease it creates (no one questioning them upon meeting them about why their parents named them *that*). I am not doing it justice by any means, but, beyond First Nations issues, it made me also more generally think about the meaning we attach to our experiences, whether those experiences have to do with the landscape (natural or man-made), people, or ideas (cultural, religious, spiritual, secular, etc). Reading that yesterday is probably part of what prompted this rabbit hole today :)


I could expand my thoughts, or dissect it smaller, but I don't know it is really necessary. I know I thought if the "comfort" comment had to do with the thought of life-after-death, and/or the idea that things will all work out because of a guiding/protecting force or a grand plan. But even that would fall under the above.

I also wonder if religious people filter *every* experience they feel is spiritual thru their religious prism. How could they not really. Is that how they are typically taught? Or do religious people just assume a spiritual experience needs the religious prism they have been taught?

I feel most spiritual in surroundings or situations that make me feel calm, centred, pure and/or in awe. Typically I feel most spiritual alone in the natural world. I felt the way described above when I was kayaking alone on a lake while camping this summer. I have felt that way while going over things I am thankful for recently. I am sure other people have other experiences, certainly I can't imagine feeling spiritual is always the same for everyone. I also figure spirituality shouldn't always feel comfortable either. I feel that spirituality is essentially about discovering yourself, as well as connections that are all around you, and their meaning to you.


One thing I find interesting is my family has several members that say they are religious. But none of them follow the outward traditions of their religion. That is, regular church attendance (not even once a year), saying grace, praying, going to confession (where applicable). This includes in private, in their home. The most outward sign of their religion is I know two of them put out a small nativity scene at *Giftmas. Not that one needs outward signs to be religious, but it does make me think about the familiarity angle I was going with above. For them it is not about the familiarity of traditions or churches or congregations, but seemingly about familiarity with an internal experience, concept and/or at least label/identification. Obviously spirituality is a very personal thing involving mental concepts anyways, that sometimes manifest in people physical acting out traditions/rituals.... It was just I had started out with all this thinking thinking about people that regularly attend Church and following traditions/rituals that may seem familiar and that certainly doesn't cover all religious people.


And I've got to figure it works the other way around too. To some what is discomforting about other/all religions is that it is unfamiliar. (Though surely some people are very familiar with a religion and their experience gave them a negative association with it. Heck, I was in Catholic school until I was 10, but i have merely forgotten near all of it, and don't feel familiar with the Catholic experience.) We all have, conscious, subconscious, or otherwise, belief systems that are contrary or judgemental. We all come by them thru culture, interactions and experiences.


*Giftmas is a term I came across on-line. It was actually used in the phrase "Merry Pagan Giftmas". I think it was meant to throw back at people who get all up-in-arms about the war-on-Christmas. The phrase being suggestive of the actual origins of Christmas (and many of its traditions) and the more recent over-commercialization of Christmas. Which might irritate some strident war-on-Christmas people. I just like it because I get fed up with Christmas at times, as I am sure we all do at some point or another :)

Edited by sierraleone, 10 December 2012 - 10:34 PM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#2 offworlder

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:11 PM

well that's a lot of things right there, but I'll get on the comfort saying thing; I have only ever heard that with Christians; not to say I'd be surprised if five Hindus said it, or five Buddhists; and I am quite sure that aboriginal indians find comfort in their spiritual thoughts and rituals too; but that brings me to the main thing. I believe that the comfort thing comes from spare tough times, that those first saying it had a cold winter in a spare lodge with chill winds whipping across the fields or plains or hills; and ole Christian times with poor rural out on the moors, a dirt floor with a plain hearth and one simple fire, crowding round it; to find comfort when there is no other comfort. I feel that many of today's folk with modern lives of comfort and plenty, or relative plenty, and materials, soft bed with LauraAshley comforter, central heat, hot coffee in the morning at the breakfast table with email on the computer beside, and all the doings and people and stuff and cars and, just all the physical world, material world, and pop round to the store to pick up anything run out of it, just different times. But then, a troubled relationship, divorce, got dumped, or someone stabbed you in the back, then religion could be a comfort on a cold day.
"(Do you read what they say online?) I check out all these scandalous rumours about me and Elijah Wood having beautiful sex with each other ... (are they true?) About Elijah and me being boyfriend and boyfriend? Absolutely true. We've been together for about nine years. I wooed him. No I just like a lot of stuff - I like that someone says one thing and it becomes fact. It's kind of fun." --Dominic Monaghan in a phone interview with Newsweek while buying DVDs at the store. :D

#3 sierraleone

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:33 PM

I have also lately been thinking about simpler, and/or harder, times or places. Part of my "thankfulness" project has made me think about all the things we have, lots of 'basics' that people either did not have in earlier times, or do not have currently in other places (some near, some far). Heck, the Reservation problems indicates that pretty readily in and of itself.

Even though I am a very practical person, hate decorative nick-nacks, like everything to be useful, not over-sentimental, and consider myself a bit of a minimalist, I think I have a lot of stuff, even discounting my books. It helps that I hate shopping. (Maybe I am just a minimalist compared to my pack-rat mother ;) ).

Before my recent expansion of my wardrobe my wardrobe wouldn't last me 1 week. I'd say it would probably last me 1 week to 10 days now, depending on the season. That may be a lot compare to older times/other places, but I always end up amazed at the people with 20 pairs of pants, or even more pairs of shoes. I have 8 pairs of shoes, and I feel like that is a lot, but having four seasons makes it difficult to trim down.

Actually bringing up Buddhism makes me think of how they try to (and correct me if I am wrong anyone!) find enlightening thru practicing non-attachment. I would assume that means non-attachment to the things that give us comfort. Though that doesn't mean their ideals/beliefs don't give them comfort, even if they decide to turn away from available worldly comforts.

Edited by sierraleone, 10 December 2012 - 10:41 PM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#4 SparkyCola

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:25 AM

I think it's about 80% about life after death, and 20% "There's a plan - it's not all chaos and meaningless hardship"

The latter is about control. When things are getting out of hand or just going badly a religious person might say "It's not all for nothing - there's some sort of reason. I don't know what it is, but there is still a reason..." to ward off despair.

The other 80% is to do with two elements:

1. Will I ever see my (deceased) loved ones ever again??? Obviously it's more comforting to believe "Yes, they're waiting for you and you'll be with them for eternity" than it is to believe "No, they are gone forever, end of." and

2. Particularly for people who have hard lives, for instance in the third world: I've heard some of these people say "If there isn't something better after death that makes all this worthwhile - then what's the point of going on?" In othere words there's a belief that if you can't rely on a definite happy ending then there's not a lot to motivate someone who lives every day as a struggle for survival (let alone happiness). Humans like happy endings.

I think that's what people mean. But I agree that it is baffling simply because: it is not an argument in any way shape or form. Whether or not something is "comforting" is totally irrelevant to whether or not it is TRUE. I might find it comforting to believe all sorts of things - like fairies or that there isn't actually any suffering in the world... that doesn't make those things true. Could you believe in something while at the same time knowing it isn't true? Or not disbelieving it because of the remote chance it "might" be true? Seems like rather a superficial belief that wouldn't take you very far. The universe doesn't owe you comfort. You believe in things because you know they are true, not because they are a 'comfort'.

If I believe that sunflowers talk then hey, a bit odd, but basically harmless. The problem with something as complex and pervasive as religion is that it isn't harmless. But for people whose lives are extremely difficult, I can hardly judge- my life is extremely lucky and comfortable. I don't live in sub-Saharan Africa, I live in a home county of the UK. I have a problem with religion in general, but this isn't the worst aspect of it.

Sparky

Edited by SparkyCola, 11 December 2012 - 09:56 AM.

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#5 sierraleone

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:23 AM

View PostSparkyCola, on 11 December 2012 - 05:25 AM, said:

I think it's about 80% about life after death, and 20% "There's a plan - it's not all chaos and meaningless hardship"

The latter is about control. When things are getting out of hand or just going badly a religious person might say "It's not all for nothing - there's some sort of reason. I don't know what it is, but there is still a reason..." to ward off despair.

The other 80% is to do with two elements:

1. Will I ever see my (deceased) loved ones ever again??? Obviously it's more comforting to believe "Yes, they're waiting for you and you'll be with them for eternity" than it is to beleive "No, they are gone forever, end of." and

I don't worry about life after death, but maybe because the closest I got was a three week bout with pnemonia where there is excellent care available. I figure I will either exist (in some manner) or I won't, and it isn't worth thinking about and planning my existence now around.

Quote

2. Particularly for people who have hard lives, for instance in the third world: I've heard some of these people say "If there isn't something better after death that makes all this worthwhile - then what's the point of going on?" In othere words there's a belief that if you can't rely on a definite happy ending then there's not a lot to motivate someone who lives every day as a struggle for survival (let alone happiness). Humans like happy endings.

I wonder why that is an argument to go on. Everything will be better in the afterlife, right? Other than taboos (religious or otherwise) against suicide, or that fact it is potentially unpleasant and uncomfortable and not a guarantee depending on the method.... Of course, it doesn't have to make sense, but the argument that I have to go on, because if I didn't go on I would get my happy ending sooner, is an odd argument. Unless one means the choice between going on with my head held high or at least in consolation, and going on with feeling like I have no hope, just going thru the motions.

Quote

I think that's what people mean. But I agree that it is baffling simply because: it is not an argument in any way shape or form. Whether or not something is "comforting" is totally irrelevant to whether or not it is TRUE. I might find it comforting to believe all sorts of things - like fairies or that there isn't actually any suffering in the world... that doesn't make those things true. Could you believe in something while at the same time knowing it isn't true? Or not disbelieving it because of the remote chance it "might" be true? Seems like rather a superficial belief that wouldn't take you very far. The universe doesn't owe you comfort. You believe in things because you know they are true, not because they are a 'comfort'.

Can you call it belief when you know its true? Belief generally is used to described things one believes or 'knows' regardless of actual evidence. Even if one doesn't have a religion, near everyone has a value system. Many contemporary secular ones include equality, among many other values and ideas that are not universally adopted. It may be your truth, but how do you "prove" your truth that your value system is better, or true, to someone who doesn't share those values? Especially if they are opposing ones.

Edited by sierraleone, 11 December 2012 - 07:40 AM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#6 Nonny

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:30 AM

I find little comfort in religion, and am currently working through grade school issues, some of the stuff crammed into my Inner Child's head by nuns and priests, now rejected by Skeptic Me, and am trying to deal with the residual anger.  I do find comfort in quiet moments at night and early morning, especially when I'm out looking at the stars, but lately can't do that due to coyote sightings.  So I take comfort where I find it.
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#7 SparkyCola

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:13 AM

Quote

I don't worry about life after death, but maybe because the closest I got was a three week bout with pnemonia where there is excellent care available. I figure I will either exist (in some manner) or I won't, and it isn't worth thinking about and planning my existence now around.

That's more the second point - the first is more to do with losing someone you love. If you've ever lost someone you love it's pretty hard to accept that one moment they were there, and the next they are gone and you will never see them again. Much easier to believe it's a temporary parting than a permanent one.

As for belief in a big plan... let's just say it's a personal limitation. I don't understand how it isn't rather self-absorbed to believe there are complex forces involved in the ups and downs of your life when elsewhere, a kid might be born, suffer through abuse, famine, illness, war and injury and die at the age of 5. Where are the complex forces for that kid? Where is the only getting as much as you can handle for them? Any luck in your life cannot possibly, even POSSIBLY be attributed to God when there are other more deserving people who have no such luck and die suffering. It's rather a fragile defence to argue that belief in God could help that kid by way of "moral support", that the kid doesn't even experience. But time and again you hear these "God arranged this and that so that this would happen and I'd bump into person A who would turn out to be my husband!" - come off it. How could you possibly believe God cares so much about you that he would go to those lengths, but is not prepared to arrange the events of a child so they might get enough to eat for that day? This is why I assume people who believe in this over-arching plan must privately know that it's nonsense and just deny it for the sake of their own comfort. If they don't, then they are taking rather a narrow view of life and conveniently ignoring everyone else outside their personal bubble, rather like Londoners on the underground.

Personally I'd argue there is a difference between belief without evidence and belief with mountains of evidence. There is zero equivalency between belief in God and belief in evolution, for example.

Sparky
Able to entertain a thought without taking it home to meet the parents

#8 sierraleone

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 06:26 PM

View PostNonny, on 11 December 2012 - 08:30 AM, said:

I find little comfort in religion, and am currently working through grade school issues, some of the stuff crammed into my Inner Child's head by nuns and priests, now rejected by Skeptic Me, and am trying to deal with the residual anger.  I do find comfort in quiet moments at night and early morning, especially when I'm out looking at the stars, but lately can't do that due to coyote sightings.  So I take comfort where I find it.

Oh yes, I love to look at the stars. If only the early sunset here this time of year didn't get accompanied by bitter cold! ;)
Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#9 sierraleone

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 07:39 PM

View PostSparkyCola, on 11 December 2012 - 10:13 AM, said:

That's more the second point - the first is more to do with losing someone you love. If you've ever lost someone you love it's pretty hard to accept that one moment they were there, and the next they are gone and you will never see them again. Much easier to believe it's a temporary parting than a permanent one.

I meant the closest brush with my own morality. My father, and both of his parents, all died between my 10 and 25th birthday. So I have dealt with morality of people that I care about. I don't know if you made an assumption, but I am not bothered either way, just to be clear :)

Quote

As for belief in a big plan... let's just say it's a personal limitation. I don't understand how it isn't rather self-absorbed to believe there are complex forces involved in the ups and downs of your life when elsewhere, a kid might be born, suffer through abuse, famine, illness, war and injury and die at the age of 5.

I am with you there, which is why whenever I try to conceive as a god as I can imagine it, it is not close to similar as to what religion says... and if it is, they unintentional make him seem rather cruel to me.

Quote

Personally I'd argue there is a difference between belief without evidence and belief with mountains of evidence. There is zero equivalency between belief in God and belief in evolution, for example.

Sparky

I was not talking a mythological creator and/or creation myth versus science. I was talking one value system, or way of life, versus another. What makes one true over another? Sure, I can use statistics to posit better outcomes in some situations, but one could argue that that doesn't prove cause and affect. And even if it did, how are they measuring outcomes? Affluence? Does that prove one way of life is better or true?

Sparky, do you recall the "Moral Psychology" that linked a T.E.D. speech on, well, moral psychology, and it assessed liberals and conservatives based on five moral values (Harm, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority and Purity).

http://www.exisle.ne...ral-psychology/

I got thinking about certain strong traditions/expectations most cultures have had up until recently. Such as that people are fully responsible for their elders in old age. Some would say it shouldn't be mandatory, or an obligation, even if one had good loving parents. Basically because that isn't why people should have kids. Traditionally people didn't have to really prepare for retirement, heck they were using most of their resources to raise their kid(s). Now-a-days people have difficulty taking care of their parents even if they want too, as most people of both genders work. I wonder how much the younger generations are preparing for their own old age. I imagine some of all these kind of changes that have been happening in society is part of the push back from some quarters, especially over 'big government'. Or the opposite! (i.e. having the government make some sort of recognition of your obligation to your parents mandatory as, IIRC, China was attempting a while back!). Of course, adjustments will be made with any society change. As always some will fall thu the cracks, as no system is perfect (with or without change) and those with plenty of resources will adjust comparatively easily.

Back to the afterlife. I mean, I assume most people don't think about it too much, just the idea of "it will be better". (and when you are barely surviving, imaging an eternal life where survival isn't an issue, any other carried over traditions from their current way of life they don't like, if they have the privilege to even contemplate it, would not seem that big a deal, comparatively). One time I read though some who obviously had way too much time to think about it. I've posted it before, and I found it. While I feel bad, like I am making fun of her, I can't believe she had this much indignation over such a topic.

http://mariancastle....y-for-boys.html

Specifically the post from 5/30/2007:

Quote

Good for you!!
I have 10 children...3 in college...my twin young MEN are very fit and very handsome, indeed. They do look great in those "muscle shirts"...Too good! One of my boys came upstairs in one to the kitchen and I said, "Hold it. You may sleep in your underwear, but not parade around in it. Go back downstairs and put on some clothes." He had not realized he was naked till that point, "OOPs...ok Mom." My daughter has a different attitude, "If I have to dress modestly, then so do YOU!" She said to her brother.

About swimming...my kids wear T-shirts and shorts when swimming. No one ever says anything to us, but if they did, we could say, "we burn easy" or "It's none of your business what we wear."

Comfort? What we're doing is a sacrifice. Do you think Jesus was comfortable on the cross? Why should we be comfortable? Do we deserve it? I agree with MV when she said we will only find that comfort in Heaven! And believe me...everyone will be dressed modestly.


I can praise her for treating her sons and daughters alike.... Before this, if I imagine an after-life I imagine either blurry beings, or mostly the heads/faces with little-no focus on the bodies.  I don't even imagine clothing in heaven. After having read that suddenly those heads/faces attached to bodies, naked ones since I never imagined clothing in heaven before! But I didn't imagine anyone caring. And if people did have a variety of clothing covering different amounts of skin, I can't imagine anyone being hung up over it. What causes people to even think like that about the afterlife? Modesty in this life may be necessary, but I can't imagine modest in the next life to be so, because we should be all past these silly hang-ups, should we not?  


Life-after-death
I could say I under the life-after-death comfort thing, but I don't know if that is true. It is not that it is a foreign concept to me, obviously I have heard of it :) It is just that I don't feel the after-life, if there is one, does, or should, have an impact on my current life (or vice-versa). Though, obviously people who have been taught that their life now has an impact on their after-life, are going to approach it vastly differently then I do, as they have all sort of meaning attached to such a, to them, familiar (and comforting) concept.

Grand Plan & Protecting/Guiding Force
I can understand the appeal of that, even though, as you say Sparky, it doesn't make sense. I hate things being disorganized or going wrong, or not knowing what is going on and going to happen. And that happens a lot in life. I think part of it is that it is not just winners that tell history. It is survivors that live to tell their tale from horrible events. They will probably tell the tale of some of those that didn't survive too, but that isn't going to be predominate typically, when one tells the grand story. Other than some statistics anyways. So it is very easy, I think, to fall into a lull that there is a master plan. In tragedies we typically follow the stories of the survivors, and in conflicts (with or without deaths) typically the stories of the winners, giving a skewed view of events and history. I am not saying we choose those stories necessary. Historically survivors are the only ones left to tell stories, and winners suppress the looser's stories.

Familiar Comfort
I can certainly understand having things familiar loaded with good associations, and certain positive meanings over time. I don't think I have made as many as many other people do. Having moved a lot has, to some degree, made it difficult for me to do so, with places or people.

Though I guess for some their beliefs/values/morals (religious or otherwise) allow them, they feel, to hold their head higher than they would have otherwise, as they slog thru this thing we call life.

Edited by sierraleone, 11 December 2012 - 07:42 PM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#10 sierraleone

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:15 AM

View PostSparkyCola, on 11 December 2012 - 05:25 AM, said:

I think it's about 80% about life after death, and 20% "There's a plan - it's not all chaos and meaningless hardship"

The latter is about control. When things are getting out of hand or just going badly a religious person might say "It's not all for nothing - there's some sort of reason. I don't know what it is, but there is still a reason..." to ward off despair.
...

Sparky

I was just rethinking this, and while I think the concept of an afterlife (whether heaven, re-incarnation, etc.) is universal, I don't think the concept of a there being a plan is.

I was thinking about polytheistic religions. Most of our ancient civilizations had them, since prior to Christ the only monotheist religion I know of, off-hand, is Judaism. Their many gods/goddesses were not all seeing/knowing/transcendent, and most were not typically protective/guiding of human kind. Their gods/goddesses had vast and varied stories just like humans, of adventures, wars, conflicts, jealousy, betrayal, love, marriage, affairs, children. If there is a grand plan it seems it was something bigger than, and outside of the control of, the pantheon of gods. They did not have a cosmology that was all encompassing in one god as most monotheistic religions today. Though people would worship particular gods hoping to get their favour/protection/guidance. I am sure it comforted them regardless, but I do wonder how sure/assured they felt about that that god/goddesses directing any energies towards them, and that they were not going to garner the wrath of another god. Of course there are still polytheistic religions today, by far the biggest one being Hinduism. As well, depending on the polytheistic religion there may have been a concept of a supreme creator behind all the gods/grand early beings.

Edited by sierraleone, 12 December 2012 - 05:28 AM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#11 SparkyCola

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:41 AM

No assumptions - I'm just talking generally. Losing someone you love is hard - and it's something we all face at some time. It's perhaps one of the hardest things to face up to. My point is that people may be less concerned about what happens when "I" die, and more about living through the deaths of those they love. Kind of like Neelix in Star Trek Voyager- did you see that ep? Neelix "died" temporarily and (unlike he had believed up until this point) he didn't see his family there.

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was not talking a mythological creator and/or creation myth versus science. I was talking one value system, or way of life, versus another. What makes one true over another? Sure, I can use statistics to posit better outcomes in some situations, but one could argue that that doesn't prove cause and affect. And even if it did, how are they measuring outcomes? Affluence? Does that prove one way of life is better or true?

This is confusing to me since I would never describe a way of life as being "true" or "false". Beliefs can be true or false, fact-based or not fact-based, and actions may be based on those beliefs. But 'way of life' is an amalgamation of actions, rituals and reactions based on a huge number of beliefs and philosophies that is too complex to lump together under one heading imo. So I'm not sure I understand what you mean...

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#12 sierraleone

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 06:41 PM

View PostSparkyCola, on 12 December 2012 - 08:41 AM, said:

No assumptions - I'm just talking generally. Losing someone you love is hard - and it's something we all face at some time. It's perhaps one of the hardest things to face up to. My point is that people may be less concerned about what happens when "I" die, and more about living through the deaths of those they love. Kind of like Neelix in Star Trek Voyager- did you see that ep? Neelix "died" temporarily and (unlike he had believed up until this point) he didn't see his family there.

I *probably* did see that episode, as I probably watched them all, but I do not recall that one off hand.

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This is confusing to me since I would never describe a way of life as being "true" or "false". Beliefs can be true or false, fact-based or not fact-based, and actions may be based on those beliefs. But 'way of life' is an amalgamation of actions, rituals and reactions based on a huge number of beliefs and philosophies that is too complex to lump together under one heading imo. So I'm not sure I understand what you mean...

Sparky

I am sure there are some values you believe are better than those held by others. Maybe you wouldn't phrase it that way.

For me one of those values would be equality (of sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religious, etc). I don't think we need to look far to find cultures (in time or location) where that is not clearly not a commonly held value, in some cases in the extreme opposite direction.

What about individualism vs collectivism? Co-operative communities can be a beautiful thing, but mob rule, not so much. But trying to generate something, whether material things or plans, knowledge, change, etc, is extremely difficult as a lone effort. As a general rule I feel people shouldn't be forced to follow community social norms, nor ostracized over non-comformance. The reason I bring up individualism though is that one can't have individualism as a core value without equality. Unless one means individualism for the preferentially treated group only. I imagine the the individuality, and the idea of equality that must go with it, is a large part of the 'culture wars', so to speak. As far as individualism vs collectivism goes for myself, I don't think either one alone is an answer to the needs in our society. Of course, interpretation would make a big difference.

So it appears inequality, as a value in many cultures, exists, so it is "true" as in it exists. Whether one thinks it is right or wrong (or thinks if their opinion is material or not) is a whole other matter. Though they probably wouldn't call it inequality. I am imagining some of them feel, and are of the opinion, certain people have certain roles, based on whatever criteria that culture had developed. Of course, this happens somewhat in all societies. Even in our laws people are treated differently. Not just criminals, but the other obvious ones, the young, those 'declared' to be incompetent.

Edited by sierraleone, 12 December 2012 - 06:49 PM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#13 offworlder

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:04 PM

>' As a general rule I feel people shouldn't be forced to follow community social norms, nor ostracized over non-comformance
'
I believe Christian churches and gatherings have always had the conformity thing, coercing, the Catholics and the Baptists, history is full of it (and so are books and movies)- or ostracizing?

Haven't we seen this in the Jewish too? I was not in a jewish family but I saw every show of the CBS sit com The Nanny, though fiction and funny it's based upon real jewish families and includes a lot of truth; I believe the coercing and influencing has always been in with them too. Hindus too?

Are not all or most communities or social groups including influencing or coercing, or judging, or trying to 'teach' or convert or something, advising, kibitzing? I have not seen many community or social groups without something of these things, I think it's nature.
Don't we see a lot of the converting, or ostracizing in the Mooslem things too? what religions have none of that?

On another note:
Faith is faith. You have faith or you don't. It's not about the same things you find in science institutes with debating and arguing, research and evidence, make the win by making the proving or appearing-proving argument. You find truth in faith, or you don't. Straightforward, except for scientists, even Jewish or Catholic ones ;)
"(Do you read what they say online?) I check out all these scandalous rumours about me and Elijah Wood having beautiful sex with each other ... (are they true?) About Elijah and me being boyfriend and boyfriend? Absolutely true. We've been together for about nine years. I wooed him. No I just like a lot of stuff - I like that someone says one thing and it becomes fact. It's kind of fun." --Dominic Monaghan in a phone interview with Newsweek while buying DVDs at the store. :D

#14 Bobby

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:07 PM

I don't see anything wrong with belief in a higher power if it does give them some comfort, nobody knows why we're here. Unless they deny reality and try to make everyone else conform to their standards.   I wonder how many people religion actually keeps in line to a certain degree.

I'll be honest, I went through a period as an agnostic, then as an atheist, now I believe there is a a purpose to life again, I don't know what it is, granted.  It's not a blind faith, I wouldn't call it old tyme religion or new age mumbo jumbo.

One thing I don't understand is people who carry on about how bad the world is but always say they are blessed to be alive whenever they survive an accident, especially an accident where other people died. It's making an indirect statement about the people who have died, if it's a person of faith who died they'll say it was their time and they are with God now so not to mourn.  You could argue, and they typically do, that survivors are happy to be with their family for a little while longer.  But they claim that you shouldn't be of the world, that faith in God takes priority even over family.   And then they'll talk about how everyone is born a sinner then complain about people sinning.  It's about people rising above the law of the jungle on some level I guess.

Edited by Bobby, 12 December 2012 - 08:09 PM.


#15 sierraleone

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:15 PM

View Postoffworlder, on 12 December 2012 - 08:04 PM, said:

>' As a general rule I feel people shouldn't be forced to follow community social norms, nor ostracized over non-comformance
'
I believe Christian churches and gatherings have always had the conformity thing, coercing, the Catholics and the Baptists, history is full of it (and so are books and movies)- or ostracizing?


As you say, it happens in *all* social groups to some degree or another. It is life and human nature. The concern is the degree some groups take it to, and the harm (not necessarily physical) that it does to people, and not just to the individual/group being ostracized, but to the group doing the ostracizing. It is a complicated issue, I really brought in Individualism/Collectivism as Individualism, to me, automatically requires equality. But it is not automatic the other way around from my point of view.

So, I believe, or have faith, that equality should, optimally anyways (certainly doesn't happen in reality) trump inequality, in a values match. I do not necessarily have that belief/faith so clear cut in an individualism vs collectivism values match. Neither is one person more important than many people, or vice versa. And I am probably not using the terms individualism and collectivism properly anyways, though I hope people understand what I am communicating :)

Edited by sierraleone, 12 December 2012 - 09:17 PM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#16 sierraleone

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:32 PM

View PostBobby, on 12 December 2012 - 08:07 PM, said:

I'll be honest, I went through a period as an agnostic, then as an atheist, now I believe there is a a purpose to life again, I don't know what it is, granted.  It's not a blind faith, I wouldn't call it old tyme religion or new age mumbo jumbo.

I just don't think it matters to me. If there is life-after-death I'll find out eventually (unless they figure out a way to beat death before my time and I can afford it ;) ). If there is a God, and s/he does care about what we do, I don't see any reason why he would object to what I do. Maybe to what I *don't* do, I suppose :) And somehow he is all forgiving but at the same time we have to behave within his guidelines? Obviously some people go one direction or the other, but there are people who try to claim both.

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One thing I don't understand is people who carry on about how bad the world is but always say they are blessed to be alive whenever they survive an accident, especially an accident where other people died.

It's a religious equivalent of "I'm lucky"?

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It's making an indirect statement about the people who have died, if it's a person of faith who died they'll say it was their time and they are with God now so not to mourn.

Well, I assume they don't say that to the family of the deceased, or at least not blatantly! :)

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You could argue, and they typically do, that survivors are happy to be with their family for a little while longer.  But they claim that you shouldn't be of the world, that faith in God takes priority even over family.   And then they'll talk about how everyone is born a sinner then complain about people sinning.  It's about people rising above the law of the jungle on some level I guess.

It is the ones that take two different directions on the same idea that make my head hurt. But then we all have our own mental little contradictions, some of us just have faith that theirs are divinely inspired. In some ways I feel that I am less of the world than most people. I hate stuff for the sake of stuff, and I just don't get people, even the non-religious peoples :D I find even if I can follow along with the social 'games' people play, I have absolutely no interest in keeping up and participating.
Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#17 SparkyCola

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 04:35 AM

Sierra - perhaps I'm too used to 'true' and 'false' being a binary condition ;) To me, believing one view is 'better' than another doesn't make the other one "false". Better is a relative term, not an absolute one. Points of view cannot be factually incorrect, by their very definition.

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Able to entertain a thought without taking it home to meet the parents

#18 sierraleone

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 02:16 PM

^

I certainly feel for some of my values/moral that they are "better" as opposed to "right", but there are some I hold in more regard/esteem than others. Points of view may not be factually correct or incorrect, but I am sure most people have a strong moral opinion about slavery :)
Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html



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