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can you separate organized religion from god?
Posted: 29 March 2007 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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just finished reading 'the god delusion' and harris' two books.  Both were very good no doubt. really makes you think.  Im agnostic, but realize the comforting affect god affords to many people in many instances especially death and disease.  This benign belief in a supernatural deity seems to me to be harmless if it is divorced from religion altogether though.  It seems like harris and dawkins dont understand this.  For instance my whole family is catholic.  They realize what is in the bible and what one could justify from it.  but they enjoy the comfort of having faith in a god and it helps them get through tough times. they use their moral intuition not a book to justify what their actions.  Like dawkins says in his book people go to god because he/she will always be there for them (why can't adults have imaginary friends like kids if it does the outside world no harm?).  I think there are a ton of people who just belief in a god but aren't religious.  I think harris and dawkins doesn't really make this distinction that we can live in a civil and moral society without religion but with a god.  If god is used solely for personal reasons to help make YOU feel better (no matter how delusional some may think it is) who's to say that is wrong?  it seems harris and dawkins does.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 07:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Absolutely you can.  The idea that a belief in god has to be derived from a text based religion is ludicrous.  It can be explained as the difference between the philosophy of god and organized religion as a whole.  When you strip away the dogma, if you look close you can still follow the philosophy.  This requires a deeper ability to rationalize your beliefs than most traditional religious people are capable of.

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Posted: 30 March 2007 04:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I, like Harris and Dawkins, have my reservations whether we could live a harmonious life together if a large percentage of people continued to believe in god just for comfort and joy. Obviously such a scenario is next to near impossible without some kind of religion being created out of this wishful-thinking mess.  I think that’s why children grow out of needing imaginary friends . . . they grow intellectually.  And that is the central drawback of keeping an imaginary friend (god) into adulthood, namely, it stops the person from growing intellectually. 

Just imagine if we each believed in our own personal god and based our decisions and measured our conceptual progress by the effects of that belief?  Very soon that belief would either create a stumbling block for learning in a whole lot of areas and it would surely stunt our emotional maturity.  Who needs real empathy when we each have our own god to give us all our comforts and joys?  Isn’t this imaginary-friend psychosis a really bad idea? Isn’t that fairly obvious?

Bob

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Posted: 30 March 2007 05:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“bhome83”]. . .  If god is used solely for personal reasons to help make YOU feel better (no matter how delusional some may think it is) who’s to say that is wrong?  it seems harris and dawkins does.

Harris and Dawkins don’t say it’s “wrong” to believe in deities and their magical helpers. They simply warn their readers that it’s dangerous and contributes to mental disorders. Such insanity if encouraged to continue long enough would probably destroy our species eventually.

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Posted: 30 March 2007 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Given that God is necessarily a fictional character (not a trite comment—it’s based upon the nature of evidence and sound/genuine epistemology), you can detach your version of God from organized religion, or whatever else you’d like, and you can even make it a definitional deal. God is whatever you make it ... unless you try and intrude upon the real world (the world that exists independently of your mind, or to borrow from PK Dick, “that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away”).

Byron

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Posted: 30 March 2007 08:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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i just think harris and dawkins gave an all or nothing scenario (relgion vs. atheism, what will it be world?)  take for instance my mom. she is catholic.  grew up and indoctrinated that way.  she doesnt take the bible litteraly, supports gay marriage, doesnt like the death penalty, isn’t 100%  against abortion and above all doesnt think one should judge someone based on their religion. for her it is completely personal.  it makes HER feel good (no matter how crazy some, like me think it is). she could care less if i was agnostic.  if the world was mainly made up of ‘religious’ people like her it would be a billion times better than it is today.  though i would argue she isn’t religious but was brought up that way so knows no better.  its these stupid crackhead litteralists that are a problem with the world.  can’t even use sound judgement and form their own educated opinions.  personal belief in this sense is benign (it harms no one, because it makes the self feel good, and only attaches the label ‘religious’ to make the self feel good)  but of course im probably being idealistic that most people in the world can be like my parents. benign belief is good, though i would agree that many crazy bible thumpers start out that way…

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Posted: 30 March 2007 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“CanZen”]. . . I think that’s why children grow out of needing imaginary friends . . . they grow intellectually.  And that is the central drawback of keeping an imaginary friend (god) into adulthood, namely, it stops the person from growing intellectually.

Hundreds of years ago, Zen master Ying-an commented, “If mature people want to cut off the road of birth and death, they should relinquish what they have been holding dear, so that their senses become clean and naked.  Then one day they will gain insight, and the road of birth and death is sure to end.”

The tragedy for many religious people is that they can never be ‘clean and naked’, can never relinquish what they hold dear, can never ‘burn the Buddha’, but must forever carry their ‘faith’, their litany, their commandments, their holy book, their beloved ‘invisible friend’ around with them. 

Every Zen master worth his salt points people toward their original mind, their original freedom, their original independence - their innate ability to stand alone psychologically.  In contrast most religions are a snare designed to entrap people and make them dependent sheep; make them subservient ‘taxpayers’ for life - emotionally and intellectually cramped.  “Don’t try to stand alone!  If you do, the Devil will get you!”  This is the unspoken message of all the ‘haunting’ movies.  You need that crucifix, that invisible friend to protect you.

Zen master Dazhu said, “You are luckily all right by yourself, yet you struggle artificially.  Why do you want to put on fetters and go to prison?  You are busy every day claiming to study Zen, learn the Way, and interpret Buddhism, but this alienates you even further.  It is just chasing sound and form.  When will you ever stop?  My teacher said to me, “The treasure house within you contains everything, and you are free to use it.  You don’t need to seek outside.”

Quotes from ‘Zen Essence - The Science of Freedom’, translated and edited by Thomas Cleary.

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Posted: 30 March 2007 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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We can thank organized religion for Zen Masters. No organized religion, no Zen Masters.
We can thank belief for our willingness to open our ears to something that is quoted from a ‘Zen Master’. No belief, no faith, we’d just continue along our merry way without stopping to listen.
Many people who are in this forum are doing just fine without Zen Masters.
I’m not one of those people. I don’t think they should change. I don’t think I should change.
I only think we should be honest with ourselves about what constitutes ‘religion’ and ‘belief’ and what does not.
My guru said that in order to remove the dirt, first you use some soap, then you rinse it off. Different image, same message: first you build the raft, use it to cross the river, but don’t carry it with you.
If you don’t want to cross the river, or you think ‘there’s no river to cross’ you don’t need a raft.  I need a raft. I listen to teachers, live very simply and practice meditation. That’s my religion.

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Posted: 30 March 2007 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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My thought is yes, you can separate organized religion from god, but:

1. Religion + God-belief = delusion

2. No Religion + God-belief = delusion

#1 & #2 may not lead to the same exact place, but both are irrational, and I believe ultimately harmful to the species.

When we talk about our aging parents (well, mine are in their 60s and 70s), we sometimes talk about people who “do no harm” with their beliefs, since they only use them to comfort themselves and don’t take the scripture literally.

So, fine. Leave them be.  But I imagine a future where people are free from even this type of “comforting” god delusion (sans religion), and I can only guess that freeing ourselves 100% from these fantasies, over the long term, would still be a vast improvement over what we have now.  Maybe my views are too dichotomous, I don’t know. Let me know what you think.

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Posted: 30 March 2007 04:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]We can thank organized religion for Zen Masters. No organized religion, no Zen Masters.
We can thank belief for our willingness to open our ears to something that is quoted from a ‘Zen Master’. No belief, no faith, we’d just continue along our merry way without stopping to listen.
Many people who are in this forum are doing just fine without Zen Masters.
I’m not one of those people. I don’t think they should change. I don’t think I should change.
I only think we should be honest with ourselves about what constitutes ‘religion’ and ‘belief’ and what does not.
My guru said that in order to remove the dirt, first you use some soap, then you rinse it off. Different image, same message: first you build the raft, use it to cross the river, but don’t carry it with you.
If you don’t want to cross the river, or you think ‘there’s no river to cross’ you don’t need a raft.  I need a raft. I listen to teachers, live very simply and practice meditation. That’s my religion.

Pat, I see in your profile that you are a retired librarian.  If you have been practicing Zen for years, and agree (more or less) with what the Zen masters say, do you sometimes wonder why you are not yet standing on your own two feet?  Why you still need a raft?  What river are you trying to cross?  When Zen master Dazhu says, “You are luckily all right by yourself,” how do you interpret that?  Do you respond, “No, I am not alright by myself!”

If you are using soap and rinse water, who is doing the washing?  Is the entity who is washing clean?  The entity who is washing is obviously the self, who wants something, and that entity can’t possibly get you clean.
That entity is the dirt (the conditioned self who wants enlightenment, or wants to cross the river).

Seeing a monk in this predicament, a master picked up a piece of broken tile and said, “Polish this until you can see your face in it.”  The monk polished the tile for months, and finally realized that it was never going to take a shine, never going to get smooth enough to reflect like a mirror.  Roof-tile doesn’t take a shine.

There’s the Zen expression, “Like a snowflake landing on a red hot stove.”
When conditioned thoughts decend on an adept, ‘SSSST!’  They never have a chance to develop.  That may seem like soap and rinse water, but it’s different.  At first you have to be constantly on guard.  Since you meditate, I’m sure you know very well how quickly random thoughts decend.  The puzzle is that it doesn’t take effort to evaporate the snowflakes.  As Krishnamurti said, “When you see a poisonous snake, you don’t step on it.”  Most people think random thoughts are harmless and indulge them all their lives - drifting from one feeling to another, one distraction to another.  It’s very easy to spend a lifetime carrying that boat: very easy to turn the ‘cleaning’ chore over to the self - the one who loves to carry boats - thrives on it.

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 30 March 2007 07:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2006/12/20061211_b_main.asp

Very good debate.  Fairly on point.  If you want three very intelligent men’s point of view on these subjects, you should listen to this.  Your brain will hurt.

· Rick Shweder, Professor of Comparative Human Development at University of Chicago and co-editor of “Engaging Cultural Differences”
· George Kateb, Professor Emeritus of Politics at Princeton University and author of “Patriotism and Other Mistakes”
· Sam Harris, author of “Letter to a Christian Nation” and “The End of Faith”

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Posted: 31 March 2007 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Unsmoked asked me, “If you have been practicing Zen for years, and agree (more or less) with what the Zen Masters say, do you sometimes wonder why you are not yet standing on your own two feet?”
Good question for anyone who is doing any sort of spiritual practice, like reading books on Zen.
Unsmoked, do you ever ask yourself why you need to quote from a book based on sayings from long ago and far away instead of simply saying what you think for yourself?
Unsmoked says that “at first you have to be constantly on guard”.
Unsmoked implies that the “you” who has to be on guard is the very thing that must be guarded against.
Shall we forget the whole business and go plant some peas? That would seem the sensible thing.
However, people like myself (and perhaps unsmoked?) are not sensible. We have some bees in our bonnets. We have been exposed to strange people and ideas.
Images like the snowflake landing on the hot stove. Questions like ‘but why do petty little insults or mild praise stick in my thoughts rather than being like a snowflake landing on a hot stove?’
We don’t know if there is any such thing as an ‘adept’ or ‘awakening’.
How do we know that these Zen Masters beloved of Thomas Cleary aren’t just clever with words and internally about as free as a rat in a lab cage?
We don’t know. We have to be willing to suspend judgement in order to investigate further.
As I’ve investigated further (I don’t practice Zen or Tibetan Buddhism anymore) I’ve seen for myself that there is no method to follow.
But that is not the end of the story.
The story shifts to a different level, the metaphors are seen to be paradoxical, spirit is seen to be more real than thought, and resting in the Unborn one is content to be an ordinary person.
Transmission is not necessary, but if transmission is offered, how can we refuse?
The spiritual books are selling better than ever.

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Posted: 31 March 2007 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]
Transmission is not necessary, but if transmission is offered, how can we refuse?
The spiritual books are selling better than ever.

So is toothpaste, but largely because there are more teeth around than ever before.

Parenthetically, Pat, I think you ought to consider a more intelligent way of delimiting your posts than hitting <return> every time you reach the end of a sentence. Your posts look like they were composed by a machine.

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Posted: 31 March 2007 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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HappyHeathen: 
    Would no religion + god belief still = delusion
  if “God belief” is defined as using the term “God” to represent all of nature + the source of nature?

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Posted: 31 March 2007 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“woofy”]HappyHeathen: 
    Would no religion + god belief still = delusion
  if “God belief” is defined as using the term “God” to represent all of nature + the source of nature?

I was referring to the supernatural personal sky god, so mostly no. 

But the “source” of nature part is a bit slippery, because ultimately we get back to the big bang.

And regarding nature as it stands, in all its beauty, why even bother to use the word God for it? It’s nature, and it’s perfect as nature.

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Posted: 31 March 2007 10:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]
Unsmoked, do you ever ask yourself why you need to quote from a book based on sayings from long ago and far away instead of simply saying what you think for yourself?

I do ask myself, and the answer is that I thought the quotes would be useful, informative, entertaining, or enjoyable for you.  Since that isn’t the case, I’ll refrain from quoting next time I respond to you directly.

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