Falsification and social control: religion’s main purpose
Posted: 08 June 2008 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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The proposition that some unseen god(s) exist that cannot be verified by objective evidence is a debate that cannot be won or lost.  All we get instead is a never-ending clash of opinions and assertions based on claimed subjective experiences.  That’s why I‘m increasingly disinterested in the whole god debate.

What is to me perhaps the most critical and objectionable issue with all (?) religions is that they hold that their claims cannot ever be questioned or doubted, that they must be accepted as asserted by some humans, on pain of death, condemnation or some other injurious penalty by those same humans.  That denial of falsification or even questioning or doubt, creates the bedrock of totalitarianism, whether that totalitarianism be dressed in religious or some other secular political ideological clothes. 

“Believe in me” as a demand, translates into “do what I say and don’t question me,” whether uttered by a priest or a politician.  That is a main sustaining basis for religion, and some political ideologies: unquestioned control over other people.  The “comfort value” of a theism as far as personal survival and imputing meaning and caring on an otherwise apparently indifferent universe are secondary to me to the need people have to control others.

One of the reasons for the heat and anger, even killing, that is associated with the theist/atheist arguments is less the claimed existence or non-existence of some god, than it is the attempt of some people to control others.  Religion, as well as some secular political ideologies, share the same purpose, control others.  Both of these human creations get quite testy when someone challenges them and their authority.  On a macro-scale, it is the same as a school yard bully trying to force others to give him their lunch money.  “Because I said so,” is a common issue.

The issue isn’t “god,” the issue is instead unquestioned human authority that purports or attempts to force others to comply with some set of human values and wishes.

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 08 June 2008 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Dennis Campbell - 08 June 2008 11:54 AM

The issue isn’t “god,” the issue is instead unquestioned human authority that purports or attempts to force others to comply with some set of human values and wishes.

I don’t know. I don’t think it’s that easy to remove god from the equation. It’s true there have been plenty of power-mongers where religion wasn’t a huge factor. But doesn’t it seem that these types of dogmatic ruling systems, despite the destruction they leave behind, eventually do fade?

With god, we have this genius man-made construct of the one who cannot be questioned, fabricated as the very image of its creators, with all the same enemies and friends, and oh, by the way, he’s supernatural, omniscient, and unapproachable.  But he did leave this, ummm, book behind even though he won’t talk to you personally, so do what I s…, I mean what he says or you’ll die. 

This is the most insidious aspect of religion—“can’t touch this!”— and since religion has survived as long as it has, I conclude that the god construct has been and will continue to be germane to its survival. 

And so, through magical thinking, “unquestioned human authority” becomes “unquestionable divine authority” - human values be damned.

Thus, the god construct has led to a power grip more tenacious and lasting longer than any other despotic control freaks.

[ Edited: 08 June 2008 08:55 AM by Aaron]
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“The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray.”
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Posted: 08 June 2008 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I agree that the postulation of god is a most convenient authority to assert in justifying control over others.  For that reason alone, religion will continue to exist to some degree.  The school yard bully will always come up with something to try and justify his or her aggression. 

To say that it is the denial of falsification or questioning that is a main problem issue between religion (and other political ideologies) and free and open inquiry that underlies science, is not to make the problem easier or simple.  If that is a central conflict issue, then theists will no more admit to skepticism and questioning than they ever did, but maybe it targets what is a clearer difference of thinking. 

Religions all (?) assert a different god, or some god by different names and reputed messages, but they all (?) remain consistent in denying and condemning skepticism or questioning.  Stalin and many political leaders others did the same thing, they quickly killed or jailed dissenters. 

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 08 June 2008 06:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Dennis Campbell - 08 June 2008 11:54 AM

The proposition that some unseen god(s) exist that cannot be verified by objective evidence is a debate that cannot be won or lost.  All we get instead is a never-ending clash of opinions and assertions based on claimed subjective experiences.  That’s why I‘m increasingly disinterested in the whole god debate.

...

The issue isn’t “god,” the issue is instead unquestioned human authority that purports or attempts to force others to comply with some set of human values and wishes.

Exactly!

That’s why I rarely bother to debate science or theology with religious apologist types, only philosophy. Theology is their thing (their club rules). They can have it. It’s impertinent to the real world anyway. And they’re not really interested in science (disciplined intellectual honesty) or in what we can really understand about the cosmos through genuine, responsible means. Religious apologist types are usually only really interested in affirming their presumptions (dogma), and that’s a philosophical issue. It’s very often demonstrable too, if you don’t get bogged down in the metric tonnes of philosophical chaff and mental detritus they’re trained to hurl at an alarming rate. If you can stay focused enough, though, the skyfull of chum actually blows right by and you can easily find the ideological vacuum at the eye of the maelstrom.

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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