The Human Element
Posted: 19 October 2010 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I apologize in advance for the level of pessimism in this post!

How can we be sure that the end of religion will help our human society progress? We seem to treat religion as though it were a living entity we must fight against, but it was man who invented religion and all the other ideologies that were used to control people. Man may very well replace it with another system that can do just as much harm if not more. Eliminating religion seems like treating symptoms rather than curing the disease..

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Posted: 19 October 2010 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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meri - 19 October 2010 09:34 AM

I apologize in advance for the level of pessimism in this post!

How can we be sure that the end of religion will help our human society progress? We seem to treat religion as though it were a living entity we must fight against, but it was man who invented religion and all the other ideologies that were used to control people. Man may very well replace it with another system that can do just as much harm if not more. Eliminating religion seems like treating symptoms rather than curing the disease..


What you’re on to here is called reification, and yeah, we’re taught from day one in most moderin cultures to reify religion as part of our socialization process. It’s a pretty amazingly self-loathing mental construct, really ... religion. We learn to give It (I make It/Religion, or Whatever, a proper noun when reified) all the credit for the good things we do when we form communities, and we leave ourselves only the bad, when in fact Religion is merely an identifiable set of human behaviors and ideas. It’s all us. Of course that’s also why It won’t just go away. We have to overcome It and relegate It to a more healthy status (de-reified), as we have violence for the most part. Violence certainly hasn’t gone away, but unlike Religion responses to violence generally range from frowning upon it to locking up those who engage in it, depending upon the circumstances. Of course there’s also perfectly justified violence, as I’d argue there still would be with religion (for those who life’s been especially hard on—the truly wounded who really do need crutches).

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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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Posted: 26 October 2010 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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meri - 19 October 2010 09:34 AM

I apologize in advance for the level of pessimism in this post!

How can we be sure that the end of religion will help our human society progress? We seem to treat religion as though it were a living entity we must fight against, but it was man who invented religion and all the other ideologies that were used to control people. Man may very well replace it with another system that can do just as much harm if not more. Eliminating religion seems like treating symptoms rather than curing the disease..

No apologies seem necessary to me. A lot of people share your concern, including a clinical psychologist I know who, though he’s an atheist, thinks that most people really do need some sort of reality floor that offers ultimate explanations about certain of life’s most profound questions. Without some such imaginary realm in place, he fears that people will lose their will to continue on when things get difficult.

I don’t know how legitimate his view on the question is, but mine is different. I see religions as such fluent mills of goofy world views, including anciently derived ill-will toward others who are “different,” that their elimination—gradually over time—will be of ultimate benefit to societies. Yes, there will be trade offs. But for the most part, measures to control people (as you state it) are now in place, big time. Think about how prevalent and aggressive security measures and law enforcement agencies can be today. Motion-detection lights were obviously not available until very recently. Look at all the ways people have at their disposal to influence and, when necessary, coerce others into being productive, law-abiding citizens.

Now I sound pessimistic—sorry! It’s just that I see any elimination of superstition as being most likely beneficial.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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