Let me try and clarify what I earlier wrote because I think it does relate to some of the other posts.
The only point of having beliefs in the first place is to gratify desires and desire in the human species is far more passional than rational. I don't mean that our cognitive self is neatly divided along the lines of emotion and reason, but i agree with Hume that "reason is the slave of passion" in many cases, and further, that if one holds to a particular set of religious metaphors then there is no need for justification for belief in those metaphors because no rational justification is possible.
I agree with Whitehead that "religion is what we do with our solitude" but that the process of justification for our beliefs- that particular rational enterprise, has nothing to do with religion whatsoever.
For example, I think most of us have decently developed moral selves and that in most cases we know what behaviors it is good to hold to according to the dictates of reason. But I think that emotion often overrides well justified action. We all pass by real instances of deep suffering every day on our streets and even in our homes, but we continue to pass byin our haste to gratify some desire.
So I am saying that religion is the examplar of desire divorced from justifiable belief. And the word "god" in the best sense is a description of a better possible human future where cruelty to other humans and probably animals too, is the worst thing that we can do. As it is at present, religion is the source of crulety for much in the world.
As I write this I am sitting with my family with a cozy fire while they watch "A Muppet Christmas". I believe in that richer human future. I am working on my justifications.
most of us have decently developed moral selves
I am saying that religion is the examplar of desire divorced from justifiable belief.
True, but what most of us don’t have is sufficient self knowledge to understand where that desire comes from. That’s why we continually turn our desires into religion, not noticing that at the bottom, the desire is to be god ourselves.
Domo arigato, Mr. erato,
Although I think I see your point, I must ask if rationality is really all that impassive? What causes assent?
I think that emotion often overrides well justified action
This is undoubtedly true, but not necessarily a negative event. As our rationality is fallible, perhaps the “passional” faculties are picking up on extra-rational data which “should” be heeded.
At this point it is probably fruitful to discuss the circularity of our knowledge. If we berate the religious for not looking outside for justification, then how do we answer the same charge? It’s not as if rationality is “out there.” What’s the response to this charge?
I’ve heard this before about the desire to be God (primarily from x-tians). I cannot attest to this desire. Perhaps powerful or magical, but God?...I don’t recognize this, especially since it’s an ambiguous concept.
Can you expound on that please?
[quote author=“erato”]For example, I think most of us have decently developed moral selves and that in most cases we know what behaviors it is good to hold to according to the dictates of reason.
I think this is often an attribution error—the presumption of general agreement on basic aspects of one’s worldview. You and I see reason and evidence (sound epistemology) as a fundamental measure of reality, but as alien as it may seem to us, a lot of people don’t.
Can you expound on that please?
One can hardly deny that every human being wishes to be important. It’s not too great a jump from there to wanting to be the most important.
Why do we want to be important? I suspect that behind it is the hope of avoiding death, which virtually all of us want. This is putting it in its simplest (maybe simpleminded?) form, of course.
I think the Buddhists have the only really good way of dealing with that desire, which is simply, through meditation practice, to drop it. Tain’t easy—but when you get right down to it, what else can you do? (I don’t consider Buddhism basically a religion, although in most places where it is practiced it has acquired a lot of religion-like encrustations.)
It’s not too great a jump from there to wanting to be the most important.
I’m sorry, but I don’t think it is a small leap at all. Perhaps some want to rule everything, but it certainly doesn’t follow…at least not for me…Maybe I am deluded?
Maybe I am deluded?
Only you can know that. I can only speak from my own experience and observation of others. But “ruling everything” is not the same as being “important.”
So much depends on the depths of one’s self knowledge. As they grow older, most people learn that they’ll never be very important in the big scheme of things. Many accept it, and deal with it internally. Others become alcoholics. Others get caught up in religion (of course, being loved by god is the next ultimate Important position). There are as many ways of facing that as there are people in this world, I imagine.
We all pass by real instances of deep suffering every day on our streets and even in our homes, but we continue to pass byin our haste to gratify some desire.
I do not pass by in my haste to gratify some desire. I pass by because I realize that I have limited resources of time and of sustenance.
I had an experience once I can only describe as a spiritual epiphany, the amazing thing was I didnt believe in any religion. It happened while I was alone too, so the “mass hysteria” explanations of evangelism don’t work either.
I have been looking for the explanation of this experience ever since, and there are only two explanations so far that seem to be even close to reasonable
Chemical Imbalance in the brain lasting 10 to 15 min and never happening again.
Connection with Carl Jung’s “Collective unconscious”
But I think this is what moves man to religion, this attempt to explain all experience even if you have to resort to the supernatural to do it. So, I would say rationalism is actually the mother of religion, since as we learn other explanations for things, religion evolves and is pushed out to cover those things we still can’t explain.
I don’t think religions are inherently moral, nor do I think humanity’s basic morality is dependent on religion.